A Food & Travel Blog

Carmel-by-the-Sea – A Look at Some Northern Californian History

12/06/2017 | By

Taking in some of the history – from long ago, and just a little more recently – of Northern California’s Highway No.1 and the charming Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Carmel-By-The-Sea, Carmel Mission


 I’m not usually one for trying to jam too much into a trip, but when a trip is short, and the distance to get there is so very long I know I need to make the most of it. 


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The Historic Ortigia Market – Food Central in Syracuse

08/05/2017 | By

Just has it has been for millennia, the historic Ortigia market is still the daily shopping centre for the residents of this ancient town.

ortigia market - zucchini flowers

The local fresh food market is a must-see for me whenever we travel and the markets in in Sicily, with it’s rich and colourful food history, were one of the main reasons I wanted to visit the island. 


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Fairmont Empress High Tea

28/04/2017 | By

The Bloke and I share a special afternoon as we partake of a time honoured Victoria tradition – the fabulous Fairmont Empress high tea.

fairmont empress high tea

Those who know me will be aware of my total addiction to tea.


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The Agrigento Valley of the Temples in Sicily

10/04/2017 | By

A childhood dream comes true as I wander through the ancient archaeological area of the Agrigento Valley of the Temples, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

agrigento valley of the temples

Perched up on a hilltop in the southwest shore of Sicily is the magnificent Agrigento Valley of the Temples. 


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The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island – A Beautiful Example of a Quarry Re-Purposed

03/04/2017 | By

Quarries are not generally noted for their elegance, but the glorious Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island show a makeover at it’s very best.

Having successfully avoided them all of my life, in the last two months I have surprisingly found myself in quarries – and loving the experience.

 Just recently The Bloke and I attended the acclaimed play adaptation of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, as part of this year’s Adelaide Festival. The play was staged on a quarry floor, in the foothills of Adelaide, and the audience was seated facing in to the quarry wall. It was an inspired choice of venue, evoking the agelessness of this ancient land. The last light of the summer evening bathed the yellow stone walls of the quarry in golden light, as we watched the tragic story of two Australian families unfold.


butchart gardens on vancouver island, the sunken garden

The Sunken Garden

And just a few weeks earlier, in the chilly northern winter, we were invited to visit the glorious Butchart Gardens, on Vancouver Island.

Fountains in the sunken garden butchart gardens on vancouver island

butchar gardens on vancouver island, winter treescape

butchart gardens on vancouver island snail fountain 

These gardens also speak of the history of the region, having been developed on the site of an exhausted quarry owned by Robert Butchart. He and his wife Jenny lived near the quarry. In 1909, when the limestone extraction was completed, Jenny set about turning the quarry pit into a sunken garden.

 Japanese garden, butchart gardens on vancouver island

butchart gardens on vancouver island, trickling stream

butchart gardens on vancouver island, red bridge

Clearly on a roll, she also commissioned Japanese garden designer Isaburo Kishida to design an oriental tea garden for their estate. Throughout the 1920’s she then turned her very artistic eye to the tennis courts and kitchen gardens, transforming them into an Italian garden and extensive rose gardens.

 butchart gardens on vancouver island, Japanese glen

butchart gardens on vancouver island, Italian garden

butchart gardens on vancouver island, view to house

A view from the Italian garden, back towards the house.

The Butcharts eventually handed the house and gardens over to their grandson, Ian Ross, who continued their legacy, developing the house and grounds into what is now one of the top tourist destinations in the region and a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island are world renowned for their floral displays, and each year over a million bedding plants in some 900 varieties bloom from March through to October.

Statues and pond Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

Happily, this special spot is still family-owned, with the current owner proudly continuing the family legacy, hosting a continuing program of concerts, fireworks displays and community events.

spring cafeteria, Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

A quiet corner, featuring succulents, in what is the cafeteria in summer months.

Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island - orchids

Orchids in the spring display.

Spring, Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

The cafeteria, transformed.

While it was the dead of winter when I visited, there is still plenty to be enchanted by in these gardens. Thoughtfully, in the winter months the Butchart cafeteria is cleared and transformed into a glorious riot of spring colour. Parts of the house are open for visitors to explore and, no matter the season, there is much to give joy in the rest of the gardens.

Tod inlet view, Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island

A Perfectly positioned window cut into a large hedge in the gardens gives the curious visitor a glimpse on to boats at Tod Inlet.

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In My Kitchen – April 2017

01/04/2017 | By

A clever idea to support native Australian bees, a wonderful warm memoir, some more food mags & some boozy holiday purchases – all In My Kitchen this month.

In My Kitchen April 2017 - Weleda bee hotel

Welcome to the April 2017 In My Kitchen roundup. This monthly peek into the kitchen of bloggers from all around the world is hosted by Liz over at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things. For the complete list of participants and links to all the other kitchens head over there.

 Frustratingly, my new kitchen is still not quite up and running. In fact, it only became functional yesterday. I’m resisting showing any images of the work so far, until it is all finished.

 In my kitchen this month is this very clever bee hotel, a home for our solitary native bees and a gift from Weleda Australia. Founded by Rudolph Steiner, the father of biodynamic farming and anthroposophical medicine, Weleda produce an extensive range of quality organic and biodynamic skin and personal care products.

They have extended their commitment to wellness with the Bee B&B Hotel program, launching it in more than 70 Australian schools so far. Native bees play an important role in the pollination of our food plants. The project gives schools an opportunity to turn their kitchen garden into a place for these native solitary bees to take shelter and rear their young. The ‘bed’ is the bee hotel and the ‘breakfast’ is the school garden. You can find out all about this important initiative on the Bee Hotel website.

in my kitchen april 2017 - the barber of budapest book

 Another delightful gift I received recently was from the In My Kitchen host, and my friend, Liz Posmyk. Last year Liz successfully published her first book, The Barber of Budapest, a charming and heartfelt tribute to her Hungarian immigrant parents.

 In her memoir, Liz shares with us her family history and deeply personal memories of her much-loved parents, her upbringing and just some of the food with which her treasured mother kept their Hungarian legacy alive. It’s an absolute delight to read and her inclusion of a packet of Hungarian sweet paprika in the parcel was a thoughtful way to encourage me to try some of the delicious recipes she includes in the book. Do try to get your hands on a copy – contact Liz via her blog for details.

in my kitchen april 2017 - NZ food magazines

 The Bloke and I are only just returned from a brief walking trip in the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park, in the south island of New Zealand. I’ll be sharing some of my photos from that excursion in weeks to come, but I’ve got these fine New Zealand food magazines in my kitchen to remind me of the exceptional food culture they enjoy over there. I’m looking forward to playing in the new kitchen and trying some of these delicious recipes out.

 Shopping wasn’t a priority while hiking through the New Zealand bush, but I couldn’t resist an indulgent purchase in the duty free store on the way out of the country. I’m not a big liqueur drinker and don’t keep many in my kitchen, but am very fond of glugging orange flavoured booze into some of my baking and desserts. This blood orange Cointreau is richer in colour, tang and depth of flavour than usual and will be fun to play with.

In My Kitchen April 2017 - new liqueurs

The Chambord is a drink I’ve never tried, but a splash of raspberry flavoured liqueur in a glass of bubbly, or a white wine spritzer is a very appealing notion and something I’m sure I could get used to. And it came in such a pretty bottle.

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