A Food & Travel Blog

Tai O Heritage Hotel, Hong Kong

28/09/2015 | By

A great Hong Kong accommodation alternative, Tai O Heritage Hotel is a not-for-profit social enterprise.

Tai O Heritage Hotel Hong Kong

Last year we spent a happy couple of hours wandering around Tai O on Lantau Island – the last, historic, stilted fishing village in Hong Kong – so when we were thinking of a stop-over on our flight to Milan recently we were pleased to discover that it is possible to stay in the village at the Tai O Heritage Hotel.

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Discover Adelaide & Win a Night for 2 at the Hilton Adelaide!

30/06/2014 | By

Some people seem to think there’s not much to do in Adelaide in the winter time and the cold weather certainly persuades lots of us to hunker down of an evening. But, with the help of Hilton Adelaide, I’d like to encourage you to poke your nose out the door and check out what is happening – even in the dead of winter – in Adelaide over the next month or two.

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Morocco Hospitality – Forget About Hotel Chains & Head for a Riad!

16/06/2014 | By

Lots of people don’t care too much about where they stay when on holiday, but for me the accommodation is an important part of the travelling experience. I generally love a good hotel room, but in some places a generic hotel chain isn’t going to cut it – and Morocco is such a destination. 

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Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula – How Did I Miss This?

25/11/2013 | By

Sunny Ridge Farm, Mornington Peninsula

I’m a frequent visitor to Melbourne. I used to live there and enjoy catching up with old friends when I can, all of whom live north of the river, so my trips south of the Yarra are infrequent. All that changed a few weeks back when I spent a few days on the Mornington Peninsula – leaving me wondering why I didn’t know about this glorious food basket. While the food scene in Melbourne is wonderful, it is well worth the short drive down the expressway to the lush, rolling paddocks and orchards and breathtaking coastline of this region. They have a wealth of goodies there to tempt you.

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Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays

30/07/2013 | By

Hamilton Island, Whitsundays

I think I could get used to living in the Whitsundays. My first taste of the area – a visit to Airlie Beach and then some time spent on Daydream Island – had been a little hasty, but by the time I reached Hamilton Island I could feel myself unwinding and beginning to synch in with island time. It’s easy to relax on Hamilton; everyone is smiling and the staff are low-key enough to encourage a belief that no-one does any work at all here – although the high standards in housekeeping and guest comfort attest to their efficiency and competence. If it wasn’t for the unfortunate effect humidity has on my unruly, curly hair I think I could see myself spending the rest of my life on (or not too far from) the hammock in the image above. (Oh – of course, there is my family, responsibilities, the farm and all that stuff too. I did say I had slipped into island time!)

Beach Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island local.

Hamilton Island is the largest resort island in the Whitsundays and has maintained more than 70 percent of the island as natural bushland which is home to an array of beautiful flora and fauna including Gumtrees, Paperbarks, Palms, Pines and ancient Cycads. The resort takes very seriously it’s responsibility to the natural resources on the island and to the internationally important reef and the sea life that surround it. Hamilton Island Enterprises participates in on-going marine park research and, because of a lack of any local recycling services in the region, the island has a cutting edge self-managed recycling programme and facilities. They manage their own waste glass, sell waste cardboard, plastic, paper, aluminium cans and steel cans to a recycling depot in Brisbane, collect litter as it is washed up on the beaches and treat their own effluent, recycling over 90% of the treated water for irrigating the parks and gardens.

Hamilton Island bungalows

Hamilton Island bungalow bedroom

On arrival I was ferried to my secluded and lushly landscaped accommodation, one of the newly refurbished Palm Bungalows, where I dropped my bags, admired the bed, the view and the kitchenette before giving the hammock a test run. You’ll all be pleased to note that it fit me perfectly and performed to my complete satisfaction – all I needed was a glass of gin and tonic to complete the experience.

I didn’t have long to wait for a refreshing beverage though, as it was getting late and there was a very special event to be celebrated at a place called One Tree Hill. The event is the sunset and is celebrated every day on the island.  A pop-up cocktail bar appears at One Tree Hill at about five-ish and the guests gather to enjoy an amazing light show every evening. While the drink is welcomed, it is not really necessary, as the sunset itself is utterly intoxicating. Below are just a couple of the many images I took and, besides a little cropping, they are totally unedited.

Hamilton Island Sunset

Hamilton Island fading sunset

After being completely dazzled by the stunning sunset it was (of course) time to eat! There’s no shortage of places to select from when it comes to dining on Hamilton, with a variety of cafes, restaurants, taverns and bars, but I was looking forward to Chef Adam Woodfield’s South East Asian food at Coca Chu. With almost 20 years of experience including working at a Michellin-starred restaurant and a New York restaurant of his own under his belt, Adam’s familiarity with the food of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia brings a skilled sparkle to the hawker-inspired menu at Coca Chu. Adams food is fresh, exciting and a feast for the eyes as well as the belly.

Hamilton Island Coca Chu

Cashews, Hamilton Island

Twice Cooked Duck, Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island dinner

Dessert, Hamilton Island restaurant

I’m sure you all wish you were there – either with me, or someone more interesting – but I can offer you a tiny taste of my amazing stay as the lovely Adam has shared one of his delicious recipes.  The Spiced Siamese Cashews, pictured above, were devilishly more-ish and well worth the small effort to make them. Serve as a side or as a snack. Put the heater on high, add a gin and tonic, close your eyes and just imagine yourself on Hamilton Island for a few days.

Spiced Siamese Cashews

You could double this recipe without a problem. The water prevents the cashews from becoming brittle-like. If the cashews sit for too long they become too hard. Serve as a snack or side.
Author: Adam Woodfield, Executive Chef, Coca Chu Restaurant, Hamilton Island

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 60 ml Indonesian sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tsp water
  • 10 gm dried shrimp paste pre-roasted, mashed or crumbled
  • Pinch salt
  • to taste - dried chilli flakes
  • to taste - fennel seeds
  • scallion rings green and white parts
  • 1 or 2 slender lime wedges

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the sweet soy sauce, water, shrimp paste, and salt. Taste to make sure that there’s a balanced salty sweetness. The dried shrimp funk should barely be noticeable. Set this seasoning sauce aside near the stove.
  • In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the oil, cashews, chilli flakes and fennel for about 3 minutes, until gently sizzling and lightly fragrant.
  • Lower the heat to medium low, give the seasoning sauce a stir, then pour into the skillet.
  • Constantly stir for 15 to 30 seconds, until most of the liquid has clung to the cashews.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the green onion, then transfer to a small bowl.
  • Serve with lime wedge for guests to add a tart brightness.
  • Use a spoon to eat the Cashews as they can be messy - or not.

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of Tourism Whitsundays  and Hamilton Island, but the opinions are entirely my own.

 

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Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays – A Great Place for a Feed!

21/06/2013 | By

Whitsundays - Deja Vu restaurant, Water's Edge ResortIt’s 9C and raining in the Adelaide Hills – not that I mind that, really.  It’s just that I’ve seen how the other half live now and I can’t help but be slightly envious.  You see, this time last week I was in the Whitsundays in Queensland.  This is not a place I’ve visited before, but if I knew just how glorious it is at this time of the year I would have been hanging around there years ago.  Honestly, what’s not to like about blue skies and sunny 25C days – and that is in their low season!

Water's Edge Apartments, Whitsundays

Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays and seems like a pretty happy place to start a holiday to me.  It’s a buzzy little spot that looks to have something for everyone, with backpacker hostels, family accommodation, luxury resorts and a glittery marina where some serious money is moored.  I stayed at The Water’s Edge Resort and, while calling it a resort may be gilding the lily a little, these are lovely, well appointed, spacious apartments with gorgeous swimming pools, stunning views and one of the best value, high quality restaurants I’ve seen in a while – especially in a holiday town.

Deja Vu Restaurant, Whitsundays

Housed on the same level of the Water’s Edge complex as two of the beautiful infinity pools and looking out over the sparkling bay is the independently operated boutique Deja Vu Restaurant.  An a la carte restaurant with seating either inside in air-conditioned comfort or outside under the shady pergolas, Deja Vu’s chef Patrice Duverger offers a diverse and thoughtful menu, but what they are really known for is their Long Sunday Lunch.  This started out as simply a chef cooking for his mates on a Sunday and has now evolved into a gastro-tourism event that any visitor to Airlie Beach would be crazy to miss. With a view to die for, this lunch consists of eight courses served over five hours with live entertainment – all for just $44.50!  I wasn’t there on a Sunday, but was treated to what was referred to as a hint of the long lunch.  A hint that took three blissful hours to munch through and impressed with every new dish placed in front of me.

Antipasto at Deja Vu, WhitsundaysThe antipasto platter with cured and cold meats, cheese, frittata, dips, dolmades and fresh breads.

Lemon pepper calamari & crumbed artichoke, Whitsundays

Lemon pepper calamari and crumbed artichokes.

Tandoori chicken pizza & caramelised onion with crumbed boconcini pizza, WhitsundaysTandoori chicken pizza & caramelised onion with crumbed boconcini pizza.

Lamb backstrap with red wine & mustard jus, asparagus & rosti, WhitsundaysLamb backstrap with red wine & mustard jus, asparagus & rosti

Passionfruit semi freddo with caramel and sesame seed wafers, WhitsundaysPassionfruit semi freddo with caramel and sesame seed wafers.

It probably won’t surprise any of you to discover that I needed a little lie down after that splendid lunch, but later in the evening my companions and I went for a wander down the main drag of Airlie Beach to another funkily decorated and obviously popular food and watering hole, Fish D’Vine.  This little spot has won awards for it’s seafood and is noted for the house special of Chilli Mud Crab.  The latter looked truly spectacular as it walked past me on the arm of a strong waiter, but I was in no state to tackle it, modestly noshing on the divinely fresh seafood platter instead.  However, I did indulge in my very first Mojito.

My first ever Mojito, Whitsundays

The Rum Bar, Fish D'Vine, Whitsundays

The rum wall, Fish D'Vine, Whitsundays

Attached to Fish D’Vine is the eye-catching Rum Bar – an impressive wall of rum which must be passed to get into the cafe itself.  This is truly an arresting sight and I was informed by the head barman and self-confessed rum-tragic that they house over 300 different rums in the bar, hailing from over 30 different countries.  Naturally enough they have become noted for their Mojito’s, being named as one of the best in the world and “up there with the likes of La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba.”  Being a newbie to the lures of the Mojito, I had nothing to compare but was very happy with it nonetheless.  Just what I needed – another drink to lure me down the path of ruin!

Lambs’ Ears and Honey was a guest of Tourism Whitsundays , the Deja Vu Restaurant and Fish D’Vine.

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