13 December 2011

spring vegetables, smoked fish & quinoa

We went fishing on Sunday.  Yep we did.  One minute we were grocery shopping and the next minute we were on the pier at Petone.  A friend (aka Zippy) had decided that he wanted to do a spot of fishing.  We decided that we'd join him!

It was one of those early Summer days - sun was up but there was a touch of coolness still in the air.  The pier already had a good number of people fishing by the time we got there.  There were the serious ones that came armed and prepared - large pail of smelly bait, collapsible chairs, chilly bin filled with cold drinks and food and a ghetto blaster.  There were the SUPER serious ones with all of the gear, the most expensive rods and metal cages (think those were for crabs).  And there were the little boys with their simple homemade fishing gear - a long line wrapped around a piece of wood and a weight at the end.

Let's not forget the old Chinese guys that fish alone (they're never in a group or with friends!).  All very serious business this fishing.  They often have every possible gear and accessory.  One guy had on a bright yellow waterproof outerwear (I don't know what it's called) that covered him from head to feet, although there wasn't a skerrick of rain - very Deadliest Catch styles!

The boys spent the afternoon waiting for a fish to take a bite of their bait and yapping away on the ins and outs of bait types, hooks, lines, weights, etc etc.

I spent my time alternating between reading in the sun and taking the piss out of the boys for their lack of luck - 'S' did not catch anything and Zippy caught 2 baby ones that had to be returned to the sea.  I believe I told 'S' that if we lived couple of hundred years ago and he was my hunter/gatherer partner, I'd starve. ;-)

If you're wondering...that's not a sandwich we made for afternoon snack.  It was fish bait - some very smelly bait (think the boys called it bonito) squished between a piece of white bread.  I hear it's Michelin-star cuisine for the fishies!

Now you must be wondering...what has this got to do with spring vegetables, smoked fish and quinoa (post title) got to do with fishing?  Well, not much really.  Except that it was a damn good thing we had bought some smoked fish at Moore Wilsons earlier in the day, since the boys caught nothing!

Now.  On to that spring vegetables, smoked fish and quinoa dish.

So I've mentioned at some point in an earlier post or posts that I've been moving away from stodgy winter dishes that we've been enjoying for the last 3 months or so, and cooking dishes that are a bit more light and healthy.  I'm not only carrying winter weight, I'm also carrying holiday-in-Asia weight, and not forgetting stuff-my-face-at-food-bloggers-conference weight!

But with summer now upon us, it's so much easier to make those healthier dishes loaded with summer greens and fruits.  I'm not naturally a healthy cook - I love rich curries, fried food, butter and cream-based sauces.  Even if I made steamed vegetables or a salad, I'd smother it in a gallon of olive oil or spoonfuls of mayonnaise.  So for healthier options, I have to look elsewhere for inspiration.

Unfortunately for me, I don't have a collection of amazing cookbooks like Ottolenghi's The Cookbook or Plenty or Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday to cook from.  Having been jobless for almost a year kinda puts a damper on spending.  And in the wider scheme of things, cookbooks are classified under the 'want' category and not a 'needs' category!

However, this where the interweb, the digital world, the blogosphere, the internet, whatever you want to call it, comes into it's own.  I might not be in possession of much sought after cookbooks, but there are thousands of recipes online that I can tap into.  And a favourite of mine is Emma Galloway's 'My Darling Lemon Thyme'.  Emma's blog is wonderfully written and her vegetarian/vegan recipes are so simple to follow and yet her dishes aren't simple - you know what I mean?  Every recipe I've tried has been packed full of flavour.  Her recipes definitely put to rest the notion that vegetarian dishes are boring!

So when I came home from the Sunday market with a bag full of fresh peas and 2 huge bunches of asparagus, I was (unusually) inspired to make something healthy (again, unusual) with them, based on several recipes I've read online.  Lurking in my pantry was a bag of quinoa that I had bought a month ago and having only made a quinoa salad once from it, I decided that it was time for it to make another appearance!

I must confess that right up to now, the only peas I've ever eaten came straight out from the freezer.  Nothing wrong or unhealthy even, with snap frozen peas.  But fresh peas are...well, so fun!  Snapping and popping the wee green peas out from their jackets is so therapeutic.  And the crazy in me also thinks that the rows of little green orbs all in a row are so cute!  Nevermind that they are bursting with goodness.  It's the cute factor that won me over!

I can see why Anne Geddes (she of the cute baby photos) was inspired to dress babies up as peas in pods.

I was actually rather surprised that my bag of peas yielded 2 whole cups of fresh peas.  I had thought that at most, I'd get maybe a cup.  More for me - yay!!

Now I know that everyone says how sweet fresh peas are, but maybe it was just the batch I bought.  They had a slight bitter taste to them that I wanted gone.  So fresh as they were, I quickly blanched them for 2 minutes in rapidly boiling water that I'd added 1 teaspoon of sugar to.  And they tasted divine.

At the very last minute, I decided to add smoked mackerel to the salad.  The salad was getting waaay to healthy for me - I'm still not quite prepared (yet) for such healthiness to invade my life!  And I know my body...to be more accurate, I know my tummy well.  If I didn't throw in some protein, I'd be rummaging the kitchen for a midnight snack, which would invariably be something unhealthy like a large mug of milo with a plateful of sweet biscuits.

Mackerel is good fish anyway.  We love it in our household.  Its got all these good oils.  So perhaps I haven't strayed that  far away from making a healthy dinner afterall!

Okay...okay.  There were Nigella-style sploshes of sesame and extra virgin olive oil as well to my salad.  The sesame oil gave a nice nutty flavour to the otherwise bland-ish quinoa.  So I caved in a bit more.  If you have better control than I do, just drizzle instead of splosh! :-)

Spring Vegetables, Smoked Fish & Quinoa
The ingredients below will make enough for 4 people.  Or dinner for 2 and enough to pack away for lunch for 2 the next day.  Just adjust the amounts accordingly if you want to make less.

1 cup quinoa
400g smoked fish of your choice, broken up into chunks
2 cups fesh peas (if you only have frozen ones, I'm sure it'll work just fine)
2-3 stalks spring onions, chopped into same size as the peas
2 bunches asparagus, chopped into bite sized pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
Sesame oil
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of water (lots) to boil and salt it (you can omit the salt if you want).  Add the quinoa into the boiling water, stir and turn down to medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally just in case it sticks at the bottom.  When quinoa is cooked, you'll see these little white-ish 'tails'.  I just taste a tiny bit of the quinoa to determined whether it's cooked.
  2. Once the quinoa is cooked to your liking, drain it well and set aside.
  3. Bring another pot of lightly salted water to boil and add your asparagus.  Turn down to medium heat and cook for no more than 3 minutes.  Quickly drain and place in a large serving or mixing bowl.
  4. For the peas - eat them raw or blanch it quickly in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Quickly drain and add to the cooked asparagus.
  5. Add the spring onions and well-drained quinoa to the vegetables.
  6. Add some extra virgin oil and sesame oil, and toss gently to mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Scatter the smoked fish on top of the vegetables and quinoa, and serve.

Smoked fish - if you have your smoked fish in the fridge, take it out at the start before you prep your vegetables, so that it's room temperature when you're ready to add it to the quinoa.  If not, you could zap it in the microwave for 20 secs on high.  But if you don't mind eating cold smoked fish, then skip this.

08 December 2011

i'm making a list, and checking it twice...(or more!)

Christmas suits my slight OCD* nature to a T.  All that list-making, matching gift to person, taking 3 hours to just dress up my Christmas tree, more list-making for the bbq on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day brunch and dinner, scouring shop after shop for just the right ribbons to match the wrapping papers and wrapping the gifts.  Seriously, I have lists for the lists I made.  There's even colour-coding on my grocery lists!!

I spent most of this afternoon gift wrapping.  Which gift is to be wrapped with which paper and with which ribbon.  All very important stuff.  (yes, yes, it's only brown or red paper, but still very important!) All corners neatly folded and tucked, seams and ends hidden, and  no sticky tape can be seen.

So therapeutic.  So OCD.

And tomorrow, it's exactly that slightly obsessive nature that will see me trawl through over 60 cookie recipes that I've bookmarked, so that I can choose just 3 to bake for Christmas gifting.  Oh, and there's a small stack of cookbooks on the dining table with post-its as well. :-)

I've handmade things in the past for Christmas gifts (non food related), but I've never baked cookies to give away before.  I've never been brave enough nor sure enough that my cookies were any good for consumption, other than by myself and 'S'.  See with cookies, you can't tell how it'll all turn out until you bake them.  By which time, it's all too late if they suck.  But this year, I've decided to forge ahead and just do it already.

Let them eat cake I say...err...wait.  I mean cookies.

But why stop there with cookies, right?  I've also decided to make chutney, onion jam and orange marmalade!  You know, I'm going to be able to tell exactly who my friends (and family!) are by the end of Christmas, because only the ones who TRULY love me, will still want to know me after they've eaten their gifts.

Actually, I've already made the chutney about 2 weeks ago.  But as Christmas draws nearer and nearer, I've been stressing about the jars of chutney in the cupboard waiting to be wrapped.  I've put a little jar aside for ourselves in the fridge and have been having it with some of our meals.  Not convinced.  And each time I eat some more, I more unconvinced.  'S' says the chutney is yum.  I say a do-over.  If I could.  There are 10 jars of chutney in the cupboard.  Maybe not.  Stressing... OCDing... Why do I do this to myself?!

I'll try and get a post or 2 up before Christmas to let you know how the cookies, onion jam and marmalade turned out.  If nothing else, I'm sure it'll be a bit of a laugh as I bumble my way into the realm of domestic goddessing - i.e., homemade foods as Christmas gifts!  I know we all can't be Nigella, Donna or Martha.  But surely, we can try!

*As I understand it, OCD is all about obsessions and compulsions.  My bestfriend thinks I'm a tad bit OCD.  I think she's right.
Case in point: I butter my toast 1/4 at a time, rotating my toast 90deg butter, then 90deg again and butter, and so on.  This way, I make sure every surface right up to the edge of my toast is buttered.  Then, it's the same process again with whatever spread I add to it - peanut butter, jam, Marmite, etc.
Case in point #2: I stop and remove my shoes to rearrange my socks if they've slid past my ankles or if I can feel the joining stitches at the top of my toes.
Case in point 3#: Laundry is pegged up with the SAME coloured pegs - I can't bear using a pair different coloured pegs.
I'd say all that ticks both the obsession and compulsion boxes.  Don't you??

Are you a little 'special' like me? :-)

01 December 2011

1st day of summer!

Hello friends.  It's the first day of Summer here in New Zealand!

And as such, I just wanted to share some pics I took a couple of hours ago.  Nothing food related, but still I hope, enjoyable for you.

This would not be complete with a couple of shots of Cyrus, soaking in the sun...

...and being predominantly black, became too hot after several minutes and ran indoors.

Happy Summer my friends!!


PS:  Quick update on the dental front:
I've found out that liquid valium works a treat on me.  Apparently it's meant to make me very relaxed and not be able to feel any anxiety, but still awake and aware.  Well.  According to my dentist, I was awake.  According to me, I was fast asleep.  He was very happy on how it all went - I was ecstatic.  So apart from just before 'lights out' and my friend arriving to pick me up after, I don't remember one iota of anything.  And once I got home I slept for about 19 hours.  All in all, a successful trip to the dentist.  Phew.

28 November 2011

depot, being a fan and the dentist (!)

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the dentist and I'm determined to get this post in tonight, since I'm going to be out of action for a good while after that.  Why such a big deal you ask?  Well, I'll explain a little later towards the end of this post.  Before I delve into what I'm sure is going to be a horror of a day at the dentist, let me first tell you about our meal at Al Brown's new restaurant Depot, and about bumping into the man in person today.  Much more exciting!

Just over a couple of weeks ago, New Zealand held it's first food bloggers conference in Auckland.  'S' and I decided to make it a long weekend up there and on the list of things to do was a visit to Depot, Al Brown's new restaurant.

As with most current eateries, Depot did not take reservations.  It was first come first served.  Being the keen beans that we are, 'S' and I got there early and got our table.  Well, not so much a table since we sat at the bar. But hey, not complaining here.  It was as far as we were concerned, a primo spot!

Here's what we ordered, devoured and then ordered seconds for...

Meat platter for 2 - Wild pork salami, beef bresaola, wild rabbit rillettes, air cured paprika beef.  These were accompanied with large jars of mustard and baby gherkins.  (yes, yes I know baby gherkins are called cornichons, but calling them cornichons here doesn't seem fitting).

Falafel with goats curd and harissa.  There was a really nice spicy hit with the harissa.  I liked this dish, though I wished there was more than just the one vegetarian dish to choose from!

Crisp pork hock with apple & horseradish salsa verde.  This was my 2nd favourite dish from the repertoire we ordered.  The pork was melt-in-the-mouth and I absolutely loved the apple salsa.  Every forkful of meaty pork was accompanied with bursts of fresh, sharpish, sweetish salsa.  Personally, I think the salsa is what makes this dish.  Without it, the meat would just become well-cooked pork that I would have still liked but would probably not have more than a couple of mouthfuls.  I was though a bit confused about the pork skin.  Was it meant to have been crispy crackling?  C'os ours weren't.  They were these pieces of super hard as rock skin, which I was a tad bit disappointed in.  Who doesn't love pork crackling right?  Although we weren't really sure, we decided not to ask and just pushed them aside.  I was happy enough with my pork and salsa!

Asparagus with black olive butter.  Couldn't pass up on the asparagus for 2 reasons.  One because I can never pass up on these lovely green spears and two, because we'd only ordered one vegetarian dish which strictly speaking wasn't a vegetable but made of chickpeas (and I do like my 5-a-day).  'S' really liked the black olive butter and I've promised to try and replicate it at home soon.

I've saved the best for last: Turbot sliders with preserved lemon and watercress.  The bite-sized turbot was cooked just so (I hate overcooked fish) - simply grilled on these large hotplates (this was done only a few feet from where we sat) and sandwiched between these wee sweet buns.  The preserved lemon was chopped fine and mixed into a kind of dressing which was perfect against the lightly salted fish and sweetish buns.  I couldn't get enough of these little gems!  Being able to finish each little 'burger' in only two bites, these were gone in a flash, so I ordered a 2nd plate.  'S' didn't even get a sniff of that 2nd order.  I had polished it off in minutes.  As I'm typing this post, I can almost taste it...definitely going back for more when I'm up in Auckland next.

And this is the man behind Depot - Al Brown.

I'd met up with some fellow food bloggers this morning (Jemma, Sasa and Viviane) at Floriditas - Sasa was down from Auckland.  Low and behold, who should walk in?  And what do I do when I spy the man himself sitting in a corner hunched over his laptop with a cuppa, having some quiet 'me' time?  I bug him (of course!) for a photo and rambled on in quite an unintelligible way about Depot and turbot sliders.  Sheeesh...

I then proceeded to lord it over 'S', pxt-ing the photo to both his cellphones.  'S' thinks Al is the bees knees you see.  Mwuahahaha...


Now.  Back to that dental appointment which is going to take me out of blogging for a few days.

So, what's the big deal?  What is it that's causing me small heart palpitations alternating with light headedness?  I think people call this a mild anxiety attack.

Well, tomorrow (or today if you're reading this on Tues) I get one of my wisdom tooth and another rogue tooth taken out.  My dentist assures me that I will be so fully sedated with valium that I wouldn't remember a thing.  Every fibre of my being is screaming "YEAH RIGHT"!!

This is me we're talking about - the person who needs up to 7 injections in the mouth just for routine hygiene work to be done.  How the hell is valium going to help with a double tooth extraction, one of which is a wisdom tooth that will need cutting out and stitches??!!

I don't like it and I don't want to do it.  But I have to.  *Actual stamping of foot like a 5-year old*

23 November 2011

i'll huff & puff & i'll blow your house down

Some of my regular readers know that occasionally, you'd see a post here that's not food-related.  That's the '...and All Things Nice' part of my blog.

Some of these have been about songs that I'm obsessed with for that particular time, movies I've seen and more often than not, Cyrus the cat.

This time I'd like to share with you - especially to those who live in other parts of the world or just outside of Wellington - a day in windy Wellington.

This was Monday.

Gales are not a daily or even weekly occurrence in Wellington.  But it sure happens helluva more often than other cities and towns here.  In fact, I'd go as far as to say that there are some places in NZ that don't ever get gales!

Wellingtonians are so used to the wind that we'd walk out of the house in slippers and shorts, and say that its a breezy day or balmy evening.  We're tough like that here.  Visitors on the other hand, will be covered from neck to toe.

That's not to say that Wellington is dull and grey.  That's London.  So we have a tad more wind that some, but when the sun's up, there is no city in NZ that can beat a good day in Wellington.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Wellington.

17 November 2011

asian beef balls soup with noodles

Since coming home from a 3-week holiday in Asia, I've been willing the weather to warm up.  To be fair, the weather in Wellington has warmed up from the freezing winter temperatures.  But Wellington, true to form, is taking its time schleping towards more summary days.

We had 104km/h winds yesterday.  And the thermometer did not go up any further than 10 degrees.  You see what I mean.

So as much as I'd like to start planning meals with lots of lovely fresh salad leaves, drizzled with this, that and the other, I find myself heading down the path of tummy warmers more often than not.

However, I have faith that warmer days are around the corner.   And there are things to be done before the sunny warm days of summer hits. Namely:

  1. Lose some weight
  2. Tidy up and paint my toes nails
  3. Break out the summer clothing.

Now this year, I'm carrying more than the usual 'winter weight'.  It's more like winter weight + eat all I want in Asia weight + eat until I'm about to burst at the conference weight!  To help with the mammoth pre-summer weight loss regiment, I've been cooking more vegetarian meals and also soups and casseroles that are lighter than what I had been cooking for winter (thick stews, cream-based sauces, slow-cooked fattier meats, etc).

'S' loves noodles, so I try and cook it at least once a week.  Asian style noodle soups are often easy to make and relatively healthy.  In fact, you could make this dish as healthy as you want it to be - like using lean mince and udon noodles for example.  I've used 'regular' mince here, that is, mince with fat.  It's a personal choice.

This really isn't a recipe that I created.  It's simply something I throw together often using flavours I'm very familiar with.  And if you decide to make this weekly like I do, change it up a bit by using different proteins (beef/pork mince, chicken/duck slices, frozen prawns and squid or tofu), or different types of noodles and just about any type of vegetable will work as well.  No fix rules here.

Give it a go and let me know if you like it, or what you did to change it up a bit!

Asian Beef Balls Soup with Noodles

Meat balls:
500g mince beef
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp ground white pepper

Rice bran oil (or any other light tasting vegetable oil, like canola or soya)
10 shallots, sliced (you can use onions if you prefer)
25g ginger, sliced (about 2 fingers length and width)
2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes (use 1/2 TSP if you prefer it less spicy or omit entirely)
1 bunch of fresh coriander (appx 1 cup), roughly chopped and set aside for later
The stems (near the roots) of the coriander, chopped
8 cups water (you can use stock, but I prefer to keep the flavour of the soup base clean)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

Selection of vegetables chopped/sliced - zucchini, carrots, corn, bok choy, asparagus, or whatever you like
Buckwheat noodles - follow cooking instructions on the pack

  1. Use a light hand and quickly mix the mince beef and all other meat balls ingredients together.  Don't over mix as I find that it makes meat balls dense and tough.
  2. Cover and put aside for the mince to marinade a little whilst you get on to the soup.
  3. In a large pot, heat some rice bran oil over medim heat and gently fry the shallots, ginger, ground coriander, chilli flakes and coriander stems.  Fry until the shallots are soft and lightly browned.
  4. Add the 8 cups of water to the shallots mixture to make the soup.
  5. Bring to boil.
  6. Lower down the heat to medium-low and add the vegetables.  Note - if you're using vegetables that cook quickly like bok choy, asparagus or zucchini, add these vegetables in only once the meat balls are almost cooked, in the last 3 minutes of cooking.
  7. Add the light soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar to the soup.
  8. Whilst the vegetables is cooking in the soup, make the beef balls.
  9. Wet your hands and very quickly and lightly again, roll the marinated mince beef into balls and place them on a plate.  Damp hands will help prevent the mince sticking to your hands and make it easy to roll.  I rolled my beef balls into the size of large Jaffa balls or gobstoppers.
  10. Heat a little rice bran oil up in a fry pan on high and very quickly brown the beef balls.  You want only a light brown and sear - not to cook the beef balls through.  Once lightly browned, scoop into a bowl/plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.
  11. At this point, boil some water, ready for cooking your choice of noodles.
  12. Back to the soup - Turn the heat up to medium and add the beef balls into the soup and cook until the beef balls are just cooked.  Don't be tempted to cook the beef balls for too long, or else they'll over cook and start to fall apart.  So will your vegetables!
  13. Add some salt at this point, to taste.
  14. Whilst the beef balls are cooking, quickly cook your noodles in a separate pot.  Most noodles will take only between 3-5 minutes cooking time.
  15. Drain your cooked noodles and divide them into large bowls.  Top the noodles with the the cooked beef balls and vegetables - scoop these out without the soup.  Then ladle the hot soup over the noodles, beef balls and vegetables.
  16. Top with plenty of fresh coriander and enjoy!

for the love of food {nz's first food bloggers conference}

From the moment it was announced that New Zealand would be having it's first food bloggers conference, I'd been telling all and sundry about it.  Actually to be exact, telling everyone that moi would be attending NZ's first ever food blogger conference.  I'm sure I repeated myself a little more than a couple of times to some friends and family.

Now I've attended a couple of work-related conferences and managed and work a decent few.  However, none that I've found myself raving on about.  And when the day finally rolled around, it did not disappointment.

As bloggers from around the country started to trickle in, I felt a teensy weensy bit of shyness creeping in - excusable since I've only met a small handful of bloggers in person, that and the knowledge that I was in the company of some amazing bloggers who lived and breathed food more than even I did, who wrote like pros and took exquisite photos.  But it didn't take long for that feeling to dissipate.  NZ food bloggers are some of the nicest and most inclusive people I know.  And before long, we were all chatting and laughing.  There was a lot of 'ahhh...so you are so and so'!  You see most of us have communicated over Twitter, Facebook and on our blogs.  But most use our blog names and not our personal names.  It was lovely to be able to put faces to blogs!

There's not much more to say really about the day that hasn't been already said by some fellow bloggers who have blogged about the conference.  However if I had to summarise it (not that I haven't already gone on and on, on this post), it was to me, a gathering of kindred spirits who wholly understood the love (sometimes obsession) for all things food-related and the need to share that love on our blogs and with people in our lives.  It was a superb day.

The conference venue was hosted by The Tasting Shedthanks!  Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the restaurant or even signage.  I was too busy talking to fellow bloggers and taking photos of food!  Here are some photos I did take on the day. :-)

Here are some of our speakers - Jaco Swart - Rainbow Cooking (on social media), Alessandra Zecchini (on writing for different media) and Emma Boyd - Our Kitchen (on Fisher & Paykel's blog, Our Kitchen).  Andrea Wong of So D'lish was also one of our speakers but I didn't get a photo in - bummer.  Andrea spoke on Web Design & Web Optimisation.

Morning tea!  You really had to be there to see it - a gaggle of food bloggers clicking away with their cameras around the table.  In the world of a food blogger, No food (almost) is EVER consumed before photos are taken.  There was a joke floating about that maybe there should be a conference for long-suffering partners of food bloggers.  There could be a presentation on how to cope with living with a food blogger, managing rumbly tummies and cold food, and having the dining table taken over with photography props!  Maybe even a support group...teeheehee...

And yes, I've decided that a group of food bloggers is a 'gaggle'.  Like geese.  If you've ever heard a large group of food bloggers together, you'll understand.

More chit chat at morning tea.

The cool kids at the back of the class.  L to R: Louise - Pacific Harvest, Sue - Couscous & Consciousness, Sasa - Sasasunakku, Mairi - Toast and Kristina - Plum Kitchen.

Lunch time...

Of all the scrummy food that The Tasting Shed put on for us, I have to say that my favourite was the braised and rolled pig's head.  It was melt-in-the-mouth good.  Wished I had the plate all to myself!

Q&A session after lunch with Vanessa Opera of Food OperaSasa - Sasasunakku, Bron - Bron Marshall and Rosa - The Culinary Explorations of Mrs Cake.  Some very lively discussions were had!  Why they started their blog, daily number of visitors their blogs get, to make money or not, where to from here...etc etc...

Louise from Pacific Harvest took us through a tasting session of all the different types of seaweed Pacific Harvest offers.  The tasting did not only involve the different dried seaweeds, but also the different ways they can be used; in pesto, puttanesca sauce and making healthy snacks (3 different kinds of dried seaweed + slivers of nuts + sesame seeds + honey to combine it all).  Who would have thought?!  I immediately thought of another way to enjoy this snack - sprinkle over jook (Chinese rice porridge)!

Have you noticed the smartphones and notebooks (i.e. digital not paper) on the table and in many hands?  Conference attendees were flooding Twitter with highlights and thoughts throughout the day, me included.  Bloggers who weren't able to attend followed our tweets.

Finally it was a workshop on food photography given by Bron Marshall.  Bron gave us tips on lighting and styling, which I found very useful.  I was so inspired that I went on a prop-hunting (read: shopping!) exercise the very next day.  Stumbling on the Retro Fair at Greenland the day after the conference was definitely timely. 

The conference also included a wine tasting session at Coopers Creek.  However I hadn't taken any photos during the tasting.  Was too wrapped up with the tasting to remember.  Ooops!

Once the conference was over, most of us drove back into the city for the night's event - a dinner at Cook the Books.  Once there, we were spoilt with fabulous food and as the conversations flowed and night wore on, more food was presented.  I could barely move after all that food.

Towards the end of the night, people slowly trickled out.  Goodnights, hugs and kisses were exchanged, as were promises to visit each other's city/town and future plans made for get togethers.  Until next year!!

What a buzz.

A massive thank-you to Allison (Pease Pudding and Gourmet Gannet) for organising our very first food bloggers conference.  What an amazing job you did!

Last but not least, a big thank-you to all our sponsors below:

Bell Tea Cuisine Magazine
Cook the Books