Wines of Barossa: Visit to the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre

Wine wine everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

That’s what Arjun Singh must have felt when we were in the Barossa because guess who was the designated driver? Hehe…But it was either him or me and ummm, I don’t drive that well, so poor him. So he kept up the conscientious resolve…. Until we reached the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre. And I signed us up both for the Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting, which included a tour of ….the vineyards (duh!), and a complimentary tasting of 7 of their premium blends. He was not going to give up on THAT.

Look how happy he is
Look how happy he is

Jacobs Creek is one of the biggest wine makers from Australia, and their wines are grown and made all over the South; Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra. However, it is at Barossa that their visitor centre is located and where you meet the elves in Jacob ‘Claus’ Creek’s wine workshop. Haha, I wish there were elves. Maybe there are. But we’ll never know ;)

The centre offers a host of tours and tasting experiences to cater to all types of visitors: the foodie, the history-buff, the environmentalist, the wine-lover. The photographer? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong.  The premises are beautiful, the setting is elegant and scenic.

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You are treated to views of the grape plantation spread over the rolling hills. It’s quite a sight. However visitors aren’t really allowed to visit the plantation in Barossa. You are only allowed access to the visitor centre, and a dedicated green patch where you can relax on picnic style benches, and leisurely take in the views, while lying back on super comfy bean bag style mattresses. There is also a special area that is exclusive to the vineyard tour groups which is cordoned off from the rest of the visitors. This has a sample of each type of the 14 grapes that Jacobs Creek growers cultivate.

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The Vineyard Tour and Tasting tour starts off with a bit of history, a tour of the visitor centre which takes you via an informative display. The gallery has an interesting display of the wine bottles, the corking and bottling techniques over the years. You then move onto the vineyard, or in this case the exclusive tour-special vineyard, with the sample crops.

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Once there, you are then allowed to roam around, check out each type of grape and even taste some. That was my favourite part. Most of the whites had dried up but the reds were plump and ready for picking. They were like super sweet raisins, the kind you want in christmas cake, except that they were fresh, and ripe for picking. And I picked a lot. Yay!

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Look at how ripe and juicy the Grenache is

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It was here that I discovered a new grape called the Grenache. The time we visited the valley, it was end of harvesting season already, so most of the crops were bare, but there was a particular grape that was still on the vines, and looked ripe and ready. This was the Grenache, a red grape that ripens late and typically has a high tolerance for heat and drought. True that, because given the hot hot days we encountered and the heat the area is prone to during end of harvesting season, the Grenache was doing spectacularly well. Typically used in blends (mixing with other grapes), you will most likely not find a grenache wine on it’s own, as they have high oxidation levels, which leads to a stronger tanin flavour on the palate as the wine ages. The most favoured blend for this grape is a GSM: Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.

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Happily posing away with the Merlot, thinking it was the Grenache.. oops

I am not a big fan of red wines, however there are certain reds that I do like, a good Shiraz makes my day, a Merlot not so much. However, the idea of a GSM sounded very enticing (I had already tried the dried grape, I was sure the wine would be delicioussimo too :D) And it totally was. We tried the St Hugos GSM as part of our tasting, and WIN for the red wine corner. (Don’t worry, white, you are still my favourite)

The wine tasting was quite a lovely experience. As I mentioned before, you get to try 7 of their best wines, and they are superbly generous. Arjun Singh tried his reds, and I the whites, and ofcourse the GSM. By the end of it, we were in a state of delicious bliss, and the bean bag hammocks were calling out to us. So we put up our feet, gazed out at the fine Jacobs Creek plantations, smiled indulgently at everyone around us, gazed adoringly at each other, and even snoozed a teensy bit. (Hey, it’s us, we LOVE to sleep).

Things You Must Know About The Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre:

The Good:

  1. The Vineyard Tour and Tasting allows you access to the exclusive sample crops of the Jacobs Creek wineyards, where you get ample time to explore, taste, touch, and click
  2. A generous sampling of some of their best wines. 7, to be precise, for AUD 15 is a super good deal
  3. There are also free samplings of the chosen wine of the month, which happen every 2-3 hours
  4. The premises are gorgeous. The outdoorsy deck, the plantation views, everyone is allowed to visit and relax.
  5. An amazing variety of tours offered for the wine lover

The Bad:

  1. I felt it the setup was a bit commercial, especially the special plantation area open only to people who sign up for tours. Without that you aren’t allowed access to the crops at all. The only place you were allowed free access too was the bar and the restaurant and the picnic area.
  2. Too much paranoia. We had to sanitise our shoes before entering the sample crop area, which was essentially a gated and boxed crop patch. Maybe my displeasure stemmed from the fact that we had visited many other wine growers and makers who were far less paranoid about people checking out their crops, or bringing in the dreaded phylloxera pest.

The Ugly:

Nothing at all, I just wanted to use the headings in the post :)

Fun Fact:

The family behind the Jacobs Creek wines are actually the Grampp family. Jacob was the land owner, from whom the Grampps bought land for commercial cultivation, and the creek running beside his house was named after him. The bottles carry the Gramps family signature, of Johann Grampp.

All views expressed are mine. I had a yummazing time at the visitor centre, however did not get a detailed look at the brand and its wines. But that is purely because I chose the tour but wasn’t too well informed about it. Make sure you pick the tour that appeals most to you, and what you want to do at the centre. Eat, drink, be merry, learn, bike around, and even cook. It’s all yours for the picking :)

If you want to know more about Jacobs Creek, you can visit their website here 

Also, this is an extensive and uber-gorgeous post by Katie from What Katie Ate, where she was a guest of Jacobs Creek (sigh). Read on here to marvel at her photography and learn tonnes more about the behind-the-scenes plus the magic behind Jacobs Creek.

I am linking this post to #TheWeeklyPostcard link up that happens in some super fun blogs hosted by Lyn and her pals. Head on there to check out her fun blog.

A Hole In My Shoe

Scarecrows of Barossa

Scarecrows? Really? THAT’s what I choose to talk to you about from my trip to the Barossa? You know, the valley which is the Napa of Australia! Gazillions of vineyards all across town and I am posting about scarecrows.

Of course I am posting about scarecrows. Because they were colorful, creative, and all over the place, I just HAD to tell you about it too. See, everyone knows that Barossa is home to some yummazing wines. Jacobs Creek, Seppenfelts, & Penfolds come from this valley, people. And I am guessing the serious Masterchef Australia fans know that Barossa is also home to Maggie Beer and her lovely farm/cafe.

But you know the first thing I saw when I entered the town centre of Barossa?

This.

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As we drove past this, for a split second Arjun Singh and I thought that these were very colorful people, just sitting about and doing nothing. But hold on, those were not people dressed in overalls, and that was not a woman who had crashed into a tree. We stopped and went close for a look. This was definitely not a woman who had crashed into a tree.

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Witch: Scarecrow Garden

Waitaminnnit, I screamed, these are PUPPETS. Arjun Singh is like, ermmm, can you not read, it says the Scarecrow Garden. Oh ya, it does. Okay, I screamed again, these are such COOL SCARECROWS.

There was Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall.

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Humpty Dumpty: Scarecrow Garden

This puppet (see, there were puppets too) was taking his scarecrow to the market, or farm maybe.

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Farmer and Scarecrow: Scarecrow Garden

We drove on and in the next few miles, found another scarecrow, this time at the entrance to one of the wineyards

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So of course the curious cat that I am, I checked Google, and was informed that this was the time of the year when the residents of the Barossa Valley celebrated their end of harvesting season with the Barossa Vintage Festival.  (See, lazy plan-da me, comes to know of something after I get there.. eeps) And as part of the celebrations, the residents come up with these scarecrow montages all across town to participate in the Barossa Scarecrow Trail. It’s a real thing, yep, with a prize worth AUD 1000 to the winner. And boy, do these guys get into with unbridled enthusiasm. Men and scarecrows, alike.

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Hangover: Part Scarecrow anyone?

These scarecrows were all over. On the streets, at petrol stations, on telephone wires, in the back of a truck, outside of family-owned vineyards.

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Drunk (I hope) Wedding Party
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Medic Scarecrows
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Fuel Station Attendant Scarecrow

We found a dedication to Red Riding Hood and 3 Little Piggies, with the big, bad wolf as their big bad villain, in the middle of a recently harvested vineyard. How creative is that!

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Wasn’t that the cutest?

What say you tell me which ones you liked too? Would be fun to see what tickles your scarecrow-appreciation bone.

If you want to know more about the Barossa Scarecrow Trail, you can click here. Plus here’s another great post about these scarecrows, from Fiona.

We were lucky enough to get to see this when we visited because the festival happens once in 2 years, and the next one is now in April 2017. So, do plan accordingly.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you did, please do subscribe to this blog. I only share fun stories, so you won’t get bored. I promise.

Pssst, and don’t you worry. I am going to be gushing about the Wines of Barossa soon enough. I HAVE TO.

 

I am linking this post to the Wanderlust link up party hosted here

Wanderlust

And also to the #WeekendWanderlust link up party. To know more about the #WeekendWanderlust link up party, you can click here:

3Girls and a #BlogAlong + My Travel Must-Packs

Hello Hello,

Welcome back to the monthly blog-party 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong. Last month, we threw our first party of the year, and couldn’t wait to get this months party started. And even though the plan was to get it rolling on the first Sunday as is planned for all of the #BlogAlong posts, it got delayed. But better late than never, this month we are talking about Travel Must-Packs,  the items that you need to, you have to, you must pack along with you when you take a trip.

All 3 of us love travel, and we love the excitement and happiness a holiday brings along with it. In fact, most of us are like that, aren’t we. It would be terribly boring if one didn’t get excited about a vacation, a holiday, the travel. Some of us plan months in advance, while some of us (read ME) do it a week or 2 before the holiday. Remember my plan to visit New Zealand? Some of us love the luxury while some of us are a tribe of backpackers. Some like it hot, some do not.

But the one thing that remains common for the travelling brethren is their list of things that they MUST-CARRY-OR-THE-VACATION-IS-INCOMPLETE, or simply put things that one always packs, the comfort list.

So we decided to share our lists with you all. And are hoping that you all join this party to share your travel must-haves, because it’s so much fun knowing that there are tons of us out there who prefer 10 books to 2 pairs of shoes in their bags (I actually pack them both, eeps), have 3 types of lip balms floating around in their handbag, or who have 5 different types of hand sanitisers lying around the house, coz they buy one for each vacation, and then forget about the old one lying around the house. Guilty!

So here’s my list of  Travel Must-Packs:

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  1. Diary: As a kid, I used to write a diary. I would totally start entries with Dear Diary because I had read Betty Cooper do the same in Archies comics; and also because I had no clue how to start it off. Haha. The daily habit has now worn off, but what I always do is carry a diary around with me on my trips. Sometimes I am super religious about writing about my entire trip, at times, I manage a day or two. But nevertheless, the diary goes wherever I go.
  2. Pen: Don’t we all love stationery. I know women totally do. And wherever my diary goes, a pen is always around. Comes in very handy for diary-filling moments, making notes, and most importantly, filling in forms and stuff at airports. Heehee!blogalong_june2
  3. Reading material: ALWAYS! I am one of those freaks who carries her e-reader AND novels both.blogalong_june6
  4. Lip balm: What a necessity this one is. And am sure you all are nodding your heads.
  5. Hand cream: Same family as the lip balm. I get restless if my hands get too dry. MUST PACK!
  6. Hand sanitiser: I hate using public bathrooms. And carrying over my obsession with well-moisturized hands, sometimes I skip washing hands. Don’t judge me. Sometimes it’s too cold people. And sometimes I am too lazy :p That’s where our friendly, helpful hand sanitiser comes in handy.blogalong_june4
  7. Scarf: What else can I write about the utility about a scarf to a travelling woman, that hasn’t been written already. A face mask, shawl, head-cover, sarong, stole, a fan; Scarf-(wo)man to the rescue!
  8. Mint: Spearmint, peppermint, doublemint, I got it all. I even found this yummazing mint choc-chip icecream flavoured mint. Woohoo!
  9. Big bag of lipsticks: Lipsticks are my favorite make up item. And my lipstick collection travels with me. All of it. Si Senor. I ain’t your friendly light-weight packer, you must have guessed it by nowblogalong_june5
  10. Hairband(s): This is my accessory of choice when I want to brighten up my look. And my menage-a-hairbandois is my must-pack accessoryblogalong_june3

There you have it. My travel pack for you. As you can see, it’s predictable, feminine, and colorful (I hope). Now I want to know what’s in yours. Call me a curious cat.

So temme, what are your Travel Must-Packs?

This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party, co-hosted by Upasna from Life On My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This And A Lot Of That and yours truly, Moi :). This month’s theme is Travel Must Packs and it’s time to open up your bags! 

BlogAlong

To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:
1. Write and publish a new post around the monthly theme; don’t forget to include the #BlogAlong badge in your post. In order to get the code, click on the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong image in the sidebar on my blog, and your questions shall be answered.
2. Please follow your hosts, and link back to their posts. We would love to know more about you.
3. Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below any of our posts, and adding your post to the blogroll
4. Comment on each other’s posts and spread the love
5. Promote yours and others’ posts on Social Media using #BlogAlong with the 3Girls
6. Link for posting remains open from 14/06/2015 to 21/06/2015, So #BlogAlong now!

 

 

I am also linking this post up to the #SundayTraveler link up party that is co-hosted by some amazing bloggers Adelina, SJ, Ashley, Jess, and Christa.  Join in the party by following #SundayTraveler on Social Media.

 

What I Want To See In New Zealand

I have a blogger pal who calls herself a planning Ninja. Upasna are you reading this?  I like the sound of that. You know what I am. A lazy plan-da. Got it?

haha. No? Okay, fa-ine. Moving on.

I love holidays..who doesn’t. It’s time away from work, visiting new places, creating bucketful of memories, gorging on vacation friendly food (but so not calorie burning friendly) and having an excuse to eat a muffin a day, staying up late at nights; I love it all.

I love the idea of a holiday. What I am not a big fan of is the holiday planning that comes as a to-do along with it. I keep pushing it till the last minute, and then one week before everything is about to begin, it’s time to book stay, tours, plan the daily stuff. The problem is that I don’t lean towards either extreme end. Neither I am a completely spontaneous soul, nor do I plan my whole life to a T. Us middling types get to experience everything. We enjoy the excitement that the onset of a holiday means. And we also bite our nails off at the stress of missing out on the good deals, and seeing the Last Remaining Room being booked out 5 minutes ago. Eeps!

I’m the type who reads and reads about what to do but does everything in the final few days! 

Plus, Arjun Singh and I take the longest time in making decisions. Would have thought we are two Libras married to each other, and not practical Virgos. I think we are improving with time, plus getting used to our indecisive ways. However, we are still a long way off from Planning Perfection 101.

Anyhow, keeping all the above in mind, we started planning our upcoming New Zealand itinerary a full 2 weeks before the actual start date. woo-hoo, 2 is so much better than 1

And now the travel weekend is almost here and am so excited. And since I have to pack my bags, get a decent nights sleep, wake up early all in the course of the next 12 hours this is going to be a short post. Hopefully. 

What I want to see in New Zealand in my next 8 days there:

I want to see everything. 

No?

Okay then will settle for everything in South Island in NZ. 

No?

Hmmm. Okay how about:

  1. Milford sound
  2. Queenstown
  3. Seal pups!! This is actually no.1 on my list
  4. The Fergburger: more like EAT
  5. Mount Cook
  6. Lake Wanaka
  7. Glacier walk
  8. Clear, blue skies
  9. Breathtaking scenery
  10. Some New Zealand-ish food
  11. The kiwis? The bird AND the people…

Let me see how many I tick off. 

E noho ra!!


I am linking this post to the #SundayTraveler link up party that is hosted by some super fun travel bloggers. You can link up here and have some fun too : Chasing The Donkey.

 


Trippin’ In Nimbin

Earlier this year I went on a road trip with my super awesome best friends (so many stories to share!). Truly the road trip of a lifetime, it had everything. Insomniac nights, sleep-in mornings, crazy laughter, ridiculous fights, some tears, epic car games, board games, silly road-trip rules, brilliant sunsets (we could never stay awake for sunrises), music, dance, fights to go last for a shower, and a gazillion bottles of wine/beer/vodka left in our trails. We even managed to view the famous Sydney fireworks at midnight, New Years 2015. What a crazy, crazy trip. Miss you guys.

Nimbin us

But those are stories for another day.

Our plan was to drive from Melbourne to Gold Coast, and take out time to visit Sydney, Canberra, and Byron Bay on the way. But the town that was not on our original intended itinerary was the town that we will most likely never forget. Actually, more than not forgetting, I doubt we will ever visit a place like that again.

Rastafari is not a culture, it’s a reality ~ Bob Marley

And what a reality it is in the town of Nimbin, in New South Wales, Australia.

Continue reading “Trippin’ In Nimbin”

Markets of Melbourne: Night Noodle Market

Hello Hello, and welcome again to my monthly feature on the Markets of Melbourne

Last month, I took you sauntering around Prahran Market, which is mostly a fresh produce market.

This month, I am rewinding the clock back a little and taking you along to this wonderful market that I visited last year, when the days were long and the residents of Melbourne didn’t lock themselves indoors post 6 PM. A fairly new market on the Melbourne scene, launched in 2013, this is an annual event market called the

Night Noodle Market

When I first heard about it, I honestly thought that there are going to be gazillions of noodle vendors on display, and it is going to be ramen heaven. However, this market is basically a giant picnic venue for the entire city to enjoy in. When I visited, in November 2014, it was set on the banks of the Yarra river and the bright summer days were just the perfect setting.

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I am so looking forward to the 2015 edition, but it’s a long wait. Until then, you can relive the experience via my post. And hopefully, line up a Night Noodle Market must-do list

Things I Discovered at the Night Noodle Market

1. Mr Miyagi’s karate-chopped Fried Chicken

Haha, just kidding. Mr Miyagi has not abandoned the Karate Kid to find his life’s calling in fried chicken. A popular Japanese food restaurant in Prahran, Mr Miyagi’s specialty is supposed to be their succulent fried chicken. Finally got to try it at the market, and boy was it juicy and just the right amount of spicy. Plus you get a free life lesson with your purchase. Hai-Yaa!

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2. Ramen Burger

Ramen noodles can be used for making an almost cold-sticky-Maggi-like burger bun. Innovative, hell yes. Easily eat-able, hell no. Just eat it as 3 separate pieces in a dish; bun, burger, bun

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3. Not just Noodles

There were like 3 noodle stalls and tons of eateries from all across Melbourne CBD. And not just oriental, but Indian, Sri Lankan, Australian etc. So if you aren’t a noodle fan (sacrilege!), fret not, there are tons of other options

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4.  Melbourne-ians love their food

.. and long summer days. Check out the crowds. If you ever wondered where are all the people in Australia, I found them for you. They are all at the Night Noodle Market. (or any such market, haha)

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5. Some of us come to these markets to eat, drink, and be merry. While some of us just want to get a good tan

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Thanks a ton for reading. Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour. Now I am off to find the next market to explore for you guys. And myself, of course.

Markets of Melbourne: Prahran Market

You know that feeling of a kid in a candy store? Well I feel something super akin to that when I visit farmers markets. It’s like I go crazy with the wondrous possibilities of the tons of fresh produce I can buy. And not just vegetables and fruits, there is an abundance of other stuff too; olives, cheese, dips, spices, sweets, meat, poultry, seafood, yada yada yada.

And one of the best things about Melbourne? It has an endless variety of markets in and around town. There are the old behemoths like the Queen Victoria Market and the Prahran Market, and then there are the seasonal ones like South Melbourne Night Market which happens during the bright and endless summer nights here. Every town that I have visited in and around Victoria has a special Farmers Market where everyone gets together to enjoy the sun, each other’s company, and take back with them a variety of produce and goods.

It is this variety of markets plus my over enthusiasm for them that has made me want to start a monthly series Markets of Melbourne. It is my aim to cover as many of these markets as I can and share them with you too. Arjun Singh thinks it’s just another excuse to visit these markets, and well, if it means fun for me, and content for you, who’s to complain.

So, presenting the first post in my Markets of Melbourne series, in which I am going to introduce you to

Prahran Market

A lot of people, including me, might have believed the Queen Victoria market to be the oldest market in Melbourne. But na-uh, I present to you Prahran market, which has been an ever-present steadfast favourite in the South Yarra area since 1864.

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Prahran Market: Established 1864

 

Much like a typical spacious farmers market, Prahran market has it all. The fresh produce stalls selling countless varieties of vegetables and fruits, the meat, seafood, and poultry stores and delis, the million-varieties-of-olives stores, the fresh pasta shop, and the ever-present German sausage cafe. The unique thing about Prahran market is that it has a dedicated market square that allows for visitors to eat, catch up some live entertainment, have a coffee, and generally relax around the venue.

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Live band at the market square

 

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Pop up food store; March treats were Malaysian and Argentinian, let’s see what April brings

 

7 Things I Discovered at the Prahran Market:

  1. Chicken Gozleme: To the Indian in me, it was like eating a crispy chicken paratha, but to the finer tuned palates, Gozleme is a Turkish treat, made with pastry dough brushed with egg and butter, stuffed with a variety of toppings, and cooked on a griddle. The classic fillings are spinach and feta (*sigh*), and minced lamb/beef/chicken. I opted for the minced chicken stuffing, and it was satisfyingly yummy.PMwhatiate.jpg
  2. Tequila and Lime Stuffed Olives: How good does that combination sound? If you are thinking that great, let me get a pack for those and my Friday night high is taken care of, let me stop you right now. These olives are more suited to the snacker who likes a little bit of tang combined with the sour-brine soaked olives.
  3. The Essential Ingredient: A treasure trove of cooking ingredients, accessories, and equipment. That’s what this store was for me. I spent a good half an hour here just browsing around the endless aisles of seasonings, bamboo chopping boards, sauces, pastas, the cooking pots and pans, serving dishes *sigh the serving dishes*, the knives, etc etc. There were like 20 types of Balsamic vinegar available in house. I know where to stop when I need any exotic Champagne Vinegar, in case I ever do. (doesn’t hurt to know my options)
  4. Chocolate Gnocchi: I discovered it exists at The Fresh Pasta Shop and it is on my HAVE TO HAVE eat-list for the year
  5. Prahran is a relatively expensive farmers market, if you compare it to Queen Victoria market, and even your local grocery stores. Could be the area it is located in, the South Yarra area is definitely not known for affordability, or could also be that unlike the QV market, there are only a limited, small group of suppliers (9-10). Just guessing.
  6. Closing Hour Deals: However, even though it is an expensive market (I bought a small box of olives and a small box of feta cheese for 20 dollars!), if you stick around until closing hours, you might just end up going home with a bargain or more. The sellers just want to get rid of their produce for the day so they start offering you 1 dollar deals. Whatever is on certain tables, goes off for 1 dollar. I actually got a box of fresh Zucchini flowers (6 to a box) for a dollar and a kg of strawberries for 5 dollars. Yayie! (now if I just knew what to do with them)
  7. I am not really adventurous: Okay, so it’s not a discovery and alright, so there is nothing super adventurous about picking up a camera and deciding to photograph a market to add to your blog. However, I think I just get a bit conscious and shy. It took me a while to get the courage to ask a few of the shopkeepers if they were okay with me taking a few pictures, and they actually didn’t mind at all.  So I got a few normal shots of the market just to give you an essence of the market. Hopefully, with each post I get a bit more confident. (and click better shots!)

 

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I would buy that cheese only to get the tin
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The smell of the coffee beans fills up your senses
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Nuts, nuts, more nuts, and spices
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Prosciutto and pasta; Yumza heaven
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Rows of fresh grapes
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Fresh fruits
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Tomayto, Tomahto; it’s all the same
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Salad leaves: Oz staple

 

Hope you enjoyed this post on Prahran market. If there’s something that you would like to know more about this, or other markets in and around Melbourne, do drop me a note below.

Thanks for reading :)

 

Five Destinations I Would Love To Return To

I love lists. Grocery lists. Shopping lists. Lists to get things done in a day. Lists to clear my head, and plan for a future 2-3-5-10 years from now (yep, I totally day-dream, with all rose-tinted glasses and all).

And I had been planning to get in some list based posts on the blog for a while. Food lists, cafe lists, people lists (what would that be like, hmmmm), and then travel lists. But planning was all that I was doing, until Upasna from Life On My Plate nominated me for this super lovely pay-it-forward write-up. Kinda the nudge I needed to get a post going.

And it’s an interesting one. You can always name the 5 top places you want to visit, but 5 places you want to re-visit?? Man, this kept me going for a while. But nonetheless, making a list is what I am good at, so sharing my top 5 Destinations I Would Love To Return To:

1. London

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London bus on London bridge; Picture Credit: Arjun Parmar

 

Aah, the city of dreams for me. There is just so much happening in London. It was my first experience with a major European city. Farmers markets. The lovely architecture. The streets. How I looked forward to the excitement of taking the train from Derby, on weekends, and seeing all that this wonderful city had to offer. Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace, the bridges, Hyde Park, Oxford Street, the street artists,  the London bus, the tube… oh, and the shopping, the people.  Amongst my very many vivid memories of my time in London, my fondest is of  a day spent at the Brick Lane market. That was my first time ever at a food-from-all-across-the-globe smorgasbordish fair, and boy did that get me hooked. Infact, my friend Pooja introduced me to this part of London, and I am ever so glad she did. I still remember we both had run out of cash (what happens in Soho stays in Soho) and had a grand total of 20 pounds on us. And how we salivated at the sight of all that food. There was Sri Lankan, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Ethiopian amongst many others. Best thing ever though, each stall offered you free samplers, so we kinda got the best of everything and settled down to a burrito and some cupcakes.

Next time around: I hope to live in London, and experience it like a true-blue overcoat-wearing, tube-catching, Hyde-park relaxing Londoner than a regular tourist

2. Tasmania

Orford Beach; Picture Credit: Arjun Parmar
Orford Beach; Picture Credit: Arjun Parmar

 

Last winters, we did a road trip around Tasmania. The husband, I, and his parents. Was a super packed road trip where we covered the length of Tassie (local slang), from Launceston all the way upto Burnie , and then driving down the western coast to Hobart. We also covered the eastern coast of Tassie, all the way upto Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet peninsula. How gorgeous was that, with the white sands and the crystal clear blue waters. Contrasting scenery to the west coast which was all about mountains, and winding roads, and wineyards.

Tassie was an experience I am not likely to forget in a long, long time. Sure, it was gorgeous (poor man’s NZ, they say). Vast undulating stretches of greenery . Cattle grazing lazily on farmlands. Blooming valleys of lavender flowers, rhododendrons, wineyards, apple orchards, berry farms. But more so because, we encountered a different scenery every day, and a different weather experience too. One day it would be bright and sunny, and we would be driving amidst vast farmlands, with cattles grazing and lazing peacefully; and another day it rained cats and dogs, and we were at the outskirts of this beautiful coastal town of Burnie, where we would sit in our car with our coffees and admire the mansion like properties of the retired gentry. The third day, it actually snowed (and there was a mini hailstorm)… in September!!. Tassie kept us enthralled for the duration of our week long trip. Infact, I think Tasmania deserves its own blog post on the sights and sceneries we saw. Coming soon people!

 Next time around: Tasmania is known for it’s local fresh produce (berries, dairy, fruit, wine, meat, salmon etc) but we went at the end of winters (southern hemisphere) so local produce wasn’t out and abound. And the rain also played spoilsport. So the next time around, I want to do a full foodie trip across the country. Full foodie, I repeat.

 

3. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Isle of Skye
Somewhere in the Isle… Picture Credit: Arjun Parmar

 

Where he asked me to marry him…. need I say more

Next time around: Orkney islands are on my Scottish itinerary

4. Pune

Google Images  (I just couldn't sum up my Pune memories in one image, attempt for another day)
Google Images
(I just couldn’t sum up my Pune memories in one image, attempt for another day)

Choosing one of the many many Indian cities to want to always return to was tough (there’s a whole top 10-15 list I have). Goa crossed my mind, as did Sikkim. But Pune is special for so many reasons. It’s that one city where me, my brother, my mother, and my father have all spent parts of our childhoods in. And maybe that’s where lies the attraction (and the magnetic pull). My father and brother did military graduation from there (National Defency Academy, Khadakvasla), and my ma went to Ursulas convent school in Pune. I did my 3rd grade, and my MBA from Pune (met the mister there too :) ) plus worked there for a year+ when my dad was posted there.  Living with my father that year, that’s when I started honing my cooking skills (and he is still my recipe guide, just a shout away). And the days of my MBA at SIMS, Pune has given me my closest friends and super fun memories till date (touchwood).

It has essentially been a city I have grown up in, and revisited at different, crucial junctures of my life, leaving me with fond and bittersweet memories both. Pune, you will always be special for me

Next time around: Visiting my mom’s school, and the place where she and her brood of siblings, along with my grandparents called home :)

5. Himachal Pradesh

Sunset in Kasauli Picture Credit: Arjun Parmar
Sunset in Kasauli
Picture Credit: Arjun Parmar

Saved the best for the last, I did (Yoda talk). What do I say about Himachal that people who know me don’t know already. It’s where my family belongs to. My dad being in the army, the only times we ever really visited Himachal were our yearly summer vacation trips to Shimla, Dharamshala, Garli, and Dehra. So it’s not like I stayed there for a long time and went to school/college, or worked there. But as corny as it sounds, Himachal is in my blood. I cross the border of the state and it’s like I have come home. Everything about it is lovely. The scenery, the fresh air, the small villages, the people (nicest lot ever), and the food. Aah, the food. You don’t find local Himachali cuisine in a lot of public places, which is a pity, but visit any locals home and you will get a flavour of full pahadi food. Come to my home y’all and you will know what I am talking about. That’s why I started my series of posts on Himachali food ~ a small attempt to capture my family’s treasure trove of recipes. Hope I am able to do justice to the idea.

Next time around: Don’t get me started. I want to do a foodie backpacking trip across Himachal.  I want to make buy an apple orchard. I want to make fresh jam and sell it. I want to settle in Himachal. *sigh*

 

This post was part of a campaign created by Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There, for a contest they have been hosting the past few months. As part of the campaign, I’d like to nominate these five other bloggers to also take part:

  1. Pooja Deshpande at A Bit of This and a Lot of That
  2. Neethi Iyer at Happyness On A Platter
  3. Nandini at Goan Imports
  4. Neha Malhotra at The Olive Green Wife
  5. Karen Humilde at Live Wander Love

 

Buddhas Belly

Food-Tastic Find: Roti Stack
Serving Size: 3 hungry souls/2 hungry hippos
Price: $14
Taste: 4 (Scale of 1 to 5 peeps, where 5 is hit out of the ball park good, while 1 being a complete food flop)

Stepping into Buddhas Belly for a weekend brunch, I was initially a little hesitant. A loungy bar on Chapel Street, we had always visited this place for weeknight happy hour wine. But my food-tastic moment happened when I had this dish called Roti Stack. Essentially a fusion take on Eggs Benedict, this dish is made up of scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms and spinach, covered in hollandaise sauce, stakced in 3 layers of roti (flat breads made of wheat flour, more like an Indian paratha than the Malaysian roti chinai). My first bite of this instantly sent my taste buds back home because it felt I had taken a bite of parathas served with Amul butter. (Oh, Amul butter, how I miss thee! No other butter comes even close).

The stack itself is a simply wowsome. With each bite, you get some egg, some mushrooms and that super smooth and creamy hollandaise sauce. The only thing I did not like was the tomato relish that it gets served with. Kind of like a tomato chutney it was slightly sweet, with a sprinkle of cinnamon. A little too sweet for my liking.

The portion size being quite generous, I gobbled up the healthy stuff (eggs, spinach, mushrooms) but just couldn’t’ finish all the rotis. This is a dish that can be easily split between two not so hungry people.

We ate a ton of other things at the bar, chicken parma, big breakfast, veg burger, plus had the usual round of cappuccinos, milkshakes and iced coffees, all of which made me rethink my earlier opinion of Buddhas Belly being just a drinking joint.

But the roti stack ~ what a dish.

Buddha's Belly on Urbanspoon

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