I’m still adjusting to life after hospital so I won’t be writing about the conference but I can give you my ‘cricket highlights’: I met lots of ace folks, ate lots of ace food and got to hang out with some (shock horror) non-foodie mates. Hours of Test matches in a non-airconditioned home after having moved from the UK to Australia is possibly character building but really bloody boring. The highlights after the news bulletin, however, is another matter.
It was, of course, good to head home. Lately I find I miss England so I decided to try my hand at making trifle, as one does when one misses home (no, I don’t quite get it either).
To warm up, I deliberately started with a piss-easy recipe: it’s common knowledge I’ve little prowess to speak of in the kitchen – nope, it’s not a schtick, it’s actual fact. Not really something I’m particularly proud of, it just is. There are several boring reasons for this, none of which I feel the need to disclose. Anyway, I couldn’t fully read the recipe @eatnik had posted on ze twitters, so I Googled a few and started with one entitled ‘big berry trifle’.
Fair warning: I got dumped so no more fancy photos: for now, it’ll be my crummy phone ones. Back to the blog’s roots, yo.
To say I mucked around with the quantities and used an inadequately deep dish would be an understatement. Make sure you don’t do the latter!
Line your dish with slices of the Swiss roll. Squish them up and fill any spaces you see.
Top with the sliced strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Pour vanilla custard on top of the fruit layer.
Slather raspberry yoghurt over fruit and custard.
I managed to barely fit one more Swiss roll layer on top of all this, then smoothed the whipped cream over said layer. At which point it became clear my dish wasn’t deep enough…dear god, trifle-making is becoming a metaphor for my life…
Enjoy with a cup of strong tea and the promise of a coronary. I was going to have a glass of elderflower cordial but it was too gloomy an afternoon.
It’s been a week and the trifle is still edible. It’s also nicer a couple of days after being assembled.
It seemed to be one of those days: you can’t say or do the right thing and your loved ones are incurably miserable. It does leave one wondering why one bothers to get out of bed at all (being an unemployed bum, I can exercise that luxury, should I want to).
Given my shit record for standing up @becksley (or good, depends on how you look at it: good at standing up, bad for standing up), I was determined to accompany Tristan on his work commute and hang in the city till it was time to see the lovely lass in question. This meant what’s become a fairly regular habit of accidentally annoying the baristas at Cup of Truth in the morning.
It’s a sad day when even Courtney’s flawless soy Magic doesn’t make me grin like a fool.
So off I trotted to my former workplace, Elevenses where dear Shanny lovingly made me a pourover of the Toby’s Estate Guatamala El Tambor CoE #7 which incidentally has notes of fresh toast (non sequitur: oddly enough, Shanny’s name autocorrects to ‘shabby’ on one of those smartphones).
Armed with some poetic inspiration thanks to one of Shanny’s neologisms, I left with my tail a little less between my legs to see B who is, it’s fair to say, quite obsessed with macarons. She can make them (quite proficiently from what I can glean) and she’s also written a really cool zine about them. In typical angry-ranty-adorable B fashion, she declared that an establishment whose name I shall not mention made macarons of fairly average quality and that it was imperative we both visit La Belle Miette on Hardware Lane, CBD.
I’d like to think that I’m immune to fads – macarons included – but I realise I’m hardly an impartial judge. If B was mad keen on these saccharine treats from La Belle Miette, they must be pretty bloody good. As soon as one sights the shop, you can’t really help but be infected with girlie glee – it looks utterly charming and stocks a select range of beverages designed to appeal to your inner Francophile – artisanal soft drinks in reusable bottles and Mariage Frères tea.
Your main problem with the macarons will be what flavours to select (to eat in, or take home in beautifully designed boxes to protect your yummy treasures) and how many to stop at. I began with the rose, cherry blossom and sake, and a brand new offering – wasabi. The rose is one of those macaron flavours I always order when available – it’s not too sweet and I like that flower-burst-in-my-mouth quality it has. This did not fail to please. Vanillary, buttery goodness. The cherry blossom and sake, I confess I expected a little more from – I couldn’t really taste the sake and felt that the cherry blossom could be a little more ‘flower-bursty’ (yeah, look at me, all technical-like). Oh, but the wasabi, WOW. Perfect marriage of sweetness with the added kick that only wasabi could have. I do also love their doilies – my mother used to crochet ones just like this when we still lived in England! Sadly, when we came to Australia, her crotcheting style remained firmly stuck in the 80s (it still is, alas).
B said that strawberry is one of her ‘measuring macaron quality’ flavours, like rose is to me, so she started off with the strawberry and vanilla, and a pink grapefruit. She donated a pinch of the latter to me – a touch of the mouth-puckering sourness of the fruit was pleasingly evident.
Ding ding! Round two!
I’d been greedily eyeing the raspberry and the 72% cocoa chocolate single origin Venezuela macarons. B also had a chocolate one and added a violet and blueberry one too. The raspberry one had even more scrunch-up-your-face tartness than the pink grapefruit, and I was pleasantly surprised by how bitter and not-sweet the chocolate one was. It is rich and has a lot of depth in its flavour. It being bitter is not a slight – quite the opposite, actually.
The texture of the macarons is very consistent – slightly hard shells yet soft but not bone-dry. I want to say they are slightly moist but that’s not quite right either. The ganache complements the shells wonderfully and is not overdone in sweetness. The owner Maylynn is lovely and was happy to natter to me and B about all the secrets of macaron making (which sadly is lost on me given my lack of culinary prowess). B looked like she was in her element, talking to a professional trained hardcore in France. Fellow food blogger wankster Em who can actually make macarons unlike my sorry self has also visited and reviewed La Belle Miette: I urge you to read her aficionado account.
I wouldn’t normally say such things, but should you happen to get into a fight with someone and wanted to make it up to them, you could do little wrong than to buy a box of wonder from La Belle Miette. In fact, I’m off to start engineering fights right now…
*miette means ‘crumb’ in French, but I also fondly recall that Penfold from Danger Mouse is partial to the trepidatious exclamation “oh crumbs!”.
I should stop reading online reviews. They fuel my gustatory lust. For this reason, I found myself at Cafe Rosamond in Collingwood to try out Pierre Roelofs’ Thursday dessert night. Have you had an argument with a loved one? Apologise by taking them here. Do you want to take out your best mate and impress the bejesus out of them? Take them here. Are you looking to invent a reason to go out and spend good money on lavish desserts? No? Why not? Invent a reason and bemoan your poverty later!
Thankfully because it was raining, there was no line out the door. Cafe Rosamond is small and even once seated, it’s very, very cosy so once I was in, I thought it best to go the whole hog – the tubes and the three courses of dessert please!
Ah, the tubes. This evening’s tubes were cola spiders. Cola jelly, vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream, all to be sucked up in one go. I even tasted lime in mine. A word of caution: if you’ve come here pretending to be the arbiter in hipster cool, once you have one of these that façade will vanish. From one such table of hipsters, I heard the follow words burst forth: “Oh my god, that is AWESOME!!!” You might recall from previous blog posts that I am not above showing my excitement for dessert (for example, the crème brûlée burnt sugar cracking experience at the Station Hotel). It was most satisfying, therefore, to hear other diners echoing my child-like glee at those tubes of wonder.
Our waiter was adorable. As soon as he saw the DSLR (not mine, I am always quick to point out, lest I be viewed as a DSLR wanker), he asked what the name of the blog was. We had been outed. He also cheekily noted that we’d wiped our plates clean after the first dessert course – a gorgeous, edible mixed-media sculpture of quince, ricotta and peanut. The textures in these desserts are phenomenal and always a surprise with each bite. Will you get nuts, jelly or fruit? What flavour will linger most on your tongue? Absolutely stunning.
The second course was a traditional steamed golden syrup pudding with vanilla bean flecked custard. I was glad it was small because this one is sweet! The custard helps to dilute the sweetness, as does a nice long black. I am getting wistful just remembering this.
The last course was a return to the edible mixed-media sculpture style as witnessed in the first course. This time, we were treated to cubes of pear, sweet potato and dairy – I think the dairy was cubes of semifreddo! This was topped with a thread of caramel with a thick paste-like consistency. Interestingly enough, the sweet potato was not sweet – at dinner beforehand I’d had sweet potato gyoza and they were so much sweeter than this. It seems such a shame to demolish these desserty treasures but bellies must be fed, you understand. I recall saying to my partner that this would be the sort of dessert that might attract someone like my brother – he doesn’t really like very sweet things, and I didn’t find this to be sweet at all. Dessert definitely does not need to be sweet in order to be amazing, as I’m sure Roefols has proven aptly with these sumptuous creations.
These beauties are just an example of some of the desserts you may end up having as they change every week. Cafe Rosamond doesn’t take bookings, but they’re open till fairly late – I got there just before 9pm and more folks popped in later as we were dining. Melbourne Gastronome speaks highly of the gush-inducing tubes and Joyce of Mel: Hot or Not gives it a ‘hot’. I don’t know how long the dessert nights will run, but if you have a sweet tooth, you really ought to pay these folks a visit.
So you’ve shelled out your $40 for all three courses and had the tube. Still left wanting (really? you greedy whatsit!)? You can buy an instant pudding mix to take home! They had just released a spiced plum and frangipane one the night I was there and have had a chocolate and coconut one available at the time of writing this. Given how bad my insomnia is, best not to…I can imagine these would be the perfect late-night treat. It could indeed become an expensive (and girth-stretching) habit.
If you’d like to see more photos taken on the night, check out Tris’ Flickr album. Having trouble finding the place? Enter via Charles St off Smith St – address says Smith St rear but it’s not physically located on it.