I really like lamb, so while in Australia, my friend Kiran made sure that I got to eat lamb…and more lamb! I even tried kangaroo, which wasn’t too bad (apparently the cheapest meat available – it’s a red meat like beef, but very lean, so you have to have it medium rare, otherwise it gets too tough). Kiran’s cousin is a chef, so she prepared some really delicious food too while we were staying at a villa in the spa resort of Daylesford. She’d brought along her pasta machine, and one evening she made delicious pasta with duck ragu. Pasta is so much better when it’s freshly made!
I also discovered good Malaysian food in Australia…probably the best I’ve had outside of Malaysia and Singapore! Kiran was really excited to take me to one of her favourite restaurants, Mamak. I was a little skeptical at first, but as soon as I saw the menu, I knew the food was going to be authentic. Then late on New Year’s eve, we ended up having Malaysian food again at one of the Papparich restaurants. One can never get too much roti canai, nasi lemak and teh tarik! I only wish I could get decent Malaysian food like this in Vancouver! 😦
I tried Anzac cookies (or should I say, “biscuits”) and had some wonderful cannoli and tiramisu at Brunetti on Lygon Street, in the heart of Melbourne’s Little Italy. I discovered honey-roasted macadamia nuts and convinced myself that since we don’t get all the assortment of Tim Tam flavours here, like Salted Caramel and Turkish Delight, I had a perfectly good excuse to try all of them…Yup, I snacked on a lot of Tim Tams…
And of course, I had Pavlova for the first time ever. It’s the quintissential Australian (or New Zealand…depending on who you’re asking, I suppose!) dessert, made of a baked meringue base, and topped with whipped cream and fruit. It’s so light and refreshing, perfect for the summer. When I returned home, it was the middle of winter, but I decided to try making pavlova. The meringue came out more of a brownish colour, and as it cooled, it sunk in the middle, and the edges started to crack. All ovens are different, so next time I’ll try it at a slightly lower temperature. But after I decorated the pavlova, it actually turned out looking quite ok. For my first time, I guess it wasn’t bad. Most of my friends had no idea what Pavlova was, but they thought it looked pretty impressive, and as soon as they got a taste of it, they wanted more!
(Adapted from AllRecipes)
PAVLOVA (Makes 1- 9″ pavlova)
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9-inch circle on the parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until thick and glossy. Gently fold in vanilla extract, lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
3) Sprinkle a thin dusting of cornstarch on parchment paper. Spoon mixture inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper. Working from the centre, spread mixture toward the outside edge, building edge slightly. This should leave a slight depression in the centre.
4) Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven, and let pavlova cool in the oven.
5) In a small bowl, beat heavy cream* until stiff peaks form; set aside. Remove the parchment paper, and place meringue on a flat serving plate. Fill the centre of the meringue with whipped cream, and top with kiwifruit slices or other fruit of your choice.