My Easter Celebrations (of Food!)

I don’t normally blog too much about my personal life but I thought I would tell you a bit about my lovely long weekend and the great food and beverages I have encountered. It’s been a relaxing weekend before my last week in my current job (I quit last week due to an external promotion) and it’s also the week before A and I go on an Eastern Australian adventure to see my mum, her sister and family as well as shop, eat and relax!

It all started with a present A bought me – a bag of Lindt Stracciatella Easter eggs. They are based on the classic Italian ice cream recipe and are white chocolate eggs with cocoa pieces and a smooth white chocolate centre. She bought them for me as she knows I am a HUGE fan of cookies and cream and the packet promises that the chocolate replicates the flavour. The eggs are deliciously sweet and the flavour is similar to Cookies and Cream.

We also bought a few treats from New Norcia Bakeries, including fresh-from-the-oven Chocolate Hot Cross Buns (which were still warm!) and a Bacon and Egg Flan for our Easter Sunday lunch.

On the Easter Sunday, A’s parents came over for a lovely lunch. They bought with them a bottle of Pol Roger Brut Extra Cuvée de Réserve Champagne NV, which was a perfect accompaniment to the meal and the sunshine over lunch.

I also had a lot of Rekorderlig cider over the weekend, thanks to the lovely gesture made by Rekorderlig Australia to send me over a carton (I love the Strawberry & Lime flavour!)

We were also lucky enough to find two restaurants open on the long weekend. The first was Cha Baa Thai in Mt Lawley, were we ordered two Pad Thai (one with prawns, the other with chicken). Both were generous servings and the prawn Pad Thai had 10 prawns and the chicken Pad Thai (pictured) had a substantive amount of chicken too. Both were really tasty and the Pad Thai was minimal in sweetness (which is my personal preference).

The second restaurant we ordered take out from was The Zenith, found in Leederville. It’s a Chinese restaurant that must be very popular with the locals. While we were looking at the menu and waiting for our food, two separate parties mentioned to A and I how good the food was and that we should definitely try it. We ordered the Chicken Fillet with Ginger and Shallot ($16.80) and some steamed rice for two ($2 per person). Due to a 15% discount for all take away orders, it only came to a measley $17.90, which was an added bonus. The meal was really good – the chicken was really tender and the sauce was light. The ginger wasn’t overpowering but there was still a lovely flavour to the dish. We are looking forward to returning again.

However, the best food encounter of my long weekend was an Easter dinner hosted by my friends, Justine and Ben. There were eight of us in total and each couple was asked to bring something to contribute. A and I were told to bring a Middle Eastern salad, either warm or cold. My first thought was fattoush, a salad made with mixed greens, toasted pita bread, mint, sumac and a few other ingredients, which is a refreshing salad that is a great accompaniment to any meal (and is eaten with everything in the Middle East). Andrea and Barbs were asked to bring some spicy Italian sausages and Justine and Dan were asked to bring some wine.

Table Setting – Image courtesy of Heats & Arrow Photography (www.heartsandarrow.com)

There were a few additions to the night’s feast, including marinated Octopus made by Barbs a few days before. I am a huge fan of octopus so I was very happy to try it and ask how she made it. Barbs told me that typically, recipes state that it should be marinated in vinegar, however she substitutes vinegar with white wine. It was also marinated in chilli, lemon and herbs and was soft and delicate to chew. It was amazing and I was lucky enough to take the leftovers home.

Andrea is Italian and bought the spicy chorizo sausage from an Italian guy who makes them from scratch. I was watching him prepare the chorizo for barbecuing and he was kind enough to offer a sample before it was barbecued. The flavours were really subtle and there was a lot less fat evident than normal chorizo. Still, Andrea said that he won’t add any oil to the pan when he fries it to make it “healthier” – we all laughed at that! Once cooked, the chorizo’s flavour changed drastically. It got chewier, but also a lot spicier. It was an interesting spice to it, as it didn’t hit you until after you finished chewing and the spice would only be evident on the roof of your mouth. It was lovely!

After the nibbles of Marinated Octopus, Chorizo, fresh Turkish bread and honey-glazed peanuts, I was back in the kitchen watching Ben and Justine finish cooking the main attractions. Ben and Justine made “hangover cure” Pork Belly, Bourbon-based marinated Beef, Corn on the cob, Roasted Vegies (onion, pumpkin, potatoes, capsicums and garlic), served with the Fattoush salad made by A and I.

My favourite dish was the bourbon marinated beef. It was lightly pink in the centre and the lightly-sweet flavour from the bourbon marinade was moreish! Definitely a highlight. The pork belly was also really good, with a light crackle on top.

Bourbon Marinated Beef (back) & Pork Belly (front)

The vegies and fattoush were a perfect accompaniment to the meat and before long, it was time to take the dishes away.

Corn & Fattoush

There was a long gap between our main course and dessert, which was required due to the substantial amount of meat we ate! There was continuous chatter amongst our party of eight and lots of laughs. For the evening, I was drinking Rekorderlig cider, however I also tried a lovely 2008 Cabernet Merlot by The Alchemist (Margaret River), which was very smooth and light bodied but had a lovely flavour too (another to add to the CFJ wine list!).

Justine and Ben made three amazing desserts to end our feast. The first was “Knock Your Socks Off” bread and butter pudding with a bourbon based sauce. We were watching Ben make the sauce a little earlier in the evening and we were all mentioning the use of bourbon. Justine and Ben recently returned from a trip around the world, however they were mainly traveling around the United States. Ben discovered this Southern American recipe and we were the first to try it. He made the sauce separately in a pan, and added one cup of bourbon, butter and sugar. The recipe didn’t call for the mixture to be boiled, so it was mentioned that this could be quite an alcoholic concoction. When it was served, the pudding was soft, flavoursome and covered in a very strong and boozy sauce! Ben had two bowls and discovered that it might have made him a lot more tipsy than originally expected. A delicious, but strong dessert!

Justine made the other two desserts of the evening. The first was the Cheesecake Filled Chcoolate Easter Eggs. I haven’t actually seen anything like these before – they were so pretty and dainty! The ‘egg whites’ were cheesecake filling, whereas the ‘egg yolk’ was a mixture of passionfruit and apricot sauce. They tasted really good and looked too cute to eat!

Justine also made little ‘birds nests’ from crushed biscuits, cocoa powder, coconut, melted butter and vanilla essence, which were made to hold little chocolate eggs in them. These bird nests were really tasty and I loved the fact that they were crumbly. Another moreish dessert!

Bird Nests – Image courtesy of Hearts & Arrow Photography (http://www.heartsandarrow.com/3/post/2012/04/easter-treats.html)

It was a lovely evening of good food, good wine and good company! There’s not too much more you can ask for, is there? A huge thanks to Justine and Ben for organising the evening. It was lovely and everything was super delicious!

I hope all of you had a lovely Easter, with lots of yummy food and beverages, and that you feel rejuvenated after the four day break!

- Natalie (the chick behind CFJ)

Cha Baa Thai on Urbanspoon The Zenith - Contemporary Asian Food on Urbanspoon

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