Posts tagged ‘food ‘

Inspired by mountains

This isn’t really French at all, but it could be!! I recently had the pleasure of being served an amazing dessert that could rival the desserts of the best chefs of the world. It was a sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce; but it was more than that.

The Highland Restaurant is the main dining room of Cradle Mountain Lodge in the beautiful world heritage wilderness area of Tasmania Australia.

The dessert arrived and I paused to appreciate the beautiful artistic arrangement eventually realising that it was a representation of Cradle Mountain itself and the surrounding Dove Lake and Crater Lake. Three round dark brown date puddings represented the mountains. Each topped with some custard snow cover. A pastry swirl formed the clouds as they swept up and over the rocky mountain crags. Two lakes swirled perfectly in unison; a sweet toffee Dove Lake and a lighter tangy Crater Lake. A tangle of lemon zest represented the dark yellow alpine grasses. Each flavour of the dessert stood out separately and yet contrasted perfectly.


Earlier that day we had trudged through 30 centimetre snow around the walking track that loops around Dove Lake. We had seen the snow capped mountains through the parted veils of cloud as they swirled off the tops of the crags. We enjoyed the colours of this wild alpine scene. To see this landscape cleverly recreated in a dessert was an unexpected surprise.



1 comment September 26, 2009


I had a “Frenchish” day recently in Melbourne. It began with a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria.


National Gallery of Victoria

We joined the queue to see the Dali exhibition Liquid Desire. Once inside we followed the art trail, studying his works, and then shared our thoughts about our favourite pieces, discussing why we liked them. I love Galatea of the Spheres.

Galatea of the spheres by Salvador Dali

Galatea of the spheres by Salvador Dali

 It is difficult enough to paint a portrait, but to do this superimposed over an arrangement of painted spheres is astounding. At this time he was intrigued with atomic physics and this portrait illustrates his thinking.


We had lunch at the gallery bistro called Persimmon. We enjoyed an entrée of Baked scallops, fennel escabeche, mushroom cream, gruyere, and then for the main course we had Potato & herb gnocchi, brussel sprouts, cauliflower & pecorino crumble, all washed down with a lovely glass of Astrolabe Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The meal was beautiful and the service was impeccable.


Scallop entree


It was a perfect way to spend a lazy winter’s Sunday in Melbourne, and we were not the only people thinking that as the gallery was extremely busy. It certainly goes against the common image that Australians lack culture. It seems we do enjoy other activities besides football and drinking beer – not that there’s anything wrong with that. So I suppose the “French” aspect of this day was visiting a gallery, looking at art, enjoying a lovely lunch, and generally feeling sophisticated. And Dali, although not a French artist, did fulfil the typical life of an artist and he created those weird, surreal creations that the French appreciate so well.


The next week I visited the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery to see the Brett Whiteley exhibition 9 shades of Whiteley. Brett Whiteley’s art is my absolute favourite. I love his colour and shapes and compositions and the size of his work. There seems to be a reoccurring curved shape that often appears in his work. I thought I was familiar with all of his work, but to my delight I found a painting that was new to me.


Far North Queensland by Brett Whiteley

Far North Queensland by Brett Whiteley

Port Douglas Far North Queensland is one of his last works before his death in 1992. It is full of colour, vibrancy, and movement. From this painting you would think he was at a happy place in his life, and perhaps he was. It is different from his gorgeous “blue” works of Sydney Harbour like his 1976 Archibald Prize winning Self Portrait in the studio. I never pass up an opportunity to see his work “in the flesh”.

Add a comment July 22, 2009

La Grande Rue

High Street Armadale and Prahran in Melbourne have many stores claiming French qualities. la_grande_rue

 These shops sell food, home decor, antiques, clothing, art and more. It is a trendy area that aims for wealthy customers. The “French” stores are intermingled easily amongst Italian, Korean, modern, eclectic and others. If you have spare cash you can certainly find something unique here.euro_patisserie

I had a coffee and a shepherd’s pie at the Euro Patisserie and later a slice of lemon tart and a hot chocolate at a place simply called French Patisserie. None of the people serving in these cafes were French and I felt no “Frenchness” in the experience.

The stores I visited were Durance en Provence, Parterre, L’imperiale Fine French Antiques, and Gaudion Furniture. Durance en Provence offered clothing, soaps, perfume, shoes, and more from France. Parterre sells modern furniture and household items suitable for the modern minimalist style. L’imperiale Fine French Antiques is perfect if you would like to decorate your home in the style of the Versailles Palace and if you have the bank account of the famous Louis’s.

gaudionsOf all the places I visited the place that made me smile happily was Gaudion Furniture. Expensive and exclusive French style furniture was artfully arranged in the old building. I followed old wooden stairs down and back into the shop, then outside, across a small courtyard and up another staircase to a rear room. Back in the main building I went upstairs to other rooms. Lamps adorned with crystals sat on large wooden sideboards. Large framed mirrors reflected and multiplied the treasures. Wooden tables filled the space and fabric covered cushions offered comfort and warmth.

A sign on the door stated that photography was not welcome. It is a pity because it could be good advertising for them. They must be afraid someone will steal “their” ideas. Too late for that I think because French style is being spruiked everywhere.

tiger_cafe_prahranI finished my Saturday morning excursion at Greville Street Prahran. This street is known for its ultra trendy alternative style. It has been frequented over the decades by poor art students and it used to be the place to buy cheap second hand clothing, furniture and knick-knacks. Now it has been claimed by the people trying to cash in on the trendy culture. The op shops have gone and the cafes are stylish and were full of people looking for that little bit of something different away from the brightly-lit shopping centres and fast food outlets. We all crave that unique experience I guess.

Add a comment June 20, 2009

Filou’s Patisserie

DSC01128It was a cold sunny day in Melbourne and I was in Carlton to watch a game of Aussie Rules Football. The stadium was still closed, it was lunchtime and I was hungry. I don’t know this part of the city well and so I went walking in search of food.

Joggers and cyclists exercised following the paths in the park. I passed the cemetery. DSC01125 The next busy road was Lygon Street, but not the part that is famous for the cafes and restaurants. I noticed a corner shop that looked like a café. Can you imagine how delighted I was to have discovered an authentic French style bakery – Filou’s Patisserie?filous_patisserie

I eagerly entered to find a queue of people patiently waiting in the small interior, quietly deciding on what to choose, before it was their turn for service by the busy staff. Glass cabinets were filled with delicious food typical of a French Patisserie. There were Macaroons, bread of all types, lemon tarts, croissants of course, spinach pies, Madeline’s, chocolate cakes, and more. I bought a savory vegetarian croissant and wandered back to the football stadium.

1 comment June 2, 2009






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