Posted in Food sparks

A snack food revelation

So, last week when I was at the airport in Melbourne, I accidentally wandered into a little shop called The Chocolate Box. And, while I bought some chocolates for a friend, I saw a lady clear out a large number of bags (the entire range) of something at the counter. It caused a bit of a kerfuffle amongst the staff, I tell you.

When I asked the ladies behind the counter what the lady had bought in such dramatic fashion, they whispered, “have you heard of chocolate chips?” Errr derrr, ladies. I like to bake and I have a massive sweet tooth, there’s nothing I don’t know about chocolate chips. “We mean salt and vinegar crisps covered in chocolate.” Really? Yes. Apparently they are one of their best sellers.

Here they are. [image from chocolatebox.com.au]
Here they are.
[image from chocolatebox.com.au]
So, today I bought a bag (ok, maybe two) to bring in to the office so we could experience this phenomenon. The verdict was mixed – but I vote YES for this snack food. A bit too much chocolate masking the flavour, but every now and again there was an unmistakable salty/vinegary kick. Like chocolate covered pretzels, only better, I reckon.

If you’re in Australia, you can stock up at The Chocolate Box. Or I guess you could make your own, if you’re so inclined. Chocolate Chicken Crisps, anyone? Anyone?

Posted in Food sparks

Bringing nonsense back

Hello, how are you? I hope you are well. It’s been a while since I’ve been here, but I thought I’d try to get back into sharing more nonsense. That was always the intention of this blog, really: noticing and passing on everyday sorts of sparks that I saw and liked. Because sometimes it’s nice to have a light diversion from normal everyday life, right?

So, here’s some nonsense that I found last week – an excerpt from the menu at the not-so-great Melbourne hotel I stayed in whilst in town for work. The other dishes sound normal enough, but WHY HAVE THE APRICOTS INTERCEPTED THE LAMB CUBS? And what actually are lamb cubs? Offspring of bears and sheep? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

The other dishes sound normal enough, but WHY HAVE THE APRICOTS INTERCEPTED THE LAMB CUBS? WHY?

Posted in Food sparks

Hello, Chocolate Mug Cake

I had read about these magical sounding chocolate puddings in a few different places on the internets recently. Put a few simple ingredients in a mug, pop it in the microwave for a minute or so and – hey, presto – out comes a delicious cake. Can’t argue with that for a quick and easy dessert. Or morning tea treat. Or midnight snack. Or, you know, breakfast. No judgement.

A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl...
A little smaller than a normal mixing bowl…

As always, Google generously provides about a bzillion recipes for cakes and puddings in mugs. I tried a chocolate peanut butter version last night, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

And then there was cake.
And then there was cake.

The verdict? For a basic muggy dessert that microwaved in 1 minute 10 seconds, it was actually quite good. Definitely much better than I had expected. I have included the recipe that I used (from The Novice Chef blog) below – it’s well worth a try. Especially if you’re in rainy Sydney at the moment and need a bit of extra warmth!

When a cup of tea isn’t quite comforting enough, try a mug of cake, I say.

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[recipe from The Novice Chef blog]
Posted in Food sparks, WWWhat?

A Leprechaun Trap and other delicious stuff

As you may know, St Patrick’s Day is coming up on Monday. As a fan of Ireland and almost everything Irish (I’m sorry, Father Ted. I have tried, but I just do not like your show), I thought I would help you out with your preparations this week. I have gathered together some Oirish things that have caught my eye and today, the focus is food. You’re welcome.

First up, the incredible Leprechaun Trap Cake from Megan, who blogs a lot of very cool stuff (not just Oirish cakes) at Not Martha.

First up, attract your leprechaun with the lure of gold. [image from Not Martha]
1. Attract your leprechaun with the lure of gold (and help him out with a pretzel ladder).
[image from Not Martha]
2. Hide a pretzel trap under the gold, so the wee fella falls through. [image from Not Martha]
2. Hide a pretzel trap under the gold, so the wee fella falls through.
[image from Not Martha]
3. Enjoy the magical rainbow cake, with or without your leprechaun. [image from Not Martha]
3. Enjoy the magical rainbow cake, with or without your leprechaun.
[image from Not Martha]
Next, St Patrick’s Day Pancakes from the FashionPlaytes blog. Whilst they are not so quirky, they are very easy to make and I have never seen a batch quite so green…

Yikes. [image from Fashion Playtes]
Yikes.
[image from Fashion Playtes]
And of course I had to look on etsy, just in case. I found these disturbingly named Irish Car Bomb Cake Pops from the shop Bella Roca Cakes. I then discovered that (maybe you already knew this?) the Irish Car Bomb is a drink that was invented in an American bar – by dropping a shot of Baileys + Jameson whiskey into Guinness. And I just gave an involuntary shiver as I wrote that. According to Wikipedia, you have to drink it quickly so it doesn’t curdle. Or you could just get these cake pops instead – they don’t curdle and they include chocolate.

Much nicer than the real thing.  [image from Bella Roca Cakes]
Much nicer than the real thing.
[image from Bella Roca Cakes]
Last, but not least, in case you want to keep your o’snacking healthy – here’s a “pot of gold” for you. But I’ve got to say, I’m more likely to be your friend if you make the leprechaun trap cake than this vegetable combo (although I do like carrots and they are good for your eyes, apparently).

The serving suggestion is to place the "pot o' gold" at the end of a "rainbow" of vegetables, with a "cloud" of ranch dressing.  [image from Spoonful]
The serving suggestion is to place the “pot o’ gold” at the end of a “rainbow” of vegetables, with a “cloud” of ranch dressing. To be sure, to be sure.
[image from Spoonful]
Bon appétit! Or, as they say in Ireland, bon appétit!

Posted in Food sparks, Travel sparks

The Camino Diet

As I’ve mentioned, it’s only around a month til my friend Steph and I leave for the Camino. A lot of well-meaning peeps have been giving us tips and hints, as well as remarking on how they can’t wait to see how fit and thin we are on our return. (Not that we are super unfit and ginormous now, I might add.) I remind those people that one of my favourite lunches on my last trip to Spain was a potato omelette on a giant bread roll – now that’s carb loading. And then there’s the wine – I am sure that it’s culturally insensitive to refuse.

So, we really don’t know what impact the 800km will have on us. Sure, it’s a lot more walking than we’d normally do each day in our office jobs, but then there are the delicious (and not always healthy) foods along the way, undoubtedly an important part of the journey. So maybe it’ll just even out and we’ll come back looking EXACTLY THE SAME. Just warning you now – it’s definitely a possibility.

One of the many books that I’m reading is ‘Guide to the Camino’ by an Australian lady, Trish Clark. Trish includes local delicacies in her book – food and drink that walkers should try in each town. As I read the list for one town, I felt the weight stacking on:

Fried bread with garlic and ham? Yes please!
Fried bread with garlic and ham? Caramelised custard & sponge cake? Yes please!

And then I read about another town and realised that – at least for me on my bull-free diet – this stop might be a lean one:

Cinnamon pancakes it is.
Cinnamon pancakes it is.

So, looks like there will be lots of exercise and lots of fried bread and pancakes (and bull hoof stew) – life is all about balance, right?!