Walking and eating the Great Ocean Walk

meredith and view 1024x587 Walking and eating the Great Ocean Walk

Meredith on the Great Ocean Walk

Phew.  I have survived my first walking holiday in a long time.  I haven’t attempted a holiday like this in quite a while because of my weight so it was great to get back out there and do a longish distance walk.  My feet are looking a bit battered but other than that it was all good.  The following is basically a gratuitous holiday photo post – no recipes today – I won’t be upset if you decide to head over to another food blog for dinner inspiration.

The walk was the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria that goes from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles.  It is just under 100km and my friend Meredith and I did the cushy version where you are dropped off and picked up each day.  We stayed in an eco lodge, bed and breakfast and a self contained villa and had our bags moved for us.  We saw a couple of people camping and carrying their tents etc and I was very relieved that wasn’t me.   Which would you prefer to do?

beeches Walking and eating the Great Ocean Walk

Our gorgeous accommodation at Apollo Bay – the Beeches

One of the other great things about this trip is that it was pretty much fully catered.  We ate extremely well – I don’t think I lost any additional weight despite all the extra hospital.  Three courses will do that to you.  One of my favourite dishes was some beautiful fresh asparagus with hollandaise, cooked to perfection.  I also had a great risotto which I am working on recreating at home to share with you so more on that later.

The last night of the walk, we were in a town and went out for dinner to this cute little restaurant in Port Campbell.  They had quite a mixed menu and I couldn’t decide so went for their tapas where I could choose more than one dish.  But I am still self-conscious about photographing in restaurants so no photos I am afraid aside from this one of me enjoying my favourite cocktail – a Japanese Slipper – on the first night of my holiday there is only one other food shot.

japanese slipper Walking and eating the Great Ocean Walk

Me enjoying a Japanese Slipper

The walking itself was quite picturesque but not as coastal as I had hoped.  Given the name of the walk, I had thought that most of the walk would be by the ocean.  But quite a bit of it is inland with lots of trees and shrubs and not so much ocean.  I would recommend the walk if you love walking but not if you were expecting stunning continuous views.  Having said that there are some very rewarding elements where you get amazing coast line views and beaches all to yourself.   And I loved walking through very green farmland.  It was bucolic to say the least.

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Bucolic Farmland

GOW trees Walking and eating the Great Ocean Walk

Views through the trees

The other aspect of the walk that was particularly special was the wildlife.  It was my first time seeing echidnas in the wild.  The first one had his head stuck in the ground so all we could see was his lovely spiky bottom.  But the second one did a bit of a dash to safety and we got to see hit cute little ant eating nose.  We also saw koalas – including a mother with a baby, wallabies, kangaroos and a blue tongue lizard.  Less fun was the two snakes we saw but luckily they were only small. Others we met in the evening had run in to large brown snakes and one girl stepped on a snake.  Luckily she was moving too fast to be bitten – she did the walk in 2 days – Meredith and I took the standard 6!

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Echidna bottom

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Koala and baby

At the end of the walk, Meredith and I rewarded ourselves with dinner at Circa at the Prince in Melbourne, along with a spot of shopping.  The meal at Circa was fantastic and lived up to the review by Not Quite Nigella which had prompted me to book in the first place.  We had the 6 courses degustation with matching wines.  I can’t decide which was my favourite part but the roasted octopus was not only so tasty but also very pretty.  Definitely one of the best meals I have had in a very long time, in part because the service lived up to the food.  The waiters and sommelier clearly knew their stuff, particularly in terms of the wine and why it had been matched with the various dishes.

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Roasted octopus at Circa

The best bit about this trip was getting out from behind the desk.  I had forgotten how much I loved walking.  What is your favourite type of holiday?

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The famous 12 apostles

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The Cape Otway Lighthouse

Tomato Crumble

tomato crumble Tomato Crumble

One of my absolute favourite desserts is crumble. I love a fruit crumble of any kind. I am so in love with this triple berry crumble, but I am just as happy with a simple apple crumble. I love the softness of the fruit offset by the slight crunch of the crumble. I have been known to eat apple crumble as the main part of my meal on more occasions than a person probably should. But I am pretty sure it counts as at least one of the serves of fruit you are supposed to eat per day. Right?

You can imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe for a tomato crumble. I know that technically speaking tomato is also a fruit but I don’t really see it that way. I am sure I can include them in my vegetable count. Plus this is definitely a savory crumble in that there is no sugar in the actual crumble.

I think I set my hopes to high because while I like this dish, I don’t love it. I think I was seriously hoping for a dessert experience which this isn’t. In terms of taste it was more like a tomato pie. The crumble had quite a pastry taste to it. So even though it looked like crumble and had the right texture it just didn’t have that crumble taste. The cheesiness was good though.

It reminded me of going to see movies of my favourite books. The movies tend to be good and sometimes probably even great movies, but they are rarely how I imagine they are going to be from reading the book and I am just a bit disappointed. Of course they have to change the movie – you can’t fit a whole book in a movie but by cutting the book, they seem to cut the essence of the book.

tomato crumble 3 Tomato Crumble

I would have liked this tomato crumble a whole lot more if I hadn’t gone in with unrealistic expectations. If you aren’t a crumble fanatic like me then give it a try and I am sure will enjoy it. The important thing in making this dish is using great tomatoes. They are the hero of the dish so you need to have great flavoursome tomatoes to roast. Otherwise this will be a bit bland.

To make this for one I used the following ingredients:

For the filling;

  • 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8th of a brown onion, sliced (scaling down the recipe you should use 1/6th of an onion but I am not a huge onion lover so cut it down a bit)
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp of minced garlic (equivalent to have a clove)
  • 150g of cherry tomatoes (I used baby roma tomatoes the second time I made this)
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons (I am a strong believer that you can never have too much basil!)
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

For the Topping

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/6th of teaspoon baking powder
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 5 tbs of butter, melted
  • 2 tbs shredded parmesan cheese

This is not one of the speediest dishes to cook but some of the time it is sitting in the oven while you wander off and do other things. Preparation time is about 10 minutes and cook time is 40 minutes, aside from heating up your oven. It is not the lowest calorie dish – one serve has about 575 calories but you don’t need to do a side with this so that isn’t too high.

One of the problems I had with this dish was in finding the right sized dish to bake this in. I couldn’t find one and my tomatoes were spread out a bit too thin.

 

Mexican Rice

mexican rice final Mexican Rice

When I made this smoky Mexican pulled chicken I promised to post the recipe for the Mexican rice that I had with the chicken.  I am finally getting around to that promised post.  The chicken is easy and quick to make, which means I had the energy and time to make a more interesting side dish that my normal steamed rice. If you really were in a hurry with the chicken, I would probably just heat up a tortilla in a microwave, then roll the chicken in the tortilla with some tomato and make some guacomale. But if you have the time, this Mexican rice is worth the effort.

It is a light rice and not oily at all. The tomatoes and onion add a subtle flavor to the rice, perfect to compliment the smoky Mexican pulled chicken.

To make this for one I used the following ingredients:

  • ½ tbs of olive oil
  • 1 tbs of onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of basmati rice – I use basmati for pretty much everything. It has a lower glycemic index than other rices.
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic (equal to one clove)
  • 160ml of chicken stock (chicken broth)
  • ¼ of a cup of tomato puree (tomato sauce to those of you in the US and possibly other parts of the world)

You can garnish with parsley if you want to make things look pretty.

smoky mexican chicken bowl final Mexican Rice

I followed the recipe as given. Preparation time is 5 minutes and cook time is 30 minutes but keep an eye on the rice as it is simmering. The chicken stock may evaporate faster for a single serve as there is less of it. One serve has about 200 calories.

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