It’s Moving Day

Hello everyone!

I’m so sorry it’s been such a long time since I’ve been around. With the Easter break and busy days at work, I lost track of time. I’ve also been distracted trying to finish off a little Sweet Peas and Green Tea project. But finally, it’s done! I’m so excited I can hardly wait to share: Sweet Peas and Green Tea has moved! I can now be found at www.sweetpeasandgreentea.com. I do hope you’ll come and say hi xo

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Lately

Sydney gave us a substandard summer this year (rain, rain and more rain, barely a handful of days above 25’C). But I’ll take an average summer if it means a perfect autumn and, so far, autumn has been truly glorious – blue skies, warm days and crisp nights. I’ve been reminded what a beautiful city Sydney is, something that is easy to forget when you don’t live on the water and every day involves facing a bus ride down Elizabeth St during peak hour.

I went for what was probably the last swim of the season over the weekend and, as I didn’t have to work today, I started the day by walking over the Harbour Bridge for the first time since I was a child. Working 9-5 gets is exhausting sometimes but I’m grateful for the fact that it makes me more appreciative of the spare time I do have.

  • I followed up my walk with a stop at Haigh’s Chocolates, my favourite chocolate shop (the chocolate sparkles are like crack to me!). Thank you Easter for making it justifiable to spend $30 on chocolate in one hit.
  • Am I the last person to see The Artist. Honestly, I went because my mother enjoyed it so much I think she was going to disown me if I didn’t see it. It was absolutely worth it though. It’s true that the plot isn’t very complicated but the acting, music and design more than make up for it – the film bubbles over with emotion and sucks you right in.
  • Dinner on Saturday night was this artichoke tart with polenta crust – highly recommended! I’m also thinking about making this roast chicken. The idea of roasting a chicken in milk sounds really strange but the review is so glowing I think it might be worth a shot. Has anyone out there tried it before?

Happy Monday! I hope everyone has a great week. And Happy Easter too! Xo

Berta

This week has been crazy busy. My boyfriend and I graduated on Monday night and so both of our families have been in Sydney. Besides work and seeking family, it seems that all my friends who have been travelling for the past year descended on Sydney at the same time so I’ve been running around like a headless chicken catching up with everyone. Spending too much time socialising is the epitome of a first world problem I know, and it’s wonderful to see old friends, but I am beyond excited to have made it home by 8 pm tonight.

Besides a serious lack of couch and tv time this week, I’m really sorry I haven’t had enough time to be around here. I do have something exciting to share though: one of my favourite restaurants – Berta.

Berta is hidden down a side street on the very edge of the Sydney CBD behind a totally inconspicuous heavy dark door. It’s not the kind of place you could ever stumble upon but it’s well worth seeking out. I love it so much because it’s the perfect combination of delicious food, great service and casual atmosphere. The food is expertly executed and innovative without needing to resort to intimidating like such as foam and dirt. Plus it’s where I had my first aperol spritz and for that I owe a serious debt of gratitude.

I had dinner at Berta on Tuesday. We were 6 so we were able to try lots of things: tiny green peppers grilled and showered with celery salt, burrata with silky red capsicums and vin cotto, rabbit nuggets (!!) with mustard mascarpone, king fish ceviche, roasted duck with figs, blue eye cod with perfect crispy skin, pickled beetroot and capers, poached peaches and bay leaf walnut cream, tiny meringues and chocolate salami. That was only the tip of the iceberg and each and every dish was amazing. I hold a special place in my heart for the chocolate salami though. I wonder if the chef would give me the recipe?

This blog was never meant to be for serious restaurant reviews but I do want to share my favourite places. And Berta is hands down at the top of the list. Happy Friday everyone xo

Coconut muffins

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I still worry about what people think of me. Certainly, I am much, much more comfortable in my own skin than I was five years ago (late teens – early twenties is not a period of my life I’d ever choose to relive but would anyone?). But  still, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to completely forget about what other people think. In many ways, this is a good thing – it bring with it empathy and sensitivity, an awareness of how you affect others. But it also means that I waste so much time worrying about silly little things – whether my fellow commuters will sneer at my choice of book or if my housemates will hate the dinner I’m cooking. It was this dinner worrying that made me realise how ridiculous these stresses are – I liked dinner and that was enough. Besides, my housemates don’t make themselves sick with worry if I don’t like what they make.

This is a long detour on the way to today’s recipe but I promise, we’re almost there. I wasn’t sure whether to post this recipe out of fear they wouldn’t measure up. It’s true, they don’t look quite as lovely (or as big!) as their inspiration over at Smitten Kitchen. But I have to get over this fear sooner or later so here they are. Besides, they made my lunch box all week which has to mean more than a pretty face.

Coconut muffins (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

It’s true, these cupcakes aren’t the prettiest things around but they are delicious. The scent of the coconut is just divine and they were still moist on the fourth day we were eating them – I think this may be a muffin record.

3/4 c plain flour

1/2 c wholemeal spelt flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 c desiccated coconut

1/3 c macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1/2 c virgin coconut oil

1 c greek yogurt

1/3 c caster sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 375’F. Line a standard muffin tin with patty cases.

2. Sift both flours and baking powder into a bowl. Add desiccated coconut and macadamia nuts.

3. In a separate bowl stir together coconut oil, yogurt, sugar, the egg and vanilla. It will look like a big, oily mess but it will come together.

4. Add the coconut oil mixture to the flour and mix until just combined. Divide the batter amongst the muffins tins.

5. Place in preheated oven and bake until golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Store in an airtight container if you don’t polish them off on the spot.

Notes

  • Deb’s recipe includes salt. I find adding salt to sweet desserts is a feature of American recipes and most of the time, I love it. But with these muffins it was too much. The second time I made them I left the salt out altogether and much preferred them. If you do add salt, I would recommend table salt rather than something with big flakes, like Maldon.
  • I bought my macadamia nuts already toasted but if yours are raw, here is a handy how to. Don’t leave the nuts out – they really make these muffins!
  • It’s warm here in Sydney right now so my coconut oil was liquified when I went to use it (there’s no need to store it in the fridge!). I didn’t need to heat it but if yours is solid, follow Deb’s instructions to heat just until melted.
  • Does anyone have any must-make coconut oil recipes? I’m such a convert!

Lately

I downloaded the Couch-to-5K app a few days ago and did my first run yesterday. I gave up my gym membership almost three years ago (so expensive!!) and have relied on my morning sprints to the bus stop to keep me in shape since then. But since starting work a month or so ago, I’m spending so much time sitting at a desk and my suit is definitely feeling more snug that it should. Besides wanting to trim down just a teeny-tiny bit, it would be a great feeling to be able to run 5ks. I’m not very good at sticking with exercise, so I’m hoping the app will keep me on the straight and narrow.

This week was a pretty great one. (Mid-week!) my boyfriend and I shared some dessert wine, a beautiful panna cotta and tiramisu at 10 William Street in Paddington and we’re just about to head off to breakfast here. I’m so excited – the menu looks amazing and a friend from work claims they have the best coffee in Sydney.

Still on the topic of food, I’m going to spend the afternoon making ragu to stash in the freezer for quick dinners and these muffins for my lunch box. I couldn’t find a ragu recipe that seems right so I’m taking inspiration from a few different ones. And any recommendations would be very welcome!!

I saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy last weekend. I find it hard to watch violent or scary films and this one had a far amount of violence (it’s a spy movie after all) but I still loved it – the script is well written, visually it’s so rich, the cast is full of fine actors (Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones) and it doesn’t lose momentum despite being over two hours long. It helped that I have a soft spot for Benedict Cumberbatch. And I made up for the violence by watching Waitress when I got home!

Is anyone out there a fan of Virginia Woolf? I’m reading Mrs Dalloway at the moment. I won’t lie: the beautiful cover sucked me in. I can’t say its gripped me like some of my other recent reads (post on that soon!) but I am enjoying it.

Happy Sunday everyone. May it be filled with sunshine, coffee and great company. Xo

Afternoon tea

As a general rule I hate the cupcake craze that’s swept through Sydney in the past few years. Most of the cupcakes I’ve tried have had the texture and taste of sawdust. And don’t even get me started on the icing. There always seems to be more icing than cake. Which wouldn’t be a problem if it tasted like rich buttercream. But it doesn’t – it’s just an explosion of sugar without even a hint of buttery-goodness. However, they say that the exception makes the rule and in this case the exception is Sparkle Cupcakery. Sparkle just opened up a Martin Place booth, right near my office, and I popped by to check it out with a friend at lunchtime. I got a Pure Sparkle – vanilla butter cake with vanilla icing. It was truly divine. The cake was moist, but not heavy, and the flavours rich and full. And don’t get me started on the smooth gloss of buttercream on top. It was closer to perfection than its cupcake friends are to sawdust…