26 September 2011

New Feature & Violet Crumble

When Matt and I first arrived in Melbourne, we found the food to be a bit bland and the portions too small to satisfy our appetites. Coming from the US, we were used to over sized portions and an overwhelming amount of salt. It is understandable that we would experience an adjustment period to normalize to the lighter, fresher (read: lower sodium content) fare that Australia has to offer. 

As the months passed, our taste buds acclimated to the food here and I admit I am rather enjoying the Australian gastronomic experience now! Without such overpowering saltiness, the true flavors of the ingredients in our food have the opportunity to shine through. I do also feel that the produce, meats, and dairy products in Australia are less tampered with and therefore are more appetizing. I am finding new foods each day that I am falling in love with.

It seems only natural to share my food finds with friends back home. Thus, I am excited to introduce a new, regular feature on the TexStralian’s blog: Aussie Foods! I am keen to share with you those foods that are uniquely Australian; also, I find the Australian "take" on some of our American favorites to be especially interesting. We will explore the iconic Vegemite, but there is so much more that this country has to offer. Hopefully, I can give you a sample of some of its best.

The first food I will explore is ‘honeycomb’. When I first came across this word, I thought it was literally honeycomb that bees produce and live in! I thought, “Different strokes for different folks: they eat bees’ hives – whatever. No big whoop.” My na├»ve mind has since been educated and indeed, the Australians do not eat bees’ nests. (At least not that I know of). 

‘Honeycomb’ is actually a confectionery and is a generic term for this toffee flavored, crunchy, porous stuff  made from sugar, water, and bicarb (aka baking soda). According to Wikipedia, honeycomb is also known as sponge toffee : “a sugary confection with a light, rigid, sponge-like texture”

Sponge-looking, crunchy feeling!

Violet Crumble is one of the most popular Australian candy bars that features honeycomb. (And is actually one of the most popular brands of candy in Australia, period). It is manufactured in Melbourne by Nestle and features a chocolate-coated honeycomb center.

Violet Crumble: best selling Aussie honeycomb candy bar

When I first tried Violet Crumble, I was a little bit perplexed by it. The outside is chocolate which I am already on board with. The inside, though, tastes like freeze dried...sugary...salty...stuff. Actually, it reminded me of the Astronaut Ice Cream I ate as a child (a novelty purchased as a souvenir from a trip to the local science museum). The first experience was indeed a bit odd just as Astronaut ice cream is novelty not found in your usual candy store.

Astronauts eat it in, like, space and stuff.
But the stuff as actually started to grow on me! I decided to let go of my initial prejudice of honeycomb and had gelato in said flavor just yesterday. It was so good! I think I am hooked! I also had the chance to eat honeycomb candies again as a dessert after dinner with a friend.

Mmmmmm...looks good enough to eat!

The center bears a resemblance to honeycomb as it is yellowish brown and porous...but it doesn't really taste like honey.
It’s chocolaty, light, and crunchy. I believe it derives a lot of its appeal from Australia’s love of meringue based sweets. I will have to tell you about Pavlova some other time! (it's an Aussie favorite and is comprised of a meringue base with fruit and whipped cream type stuff on top). Meringue! Who knew?

There are myriad different candies that the Aussies enjoy that are unknown to our American palettes. I will enjoy exploring each of them and reporting back to you on what I find!

I am still in the process of psyching myself up for the Vegemite tasting. I have my doubts that it will become a favorite of mine but it does deserve its due time!

Thanks for reading!


19 September 2011

Trip to Rye

For my birthday weekend, Matt and I DROVE(!) down to the Mornington Peninsula. We stayed overnight in a town called Rye.

My husband does not like me taking pictures of him!

I don't mind as much...

Rye boasts a beautiful beach! It was chilly and windy during our visit.

This guy was catching some serious wind! I wouldn't mind trying out this sport sometime.

Starfish! Super cool...

The actual point of our trip was to hang out at the Peninsula Hot Springs...I didn't get photos of that place, though. Water and cameras don't mix!

Suffice it to say, we bathed, we got wrinkly, we ended up smelling faintly of sulfur - it was awesome!

Also, I was quite pleased with the fact that I drove all the way there and back. It's about an hour and half drive from the downtown area of Melbourne where we live. Go me! I was a bit directionally challenged but at least Matt learned to point and grunt instead of trying to communicate in a human-like fashion.

My husband: the best birthday gift a gal could ask for!