Sunday, 29 November 2015

Photo trip to the Zoo

For a while now I have toyed with the idea of enrolling in a photography course. I have moved beyond the 'pre programmed' settings on my digital SLR Canon and into the realms of shutter priority mode, and aperture priority mode, but I was somewhat hesitant to move to the full manual mode. It seemed so complicated! How fast should the shutter be? What is the best aperture? and How the heck does ISO come into the picture (so to speak). 

Well I did it. I took the plunge. I enrolled in an 8 week photography course with the Canberra School of Photography, run by Irene Lorbergs.  The location of this course is very handy, as the classroom is based in Phillip, just a stones throw away from my work place. Plus the course offers evening classes, so fits in with my schedule. 

So far, I have 3 of the 8 sessions under my belt, and seem to be getting a better handle on my camera, its settings and I think... I am already taking better shots. So far, we have had two classroom based lessons, and the third lesson was at the National Capital Zoo and Aquarium. The '8 session course' students, plus a day class of students met at the zoo, and under the guidance of Irene we focused on aperture settings and ISO, which allowed the camera to select the best shutter speed. We photographed a variety of animals, everything from furry to feathered, and from reptilian to aquatic. There were also a number of small 'two legged' creatures roaming the zoo that day, by that I mean children, who seemed to be having a great day, just like us. 

Here are my most prized shots from the day: 

A female white lion, just after she had her breakfast - F5.6 1/320sec ISO200
One of the playful, cheeky otters - F5.6 1/250sec ISO800
Fish for breakfast for this otter, nom nom nom - F5.6 1/500sec ISO800
Penguin with sand in the background - F5.6 1/2500sec ISO200
A Meerkat, very much on sentry duty - F5.6 1/500sec ISO200
Two Meerkats on sentry duty - F5.6 1/1000sec ISO200
A gloriously vibrant coloured peacock - F5.6 1/640sec ISO800
Birthday party children, feeding the emu - F8.0 1/250sec ISO200
Arms at the ready - F8.0 1/500sec ISO200
Some children seemed more apprehensive than the others about feeding the emu - F8.0 1/200sec ISO200
The emu - F5.6 1/160sec ISO400
A blue groper - F5.0 1/30sec ISO1600
A very photogenic lizard - F5.0 1/50sec ISO3200

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Devonshire Tea

I love a good Devonshire Tea. The scones, the jam, the cream and of course a nice hot, strong cup of tea.  But where did it all start? Where did the term ‘Devonshire Tea’ originate from? 

English in origin, it is thought to have originated from the southern county of Devon, and usually consists of scones, jam and clotted cream paired with tea. The same light meal is also known as ‘Cornish cream tea’ as Cornwall is the neighbouring county, or a ‘Devon cream tea’.

The ‘Devonshire’ way to serve the scone is to split a fresh warm scone in two, cover each of the halves with clotted cream and then top with strawberry jam.

The ‘Cornish’ way is to use a warm sweet white bread roll, as opposed to a scone. The roll is first split, then buttered, spread with strawberry jam, and finally topped with clotted cream.

I have found the typical Australian way is to split a fresh scone, spread with any variety of jam (strawberry, raspberry, apricot, plum, cherry etc) and then to top off with fresh whipped cream. It may not be the traditional method, but its OK with me.

Scones are an incredibly frugal treat.  The recipe that I followed making these called for:

3 cups of self raising flour - $0.28
1 ½ cups of milk - $0.75
60 grams of butter - $0.55

Which costed a grand total of $1.58. The recipe made 13 decent size scones.

I used plum jam on mine for the photo, as I had a jar of homemade jam gifted to me from a work colleague. The next round, had as afternoon tea, used cherry jam as my hubby and I visited the Canberra Old Bus Depot Markets that morning, and bought some lovely sour cherry jam from Torry Hill Orchards.  Don't be put off by the name sour in the jam title, it was very cherry flavoured, but not overly sweet. Perfect for devonshire tea, with slightly sweetened cream, and a fresh scone. 

Friday, 6 November 2015

Breakfast at Space Kitchen, Woden

Image of bar overlooking kitchen area

On Wednesday this week I was invited to join Serina Huang and 6 other food bloggers for an indulgent breakfast hosted by Rick De Marco at his new Woden premises, Space Kitchen. Why the name Space Kitchen? Well this eatery sits on the ground floor commercial space in the newest, and prettiest building in Woden – the SkyPark multi storey car park. There is a nod to ‘spaces’ everywhere, from the artwork adorning the walls, the polished concrete flooring reminiscent of a garage, and a vivid yellow crosswalk painted on the floor. The interior is itself spacious, contemporary and airy, with cosy nooks and various table configurations. Perfect for a group outing, or a quiet sit down with friends, or colleagues.

Rick De Marco

We were introduced to several of Rick’s kitchen staff; Russell his head chef, and kitchen hands Christian, Layla and Raj. Several other staff man the coffee station (aka the Rocket Fuel Station) and the famous incandescent, eyepopping Ricardo’s cake filled cabinet. The cakes for both the Woden and the Ricardo’s Jamison premises all now emerge from the Woden premises. While I was at breakfast, I saw trolley after trolley filled with cakes burst forth from the kitchen to be loaded for delivery to Macquarie.

Rick and his team are passionate, creative folk who enjoy delivering good food, great flavour combinations and don’t shy away from adding in an element of theatre. This is especially evident with their use of dry ice in dispensing truffle oil, and liquid nitrogen to snap freezing raspberries. They have plans on purchasing an industrial sized freeze dryer with ideas of freezing entire watermelons, and pineapples. Ooooh I can’t wait.

We were privileged to try six breakfast dishes, and each one was created right before our eyes. You see, we were seated at a long bar perched adjacent to the kitchen area. It was not only great to see the care and effort involved in creating each dish, but we were able to chat with the staff.

The first dish offered was the Breakfast Fritters. A hearty offering of corn, zucchini and haloumi fritters, nestled next to two poached eggs (oh, all the eggs are Gunning Bum Nuts) drizzled in a feta harissa yoghurt. The corn was fresh, and the fritters deliciously fluffy inside and crisp outside.

Breakfast Fritters

Next up was the smoked salmon breakfast. Consisting of a generous serve of in-house tea smoked salmon, avocado, coconut roesti, more poached eggs, a scattering of puffed crunchy grains, with a lime and coconut dressing. The salmon was perfectly cooked and flaked easily and the roesti fluffy and moist.

Smoked salmon breakfast dish

Bircher Muesli was up next. Now I love a good bircher. Its always my ‘go to’ at a hotel breakfast buffet. The Space Kitchen bircher is up there with the best. A moulded serving of muesli, topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries and edible flowers and dotted with blood orange curd, passionfruit caviar, yoghurt and crushed pistachios. Fresh, tangy and filling.

Bircher Muesli

Each of the breakfast dishes were served up first to be photographed by all the bloggers, then passed around to be sampled. The Hotcakes were the next to be offered, and they were delicious. A stack of three perfectly shaped boysenberry hotcakes, topped with a quenelle of coconut mascarpone, and parked next to a lake of blood orange curd studded with a white chocolate crumble and pieces of smashed freeze dried raspberries. This dish could double as dessert, and would be best shared for breakfast.


The Space Kitchen signature dish was next. I say signature, as it has been the most photographed and shared on social media. It is the Space Benedict, a twist on Eggs Benedict. It consists of pulled pork encased in crunch, shaped into a flattened croquette shape (complete with paddle pop stick), sitting on a beetroot hollandaise sauce. Of course the dish wouldn’t be complete without two perfectly poached eggs. There is also pork crackling, brioche crumble and dots of pureed pea here and there. A decadent and very savoury meal that is as good to eat as it was to photograph.

Image of Space Benedict dish being photographed

The last dish to be served and sampled was Polenta Waffles. This was by far the most dramatic dish, as dry ice and truffle oil was combined and ‘poured’ over waffles, mushrooms, poached eggs, goats cheese, corn puree and salsa verde. The mushrooms were chunky and fresh, and the waffles savoury and light. The touch of lemon thyme came through and mixed with the truffle oil quite nicely.

Rick pouring vaporized truffle oil over Polenta Waffles

My favourite dishes were the Bircher Muesli, the Hotcakes and the Fritters.

Space Kitchen takes pride in sourcing its produce from local sources, including some new mushrooms from a grower in Yass. They aim to provide food that is a little different, without being alienating. Look forward to a living menu, as they like to stay fresh and tweak things up. 

Image of food bloggers enjoying breakfast

They are open from Monday to Saturday from 7.30am to 5.30pm. Weekdays usually attracts the nearby office workers, including myself, and Saturdays are busy all day. Group bookings can be taken for 6+ but they are limited. Space Kitchen is licensed, and will begin late night Friday trading from 6 November 2015.

SpaceKitchen can be found on the Ground Floor of SkyPark, on the corner of Furzer and Worgan Streets Woden. Ph 6281 6668.

My breakfast was courtesy of Space Kitchen.