Review: Rosebud Hotel, Rosebud

On my recent hen’s weekend, we dropped into the Rosebud Hotel for a quick late lunch after a morning spent horse-riding. It’s a gorgeous art deco style building, right across the road from the beach. With a big outdoor beer garden and outdoor bar, there were heaps of people there enjoying a cold drink in the warm afternoon.

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Hot after our morning horse-ride however, we elected to sit inside in the bistro, joining what looked like the entire local bowls club and a motorcycle enthusiasts club. Luckily, we managed to place our orders at the counter mere minutes before the bistro closed for last lunch orders at 2.30pm as we would otherwise have been limited to the small bites menu available at the bar.

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Warm cous cous salad – crispy roasted root vegetables, cherry tomatoes, baby beetroots & chickpeas tossed with a olive oil & red wine vinaigrette cheese, with chicken ($24)

My health-conscious friend ordered the warm cous cous salad, topped with a generous serve of grilled chicken breast. The chicken lacks that smokiness that comes with perfectly grilled meat, but other than that disappointment, the salad was quite enjoyable. The sweet potato and beets really helped to offset the bitterness of the rocket, and the ratio of cous cous and chickpeas to vegetables was just right.

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Roast of the day, $19

Another friend ordered the pub classic of the “Roast of the Day” – thinly sliced roast lamb on this particular day, absolutely slathered with thick gravy made from concentrated powder. The highlight here was probably the roast vegetables – the crispy skin of the chat potatoes and the soft sweet potato is very more-ish especially when you’re after a simple classic meal.

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Daily special – grilled fish with greens

After something a little bit more special than standard pub grub, one friend ordered one of the daily specials of grilled fish with greens and a polenta smash. From memory, this was around $30, so a bit pricier than the other dishes on the menu. The serving size was surprisingly small for the price though, and my friend ended up picking some of the chips off my plate to fill her up. Not the best value meal on the menu!

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Fish and chips, $20

The fish and chips was another classic pub meal choice, especially given that we were seaside on the Mornington Peninsula! Unfortunately the fried fish wasn’t as fresh as the seaside location might suggest, and the batter was too thick and gluggy as well. My friend ended up stripping away most of the batter and eating the fish sans batter to avoid a greasy oil overload.

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Pie of the Day, $21

The arrival of my beef and mushroom “pie of the day” had everyone gasping with amazement at its sheer size. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something truly remarkable about a good pot pie that beats a normal pie, hands down every time. The chips were a bit so-so, and the salad overdressed, but there was really nothing to fault about the pie itself.

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Ah, the money shot…prying off the crispy flaky puff pastry top to reveal the steaming hot, well-spiced and flavourful beef and mushroom stew mix inside. The photo doesn’t do justice to the size of this pie though – I barely touched my salad and chips, and still found it difficult to reach the bottom of this bowl.

There’s plenty of other eateries in the Mornington Peninsula that I haven’t tried yet, so I probably won’t be back to the Rosebud Hotel any time soon. There’s not too much to fault, but honestly standard pub grub can be found anywhere. I want something a bit more special on my next visit…perhaps one of the many winery restaurants in that area?

Rosebud Hotel on Urbanspoon


Recipe: Gluten-free Orange and Coconut Cake with Sticky Orange Syrup

A colleague on my team at work had her birthday this week and really didn’t want to have a fuss made as she’s relatively new and didn’t feel like we should buy her a birthday cake. Well! No one gets to have a ‘secret’ birthday in our office as it’s the perfect excuse for everyone to get together and have cake! We are most definitely a sweets-loving office.

In deference to her desire to not make a big deal of the day, we agreed to not light any candles, to not sing Happy Birthday (though we broke this!), and I decided to bake a cake rather than buy a cake. With a few oranges left sitting in my fruit tray, and half a packet of desiccated coconut left from another baking adventure, an orange and coconut cake was just begging to be baked.

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I also knew that I needed to make the cake gluten-free to suit some dietary requirements in the office, though I wasn’t able to make it vegan-friendly for our one gluten-free vegan…next time!

I was a little worried about it when it came out of the oven, as the top had caved in a little bit and was quite concave. I also wasn’t sure what it would taste like, as I’ve never done any gluten-free baking before. Still, when drizzled with the sticky orange syrup (which I heated up in the microwave just before serving it), it was a real hit in the office.

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I’ll be making this again.

This recipe is an adaptation of this Whole Orange Cake recipe on taste.com.au

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 oranges
  • 125gm melted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 cups gluten-free self-raising flour (I bought some from Aldi)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut

For the syrup:

  • 2 oranges
  • 2 large clumps of Chinese bing tang (rock sugar)

Method

For the cake:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Submerge the oranges in a pot of cold water. Bring the water to the boil twice, and drain the water.
  3. Chop up the whole orange, remove any pips, and blitz it (peel and all) through the food processor until it turns into a puree.
  4. Pour your orange puree into your benchtop mixing bowl, and fold in all the other ingredients. Mix until well combined. Add coconut or milk as necessary to get your cake batter to the right consistency – this will depend on how juicy your oranges were!
  5. Grease your cake tin, and pour the batter in.
  6. Bake for an hour on the medium rack, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Wait for your cake to cool, and then turn it onto your serving plate.

For the syrup:

  1. Grate two oranges and collect the zest in a saucepan.
  2. Juice the oranges and add it to the saucepan with the lumps of bing tang, removing any pulp.
  3. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the consistency is thick enough as a syrup.

Serve the cake cold, with warm syrup drizzled on top. Enjoy!

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Review: Main Ridge Dairy and Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, Mornington Peninsula

Though I’ve now been living in Sydney for over three years, the truth of the matter is that my best girl friends are my high school friends, and they still live in Melbourne. I don’t regret moving cities – I enjoy the job that I moved for, the relationship that developed, and the lifestyle that I live here. But I still know that one day, I’ll move back to Melbourne for good.

When it came time to start considering a hens party for my upcoming wedding, I knew that I wanted two things – 1) a low-key relaxing celebration without strippers or penis straws and 2) for it be in Melbourne. With that in mind, I chose to have a quiet weekend on the Mornington Peninsula with a handful of my closest high school girlfriends. Walks on the beach, cooking at home, going to a few attractions, playing board games, having wines and dips and cheeses…it was all about the relaxing pampering.

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One of the few places that we visited on the weekend was Main Ridge Dairy. It’s a goat farm and cheese factory located in Main Ridge on the Mornington Peninsula, in an area teeming with wineries and other working farms.

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When you enter the modern building, the first thing you see is a big refrigerated cabinet displaying all the various goats cheeses made on site. Mmm, cheese…

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Tucked away in a corner are a few shelves of goods that you can buy. From cheese platters and cheese knives, to little knitted goat toys and local jams and produce, it’s a cute area to poke around in while you decide what to order. I was sorely tempted to buy some cute locally made crockery, but then realised I would have difficulties bringing it back to Sydney in my hand luggage so sadly put it back on the shelf.

Goat Milk ($2), Chai (Seven Spice Sri Lankan Chai, $4.20), Latte (Red Hill Roast, $3.80), African Red Grounded Pleasures Fine Drinking Chocolate ($4.20)

Goat Milk ($2), Chai (Seven Spice Sri Lankan Chai, $4.20), Latte (Red Hill Roast, $3.80), African Red Grounded Pleasures Fine Drinking Chocolate ($4.20)

Amongst the few of us, we ordered a variety of hot drinks – and one brave friend just ordered a glass of goat milk which I tried and found incredibly strong-tasting. “It tastes like barbecued lamb chops!” I declared, and a few others agreed with me. I much preferred my fancy hot chocolate from the Grounded Pleasures range, which was amazingly thick, full and creamy.

The Full Goat Platter, $50

The Full Goat Platter, $50

We ordered the Full Goat Platter to share. Recommended for 2-8 people, we definitely struggled to finish it with five people, so I don’t see how two people could finish it! My pick of the bunch is probably the chevre and caprincilla for sheer more-ishness that wasn’t too strong in flavour. I also liked the yoghurt-like cashmere which came with some berry coulis – I could definitely see myself having more of that!

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We sat around for a few hours eating the platter and watching the cute little baby goats run around their paddock and climb all over each other, playing “King of the Mountain”. I could quite happily have spent the whole afternoon there simply watching the kids and eating goat’s cheese. In fact, I think I’ll take my dad to Main Ridge Dairy next time I’m in Melbourne.

Main Ridge Dairy on Urbanspoon

Our next visit was to Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, just down the road from Main Ridge Dairy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite strawberry-picking season when we were there (we were about a month early!), but there was still plenty to see, do and eat!

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A few of the girls tried the liquor tasting available in one corner of Sunny Ridge’s shop. I abstained as I’ve been a teetotaler since February, but the reports were definitely favourable! One friend walked away with a few bottles of the strawberry port and the cherry port which she said was surprisingly not as sickly sweet as anticipated.

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There was plenty of local produce to go through as well, with one of my favourite displays being this endless shelf of mini-jams made from the fruits of Sunny Ridge’s own fields.

Despite all the other attractions available, the highlight of Sunny Ridge is their dessert cafe which takes advantage of the fresh berries and fruits that they produce, as well as the other locally-sourced gourmet products. Given that we had only eaten goats cheese for lunch that day, we decided to order a dessert each…what a hardship!

Strawberry Coconut Rough (Fresh strawberries, crushed nuts, unforgettable meringue crunch, coconut and strawberry ice-cream), $8.50

Strawberry Coconut Rough (Fresh strawberries, crushed nuts, unforgettable meringue crunch, coconut and strawberry ice-cream), $8.50

My choice of the strawberry coconut rough (a daily special) was an amazing mix of fresh locally made coconut ice-cream, fresh strawberries, and crunchy chocolate-coated meringues. It was a remarkable treat, and the surprising thing is that it didn’t even feel that bad for me, as the fruit and ice-cream was so fresh and light.

Strawberry Rocky Road (daily special)

Strawberry Rocky Road (daily special)

One friend ordered the strawberry rocky road, which came with a few scoops of different ice-creams, as well as white chocolate coated freeze-dried strawberries – a house specialty.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, $10

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, $10

The panna cotta was a popular choice as well, with a creamy and smooth texture and subtle vanilla bean flavour that went well with the strong berry coulis and fresh berries.

Strawberry pancake (daily special)

Strawberry pancake (daily special)

The pancake was a bit more disappointing and more geared towards the children visiting the cafe. The sprinkled hundreds and thousands didn’t add much to the dish!

Yoghurt & Berry Parfait $8.50

Yoghurt & Berry Parfait $8.50

A much healthier friend chose a yoghurt and berry parfait as she’s not much of a fan of sweets…and in fact, she doesn’t even eat chocolate! (Crazy, I know!) This is a great lighter choice if you happen to visit earlier in the day and aren’t quite ready for something sweet.

While our experience at Sunny Ridge wasn’t quite as good as our visit to Main Ridge Dairy (the service isn’t as good, and it’s a little older), I imagine that I’ll probably be back – next time in strawberry picking season!

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on Urbanspoon