Perfect retreat in Paradise #arcadiaretreat #rarotonga

We had a wonderful and very relaxing 12 days soaking up the tranquility at Arcadia Retreat at Arorangi in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Arcadia has 3 villas, a beautiful pool and gardens and is just 200m from the beach. At night you can hear the sound of the ocean and in the morning you awake to beautiful sunrises over the hills of Rarotonga. Absolute bliss.

The beautiful pool at Arcadia Retreat, Rarotonga
View from the balcony at Villa Ta’i at Arcadia Retreat, Cook Islands

Villa Ta’i in which we stayed was beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean with 2 bedrooms, well equipped kitchen and access to a barbecue in the gazebo near the resort style pool. Arcadia Retreat has stunning views to the hills on Rarotonga and beautifully maintained tropical gardens.

Main bedroom at Villa Ta’i with doors opening out to large balcony.

Our Villa had very comfortable beds, good shower, a big balcony and lots of different areas to lounge, read and relax. Ceiling fans throughout the Villa and breezes from the hills kept the house cool and comfortable throughout our stay over December and January. There are only 3 villas available to stay in, so numbers of other guests are kept to a minimum. I would highly recommend this as a great option to staying in a busy resort.

Sunrise at Arcadia Retreat, Rarotonga (view from Villa Ta’i at Arcadia Retreat Rarotonga)

Maxine and Neil were helpful and friendly hosts who assisted with maps and tips to set us up for our stay. Arcadia Retreat is also conveniently located near a Vodafone hot spot so once you have purchased your wifi pass from the local Kavera supermarket internet access is very good. Although we spent most of the time exploring, snorkelling, swimming reading books and lazing by the pool.

Beautifully maintained tropical gardens at Arcadia Retreat
Arorangi Beach, 200m from Arcadia Retreat

We hired a car for our stay so we were able to trip around the island and enjoy lunches at some lovely restaurants and sunset drinks at Shipwreck Hut, a laidback and rustic beach bar, which is just a ten minute beautiful beach walk away.

Sunset at Shipwreck Hut, Arorangi Beach, Rarotonga
Great island sunsets and humour at Rarotonga beach bar: Shipwreck Hut.
Walking back to Arcadia Retreat from Shipwreck Hut beach bar. No need to drive!

Arcadia Retreat is also very close to Pacific Fish and Chip Shop which serves delicious fresh fish grilled or fried.

Pacific Fish and Chip Shop, best fish and chips in Rarotonga
Perfect peaceful retreat in paradise

Book often and book early so as not to miss out on a great accommodation option in Raro.Arcadia Retreat

Awesome #Auckland #NewZealand

We had some great meals out in Auckland on our stopover on the way to the Cook Islands.

Lunch at Giraffe Cafe was delicious featuring beautiful New Zealand produce overlooking the buzzing scene around the harbour and viaduct. We loved the slow cooked lamb shank and the duck Caesar salad, enjoyed with a delicious Greywacke Pinot Gris. Great service and local knowledge from our friendly waiter Herbie too!

Slow cooked lamb shank on creamy mash
Duck Caesar salad

Dinner at one of our favourites in Auckland Baduzzi stood up to its huge reputation for excellent roman inspired dishes including their famous meatballs. We ate everything from ox tongue to venison meatballs and delicious steak with creamy polenta! Bellissimo.

Ox tongue with a heirloom tomatoes, asparagus and salsa verde
Broken cannoli of yellowfin with nduja and Burrata
Lamb meatballs
Inside skirt tagliata with creamy potato and lettuce with parmigiana reggiano and balsamic

Korean lunch at Gochu in the new Commercial Bay shopping centre and food court was a welcome spicy and delicious detour. Everything from the milk buns with spicy pork and Kim chi filling with amazing beurre Blanc sauce to the cucumber salad with cashew cream, ssam and fried garlic to the brilliant crispy fried chicken doused in gochujang sauce and the crispy fried eggplant was cooked to perfection and impeccably presented. A great find in a shopping centre!

Cucumber with ssam and cashew cream
Milk bun with spicy pork and kimchi filling
Milk bun with beurre Blanc sauce
Crispy fed chicken with gochuchang sauce
Crispy eggplant with doenjang glaze, tofu cream and sesame

Our final lunch at Amano which started when we enjoyed a breakfast coffee and croissant in their bakery earlier on our trip did not disappoint. Delicious cheesy focaccia, mussel fritter and Burrata shared between us followed by individual mains including agnolotti with slow cooked beef shin and asparagus, smoked Warehou pate, grilled chicken with kale and chittara with scampi and chilli.

Agnolotti stuffed with slow cooked beef shin with mustard seeds and crunchy asparagus
Agnolotti with slow cooked beef shin
Focaccia with cheesy cow’s milk mozzarella filling
Burrata, sweetcorn, fermented chilli and chervil
Mussel fritter with pickled onion, preserved lemon and shaved fennel
Chittara with scampi, tomatoes and chilli
Chargrilled chicken with kale and chilli
Smoked warehou pate with green olive and sourdough

Great way to end our wonderful 2022/23 summer holiday.

There are so many other places we would have loved to have tried but we ran out of time on this trip. Auckland is definitely a foodie heaven that could do with much more exploration!

Remembering #nye #bali #mozaic #ubud

As another New Year’s Eve and another year impacted by COVID looms, it has made me remember some of the most special experiences we have had over the years.

One of our most memorable new year’s Eve celebrations was at the wonderful Mozaic restaurant in Ubud, Bali in #2016.

Here’s the review from that night….that I posted at the time:

NYE Foodie Nirvana

On that same trip I did the Mozaic Cooking Class and had a go at replicating some of their famous dishes.

It seems like another lifetime ago now.

We have been back to Mozaic over the years many times and we’re never disappointed. Always a great atmosphere, excellent service and delicious food and drinks.

The cooking class I did there was also a wonderful insight into Balinese herbs and spices that inspire the fusion cuisine of Founder and Chef Chris Salans.

Mozaic Cooking Class
Mozaic Lounge

So great to see that Mozaic and Chris Salans are still going strong and promoting their NYE 2022 experience…

NYE 2022

Just wish we could be there!!

#Puff Pastry #Pissaladiere #goatscheese #onionjam #anchovies #olives

Through this week, it came to our attention that we had an over abundance of soft goats cheese.

This brought on visions of onion and goats cheese tarts, and memories of the traditional French Pissaladiere which we had first enjoyed in Nice. Decided they would be great with goats cheese as well.

The original Pissaladiere: a much more structured version without goats cheese like the ones we enjoyed in Nice, France

Rummaged through our very well stocked holiday home pantry and found olives and a tin of Ortiz anchovies! Bingo!

Made 2 versions …both a lot more “unstructured” …both first smothered in store bought good quality onion jam. One version just onion jam and goats cheese, one with anchovies and olives. Both sprinkled with fresh rosemary and thyme. Both delicious with some fresh rocket.

These would be great to take on a picnic too once cooled to room temperature. We enjoyed them with our leftover couscous salad and some bbq sausages for a relaxed summer lunch.

Prep time: 30 minutes incl defrosting pastry cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Small can anchovies
  • 6 pitted green or black olives
  • 4 tablespoons soft goats cheese
  • 6 tablespoons onion jam
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh thyme and/or Rosemary

Method

1. Defrost puff pastry according to packet instructions

2.Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius

3. Cut pastry into half to make 6-8 lengths, crimp edges to form shallow rectangular cases

4. Brush bottoms and edges with beaten egg

5. Prick bottoms of cases with a fork to stop them puffing up.

6. Spread onion jam across the base of each case, then add anchovies and olives to half the cases. Crumble goats cheese on all the cases, then sprinkle thyme and/or rosemary and black pepper.

7. Bake in hot oven for 10 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp.

8. Slice as you like and serve hot or at room temperature.

Relaxed summer lunch

#merry #moroccan #christmas

Our family is away at a holiday house where most of us have gathered together for a week of festivities and relaxation together.

The week we have been balancing spoiling ourselves with eating well.

Tonight’s menu focussed on Moroccan themes once again using some tried and tested recipes and adding some new!

Also with the limitations of a holiday home pantry, some ingredients are substituted but the overall outcome was just as good. That’s how family cooking should be.

Menu:

Cauliflower and orange salad

Tonight was a great example of how ingredients can be mixed and matched , depending on what you have on hand catering to to different tastes e.g no coriander, and still having lovely meal.

Chicken B’stilla
Couscous with zuchinni and carrot

Old #Tapas favourites at new beach house #morningtonpeninsula

Lovely days settling into our #airbnb beach house at Koonya Beach in Blairgowrie, on the edge of the Mornington Peninsula National Park at the very southern tip of Victoria. This is a very special part of Australia.

View from point overlooking Koonya Ocean Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Today we went for a walk to Koonya Ocean Beach which is the nesting site of endangered birds and visits form wild seals. The coast is rugged and stunning with swim warnings along the way. After our walk we felt we deserved a lazy tapas lunch on the deck and a lazy afternoon, made extra special with time spent with our love,y new 6 month old granddaughter.

Lovely relaxing times in the lead up to Christmas.

Surveying the beauty!
Wild seal resting!!!

Here are some photos and recipe links for old favourite Tapas dishes and menu for lunch!

Tapas lunch

Menu included:

Prawns with chilli and garlic

Catalan chickpeas with spinach and raisins

Roasted capsicum with tuna filling

Potato and onion tortilla

Fried chorizo

Caperberries and olives

Cheese Plate with Manchego and delicious nectarines…

Oven crisped Baguette to sop up the prawn juices!

A lovely relaxed meal conducive to siesta on the deck!