A Pinch of Melbourne

November 24, 2016

A Pinch of Bella - Wholesome Guide to Melbourne - S.O.S CaféWhilst away in Australia recently for a family wedding, Mom & I decided to fit in a sneaky weekend in Melbourne and, boy oh boy, was it worth it! The food scene in Melbourne is unbelievably impressive. It’s a hub of diverse cuisines; from Greek to Vietnamese, you can dine to your heart’s desire, and the quality is second to none! Naturally, I gravitated towards the healthier hot spots and enjoyed some of the best and most aesthetically pleasing acai bowls and, of course, the crazy-good-brighten-up-your-morning-put-a-swing-in-your-step coffee. A Pinch of Bella - Wholesome Guide to Melbourne A Pinch of Bella - Wholesome Guide to Melbourne - S.O.S CaféA Pinch of Bella - Wholesome Guide to Melbourne - Serotonin EateryA Pinch of Bella - Wholesome Guide to Melbourne - Market LaneA Pinch of Bella - Wholesome Guide to Melbourne - Darling CaféA Pinch of Bella - Wholesome Guide to Melbourne

1. Darling Café 

We had our first breakfast at Darling Café in South Yara and were completely blown away by the food presentation and décor. I feasted on their Organic Acai Bowl that was served with the tastiest activated buckwheat granola. My bowl looked as if it had been prepared by a fruit ninja, with each piece of fruit meticulously placed, and garnished with beautiful edible flowers. I enjoyed it alongside a lovely Matcha Latte. One of my favourite decorative details was their use of baby pineapples mixed with wild flowers in bottles on each table – such a cute and unique idea!

2. Higher Ground 

The interior of this restaurant is outstanding. Tall ceilings, exposed whitewash brick, an abundance of greenery and modern finishes, this is the perfect setting to lull away a rainy afternoon. They have two locations in Melbourne, we visited the one on Little Bourke Street and it was extremely popular so be sure to arrive early or book ahead. Luckily, there’s a coffee station set up outside, so our 20 minute wait was spent happily sipping on some Almond Milk Hot Chocolates. The wait was 1000% worth it. Their menu is short and simple but their combinations are superb. I had the Kale Salad served with almond hummus, cauliflower, miso, avocado, poached eggs and salty seeds. I would never have imagined that all of these ingredients could be so tasty, but this was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. 10/10.

3. Save Our Souls 

S.O.S is another adorable breakfast spot, also located in South Yara. Nestled in a little courtyard looking onto a lovely big fountain, this a delightful spot for a tranquil morning. Their wonderful selection of hot drinks can all be made with their homemade almond milk. It’s delicious and not at all overbearing which I find most almond milks often can be. I hate to say it but I also went for the Acai Bowl here – I’m sorry, I’m sorry! When you’re in the land of the most beautiful acai bowls, you gotta milk it, or rather juice it! True to Melbourne standard, the presentation was awe-inspiring. Layered between crunchy granola clusters, this acai smoothie had the perfect ice-cream like texture.

4. Serotonin 

This spot is a little bit further away from the action, but so worth the trip, even if it is just to marvel at the décor. Marble tables, swings as seats, gold cutlery, succulents and wild flowers everywhere, this place is Pinterest heaven. Seratonin also offers a delectable selection of hot drinks. I went for the turmeric latte which was aptly presented with a dusting of turmeric in the shape of a smiley face reflecting their happy branding. I opted for the Nutrition Bomb which was yummy and packed with nutritious goodness (not as tasty as Higher Ground, however). Mom went for the Avo Toast served with a beetroot relish, and said it was divine.

5. Market Lane Coffee 

We couldn’t leave Melbourne without venturing into Victoria Market, so that’s just what we did on our last morning. It’s really no surprise that this place is so highly recommended, the selection of produce is incredible and right through the back you can find the most amazing section boasting 100% organic certified products. Victoria Market is home to Market Lane, reputed to be one of Melbourne’s top coffee places. It did not disappoint. I have a lot of time for places that specialise in one specific thing but do it extraordinarily well. I can’t remember the name of the particular roast that we chose but the flavour notes were dark chocolate, brazil nut and caramel (I think). Unfortunately, they do not serve any non-dairy milks but their milk is organic and locally sourced. This coffee was the absolute bees knees and, quite possibly,  the best I’ve ever had. I want to describe it like morning poetry, I’m not sure that works, but that’s my feel, so I’m gonna roll with it.

Melbourne, you were a dream. I hope we meet again one day.

♥C.

Sweet Potato, Butternut & Ginger Soup with Turmeric Quinoa

November 13, 2016

A Pinch of Bella - Sweet Potato, Butternut & Ginger SoupI was tempted to simply call this recipe The Flu Annihilator, a testament to it’s potency and punch. Packed with nature’s antibiotics: ginger, turmeric & garlic, this is the answer to our Winter woes. Other remedies proven successful from personal experience include, but are not limited to, drinking heaps of water, drinking ALL of the turmeric-infused drinks, gargling with salt water, snorting salt water & rest (aka binge watching That 70’s Show). I also find that my appetite slightly diminishes when I’m feeling under the weather, which I think is our body’s way of saying, ‘Listen here pal, I’ve got a lot of healing to do, there ain’t no time nor energy to digest a heavy meal’. With this in mind, I try to lean towards hearty soups and simple foods that are easily digestible. Rest up and I hope that this recipe brings comfort to anyone battling a cold.A Pinch of Bella - Sweet Potato, Butternut & Ginger SoupA Pinch of Bella - Sweet Potato, Butternut & Ginger Soup

Ingredients:

For the Soup:
1 x teaspoon coconut oil for frying
3 x crushed garlic cloves
1 x white or red onion roughly chopped
1 x very generous thumb of grated fresh ginger
1 x small finely chopped red chilli
1 x teaspoon ground cumin
1 x teaspoon ground turmeric
1 x vegetable stock cube
1 x cup boiled water
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
2 x cups chopped butternut squash
2 x cups chopped sweet potato
Juice of half a lime

For the Turmeric Quinoa:
1 x cup rinsed uncooked quinoa
1 x teaspoon turmeric
Juice of half a lime
A pinch each of salt & pepper

Step-by-step:

For the Soup:
1. On a medium heat, melt the coconut oil in a pan and gently fry the onion until soft.
2. Add the crushed garlic, grated ginger and chilli, sautéing gently for about 2 minutes.
3. Add in the turmeric and cumin and sauté until everything is coated and the spices become fragrant.
4. Dissolve the stock cube in the cup of hot water and add it to the pan along with the coconut milk.
5. Bring the liquids to a gentle simmer before adding both the sweet potato and butternut squash.
6. Cover the pan and let everything simmer on a medium heat until the vegetables are cooked through (this should take between 25-30 minutes).
7. Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth.
8. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste and, most importantly, the juice of half a lime. This ingredient is paramount as it really enhances the flavours beautifully.

For the Quinoa:
1. In a pan add 1 x cup of rinsed quinoa and 1 1/2 cups boiled water.
2. stir in the turmeric, lime juice and salt & pepper.
3. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium, covering the pot with a lid and letting the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes.

♥C.

Pumpkin, Coconut & Lentil Curry

October 30, 2016

A Pinch of Bella - Pumpkin Curry

Happy Halloween!!! This comforting curry is the ideal autumnal dish and makes for a perfect Halloween-themed dinner recipe. Enriched with fragrant spices and chilli (fresh outta the garden, too! I can’t imagine the novelty of hand picking home-grown ingredients and preparing a special meal for the family will ever wear thin. I need a farm in my future, OK universe!?) Can we also please take a moment to appreciate how cute it is that this wooden spoon has ‘RICE IS LIFE’ carved into the handle? It has to be one of my neatest travel souvenirs that I picked up in Chiang Mai, Thailand this time last year, so I’m so stoked to finally have an opportune use for it!

A Pinch of Bella - Pumpkin CurryA Pinch of Bella - Pumpkin CurryA Pinch of Bella - Pumpkin CurryA Pinch of Bella - Pumpkin Curry

Ingredients: 

1/2 chopped red onion
2 x crushed garlic cloves
1 x large thumb of freshly grated ginger
1 x small red chilli
1 x teaspoon ground turmeric
1 x teaspoon ground cumin
1 x teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 x teaspoon coconut oil for frying
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
2 x tablespoons tomato purée
1/2 cup water
2 x cups chopped pumpkin (preferably cubes of a similar size)
1 x cup cooked lentils
1 x generous handful fresh coriander finely chopped + extra for serving
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional lime wedges to serve

Step-by-step:

1. In a fairly large pan, heat the coconut oil on a medium heat and sauté the chopped red onion until almost soft.
2. Add in crushed garlic, grated ginger & finely chopped red chilli and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently ensuring that the garlic & ginger do not stick.
3. Add in all of the spices and cook for another 2 minutes until the spices become fragrant and have nicely coated the other ingredients already in the pan.
4. Stir in the coconut milk, tomato purée and water.
5. Once the liquids are well combined, add in the chopped pumpkin and let the curry simmer on a medium heat.
6. Once the pumpkin is cooked, which should take between 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your chunks, add in the lentils and freshly chopped coriander and cook for about another 5 minutes until the lentils are heated through.
7. Finally season with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Serve with any rice of your choice, some fresh coriander and optional lime wedges for some added freshness.

Serves 4.

♥C.