It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Caramelised Onion & Bacon Cornbread

Until we moved to the US about 5 years ago, I'd never tasted cornbread - I know, what a waste!  But now I've tasted cornbread, and I love cornbread!  I think it works best with fried chicken, mashed potato and gravy, but it's also fabulous with Mexican food.  And now I know it works with gumbo too.

I saw this Caramelised Onion and Bacon Cornbread recipe on Pinterest (of course) and it comes originally from Baked by Rachel, but I found her recipe a bit rambling and hard to follow.   And she forgot to list the eggs in her ingredients list (thanks to my hubby who responded to my "Google cornbread recipes, fast!" squeal from the kitchen when I realised that something was missing).

I made it last night to go with the scrumptious Prawn Gumbo that hubby cooked (let me know if you want me to blog that recipe) and it worked a treat.  I'll put the recipe below, with my comments in italics.  I know it looks like loads of ingredients, but it's really dead easy to make.  Let's get cooking!

Caramelised Onion & Bacon Cornbread

  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 2 slices of bacon (I used all of one of those packs of cut up bacon bits you can find in the chiller cabinet at your supermarket - can a person ever have too much bacon?)
  • 1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter (you all know that I've got a vendetta against unsalted butter, so my butter was salted)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (to cook the onions in)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (seriously, this was too much sugar, I'd halve it next time)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (to go in the onions)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder (oops, I just realised I skipped this step and my cornbread didn't have this - still tasted and looked great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal (I'm sure you all know that cornmeal and polenta are the same thing - I didn't - and you've probably got a bag of polenta kicking around in your pantry which you bought with such good intentions.  Use it now!)
  • 1 cup flour (um, I forgot this too - must pay more attention to detail!)

  1. Heat skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon butter.
  2. Add onions, stirring until translucent (or until you get bored).
  3. Reduce heat a bit and sprinkle with half teaspoon of salt and the teaspoon of sugar.
  4. Stir occasionally and add a splash of water if you need it to keep onions moist (I didn't need to add any water).
  5. Cook until deep amber colour (I got bored and mine weren't that colour).
  6. Tip the onions out into a bowl and add the bacon to the skillet
  7. Cook until crispy and chop up into little bits (if you're using whole rashers, or you could just use the cut up stuff that I used)
  8. Preheat oven to 375f (I think that's about 180c - I cooked mine at 180c)
  9. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or baking spray (I used that melty butter cooking stuff - worked a treat)
  10. In large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and 2/3 cup of sugar.
  11. Whisk in eggs and then buttermilk.
  12. Add remaining dry ingredients (try not to forget the baking powder and normal flour like I did - sigh) and give it all a good stir
  13. Add bacon and caramelised onion and mix it all in
  14. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean
  15. Cool on wire rack and store in airtight container (if you don't eat it all!)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dubai - Rise & Shine Tour

We only had two full days in Dubai and we wanted to see a bit of the place, so the first day we did a Big Bus Hop On Hop Off tour (which I'll cover in another post) and the second day we did an Arabian Adventures Rise and Shine tour.

The tour was fantastic!  We got picked up at 8.30am from our hotel by Sayeed in his shiny new Arabian Adventures Toyota 4WD.  There were already two people in the back, a father and son from the UK, and the tour continued with only the four of us - perfect!

Sayeed, our wadi bash driver.  One of the most fun jobs a man can have?

We headed out into the desert, first having a short detour to the Dubai Camel Racing Club to watch the camels scooting around with their jockeys, both human and robot.  Yes, robot.  They have robots racing the camels in Dubai.  Really.  Lots of the camels are bred from imported Australian camels which are held in very high esteem.

Then we drove out into the desert proper, stopping en route to cuddle a baby camel owned by a local tribesman. Sayeed lowered the tyre pressure in the car and then we headed out to do some serious wadi bashing which was loads of fun.  It was very bouncy, but you never felt in danger at all.  Those drivers obviously know what they're doing.

We pulled up to a string of camels and mounted up.  Let me just say, camels are VERY different from horses!  You sit on them when they're laying down, and then they get up - it's incredibly jerky and you feel like you could topple off.  Once you're up and they're walking, it's very easy to sit there and relax.

The camels led us to our Bedouin breakfast which we really enjoyed.  We joined up with another group for breakfast and it was fun to sit out and chat with the drivers and the chef whilst we ate a traditional meal.  Then we wandered around for a while, with lots of time to take photos, before we headed back to put the air back into the tyres and cruise back to the hotel.

The tour was great and I thought it was good value at AED295/person.  Because of the extreme weather in Dubai, the tour only runs between November - April.  The temperatures were in the low 20s when we were there, and that's perfect for spending some time in the desert.

We booked our tour the day beforehand at the tour desk in the hotel - easy peasy - or you can book online or give them a call.

Arabian Adventures
Phone:- +971 4 403 4888

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dubai - Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

You know I'm a big fan of the Hop On Hop Off Bus tours.  We've done them in loads of places, and I've blogged about them before.  I think they're a great way to see a place if you're not there for long.

On our first full day in Dubai we decided to buy some tickets and do the loop (it's a BIG loop!) of Dubai.  We bought the 24 hour ticket for AED220/person and I thought it was quite pricey, compared to other ones we've done, but this one comes with added FREE tours and they certainly made it worthwhile.

The free tours are the Khan Murjan Discovery Walk (15 minute guided walk through the Khan Murjan Souk), the Arabian Treasure Walk (90 minute guided walk through the Spice and Gold Souks, and an Abra ride across the creek) or the Arabian Dhow Cruise (60 minute Dhow cruise down the creek).

We chose the Arabian Treasure Walk and it was fantastic!  Our guide walked us past several different places of worship to the Abra stop where we jumped on the local boat transport and headed over the creek to the Spice Souk, and into a store where you could taste and purchase spices if you wished.  In the Souk there was a camel milk gelato store (tried it!) where I bought a little bowl of Lemon and Mint Gelato - gorgeous!

We walked on to the Gold Souk where you can either stay and shop or jump back on the bus at a different stop, continuing your tour.  Gold isn't really our thing, so we jumped back on the bus and kept on going.  We hopped off at the Dubai Mall stop, heading into the vast mall for some shopping.  We all know that I don't mind a bit of shopping, but we bought nothing - there was just too many shops and too many things.  It was quite over-facing and off-putting.  Great to look at the HUGE indoor aquarium though.

You can book online, through your hotel tour desk, or just at the bus stops.

Big Bus Tours Dubai

Monday, February 4, 2013

d'Arry's Verandah Restaurant, d'Arenberg Wines, McLaren Vale, South Australia

On our last day in Adelaide, my parents took us to d'Arry's Verandah at the gorgeous d'Arenberg Wines in McLaren Vale, about an hours drive from Adelaide.  d'Arry's is a high end restaurant, set in the D'Arenberg vineyard - perfect for a farewell meal or any special occasion.

It was nearly 40c that day and we hadn't booked until the last moment, but we managed to get a table inside in the air conditioning (thank heavens!)  As it was over the festive period, there was a two course minimum for $65, and there was also a three course option.  They had two lunch sittings as it is such a popular restaurant - one at 12 and one at 2.

We had the 12 noon sitting and the staff were friendly and welcoming.  There was a very good choice for starters, mains and desserts and we perused the menu with some glasses of the wonderful NV The Peppermint Paddock Sparkling Chambourcin.  I know sparkling red wine isn't well known outside of Australia, but it's amazing stuff and the Chambourcin was exceptional.  I've never seen such a gorgeously coloured wine being poured into a glass - a chilled mix of black, crimson and dark purple - it looked like liquid jewels.  Try it, you won't be disappointed.

I started with the Coconut and Lime Cured Scallops with Lychee, Cucumber and Coriander Salad and Fresh Grated Horseradish.  It was so lovely and fresh.  The scallops aren't cooked, they cure in the coconut and lime and they were perfect.  My main was the Pork Belly and Sesame Rice Dumpling with Grapefruit, Ginger Salad and Ginger Beer Sauce.  Pork belly can be a bit of a hit or miss dish and this was definitely a hit - perfectly cooked and not fatty or greasy at all, and with a nice bit of crackling to crunch on.

We were conscious of the time, though the staff were not at all pushy, and had left our table before 2pm for the next sitting.  Just enough time to poke around the Cellar Door and take some photos outside in the sunshine.

d'Arry's is a gorgeous place with fantastic food and great staff - try it for something special.

d'Arry's Verandah
Osborn Road
McLaren Vale  SA  5171
Phone:- +61 8 8329 4888
Freecall:- 1800 882 335