A weekend in Stockholm.

A weekend in Stockholm.

After one and a half years, I finally get to see my lovely friend Stina again. Last I saw her was when I left on this adventure, leaving her in a limousine with the rest of my friends at Melbourne Airport. We meet up in Sweden, with a plan to drive out into the countryside for Midsummer, as is the traditional Swedish way. But first, we all spent the weekend in Stockholm. Holed up in an apartment in Södermalm, a trendy island neighbourhood in central, we whiled away the time exploring design stores, coffee roasters and bakeries.
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Juniper-crusted bison carpaccio, smoked dark chocolate fudge + coconut green mole.

Juniper-crusted bison carpaccio, smoked dark chocolate fudge + coconut green mole.

Last night we had one of the best meals we have eaten in the USA, right here in Phoenix. A few weeks ago when we visited the Desert Botanical Gardens, mum pointed out the restaurant in the gardens and mentioned it had been recently redone by a well-acclaimed chef. I checked it out when I got home, and Executive Chef Stephen Eldridge is alumni of other well-known Phoenix dining hotspots such as Quiessence (Arizona’s answer to New Yorks farm-to-table dining experience Blue Hill at Stone Barns).

So when my grandparents told me they would take me anywhere I wanted to go for dinner for my Christmas present, I finally settled on Gertrude’s, and boy am I glad I did.

We turned up to the Botanic Gardens after dark, and walked through the open entrance gates towards the restaurant. It was weird walking through the Botanic Gardens after closing time.
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Fishing for trout.

Fishing for trout.

It’s my last weekend working with Joint Councils Access for All Abilities – it’s the longest I’ve ever stayed at a job (almost 3 years), and it’s the only one I have loved from beginning to end. JCAAA really launched me into my culinary adventures. My interest in food came early, but my jumble sale of a career of culinary adventures combined with media was instigated by my appointment as program coordinator of the community kitchens. I went to pastry school because it was the same price as a food handlers license. I started a blog because I was cooking so much I wanted to record my recipes. And the rest is history….

On top of that, I met my best friend there. Our Abbott and Costello party routine would go:

‘How do you two know each other?’

Angela: ‘Well….’
Lani: ‘Don’t do it!’
Angela: ‘She’sssssssss..’
Lani: ‘I’m not!’
Angela: ‘She’s ma bawss!’

*both laugh hysterically while question asker giggles mildly uncomfortably*
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Whisky in the Central Highlands, B&B’s with platypus + glowworm caves.

Whisky in the Central Highlands, B&B’s with platypus + glowworm caves.

Just over an hour from Cradle Mountain we found ourselves in sleepy Mole Creek. Home to the Mole Creek Karst National Park, it is worth stopping for the night to do the underground caves and glow worms tour. We drove up from Hobart through the Western Wilderness, a region so alien to this country. It looked bleak and desolate like the moors of Scotland – not a single other soul was on the road, and it was raining. It was strange and exciting to drive through a region so different from the one we had just left, and the one we were about to enter.
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Raspberry Lattes, hot-smoked salmon, mango honey + wasabi cheddar.

Raspberry Lattes, hot-smoked salmon, mango honey + wasabi cheddar.

Heading from the west of the island, from Mole Creek or Cradle Mountain, we stopped by The Honey Farm in Chudleigh for a true sweet education. A small museum at the back of the shop had us captivated for a good half an hour, discovering about the life cycle of a bee, their roles, hierarchy and honey production. A cleverly designed system of bee boxes were set up behind a glass window, next a tube through the wall where the bees ‘commute’ to work in the honeycomb that is set in a glass box inside the store. You can watch the bees hard at work producing honey here.
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