I thought today I would give you an insight into some of the sweet delights I sampled on my recent trip to Japan and Europe!
First stop, Japan. I never realised how crazy the Japanese were for desserts. But cake stores and crepe bars are everywhere!
A decadent cake display in Tokyo
Mmmm Sweetbox! All the crepe flavours you could possibly imagine!
This is my “OMG crepe!” face
Our haul of delicious Japanese lollies. We snacked on these constantly.
I pretty much lived on Pocky. And we were always finding new flavours everywhere we went!
An amazing creme brulee I sampled in Kyoto (don’t worry I ate it lots in Paris too!)
We found 99% Lindt in a store in Tokyo. It tasted TERRIBLE.
Next stop on my sweets tour was Munich, Germany
Amazing gingerbread at the Christmas markets. I ate so much of this. It says “I Love You”, not “I Love Dick” as I originally thought hehe
And on to Prague, which is not really known for its great cuisine…. (unless you LOVE meat and dumplings)
But they do make a good pancake! This huge stack of pancakes came with bacon, fried eggs, sausage, a bagel and shot glass of maple syrup. All up it only cost AUD$9.50!
And finally I bring you Paris, the heart and home of the patisserie. This was the most beautiful shop window I had ever seen!
Bell jars, tea pots, macarons, glitter… could a girl ask for more!?
Beautiful sugar work that looks like crystals
And the most perfect macaron I have ever seen
From Spanish design studio Atipo comes Font Face, a project which pays tribute to 4 typographic legends and their creators. It fuses my love for typography, fashion and makeup in a visually striking way and will make any typo fan weak at the knees. The typefaces represented are Helvetica Bold, Clarendon Bold, Carousel Medium and Caslon Italic
Then check out the beautifully shot video of the process of doing this project (using MAC cosmetics I see!)
I love design hotels, where so much effort and thought has been placed on each room your stay is anything but ordinary!
Hotel du Petit Moulin – Paris, France
A divine hotel designed by Christian Lacroix in the heart of the le Marais district. For more information go to their website.
Each room features unique artworks
Amazing wallpapers and polka dot rugs (!!) adorn each room
Possibly the most amazing hotel bathroom I have ever seen!
Hotel Fox – Copenhagen, Denmark
21 international graphic design artists have made Hotel Fox into an exciting and creative lifestyle hotel. For more information go to their website.
Ecstasy Room designed by WK interact
Japanese Garden room designed by Tokidoki
King’s Forest room by Birgit Amadori
Maison Moschino – Milan, Italy
Coming from mega-brand Moschino, style and surrealism are to be expected: rooms are inspired by fairy tales and abstract concepts. For more information go to their website.
The Forest Room
This was the first red velvet cupcake I have ever baked and eaten and I am in love! This cupcake is steadily becoming one of my most popular, as the last 3 functions that I baked for ALL asked for my red velvet!
- 120g butter (room temperature)
- 2 eggs
- 1⅓ cups caster sugar
- 4 tsp cocoa
- 4 tsp red food colouring
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 240ml buttermilk (or add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to normal milk)
- 2½ cups plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tsp white wine vinegar
- 4-5 cups sifted icing sugar
- 100g butter at room temperature
- 250g cream cheese at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl mix the vanilla extract, cocoa powder and red food colouring into a paste. Add the paste to the creamed mixture.
- Add half the buttermilk and mix until combined, followed by half of the flour and baking powder. Mix until incorporated and then add the remainder of the buttermilk and flour and mix thoroughly.
- Add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar and continue mixing for another 5 minutes until combined.
- Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tin and fill approximately ¾ full.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cupcakes slightly spring back when touched.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly in their tin before turning out onto a wire rack
- Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
- Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
My heart is breaking for Japan, I was only just there in December, falling in love with an amazing country. I had the pleasure of meeting up with Eloise from Catkin and Teasel whilst in Tokyo – she is selling gorgeous sets of 6 postcards to raise money for the Australian Red Cross, who are directly aiding the Japan Red Cross Society. I have bought myself some, please pass this on to your friends and family so they can help too!
Shipping within Australia is free of charge and you can purchase them here.
After nearly a month in bed I am slowly starting to resume normal life, but at half speed – because unfortunately it takes 3-4 months to fully recover from pneumonia! I’ve been trying to catch up on missed school work from my graphic design course in between frequent naps as I am short of breath and exhausted 90% of the time. Fun!
I have missed blogging so much, so I am dedicating part of my energy to getting my blog in full swing again. It will definitely lift my spirits!
Whilst sick I played a LOT of Angry Birds in bed and I was delighted to find a video that incorporates 2 things I love – Angry Birds and CAKE.
Best dad ever!
Stay tuned for more recipes, travel posts and design treats – just bear with me, I’m a little slow and tired :)
Sorry things have been quiet in Swah-land. This week after 3 doctors visits, blood tests and x-rays it turns out I have pneumonia, and quite a rare type for a young healthy woman. So please bear with me as I get better, it’s going to take a while. Can’t wait to get back to blogging soon. xxx
Sometimes no matter how much careful preparation and organisation you do, disasters happen on a trip. The key thing to remember is something probably WILL go wrong on your trip and its outcome will depend on how well you handle it. Here are some examples of travel disasters that have happened to me and close friends and how we dealt with it. No trips were ruined!
You Lose Your Passport
I received a nervous phone call from my boyfriend when I was in LA last year, something you never want to hear when are severely jet lagged and have been awake for 36 hours. “I think I have lost my passport”. Ok so this is every traveller’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t mean the end of your trip (In fact this happened right at the beginning of our trip!) Unfortunately there was no Australian consulate in Las Vegas where he was and he was thankfully allowed on a flight from Vegas to San Francisco after showing various forms of ID. I met him at SF airport and we went directly to the Australian Consulate. We explained the situation and that we were flying to Canada in 4 days and had to have a new one issued by then. Several hours later and yay! Emergency passport. Now of course things don’t always go smoothly as this, and often planes are missed and accommodation has to be rearranged (this is when travel insurance comes in handy). But please remember that losing your passport is not the end of the world and certainly not the end of your trip. Just remember to report your passport lost or stolen IMMEDIATELY and high tail it to your consulate.
You arrive at your hotel and they have never heard of you
This disaster happened on the exact same day as the above lost passport story, what a wonderful way to start a trip! As mentioned previously I was very jet lagged and had been awake for a ridiculous amount of hours. I finally arrived alone to my hotel in LA, so excited to shower and perhaps have a quick power nap. After showing the front desk my hotel confirmation (which I had paid in full for, may I add) the receptionist looked at me worriedly and said “I am sorry we never received your booking and we are completely booked out for the next few nights). I must admit I had a minor meltdown. I don’t deal with things that well when I am sleep deprived and the thought of trying to find last minute accommodation in Beverly Hills on a Saturday night was not ideal. To cut a long story short after hours of fretting and trying to call Expedia back in Australia (who were closed as it was 3am!) it turned out the hotel made a mistake and I was finally allowed to check in. Some tips to avoid this situation – make sure you have a printed confirmation of your hotel booking as well as the bookers contact details (such as Expedia). If you are really worried there is no problem in sending the hotel an email prior to your arrival. However if you are booking through a reputable booking agent (such as Expedia and may I add that they returned my call as soon as their office opened and it was not their fault!) you should be fine.
You get really sick
There is nothing worse than getting sick on a trip. I recently got the flu on a trip and I was bed ridden for 5 days. Thankfully due to the flexibility of my travel plans I was able to rest up and not miss out on TOO much. But if your illness requires medical attention then there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are in a non-English speaking country and need a doctor, an upmarket hotel is always a good starting place to find an English speaking one. And if you are en route to a doctor or hospital BRING YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE DETAILS WITH YOU. When I was a travel agent a colleague told me of the time she was injured at a summer camp in the USA. A staff member drove her 40 mins to the hospital bleeding profusely and upon arrival she was promptly asked for her travel insurance details. Of course they were back at the camp, 40 mins away. Her friend had to drive back to camp to get the forms and the hospital left her there clutching a bloodied tea towel to her hand. They refused to treat her until they received her travel insurance details. Now I know this is a worse case scenario and the USA is notoriously difficult, but don’t push your luck. Insurance companies often give you a card with the insurance details on it, put it in your wallet!
Your flight is cancelled
During the recent snow storms in Europe and the UK thousands of flights were cancelled. We were flying in and out of Heathrow, Munich, Paris and many other airports faced with huge delays and cancellations. By some huge stroke of good luck we managed to get where we wanted to go without too many delays. But if you are less fortunate and your flight is cancelled, make sure you obtain the correct documentation from your airline stating that your flight is cancelled. If the cancellation means you are forced to alter travel plans and stay an extra night, you will need all this paper work to lodge a claim with your travel insurer upon return.
What travel disasters have you encountered on your holidays?
This classic vanilla cupcake is a staple in my cupcake repertoire. Feel free to tint the icing different colours to suit the client (or your mood!)
- 230g butter, softened
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup milk, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups self-raising flour
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 230g butter, softened
- 6-8 cups icing sugar
- ½ cup milk, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter with an electric mixer until smooth in a large bowl.
- Gradually add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Sift the 2 flours and salt into a separate bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Do not overmix!
- Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full with mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
- Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
- Gradually add in 4 cups of sugar, then the milk and vanilla (adding gradually prevents the icing from going grainy).
- Beat for around 3-5 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Gradually add the remaining sugar until it is thick enough to ice the cupcakes (you may not need all the sugar).
- Add a few drops of food colouring or divide the mixture into a few bowls and colour each one differently.
- Spoon the mixture into an icing bag with a nozzle attached and ice the cupcakes.
Happy World Nutella Day!
Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso declare Saturday, February 5th World Nutella Day 2011 – a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.This day makes me very happy as Nutella is my favourite spread in the world (sorry peanut butter). My boyfriend usually has a large jar stashed at his house that I attack regularly with a spoon.
I couldn’t decide what to bake for Nutella Day (cupcakes? brownies? cake? slice?) and in the end I decided to bake cookies. I wanted a nice buttery biscuit that wasn’t too sweet to contrast with the decadently sweet and fudgey Nutella. And boy were they a success! My family and I can’t stop eating them :)
- 225g butter, softened
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 2¼ cups plain flour
- 200g Nutella (approx, add as much or as little as you like!)
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Sift in the flour and bring the mixture together to form a dough (don’t overbeat).
- Roll the dough into balls and place them a few centimeters apart on a lined baking tray.
- Gently flatten the balls out slightly with your hand. Using your thumb make a dent in the middle of each cookie (don’t make a hole through to the bottom though!)
- Fill each hole with Nutella.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.
Get creative with the Nutella! I also flattened out 2 balls into discs, put a huge dollop of Nutella in the middle of one and placed the second on top. Then I gently pinched around the sides and finished it off with impressions from a fork like they often do with ravioli. A buttery cookie filled with Nutella is amazing.
I hope you enjoy World Nutella Day and perhaps participate next year!
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