Feb 15, 2014

Alpha Restaurant

I love Greek food but must admit it’s a cuisine I rarely eat. So when Alpha opened up in the CBD I rallied a posse of foodie ladies to try it out, and then bought my family back for a birthday several weeks later.
When Wasamedia contacted me to try out Alpha’s newly launched Saturday lunch menu I jumped at the chance. Another opportunity to try the delicious Greek offerings!

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Alpha is located in a large and airy space on the ground floor of the Hellenic Club and boasts high ceilings and an impressive carved wall.

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Most of the delicious meals we sample today are from Yia Yia’s menu which costs $55/person.

To start we sample some pita bread with Taromosalata (white cod’s roe dip) and Melitzanosalata (smoked eggplant dip).

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Next up was the moreish Chickpea Falafels with coriander yoghurt and Baked Kalamata Olives.

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I LOVE Spanakopita, which is a spinach and fetta pie, and this one did not disappoint. The crisp and flakey filo pastry contrasted well against the spinach, leek, fetta and dill filling.

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Haloumi is pretty much my favourite thing in the world, and this dish is ONLY available in Yia Yia’s banquet. The Haloumi Saganaki is baked with ouzo, lemon and oregano, and yes it is heaven.

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The Ouzo Cured Ocean Trout with a Fennel, Orange, Watercress and Sumac Onion Salad was scoffed quickly by my seafood-loving friends and I have on good authority that it was delicious.

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Octopus Twice Cooked with spinach, white beans and red wine vinaigrette.

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Eggplant Stack with Taramosolato and grilled scallops.

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The Greek Spiced Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Lemon Roast Potatoes and Tzatziki was one of the highlights of the meal for me – the lamb was tender and flavourful and the roast potatoes were crispy and well seasoned. (and there appears to be a ghost in the top left hand corner of my photo).

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This is my kind of salad – one served with a slab of cheese on top! The Horiatiki Salad comes with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, olives and a VERY generous piece of fetta.

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And for dessert? Greek doughnuts of course! Known as Loukomades, they are served with a spiced honey syrup and a candied walnut ice cream. I have ordered them every time I come here.

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Alpha is a great post-work dinner option in the city, and now with their launch of the Saturday lunch menu, you have even more reasons to give it a try!

Alpha Restaurant is located at 238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney.

Alpha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Love Swah dinned as a guest of Alpha and Wasamedia

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Feb 5, 2014

Nutella Fudge with Hazelnuts and Sea Salt

Happy World Nutella Day everyone! February 5th is the day the internet likes to celebrate this amazing spread. Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso declare today a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.

I am obviously a BIG fan of Nutella and love using it in my recipes whenever possible – for example my Butter Cookies with Nutella, Chocolate Pavlova with Nutella and Strawberries, Nutella Cheesecake, Ferrero Rocher Cake with Nutella Buttercream… ok ok I guess you get the point. I’m a big fan of Nutella.

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I wanted to create a Nutella version of my Dark Chocolate Fudge recipe and make it a little more grownup with roasted hazelnuts and sea salt to counteract the sweetness. And the result? Smooth and creamy rich fudge, with a satisfying crunch from the hazelnuts and a hint of saltiness – I can’t even deal with how deliciously addictive this stuff is. My work devoured the entire container in a day (as I couldn’t have it hanging around at home!)

Nutella Fudge

Nutella Fudge with Hazelnuts and Sea Salt
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 25

Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 400g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • ¾ cup toasted hazelnuts

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Arrange hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast for 10 mins.
  2. Transfer roasted nuts to a clean tea towel and gently rub off the bitter hazelnut skins.
  3. Roughly chop hazelnuts, put aside.
  4. In a heavy saucepan over a low heat, melt butter and dark chocolate until melted and glossy.
  5. Add in sweetened condensed milk and then the Nutella, stirring vigorously to combine (it will thicken quite a bit).
  6. Finally add in the chopped hazelnuts and stir until distributed throughout.
  7. Pour fudge into a 20cm square lined baking tray. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  8. Cut into squares and ENJOY!

What is your favourite way to enjoy Nutella?
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Jan 28, 2014

My Favourite Free Fonts

As a graphic designer I spend a LOT of time scouring the internet for the “perfect font” for a particular project. I have been stumbling upon quite a few amazing free fonts lately, and thought I’d share my favourites with you!

fav-free-fonts

1. Sanchez

2. Ostrich Sans

3. Josefin Slab

4. Raleway

5. Wisdom Script

6. Bebas Neue

7. Champagne and Limousines

8. Pacifico

9. Aracne

10. Lavanderia

Do you have any free fonts you love that you can share with us?

love_swah_sig

Jan 20, 2014

Pomegranate, White Tea and Mint Popsicles

Popsicle mania seems to have swept the internet recently and I’ve seen all sorts of wonderful concoctions being whipped up. I was speaking with the lovely Erika recently over a cocktail (or three) and we were enthusing about our love for popsicles – or icy poles, as they’re known in Australia. Not only are they simple to make, but they’re the perfect way to cool down. And with the recent heatwave that has swept Australia, we will need a stash on hand at all times!

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This popsicle was actually inspired by a salad I recently had that featured pomegranate, mint and haloumi. It was light, delicious and refreshing with a contrast of flavours and textures that I thought could work well (don’t worry, I omitted the haloumi from my popsicle!)

pomegranate-mint-popsicles4

Pomegranate, White Tea and Mint Popsicles
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 2 cups Pomegranate Peach Passion White Tea (or iced tea of your choosing)
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 small bunch of mint

Instructions
  1. Combine iced tea, water and juice of ½ a lime and stir until combined.
  2. Cut pomegranate into sections and de-seed. Set aside.
  3. Finely chop 1 tablespoon of mint leaves. Mix into pomegranate seeds.
  4. Pour ice tea mixture into popsicle moulds and fill half way, sprinkling in the pomegranate seed and mint mixture.
  5. Freeze for an hour, then take out and put in a whole mint leave into each mould. Top the rest up with remaining ice tea mixture and a few more pomegranate seeds.
  6. Freeze for another 4 hours.
  7. To remove the popsicles from their mould, quickly run them under a warm tap to loosen, then gently pull out.

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I had grand plans of freezing my popsicles in 4 stages so the pomegranate seeds were dispersed evenly, though lack of time and patience got in the way and I froze them in a 2 step process (this ensured the mint leaf didn’t sink and stayed suspended in the middle).

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And the result? A refreshing, not-too-sweet popsicle that I thoroughly enjoyed on my balcony on a hot day. I loved crunching down on the pomegranate seeds and getting a burst of flavour, and the white tea gave it a nice kick. Heaven!

And as an ode to my salad that inspired this recipe, I used the leftover pomegranate and mint to make a quick salad with haloumi and rocket. All it needed was a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic and it was the perfect accompaniment to my lunch.

pomegranate-mint-haloumi-salad

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop: How to link-up

SABH_14-01-Popsicle

The January Popsicle Party theme hop is open for linkup until 11:59 pm, Friday 24 January [AEST Sydney time].

  1. Add a link to this post somewhere in your post – You won’t be able to link up in the hop without a ‘backlink’ to this hostess post included in your post.
  2. Click here for the Thumbnail List code – Copy the code and add it to the bottom of your post in HTML view.
  3. Click here to Enter the Hop – Make sure to do this step so you appear in the list too! Add the link to your SABH post (NOT your homepage). Your entry will be submitted when you click ‘crop’ on your photo.

If you have a question or aren’t sure of something don’t hesitate to ask. For more information detailed instructions can be found here.

Remember, SABH is open to all food bloggers but only new posts published after the hop goes live can be linked up.

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is brought to you by 84th & 3rd and monthly Guest Hostesses. Follow on Twitter: @SweetAdvBlogHop and Facebook: /SweetAdventuresBlogHop for new hop announcements and general deliciousness. Thanks for joining SABH!

love_swah_sig

Jan 18, 2014

Introducing the Australian Legends of Cooking… and a Competition!

Five legends of Australian cooking have been given the honour of being immortalised on a postage stamp as the recipients of the 2014 Australia Post Legends Award. These Legends of Cooking have been recognised for their influence over Australia’s food culture and the visionary role each have played in shaping Australia’s palate and laying the foundations of our gastronomic success.

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And the winners? Industry greats including Margaret Fulton, Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander, Neil Perry and Kylie Kwong. The high profile kitchens have long been male-dominated so I was pleased to see the winners were mostly women!

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Australia Post has kindly given me some Legends of Cooking product to give away to my readers! Enter below to win one of 20 gift packs (total RRP $580) which include the Legends of Cooking prestige book, the Legends of Cooking stamp set, complete set of 5 maxi cards (postcards) and first day covers (collector’s item).

Australia-Post-Book-Collection

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Sorry this competition is open to residents of Australia only

Good luck!

love_swah_sig

Jan 15, 2014

Lonely Girl Pancakes – A Single Serve Pancake Recipe

I had an intense pancake craving the other weekend, but had no one to enjoy them with and didn’t want stacks of leftovers. So I thought I’d improvise a single serve pancake recipe partially out of curiosity, and partially because I have no self control and would end up eating the remainders cold, straight out of the fridge.

*oh and yes, the title of this recipe is tongue in cheek. You don’t need to be lonely to make it (I wasn’t). Hell, you don’t even need to be a girl.

I’ve experimented with single-serve dessert before in my Microwave Mug Cake Series so I figured I’d apply the same principles. It’s a pretty flexible recipe, I had fresh blueberries and coconut on hand so I used that, but you can use whatever flavours your heart desires!

single-serve-pancakes-recipe

Lonely Girl Pancakes – A Single Serve Pancake Recipe

Prep Time: 2 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Serves: 1

Pancake Ingredients:

1/4 cup plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp flavourless oil (I used sunflower)

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

Optional extras:

Maple syrup

1 tbsp shredded coconut

1/4 cup of blueberries

Ice cream

Cheats Berry Sauce Ingredients:

1/4 cup frozen berries

1 tsp icing sugar

 

Pancake Method:

1. Sift dry ingredients into a jug and mix.

2. In a separate bowl (I just use a mug), whisk together the egg, milk and oil until combined.

3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until well combined. If using additional flavourings, such as berries or coconut, add now and stir gently to combine.

4. Lightly grease a non-stick fry pan and heat to a medium temperature.

5. Making this mixture in a jug will make it easier to portion out the batter – make this to your preferred size. I made 5 pancakes about 10cm in diameter.

6. Cook until bubbles form on surface, flip and cook the other side until lightly browned.

7. Serve either with a garnish of extra berries and coconut and a drizzle of maple syrup, or see below for a Cheats Berry Sauce.

Cheats Berry Sauce Method:

1. Put frozen berries in a microwave-proof container, cover it with paper towel or a slightly askew lid. Cook on high for 30 seconds until hot and bubbling.

2. Add in icing sugar and whisk, combining the sugar and breaking down the berries into a sauce.

3. You can add a teaspoon of water and strain this if you want a smooth sauce, otherwise the whisk will sufficiently break the berries down to a thick and delicious sauce.

I added a scoop of my Coconut and Salted Caramel Ice Cream I had left over and it was a winning combination!

single-serve-pancakes2-recipe

Variations:

Make it vegan – Substitute 1 egg for 1/2 a mashed banana. Substitute milk for soy or almond milk.

Make it healthier – Substitute the plain flour for whole wheat or coconut flour. Omit the sugar and oil and add extra berries for sweetness and moisture.

Make it naughtier – Substitute the berries for chocolate chips. Substitute the milk for ricotta. Add a drizzle of homemade salted caramel sauce

How do you like your pancakes in the morning?

love_swah_sig

Jan 9, 2014

My top 5 recipes for 2013!

2013 seems to have flown past so quickly that it’s now the 9th of January 2014 and I still haven’t posted my wrap-up post! 2013 was a busy, exciting and sometimes stressful year. I travelled a lot – both domestically and internationally, the blog has been steadily attracting more attention and I feel my photography skills are evolving, I sold my cupcakes at a cafe and directly to customers, I gained many new freelance design clients, I produced and sold my own range of mini food and travel magazines, and I am finally getting the ball rolling on a few personal dream projects (which you will hear more about soon)!

I actually found it quite interesting to go through Google Analytics and find out what recipes my readers loved most this year, and am sharing my 5 most popular recipes:

5. Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes

These cupcakes are fun to make and heavenly to eat, so I am not surprised this came in as my #5 most popular recipe!

salted-caramel-cupcakes-intro

4. Raw Cashew and Coconut Protein Balls

A rare healthy recipe for Love Swah, but this recipe I created was a hit with health nuts and dessert-lovers alike!

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3. Red Velvet Surprise Cupcakes with White Chocolate Icing

I took the humble red velvet cupcake and jazzed it up for Valentine’s Day – by icing it with white chocolate buttercream and hiding a delicious treat in the centre – a Lindt ball!

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2. Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing

I managed to include not 1 but 2 types of alcohol in this boozy cake delight for St Patrick’s Day! Adding beer to chocolate cake may sound weird, but I honestly think it’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made.

guinness-cake-baileys-icing

And… drumroll please… my most popular recipe for 2013? This one won by a landslide!

1. Banana Microwave Mug Cake

I did a series of Microwave Mug Cakes this year that were all really well received, but after my “breakfast in a cup” banana bread-style mug cake got featured on The Kitchn it really took off!

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I hope you all have had a great start to 2014 and I look forward to sharing it with all my lovely readers. Thank you for your support!

love_swah_sig

Jan 6, 2014

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop January: Popsicle Party

I had such a fun time hosting the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop last time that I’m doing it all over again with a new theme – Popsicles!

We’re in the middle of summer here and it’s hot hot hot - what better way to cool down then with an icy treat? Homemade ice cream can be a time consuming process, but a homemade popsicle? Now THAT’S easy. Mix up your flavourings, pour into moulds and wait for them to set in the freezer – and ta da! Popsicle Party time!

popsicles

Image source

SABH_14-01-Popsicle

The details:

      * Theme: ‘Popsicle Party’
      * Hostess: Swah from Love Swah
      * Hop opens: Monday 20 January 2014, 9 am (AEST, Sydney Australia)
      * Hop closes: Friday 24 January 2014, 11.59 pm (AEST)

How to participate:

Make a dessert fitting the theme for the month, post your creation on your blog during the week of the blog hop.
Visit the hostess post (on this site) when the hop opens and follow the instructions to link up.
Hop through all the themed creations to discover new recipes and new blogs.

Remember… Only new posts which go live on or after the day the hop opens can be linked up.

Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, aka SABH, is a monthly dessert link-up. Each month there is a new theme and the hop is open to anyone who blogs recipes. SABH is run by JJ from 84th & 3rd and regular guest hostesses.

Dec 30, 2013

Coconut and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

coconut-salted-caramel-icecream

I’ve always wanted to try and make my own ice cream, and have had limited success with no-churn ice creams and sorbets. But the texture was always not quite right, and I knew I needed some machinery to get the job done.

When Kitchenware Superstore approached me and offered me something from their range, an ice cream maker was my instant thought. In pink, of course.

cuisinart

My thoughts:

The ice cream maker is simple to use and produces drool-worthy ice creams (and can do frozen yoghurt, sorbets and whatever else your mind can dream up… possibly some kind of alcoholic slushie?). However, it does require organisation and time. The freezer bowl needs to be frozen 12+ hours before you start making your ice cream, something I didn’t initially realise (well, I would if I had read the instructions properly) but after this minor set back I was good to go! After I had churned my cream mixture for the recommended 20 minutes, it was still a little soft for my liking so I transferred it to the freezer for a final freeze per the instructions. And the result? Delicious, flavourful, creamy ice cream filled with coconut and salted caramel swirls. Watch out Ben & Jerry’s!

Here is my cream concoction in the maker in the early stages of being churned. You can see the flecks of vanilla bean scattered throughout.

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As the ice cream mixture thickens and reaches nearly the end of its churning inside the machine, I trickle in the salted caramel.

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The mixture is then transferred to an air tight container for a final freeze, a little more salted caramel is drizzled over the top and swirled (you can never have enough, right?)

icecream3

**Please remember to freeze your freezer bowl per your maker’s instructions prior to starting this recipe**

Coconut and Salted Caramel Ice Cream
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 10

Ingredients
Coconut Ice Cream
  • 1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups (500ml) thickened cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
  • 2 tsp coconut extract
Salted Caramel
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 120ml water
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Instructions
Salted Caramel
  1. Dissolve the sugar into the water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and let it bubble away over a medium heat.
  2. The mixture should turn a golden caramel colour after around 5 minutes. DON’T stir the caramel mixture – the sugar will crystallize.
  3. Once the caramel has reached the desired colour, take it off the heat and add the salt and cream. Stir furiously as the caramel will want to harden quickly.
  4. Pop the caramel cream mixture in a small bowl and put it in the fridge to help cool down quickly.
Coconut Ice Cream
  1. Use a hand mixer on a low speed to combine coconut milk and sugar until dissolved.
  2. Stir in thickened cream, vanilla bean seeds and coconut extract and mix until combined.
  3. Cover mixing bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Turn on your ice cream maker, pour the mixture into the freezer bowl and allow to mix until thickened – around 20 minutes. Pour in ⅓ of salted caramel and mix until just combined.
  5. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and drizzle over a little more salted caramel and swirl. Place in the freezer for around 2 hours, or until firm.
  6. Serve in scoops with a generous drizzle of leftover salted caramel!

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If you got an ice cream maker, what would be the first thing you make?

Love Swah was gifted the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker by Kitchenware SuperstoreOpinions expressed here are my own.

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Dec 21, 2013

Gingerbread Decorating Class at Brasserie Bread

I LOVE gingerbread and make it regularly using a recipe I’ve been baking since I was a kid. When Brasserie Bread offered us the chance to take a gingerbread decorating class I couldn’t wait! I have done a bread making course with Brasserie Bread before, and find their courses informative, fun and most of all DELICIOUS (both times I have gotten to sample a selection of their breads at the end and died a little of happiness).

I went along to the class with foodie friends Dining with a StudCorridor KitchenVegeTARAianCooking Crusade and Cats Love Cooking, and we were buzzing with excitement even before we started snacking on the lollies (which were intended for decorative purposes, ehem).

We were each given a big slab of gingerbread dough and we got to work rolling out to about 4mm thick. Then we cut out shapes using a array of cookie cutters including the festive standards of a Christmas tree, stars and baubles, followed by the less standard shapes of cats, dogs and a cupcake!

Gingerbread making heaven!

We put our shapes on a big baking tray and it was sent off to the ovens to bake. Whilst we waited, we were given some shapes that the team had prepared earlier for us. I had great fun decorating them with royal icing, and did you know the green icing was naturally dyed with spinach and the pink with beetroot?

Our cookies are now out of the oven and baked to golden perfection. There is nothing better than chomping down on a freshly baked piece of gingerbread. I took all mine home “to decorate” however my housemates and I thought they were so delicious we ate them… all.

And a class at Brasserie Bread wouldn’t be complete without a tasting of their fine breads along with some Pepe Saya butter and delicious cheeses.

And Brasserie Bread have kindly let me share their gingerbread recipe with you!

Gingerbread
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 20

Ingredients
Gingerbread
  • 560g organic unbleached plain flour
  • 2.5g salt
  • 2.5g baking soda
  • 10g ground ginger
  • 2.5g ground cinnamon
  • 2.5g ground nutmeg
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 160g golden syrup
  • 30g whole egg
  • 40g egg yolk
Royal Icing
  • 20g egg white
  • 125g icing sugar
  • Squeeze of lemon

Instructions
Gingerbread
  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Sift flour, baking soda and spices together with salt.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and golden syrup in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the egg and egg yolks slowly.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in batches.
  5. Mix thoroughly, then shape into a rectangle log. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  6. On a lightly floured bench, roll dough out to a 3-4mm thickness. Cut out shapes and place on baking paper (off cuts can be remoulded and used again).
  7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until very light golden colour.
  8. Cool on trays, then store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Royal Icing
  1. Mix together egg whites with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  2. Gradually stir in sifted sugar then whip until light and fluffy.
  3. Colours may be added and could include beetroot juice (for red) and spinach juice (for green).

If you need a last minute idea for entertaining your kids before Christmas than this is the perfect idea at only $20 per child!

Gingerbread Decorating Classes (suitable for ages 5-12):

Click here or phone 1300 966 845 for current availability.

Saturday 21 December, 9.00-9.30am
Sunday 22 December, 9.00-9.30am, 10.00-10.30am, 11.00-11.30am, 12.00-12.30pm, 1.00-1.30pm
Monday 23 December, 9.00-9.30M
Tuesday 24 December, 10.00-10.30am, 12.00-12.30pm, 1.00-1.30pm

Swah attended Brasserie Bread’s Gingerbread Decorating Class as a guest of Brasserie Bread.

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