I was too excited to sleep on the flight. My eyes were burning from lack of sleep and my heart was racing with excitement. We loaded our luggage onto the trolley, eager and anxious to see the country that awaited us. We stepped out of the airport and onto Melbourne soil, practically tripping over ourselves since our legs were still wobbly from the long flight. I looked around as my eyes tried to adjust to the sun. Did I even leave Canada? Was it possible that the plane circled back home?
It looked like home.
Sounded like home.
Felt like home.
But it wasn’t. It felt like a bigger version of my city back in Canada. I was ready to explore a new country but it all seemed so anti-climactic. I needed to get hold of my bearings, take a deep breath and hope that this country had more to offer than making me feel homesick. Little did I know that Australia was waiting for me.
Australia – surrounded by the ocean, sandy beaches and an endless summer – is a coastal country, with most of its population living close to the ocean waters. World famous waves attract surfers and water sport fanatics to Bondi Beach and Surfers Paradise. Kangaroos and wallabies leap across the road as you drive by and koalas munch on nutritious eucalyptus leaves. The Great Barrier Reef, the only natural landmark seen from space, gives life to thousands of species. Colourful fish – neon blue, crimson red and sunflower yellow – dart across the coral and through the anemones while bigger fish move slower and with more confidence.
Our trip began in Melbourne, vibrant and charming with urban architecture and an attractive food and nightlife scene.
We walked through the city, and along the serene Yarra River, smelling the delicious aromas of food being prepared in the riverside restaurants. The Laneways provided a break from mainstream restaurants and stores. Hideaway cafes provided us with a legendary caffeine buzz and quirky bars offered up a unique experience. We attempted to get on the city tram, a free “hop on, hop off” service that is an easy and convenient way to see the historical landmarks. The tram ended up being jam-packed with locals using the service as an easy way to get across the city. We took note of Flinder’s Station (a historical train station) and Federation Square where festivals and exhibitions are held.
Melbourne has so much to offer for day trips that made our trip unforgettable. Visit the 12 Apostles on Great Ocean Road, although only 8 are left standing now. Phillip Island gives home to thousands of little penguins scurrying across the beach at dusk with their bellies full of fish. The botanical gardens offer a sanctuary for rare plant species a tranquil space that makes it difficult to return to reality.
As our trip kicked off in Melbourne, I felt myself get excited about Australia again. I took a deep breath as we left Melbourne, inhaling the fragrance from the eucalyptus trees, and feeling energized and eager to see what was next.
As a tribute to my trip in Melbourne, Pavlova seemed like the perfect dessert to bake in its honour.
While Australia and New Zealand both claim to have created the dessert, it is generally agreed upon that this meringue-based dessert was created for the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova who toured Australasia and mesmerized the people with her dancing.
Pavlova is made by simply whipping egg whites and sugar together before baking it. The crunchy outer shell and soft marshmallow centre makes this dessert incredibly light, airy and perfect for summer. Top the pavlova with freshly whipped cream and fruit right before serving.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 4 tsp corn starch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whipped cream
- 1 tbsp rose water
- ⅓ cup icing sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- Handful raspberries
- 2 tsp rose water
- Raspberries, toasted almonds, mint leaves for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw 6 circles, approx 4 inches in diameter, on the paper.
- For the pavlova, whip the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add in the caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whip until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Gently fold in the vinegar, corn starch and vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe into the traced circles, 2 inches high. Bake for approx. 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the pavlovas cool to room temperature with the oven door slightly ajar.
- For the whipped cream, whip the heavy cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Fold in rose water and icing sugar and set aside.
- For the coulis, heat ½ cup of water and ½ cup sugar in a saucepan. Add in the handful of raspberries and rose water and continue to simmer until raspberries soften and break apart. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
- When ready to serve, top the mini pavlovas with whipped cream and coulis and garnish with fresh raspberries, almonds and mint leaves.