Tag Archives: christina soong

  • Pavlova_Christina_Soong-3

    Everyday Pavlova

    Hello, dear readers! Apologies for my lengthy absence but I’ve been working on a few writing projects lately.

    I’ve been trying my hand at writing different types of fiction and I’m loving the new challenge and the creative freedom this has given me. However, working on longer writing projects requires a different kind of focus and I haven’t wanted to risk losing my momentum. But I’m back now and I’ll be popping up more regularly in the future.

    This easy pavlova recipe was inspired by a conversation I enjoyed last week at a popup dinner in Sydney to celebrate 20 years of Foxtel’s Lifestyle Channel.

    At the dinner, which coincided with World Gratitude Day, I was seated at a table hosted by Paul West, the affable host of the excellent series, River Cottage Australia. Inspired by the dishes we enjoyed by Paul, Nigella Lawson, Maggie BeerDonna HayJamie Oliver and Matt Moran, the conversation naturally turned to food: our table discussed everything from food trends, rural life vs city living, shopping for food, healthy and unhealthy approaches to food, home baking, baby food and growing your own food.

    Everyone has a different approach to food so it was an interesting and stimulating conversation. It got me thinking about why food is so important to me and why I’m such a passionate advocate of home cooking.



    Home cooking is important because it’s an opportunity to bond with those you care about and to create treasured memories.

    The food my parents dished up night after night when I canadian casino news was growing up wasn’t fancy. Sure, sometimes they’d push the boat out but most of the time they cooked simply and efficiently. What made their cooking special, however, was their appreciation of flavour, their knowledge of ingredients and their willingness to experiment and try new things.

    A simple roast chicken. Braised pork and green beans. Spaghetti with local prawns and Goolwa cockles.  Dumplings. My beloved tuna mornay.  Prawn and pork noodle soup (Har Mee). Rosemary lamb roast with potato bake. A fuss-free beef stir fry. A pavlova topped with berries.



    I adore pavlova so I’ve made lots of different kinds of kinds over the years. I’ve made a triple layered pavlova with raspberries, pomegranate and rose petals for Christmas Day lunch and a deconstructed pavlova when my daughter accidentally destroyed a pavlova I’d just taken out of the oven. I’ve even made a Messy Pavlova, or, as I called it, Eton Mess Down Under style, where I replaced the usual meringues with pavlova pieces.

    But this pavlova is your simple, everyday kind of pavlova. This is the pav you can enjoy after a weekend BBQ with the family. Or the pav you can take to a friend’s house when asked to ‘bring a plate.’ It’s the pav you can make when you have too many eggs in the house and the pav you can make to surprise someone on their birthday.

    I hope you like it. Enjoy!

    This post has been sponsored by Foxtel’s Lifestyle.



    Everyday Pavlova
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Cuisine: Australian
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    An easy, everyday pavlova
    • 4 egg whites at room temperature
    • Pinch of salt
    • ¾ cup caster sugar (or 1 for 1 sugar substitute such as stevia)
    • 2 teaspoons cornflour
    • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (you can substitute white vinegar)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean essence
    • 300 mls thickened cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean essence
    • ½ punnet strawberries
    • ½ punnet blueberries
    • ½ punnet raspberries
    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
    2. Check that all your mixing equipment is clean to ensure that the meringue rises properly. Use a paper towel dipped in white vinegar to wipe out your mixing bowl.
    3. Line one baking trays with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on it (you can trace around a plate).
    4. Beat egg whites and salt on high with a stand or hand mixer for a few minutes until peaks begin to form.
    5. Add sugar in four batches, beating well after each addition, until the meringue is thick and shiny.
    6. Sprinkle over the corn flour, red wine vinegar and vanilla essence and fold in gently with a spatula. Try to keep as much volume in the meringue as possible.
    7. Using a spatula, dollop spoonfuls of meringue onto your circle, smoothing the top out with the back of the spoon or an offset spatula. Indent slightly in the centre if you wish.
    8. Put baking trays into the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 150 degrees Celsius. Bake for 30 minutes and then reduce heat to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another 45 minutes. Turn oven off and leave pavlova to cool completely before taking out of the oven.
    9. Whip cream with one teaspoon of vanilla essence for a few minutes until firm.
    10. Carefully peel the baking paper off the base of the pavlova and place the pavlova on a serving plate. You may invert the pavlova if you wish but I like it either way. Spread the whipped cream on top and decorate your pavlova with mixed berries.
    1. Dairy free - you can replace the cream with coconut yoghurt for a fresher, tangier taste.
    2. Mascarpone - you can replace half the cream with mascarpone cheese for a velvety rich topping
    3. Berry free – you can replace the berries with sliced mango, kiwifruit, passionfruit, nectarines, plums, peaches or apricots.
    4. Chocolate – you can add chocolate shavings
    5. Coconut - you can add dried coconut shavings


  • Special_Fried_Rice_Christina_Soong-1

    Making food memories and Special Fried Rice

    The other day, my boyfriend and I went to see British comic Chris Turner in his show, Observational Tragedy. Alternately witty, moving, and thought provoking, it prompted both spontaneous laughter and tears from the audience.

    One of the things Turner revealed during the show was that he has an auditory memory and can access a memory if he listens to music associated with that particular memory. So when he listens to Cliff Richard albums he recalls playing with his grandparents’ dog by their living room fire as a child.

    As I listened to Turner detail his efforts to actively retain new memories using music, it occurred to me that my self-diagnosed ‘food memory’ might actually be a legitimate condition. That is, I don’t remember faces, conversations or activities from my distant past very well but I do remember the food I ate. Not just the food, but how it tasted, how it smelt, its texture and its appearance.

    I remember sitting down to family dinners every night when I was growing up. I remember fried ricelamb roast, mushroom chickenpork and bean stir fry and my favourite tuna mornay. I remember birthday parties with elaborately decorated cakes from the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes. I remember gorging myself on steaming hot cockles (pippies) cooked in my dad’s wok that we’d caught earlier that day at Goolwa Beach.

    I remember the fragrant Thai green chicken curry and rice that was my first meal I ate in London. Having left home by myself for the first time, I arrived at Heathrow airport feeling tired and a little teary. My friend Anita picked me up from the airport, took me back to her place and fed me that delicious curry in her kitchen.

    I remember the first time I ate confit de canard (duck confit) and île flottante (floating islands) while visiting Paris with my dad.  I remember the aroma, tenderness and richness of the duck and my delight at the quenelles of gently poached meringue sitting atop a vanilla bean custard.

    I remember visiting Germany for the first time with my ex husband and sighing over his mother’s fresh creamy pfifferlinge mushroom cream sauce and pancakes.

    I remember being heavily pregnant with my first child while working in Shanghai and satisfying my cravings for drunken chicken (cold, gently poached chicken with Chinese wine) and xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with a ‘soup’ centre) with my visiting mum.

    I eat and I remember.

    If having a food memory is actually a thing, this means that every time I eat a food or dish that I associate with happy memories, I am being soothed and comforted by the past. This makes perfect sense to me as I’ve aways believed that food is far more than fuel for our bodies.

    Having a food memory also goes some way to explaining the craving for food from childhood that one experiences when one is homesick. Anyone who’s lived abroad and suffered through the bittersweet pang of homesickness can no doubt relate to this.

    I thought of this recently when my ex husband took our children away with him on holiday for five days. When the children returned home, tired and happy, I felt strangely compelled to feed them some of their favourite foods. This meant fruit and yoghurt in bowls for afternoon tea, and honey and soy chicken skewers with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccolini and sweet corn for dinner.

    Later that night, I realised something: I like cooking for my kids because it’s a demonstration of my love for them but I also have an ulterior motive.

    If my kids are anything like me, they’ll leave Australia at some point to explore the world.  They might live abroad for years and years, like I did, too. I won’t like it, naturally, but I’ll understand and support their need to stretch their wings.

    So when I feed my kids I’m implanting positive food memories into their brain. These memories will help anchor them to me like an invisible umbilical cord when they are grown up and living far away from me.  As they go about their daily business they will occasionally stop and they will remember. They will crave the food of their childhood and they will want to come home.




    Special Fried Rice

    Amongst our friends and family, my mother’s fried rice is legendary. This is my spin on her fried rice. I cooked it for the kids the other night and they scraped their bowls clean.


    Special Fried Rice
    Recipe type: Main Course
    Cuisine: Australian / Chinese
    Prep time: 
    Cook time: 
    Total time: 
    An excellent fried rice recipe
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus another tablespoon.
    • 4 eggs, beaten
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
    • 6 cups cooked and cooled rice, broken up into loose grains
    • 4 Chinese sausages, sliced thinly
    • 3 cups frozen diced vegetables (corn, peas, carrots)
    • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Shaoxiang wine
    • White pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 3-4 spring onions, sliced thinly, white parts only
    • Small bunch coriander to garnish
    • 2-4 tablespoons fried shallots to garnish
    • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges to garnish, optional
    • Sriracha chilli sauce, optional)
    • Indian brinjal (eggplant relish), optional
    1. Heat up a large fry pan or wok over a medium heat until smoking and then add 1 tablespoon oil.
    2. Beat eggs with water and then slide mixture into pan to form a large omelette.
    3. Cook for a minute or two over a high heat until browning nicely and then flip over and cook for a another minute or two until cooking through.
    4. Remove omelette from pan and leave to cool.
    5. Add 1 tablespoon oil and then add onion.
    6. Cook, over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes until softened and then add Chinese sausage.
    7. Stir regularly for 2-3 minutes until Chinese sausage is crisp on both sides and heated through.
    8. Add frozen vegetable mixture and stir to combine.
    9. Increase heat to high and then stir fry for 2-3 minutes until vegetables are cooked through.
    10. Add rice and stir to combine.
    11. Add soy sauce and Shaoxiang wine and then stir fry, stirring regularly until rice is heated up and cooked through.
    12. Turn off heat and then add sesame oil and spring onions and stir through.
    13. Garnish with coriander and lime and serve with Sriracha or brinjal.
  • RaspberrySmoothieBowl.ChristinaSoong-3

    Reaching for the stars and raspberry smoothie bowls (VIDEO!)

    We’re a mere seven days into 2016 and I’m wondering how many of us are actually sticking to our New Year’s Resolutions? And how many of us are already mentally consigning them to the trash?

    Well, either way, it’s not too late. It’s never too late.

    There’s something irresistible about the hopeful shininess of a new year. It’s a do-over, a chance to make good on all those goals that died a quiet and ignominious death the previous year.


    I’ve always been one to have a list of goals – immediate, short-term and long-term — so the beginning of a new year is an ideal time to revisit them.

    In my twenties I used to write a one-page list of goals and stick it on my bedroom wall. In recent years I’ve used a combination of goal setting and mood boards to help me stay on track.

    Are you familiar with mood boards? I don’t know what other people do but I cut out pictures from magazines of things I want in my life and pin them to a physical pinup board in my study. I’m a sucker for a virtual pinup board aka Pinterest but when it comes to mood boards I want a physical, daily reminder that I can see from my desk no matter what’s happening on my computer monitor.

    I pin all sorts of inspiring pictures to my mood board – famous and not so famous women and men I admire, things I want to do, places I want to visit, settings I want to recreate, food I want to eat, books I love, interiors I lust after and groups of people that represent family and friends.

    Each picture on my mood board symbolises something that I want in my life. It’s like the ultimate shopping list except these are things that have to be earned, rather than bought. Nothing on my mood board can happen without some effort on my part, which is why I then spend some time considering and setting my goals.


    This year my list of goals spans a record six A4 pages and is divided into four tables covering career, health, family, finance and includes KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), expected timings and colour coding.

    I’ve printed my goals out and stuck them with my mood board on the wall next to desk, as a constant reminder that I need to do the work if I want the rewards.

    This might seem somewhat excessive (and yes, a trifle anal) but the mood board and list of goals help keep me focused and accountable. They work because if one works consistently towards one’s goals then they start to become one’s reality rather than a mere dream.


    That’s not to say that the journey is swift and trouble-free.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way and plenty of detours, too – some detours I made deliberately and some were thrust upon me as circumstances changed. I’ve also adjusted my goals numerous times as new information came to light. And yes, there were plenty of nights I chose ‘Netflix and chill’ instead of working or writing, too. Weirdly, my boyfriend does not feel guilty about this at all.

    All of this is merely part of the journey. What’s ultimately important is your long-term resolve, determination and actions. Good things don’t happen by accident: you get out of life what you put into it.


    A case in point: one of my goals this year was to start creating my own recipe videos. That is, I wanted to try to conceptualise, style, cook, light, shoot, and edit my own recipe videos without any outside help. So I’ve spent the last two days working in my studio and I’m now thrilled to share my very first recipe video – Raspberry Smoothie Bowl. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments.

    So what are your plans for 2016?

    PS The song in the video – ‘Pins and Needles’ – is by my brother’s sadly now defunct band, Alpha Beta Fox.

    Raspberry Smoothie Bowls

    During Summer the kids and I don’t always feel like eating that much in the morning. And yet a healthy breakfast is always important so I came up with these Raspberry Smoothie Bowls. For extra ‘cool mum’ points, I make the smoothie base and then let the kids decorate their bowls themselves. Enjoy! x


    Raspberry Smoothie Bowls (VIDEO!)
    Prep time: 
    Total time: 
    • 1-2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
    • ¼ avocado, peeled and stone removed
    • 3-4 dates, chopped roughly
    • ½ cup coconut milk
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean extract
    • ½ punnet fresh raspberries or ½ cup frozen raspberries
    • Desiccated or shredded coconut
    • Banana slices
    • Berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
    • Fruit - kiwi fruit, grapes, pomegranate,
    • Melon - balls or chunks of watermelon, rockmelon or honey dew melon
    • Dried Fruit - sultanas, raisins, figs, cranberries, goji berries, apple, apricot,
    • Seeds - toasted pumpkin seeds, pepitas,
    • Nuts - roasted almonds, cashews, hazlenuts, peanuts
    • Muesli - toasted muesli or granola
    • Chia seeds
    1. Blend all of ingredients until smooth and then spoon into a bowl.
    1. Top with any combination of the suggested ingredients.
    Gluten free
    Dairy free
    Refined sugar free
    Can be made nut free


    KitchenAid Hand Blender gifted by KitchenAid. 

  • Selection of dishes at Orana 2 by Christina Soong

    My favourite foodie experiences in South Australia: Adelaide and Adelaide Hills

    Sometimes jobs come along that are simply dream commissions.

    Late last year I was approached by the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) to be part of their Through Local Eye’s project.

    The previous Through Local Eyes projects had seen local filmmakers document some of their favourite experiences in South Australia – see Kids, Crabs and the Best Day Ever by Randy Larcombe and You Gotta Try… Barossa by Urtext Films, which I appear in.

    Now SATC wanted to commission photo journalism (words and photos) pieces for the new SouthAustralia.com.

    Selection of dishes and cocktails at Africola 2 by Christina Soong

    So I pitched them an idea: I would research, write about and photograph some of my favourite foodie experiences in four SA regions: Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills, the Barossa and McLaren Vale. My stories would cover the places that I would take a very sophisticated and well-travelled food-loving friend visiting Adelaide.

    Strawberries at the Beerenberg Strawberry Farm 2 by Christina Soong

    SATC liked my pitch and I spent a few wonderful weeks earlier this year travelling around South Australia. I visited old favourites as well as new places I’d been meaning to check out. Some experiences made the final cut, while some didn’t: I only included ones that I thought were truly special.

    1.3kg pork knuckle at the Hahndorf Inn by  Christina Soong

    The first two of my pieces are now up on the SouthAustralia.com website: so head over to SouthAustralia.com and discover my favourite foodie experiences in Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills.

    My foodie’s guide to the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale are coming soon – stay tuned.

  • Restaurant_Adelaide_BreadandBone_R2

    I shot a book! Introducing Flavours of South Australia…

    Earlier this year I was one of two photographers commissioned to work on a new book for Smudge Publishing covering 120+ South Australian restaurants, wineries, bars and cafes.

    Smudge Publishing has published a number of award-winning food and travel books, including Flavours of Melbourne, Flavours of Sydney, Flavours of Queensland, Produce to Platter: Daylesford and Produce to Platter: Yarra Valley.

    To shoot Flavours of South Australia, Smudge’s first book on South Australia, the lovely Amanda Davenport (one of Smudge’s resident photographers) and I visited venues in South Australia’s key food and wine regions like Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu Peninsula. In the process I discovered some unknown gems, met some passionate foodies and wine makers, sampled some delicious food and wine and fell in love with my state all over again.

    I’m thrilled to let you know that the book is now available for pre-order from Smudge. The book will be available from 20th November – just in time for Christmas!


    Inside you’ll find spreads on 120+ South Australian restaurants and wineries that capture the spirit and style of my beloved state. The restaurant features also include a recipe for one of the restaurant’s signature dishes so you can try cooking your favourite dishes at home, too.

    Here are a few of the restaurants and wineries I photographed.


     Bread and Bone

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Bread & Bone1

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Bread & Bone2


    Thorn-Clarke Wines

    FOSA 2015 Barossa_Thorn-Clarke Wines1


    Gondola, Gondola

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Gondola Gondola1

    FOSA 2015 Adelaide City_FA Gondola Gondola2


    Lake Breeze Wines

    FOSA 2015 Fleurieu Peninsula-Lake Breeze Wines1


    Zucca’s Greek Meze

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_FA Zucca1

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_FA Zucca2


    Samuel’s Gorge

    FOSA 2015 Fleurieu Peninsula_FA Samuel's Gorge


    Martini Ristorante

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_ Martini1

    FOSA 2015 Urban Adelaide_ Martini2


    You can pre-order your copy of Flavours of South Australia now. Alternatively, the book will be available from any of the 120+ venues in the book or from most bookstores around Australia from November 20.

    It was a privilege to shoot this book. I hope you like it! xx

  • JMCTheHungryAustralian_0363-2

    A dessert table for my birthday

    I have such happy memories of boisterous house parties when I was a child. There was always plenty of food and drink and laughter, everyone pitched in to help and we kids had the run of the house and backyard. My parents love entertaining so they regularly had friends over when I was growing up – sometimes it was a simple dinner of spag bol (spaghetti Bolognese) or stir-fry with rice, often an easy outdoor BBQ and, on special occasions, a suckling pig roasted on the spit over an open fire.

    I want my children to have those same happy memories so I decided to throw a party at home to celebrate my recent birthday. For the menu, I decided on cocktails, dips and crudités, chicken satays with peanut sauce, mini banh mi (Vietnamese pork rolls), four different salads and a special dessert table.

    A few months ago, my friends asked me to do the dessert table for their wedding next year so I figured that my party was a great opportunity to trial an idea I’d had. While heavily styled and immaculate dessert tables always look impressive there’s often a sense that they’re so perfect that people don’t want to mess them up by actually eating any of the components. Inspired by a dessert table I’d seen at a Perth restaurant I wanted to make a fun and interactive dessert table that people felt completely comfortable diving face first into.

    So I enlisted the help of my local foodie/blogger friend, Natasha, and we came up with a dessert table concept using chocolate cake soil, mixed meringues, two types of sweet and salty popcorn, two types of salted caramel sauce, fresh strawberries and whipped mascarpone cream placed directly onto a brand new tablecloth. This would be built in front of guests in real time during the evening.

    On the night of the party, we realised that it would be fun creating the dessert table to music so I asked Maja from Hey Hooray DJs to find some appropriately fun tunes. Thus, Natasha and I built the dessert table to the accompaniment of Eye of the Tiger from Rocky III and Starships’ We Built This City. It was totally cheesy and I loved every second of it!

    Here’s how it all went down. First, we built up a wide ribbon of chocolate cake soil baked by Tash.


    Next, we added plain and striped meringues baked by Tash.



    Then it was time to add the two different types of popcorn.


    Next, we added fresh strawberries.


    Then Tash drizzled her salted caramel sauce over the table as I arranged the bought salted caramel pots.


    More salted caramel drizzling by Tash.


    Out comes my cleaver to chop up the peanut brittle!


    Note to self: remember to pin one’s hair up next time one does this…


    Almost ready… just one last thing to put into place…


    Ta da!!!!!


    As we dramatically placed the whipped mascarpone cream into the centre of the table the garden erupted with cheers. The cream was made by my beautiful sister in law who added her own surprising twist to it – my face! Isn’t she a darling?


    A quick snap with Tash to celebrate our successful trial.


    My daughter and brother then halted proceedings for their speeches.


    I love how everyone is listening to my brother but can’t take their eyes off the dessert table.

    After the speeches, we invited everyone to help themselves to dessert. The kids had been vibrating with excitement and impatience the whole time we were working on the table so naturally they were the first to dive in.


    The adults helped themselves at a more sedate pace and the table was quickly decimated. Later on, I loved watching both adults and children passing the table and grabbing random spoonfuls of the dessert.


    As a completely unrehearsed trial the dessert table went off extremely well. Sure, there were a few things I’d do differently next time but we had so much fun doing it and everybody enjoyed watching it all come together.

    It was a wonderful night. Thank you to everyone who helped make it a special evening. In particular, huge thanks to the following:

    • J for his help with the bar, the incredible cocktail menu, these lovely photographs and the enormous set up and clean up. He had never tended bar before, but he did it so well he was asked to do two other parties on the night! You are #allthethings.
    • Maja and Tanya from Hey Hooray DJs. These girls play the best tunes for weddings and events.
    • Tim for his mini Banh Mi (Vietnamese pork rolls) made to order on the spot. They were so popular he ‘sold out’ within a couple of hours. Here’s the recipe.
    • Claire and Nick at Bulb Lighting for the loan of the beautiful festoon and bud lighting that decorated the gardens. They have a fantastic range of lights available for hire and they’re amazing to work with. Check out some of the jobs they’ve done on Instagram at @bulblighting.
    • Natasha for your help with the dessert table and salad prep. Mwah!
    • Tanya, MJ, Matt, my mum and Dayle for their huge help with the salad prep. I couldn’t have done it without you!
    • Megan for the loan of the bowls, platters and glasses.
    • My brother for his help serving the satays and for his sweet and funny impromptu speech.
    • Anita and Dayle for their help washing glasses on the night.
    • My mum and dad for their enormous help setting up and cleaning up the event.
    • My children for the lovely poem and their help drying the glasses the next day.

    Have you ever made a dessert table? What would be in your fantasy dessert table?

    All photographs by J.

  • Nasi Padang Minmang Malaysia

    Celebrating 4 Years of Blogging

    Just over four years ago I published my first post on The Hungry Australian – a recipe for my dad’s Chinese Sausage Omelette.

    At the time, I had no inkling that this blog would end up changing my life so dramatically. It all happened quite organically – after six months I was offered my first long-term client contract and my accidental freelance career grew from there.

    Last year, something unexpected happened: this blog was judged Best Australian Blog 2014 by the Australian Writer’s Centre, over 1,100+ other blogs.

    Winning the top gong was a tremendous surprise and while the recognition was lovely, the subsequent attention and unexpected self-consciousness that followed led to a case of Writer’s Block. Yes, it was extremely ironic.

    Happily, a chance conversation on an overseas trip helped put things in perspective and got me back on track: I realised I had to stop worrying about everyone else’s expectations and just focus on creating the best work I was capable of.

    THA Fish at Nasi Padang Minmang, Penang


    Currently, I’m shooting a food and travel book — Flavours of South Australia for Smudge Publishing — working with a few select clients and focusing on my own writing projects. I also have a new agent — Kathryn Fleming at The Fleming Agency — and I couldn’t be happier as she’s extremely good at what she does and her representation allows me to focus on what I enjoy most: creating stories.

    Between work, writing and family commitments, I’ve had much less time to blog this year than ever before. But I have a stack of blog posts that I’m doing final edits on and will publish shortly so thank you for your patience.

    Most importantly, thank you for being part of The Hungry Australian. As a blogger, I hope to create stories that connect and resonate with people: the fact that so many of you have let me into your lives either via this blog or one of my social media accounts is something I find both astonishing and humbling.

    Christina xx

    THA Nasi Padang Minmang

    About these photos

    I shot these photos on the fly a couple of weeks ago at Nasi Padang Minang, a humble coffee shop at 92 Jalan Transfer in the historical Georgetown area of Penang, Malaysia. At the Nasi Padang Minang the 50 Indonesian and Malaysian dishes on the menu are cooked early in the morning and then left out, uncovered, for diners to help themselves. Australian health and safety inspectors would be having a fit but I knew that eating here would be fine because I was being hosted by Mark from Simply Enak Tours, which specialises in small-group tours of interesting places not usually visited by tourists.

    Mark has been coming to this coffee shop for years so he knew exactly what to order. So we ate the delicious house speciality — whole fried fish with fried shallots (ikan bakar) — along with our individual choices of curries, vegetables, rice and salad (ulam) dipped into sambal (chilli paste). I’d never eaten the crunchy, deep-fried flat fish seen on the right side of the main plate before – they tasted like anchovies and were mind-blowingly good. As we ate and drank our iced coffees we chatted about Georgetown’s cultural and food history and I marvelled again at the power of food as both a form of legacy and a way to build new bridges.

  • THA - Peaches and Mangos

    Thoughts on blogging: getting back to basics

    To state the obvious, I haven’t been blogging lately. What started out as a few days break while on an overseas trip became a few more days as I struggled with jet lag and then lengthened into weeks as I struggled to find the motivation to blog.

    As the days went on and I still had no desire to blog I started wondering why I was feeling so uninspired. Some self-reflection was necessary.

    I started my blog in mid 2011 because I wanted to improve my writing and I thought blogging would help me achieve this. In the beginning no one read my posts but I didn’t care – I was just happy to have a new outlet for my writing and to be doing something I found creatively fulfilling. I didn’t blog to get free stuff and I had no desire to be ‘internet famous': I just wanted to get my writing out there.

    Since those early days things have changed a lot, both for me, personally, and in the wider blogging scene. Along the way I’ve met some lovely people, had some great opportunities, been astonished to win some pretty major awards and yes, turned it into a second career of sorts.

    Over the last few years the responsibilities, expectations and opportunities have risen for me. My inbox is full of people who want to work with me in some way.

    Sure, there are the emails from people with more cheek than a Sumo wrestler e.g. “we’ll send you our $30 product in exchange for a blog review” or “we’d like you to create a recipe on your blog for us featuring our product and if we like your photos we might use them on our product packaging.” But alongside these emails there are also many interesting invitations and genuine offers of paid work including countless (paid) sponsored post requests.

    Many bloggers would be thrilled to be in this fortunate position and on one level, I am extremely grateful.

    However,  I don’t blog for the invites, the free meals, the gifted products, or the hosted trips.  Sure, it’s nice to be courted in one way — I’m as human as the next person — but every invitation comes with an expectation that I will reciprocate in some way. To put it another way: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    Moreover, I have no desire to turn The Hungry Australian into a blog consisting mostly of paid sponsored posts and reviews of hosted experiences and gifted products. There’s nothing wrong with this approach per se but it’s not the type of blog I want to have.  So I turn down opportunity after opportunity, foregoing a not insignificant income I could be making.

    THA - peaches and mangos

    So why do I blog?

    I blog because I hope to become a good writer one day and blogging is part of my practise. When I look at my blog, the posts I’m most proud of are the ones that I just had to write. They’re the stories about my life and the people most important to me – my family and my friends. These are the stories that matter the most to me. These are the stories that I should be writing.

    These stories usually have nothing to do with products, events, services or experiences – they’re just stories about my life and it so happens that food is often involved: sometime food is front and centre of a story and other times it’s just hovering in the background.

    Judging from your comments and emails, these are the stories that a lot of you like the most, too. My story about my brother’s birthday cake made some of you think about your own sibling relationship(s) and a few of you cry.  My stories about my mother prompted some of you to share your own stories with me.

    These are the type of stories that I should be writing but my energy and attention keeps getting distracted by my inbox: I’m spending more time managing my blog and thinking about my blog than actually writing.

    This is not how I want to live my life.

    So going forward, I won’t be running any more advertisements or doing any more paid sponsored posts on The Hungry Australian. And I’ll be even more selective about the invitations and offers I do accept, too.

    However, I will continue to host my Amazon store with the books and products I personally use and recommend. If you purchase something from my store I will make a small commission – thanks for supporting The Hungry Australian.  I will also be writing about hosted travel experiences I have already undertaken and exploring new ideas and options for off-blog projects.

    By choosing to scale back on the amount of work I do with brands on The Hungry Australian, I’m doing the opposite of what a ‘successful’ blogger would probably do. But the beauty of blogging is that you can set your own rules to suit your own circumstances and I need to get back to basics.

    I want to blog like I did at the very beginning, without feeling constrained by expectation or duty. I want to blog because I have an overwhelming desire to, not because I should, or am contractually obliged to. This will mean an irregular publishing schedule so if you want to come along for the ride, I suggest signing up for free blog updates if you haven’t already.

    Thanks for reading The Hungry Australian.

  • DSC_39891

    Best Australian Blog 2014 Winner and a Celebratory Layered Pavlova


    Nearly everything that has happened since I started The Hungry Australian in mid 2011 has been a welcome surprise. But nothing has been quite as surprising (astonishing?) as finding out on Wednesday that I’d won the Australian Best Blogs 2014 competition organised by the Australian Writers’ Centre (AWC). 

    *Mind blown*

    A huge thank you to AWC national director Valerie Khoo, judge Carli Ratcliff and everyone else at the AWC who worked on these awards. Thank you also to competition sponsors Trafalgar and Random House. I’m so excited about all the fantastic prizes I’ve won. You have collectively made my day, week, month and year!

    I’d also like to congratulate all the talented bloggers who were this year’s finalists and winners. Do check them out.

    Nowadays, I’m a slashie: I’m a writer/photographer/recipe developer/food stylist/consultant/blogger. Everything that I do on this blog I now do for my clients, depending on what’s required. Turns out having an eternally curious mind (short attention span) and a broad range of skills (could never do just one thing) are good things in this new, digital economy. But I am a writer first and foremost because it’s something I have to do, regardless of whether anyone is reading. So winning this writing-focused competition is especially meaningful to me.

    Now following in the footsteps of the three previous competition winners — Cook Republic (2013), Edenland (2012) and Styling You (2011) — is a tremendous honour but it is also somewhat intimidating. However, I’ve come to realise that the best way I can honour the judges’ decision is to continue doing what I’ve always done, which is to blog the stories that mean something to me and that hopefully resonate with readers, too.

    So you won’t be seeing any dramatic changes in terms of content on The Hungry Australian: I’ll continue sharing my own recipes, stories about myself, my family and friends, and write-ups of exceptional travel and dining experiences. I will buy a new camera lens and some props I’ve been eyeing for some time but that’s about as far as it goes. 


    Now while blogging itself is a solitary occupation I wouldn’t be the blogger I am today if it wasn’t for the support, help and love of family and friends. 

    *Drum roll*

    Thank you to …

    My friend, Kerina, who suggested that I start a blog. To which I replied, “What’s a blog?”

    My parents, who still aren’t quite sure what I do, but who support me in too many ways to count, and who look after my kids so well every time I take off on a work/media trip.

    My kids, who keep me grounded and make me laugh every single day.

    My brother, who helps out with computer stuff and rolls his eyes when I talk.

    My ex husband, who let me share some of our stories and a few of his recipes here.

    The talented bloggers —  Cyn, Peter, Billy and John — in the Servved network.

    Adelaide bloggers, Erin, Celeste, Tash, George, Alex, Kirsty and Shai, plus others blogger buddies throughout Australia and beyond. You know who you are and I’m very glad we’re friends.

    Great local photographers, Grant and Kevin, who took the photos of me on my About page.

    Andrew and Johan for technical support at different times.

    Last, but certainly not least, thank you for reading The Hungry Australian and allowing me into your life. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for subscribing. Thank you for sharing my blog via your likes, shares, re-blogs, re-tweets and pins. Thank you for reaching out to me. Thank you for sharing your own stories and anecdotes with me.

    Here’s to a delicious life!!

    Christina xx


    Layered Pavlova with Pomegranate and Flowers

    I know there has been a glut of desserts on The Hungry Australian lately but I just had to bake a cake to celebrate this award. After considering several ideas, I decided to do a version of Pavlova, my favourite Australian dessert. I’ve previously blogged a Raspberry and Pomegranate Layered Pavlova recipe and this is the same recipe with some minor adjustments. It was a bit of work to prep the flowers but a special occasion calls for a special cake.


    • 10 egg whites
    • Large pinch salt
    • 2.5 cups sugar
    • 5 teaspoons corn flour
    • 2.5 teaspoons white or red wine vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean extract
    • 725 mls thickened cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
    • 2 large pomegranates, seeds only
    • Assorted flowers to decorate


    1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
    2. Line three baking trays with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on each.
    3. Wipe mixing bowl with vinegar and then beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form.
    4. Add sugar in five batches (1/2 cup at a team), beating thoroughly between each addition until meringue is thick and shiny. Try holding the bowl upside down – if the meringue doesn’t move, it’s thick enough!
    5. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract and gently fold in.
    6. Divide mixture equally between three baking trays and spread gently to fill in the circle shape (an offset spatula is great for this). Smooth the top and the sides.
    7. Place the trays in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 120 degrees Celsius. Bake pavlovas for 90 minutes and then turn off heat, leaving them to cool in the oven.
    8. When ready to assemble, whip cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract.
    9. Take one pavlova and spread with a third of the cream, leaving a 2 cm gap around the edge. Decorate with 1/3 of the pomegranate seeds and then repeat with a second layer.
    10. Place the final pavlova on top  and cover with cream.
    11. Decorate the top layer with fresh flowers as prepared below and half of the remaining pomegranate seeds.


    • I suggest you read my previous Raspberry and Pomegranate Layered Pavlova recipe before you begin this one for some extra assembly tips.
    • Fresh flowers are not food safe unless they have been organically grown and are free of pesticides. And some flowers are poisonous and/or dangerous for human consumption even if they have been grown organically. So unless you are certain of the flower type and its source it’s best to prepare all flowers with a barrier between the flowers and the cake.
    • Gently wash and leave flowers to air dry. Work out where you want to place the flowers and then cut stems accordingly.
    • If inserting the flowers into the cake, wrap the stem completely in florist tape (available from florists, naturally) before inserting the wrapped stem into the cake.
    • For flowers that will be placed onto the cake, place small  and unobtrusive discs of cling wrap on top of the cake before you carefully place the flowers on top.
    • To insert flower stems into pavlova, use a sharp knife to pierce the cling wrap to make a hole and then insert the flower through.
    • To serve, remove the flowers and cling wrap and then scatter the top of the pavlova with the remaining pomegranate seeds.

    My favourite posts

    Some of you have been reading The Hungry Australian from the very beginning, some of you joined in along the way and some of you are no doubt new readers, curious to see what all the fuss is about. For new readers, here’s a selection of my favourite posts. I’ve love to redo some of the photography and food styling but these are the stories I like best. 

     Posts about family

    Posts with a recipe

    Posts about exceptional travel and dining experiences

    Posts about blogging

    Subscribe to The Hungry Australian

    Don’t want to miss a post? Sign up to receive new recipe and travel posts twice a week – it’s FREE!!

  • Screen-Shot-2014-03-13-at-10.43.14-AM

    Adelaide Food and Wine Festival: 4-13 April 2014 – the lowdown, the highlights + my food writing debate (eek!)

    The Adelaide Food & Wine Festival is back – hip, hip, hooray!!

    Following the success of last year’s inaugural festival, Amanda Jane Pritchard (Kooki, Ducks in a Row) is back once again steering South Australia’s (SA) newest community food and wine festival into unchartered waters.

    This year, she’s pulled together a massive team of board, committee and volunteers to help share the work load, as well as bringing on board two creative directors, Gill Gordon-Smith (Fall from Grace) and Rebecca Sullivan (Dirty Girl Kitchen), who have helped to plan and program the nine-day festival.


    Now regular readers will know that I don’t usually do event previews. But in this case I had to make an exception because:

    1. I attended some of the festival’s events last year and they were really fun and different;
    2. Amanda asked me to be on the committee this year and I need to start pulling my weight; and
    3. I’m actually doing an event in the festival, which I hope some of you will be able to come to.

    The festival was launched on Tuesday night in the not-yet-open East End Cellars and although I couldn’t stay too late it was a really lovely night. Everyone in the room was somehow connected to the SA food and wine industry, whether they were a producer, a wine maker, a chef, a journalist or a blogger, and everyone was there to throw their support behind Amanda and the grassroots festival she had conceived and developed. The excitement, passion and energy in the room was palpable – it’s this kind of enthusiasm and desire not to settle for the status quo that makes me so glad to be living in my hometown again.

    The 2014 Festival

    To get the lowdown on this year’s festival, I chatted with Amanda this morning.

    Billed as a festival “by the people, for the people,” last year’s inaugural festival impressed a lot of people with the quality, diversity and size of its program. Were you expecting things to turn out as well as it did?

    “Last year I thought if everything went to plan it would be OK,” says Amanda.

    “There were so many different things that held us up along the way but in the end persistence paid off.”

    What are the major changes between last year’s festival and this year’s?

    “Having events that worked in the first year (has made things easier). When you’re doing things for the first time you have no idea how it’s going to work  out! This year, we knew we had an audience for events like The Market Feast, #EastEndWineDownThe Bacon Trail, the Coffee Crawl and the Don Dunstan Tribute. We could have run double the number of Coffee Crawls we did last year, actually. Pretty much any ticketed event that could sell out did so.

    “One of the major differences  is also that we’ve been selling tickets since last year for this year’s festival whereas last year tickets went on sale only three weeks before the festival started. Also, the Pozible campaign was so good on so many levels. It was a risk in some ways but its reach alone has been amazing – it’s reached millions of people all over the world! We offered discounted tickets as a reward for pledging so it meant that we’ve already sold tickets to many festival events.”

    Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.08.36 AM

    This year you have an army of volunteers on board. 

    “Yes. The board is the same as last year and the committee is pretty much the same, too, although it’s grown a bit. The real difference this year has been the volunteers – these young people, so talented, have put their hands up. I’m so fortunate – they’re  super talented, they’ve clever and they deliver. Volunteer effort and input is basically 100 times more than last year.”

    Who manages all the volunteers?

    “I personally manage all of them. I’m discovering new skills! I never considered myself a very good manager because I want to be a friend rather than a boss but that’s how I approach it. I sit down with each of them and I go through their resume. I ask them what do you want and why are you doing this? I give them tickets to things so they can go to some events, project manage some events and work at others.”

    lady at market feast copy

    Which new events are you most excited about?

    “Definitely the Baudin and Flinders Breakfast – the level of detail that we’re going into to make it informed and inspired by history is amazing, from the menu to the table settings to the entertainment. There’s this guy, Lance, who is 0f Head of Physics at Adelaide University. He created the Flinders’ Investigator Garden based on the work done by Robert Brown, Matthew Flinders’ botanist, who was the first person to catalogue the flora and fauna of this area. Lance is helping us to do the table settings and so on to make sure they’re all appropriate and of the era.”

    “The menu will also include bacon from heritage pigs,  smoked tommy ruff, foraged and found food and a scurvy preventative!”

    “The other event I’m really excited about is the Town Picnic. I’m basically trying to recreate all of my favourite memories — memories that I know other people share — of childhood.”  

    Highlights of the Festival

    Now I know I might annoy some people by naming favourites so let me preface this list by saying that all of the events in the program are inspired. Whether you’re crazy about food or mad about wine, you’re going to find a whole lot of things to love in this festival. Disclaimer out of the way, here are my picks – click the event name for the official info:

    1) Fork on the Road 

    Any self-respecting food lover in SA who hasn’t made it down to a Fork on the Road event cannot afford to miss this one. The monthly food truck meet ups are a great place to try different street food, catch up with friends and enjoy a buzzing atmosphere. No bookings necessary – simply turn up on the day and purchase food and drinks as your taste buds dictate.

    2) The Bacon Trail

    Richard Gunner’s passion for meat is infectious so I can’t think of a better person to lead the Bacon Trail through the Adelaide Central Market. If you love bacon, you won’t want to miss this one.  I’ve already bought tickets for my brother and his wife, actually. Book tickets.


    3) Don Dunstan Tribute

    For those unfamiliar with Don Dunstan, he was a pioneering Premier of SA in the 60s and 70s, and did many, many good things. For this dinner, his former apprentice, Sam Smith, now at Fino, will create a menu inspired by Don’s cookbook to be accompanied by Seppeltsfield wines. Yep, we had a premier who released a cookbook and later opened a restaurant. How awesome is that? Book tickets.

    4) The Market Feast

    I went to The Market Feast dinner held in the Adelaide Central Market last year and it was great fun. This year the irrepressible The Happy Motel with chef Duncan Welgemoed (Bistro Dom) are taking the reigns so it promises to be an amazing event. Go with a partner or group of friends and make a big night of it. PS Don’t forget your dancing shoes. Book tickets.


    5) Think. Talk. Food>Wine

    I’m really intrigued by this whole day networking/workshop/talk/debate event that Amanda & co have dreamed up. A whole line up of speakers including Stephen Yarwood, James Erskine, Festival Baron Warren Randall (Seppeltsfield), Amanda Daniel, Paul Wood and Chloe Reschke-Maguire will be debating the topic of ‘Collaboration or Competition’. I can’t wait to listen to, learn from and contribute to the discussion. This is a must-do for anyone who works in the food, wine or media industries (or who aspires to). Book tickets.

    AFWF_TTFWSA_slider (1)

    6) Town Picnic

    Rymill Park. Egg and spoon races. Apple bobbing. Picnic hampers. Peter Combe and the Crunch Munch VERY Sticky Band. Classes by wine writer Max Allen and chefs Jimmy Shu (Hanuman) and Salvatore Pepe (Cibos). Dogs. Kids running around. Need I say more? I’m going take my kids — they know all the words to Newspaper Mama — and a picnic rug and make a day of it. The event is free but you can book a cooking class, reserve your wine glasses, pre-order a picnic hamper or register your dog for the dog area.

    7) Eating Their Words

    A few months ago Amanda asked me if I’d be interested in doing an event on blogging for the festival. So I’m excited to let you know that food writer David Sly (Gourmet TravellerSA Life), I and chef Phil Whitmarsh will be debating food writing ethics, responsibilities and disclosure over dinner at the Daniel O’Connell. My friend George Ujvary, who has both the longest-running food blog in SA, The Foodologist, and an MA in Gastronomy from Adelaide University/Le Cordon Bleu, will be the moderator for the evening. Come along for a night of fantastic food and spirited debate about restaurant reviewing, food bloggers, social media, and the often complicated relationship between food writers, food bloggers and chefs. Book tickets.

    Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 12.45.33 PM

    8) Dessert Degustation

    When Chantelle from Steven ter Horst told me about the dessert degustation she and Steven were planning for the festival the other night, my heart started beating faster. Now we South Australians love our desserts — we have more dessert bars in this state than ANY other state in Australia — so I’m expecting this dessert degustation to sell out quickly. Book tickets.

    9) Sips in the Sticks

    Popular wine writer Max Allen and 12 leading ladies of wine (Kerri Thompson, Corrina Wright, Louise Hemlsy-Smith, Sam Connew, Kate Goodman, Fran Austrin, Anna Hooper, Kim Chalmers, Rebecca Wilson, Louise Rose, Amanda James-Prichard and host Sue Bell) join together with the local Afghan community for a lunch celebrating friendship, rural life and our immigrant past. Each of the ladies will be bringing along a homemade dessert to be judged by Penola CWA President Kate Spencer and special guest Senator Penny Wong. Book tickets.

    10) Porchetta Party

    Back by popular demand, the Porchetta Party features food by local chef Todd Steel (see my write up of his food at last year’s Sea and Vines Festival) matched with wines from Oliver’s Taranga down in the McLaren Vale. Personally, I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a Sunday arvo. Book tickets on tel: (08) 8323 8498 or email: nicky@oliverstaringa.com.au.

    There are lots of other fantastic events I didn’t have room to list here but you can check out the full program online.

    So which events will you be attending? :D

     Useful information

    • The Adelaide Food & Wine Festival runs from 4-13th April, 2014 in various location in the CBD and in the regions.
    • The Festival program can be found around Adelaide at selected outlets or online. Tickets can be booked through EventBrite.
    • The Festival is managed by a creator/director along with a board, two creative directors, a committee and team of amazing volunteers. It is run on a not-for-profit basis.

    Other event posts

    Subscribe to The Hungry Australian

    Don’t want to miss a new post? Sign up to receive new posts twice a week – it’s FREE!!

  • P1050251 (1)

    A new gig, a new look and a new direction

    When I started The Hungry Australian last June, I had few expectations other than getting in the habit of writing again and easing my way back into the workforce after an extended maternity break.

    Along my blogging journey I found my voice again. Not the self-conscious voice I had been using to pen my short stories and literary non-fiction (memoir) essays but my true voice, my authentic voice. One of the greatest compliments I’ve had about my blog has been from one of my oldest friends who told me, “it’s just like having a conversation with you.”

    That’s exactly how it should be.

    Why all this talk about writing and voice, I hear you ask. Isn’t this a food blog?

    Well, yes it is, but I have always considered myself a writer first and a food blogger second. Blogging was simply a new way of publishing my work, one that I became instantly addicted to for its immediacy and sense of community.

    So I’m thrilled to (finally) let you know about my new gig as Australian & New Zealand Food Guide for About.com, part of the New York Times Company. I’ll be producing eight recipes, reviews and articles for my own section – Australianfood.about.com –  each month, showcasing the best of Australian and New Zealand food to a whole new, international readership. It’s a marvellous opportunity and I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.

    Continue reading