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How to make tea

Are you a tea or a coffee person? I’m one of a rare and possibly uncool breed of people who prefer tea over coffee. I have nothing against coffee. In fact, I quite like it. But unlike most people, I don’t rely on it to kickstart my day or fuel my fire. If anything, it gives me heart palpitations and makes me feel edgy. Yes, tea is my preference.

As a proud supporter of tea, I long for the day when my colleagues say, “Anyone for a tea? I’m going on a tea run.”  And when my friends call and ask, “Would you like to meet up for tea this arvo?”  That, my dear readers, will be the day.  But in the meantime, coffee is stealing the show.  This begs the question, why is tea the poor cousin of coffee?  Maybe it’s because it doesn’t give the same smack in the face that a black coffee can give after a late night.  Or maybe tea just needs a good PR campaign to boost its profile – kind of like Obama and Julia Gillard need right now.

Breville Tea Maker

It doubles as a kettle

The point is I have found just the thing that tea needs to boost its image.  It’s called the Breville Professional Tea Maker.  Kind of like a coffee machine, but for tea.  It took me a while to come round to the point of a tea maker.  I mean, isn’t it simply a case of adding hot water and jiggling?  Is it really worth spending $300 on such a thing?

It didn’t take long for the tea maker to win my heart.  Not only does this shiny toy make the best cup of tea known to mankind, it also happens to double as a kettle and look pretty hot to trot on my kitchen bench.

Simply add a spoonful of your favourite tea leaves, add water, flick a button and hey presto, it brews the tea to the perfect temperature.  It knows exactly the right temperature and brewing time required to extract the full aroma and flavour from the five popular tea varieties – green, black, white, herbal and oolong.  No more teabags for me!  And goodbye crummy kettle that would be more at home in a university dorm kitchen.

You should see the tea maker in action.  Once the water has reached the ideal temperature for the type of tea you’re brewing, the stainless steel tea basket automatically slides into the water allowing it to circulate freely around the tea leaves for maximum infusion.  Very high tech!

I’m loving our new morning routine – Paul makes the tea when he gets up and uses the temperature control button to keep it warm until I’ve had my shower.  There’s also an option to pre-select a start time – perfect for that freshly brewed pot ready for breakfast.

The only downside we’ve noticed is some of the finer varieties of tea leaves like Yorkshire tend to fall through the filter as the leaves are finer than the holes.  Other than that, I can’t think of any negatives to this innovation.  If you love tea and you need a new kettle, I highly recommend that you buy one!

Oh, and be sure to serve your tea with gluten-free blueberry muffins or some white chocolate cookies.

So, tell me, are you a tea or a coffee person?


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Trio Bondi

Don’t you just love an all-day breakfast? Being able to rock up to a cafe at your convenience and hoe into a big bowl of toasted granola or a plate of poached eggs with smoked salmon? They say brekky is the most important meal of the day, so it seems a shame to stop serving it at lunchtime. I’m a big proponent of the all-day breakfast. It’s like a celebration of sorts… not to mention great for people who like a sleep in, but don’t want to miss out on their big brekky and long black.

Have you heard of Trio Cafè at Bondi? It’s on Campbell Parade (up the hill, a safe distance from the feral part). I would go as far as saying they serve the best breakfast in Sydney. You see, breakfast is their specialty.  They serve it all day long and absolutely excel in it. I’m yet to see a more creative and diverse brekky menu. For indecisive Librans like me, deciding what to order can be as hard as making the perfect pastry.

I’m talking shakshuka; cinnamon and vanilla scented French toast; corn fritters with warm smoky tomato chutney, bacon, goat’s cheese and roquette; fresh seasonal fruit plate served with passionfruit yoghurt; chargrilled banana bread with caramelized bananas, strawberries and vanilla mascarpone. There is nothing predictable about this menu. Ten points for originality.

I can’t go past the mango lime buttermilk pancakes served with strawberries, lemon curd and double cream when I go to Trio. I usually ask for an entrée serving which they happily oblige to. My only other wish would be for them to serve wheat-free pancakes like the ones I whip up at home. Food always tastes better when it’s cooked for you, don’t you think?

Apart from the food, the other standout about Trio Cafè is the service. It has the best service of any Sydney cafè I’ve been to. The staff always greet you with a big smile and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a rarity in Sydney. It’s down-to-earth and welcoming and that suits me to a tea.

They only use free-range eggs in their cooking – something that I often worry about when I’m eating out. The selection of breads on offer are enough to make any baker proud – sourdough, carrot sourdough (yeast-free), rye black russian, multigrain, pugliese (Italian rye), olive sourdough, turkish, wholemeal, white, english muffin, gluten-free multigrain.

The downside? The prices are steeper than most breakfast menus, but you’re paying for the location (Bondi Beach views) and the quality. If you’re planning on going on a weekend, I recommend calling in advance to reserve a table as I’m not the only person who loves this place.

I’m yet to try their dinner menu, but Trio also dishes up dinner Wednesday through to Sunday. If it’s anything like their brekky menu, it’s bound to please.

Trio Café
56 Campbell Parade
Bondi Beach
NSW 2026
Ph. 9365 6044

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Cinnamon quinoa

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Most mornings, I struggle to peel myself away from the covers. My energy tends to increase as the day goes on, reaching a nice crescendo by nighttime when my creativity hits its peak. I’ve always been quietly jealous of “morning people”. Just how do they bounce out of bed of a morning all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? I read on body+ soul there’s a genetic predisposition and an innate tendency to be either a night person or a morning person. So maybe I can blame my genes for my slothenly morning state.

Breakfast quinoa

I’d probably be nocturnal if weren’t for the prospect of breakfast. Indeed, breakfast is usually the first thing that pops into my head when I rouse from a deep sleep. If it weren’t for a hot cup of tea accompanied by a piping hot bowl of porridge with blueberries, I’m not sure if I’d ever get out of bed. As much as I don’t understand “morning people”, I also scratch my head at people who forgo brekky. Just how do they do it? And more importantly, don’t they realise they’re missing out on the most important meal of the day?

I think Piglet summed it up nicely when he said to Winnie the Pooh: “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today,” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I have a new breakfast creation to share with you. It’s a porridge-like recipe using a newfound ingredient of mine – quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”). Rest assured, it’s easier to cook than it is to pronounce. For those of you who won’t turn up your nose to a bowl of porridge, you’re bound to like this recipe. I’m still on the hunt for a grocer that sells quinoa that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

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Gluten-free soda bread

The one thing I’ve missed the most since going wheat-free is pizza and red wine bread. Admittedly, I’ve missed the convenience of bread as much as the taste and smell of it. No toast for breakfast; no sandwiches for lunch; no bread to dip into my soup; no popping down to the bakery on my bicycle wearing a striped top and a red beret and grabbing a baguette. Needless to say, it has been a tough gig and I’d really prefer not to live without bread.

Bread and I were reunited on the weekend. No, I didn’t buckle at the wafts of hot bread lingering from Brasserie Bread. My in-house baker (Paul) worked out how to make wheat-free soda bread. I’m talking no wheat and no yeast. And yes, it’s delicious. Maybe after months of going without bread I have forgotten how it’s meant to taste, but if you ask me, this wheat and yeast-free stuff is amazing. And what’s even better is it’s easy to make. Paul whips it up in less than 15 mins (plus about 40 mins cooking time).

So, what is soda bread? It’s a quick bread that uses baking soda instead of yeast. It usually contains buttermilk, but in the interests of being dairy-free, Paul used soy milk instead.

Wheat-free soda bread

Wheat-free soda bread

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Cashew coconut pudding

Did you eat one too many chocolate bunnies over Easter? Personally, I was doing really well at abstaining from chocolate until Easter Monday rocked around and I was given a box of Lindt balls. David Copperfield would have been impressed at how I made the Lindt balls disappear, almost like magic. One minute they were there, the next, they were gone!

If you’re anything like me and ridden with guilt from your Easter binge, may I suggest a healthy breakfast recipe that will help salvage some of the damage? While ‘cashew coconut pudding’ may sound anything but healthy, it is actually full of goodness. In fact, it’s one of those raw food recipes that I came across in Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes.

Cashew coconut pudding

Cashew coconut pudding

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