In April, my sister flew all the way to Australia for the first time. Fun fact: Kyra is the first person to visit me in Melbourne since I moved here almost four years ago. Her trip down under was less than two weeks. There was so much that I wanted to show her!
On her first morning, after a big night’s rest, Brent and I took Kyra to one of our favourite breakfast spots in our neighbourhood – The Birdcage. There, Kyra got to experience her first taste of Melbourne coffee! She ordered a flat white (how Australian) whereas I ordered my standard cappuccino. My sister and I ordered the same breakfast (much to her dismay): apple crumble pancakes!
We took Kyra to our old neck of the woods (where Brent’s parents live) and she got to meet his family. It’s pretty crazy to think that in the almost-ten years that Brent and I have been dating, our families haven’t really met! On our way up, we stopped at Woodlands Historic Park where we saw some wallabies and kangaroo!
One of the highlights in Kyra’s trip here (for her and for us) was getting to spend a couple of days on the Great Ocean Road. Even though I have gotten to drive alone the coastal highway a handful of times, I always love getting to go back. We stopped at almost every view point on the way to Apollo Bay (where we stayed the night). We took Kyra to the ever-lovely Twelve Apostles. We got very lucky with weather during this trip – the sun was shining almost the entire time.
Before we drove back home, we stopped for fish and chips in Port Campbell, where Kyra got to experience this very Aussie tradition!
The very next day, Brent had to go in to work while Kyra and I took another drive over to Phillip Island. We stopped and spent a few hours at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park where you get to feed kangaroo, wallabies, wombats, and emu. Kyra loved the massive kangaroo (who were a bit too big and aggressive for food for my liking). We drove into town for lunch and ate at one of the two restaurants that were still serving food at 4pm. Then we saw Phillip Island’s famous penguin parade! I’ve only ever been to see the penguins one other time. I have to admit – this time around was a bit disappointing. The penguins were especially shy and we waited for about 45 minutes until a few small groups popped up and out of the water. Still, of course, worth it.
Toward the end of Kyra’s trip was our three day trip to New Zealand (which I will save for another post). We got back to Australia two nights before she had to fly back home. On Kyra’s final day in Melbourne, we all decided to get tattoos. Kyra and I got matching ankle tattoos of the Tree of Gondor (since our family has a tradition of watching all three extended LOTR movies on Christmas Eve in a row – nerds!). We went to a local tattoo parlour and they were fantastic (shout out to Westona Tattoo)!
Saying goodbye to my little sister was as hard as ever but I’m so glad that she got to visit us! I can’t wait for her next trip down under (when she can meet her doggy niece)!
Maya’s Sweet and Sour Holiday Brisket and Roasted Potatoes and Carrot Coins (and Brussels Sprout!)
Serves 10 to 12 (so.much.leftovers)
- 4 to 5 pound piece beef brisket (I used two pieces of brisket from our local supermarket which totaled in about 2 kilograms)
- 1.5 tsp table salt, plus more for seasoning meat
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (235 ml) beef stock
- 3 tbsp (50 grams) tomato paste
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine vinegar
- 4 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/8 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp (15 grams) onion powder
- Season the meat generously on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Whisk all of the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- Place meat in slow-cooker, pour sauce over it, and set it to cook at low setting for 10 hours.
- After the 10 hours, transfer the brisket and all of its sauce to a baking dish.
- Rest brisket! Chill the entire dish in the fridge. SK says that you can chill for a few hours and up to one day and that the longer you rest, the more it’ll enhance the flavour and texture of the meat. We ended up resting ours overnight.
- An hour before you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 150C/300F and then remove dish from the fridge. For a less oily final dish, we removed all of the solidified fat with a spoon.
- Carefully remove meat from sauce and place on a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into thin (1/4 to 1/2 inch) slices and carefully place sliced meat back into the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the meat.
- You’re supposed to replace lid and reheat in the oven until bubbling at the edge… but we misread this. We heated the dish before cutting it… and then ended up spooning the sauce over our plated meat and eating. Still delish!
For the potatoes and carrots:
- 900g potatoes, sliced thin (recipe calls for fingerling potatoes but they don’t sell those at our local supermarket – normal potatoes seemed to do)
- 900g large carrots (about 4 to 5), sliced thin into coins
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1.5 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
- Generously coat two baking sheets with olive oil. Spread veggies out on prepared sheets and drizzle with any remaining olive oil before seasoning them with sal and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes before using a large spatula to flip the vegetables.
- Resume roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are brown and crisp at edges. The potatoes should be soft and tender inside, the carrots soft but not mushy.
- Remove from the oven. Season with additional salt and pepper. SK recommends sprinkling them with fresh dill or any other herb of your choice but we didn’t have anything!
I would like to try this recipe again, this time actually following the instructions at the end! Regardless, the meat and the veggies turned out lovely. I love eating roast vegetables cooked in this method. I also made brussels sprout by following this Smitten Kitchen recipe which I would definitely recommend if you like dijon mustard!