Although my actual birthday wasn’t so festive thanks to doc visits and whatnot, Bear and our dear friend Elizabeth pulled out all the stops in giving me a fantastic birthday celebration when I was feeling much perkier.
Bear and I left home bright and early to drive through the misty mountains to Brisbane, entertaining ourselves with a new audio book while munching our way through brekky: salted dark chocolate, toasted croissant with turkey, cranberries and brie, and an oh-so-creamy chai latte. Bliss.
Our first stop was the Brisbane Botanical Gardens. I love it here. Love, love, love it. And never tire of wandering through the twisting pathways. Even when I’m by myself I’m rarely alone for there are always tiny and not-so-tiny lizards scurrying about and once I even happened upon an 8-foot python sunning himself on the rocks!! Yipes! That is one sight I don’t mind never seeing again. This time I was followed through the gardens by a marvelously colored bush turkey. Don’t know why he took a fancy to me, but I was delighted with his company. (click here to read about my discoveries in the rain forest)
We met up with Elizabeth and were whisked away to a beautiful penthouse apartment with stunning views of the city. Elizabeth had created the most wonderful champagne brunch and I felt spoiled rotten as she brought out platters filled with fresh mango, plump cherries, and toasted croissants stuffed with avocado and brie.
We finished our gorgeous meal with a stunning gluten-free chocolate roll filled with fresh cream and studded with cherries. Oh my. Twas rich with chocolate flavor yet light as air. Pure decadence. The best part is that she shared her recipe!! You can find it at the end of this post.
Just when we thought we couldn’t fit another morsel in our bellies, Elizabeth and Bear announced that we’d better skedaddle if we were going to make our lunch reservations at a seafood restaurant in Manly. More food?! Those two know how to plan a party!
So off we went to Manly, opening our windows to bask in luscious sea breezes as drove along the coast. We dined at Keith’s on Cambridge, a small but bustling establishment with views of the harbour and windows that opened to capture cooling winds off the water. We sat down to more champagne and grinned at the Christmas decorations that were festive but so odd when the weather was so warm.
The food was fantastic. Truly. Even though I loved the massive coconut prawns, marinated grilled halloumi, and tender chunks of crab and lobster, the most unexpected pleasure was the bowl of deep-fried, breaded olives. Good heavens. I could’ve eaten the whole bowl myself. It was a glorious birthday lunch.
After lunch we ambled down to the harbor, grateful for cooling (albeit fierce) winds as we perused market stalls, admired boats bobbing in the water, and stepped onto the white sand.
It was a great day for people-watching and checking out the wind-surfers hurtling across the water in the stiff breezes.
After a nice stroll we headed to the Manly Gallery, a small but inspiring place featuring local artists and artisans. I loved the vivid colors of these paintings and went home with a bar of exquisitely scented lemongrass soap.
It was a beautiful birthday with dear ones, scrumptious food, and a gorgeous setting. What is your favorite memory from your birthday this year?
Elizabeth’s Chocolate Roll with Fresh Cream
4 eggs separated
4 Tbsp castor sugar
1 heaped Tbsp cornflour
1 heaped Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 F (180 C)
- Prepare jellyroll pan by lining with baking parchment.
- Whisk egg whites till foamy, gradually add sugar and beat till thick.
- In separate bowl whisk egg yolks, vanilla, cornflour and cocoa.
- Fold egg yolk mix into egg whites.
- Spread onto jellyroll pan and bake 15 minutes until cooked.
- Lay out clean tea towel and dust with castor sugar.
- Tip cake onto tea towel, peel away baking paper.
- Gently roll and leave till cool.
- Fill with whipped cream and decorate with fresh cherries.