Vanessa Pike-Russell

Whenever we can we travel down to Tasmania to see our family and friends who live there. One of the great things about Tasmania, apart from the amazing landscapes and friendly people is the fantastic food on offer. This trip included Dylan's birthday dinner at Huonville Grand Hotel on our second night.

Dylan enjoyed his Kids meal mini-roast dinner.
Phil wasn't too pleased with his scallop dish ($18) which featured frozen scallops which were not of Tasmanian origin, were overcooked and definitely not he was expecting.

I tasted a few and much prefer the scallops from Coolies (Moonah, Tasmania) and Drunken Admiral (Hobart, Tasmania) which are large, round fresh Tasmanian scallops and not small frozen scallops.

I wasn't feeling very hungry so I settled for the soup of the day, Tomato soup ($5) which had a robust flavour and was exactly what I wanted.

Scallops with bacon and served with winter vegetables ($18)

Tomato soup at Huon Grand Hotel, Huonville Tasmania

Soup of the Day - Tomato ($5)

On the second last day of our visit we travelled out to visit our block of land at Glenfern, just outside of New Norfolk, Tasmania. After exploring the property which features m
any wonderful manferns, native trees and even a tasmanian
devil den, we met up for lunch with some friends of Kieron and Kelly-Jo at The Bush Inn, New Norfolk

I chose the half serve size of Roast of the Day - Roast Lamb with Vegetables and it was delicious. Tender pieces of lamb with gravy and served with cauliflower with cream sauce, mashed pumpkin, peas and I had already eaten my cauliflower before I remembered to take a photo. Oops!


Dylan enjoys his kids meal at The Bush Inn, New Norfolk by you.

Dylan enjoyed his kids meal (Chicken nuggets with chips $3)

The Bush Inn, New Norfolk by you.

Menu at The Bush Inn, New Norfolk by you.
Menu at The Bush Inn, New Norfolk by you.

Kelly-Jo and friend at The Bush Inn, New Norfolk by you.

We also enjoyed some wonderful home cooked meals by my daughter in law Kelly-Jo and her Mum Robin including a very tasty stew which was even better as leftovers spooned over toast the next day. There were also cupcakes and an amazing a train cake made for Dylan's 2nd birthday party for his weekend kids party at Margate Dru Point play area. The cake was made out of slices of banana cake decorated with lollies and was much loved by Dylan who sampled every section of his train cake and continued sampling his cake for five or so minutes. Such a funny sight and definitely a photo opportunity that I took advantage of :)

Dylan's train cake and birthday cupcakes by you.

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Vanessa Pike-Russell
Quick and Easy Avocado dip with Garlic Pappadums
My husband came home with some garlic pappadums and within seconds in the microwave we had hot, garlicky flavoured pappadums which fulfil the need for that savoury crunch and texture that I had been missing.
What are Pappadums ?
A wafer-thin East Indian bread made with LENTIL flour. This Tortlla like bread can be unseasoned ( as preferred in southern India) or variously flavored with red or Black pepper, garlic or other seasonings, as in Northern India. Pappadums are available various sizes and flavours.

Tonight I decided to make some of my avocado dip. serving it in the avocado shell and teamed it up with the pappadums. Delish!
Quick and Easy Avocado dip

A lazy cook's guacamole made from avocado, lemon juice and salt and served in the shell of the avocado with the seed placed on the bottom to help keep it fresh. Served with papppadams that were made in the microwave.

Lightly brush one side of the Papad with low fat oil. Place one Papad at a time on a paper towel, then microwave for approximately 60-90 seconds. The perfect dip accompaniment and only take a few seconds to turn from a flat disk to a delicious crisp dipping scoop.

The perfect dip accompaniment and only take a few seconds to turn from a flat disk to a delicious crisp dipping scoop.No artificial colours, preservatives or Gluten. Maharajahs Choice Pappadams Garlic is only $1.53 for 100g at Woolworths, which makes them a bargain!

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Vanessa Pike-Russell
Food photography became an interest when I moved to Tasmania (2000 - 2002) and I wanted to share some of my gastronomic journey with friends and family, and my online international foodie friends. When I came back to the Illawarra (South of Sydney, Australia) I continued with a food blog featuring local restaurants and food stores in the illawarra region and outside of the Illawarra during my travels to Queensland, Tasmania and regular visits to Sydney.

Food is something that is accessible, universal and challenging to photograph. I strive to achieve that 'I want to lick the screen' effect.
If I am enjoying a wonderful meal that is presented in an artful way, taking a photograph makes that moment last longer. Sharing it with others and promoting the many wonderful local restaurants is something I enjoy. By my photography I wish to communicate my
appreciation of good food in good locations.

Musman Curry from Crown Thai, Wollongong

Photography is an important part of my life. Ever since I can remember I have loved capturing precious moments. My earliest photographs were portraits of friends and family. I enjoy freezing a moment in time, capturing images that are fun and full of expression.

I have a red bubble store, a stock photo account with fotolia and a profile on gekko images. I support non profit education and culture based organisations such as Picture Australia and the Powerhouse museum.

Prawns on a stick with satay sauce ($3 each sk...

I am available for local photoshoots and for product photography. I would love to be invited to a restaurant launch, celebration of a new seasonal menu or promotions. Please contact me if you would like some feedback on a product of if you need your menu photographed for a website. If your business doesn't have a website please contact me. My packages including photography start at $250 for an extensive site powered by the content management system Joomla and customised templates. Alternatively, I will work for food :)

I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS3 to edit my images, upload to Flickr and oublish to this food blog and Foodbuzz.

I thank you for visiting and hope that you will vote for me on Foodbuzz, have a look at the books on my bookshelf and take the time to enjoy your local food suppliers. By local, think global.

[ Map of the Illawarra, Sydney's South Coast ]

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Vanessa Pike-Russell
George Calombaris from Australia's Masterchef cooks
Blini with Smoked beetroot and feta

Smoked beetroot
First make the smoke with hickory chips (from BBQ shop, soaked) and add sugar, rice, sea salt, earl grey tea and mix. Line a pot with foil and spread out mixture onto it. Add a lid and get it smoking which may take 15-20 minutes

NEXT Blini batter:
520ml full cream milk, bring it to luke warm check with finger
Add milk to a bowl and rain the 20g yeast into the milk. Add 2 egg yolks (keep egg whites for later) and 150g plain flour, 150g buckwheat flour (gives blini a beer flavour)
Cover with cling film and leave to rest until mix has risen, about half an hour
Back to smoking mix:
Smoking mix is ready for beetroot chop the stalk off the beetroot and drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. You don't need to take the skin off now, it will be easier to do so after it is cooked. Wrap in foil and
Place in oven for 160oC for an hour.
Take out of the oven, lay some greaseproof paper down, put some disposable gloves on and peel off the skin gently.

Take a slice off the top and bottom and press a small round cuter into the beetroot to make small rounds of beetroot (I've had little cubes of beetroot which are just as pretty). Place the beetroot shapes on a metal rack and lower over the smoking mix. Cover with a lid to trap in the smoke. Since you don't wish to further cook the vegetable turn off the heat from under the pan and it will 'cold smoke' it. Leave the beetroot until the pot goes cold, about half an hour.

Leftover beetroot can be roasted overnight at 60
oC with salt and blended up in a coffee grounder to make beetroot powder. Dehydrating the beetroot times the flavour by five==
Back to Blini batter
3 egg whites, pinch of salt whisk to stiff peaks. Gently incorporate into batter which should have risen significantly. Use slow stirring mixture and pour into a tiny blini pan if possible or if not in a large frying pan but keep the size of the blinis small. Add in crumbled pieces of feta cheese.

MasterChef Australia 2009
Don't pre-heat the pan or your blini will colour too quickly. Looking for gold colour. To check to see if it is cooked use a spatula and pull the sides up a little bit and see if it is still a little opaque. While the blini is cooking on one side move to the smoked beetroot
Back to Beetroot
Take beetroot out of the smoker after 25 minutes and drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt.
Final step plate Blinis and beetroot
Flip the blini and plate it up onto a plate and arrange beetroot, garnish with cream and beetroot powder, basil leaves
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Vanessa Pike-Russell

The Chocolate Shop: Berry
Unit 1, 70 Albert St, Berry, NSW, 2535
Phone Number: (02) 44643318

The Treat Factory
Old Creamery Lane, Berry
(02) 44641112

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Vanessa Pike-Russell
I've always wanted to visit Caveau, Wollongong's only hatted restaurant. It is also the Illawarra's only French restaurant and it offers cooking classes! I've looked at their upcoming classes and one falls on October 18th, 2009. That's the day after my birthday. Normally I am up in Sydney at the Good Food Month's Night Noodle market but this year I have decided to book in for a cooking class with one of the best chefs in Australia.

Peter Sheppard's Cookery School is a hands-on, fun afternoon of learning, making and eating! It runs between 11am and 2pm, where you will cook and eat 3 fabulous dishes. Cookery schools are run with 12 persons, with dates and menus planned to suit interested parties. If you nominate a date, we will fill the group.

Cost: $85pp including GST, includes coffee at the start and the recipes to take home.

Why [the name] CAVEAU?
In French Caveau (pronounced Ca'vo) translates to vault, and also refers to a small wine cellar. More importantly, Le Caveau was the name of the famous literary, wine & gastronomic society formed in France in 1792 (perhaps the first food & wine society), which appealed since books, food and wine are passions we share.

Who is the chef?
Peter Sheppard. He trained at Banc - a top Sydney restaurant which was awarded three hats by the SMH Good Food Guide, and was also named Best Restaurant in the SMH GFG and Gourmet Traveller. Sadly, since Peter left in December 2002, Banc has closed its doors and its great head chef, Liam Tomlin, has since left Australia.

After leaving Banc, Peter opened Reflections Waterfront Restaurant in Huskisson, Jervis Bay on the South Coast of NSW. He had Reflections for a year, during which time it attracted a loyal following and was lauded in publications including the GFG, Gourmet Traveller and Delicious Magazine. Peter opened Caveau in May 2004.

The reviews for Caveau suggest that this is one restaurant that is a 'must see'. Since class sizes are 12, it would be a good idea to book in advance.

Photos and information property of Caveau and its website

122-124 Kiera Street
Wollongong NSW 2500

Tel : +61 2 4226 4855

Opening times:
Lunch - Thursdays and Fridays
Dinners - Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm

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Vanessa Pike-Russell
As I look back over the last few years of writing and photographing the many wonderful restaurants in the Illawarra I am saddened with the thoughts that at least a third of the restaurants are no more.

  •  Baan Krua Thai Restaurant. Keira Street, Wollongong by you.
    Baan Krua Thai - a hidden gem in busy Keira St. I dined there twice and loved the food, chef and waiter and the relaxed dining experience. The entrance way was probably too difficult for many potential diners as there were stairs to be climbed but once inside the effort was worth it. I am yet to review the restaurant which is now under new management. It seems to change hands quite often.
  • Metro Grill - When I was last in Wollongong I saw that Metro Grill had closed. I enjoyed a nice meal there with my Sister and her friend there and thought that the prices were very reasonable for a very pleasant dining experience.
  • Okuma Sushi Train, Keira St. Wollongong by you. Okuma Sushi train - my favourite Japanese restaurant which was located in Keira St, Wollongong. There is still the Okuma sushi store inside Crown Central but the busy sushi train with its friendly chefs and waiters who greeted every person as they entered is no more. Each plate was colour coded and matched a price list on the wall. Such fun and definitely something my friends and I looked forward to. I hope that there will be another sushi train in Wollongong some day
  • Oriental Expressions - one of the most exciting restaurants has closed. I first visited Oriental Expressions on Valentines Day and enjoyed it soo much that I went back for Chinese New Year and Yum Cha. It changed ownership and is now the The Old Siam Style Thai Restaurant
Do you know of any restaurants we have reviewed that are no longer operating? Please email us at and we will update the review. Tweet This
Vanessa Pike-Russell

One of my images from a food review was published on the front page of Foodbuzz

I'm buzzing! A wonderful site for foodies recently selected two of my photos to feature. One today and another on the 4th of June (US time)

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