Keen to get out of the city for some novel birdwatching, Michael organised an extra-long weekend in Halls Gap and invited a handful of friends to share a holiday house. Staggered across the four days Mike, Tracy, Lee and Daniel joined us for walks, food and drinks, spirited arguments and other robust conversation, as well as several rounds of Guitar Hero.
With a fully equipped kitchen at our disposal, much of the food was home made and all the tastier for it. Before he was awake enough to speak coherently, Mike created a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs with fried mushrooms, onion, asparagus and toast. Then late in the night over port, whiskey and board games he conjured up a dish of sweet, warm bread and butter pudding. That boy's full of surprises.
Michael and I brought a few things we'd prepared earlier. Dinner was eastern vegetarian burgers with baby spinach salad, a choice of mango chutney or hot chilli sauce, and olive oil baked potato chunks. For packed lunches, we had a triple batch of mock tuna salad with lettuce and tomato, as well as roasted strips of capsicum and eggplant.
Then there were these chocolate orange butter biscuits. They may not look that special, as choc-chip biscuits go, but take a look at the originals over at Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once and think again. They are the perfect showcase for earthy, unsweetened roasted cocoa nibs. (I recently picked some up from one of the organic produce stands at the Queen Victoria Markets.) The candied citrus peel and buttery biscuits are plenty sweet enough without an extra serving of sugar in the chocolate, producing an addictive new rendition of the classic chocolate-orange combination. I wasn't the only one taken by these: Michael could not stop eating them, and Mike declared them my best biscuits yet.
Just don't bother trying to feed the crumbs to the birds in a fit of misplaced generosity. They'd much prefer your muesli.