Wednesday, October 28, 2015

AUSTRIA: I'm a sacher for a good cake

Haven't heard of Sacher Torte? Have you been living on Mars or are completely oblivious to a good slice of cake? The history of the torte (cake) is a sweet one. It was created in Vienna (not Salzburg), by a young apprentice chef Franz Sacher in 1832. The delicious cake is traditionally served with a portion of unsweetened whipped cream and is complimented with a cup of tea or coffee. The cake has a mysterious air - covered in a shining, silky chocolate coat with a small round motif decorating the side, once bitten into, life takes on a grander meaning. The cake is chocolaty and has a robust texture divided by a sting of apricots glaze. (SEE recipe below)

There are specialty shops all over Austria selling this indulgence, but you'll find the sweetest prize at the Sacher Hotels. And adding to the pleasure of the Sacher Torte experience is the fact that is it always sitting on the breakfast table/buffet daring you to take a slice to begin the day . . .of course we did. At the elegant, traditional Sacher Hotel in Salzburg (below) , the Sacher Torte disappeared quickly and there appeared to be a rotating delivery of said sweetie at the breakfast table. Visit:

Sacher Torte
Total Time: 1 hr 42 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 2 min
Cook: 1 hr 20 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Level: Intermediate


  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces 
  • 3 ounces butter 
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 1 ounce sugar, plus 3 ounces 
  • 5 egg whites 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/3 cup flour, sifted 
Apricot Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups apricot preserves 
  • 1 tablespoon apricot brandy 
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 ounce butter 
  • 2 ounces heavy cream 
  • Whipped cream 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 2-inch cake pan.

In a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and melt over a double boiler. Set aside to cool. In a mixer, using a wire whisk, whip the egg yolks with 1 ounce sugar until light and ribbony. Beat in the chocolate mixture.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 3 ounces of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks. Fold in the flour and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites, gently but thoroughly. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until done. To check for doneness, insert a paring knife in centre of cake. It should come out dry. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

To make the apricot filling: puree the apricot preserves. Stir in brandy.

Slice the cake into 3 equal layers. Spread half of the apricot filling on the bottom layer. Top with a second layer of cake. Spread the remaining apricot filling and top with the last layer of cake. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the glaze: in a bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Melt over a double-boiler. Bring the cream to a boil. Stir into the melted chocolate. Cool until it reaches glazing consistency. Spread over and around the cake. Chill for another 30 minutes before serving. Serve a slice with whipped cream.

Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Top 10 Things to do in Ecuador’s Amazon

The Amazon is one of Ecuador’s four distinct ‘worlds’ alongside the Pacific Coast, the Andes and the Galapagos Islands. The Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, home to 4000 species of trees and vines, 600 species of birds and 200 species of mammals.
There are plenty of activities that visitors to the equator-straddling country can enjoy in the Amazon. Here are the top 10 things to do in Ecuador’s Amazon region:
1.      Go white-water rafting. Rafting is the most popular adventure sport in Ecuador’s Amazon, with rivers of different levels of difficulty and accessibility available.

2.        Go kayaking. Ecuador is the third best destination in the world for rafting and kayaking, with the rivers flowing down from the Andes mountain range, providing excellent paddling.

3.      Hike through the Amazon jungle. Explore the extensive and diverse Ecuadorian Amazon by foot with the help of a local guide.

4.      Go birdwatching. With more than 600 species of bird, including macaws, toucans and tanagers, the Amazon provides an ideal location to birdwatch.

5.      Experience an Amazon River cruise. A number of itineraries are available which allow visitors to closely observe the flora and fauna of the jungle visit indigenous communities. River cruises provide comfortable floating accommodation while ensuring little environmental impact. 

6.      Try maito, a traditional Amazon delicacy. Served wrapped in a yaquipanga or banana leaf, the tambaqui fish (which lives in the rivers of the Amazon) is cooked using charcoal, with a mixture of onion, salted tomato and coriander used as seasoning.

7.      Visit local jungle communities. Take part in cultural ceremonies and find out a little about the people who call the Amazon home.

8.      Put warrior makeup on. Visitors can be painted with vegetable pigments as part of ritual welcoming ceremonies.

9.      Swim in a waterfall. Guests can visit the Latas Waterfall, where they climb up a river gorge, ending at a pool and waterfall, where they can swim.

10.  Stay in an eco lodge. The Ecuadorian Amazon is home to a number of luxury, environmentally-friendly lodges, providing the ideal base from which to enjoy all the rainforest has to offer.

For information on Ecuador visit the consumer site –


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Get Up & Go: Get Up & Go spring issue has been sprung!

Get Up & Go: Get Up & Go spring issue has been sprung!

Get Up & Go spring issue has been sprung!


Spring Issue
Get ready for the big, beautiful read for spring. Get up & Go, Australia's premier travel magazine for 'grown ups' takes you on a magical travel ride to:

India with visits to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Rajasthan; Portugal to explore Lisbon; Poland to Krakow's museums; Finland to chill out; Ireland for the Game of Thrones series locations; Italy for history and gelato; Madagascar to find a special tribe.

Man of the Vezo tribe, Madagascar.

Guess where?

Sir Michael Caine
And fancy a date with Michael Caine? Well, that's not going to happen but we do talk to the legend!

Other stories along the way open the door to a nostalgic look at camping family-style in the 70s; best shoes to take travelling; Frequent Traveller is Mark Trevorrow aka Bob Downe; Toowoomba in Qld for the amazing First Coast wall art festival; Sovereign Hill in Victoria; Flinders Island and how about cricket hero Matthew Hayden talking fishing - and cooking curry!

Adnate's work at First Coat festival, Toowoomba.
It's all happening between the covers.

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