Edition #7
April 2nd 2021
On my mind this week:
It’s the Easter weekend just in case you weren’t aware and it’s my favourite time of year in Melbourne. Wherever you are in other parts of the world it might be Spring or if you’re in the north of Australia it’s the dry season but here in ‘temperate Melbourne’ it’s Autumn and I just can not get enough. So here in lies an ode to my favourite city in what I think is her best season of the year.

Easter in Autumn
The sun is different now. The nights are crisp and cool but the days sparkle, sunlight dapples across the gum trees in between the reds and yellows of deciduous trees. People have started lighting their hearths (yes I just used that word. It’s Autumn. I’m allowed) and the cooler air at dusk is punctuated by the smell of wood smoke. People are slower at this time of year. The mad rush up until Christmas and then the pressure and heat of the summer is off and after the anticipation, the messy, nerve-wracking frisson and the frantic organisation of the first term of school, everyone is ready for some much needed time out. I love the warm cinnamoneeness (yes that is a word) of hot cross buns and the weighty feel of tiny, brightly coloured chocolate eggs covered in foil. Though I know Easter as a tradition symbolises the beginning of Spring and of new life, born from the beginning of the European sunshine, for me it feels like the last spectacular breath before the deep winter begins. The earth and the trees giving out their last array of colours before the dying of the light. This reminds me of something I heard the actor William McInnes once tell about the last few months he spent with his wife who was dying of cancer. He said that of all the times they had together those were the most romantic, heightened love-filled days. And in a way the knowledge of pending loss, of change, of time moving forward can give our lives an edge of technicolour that our ordinary days don’t always hold. When the fragility of life is brought so sharply into focus it takes your breath away with it’s beauty, food tastes better, the morning light is clearer, you can feel as if you are seeing the humans that you love fiercely, up close and as they really are. This to me is how Autumn and our Easter season feels. The world allowing us to see her in sharp focus before heading off for a well deserved sleep for a few months. The flipside of this feeling (and thank goodness for winter) is that we are not designed to live in that ‘soaking up every minute, life is a gift, technicolour dream coat vibe’ permanently. That idea seems perpetually exhausting though maybe I’m also just sleep deprived from a teething 10 month old. We can’t all live like Dorothy in the land of Oz forever, but while it lasts I love to toast my hot cross buns, layer on the butter, take on my role as Easter bunny and chief egg hunt supervisor with gusto and turn my face to the Autumn sun. Winter is coming after all and there may be dragons ahead.  
Something to watch:
The other reason I love this time of year in Melbourne so much is for the two things she is most famous for. Food and comedy. This is the season of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and though the ‘international’ bit of this festival may be dampened, the fact that our city is again alight with the unique breed of human known as the comedian let loose in the wild is just an absolute joy. The privilege of live theatre and a festival at that is not lost on me particularly in light of this strange, Covid affected, alternate universe we all find ourselves in. So, I’m trying to make the most of it and see as much as I can. Luckily, there are also so many great shows that are online too as part of the festival. Here in lies some of the wonderful humans who make people laugh that I am going to see:

Geraldine Hickey’s What A Surprise
One of my favourite comedians at the moment, mainly for her love of birds and gardening and general lovely, side-splitting jokes. Going to her show is like catching up with an old pal that almost completely unbeknownst to them is one of the funniest people you know. Go here to see her side splitting joke about digging up Agapanthus.

Jude Perl’s Participation Award
“She’s an accomplished and funny actor, but Perl has an ultimate secret weapon: she’s an extremely talented singer-songwriter, heading to the onstage keyboard to belt out satirical pop songs that have the audience in stitches. There are a lot of comedian-with-an-instrument acts in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, but Perl’s musical numbers aren’t just a vehicle for funny lyrics (though they are that, too). Perl has a voice that belongs in musical theatre, and she’s written genuinely catchy bops that will get stuck in your head. You’ll definitely leave wanting more, and then look up what you can on YouTube to enjoy more of her musical talent.”  
For the full review by Cassidy Knowlten go to

Matt Stewart (from Planet Broadcasting’s very own Do Go On pod) has a new show called 'Nostaglia was better when I was a boy' and I can’t wait to see it. Matt’s dry humour and ginger beard are always a joy to go and see. And while we’re on the subject my favourite Do Go On pod are doing live shows throughout the festival. So worth trotting down!

Something to eat:
As a side note the comedy festival isn’t really done right unless you also go for dumplings in amongst rolling down laneways, creeping up back stairways and discovering new tiny venues. Here are my favourite places for dumplings in Melbourne.

HuTong is best known for its expertly crafted soup dumplings, spicy wontons, and general deliciousness. It’s a real hot spot so difficult to get into but so worth the effort. China Red is a fun, inexpensive way to order dumplings where you can BYO booze and order on a tiny TV screen at your table. No worry about running out of food as you can just order more instantly, and it will arrive in moments piping hot. My heart, though for nostalgic reasons more than anything else, belongs to Shanghai Dumpling House where the plates and cups tend to be slammed on the table in a flurry, the wait staff are no nonsense, the menu tried, true, imperfect but cheap and cheerful and as is customary the booze is also bought in by you in the form of a lovely crisp white. Wine must be self-poured into colourful plastic receptacles allowing for plenty of laughs and a debrief about the comedy you have just witnessed. The dumplings are often misshapen, but the food arrives quickly and the vibe is just right for a night out on the comedy trail.
Something to cook:
As it’s Easter I thought I’d share this frankly incredible Easter Hot Cross Bun cake that I discovered from Good House Keeping. I am hands down usually a hot cross bun purist. None of this chocolate variety for me. Dark with spice, not too heavy on the citrus peel and delightfully fresh and fluffy, toasted until golden with a slight crunch and lashings of butter is my hot cross bun dreamscape. However this recipe may just have converted me. And with it being very easy (other than the 6 hour chill time which will be a struggle if you are like me, time challenged. Really why doesn’t everything take about 20 minutes? I’m still quite unsure if I actually understand how long 20 minutes really is but I digress) The gentle joy of stirring chocolate chips through whipped cream is really only topped by the soft layering of the buns onto the pillowy mixture. The other recipe boon is that it can be made beforehand to be served with pomp and ceremony and shreaks of delight at your easter table. If there are lots of kiddos I would suggest omitting the citrus peel and the booze though this ingredient I feel is one not to scrimp on. Kids can be happy feasting on their chocolate egg hord while the grownups enjoy their very grown up cake, slightly sozzled, as I feel we all might need to be to get through this year.
Hot Cross Bun Layer Cake
Zest and juice 1 orange
200 g (7oz) Caster Sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
4 medium egg yolks
50 ml (2 fl oz) cognac or sherry, optional
325 ml double cream
325 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature and mixed in tub to soften
100 g (3 ½oz) raisins
100 g (3 ½oz) mixed peel
100 g (3 ½oz) chocolate chips
8 hot cross buns, about 600g
1/2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  1. Measure the orange juice in a jug and make up to 100ml (3½fl oz) with water, if needed. Pour into a small pan with half the caster sugar and, over a low heat, dissolve the sugar. Turn up heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon and orange zest and set aside to cool. 
  2. To make the filling, put egg yolks, remaining caster sugar and cognac, if using, into a bowl sat over a saucepan of simmering water. With an electric hand whisk, whisk until thickened and leaves
    a ribbon trail, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk for a few more min
    to help it cool. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk cream until it just holds soft peaks. Whisk mascarpone into egg yolk mixture, then fold in the cream. Stir through 75g (3oz) each of the raisins, peel and chocolate chips. 
  4. Slice hot cross buns in half horizontally. Place the ring (without the base) of a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin on to a cake stand. Brush the inside with some of the orange sugar syrup. Squash about one third hot cross bun pieces on to the bottom of the cake tin so they cover the base (you may need to tear them), then brush with the syrup to dampen. Spoon over one-third of mascarpone mixture. Repeat layering twice more, finishing with the mascarpone mixture. Chill to set for at least 6hr, or, ideally, overnight in the fridge. 
  5. To serve, unclip cake tin ring and lift off. Sprinkle pudding with remaining mixed peel, raisins and chocolate chips. In a small bowl, mix together icing sugar and mixed spice, then sift over pudding. 
And that's it from me this week. Holidays are wonderful but also tricky. All the love in the world from me to you, right now, wherever you are at. We are all in seasons of transition - go gentle, be kind to yourself, turn your face to the sun and eat some of those chocolate eggs.

Tonts x
I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which I write today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Copyright © 2021 Tonts, All rights reserved.

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