Category: Australia

The Bobby Dazzler – History Happy Hour – 1788

G’day mates,  Happy Australia Day!

Today we are celebrating with a dubious mocktail with a fabulous name – The Bobby Dazzler. 

Australia Day celebrates the 1788 landing of the First Fleet into Port Jackson, New South Wales and the raising of the British flag on Australian soil. 

The day is marked by celebrations both formal and informal across Australia, with many people enjoying the day off work with barbecues, at the beach and otherwise enjoying the lovely summer weather.

Over at chez Retro Food, we are celebrating with this:

Bobby Dazzler1If you had asked me as a six-year-old to design my perfect drink it would have been something very like the Bobby Dazzler.  “I want coca cola with something pink in it and whipped cream and a strawberry and sprinkles….”  Seriously, if the Bobby Dazzler came with some glitter and a unicorn, it would have been my six-year-old idea of heaven. 

Bobby Dazzler2However, according to International Mixed Drinks by Ken Fin (1995) the Bobby Dazzler was created by Maxine Nash at the Bubbles – Wodonga Hotel where it was the runner-up in the Best Border Beverage Competition of 1991.  International Mixed Drinks is silent on whether or not Maxine Nash was a six-year-old. 

F.Scott who normally taste tests all the cocktails I  make wasn’t having a bar of this.  But like  his namesake F.Scott is partial to a sip o’ the hard stuff. 

Bobby Dazzler3So another tester had to be found.  And how more appropriate than our friend the Tasmanian Devil?

He loved it.  But then again, we found him later on gnawing on one of the popper bottles. 

Bobby Dazzler4The Bobby Dazzler  is not so much bad tasting as unremittingly, unrelentingly sweet.  And just when you think you can have no more sweet, you get a mouthful of cream.

Unless you are a six-year-old girl or a Tasmanian Devil you probably will not want to celebrate Australia Day with a Bobby Dazzler!  I still feel a bit ill after drinking it.  I feel like I need to have a little lie down.  Simultaneously, I am so wired on caffeine and sugar I feel like I may never sleep again.

For those who want it, here is the recipe:

Bobby Dazzler
A very sweet and creamy mocktail.
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  1. 60ml Grenadine
  2. 200ml cola
  3. whipped cream
  4. 100's and 1000's or other sprinkles
  5. Strawberry and 2 blueberries to garnish
  1. Blend the Grenadine and cola and pour into a glass.
  2. Top with the whipped cream.
  3. Sprinkle with 100's and 1000's and garnish with a strawberry and the blueberries.
Retro Food For Modern Times
I am calling this a recipe fail not because there was anything wrong with the recipe, I think it worked out exactly as it should have.  To me the recipe fails because there is no counterbalance to that cloying sweetness. I also did not like that big chunk of whipped cream which pretty much just made your mouth feel greasy.  I think ice-cream may have been a better choice.  What do I know though?  It’s not like I ever came runner-up in the Best Border Beverage competition.

I hope your Australia Day is dazzling, even if this drink is not.

Have a wonderful week.

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Skippy Cake For Sara. Kinda, Maybe, Sorta

My friend Sara recently sat, and passed with flying colours, her Australian citizenship test.  By way of celebration, she asked me to bake her a cheesecake.  Sara has asked me many times to make her a cheesecake and, to date this has not happened.  This time was no exception

“In honour of your new Australianness I will make you a Skippy* Cake” I said.

There was a long pause.  Then.

“What’s a Skippy cake?”

That night I emailed her this picture of a Skippy Cake which is from The Party Cookbook”  from 1971, edited by Ann Marshall and Elizabeth Sewell. 

 The next morning she sent me this:

 Sara email

Well, never let it be said that I’m the type of gal who goes around promising to make people Skippy Cakes and not delivering, so, here it is Sara, your very own Skippy Cake!

Skippy Cake 2
Skippy Cake 2

 Actually, rewind and delete that.  I am exactly the kind of gal who promises a Skippy Cake and does not deliver because sadly, Sara works in our Canberra Office and I am in Melbourne.  Technically,  yes that 1400 kilometre round trip is do-able in a weekend.  But so is an ultra-marathon.  And I’m not doing one of them either!

The Skippy Cake and the Mushroom Cake I made a few weeks ago got me thinking back to the awesome cakes my mum used to make me. 

There was this when I was….hmmm….how old?  Four? Six? If only it was completely obvious what year I was celebrating….

Five Cake
Five Cake

 And she crocheted that purple dress for me too!

A few years later and I got my very own Dolly Varden!  The utter joy of this was hard to describe. And her skirt is the exact same colour as my 5 year old birthday dress!

Dolly Varden
Dolly Varden

 It’s just a shame you can’t see the detail in the dress.  It was gorgeous! And every rose, every detail hand made!  There was one to top that too.  One year she made me barrow full of fruit and vegetables and flowers. So imagine this:


But in cake and LOADED with vegies, fruit and flowers.  Hundreds of teeny hand made fondant apples and roses and oranges and eggplant, bananas and tulips, pumpkins and tomatoes…it was loaded!  And how did we repay her hours and hours of painstaking work?  By not taking a single damn photo. 

How much do we suck?  We are the worst family in the world. Seriously.

So, filled with nostalgia, it was it was hardly surprising that my eye was drawn to this in my local supermarket on the weekend:

 The cover calls it Australia’s most famous children’s cake book.  Others go as far as to call it the “best book ever written in this country”.

And you know, there’s not that many children’s cake books that have a comedy routine and a song dedicated to them.

 So fancy a peek at some of my faves?

For the budding artist there is a paint palette:

 Artist's Palette

Got a mini-maestro in the house ? How about a piano cake? Can you believe it? A freaking piano!  Can you see why this is Australia’s most famous children’s cake book? the best book ever written in this country? the best book ever written?

 Piano Cake


And the one I always wanted and never got.  The Pool Party cake.  If I didn’t already have an AMAZING cake figured out for my own birthday this year, I would be making this one.  Next year for sure!

Pool Party Cake
Pool Party Cake

 I mean they’re no Skippy cakes but they are all kinds of awesome. 

Not all is wonderful though. There is a very cryptic message in the forward where editor Pamela Clarke advises that “four of your little friends are missing”.  I really want to know what those four missing cakes are.  Obviously something nowadays seen to be massively politically incorrect – my money is on at least one Golliwog.  It’s certainly not gender based stereotypes because the book is full of them. The section on boys cakes has 3 cars, a rocket and a helicopter.  The girl’s cakes  have a sewing machine, a stove and a dressing table.  It would really piss me off except that stove cake is just adorable!


Stove Cake
Stove Cake

Then, there is some stuff that borders on the downright creepy.   Take this thing, called a Mary Jane, which looks like it should be the leading role in a horror film:

Mary Jane Cake
Mary Jane Cake

 And surely you’d only make the Happy Clown if you wanted to psychologically scar your kids for life.

Happy Clown
Happy Clown

 But then clowns totally creep me out anyway.  This is how much.  You know that actor Brian Dennehy?  I watched him in a movie where he played John Wayne Gacy aka The Clown Killer.  This sounds like he killed clowns but he actually dressed up as a clown and killed  young boys.  Lots of young boys.  And then buried them in the walls of his house. Since seeing that, I’ve never been able to watch anything with Brian Dennehy in it again.  Because in my mind, he is a creepy clown serial killer. Which I’m sure he isn’t.  I’m sure he’s a lovely man.  But that movie scarred me.   Don’t take my word for it. Watch this.  And tell me it doesn’t give you the screaming heebie-jeebies.  Mute your sound though, I don’t know what that noise is but it’s awful.  The entire movie can also be found on You Tube if you want the full extent of the horror.

What? How did we get onto serial killing clowns?  We’re meant to be talking about cake dammit.  Children’s cakes in general.  Skippy Cake in particular.   Here is the recipe which I  followed pretty much exactly.  It’s a really nice butter cake even if you don’t want to go the full Skippy.  Do try the toasted coconut over the icing though, that was delicious.

Skippy Cake RecipeYou don’t have to use all that food colouring.  You could puree some raspberries for the pink cake.  I didn’t even bother with the yellow colouring in the icing because kangaroos are brown or grey not yellow.  I added some cocoa powder to the icing mix to make it brown but the coconut pretty much covered it all up anyway.  And remember when I destroyed that curry with the bright green pandan essence? No you don’t because that’s a kitchen nightmare I’m saving for a special occasion.  Well that’s what I used to make the grass.    

The hardest part was making the kangaroo template:

Skippy Cake Template
Skippy Cake Template

 Skippy Cake 3

The actual cake was lovely!

Skippy Cake 4
Skippy Cake 4


Skippy Cake1
Skippy Cake1

For those of you who might not know, the cake was named after a very famous Australian kids tv show called Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.  Skippy was a problem solving kangaroo.  It was set in a national park and if hikers got lost, Skippy would find them or if someone fell into a hole in the ground Skippy would summon rescuers to help them.  Iconic childhood viewing!

Also, you may be wondering what happened to The Skippy Cake seeing as Sara did not get it?  Well it just so happens that it was my bosses birthday that same week and he just happens to support a football team called The Kangaroos. 

I took the Boomerang part with Sara’s name off and we ate that at home and then I took The Skippy Cake into work and we had a birthday morning tea.  I went back into the kitchen an hour or so later to wrap up the last few pieces for some of my friends who were not in that day and it had all been eaten so I think everyone liked it.  My boss even took photos and showed his kids that night! 

And I already have an order to make a cake for someone else’s birthday. 
He wants a cheesecake….

Hope your week is a piece of cake!

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Drunk Food – The Meat Pie Floater

Meat Pie Floater

I guess each culture has a food they like to eat when drunk.  The Brits for instance love a curry when they are five sheets to the wind.  Closer to home, we in Melbourne like nothing better than a kebab or its Greek cousin, the souvlaki.  Ahhhh….greasy meaty goodness wrapped in pita bread…deeelicious  whatever you call it.  There was also a spate, back in the 1990’s of mobile hot dog vendors but they were a passing fad.  Nothing beats the 3:00am drunken kebab.  Not in this town anyway.

So ubiquitous is the post pub/club kebab run that I assumed it was a national pass-time.  Oh, so wrong.  A few years ago I ventured across the border into South Australian territory for a wedding.  Post-wedding we ventured into the casino and post-casino we ran into one of the weirdest instances of drunk food I have ever seen.  Which of course, in celebration of the month of crazy and Australia Day (January 26th) I am going to replicate here.  We’ll return to that in a moment. 

But first, Adelaide. It’s a weird place.  City of Churches and bizarre serial killings.  And before anyone from South Australia gets their knicks in a knot.  It is true. Dexter said so.  

 And…the very second I typed Adelaide and serial killers, the little app that I have that tells me about related content brought up an article on a body found in a wheelie bin.  You can fool some of the people some of the time South Australia but the internet will not be fooled.  I on the other hand….did I say I lived in Melbourne?  I meant Sydney.  Or Perth.  Yeah, Perth.  It’s even further away and in the opposite direction.  Yep, I definitely live in Perth.  Just in case you are thinking about crossing any boundaries with your serial killer ways, take a leaf from the Village People and Go West.

Meat PieBut I digress, we’re here to talk about food.  Australian food  to boot. The picture above shows one of the classic legendary Australian dishes.  The Meat Pie.  Second possibly only to the Vegemite Sandwich as THE Australian dish. 

We love to eat our meat pies with a bit of….and now here’s some Aussie slang for you….a bit of  “dead horse”.  And no, not in that ooky, literal European way.  “Dead horse” is Australian rhyming slang for tomato sauce.  That would be ketchup to my American friends. 

And in Melbourne Perth this is how we eat our pies. Just as pies.  With ketchup.  Lovehearts optional.

Meat Pie With Sauce
Meat Pie With Sauce

 And, if we have soup…lets just say a rather hearty pea and ham soup.  We have it like this.  Just soup.  Maybe with some crusty bread. Or a crouton.

Pea And Ham Soup
Pea And Chorizo Soup

Let us now return to the street outside the Adelaide casino at 3:00am.

The BF had gone over to the van to get us each a kebab. He came back empty handed and shaking his head.  “It’s not kebabs.  It’s pies and soup.”

“Ewww…who wants soup at this time of night.  But I’ll have a pie. ”

“No, it’s not pies and soup.  It’s pies IN soup”

I honestly did not believe him.  Until I wandered over to take a look.

And sure enough….pies in pea soup…..

This is drunk food in Adelaide.  Seriously.  Loveheart optional.

And if you don’t believe me, here’s some independent confirmation.

Meat Pie Floater
Meat Pie Floater

 I told you they were freaky over there.

I would love to tell you that I tried this and despite all my Victorian West Australian prejudices it was awesome.

Meat Pie Floater jpg
Meat Pie Floater jpg

Except it wasn’t. 

It wasn’t as repulsive as I thought it would be.  But it was definitely a whole that was a lot less than the sum of it’s parts. And nowhere near as good as a kebab.

Maybe you need to be drunk to enjoy it. 

If you want to try this delight for yourself, you can find a recipe for a Beef and Shiraz Pie here.  I have used this recipe before and it is a beauty, however I just bought the ones I used for this.  I made the soup though and it was really good.  I subbed in chorizo for the more traditional ham and it made the soup super tasty! Recipe below.

I am looking forward to a long weekend celebrating Australia Day. Just not with a meat pie floater….

Have a great week where ever you are!!!  I would also love to know what constitutes drunk food in your neck o’ the woods.  Drop me a comment….

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Pea and Chorizo Soup
A delicious hearty take on a pea and ham soup - a classic winter warmer
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  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 3 chorizo sausages, removed from their casing and diced
  3. 2 carrots, peeled, diced
  4. 2 sticks of celery, peeled, diced
  5. 1 onion chopped finely
  6. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  7. 300g green split peas
  8. 2litres cold water
  9. Salt and Pepper
To Serve
  1. Warm bread rolls or a meat pie and sauce
  1. Rinse the split peas under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook until the meat is browned. Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and cook, stirring occaisionally, until the onions are softened.
  3. Add the split peas and water. Bring to the boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered for about an hour or until the split peas are cooked.
  5. Allow to cool slightly then process the mixture to your desired level of “chunkyness” either using a stick blender or by processing small batches of the mix in a blender.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Serve with warm bread rolls if you are normal or with a pie and sauce floating in the centre if you are not.
  1. I like my soup fairly chunky so I usually only put about a third of it in the blender.
Retro Food For Modern Times
















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