A few years ago I stayed at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It’s a mid-century motel in the middle of the desert that has been updated to a trendy retro hotel full of hipsters lolling by the pool sipping pink cocktails. It’s super cool. Ever since, I’ve fantasised about buying a motel in a small Victorian country town, doing it up lovingly and running a weekend getaway for all the Melbourne hipsters to visit.
When Ford offered me the opportunity to drive the Ford Kuga Titanium for awhile and blog about it, I decided to live out a little bit of my motel dream, because the thing about motels is that they’re of the era of the classic road trip. Having a pair of hot wheels to hit the open road with is essential. With the Kuga’s giant sun roof open, the Ford navigation lady telling me where to go, tunes playing using SYNC voice control (talking to my car and it listening is really quite cool) and luggage stowed in the roomy storage spaces, I sought out the perfect motel.
The best kind of motels are well preserved relics of the 60s and 70s, complete with drive-through check in, a car park directly outside your room, painted brick walls, avocado-coloured bathroom suites and the essential hole-in-the-wall breakfast door. The latter was my inspiration. I can’t buy a motel, but I can create an awesome, updated retro motel breakfast.
My dream motel probably won’t have a restaurant, so a continental breakfast is in order. Cornflakes in a box and white toast in a bag definitely has retro cred, but I thought I’d update this classic formula a touch. So I’ve created granola in a jar and toasted brioche in the bag for my fantasy motel guests.
I love granola, but often it’s too sweet for my breakfast tastebuds. I decided to experiment with a refined-sugar free option and in the process discovered that the honey and thyme pairing that works so well on say, carrots, also works really well in granola. It’s still sweet, there’s a lot of honey involved, but the thyme and a generous portion of macadamias balance out the sweetness, resulting in a fragrant, toasty, crunchy granola that is delicious served with greek yoghurt and smashed berries.
In my fantasy motel, I serve the granola with a slice of brioche, toasted until golden, and smothered in fresh ricotta and a drizzle of honey. Simple decadence. And of course a breakfast tray isn’t complete without fresh orange juice and a strong pot of coffee. With a white, scalloped edged placemat laid down, cutlery and a glass in bags, and a handful of condiments in little plastic tubs, the perfect breakfast tray is ready to be delivered through the classic door-in-the-wall to my make-believe guests.
Thanks to Lucy King for the lovely illustration of my dream motel, and to the good people of the Central Highlands Motor Inn for the use of their motel for the photo shoot.
Macadamia, Honey and Thyme Granola
Makes about 500g
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup macadamias, chopped
- 2 tbs sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- Pinch salt
- Leaves of 1-2 small sprigs of thyme (I used 2 sprigs that were pretty sparsely populated with leaves, so 1 bushy sprig would do)
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- 4 tbs honey
- 1/4 cup currants
Pre-heat oven to 160c/320F.
Mix oats, macadamias, sesame seeds, pepitas, thyme leaves and salt in a large bowl. Melt coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan or in the microwave and stir through dry ingredients.
Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden. You may need to stir the granola half way through to ensure even toasting.
Remove from the oven and stir through the currants. Leave to cool then store in an airtight container.
Serve the granola with greek yoghurt, milk and smashed mixed berries (smashing the berries gives you a lovely red juice to soak into the yoghurt). Accompany with a slice of toasted brioche, slathered with fresh ricotta and drizzled with honey. Fresh orange juice and strong coffee on the side.