Monday, 11 November 2013

The Melbourne Cup and Smoked Trout Dip

The first Tuesday in November is Australia's Melbourne Cup, billed "the horse race that stops the nation". Imagine the US Kentucky Derby on speed and with the whole country watching. What a great way to spend Tuesday, a usually boring day of the week and kick off the upcoming holiday season. The state of Victoria, where it is held, has a public holiday so no one has to go to work or school and they can enjoy the festivities. In Sydney, where I live, many people 'chuck a sickie' more lingo for call in sick to work. If they do work, many work a shorter day and leave early to watch the race at 3pm. Some offices have a corporate function at a restaurant or bar. This year, I went to a friend's house for a party full of lovely canapes, champagne and some fund raising. 

The Melbourne Cup is known for its fashion and especially its fancy hats, called 'fascinators.' Stores all over the country stock hats and headbands for ladies to wear with their Cup dresses. There are many other horse races before the actual Melbourne Cup at 3pm so people tune in to see Australia's rich and famous and check out the fascinators. 

With my fascinator headband and
fascinator cupcakes

Dita von Teese (L) and model Coco Rocha look on during judging of Myer Fashions on the Field during Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 5, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images for the VRC)

So besides the fashion and festivities, what is the Melbourne Cup? The horse race has been running since 1861 by the Victoria Racing Club on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria. Every year, the race is held on the first Tuesday in November at 3 pm. The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major thoroughbred horse race for 3+ year-old horses and it's the richest two-mile handicap race in the world. To get the handicap of each horse, the weight of the jockey and his/her riding gear is adjusted with ballast to a nominated figure. Older horses carry more weight than younger ones, and weights are adjusted further according to the horse's previous results.Weights were theoretically calculated to give each horse an equal winning chance in the past, but in recent years the rules were adjusted to a "quality handicap" formula where superior horses are given less severe weight penalties than under pure handicap rules.

Horses from all over the world come to compete and over $6 million in prize money is up for grabs. Each year, approximately 300 to 400 horses are nominated while only 24 make the field as starters. Winning certain races, such as the previous year’s Melbourne Cup, the Cox Plate or the Caulfield Cup, grants a horse with automatic entry into the Melbourne Cup and that horse is exempt from the ballot. The current record holder is Kingston Rule, who won the 1990 Melbourne Cup with a time of 3 minutes and 16.3 seconds. Wow! That is a fast 2 mile run!(sources:,

The Melbourne Cup creates big business. According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, it was expected that $60 million dollars was spent on gambling, $162 million on food and beverage and $47 million on fashion and beauty. In a country of 22 million people, that is a lot of money! The 2013 winner was Fiorente. It was a sweet win for Australia as the both the jockey, Damien Oliver, and trainer, Gai Waterhouse, are Australian. She is the first female Australian trainer to win the Melbourne Cup and this is Damien Oliver third time winning the race. (photos:

With a classy event like the Melbourne Cup and the holiday season on the way, this week's recipe is a Smoked Trout Dip. I *love* this recipe. It is delicious, easy, healthy and upscale for any event. With the lemon and parsley in it, I find it light and refreshing. I try to share recipes that can be customised to suit individual tastes. This is especially true of the this dip. You can change and vary ALL of the ingredients to suit your taste buds. You can also make it with salmon; see my notes below. I like this recipe so much that it never goes to waste, even if there are leftovers. I simply put some on toast or in a wrap with lettuce and eat it for lunch - enjoy!


300grams/10 ounces Smoked Trout
1/3+ cup Sour Cream
1 lemon, juiced
2+ teaspoons horseradish (a must)
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped (save some for garnish)
salt, pepper

1) Assemble ingredients.

2) Cut up fish, and use hands to gather all the smoked trout bits.
Be careful to remove any small bones.

3) Add juice of 1 lemon and horseradish. Stir.

4) Add Sour Cream and stir through.

5) Chop up parsley and stir through. How easy is that?!

6) Serve with crackers or a baguette.

THIS DIP IS HIGHLY CUSTOMISEABLE - you can add or more less of anything to suit your taste. I like a lot of lemon and parsley as it makes the dip refreshing. I also like it with less sour cream. It can easily be doubled or tripled. Light sour cream works fine too.

To make a SMOKED SALMON DIP - substitute salmon for trout and dill for parsley.

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