Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Old Hollywood

Our finale to the fabulous Rutherglen Winery Walkabout a few weeks ago was a delectable six course dinner at Tuileries, hosted by the lovely Campbell family and featuring their magnificent wines, including their 40th vintage of their delicious Bobbie Burns Shiraz. The Bobbie Burns Shiraz was the first Rutherglen wine I ever tasted, and it immediately shot up to be one of my all time favourite wines. We feasted on duck gyoza and freshly shucked oysters, prawn and dill ravioli served with king prawns and a citrus butter sauce, and crisp Eurobin chestnut dumplings with vanilla mascarpone sabayon and honey caramel... Just to name a few items! I was even lucky (some might say greedy!) enough to score a second plate of the chestnut dumplings, as our new friend Ben, sitting opposite me, wasn't as big a fan as I was! Aww yeah!

The theme for the night was 'Old Hollywood' which, to be honest, was the main reason I wanted to attend in the first place! I got to bring out my fabulous beaded dress, drape my decolletage in jewels, curl and pin my hair, wear red lipstick and seamed stockings and, most importantly, I got to wear my Nanna's beautiful faux fur coat that never gets to see the light of day because it is just too fabulous! His Travel Romance obliged by slicking down his hair, pulling out a pin tucked shirt and bow tie, and draping a grey scarf around his neck in a very smart and austere fashion. For all of our efforts, we were rewarded by being announced the best dressed couple for the evening! Complete with a complimentary three course meal for two back at Tuileries before the end of the year. Huzzah!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Today, there was no better way to spend the rainy, cloudy morning, than by sitting all toasty-like by the crackling fire in a cosy cafe, with a copy of The Weekend Australian, and some orange pekoe tea. It was so good, we sat there for hours and had a delicious lunch whilst I nutted out 38 of the 45 'quick' crossword clues. Me: ricotta and spinach ravioli with burnt butter and homemade sesame dukkah. Him: chorizo and chicken salad with a honey mustard dressing and an affogato. Folks... I think I may have just discovered my Saturday morning winter ritual.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Winery walkabout

This weekend was the Rutherglen Winery Walkabout, which we had heard was quite the festival! We decided to go racing head first into it and had an absolutely fabulous Saturday quaffing amazing wines, eating delicious foods, and wishing we lived on a vineyard!

We started off in the morning with a three course breakfast with matching wines at Cofield's, which was quickly followed by an amazing Muscat Masterclass run by winemaker Dan Crane at All Saints Estate. Dan was a pleasure to listen to as he showed us around the winery, built in the 1800's, and he did a fine job of educating us in the differences between a few-years-old muscat, and one the exceeds sixty years! Surely there are not many better ways to spend your Saturday than in a lovely refurbished old stable, listening to a lovely Englishman talk about wines, whilst you quaff something that's almost as old as your parents!

The wineries and wines continued after lunch, including a delicious selection of chocolates to match sweet durif's at Scion, and good times wearing parrot hats and feather boa's in the vintage photo booth at Campbells Wines.

Plonk, the resident cat and box inspector at Cofield Wines

The lead up to All Saints Estate

All Saints Estate

The gorgeous old stables at All Saints Estate

Pre Muscat pouring... Oh the anticipation!

Having fun in the vintage photo booth at Campbells Wines

Friday, June 10, 2011

In my belly

It's been about twelve weeks now since I started concentrating seriously on eating healthily and exercising regularly. If we knock out the two-and-a-half week break I had over my birthday whilst I was holidaying in Perth (there's no way I was going to give up Little Creature's chilli mussels or the wines of the Margaret River!) then we're talking about nine whole weeks of allowing myself only one treat meal a week. For someone that was used to having three or four... or five... such treat meals a week, this was a radical change in food perspective!

As such, I find myself fantasizing, reasonably often, about the foods that I would love to shove into my mouth by the truckload and stuff myself stupid on until I resemble a giant elephant that has swallowed the world's biggest blimp whole. Some of them I think about a lot, others are old staples in my old, unhealthy diet, that I find myself longing for every now and then. Rather than making me stare longingly into the fridge for hours on end, I actually find thinking about these treats quite cathartic. So, I did what any... Ok, I did something stereotypically me... I made a list!

The top ten foods I think about... a lot:

1. Hot jam donuts covered in sweet, sweet sugar. The jam piping hot so that you have to blow furiously on it to get it below red-hot-magma levels. The donut steaming so that you can't even think about picking it up in your hands. Nope, this is a bowl and spoon job all the way.

2. 10kg of hot, crunchy, thick cut chips. But that's not all. Cover them in around 20kg of chicken salt, and then give me two big bowls - one filled with smokey BBQ sauce and the other with delightfully creamy mayonnaise, and I shall take my 10kg of chips showered in 20kg of chicken salt and dip each one of them in both bowls several times!

3. Lemon and prosciutto pasta. This may not sound like a real treat meal, as it's reasonably healthy, but believe me, this dish is to die for. Originally made for me by my dear friend Donna, this combination of prosciutto, tagliatelle, rocket, olive oil, and lemon juice (plus other ingredients if we feel like it) is a dream sequence for your taste buds.

4. Milk chocolate rocky road from the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Their chocolate is oh so creamy, and with fluffy marshmallows, nuts, and jubes all rivaling for a place in your mouth, their rocky road is just divine.

5. Approximately one ton of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I first discovered this taste sensation in Plymouth, England, at the movies, where I treated myself to a scoop of cherry garcia with a scoop of chocolate fudge brownie. This was closely followed by my friend Mara and I devouring a whole tub of phish food (sans bowls - just spoons in the tub!) on my return to London. Oh my stars you have never had ice cream this good!

6. Hot, hot, hot, just out of the oven bread rolls, in a variety of delicious gourmet flavours (olive and sea salt,  walnut sourdough - you get the picture), ripped apart with your hands then thickly smeared with creamy, melty butter. Sprinkle a few salt crystals on top and you will just about swoon from the pleasure of it.

7. Piping hot, chunky apple pie cooked with lashings of cinnamon and cloves in sweet pastry, served with a giant dollop of too-thick-to-fall-off-your-spoon cream. Team this with a delicious dessert wine and you have one of the best reasons to unbutton your pants at the table.

8. Plain and simple, crepes with lemon and sugar. My most enduring favourite meal of all time.

9. A giant cheese platter including brie, stuffed with rosemary sprigs and baked in it's wooden wheel, strong blue cheese, goats cheese rolled in ash, quince paste, lavosh, crusty white bread, and a selection of pates from Maggie Beer.

10. Fried chicken! When I was in London, just ten minutes walk from my front door, was the best fried chicken shop I have ever come across. Their spicy fried drumsticks were like a party in my mouth (and the accompanying chips were scoffed down in a fashion closely resembling item #2 on my list) and it wasn't unheard of for me to have a meal of fried chicken two or three days in a row! I suspect that it was around this time that my jeans started to fit quite snugly...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Make myself

A while ago I downloaded the Nike Training Club (NTC) app on my iphone, not quite sure that I'd ever use it, but thinking that it had the potential to be handy.

As it turns out, I love it! I tried it for the first time yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at the level of effort I had to put into the half hour toning workout. This morning I've woken up feeling achey in all the right places - man I love being sore after a workout!

The NTC is designed for women, and has four categories of workouts to choose from - Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, and Get Focused. Yesterday I chose the Body Remix workout from the advanced section of Get Toned and holy sheep snorkles, did you think I could keep up with it?! I may have to drop myself back to the intermediate level for tomorrow and stick with that for a wee while until I build up some stamina. Who knew you could hurt so much with just a set of 4kg dumbbells? From the other routines I've flicked through, it seems most can be done at home with just a set of 3-4kg dumbbells and a medicine ball, so I may be scooting off to a sports shop sometime in the near future to get myself the latter. In the meantime, improvisation is key.

Look, you even get little badges you can stick up on your Facebook wall as rewards to show off how many minutes you've worked out!

This little fellow means I've done thirty minutes of training. Woot!

The app is free, and I highly recommend it, so any gals out there looking for a little personal training in the privacy of their own home should definitely go and snap it up! Here's an example of what you might find yourself doing in the near future...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Water water

It's a cold, cloudy, and rainy weekend. Perfect for sitting outside on the patio in the swing-chair, wrapped in a cozy blanket, drinking cups of tea, and watching the rain fall.

Also a good opportunity to play with my camera lenses too, as it turns out.

Now that the weather is decidedly turning wintery, my thoughts are starting to fill with things like hot chocolates with Bailey's and warming soups served with hot, crusty bread fresh out of the oven. Meals cooked in a slow cooker and porridge served with cinnamon and a dollop of cream for breakfast. Damn winter and it's delicious comfort foods!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Today I:

- Excitedly bought the just released Seeker Lover Keeper album on iTunes! Twice. The second time was as a surprise gift for my good friend Yak but unfortunately, despite the time difference between us and Yakmum telling me she was still asleep, she had already woken up and bought it herself! Fail.

- Got a little obsessive with the above album and, after discovering I'd accidentally had the album on shuffle and, after stopping and starting the music a few times, noting that this had resulted in some songs having been played twice whilst others were yet to be played, sat down and sorted the album by the "plays" column and proceeded to ensure that all songs had been treated fairly and equitably. I am pleased to report that now all songs on this lovely album have each been played exactly three times.

- Ran 6km in my Vibram's for the second time ever, and recorded my second best ever time for the distance, according to my Garmin Forerunner 310XT. These two items are inspiring to run with. The Vibram's for the natural running style they promote that causes less jarring up through your body, and the Garmin for being able to get all geeky with my running data once I'm back home! Seriously - I need to know what my heart rate was like at the 24.3 minute mark, and what my elevation and speed were at the same time! And, just getting back to the Vibram's, I just want to say that I am so proud of my calf muscles! When I first ran with these on, I ran 2km on a treadmill and then couldn't walk for three days afterwards due to the pain! Now look at me go :-)

- Came across this article on the top five regrets people have on their death beds, and thought that I know a couple of people who may suffer from these, including myself. I will try to remedy this.

- Saw the below lovely blanket on Etsy in Verity Kizek's shop, the light garden, and wished so much that I could make one myself. But, apart from the fact that I have never crocheted in my life, the cost of buying the yarn for such an endeavor means that I'm really better off just buying one!

- Decided that my dancing shoes have not seen anywhere near enough action since my return to Australia. So, I put them on and did the Jitterbug Stroll and the Shim Sham in my dining room.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Two presents in two days

Over the last two days I have been lucky enough to receive two belated birthday presents in a row! Both from my long list of favourite things on Etsy.

The first to arrive was this beautiful screen print of birds and branches from PoetryAndCloth in New Zealand. I was about to go out to run some errands when I noticed a big red and brown box sitting outside by the front door! The box was promptly ripped open to reveal the lovely parcel wrapped in brown paper and string (these are a few of my favourite things!), and the print was, within the space of a minute, in pride of place above my cream leather lounge.

The very next day I visited the post office to check the mail and lo and behold, there was another box waiting for me! The customs form told me the box, which had travelled all the way from the USA, contained books, so I knew straight away that my three vintage, black, hardcover books from ErieStreet, were nestled safely inside!

These babies are now sitting happily on my coffee table, which sits in front of aforementioned cream lounge, right next to a vintage vase that was hand painted by His Travel Romance's great aunt, a jar containing three of my birthday moustaches, and some candles. Love. If it wasn't already, the lounge is now most definitely one of my most favourite places in the whole house! I may even sit with a nice cup of tea and do some knitting there later today.

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