Monday, September 24, 2012

monday, but no meal planning

We're flying to Melbourne today for a whole blissful week, so no meal planning from me. I'll be feasting in gorgeous Melbourne places catching up with family and friends. Can. Not. Wait. I'm keen to check out the Melbourne food scene - and do a wee bit of shopping.

Oh, and that meal above? Last night's dinner of duck confit, potatoes roasted in duck fat and salad. Sublime. Washed down with {too much} champagne. I know, I have a hard life...

Enjoy your week. I'll try to blog a bit from my phone where possible. Or check me out on Instagram - there will be plenty of shots this week.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A hidden gem

I'm a fan of fine food done well. As you may have noticed. So I've always had a soft spot for Quint Cafe in Newcastle's Essential Ingredient. But now I think it's a secret worth sharing. It's recently undergone a make-over and is looking v stylish and inviting.

And the menu? Sublime.

See that prettiness above? It's turkish eggs. Oh my. Eggs baked to perfection - whites perfectly set, yolks perfectly runny. Topped with just enough crispy green shallots, red chilli and toasted dukkah. And the Binnorie marinated feta? Oh my; so salty, creamy and delicious. Served with a side of delicious olive oil drizzled bread it's quite possibly the perfect breakfast.

But something made it more sublime. This. Deliciously crisp pieces of speck. Bacon turned up to 11 in the perfection stakes. Oh. My.

Here's the menu, well a sneaky peek at it. The perfect combination of lovingly sourced foods. The eggs are from Ox Hill Farm. You should see their YouTube video - cuteness incorporated. Free Range Eggs done the way they should be with moveable vans for the chickens and the most gorgeous green pastures to roam in: protected by alpacas and these gorgeous mountain dogs. You can taste the freedom and the sunshine in these eggs.

There are perfect little vignettes like this featuring in the cafe - making shining stars of the ingredients chosen with such care by the enthusiastic staff. It's very Instagrammable.

Quint: I like your style. And your service, seriously, hold onto those staff. They make a great coffee and are the ideal combination of friendly and unobtrusive.

Oh, and ps: the lunch menu also looks D.I.V.I.N.E. and if you're after morning or afternoon tea, they make a damned fine cup of coffee and have what I do believe is one of the best collections of fabulous sweet things in Newy.

Quick, get thee to Darby Street and check it out. It's down the back of the amazing store - leave some time to browse, you won't be leaving empty-handed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

silence is golden

Have you seen Hugo? Do you remember this Georges Melies' film? Well, then I'm sure you will share my excitement. I was on Twitter today when I saw a tweet from Newcastle Museum revealing that they'll be screening this restored classic this Sunday.

Hand-coloured fabulousness. Bring it.

Here are all the details of the Silent Film Festival. How much fabulousness is there in this world?

Monday, September 17, 2012

oui, oui, OUI

So, on Sunday we're wandering around Morpeth and spot THIS! Yes, a new French restaurant with a French chef and staff is opening. Sadly it is in the old Restaurant Deux building, but apparently Le Petit Deux will be opening for dinners in the new, smaller venue.

An abundance of Frenchness in Newy.


meal planning monday

Hey, how you doin'? I'm tired, but soooooooo relaxed after the weekend. It was hectic, but with a lot of fabulous - and ended with a lovely long bikeride and then a quick dip in the pool! Here's what we're eating this week:

Monday: wee little chicken pot pies like the one in the pic. Love these. Served with mash and lots of steamed broccoli and carrots.

Tuesday: it's my burlesque class tonight, so we'll have spaghetti bolognaise for when I get home, and for when my gal gets home from ballet.

Wednesday: nothing much on tonight. I think we might have lamb steaks with roasted vegies and wilted baby spinach.

Thursday: I think I'm going to go to burlesque classes twice this week. So I'll have chicken kebabs and salad for dinner tonight. That's easy to whip up.

Friday: salmon on the bbq and salad. Also a lemon risoni salad.

Saturday: we'll be getting a lot done in the garden this weekend, so a simple bbq will be great. It'll be nice to have a butterflied chicken on the bbq. Yum.

Sunday: roast beef, roasted veg salad and something green.

That's it. You?

Friday, September 14, 2012

flowers for friday

Wow, Friday hey? How's your week been? Mine's been rather lovely actually. And tonight's going to be even better. We're off to a ball with friends, that's got to be fun. And - guess what? For the first time ever I'm going to a hairdresser to get a do! True! My frock's rather 50s style so I've asked for a messy, beehive-ish style. A little Amy Winehouse - but curly... Let's see shall we. I'll try to Instagram it - but I'm crap with selfies - I'll see if hubby can shoot me. We're sure to dance and laugh the night away. Can't wait. Then, on Saturday, we're off to a friends house with a few other groups of friends for a bbq. We're checking out their new home which will be fun. I think they're a bit in love with it - love sticky-beaking in new home!

But to get you through today I'll leave you with this fabulous image found on Pinterest. Isn't it divine? I want an effect like this outside our loungeroom window looking onto the side yard. It's the last place left to do {aside from replacing our front fence which is on the verge of falling apart}. Bliss. Utter bliss.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

burlesque baby

Just over a month ago a friend of mine on Facebook updated her status, mentioning she'd just been to a burlesque fitness class. I, of course, squealed, then responded "Where? I wanna go!" So I went along and swiftly fell in love. What a fabulously fun workout. For a start, the music's awesome, and the hour just flies by. I've moved parts of my body that haven't moved in yonks - and I feel so much better already. My back doesn't feel stiff, I'm moving more smoothly and I am having FUN.

Pretty sure I'll start looking like Dita soon...

Monday, September 10, 2012

meal planning monday

Hmmm, I have a feeling I may have used this image before, but it's so pretty we can live with it again can't we? It's from - site of many of my home-drooling missions. I had a fabulously busy weekend. Mother's night out on Friday night where I met the gorgeous Lou who reads my blog. She's set to travel and shall be blogging all about it - I'll let you know the address so we can all dream of our next trip OS. Saturday was a baby-welcoming party for two of my dearest friends who now have the most beautiful baby in their family after a long 10-year-wait. He's divine, they're besotted and it was lovely to share the day with family and friends who were ever-so-thrilled for them. Then, yesterday, it was two netball presentations in a row. I'm on the committee so helped with the setting up and hung around while everything ran beautifully. Tired now... But here's what we're eating:

Monday: Steak and salad tonight. Looks like it's going to be a warm day, so that'll be nice.

Tuesday: I'm making my husband and daughter's fave mince and macaroni dish. I made it last week, but I swear my husband would eat it every day. It's an easy re-heater too - so perfect for me with my burlesque fitness class. I'll serve it with a side salad.

Wednesday: Tonight we'll have home-made pizzas. I tend to flop in the middle of the week and can't be bothered cooking and we'll order takeaway thai. Instead, I'm trying to plan and have the ingredients for an easy meal on hand. Like this!

Thursday: I have some saltbush lamb tenderloins I need to cook up. I'll crust them in a fresh herb (flat leaf parsley and mint) and macadamia crust and then slice them and serve them with a salad with persian feta, ruby grapefuit and lots of bitter leaves.

Friday: We're off to a ball. I know, fancy. We've been going ever since kinder with the same core group of friends. Dancing will be involved. And hysterical laughter.

Saturday: I'll do some garlic and lemongrass prawns on the bbq tonight. With a salad.

Sunday: Roast chicken with a simple stuffing - and a warm roast veg and lentil salad.

And that's it. Let me know what you're cooking. I need more ideas...

Friday, September 07, 2012

flowers for friday

Happy friday everyone! I have just had the most inspiring morning. I went to the first of the Renew Newcastle Creative Talks when the incredibly charismatic artist Lucas Grogan spoke. Wow. He was an inspiration. The passion that drives him was evident and it's no wonder that he's charmed his way to success. His unique art speaks for itself, but you'd have to be a hard case not to be won over when he speaks. He spoke of how he just creates and creates, and has a huge box of discarded art. He says that creativity is like a muscle that needs to be worked - you don't wait for inspiration to strike - you work until something magical happens.

Loved it.

Loved him.

Then I went and voted in my local election. It was a tough one. I've been doing a lot of research, not just into the candidates for Lord Mayor, but for council too. There are currently a few sitting on council that I would really like to see the back of - so I was thrilled to mark them as last in the preferences. The first choice was the toughest. I want to see someone who has the passion and experience to do something with this town. Luckily The Newcastle Herald has videos of all the candidates speaking - which helped seal my one, two and three votes.  Go here to see it if you're a local.

I also collected ALL the how-to-vote cards as I like to see where everyone directs their preference - if I'm unsure, then I check this out.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. I think the Mayoral vote will be close. I just hope that the make-up of the council can work together for the community so we can continue to be as awesome a town as we have the potential to be.

I'm off to a school mum's dinner tonight where I'll get to meet a reader of this blog (Hey Lou, I'll wear a red rose over my ear and cover three quarters of my face so you recognise me...) Should be fun. Then, tomorrow I'm down to Sydney for a friends party for a much-loved and much-longed-for baby. Can't wait. Sunday it's back home and then off to the netball presentations. Phew. I'll need another weekend to recover I think...

Have a fabulous weekend.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

yes please

Every now and again you just need some words to lift you up and let you soar. There's no point in just existing is there? It's all about living. Sure, it might be exhausting, and expensive, and busy - but hey, it's worth it.

Why not? You only live one - live it well.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

hats off to newy

I was following the Good Food Guide awards on Twitter the other night and was thrilled to see that Newcastle now has FOUR restaurants with a well-deserved one Hat. The beautiful Bacchus has retained its hat, as has the sublime Restaurant Deux. Newbies coming into the fold are Restaurant Mason (next on my list to try) and the ever-so-awesome Subo.

Yay us.

I'm thrilled at these results, but not surprised. What Newcastle has in its food scene is passion. See that ridiculously pretty pic up there? That's from a Newcastle café. Yes, I'll let that sink in. Café. Not a hatted restaurant, but just a little something on the lunchtime menu. Ridiculously, crazy beautiful. It's an orange and berry verrine, with meringue, and a hazelnut praline. The orange came in the form of light mouthfuls of pannacotta, the berries in the perfect coulis. The toffee surrounding the nuts was deliciously thick, crispy and the perfect shade of caramel. It was so perfectly composed and utterly delicious. I think it's my new favourite dessert.

Unsurprisingly it came from the kitchen of Le Petit Deux, the french breakfast and lunch café set up by Lesley Taylor of Restaurant Deux. I love how she's translated fine dining aspects into the perfect french café menu. Merci Lesley.

I am just so proud of how this town's developing. Of the new cultures that are rising and embracing this town and what it has to offer. I see a promising future - and it's pretty darned sweet.

Monday, September 03, 2012

meal planning monday

image from

Hey, Spring! Yay - thank goodness you're here! While I do love Winter, I am somewhat over it now and looking forward to longer days, warmer weather and a change of menu. We're busy this week, (I know - surprise!) here's what we're eating this week.

Monday: I wanted to do crispy-skinned salmon on the BBQ as my daughter loves salmon and I am guilty of never cooking it often enough. But the salmon yesterday at the store looked a bit pale. So, instead, I'll make salmon patties. I’ll serve it with a lemony potato salad and a baby spinach and blood orange salad.

Tuesday: I’ve switched the day of my burlesque fitness class so a friend can come with me. So whatever meal is planned for tonight has to be served up by hubby and daughter. Tonight my daughter has a school dance, and a friend over to get ready together. I'm going to whip up this delish mince and macaroni casserole from my Leggo's cookbook. It's so simple, and terribly tasty.

Wednesday: My daughter’s ballet has switched from Thursday to Wednesday so I now need a speedy Wednesday meal. I think we’ll have caramelised pork tonight. I'm also off to catch up with friends to check out some new offerings at the always-fab Greg & Audrey's Garage. I'm sure it'll inspire me for summer.

Thursday: I was chatting with a friend the other day about retro-meals and she mentioned curried sausages. Boy, did that get me hankering. She said she fried off the sausages first so the skin was nice and brown. I might just have to cook this up.

Friday: I’m going out to a school mum’s night tonight – no cooking for me, just sitting at a table being served two courses with friends. Yes please. Hubby and daughter can make homemade burgers.

Saturday: I'm down in Sydney tonight for a friend's baby party - yayness! All three of us gals from uni days are catching up, so I'm guessing that after the party we'll head out somewhere for some food. Don't worry, I'm not leaving hubby and child purely to fend for themselves - they're off to my in-laws for the night so my hubby can ride from Maitland to Dungog and back on Sunday morning. I know - craziness.

Sunday: I need to start a spring tradition to take over from roast. But I still want to roast… guess I can do lamb shoulder on the bbq and serve it warm with a salad. Can’t I? Yep, that sounds perfect, particularly as we have the netball presentation in the afternoon. I'll leave the bbq roasting slowly while we're out and we'll come home to cooked-to-perfection meat and a pre-prepared salad (I'm thinking a lentil salad and a baby spinach, feta and pinenut salad will work well). Don't worry, I won't leave the bbq unnattended, hubby'll be here working on the garden while we're at netball presso.

And that'll do us. Tell me what you're having.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

sweet sunday

It's an utterly glorious day out there today - not that we've seen it yet, been too busy cooking up crispy bacon, yummy eggs and making bowls of coffee. Yep, it's been a relaxing father's day in this neck of the woods. I'll meander off to the Farmer's Market soon. Husband's requested tart tartin for father's day dinner tonight.. Best buy some yummy apples! And some meat for the main too!

Hope you have a lovely sunday x

Friday, August 31, 2012

flowers for friday

Hello Friday, my, you are looking pretty today... So, can you believe that it's the last day of August AND the last day of winter? Hurrah! I am so looking forward to spring. Longer days mean before-dinner bikerides. And warmer days mean SWIMMING! Yes please.

So, how's your weekend panning out? Ours is busy. On Saturday we're going down to watch the grand final of the netball season. Our team didn't make it, but we're off to cheer on the friends who did. Saturday night I'm catching up with some uni friends and we'll dance the night away to a band we used to dance to back in the day. But rather than dancing upstairs at Tatts, we'll be at the Lass. Same old. It won't be a late night though as it's father's day on Sunday. Hubby has requested breakfast in bed and a home cooked meal. Bless. There will be pressies too.

Have a lovely one - and enjoy your Friday. I think it's going to be a very good day indeed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

spoiled rotten

I live less than five minutes walk from this: the largest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere. And, arguably, one of the prettiest. My breath never ceases to be taken whenever I stand at the headland looking down over Merewether, across the gorgeous new SurfHouse, down past Dixon to Bar Beach. It's stunning. It's one of the reasons why we moved back to Newcastle 11 years ago.

When we moved to Sydney I thought we'd never come back here. But in the few short years we lived in Newtown and then Bronte Newcastle started experiencing an incredible renaissance. Darby Street swelled from a couple of restaurants and a cafe to the fabulous eating strip that it is now - and that confidence has now spread across the town. People are doing great things - which is inspiring others to try as well.

We are spoiled for choice. When I want to catch up with a friend for coffee we can easily rattle off a list of 10 cafés to meet at. Easily. And we've left off loads. Sure, we have our faves {often ones without the annoying parking metres out the front that double the cost of your latte} - but there are still many on my must-try list.

And fine dining? Woah. Where do I start? I think what makes Newcastle's dining scene so exceptional is the genuine delight the chefs have in their food and in their town. I follow a few chefs on Twitter and love checking out their pics where they're foraging for Samphire off the Newcastle coastline to feature in that night's dishes. Tim Montgomery from Bacchus {which would have to win some kind of prize for the country's most stunning restaurant, with an inspired menu to match} showed pics the other day of the community garden they're working on near the cathedral - talk about herbs with a view! And every time there's a glowing article about Newcastle {and there are MANY - the secret is out} the chefs and cafés are the first to sing each other's praises.

We do cool things in Newy too. Like this:

This is the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery cocktail night for The Archibalds. Local restaurant Silo, on the grittily-pretty Honeysuckle harbour, supplied the cocktails and fingerfood for the night. While local artists and a subject discussed their work. Brilliant. Unique. Novel. I can't wait to see what they come up with when they expand.

Here's a pic from one of my fave nights recently. The Roost Creative {a Renew Newcastle project} came up with a brilliant idea to host an exhibition at Good Brother café - featuring local business Sid Cohen's rubber stamps. It was called Good Rubber and a range of fab artists redesigned their art for a new medium. Rubber stamps. So. Much. Talent. The night went off. Over 200 people RSVPd on facebook saying they were coming and the people spilling out onto the sidewalk pretty much backed up those numbers. The joy in the room was palpable.

At the end of the night most of us trekked down to The Terrace Bar, the newest small bar to open in Newcastle. It was like stepping into a very cool party. There was a DJ spinning vintage vinyl, with tunes from the 50s, and loads of sharp-dressed guys and gals dancing up a storm: complete with authentic moves. Can you imagine? Joyful.

I love new ideas, new concepts, new things to do. Last Saturday night was the first Darby Street Bohemia Festival - so we went along. We saw a lot of cool things. Like this:

Look at the love and care put into the stall at Blackbird Corner. Vintage tablecloths, gorgeous bunting, fabulous smiling faces. It's people like these that make this town a true pleasure to live in.

And it continues. Work is currently taking place in the old ANZ Bank building in Newcastle, turning it into a small bar. Excitement doesn't quite cover how I feel. And it won't be the last. While we continue to enthusiastically support these new initiatives, more will be born. How GOOD is that?

Here's the latest article, complete with food recommendations by chefs. Great, now I have to add MORE places to try...

Love this city. Do you? Share your tales here. Go on - hit me with MORE places I need to try.

Monday, August 27, 2012

meal planning monday

Can you smell spring? I can. Whether it’s the longer days, or the jasmine that’s just starting to pop or something else completely undefined – warmer weather’s on its way. So here’s a trans-seasonal meal plan, especially for this weather.


One of my friends on Twitter mentioned chicken pie the other day, and it got me hankering. So I’m going to make chicken pot pies tonight. With mash, peas and corn.


It’s my daughter’s long ballet class tonight, so I should make her a meal she loves to come home to. She’s a HUGE Shepherd’s Pie (pictured above) fan so I’ll make that and serve it with broccoli, carrots and some roasted pumpkin and sweet potato.


I haven’t made homemade pizza for a few weeks. So let’s have those shall we? With salad.


I have exercise class till 7pm so hubby and daughter can whip up some chicken and avocado burritos for dinner. With a corn salsa and a large salad.


I have a niggling feeling that I have something on this night, but nothing’s on my calendar. Let’s hope a reminder pops up. But, until it does, I’ll plan a simple meal anyway: my version of Nigella’s Spaghetti Carbonara.


Surely it’ll be bbq weather by now. I need a bbq. Pork ribs, a simple rice salad and lots of greens in a salad sound about right to me.


I’m almost over Sunday roasts – so let’s give it a final grand hurrah shall we? With a standing rib roast with all the trimmings. Complete with roasted carrots, parsnips and beetroot too. Yum.
So that’s our week, how about you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

happy weekend

Hey, how NICE is it that it's the weekend? Super-nice I reckon. We've had a great morning. Woke up, went down and watched the netball finals (where the team that knocked us out last week had a surprise one point victory over the team who were expected to win - yay!) and then it was the netball team's end-of-season lunch at Grill'd. The girls hung out and ate burgers while a few mums and I had lunch at the café next door (prawn and ginger fritters - hello! - Lotus at The Junction does good lunch).

We're soon heading out to the Darby Street Bohemia Festival and then it's off to my in-laws who just came back home from two months in the UK (lucky ducks!). Then, tomorrow it's lunch for our niece's 18th birthday. Phew, busy.

Enjoy your day, and your weekend. I hope some of it involves time spend relaxing (preferably in a lovely swinging chair like this one - how NICE would that be?)

Friday, August 24, 2012

flowers for friday

I am feeling poorly today. Poorly. So I do believe that a nosegay of violets of lily of the valley and violets will cheer me up. Don't you think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

crazy cute

In September these are coming to Modcloth.

Shortly thereafter they will be on my finger.

If my husband won't allow me to have a French Bulldog, the very least I deserve is a French Bulldog ring. Woof.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

a little vitamin d

I have been making a conscious effort to actually drag myself away from my desk and computer and get out into the sunshine for 15 minute stretches. So, each morning and afternoon I find myself here - sitting on a chair, with dappled sunlight dancing on the veranda.

It's not bad really.

ps: see that cyclamen? It's MONTHS old and still alive and flowering. I think it thrives on benign neglect. Watered when it droops, kept outside... loves it.

pps: see that bike? Must take myself on a ride on that tomorrow morning don't you think?

ppps: today I saw the first few purple buds on our wisteria. I may have squealed with joy. Spring, I'll be sooooo happy to see you.