Saturday, 28 December 2013


I don't mind a bit of reflection. You learn twice as much from your mistakes as long as you acknowledge them. 2013 has been a bugger of a year for me. I have worked too much and too hard for too little reward. I have not spent enough time following my dreams (heck I haven't been sleeping enough to even get into the dreaming) or even just having fun. The problem is that I say the same thing about 2012, and 2011 for that matter. It seems that I am not learning from my mistakes. I recently had a minor health scare (fortunately it was just a scare) but whilst I was in the Waiting To Find Out phase I said to the Bookworm "I haven't done anything I want to do yet". In retrospect, that is the scariest part of all. We can be taken from this world at any time by any number of causes and were that to happen to me soon, mine would have been a life half-lived. Sickening to think about. So here's to 2014 and seeking victory.

Here is a little recap of my 2013:

Friday, 20 December 2013

These are a few of my fa-vour-ite things {in my pantry}

I had a very important wine exam, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) level 3 (Advanced), last week, which I have been madly studying for in any spare time. It was tough and big. I used every second of the 1 hour 45 minute exam time. I was well prepared but the fail rates are high so keep those fingers crossed. My sadness was that there were not many questions on France and a lot on Spain. The universe telling me to put my French and Italian wine passion to the side and drink more Spanish wine perhaps?

Just in case, I made sure I ordered Spanish wine at the Wine Shop With No Wine Christmas Party. Here's a selfie.
I caught up a fair bit of ground (in Spanish wine) by the looks of it.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Super Semifreddo {Recipe}

Ice cream is one of my favourite foods, along with hot chips, crisps, burgers and pizza (my Disney princess name is Carberella). 

I love ice cream, from the cheapish 2 litre supermarket variety (topped with either milo, or honey and cinnamon- chai style:) to the $7 a cup artisan gelato. Homemade ice cream is a fantastic, very affordable treat but it can be quite time consuming (making the custard then chilling it, churning, freezing) and I have one of those old-school ice cream makers that you have to remember to freeze the day before. 

Enter semifreddo. 

Creamy and delicious and can be made in less than half an hour (plus about 6-8 hours freeze time).

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Drugs are not safe... but they can save your life.

I recently participated in a little vaccination debate on Facebook, triggered by some negative press about Gardisil, the 'cervical cancer' vaccine (this is worth reading if you are concerned). It quickly became a discussion about immunisation in general. One of my highly educated and very respected friends highlighted the difficulties he faced when trying to make an informed decision about what was best for his child. It seems that it is such a sensitive issue that people on both sides of the debate can quickly become overly emotional and unable to provide clear, unbiased information. I weighed in and just found myself repeating 'risk vs benefit'. For me this is what all decisions basically boil down to. I feel like this concept is not considered often enough in the prescribing and taking of drugs.

We don't call them drugs though, we call them medicines. Only the scary illegal ones are drugs right? It's all sugar-coating- a medicine is a drug, a lot of the natural things we take are technically drugs. The definition of a drug is: a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body (Oxford Dictionary). So food is a drug too. I'm going to confine my rant to legal pharmaceutical drugs here though.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Wine Review {November 2013}

I am setting myself a little monthly challenge- to review 3 interesting wines every month. I borrowed this idea from a couple of excellent blogs, most notably  La Donna del Vino

I have been thinking a lot about improving my existence lately and a job working with interesting wine and people (not that the people I 'work' with now aren't interesting, I just rarely get to see them) is feeling like the right direction. There is a bit of upskilling to do so this is a first step to thinking more objectively about wines.

2010 Condie "The Gwen" Shiraz
Heathcote, Victoria
RRP $35                 
 I had a short break in Bendigo last year with the primary focus of trying some of the wines of Heathcote. I was working in a wine bar at the time and had a customer who would not drink anything other than a Heathcote red because of the incomparable smoothness and richness. Whilst I don't agree with his exclusion policy there is certainly something special about Heathcote reds.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

American and Russian and Pale-o my! {Third Wave Cafe Prahran review}

Melbourne is saturated with cafes, we all know this, and standing out amongst a zillion (yes, that is the official figure) other options is the only way to keep going in our caffeine-enriched city.  So when the team behind 'Third Wave Cafe' in Port Melbourne opened a second venue tucked away behind Chapel Street (in a side street off Commerical Road) in Prahran, they had their work cut out. Chapel Street is a tourist mecca, it is hard work to coerce people away from the main drag with its plethora of offers.

The solution? Call in the bloggers. Greg, the co-owner has been inviting the 'talk about their food' types to try his new joint and I was happy to be included. It seems there is such a thing as a free lunch. It is a bold move (it could be suicidal having a bunch of snap-happy foodies documenting a new business' teething problems) and it speaks of somebody confident enough to stand behind their product from the beginning. Of course these guys have a  tried and tested formula at the successful and well-reviewed Port Melbourne venue and from our experience Prahran will follow suit.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Dear Universe....

Facing a 10.5 hour shift in The Wine Shop With No Wine (and remarkably there is even less wine than usual) I came to the conclusion that I really need a new job.
Yeah I know, hardly a newsflash.
I decided to write a job wishlist- put it out to the universe...

Dear Universe,
As a response to the miserable crap numerous challenges you have provided me with in the last 5 years or so I thought it might be time to reward me by giving me a kick-ass new job. To make this easier for you I have prepared a list of requests:

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Spinach and Cheese pastries {Recipe}

For Melbourne Cup day the staff from The Wine Shop With No Wine got together for a BBQ. In Australia when the invitation says 'please bring a plate' we translate that to mean please bring 2 or 3 plates or at least enough food for 4 people. When 10 people gather and each do that, yep, you've got the maths right- there will be enough food for at least 40. Not to be conquered, one does one's best to eat a bit of everything.

The next day my stomach muscles were hurting- my brain immediately jumped to “woohoo girl, you did some serious sit-ups yesterday” then I remembered I did none. My muscles were hurting from being stretched by a food baby (not to mention wine). Too much information?

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Macaron heaven {A la folie patisserie Review}

I walk past A la folie on my way to work. It is a terrible tease as they time setting up the window with gorgeous sweets for the exact moment I speed by, trying not to be late for work.
When I got an early mark one day, my first thought was to pick up some deliciousness to take home for dessert.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Tipping, not just a footy term

Constantly seeking some kind of victory (life satisfaction/job satisfaction/healthy body image/saving the world/saving the animals or even just a really good breakfast) has resulted in me trying a number of jobs. One of the tougher areas I have worked and I imagine will do again is hospitality.

When you are working in hospitality you can tell the people who have also worked in hospitality. They are the ones who say thank you, who make eye contact when you are speaking to them, who don't talk about things like you can't hear them. Or maybe these people haven't worked in hospitality, maybe they just have respect for other human beings.

Another sure sign of a hospo veteran is that they tip.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Rutherglen Wine Tour

If you are going to stay in a wine region you really must sample the wine. We ended up in Rutherglen because I was looking for a very dog-friendly B&B (see here). The other lovely thing that Must Love Dogs B&B offer, is that for a small extra fee Charlie will take you on an afternoon wine tour.
Rutherglen is an old gold rush town as well as being one of Australia's oldest wine regions. It is particularly known for it's fortified wines- as we were informed from our first venture into the town.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Tasty tasty Taste {Taste Restaurant at Rutherglen}

In Rutherglen for the weekend and where to go for a special dinner? There are a few options in this little foodie orientated town but there was something about 'Taste' that caught my eye when I was researching a month ago. Open during the day for breakfast and lunch, it is a bright functional space that transitions from casual brunch to fine-dining dinner.

They do an $80 five-course degustation ($50 for matching wines) so our decision was easy. The wine list is largely local so it is a nice opportunity to try some Rutherglen wines at the same time.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Must Love Dogs (or else:)

I don't have many holidays. Because most of the work I do is casual, holidays mean reduced or no income. Then when I do take holidays it is usually a whirlwind of catching up with friends and family in Brisbane. I tend to always take a little break around September/October because I am feeling stir-crazy and need fortification to survive pre-Christmas retail. The thought of leaving Ted so soon (he has only been with us for 6 months) was a bit daunting so I started researching dog friendly accommodation and found:

Must Love Dogs Bed and Breakfast in Rutherglen.

The things I look for in holiday accommodation are:
Cosy set-up
Near restaurants (preferably walking distance)
Near winerys

This place ticked all the boxes.

I was a bit anxious about taking a dog on holiday- what if he got out and ran away or got hit by a car or got distressed? The reviews on Trip Advisor were overwhelmingly positive so I figured this would be the best place for a first try. It has set the bar remarkably high.

Ted looks like he is having a good time, he isn't, he doesn't like the car much although he did get used to it better than he does on short trips.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Ted's Outdoor Renos

"Do you need some excavation work done? How about pruning? What about remodeling your deck or outdoor furniture? Call Ted's Outdoor Renos for your complete service."

Ted seems to have hit his challenging 'teenage years' and in the last 2 months has shredded an olive tree (we had had since before he arrived), dug up and shredded a new decorative plant the Bookworm was very proud of, derooted a lemon tree and remodeled his kennel for Summer (open-plan living is all the rage). This is in addition to his usual consumption of hard-core chew toys- the type that are supposed to last him months and are lucky to make it through 3 weeks.

The decorative plant was Ted's first casualty, other than eating the herb garden which we kinda understood (who doesn't like fresh basil?), he hadn't really caused any major damage to our property before. Sure, he had eaten the edges of the hessian mat in his trampoline bed (I figured he just preferred to sleep on the floor) and many a chew-toy had met a premature end (30 minutes was all it took with a supposedly super-tough extra durable alien toy). Back to the plant, it was a Cordyline, a Cabernet Cordyline, a pretty dark red grassy looking thing. The Bookworm had selected it for my love of wine and the fact that his parents had them planted and their previous dogs had been fine with them.

The Cordyline had been with us for maybe 4 days when Ted had a day home alone. Despite 2 slow-release treat balls, a frozen meat-stuffed Kong (for heavy chewers) and the usual detritus of chewed towels and bits of sticks (games from another day), he ripped up the plant and (I imagine) shredded it with glee, tossing the bits into the air and then rolling in his kill. I received a call at work at about 4pm with the news. A quick google search revealed Cordylines to be toxic to dogs, causing gastric irritation, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mister (VERY) Nice Guy's

I have a new man in my life. He is sweet, vegan, cares for animals, donates to animal welfare organisations, supports fair-trade where possible and is delicious. Wait, you know I'm talking about cupcakes right?

Mister Nice Guy's cupcakes have been hovering around my periphery for a long time- there is a stall at the Prahran Market (where I work sometimes) and they are sold in a bunch of cafes around Melbourne. There is a full listing on their super cute and very informative website (don't you just hate a website without much info? This one has pictures, descriptions, back story, the lot). But I had not tried them until recently for two (good?) reasons: cupcakes are rarely as good as they look (plus "vegan cupcakes? cupcakes need eggs and butter right?") and so far I had been able to talk myself out of the calories.

On World Animal Day (see here) they participated in the Edgar's Mission Vegan bakesale which is terribly worthy, so to support Edgar's Mission I tried a cupcake- Tiramisu. A-MA-ZING. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the willpower) their store is pretty close by.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

These are a few of my fa-vour-ite things {October 2013}

"The Sound of Music" was one of my favourite films as a child. I wanted to grow up to be Liesel. Sadly, my hair is red and I didn't reach her height, and I can't sing so well. But I have always loved the song "My Favourite Things", well, all the songs really, but a serious of blog posts about a lonely goatherd (unless I actually knew one and wanted to find a home for some goats) seems less entertaining. I got the idea of a little life summary post from one of my favourite blogs, the very elegant Time After Tea
So, here are a few of my favourite things at the moment:

Afternoon Walks with Ted
I generally enjoy Ted-time but having to squeeze in a walk before or after work, sometimes in the dark, is less exciting. Now that daylight saving has started, we can go for long walks in the afternoon with the last of the lovely warm sunshine.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

World Animal Day

October 4 is World Animal Day, started in 1931 as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. Over time it has evolved into a day that celebrates all animals and in a wonderful turn of events, this year it was celebrated in Melbourne in the middle of the CBD at Federation Square, which allowed for a whole lot more attendance and exposure than ever before. Pigs in Fed Square- oh yeah!

Edgar's Mission is the amazing not for profit rescue group behind Melbourne's World Animal Day celebration. These guys are remarkable in that they provide sanctuary for farm animals. You see, 'food' or 'production' animals lie outside of the animal protection legislation (and you already know my feelings on the state of our animal protection legislation), so these critters are basically doomed unless they somehow stumble upon Edgar's Mission. EM rehabilitate everything they can get their hands on from battery farm chickens to stray pigs. Spend some time checking out their webpage

As part of the celebrations, local rescue and animal welfare groups were invited to set up a stall to help raise awareness about the issues facing them and what people can do to help. I tagged along with the Magic Paws team and got to wear this fabulous t-shirt.
Yep, I just put a close-up of my boobies on the internet- Hi Mum.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Baking from Blogs on a Budget {Part 2}

From American sliders to Scottish/Irish sliders a.k.a. ice cream sandwiches. If this makes no sense you need to read Part 1

The Bookworm, coming from Scottish stock was rather offended at my use of the term when serving up the first course but he quickly settled down when he saw what was coming.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches!

This recipe comes from my absolute favourite cooking blog A splash of Vanilla , however in the interests of sticking to a budget I had to modify it slightly. Emma made these when she was road-testing a gourmet vanilla salt which sounds amazing but hard-to-find and expensive. I used a Himalayan pink salt, which is not cheap either but more versatile for the investment. I also added dark choc chips because salted caramel and chocolate is unbeatable. I did a couple of things a little differently (because I always do) which I will describe here but she is the Queen so you should probably just click on the link to her page:)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Baking from Blogs on a Budget {Part 1} and Sparkling Rosé

I have been feeling a bit down lately. I work too much and seem to fill my spare time with housework, doing things for other people (which is awesome but not relaxing), wasting time on Facebook and attempting to study for a wine exam I meant to sit 12 months ago. Plus I have had an insane number of bills (Ted broke a glass door to name one) so I am having to live very frugally too, which I hate. I needed a day off that was relaxing but also achieving something so I decided to not plan too much for once and do a spot of baking.

I love reading The Londoner, a fashion, food and lifestyle blog from an impossibly perfect girl with a unbelievably perfect life. It doesn't necessarily make me feel better about my chaotic, overworked, largely unsatisfying (at the moment) life but it is kind of like reading a fairytale and I was always a huge fan of fairytales. And when I swing on back from that tangent, the point of all that was- she cooks up some great stuff. I tried making her Carb-free Carnitas but couldn't get chipotle paste locally and had to do a bit of supplementing. The result was great though, and making pulled pork at home is so cheap (about $10 for around a kg of meat) that I had to give it another go, a higher carb version. Introducing:

Pulled Pork Potato Sliders with Apple Fennel Coleslaw

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Operation: Secret Squirrel

I don't think my Dad will ever forgive me for moving away. Most times when I speak to him on the phone he reminds me that I am not around for family events or even just random Sunday barbeques. I was feeling a bit homesick a few months ago so I hatched a plan with Mum to fly to Brisbane as a surprise combined Fathers Day/Birthday present for my Dad and so began Operation: Secret Squirrel.

Astoundingly she managed to keep it a secret, only trusting my brother and sister-in-law (SIL) with the plan after they had booked in their pup to be speyed on Dad's birthday. That was rearranged and everything went according to plan. The surprise was low-key, a couple of days before his birthday Mum picked me up from the airport and I walked in while he was watching TV. Dad was pretty chilled (which is good because the last thing I wanted to do was surprise him into a second heart attack) but had a huge smile on his face.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Old fashioned cake (with new fashioned icing)

You may have gathered by now that my preferred recipes have less than 10 ingredients. As soon as I see a huge list of things I have to shop for and weigh and measure, my interest wanes. It helps that my favourite foods are simple dishes with clean flavours..... although I'm not sure how that applies to what I am about to write about. Cake.

I had planned to visit a friend that has been having a tough time lately and, well, cake is known for it's restorative properties:) I also love the idea of cupcakes but am usually disappointed with them when I buy them. Plus it is artistically satisfying to make cute little cakes, so here is a super easy and quick cupcake recipe. I should add it is not MY recipe, it is handwritten on a slip of paper in my recipe folder from who knows when or who and is for a cake, not necessarily cupcakes.

You will need:
 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup milk
125g butter, melted, cooled
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Fast Food Fave!!

Whilst this isn't a restaurant review blog sometimes I am just going to post stuff about some of my favourite places that you really should try if you are nearby. Tonight it is my go-to fast food New York Minute

Right on a main road and with a very simple cafe fit-out you could be easily forgiven for passing them by. We first tried this place after walking past it on our way to a wine bar and then deciding we should fill our bellies on the way back. Whilst clean and comfortable it isn't super-cosy so we usually get take-away now (unless we are walking past, it isn't somewhere you would necessarily "go out to dinner" to).

Whilst the decor is simple the food is AMAZING and very affordable. Tonight the Bookworm had a New York Mac- this is one of those meals where he tried it once and now can't think about having anything else, it is THAT good (I had it once too I admit and it defeated me, but was very tasty).  I had a beef burger and we shared a large chips.
New York Mac $10

The New York Mac is like a Big Mac on roids, super saucey with their own special sauce

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Ricotta Gnocchi and Delatite Riesling

This is one of The Bookworm's favourite meals. The recipe is Donna Hay's from one of her very early magazines (I have forgotten which one but remember the recipe) and I am sure she has reimagined it since. It is super-easy to make and a  high(er) protein low(er) carb alternative to the stodgy potato type (which I also love).

You will need:
500g fresh ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper
1 cup plain flour plus extra for dusting your board

Monday, 2 September 2013

The Puffin Tales

Last Sunday morning I was on my way to the gym when I saw a little dog by the side of a very busy road. She was minding her own business so I stopped and watched, expecting that someone would call out to her or appear to be walking her off-leash. No such person appeared. I bent down close to her and put out my hand, she ducked back but then decided I wasn't too terrifying and came over for a pat and a belly-rub. Just then some people walked past to cross the road and she ran to them, expecting more pats, and onto the road. I dropped and called her to me, they heard and turned back and fortunately the little dog followed them. After ascertaining they did not know her and after a few more minutes of me crouching by the road holding her I decided an owner wasn't going to turn up and she was coming home with me. It is amazing how heavy a 3kg dog can be after you have carried her for 10 minutes.

She was wearing a collar but no tags. The first step was to see if she was microchipped. I rang my closest vet who I knew opened Sundays. They said they could scan her but would have to keep her and turn her in to the council. I explained that I was concerned for her welfare at the Lost Dogs Home (fairly high euthanasia rates) and was prepared to look after her until her owner could be found but no, that was their policy. I then called the emergency vet a little further away. They could scan her and even though they are supposed to call the council they understood my concerns and would let me care for her, so along we went. I spent the entire walk there (with the dog on a leash now) asking people if they recognised her and scanning the faces of drivers to see if they were possibly looking for a lost dog.

She did not have a microchip, was not desexed and appeared to be only about 6-7 months old. Bad news. I had been in touch with Mme Magic Paws (background info here) to check I was doing the right thing and now had to ask for more help. While I was waiting for the Bookworm to come and pick us up I named the dog Puffin- a feminised version of Puff the Magic dragon because she looked like a baby dragon :)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Ugly Soup and fine wine

I love having people for dinner and usually like to spend the day in the kitchen cooking up something a bit different. Sometimes life has other plans.  On Sunday morning I rescued a young dog from running onto the road and spent the day looking for her family (I will write about this in detail another time). Which meant that I was racing home from the supermarket 20 minutes before my friends were due to arrive. The night called for soup. Ugly soup.

So it is actually a cauliflower and pistachio soup

What you need:
An onion (brown or red- I use whatever I have), chopped finely
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
A cauliflower, chopped up roughly
85g pistachios (a small bag from the supermarket)
A splash of olive oil
4 cups of vegetable stock (you may need a little more or a little less)

Friday, 30 August 2013

Diet days

Despite the advances in medical science, I think healthy eating is becoming more difficult than ever. Yes, there are all the unhealthy treats but even foods labelled as healthy rarely are when you read the ingredients. It is also difficult to lose or maintain weight when we are all so busy all the time. Fitting in exercise and (in my case) watching portion sizes when you are tired and hungry and LOVE food is a big challenge.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Dukan or Dukan't

I am not really a fan of diets. I believe in just eating well and exercising regularly. Unfortunately life gets in the way and sometimes the regular exercise falls away leading to a couple of extra kilos that requires a bit more effort. This time last year I went on a calorie control diet to lose a few kilos gained after injuring my back. It worked and I lost 3-4 kilos but had to stop because I always become obsessed with the numbers. I had quite severe anorexia as a teenager. I started on calorie control and eventually cut down to about 500 calories per day. I can recognise those tendencies coming back when I am watching numbers too much.

The Bookworm has been threatening to do the keto diet for a while. He wants to lose a couple of kilos and get match fit for a course he is doing in a few months time. He likes the idea of high protein for muscle growth and I think has mental images of eating plates piled high with cheese and bacon keto-style. I have my concerns about the long-term effect of these high fat diets so I haven't been too encouraging.

I read a column recently about the Dukan Diet. It seems to allow extreme weight loss (not that we need that) but the things I like about it are:
1. High protein
2. Low fat
3. Only a short period at the beginning with any significant vegetable restrictions and then some flexibility after that
4. No counting calories
5. Has a plan for long term achievable results.

So we tried it. On Monday we started a 5-day protein only Attack Phase, I later revised it down to 3 days after entering my data on this is how it went:

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

The life of a pet shop puppy:

You wake in the morning at 5:30am like all good puppies and pull yourself out from under your sister who has fallen asleep on top of you. You climb over your other siblings and the 2 cavoodles they have chucked in your box and do a quick circuit of the perimeter, this takes you about 30 seconds and having decided there is nowhere new to go you do your morning business next to the water bowl that is empty after one of the cavoodles knocked it last night. You are really hungry but the staff won't arrive for another hour or two so you flop unceremoniously back on top of your sister and go back to sleep.

The lights come on. Hooray!!! You scramble to get a pat from the pet shop lady as she opens the magic door and reaches in to scoop out the dirty shredded paper that is your floor and bedding and make sure you are ready to pounce on that food as soon as it arrives. This is the best part of the day! After breakfast you have a bit of a roll about with you brother and the 2 cavoodles and then settle down for a nap. It is hard to sleep under the fluorescent lighting but you are pretty used to that now....zzzzzzzz


Shit, what is that?You wake abruptly and jump up ready to fight. There is a giggling noise and you realise that the noise was just a human tapping on your box. You go over to see if they will give you a pat but the magic door doesn't open and the human just waves at you while you trace their finger movement with your nose.

The rest of the day carries on much like this. You get a quick pat when the magic door opens and one of the cavoodles is taken away but other than that the highlight is when you get dinner just before the lights go out.

Fairly crappy existence right?

Friday, 16 August 2013

Vegan (raw) creamy zucchini 'pasta'

I don't like a food phase to go by without giving it a go and am quite interested in the raw vegan trend at the moment so here is my almost raw recipe (with raw options).

You will need:
1 cup of cashews, soaked in water for about 6-8 hours
1/2-1 cup of non-dairy milk of your choice (or if you aren't vegan then you can use regular milk)
1-2 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
chopped herbs- I used thyme and parsley because that is what I had in the fridge
2-3 zucchinis depending on size and how much 'pasta' you want.

Serves 3 as a stand-alone dish

Thursday, 15 August 2013

My guide to wine tasting

I spend my days pouring wine for people to taste in the wine store with no wine and I have learned a lot. Mostly about what not to do when tasting wine. So I thought I would share my knowledge because I am certain that I have been guilty of many faux pas over the years.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

What Gatsby?

I watched "The Great Gatsby" and I loved it.

I went by myself towards the end of the run at Palace Cinemas in a tiny little theatre. I didn't intentionally leave it this late, I just always seem to fill my days off with other things. I was expecting it to be an average movie but aesthetically and aurally beautiful. I still remember the experience of seeing Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo and Juliet'. Those stunning moments of intimate camera angles, soaring music and beautiful people that just stick in your head. Despite having been in 3 productions, playing Juliet for 7 months in one of them, when I think of R&J the first picture in my mind is of Claire Danes dressed as an angel, peeking through the fish tank at Leo. This was why I had to see Gatsby.  I hadn't read many reviews, I tried not to, but the overall impression I got was that it was not a good film, a bit over the top and not true to the book.

That probably helped. You see, 'The Great Gatsby' is the book that high school ruined for me.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Caramelised fennel salad (and beef ragu lasagne)

It is too cold for cold salads at the moment so I am exploring the warm ones.

I found a recipe for a potato and beef ragu lasagne and wanted a salad that would go well with so I went searching for inspiration.

I love fennel so I got some but the tender little baby fennels weren't available so I bought a giant big one and decided to caramelise it a little to make it a bit more tender (and warm:) and went from there.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Casual Philanthropy

 I did a good thing.

About a month ago Oscar's Law and The Paw Project were able to provide enough evidence to the South Australian RSPCA to warrant a raid on an Adelaide Hills puppy farm. Over one hundred dogs and cats were rescued, including pregnant animals and a callout was placed on the Oscar's Law Facebook page for donations of blankets, food, medical supplies etc to assist the foster carers of these animals. Most of the drop-off points were in the outer suburbs and being inner city and wanting to help (and having seen other requests for inner suburbs drop-off points) I offered the shop I work in as a location.

The store was listed as a drop-off location on Thursday about midday, by early Friday afternoon we had this:

Monday, 29 July 2013

Waiting time

Today I did some grocery shopping.

Significant? No.

Illuminating? Yes, somewhat oddly.

It was a Sunday, there were queues, big queues. Their busiest day of the week, constant all day according to the checkout operator. And people were queuing patiently, even considerately. I had a very friendly conversation with a gent about which line he was in (it was unclear, I think deliberately, but he was gentlemanly enough to make a choice between the lines when I queried). Why am I disturbed?


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Muesli Bars

When I was little my mum used to make homemade muesli bars. 'Little lunch' time would arrive at school and everybody else would be pulling out their Uncle Tobys muesli bar with the fancy packaging and the chocolate drizzle and I would have a homemade number wrapped in foil because my mum thought the bought ones were full of sugar and not healthy. Fast-forward 20 years and I agree.

Recently I got the recipe from her and made it up and gosh they were delicious. No doubt they were a lot healthier and less processed than the commercial ones but they were still had a bit of processed sugar and delicious butter. So here is a homemade muesli bar for the 21st century encompassing our society's hatred for refined sugar and dairy (not my hatred I hasten to point out but I do try to not eat too much refined food).

Monday, 22 July 2013

Yarra Valley Wine Tour

The Bookworm's mum came for a visit this week and so it was necessary (and a terrible hardship) to show her the Yarra Valley, Victoria's most famous wine region.

The problem with cellar door tastings is that someone usually has to drive which significantly reduces their ability to fully appreciate the cellar doors. Of course one can spit the wine out but that would be like a work day so it was the Australian Wine Tour Co. to the rescue. This was the third time I have been on their Yarra Valley tour and it is always brilliant and very very good value. For $110 (or winter special of $99) you get picked up from Melbourne city, driven to 4 wineries for tastings, lunch is included as is a glass of sparkling with cheese to finish- more on that later.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Rosé Champagne

After reading Jay McInerney's "The Juice", a collection of wine essays he wrote for the Wall Street journal, I had to try a Rosé Champagne. 

I need to clarify a few things here; when I talk about Champagne I am talking about sparkling wine made in Champagne, France, under the rules of the appellation. Calling anything else Champagne is ignorant and something we are really very guilty of doing in Australia. Call it bubbles, call it Australian sparkling, I don't care, Yellowglen Yellow is not Champagne. If you've never had a glass of Champagne, do. Do it now.


So, I am starting a blog.

Nothing unusual really as there are very large numbers of people with a blog, or who start one at least. Also, I am excellent at starting things. I am also not too bad at finishing things but I am relatively hopeless at any kind of long-term continuing-on with things. Still, one must start.

I decided to do this because I am not the sort of person who coasts along in life. I don't really coast along in anything. Definitely not a coaster. I am potentially entering a period of reduced work hours,  stress and increased time for non-work pursuits and I know that unless I give myself things to do that are at least slightly artistic I will spend my time doing random jobs and errands, over-organising the minute details of my life and checking Facebook.