Monday, 8 February 2016

Chinese New Year and a dose of nostalgia

Happy Chinese New Year! It's officially the year of the monkey, which really should mean fun and fooling around - which luckily I do plenty of every day with the Wolf. 

But for some reason today I was hit, out of the blue, with a healthy dose of homesickness...for London. I had a vision of a little bakery in St Pancras station and I was suddenly transported back there so vividly, I could feel the air and hear the sounds as if it was just that morning I had been walking by (briskly, of course). 

It's strange how you can be happy and thankful but still miss a different life. 

One of the upsides of being back in Oz though is being able to celebrate with the family - and see Wolfie enjoy the celebrations. Even if he does rudely rip open his red packets and pull the money out while telling mummy to buy more grapes.

Next year he might not be quite so quick to hand his fortunes over.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

90 years and 4 generations

People always tell you that you'll never have time to yourself when you become a parent, but truth be told now we have Wolfie, I actually have a lot more time. 

Pre-Wolfie, I was rarely home before 10pm (aaah, the life of a DINK in London). Post-Wolfie, I'm often on the couch by 8:30pm after the whirlwind of the dinner, bath time, bedtime routine - I'm just too exhausted to do anything useful in my me time. 

Heaven knows how my grandma coped with 5 kids.

A couple of months ago we jetted over to Malaysia to celebrate my grandma's 90th and introduce her to Wolfie.

And despite Wolfie being so sick he didn't eat for three days on our arrival (now THAT was a time when I had no time to myself), we still managed to get some serious shopping and eating under our (ever expanding) belts.

I loved looking over and seeing her staring at Wolfie as he pottered about the place with a huge smile on her face. Great grandkid #7, and still so much joy.

Surrounded by her 5 kids and their spouses, 5 out of 7 grandkids and their spouses, and 4 out of 8 great grandkids visiting from 4 different countries, it was a pretty damn good show. Four generations of food lovers, all in one place.

Now if only great grandkid #1 would just irresponsibly throw his uni studies to the side and conceive a baby we might have a 5th generation in play for her 91st...

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Devonshire, Surry Hills (and why going out is a bad idea)

It's true what they say about having kids changing your life, but I gotta tell you, it's not Wolfie that's holding me back from going out. It's feeling old as feck because well meaning young'uns keep saying stuff like:

"You're so cool. When I'm your age, I want to be still going out and having fun like you."

"You're how old? No way! No waaaaaaaaay!"

"Oh wow, I would never have picked you as that old. Hey, do you think my mate and I should go somewhere with a bit of a younger crowd?"

"Yeah I just had to get away from there, all my friends were having kids and not going out anymore."


And take me to an establishment where I can focus on the good stuff i.e. the food.

the devonshire: surry hills

The CG and I headed to The Devonshire for a little adult time, where we could count our grey hairs in peace.

the devonshire: lightly cured king salmon, alaskan crab, fresh & freeze dried mandarin, golden raisin, roquette

the devonshire: grass fed beef tartare and glazed short rib, jerusalem artichoke, puffed buckwheat, heirloom radish and parsley

The starters were the highlight - a riot of textures and flavours, my beef tartare and melt in the mouth short rib was way better than the flattery of having my ID checked, let me tell you.

It's kind of weird going out for dinner by ourselves these days - enjoyable because we can eat at a normal pace, and not worry about Wolfie trying to climb out of his chair and onto the table as soon as he's shovelled his last mouthful in, but strange because we still spend a good chunk of the night talking about him. Obsessed first time parents. That probably should have been a hashtag. If it wasn't so long.

the devonshire: seared cone bay barramundi, pearl barley, cauliflower and parmesan risotto, cavalo nero, red wine & anchovy dressing

the devonshire: slow cooked pork loin & sage brined belly, braised brussels sprouts, pumpkin, apple, crackle and cider jus

the devonshire: slow cooked pork loin & sage brined belly, braised brussels sprouts, pumpkin, apple, crackle and cider jus

On another note - when did it get trendy to just list the ingredients in the dish instead of describe the dish your diners can expect?

Our mains were also full of textures and flavours, but the real highlight was the service. Really attentive, without being overbearing, educational without being condescending.

the devonshire: rhubarb & apple compote, champagne jelly, vanilla cream, coconut biscuit crumble and coconut sorbet

Dessert was a bizarrely cereal-esque affair, I think by the third course I could have done with something a little less interesting - but that's obviously just another sign of me getting old.

I'm not that old. Honestly, it's just the unflattering lighting.

The Devonshire Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Fiji dreaming

We bought a house!

Or, should I say, WE FINALLY BOUGHT A FREAKING HOUSE!! Never has getting into debt felt so good (although "good" is probably an overstatement, more like a feeling of relief that we don't have to continue the drudgery of viewing ten houses a week, 9.87 of which we couldn't afford). I should probably note that our house does not have a pool like the above.

I actually freaked out a bit when we picked up the keys. I haven't had a place bigger than a two bedroom apartment for the last 14 years so it was all a bit daunting, all that…space.

After freezing our butts off for a week without any furniture, we hightailed it to Fiji on the epitome of family holidays - 8 couples and 7 kids. Bit of a change from my backpacking adventures of old, but I loved it.

I loved seeing all the little faces every morning (and the kids were pretty cute too), drinking cocktails poolside, and being able to enjoy an adult three course meal knowing Wolfie was tucked up in bed with a smiling nanny keeping an eye and ear out for him.

I foresee a future of Fijian resorts with kids clubs...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Depression (aka house hunting in Sydney)

Every time I think about buying a house, my head hurts. I know I shouldn't make light of depression, but honestly, there has to be such a thing as causal depression, because house hunting is definitely the cause of mine. 66 houses I've seen to date. All of them selling for a cool $250k - $550k above what they are valued at because this shit market is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. 

Meanwhile, when I'm not looking for houses, going to view houses, negotiating all the general admin required to potentially purchase a house, and then failing to secure a house, we've been trying to maintain some semblance of normality celebrating birthdays and baby milestones (first steps!) while crying over the final end to our eleven months of summer. Winter is coming (and we have no cable TV or high speed internet to see us through - bad times).

But anyway. Birthdays! The CG, Wolfie and I, with Easter thrown in for good measure, have now exhausted all our family celebrations for the year. Wolfie was definitely the biggest winner, scoring more books and toys than he knows what to do with, and getting to try chocolate, cake, jelly and ice cream over the course of a fortnight. As for the CG and I…our first year of "no presents because we're saving to buy a house" better actually include a house at some stage. Sooner, rather than later, we hope!

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Hunter Valley (aka wine tasting with a baby)

And just like that, I'm back at work. Part time, job share, which is basically the working mums dream arrangement. So far so good, only one morning with tears (his, not mine, though it was a close call).

What with all our baby growing and raising, moving countries, double summers, relatives visiting and all that jazz, I've been experiencing somewhat of a travel drought. This has definitely been my longest period in adulthood of not traipsing overseas, so I was a liiiiiitle bit over excited to be visiting the Hunter Valley. Even if we had intended on taking a romantic trip but ended up taking Wolfie along with us. Oh well. Nothing like being responsible parents and having a baby along for the ride while you go wine tasting.

We kicked off our long weekend with lunch at Esca Bimbadgen, where we enjoyed views over the vines and matching wines with our meal. I definitely recommend the dessert plate - 'peanut butter and jelly', 'tropical pavlova' and 'peach and almond' with a glass of Bimbadgen Estate 2007 Botrytis Semillon. SO GOOD. Of course we bought a bottle at the cellar door post meal. It would have been rude not to.

Full and jolly, we checked into our home for the long weekend, Chateau Élan. Gone are the days of us bunking into a hostel - a one bedroom apartment we could spread out our carload of baby related "stuff" out in was in order. Plus we needed a pool and spa bath. You know how it is.

We spent a blissful couple of days visiting wineries, eating cheese, splashing in the pool, and roaming around Australia's biggest lights display at Hunter Valley Gardens (1.5 million lights in case you were wondering how big the biggest is). Our favourite winery we visited was Audrey Wilkinson - great service, fantastic views, and top notch wine for our novice palates.

All too soon it was time to head home, but not before squeezing in one last meal at The Deck Cafe. This unassuming little place basically blew my mind with the quality of its food. The mezze plate had so many standout flavours I didn't know which to save for my final mouthful (which always has to be the best thing on the plate, obviously). The CG's pork belly spring rolls were so good, I'm almost tempted to invest in a deep fryer.

Time to start planning our next getaway.

Esca Bimbadgen on Urbanspoon

Friday, 26 December 2014

Burger, ramen, brunch, repeat

It's so hot in Oz. Not that I'm complaining, because I'd rather be wearing shorts than a winter coat any day, but when the temperature heads over 40C, I just haven't got the capacity to deal after my years in London. Although I have to be honest - I started this post over three weeks ago and the weather has significantly cooled. Also, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Things are starting to normalise…if you consider living with your parents "normal" when you're in your mid-30's, married and a parent yourself. The CG has a job, we have a car, I'm back to hating traffic and wishing public transport was better, and starting to refrain from exclaiming in dismay every time I go to the supermarket at how expensive everything is. Plus I can eat by the sea and see stuff like this whenever I want, which is pretty cool.

I still haven't managed to quite get the hang of juggling baby and photographing food while eating, and I'm pretty sure I never will - but take it from me that burgers and ramen are a nightmare to eat with a kid in tow, and dumplings are awesome. Either way it hasn't stopped me from going on what seems to be a food loop of burgers, noodles, and brunch. The live in babysitters have been pretty handy for a few "meals with both hands" occasions - but then I've been so excited to eat I still forgot the photos. Celebrating birthdays with my bro & dad for the first time in years has been an added bonus (Bathers Pavilion is still top notch).

So in a nutshell: go to Phoenix for dim sum (big tasty dumplings, piping hot and delicious), Via Napoli for hectic Italian atmosphere and pizza by the metre, Ryo's Noodles for ramen (but don't take a baby if you want to eat while everyone else does), Palmer & Co for drinks (loved this prohibition style bar), Mr Wong's for smashing crispy eggplant (aubergine to you Brits), Kurtosh for cake by weight, New Shanghai for seriously good dumplings (try the pan fried xiao long bao), Grill'd for the best zucchini (courgette!) and sweet potato chips, and Four Ate Five for good food and casual vibes. As for The Grounds of Alexandria - say whaaaaat? Why didn't this place exist when I lived a street over? I have to go back. Many times.

The awesome Ev won tickets to the launch of Neil Perry's Burger Project. Chips were brilliant, as were a pork crackling and kimchee pickled veg inclusion on a pork belly burger.

Crispy hot wings: sichuan pepper and salt
Thrice cooked house chips with chipotle chilli
Neil Perry's Burger Project

Yep, life is getting back to normal.

Burger Project on Urbanspoon