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

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

If I could only do one more thing

I finally got around to writing a blog post, and it took over a week, but then this happened. So I'll post that mortifyingly shallow one tomorrow, because we're supposed to be going about our daily lives like nothing has changed, but today I need to wade into the probably copious coverage already surrounding this horrific drama.

This morning I woke up to the news that the siege was over, leaving three dead. And it was sad, horribly sad, that two innocent people died for nothing as they went about usual business. 

But what keeps running through my mind has been centred around this crazed hostage taker who sounds like a pretty damn unsavoury character. And I just keep thinking - how did he get to be this guy? Where were his parents when he was growing into this person he became? Where were his people? The people that you surround yourself with who turn to you after one of your rants and say to your face, "you're a freaking nut job, and that is plain stupid"? The ones who keep you grounded and make sure you value not only yours, but the lives of others?

I hope that if I can achieve only one more thing in this precious, too short life, that it is to bring Wolfie up to be a person who loves life. Who respects others. Who understands the importance of making it count, and how lucky he is to be brought into a world full of people who love him, who will support him, and who will be there for him. Even if it sometimes means we have to tell him he's a nut job. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Chotto Matte, Soho (and a very big move)

Like a HUGE move, back across to the other side of the world. I had all these intentions of doing a final blog post, plus a wrap up of all my years in London, but when it got down to it I was still cleaning the fridge out and emptying the bathroom cabinets while our taxi to the airport was waiting outside. 

So here we are, in not quite as sunny as expected Australia, trying to sort out our lives while my parents unite against me, the enemy who makes their precious grandson follow a semblance of a routine. Despite the stresses, I'm thankfully reminded by the little things that we have made the right decision - my dad lying on the play mat talking to Wolfie, my mum making him laugh so hard his belly shakes, taking him to the beach for the first time, seeing my old friends wrap him up in their hugs and kisses. 

Anyway. My final London food post. I went to a bunch of great places before we left and ran out of time to blog about any of them. I'm sneaking Chotto Matte in because it's exactly the kind of place I love - buzzing Soho location, smashing cocktails, sharing plates of fresh, zesty food, and tonnes of Japanese flavours. 

Everything we tried was delicious, but special mentions go to the tuna sashimi tostaditas, miso black cod, and the brûlée de la passion. 

Plus there was FIRE. The drama of the flame and all that smokey flavoured goodness in your mouth…oh yeah. Not to mention the place itself - anime graffiti on the walls, pumping music, dark spaces, basically a nightclub serving damn good food.

Who would have thought peruvian and japanese could go so well together? 

Chotto Matte on Urbanspoon