RIP fine dining

So many Sydney restaurants have been closing lately. It seems that every Tuesday when I open Good Living, there’s news of another closure. And so many places I never got to go to either!

I feel particularly bad for Justin North who now has only Becasse Bakery in Westfield left. Charlie & Co is still open but has been bought out (read, won’t be the same). 

Apparently hawker food is in and fine dining is out.

Here’s the latest lot of casulties.

Friday 5 – a few of my favourite things

I’ve been thinking this week about whether material items make me happy. It seems that sometimes they do. Here’s a few things I’m loving right now.

1) My owlies
Selina gave me the pale, spooky looking green owl for my birthday in April. Then Mel  & Jay bought E & I the dark green, stern looking owl as part of a house warming gift. The two of them look so cute sitting above our fire place. 

2) This lovely print of La Grand Place in Brussels – one of my favourite locations in the world!

3) Nude by Nature, Oil Free Moisturiser.
I only just bought this product on Wednesday but already my skin is clearer, brighter, smoother. I realise I sound like an infomercial but it’s true! I guess there really is something to be said for Mineral based products. Currently looking into their other products!

4) I love this money box. Would it be silly to buy it for myself? I love the whimsy and the Enid Blyton-esque style. And at $5, it’s so cheap, it’s practically free! Yeah, I can justify anything.

5)  All of the illustrations by this artist.

Things I’ve loved about August

I really can’t believe that in just a couple of days it will be Spring! We moved into our house on the first day of Winter and I have to say, if this is as cold as it gets up here, we’ve got nothing to worry about! Winter has been wonderful. August has been particularly wonderful. Here’s a few things I’ve loved this month.

– Family ski trip! I wrote about it here.

– Birthdays!
August is a birthday heavy month for me. In the last 31 days, I’ve been to Sprout Dining for Leigh’s birthday, Kouzina Greco for Kylie’s birthday, made caramel corn cupcakes for Sheela’s birthday & spent last Sunday at a combined 30th, 60th & 65th lunch. Fun times, people, fun times!

– I went to an amazing lunch with Michelle Bridges. You can read all about that on Melly’s blog, here.

-We had a fab dinner at Toko in Surry Hills with Leigh and David. That place is good! Although far too dark to take any decent photos.

But here’s some pics of other foodie things from the past month.

From left to right: 
Top row – (1) Gorgeous display of food stuffs at Sprout Dining in Newcastle, (2) Seafood risoni pasta with home made tomato sauce, also at Sprout, (3) Almond Pithivier’s from Baked Uprising at Newcastle Farmers Markets.

Middle row – (1) Cake display at Silo Bakery in Canberra, which also has a (2) cheese room, (3) mushrooms, polenta & avocado for breakfast at The Red Door Cafe, Leura.

Bottom row – (1) Bubble & Squeak for dinner, made for no other reason than because it has a funny name. Husband said the patties were too perfectly round. Sheesh, hard to please that one ;p (2) Soft shell crab rolls from Umi sushi train in Darling Quarter (the newer part of Darling Harbour). (3) My favourite new snack – dried seaweed that’s a total hit in the office.

And that was my August. So tell me, readers of my blog – what were the best bits of your month?

The olive grove

Ian’s parents grow olives. Lots and lots and lots of olives. They have hundreds of trees in their grove and every second April, we harvest. Some say it’s back breaking work, but I find it cathartic.

Mumzy-inlaw is happy her son married into an olive loving family with Lebanese (ish) heritage. I think I’m lucky to have married into a family that produces hundreds of kilos of my favourite food. It’s win win.

My family have always bought olives in bulk. Now I’m lucky to have them grown in bulk! Year round, I have massive jars of olives on my kitchen bench.

This is my favourite recipe for marinating olives. It’s quite sharp and tangy.

Sweet Paul’s Kick Ass Olives

170 grams mixed olives
85 grams capers, (the large ones)
grated zest from 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2-3 fresh springs of thyme
1/4 cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Let the mixture sit in the fridge 12 hours before serving.

I love the olives themselves but my favourite thing is the oil. It’s fresh, light, tasty and I have an endless supply. We infuse the oil with lots of different things – cracked black pepper,  rosemary, thyme, garlic and chili.

My other favourite thing about visiting my inlaws is their cute herb garden. Bath tubs of herbs! Yeah!

If E and I are ever to separate, I’m keeping his family ;P

A curation of cute

There’s a few arty farty peoples who’ve caught my eye recently.

Cake with Giants is one of them. I love everything about this style of illustration.

I also love this gentleman who appears to be quite clever at making things using colorfully painted wood. I’m in the market for some door mats and I’m thinking very hard about whether I could make some of these work at my place.

This crocheted camera bag would be a sweet gift for instagram die hards. The whole  range in this little etsy shop is adorable!
There’s something kind of Mary Poppins-ish about this. Of course I love it.
Even though I’m utterly hopeless at it, I love anything origami related. From here.

Have you come across any cute items online lately?

Ski trip

We’ve just come back from a ski trip and it was wonderful.

It was a family affair – Mumzy, Dad, Husband, Mumzy-in law, Sister in law, Brother in law, Brother in law’s girlfriend & two riotous nephews.

Pre-trip, I had butterflies in my tummy. How would 10 of us from three very different families live together in the one place for a whole week? Would I remember how to ski? Would any of us injure ourselves?

I’m not a worry wart per se, but every now and then I do tend to over think things and get my knickers well and truly knotted. But as with most things in life it all ended up being absolutely fine.

The weather was perfect and that made for amazing skiing. The snow itself was heavenly! It was fresh and fluffy and when I lay down to make snow angels, it felt like I was lying in a pile of clouds.

When I was younger, my parents owned a flat in Jindabyne so I was lucky enough to go on skiing holidays at least once (if not twice!) every single year. This is only the second time I’ve skied as a adult though and last time it was a bit of a disaster. But this time round, I loved it. Not to brag (ok I’m bragging) but I was the only one of us who didn’t have a single fall!

Husband boarded alongside me almost the whole time too. I wasn’t expecting that, he’s far faster and much more daring than me so I thought he’d stick to black runs. But no, he hung  with me on the green and blues. He’s a keeper that one. We had lovely little hot chocolates dates on top of the mountain each day. There’s something dizzyingly romantic about sitting in the snow, sipping a hot drink, snuggled up with your honey. I felt happy to my core.

The absolute highlight? Hands down, it was seeing how my nephew Drew took to skiing. He had a couple of lessons but then skied for the rest of the time with us. He skied with such unbridled joy that it made my heart smile big! I always knew when he was skiing up behind me because I’d hear him screeching ‘WHOO HOO, WHOO HOO’ over and over, as he made his way down the mountains. There’s something quite revitalizing for your soul, seeing and hearing pure happiness like that.

Can’t wait to go back next year.

 Photo credit.

Things I’ve loved about July

So lets get the pesky stuff out of the way first. Tonsillitis. Yep, I got it this July. My Dad laughed at me when I told him. “Tonsillitis is for babies,” he said. Babies or not, I got it. It sucked. And for the rest of the month I’ve had a cough. Coughity, cough, cough, cough.


July has still been damn good. Highlights:

Visits from friends
We had Kel, Josh & Coops come to check out our new place. And then a trio of Williams came to stay. Two of our favourite families in the one month?  Whoo to the hoo!!

Other catch ups
– Sheela came for dinner a couple of times and on both occasions we had some good, solid, robust laughter :)
– She also dropped over a big pot of lentil soup when I was ill. Bless her cotton socks, it made me feel infinitely, infinitely better. Another time she delivered some of her home made tiramisu just because she’d made too much of it. My stomach has nothing but kind words to say about that girl.
– Dinner with the A team. While Husband spent a night back in Pyrmont watching footy with Jay, I went North Side for quality time with Andrew & Alissa. We had pizza at 3 addictions in Neutral Bay. The food was sublime and the waiter looked like Adrian Grenier. It is indeed a place to revisit. 

The theatre
Husband and I saw an Australian Chamber Orchestra performance that was quite possibly the highlight of my month. It was a beautiful string quartet playing Chubert’s Trout and then Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. It was utterly, utterly magical. I feel inspired to play the violin again. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I also went with my good friend Rosetta to see Death of a Salesman at Belvoir. It.Was.Amazing. The acting was BRILLIANT! In fact, it was so intense and so moving that I realised a couple of times that I was actually holding my breath. That’s the sign of a good performance isn’t it? When the audience faints from lack of oxygen. The play is certainly something to see.

The yums

– My usual Cold Rock formula is rum & raisin with gummy bears and cookie dough mooshed through. This month I tried out chocolate icecream with a smashed up chocolate brownie. It was the most chocolatley chocolate thing that ever was.

– Alissa made hummingbird cake, Andrew made me a pretty coffee. I think I’ll have to insist on dropping by their place more often.

– Strawberry shortcake macaron from Via Del Corso Pasticceria e Caffé. An insanely good use of $3!

I also loved this box of goodies from Iku. There was a rice ball, millet ball, tofu pocket, tofu fritter, rice paper roll, musubi, nori roll, polenta slice & cous cous slice. Delicious.

What were the best bits of your July?