I bought this beautiful mimosa and mandarin soy fragrant candle today. It got me thinking about the little things that make my home special; fragrance, food, wine friends and music. I know I gain a renewed sense of wellbeing when I throw open the windows and let fresh air in. Clean laundered crisp, cotton white sheets blown through with the wind and sunshine. Fresh from the oven baking, cooling on the bench until its time for friendship & afternoon tea. Slow, slow cooking on the stove with the assuring smell of comfort that dinner is under control. Light, open the curtains, I am blessed my little kitchen is positioned to soak up the last of the days rays. Views, if you aren’t ready to invest in art – buy flowers. Vitality in a jug, what a visual feast and pleasure they are, the star of the show in even the dullest of space. And if you missed the florist, cheat like me and spray some lavender water or diluted essential oils around. It instantly erases yesterday and create a clean and fresh smelling room. Music, sing, dance, tv -no way, no ads, no radio, yes to jazz, world music, nostalgic old school music – I love this. I love creating an atmosphere of relaxation and pleasure. Good food, call up some friends, what its Monday? excellent. Have a dinner party, don’t save anything for a special occasion, open that special bottle of wine today, celebrate, what’s the occasion?. Its Monday, Monday is the occasion, Dress up! dress for life. Put on some bright lipstick, a sequins dress and heels. The silver, the crystal, the fine china (who has fine china these days?). Open all the windows, air the house, light a candle, arrange some flowers, prepare something delicious to eat, open the wine, invite some friends, dress up – be special. Turn the tv off, play the guitar/ukulele/piano/bongo drum. Ok you don’t know how, invite someone who does? I am sure my friend Jill will come and play the ukulele for you. Breathe in the good fragrance of home…a holiday…exotic destination?. No. home is wonderful. Play, eat, drink, dance, sing until you fall into those fresh sheets. Home is very satisfying.
Category Archives: travel
Fresh shellfish, salmon and fish from my local fish market is such a lovely treat.
I have been cooking from a new cookbook la cigale, which is a collection of French classic recipes from owner Elizabeth Lind who pioneered the French market and bistro in Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand. The recipe for a French style seafood cream bound chowder caught my eye. It is French style with the mussels initially cooked in apple cider. This forms the basis for the stock which you add to the celery, shallot, carrot roux. My four hungry Man guests were silent as they started the meal. I accept this as a nod of approval when there is silence. Tonight I have the seven hour lamb leg due to be ready any minute, again from the same book. I have been re-enthused for some decadent French cooking. Pork terrine is next on my wish list.
I have just returned from a relaxing weekend visit to Akaroa, New Zealand. Akaroa is a picturesque seaside, historic French/British settlement; set in an ancient volcanic area 75km from Christchurch, New Zealand. I was so looking forward to staying at Fleur cottage on Rue Jolie, it did not disappoint. This historic 1870’s two storey cottage has been romantically restored. The owner Valerie has a wonderfully creative eye and the overall sensitive renovation has managed to retain a nonchalance which is in keeping with the relaxed spirit of Akaroa. The cottage is very chic, very frenchy!; for two days I was able to dream I was really in Provence. I love garden design and interiors magazines and this was like stepping inside one.
The garden was lush, green and a bit bohemian, a canopy of six trees covered the outdoor table for intimate outdoor dining. Apparently the owners of Fleur cottage had hung bags of bricks on the branches as they grew to weigh the branches down so they grew outwards. The garden had a magical sense, it could easily be a set for A Midsummers night dream.
I adore the old worlde sage green that Fleurs kitchen is painted. I loved looking in the cupboards and discovering treasures; a groovy vintage Kenwood stand mixer and eclectic china. This is one of those little kitchens that is soooo inviting; Tiny & cosy with a real big Baltic pine turned leg dining table. We hung out round the table, drinking and eating, writing and reading, talking and laughing. The chairs were painted a delicious sorbet lemon colour. This overall interior effect was good enough to eat.
Once we ate
(seafood pie bound in white wine cream sauce) and drunk too much <em >(Syrah and Chardonay) we retired to the lounge and sunk into one of the comfortable, french linen, shabby chic couches, dimmed the lights and enjoyed the wonderful home that is Fleurs cottage.
Ces’t la vie !
To view or book see link
Qt Hotel, Surfers paradise nondescript facade makes what is inside all the more exciting. I was pleasantly surprised stepping into the vibrant entrance lobby, an exciting welcome to the Gold Coasts newest hotel culture. I was so inspired by the beautiful interiors and quirky pop fun style evident.
I soaked up the peaceful mid afternoon atmosphere at FIXX cafe adjacent to the lobby. A shiny Red velvet cupcake adorned in icing was so good my daughter gobbled it all and I had to order a second one to go with my coffee.
Tourism is apparently down in Queensland so it was extra quiet and we enjoyed the cafe all to ourselves.
The QT hotel also has an incredible restaurant concept in dining upstairs at BAZAAR. I had a look around during the early afternoon chef prep session. The interior reflects a cool seaside feeling with washed oak tables, greens, glass and warm timber. I found it utterly captivating and beautiful. I would love to know who was engaged for the interior design. If I ever owned a restaurant this would be my dream.
I love the mix of materials. I am a major fan of bookshelves which make it feel very homely yet sophisticated.
If I was not in tow of a three-year old I would have been heading down in my LBD & heels after dark to sip a cocktail at STINGRAY BAR, also at QT Hotel.
If you were still hungry you could dine at Yamagen japanese restaurant and I would imagine you may need to laze it away after that at the Lawn bar.
I spotted some guests sunning Hollywood-esque style next to the pool which was as gorgeous. I am already planning my next trip back to the Gold Coast and will be booking straight in at http://www.qtgoldcoast.com.au/
I have been writing this post in my mind the whole plane trip back from Queensland, Australia to Christchurch, NZ. My family and I spent ten days in Noosa and Gold Coast. I was excited to check out the food scene; cafes, restaurants, farmers markets and even the supermarkets. You know you are a food geek when you have the local food suppliers on your list of places to visit. I was envisaging amazing fresh off the boat seafood and sub tropical fruits and vegetables.
These were some of my food low + highlights from my trip.
- Noosa Farmers Market – I was excited by the subtropical fruit; dragonfruit looks spiky yet tastes half watermelon half kiwifruit. Free range chickens; I bought a big fat one and took it back to our apartment to roast it with fresh lemons and butter. It was so very juicy and made lovely moist chicken rolls the next day. The food producers and growers were all super friendly and happy. The quality of the green organic produce was high. The feeling I got was people are super health conscious and there was an incredible baker meeting that market. I bought an Organic double chocolate Beetroot cake for Lucia’s 3rd birthday and it was moist, delicious yet not overly sweet. This baker also made non cooked tarts, he let me taste a chilled lime & chocolate tart which was unlike anything I have seen or eaten before. Freshly squeezed sugar cane juice looked popular also.
- Dairy Food – The cost of butter in Australia blew me away, it seemed miles cheaper than New Zealand. I managed to buy a small 200 gram pack for $1.50 AUS. There is so much great yoghurt and talk about a lot of choice in style. I also wanted to buy all of the marinated feta’s and goats cheeses. There is only so much cheese one can eat in ten days.
- Bread & Baking- No plain stodge bread here when there is so much Turkish, panini, soft oh so soft rolls, wraps, fruit breads, toast bread and croissants. That list is hardly exhaustive. I ate a lot of fresh artisan bread. I rated the bread highly and the daily muffins in the cafes are light and fresh.
- Dining out – Truthfully I was a bit disappointed with the Al carte dining menus in Hastings Street, Noosa. All the restaurants seemed to repeat the same formula. For example the breakfast menus are all the same down to the pancakes served with butter, maple syrup and candied pecan nuts. It was lovely but predictable. The dinner menus were similar in the all served slow cooked lamb shoulder. The prices are high and in future I would only pick one of three restaurants to eat at in Noosa. Two are right on the beach. The third is the authentic italian however it is hugely priced for what I consider should be peasant food. There is a great affordable Grind cafe in Noosaville which did a yum Turkish chicken and tarragon mayonnaise spinach and radish sandwich for approx $16.00 AUS, they also had a Asian slaw with calamari.
- Meat – We decided to stay in and cook an eye fillet steak we purchased unfortunately from the supermarket. It was so gross it tasted of uncooked liver. It was just strange tasting and unpleasant. I am not sure what had been done to the meat. This put me off buying any red meat while I was there. I went to bed hungry.
- Thai takeaway – I am not usually a take away kind of gal. I did relent and we had a fabulous affordable Thai takeaway. it was full of fresh herbs and was expertly cooked. The Thai takeaway was down in the Noosa Junction end of Noosa.
- Coffee – All of the coffee I had were superb. Queensland baristas have the art of the espresso down pat.
Being away from home always makes you enjoy a home cooked meal all the more. It is great to be back in Christchurch and I appreciated my Mt Pleasant Farmers market all the more this morning.
We have recently got back from a few days lazing at our bach named after the Isle of Beaut, Scotland (my husband ancestors hail from there). It is inland 170km from Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand, well basically let me tell you it is in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by high mountain ranges (winter ski field is ten minutes up the road), a river, sheep, Llamas, cattle, willow and native trees, it is a restoring backwater.
With no power and bathing choices being; tank water, an outside fire bath or a bucket of river water it is perfect for exploring my off grid side. Admittingly I don’t rough it entirely as well as I like to imagine, usually I am hankering for makeup, a fresh blow dry and high heels after three or four days. It all makes up for it to see LB running barefoot with honey bees and enjoying nature, eating popcorn and hanging out with her friend from Nelson Luca.
Food however makes the whole experience much more pleasurable. Reading, cooking, eating, drinking, sleeping…..then repeat is generally the daily rhythm of the Beaut Patch breaks. We are lucky to have a tiny gas fridge and a gas cooker.
I try to plan meals that are simple enough to make in my Bach kitchen but never plain.
Our first night I cooked a spicy beef and red kidney bean chilli con carne and filled a soft burritos.
Beaut patch Burritos
- 4 Tablespoons Olive oil
- Small Green pepper chopped
- One onion chopped
- 1 garlic clove chopped
- 250 grams beef mince
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)
- Tomato paste
- 400 grams tin of chopped tomatoes
- 400 grams chilli red kidney beans (rinsed if in brine)
- Two cups of water while it simmers over the fire
- 6 Soft burritos
- Iceberg lettuce sliced
- Chopped tomatoes
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream
- Optional spring onions, advocado
- Chop onion and green bell pepper, chop carrot finely, finely chop the garlic.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat and add the carrot and onions, cook until softened, this may take 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and beef mince, fry until browned. Add the cumin and chilli flakes, season a little with salt as you go.
- Add the tomato paste and cook off for a minute. Add the tin of kidney beans and the tomatoes, add a cup of water. Bring to the boil, lower heat to a simmer. Leave to cook for 30-50 minutes. The flavours will mingle and develop. Add more water if it gets to dry.
- Serve with burritos, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese.
Sometime you need to go far away to appreciate simple honest food. I tastes so much better cooked over the fire, or maybe it fills me with thanks to be eating anything at all so far away from civilisation.
In my opinion if not one of the most exciting and progressive things that has happened to Christchurch since the February earthquake has been
the opening of the Cassels & Sons Brewery & Cafe at the Tannery Woolston http://casselsbrewery.co.nz
This new start venture reads like one of those classic kiwi business ventures, father and sons home brew beer over a unique wood fire in the back
yard and over a beer decide let’s start a boutique brewery. After a few setbacks and two major earthquakes which nearly decimate there business with vision they decide to push forward and rapidly expand the brewery into a prime restaurant, cafe, bar & entertainment music venue.
We are now utterly spoilt for a premium destination for most importantly boutique beers, wood fired pizzas, rustic food, sumptuous cabinet food that would not be out of place in any international city. I adore this place, it opens seriously early in time for all day breakfasts (try the chilli baked beans on hot buttered toast), serves up lunch, affordable cabinet food by a clever mother and son kitchen team. The salads are vibrant and piled high on platters, think Otto Lenghi style http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/.
The Dinner menu is thoughtfully written, wood fired pizzas inspired by local place names, how tempting does Horotane Pear, Blue Cheese, Thyme & Smokey Bacon wood fired pizza sound?. Check out the website for a line up of entertainment in the form of live music acts, this is bound to fill the void for entertainment deprived locals that the loss of CBD has left. This is what a true local food & drink place should be like; children are welcome with highchairs and a big old cane basket full of wooden toys and books. I get the innate sense that this is just the beginning for the Cassels and this Brewery/Bar/Cafe/Restaurant/Entertainment venue is filling the gap perfectly and will be here for a long time to come….in fact it feels as if it has always been.