Love love love today

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Upon this day love love love someone, something or anything for that matter. I walked through the Strand yesterday which was basking in all of its rosy red and fuschia pink glory from its bulbous papier pom poms. It was such a glorious welcome from the somewhat concrete city and really got me in the mood for a bit of lovin today!

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Published in: on February 14, 2012 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Spellbound

I really am loving my kindle and now that my lighted cover has arrived, it means that when MM has me awake at 2am in the morning and my eyes are no longer sleepy and ready for slumber; I can switch on my little light, turn on the kindle and read without bothering Mr ELG.

My latest read literally had me spellbound. Not for the faint-hearted at close to 800 pages, The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is a combination of Harry Potter, Twilight and Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula. So with those books in mind, I confirm Vampires, Witches, Daemons and us run-of-the-mill humans play the starring roles. Like the books above and Elizabeth Kostova’s book The Historian, it again poses the question – do these creatures walk among us and if so; do they work, where do they live and what are the rules?

The story is told through the eyes of Diana Bishop, a History professor at Oxford and through her work comes across an ancient manuscript. After reading this manuscript; life as she knows it (a witch in denial of her own powers) changes dramatically as a Pandora box is opened as others fight to find and acquire this priceless item before anyone else can. The book moves through England, France and upstate New York as the author demonstrates her thorough research into these topics and winds you up in her work of fiction.

I finished this book in just under 72 hours, as it quickly became a page turner and although my sleepless in Sydney behaviour gave me a rude shock when I discovered yet again that sleep deprivation and a 10 month old do not mix; it was another book that had completely swept me away as I re-read certain parts and researched other titles Harkness had penned. The Discovery of Witches is the first book in the All Souls trilogy with the second due to be released this July. I also found out that Warner Bros have secured the rights to the screenplay so to finish off I leave you with my casting thoughts that Hugh Jackman would be brilliant as Matthew de Clermont and Natalie Portman would make a great Diana. 

Now I’m always told sleep when they sleep so this 4pm siesta isn’t looking too bad….. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

The Post with the most!

It’s rare for me to write a post that ticks all 3 boxes but here’s a wrap up of yesterday…

EAT – to start with…oven baked sourdough and prosecco, moving onto fresh, clean tastes in salads such as  yummy Insalata Caprese with ripe red thickly cut tomatoes and creamy mozzarella slices, tuna nicoise salad with poached eggs, bresaola with rocket and shaved pecorino, cucumber ribbon, pine nuts and ricotta and warm stuffed eggplant. Pasta was next with a bolognese penne and a seared tuna and parsley orecchiette before mains arrived of seared swordfish with tomatoes, capers and extra virgin olive oil and crispy pork belly accompanied by lemon wedges and rocket. Dessert could not be forgotten and for Mr ELG and I, this was arguably our highlight….Eton mess with dollops of cream, fresh vanilla bean and plump sweet strawberries followed by a selection of cheese; both creamy and hard with pear and crackers. A cappuccino finished me off!

LOVE – family on hand to look after MM (BIT’s new codename aka Mini Mister), sharing a table with 14 closest and dearest pals over a long Sunday summer lunch where conversation flowed, laughter was bursting at the seams, yummy food was there to be divulged and life couldn’t be sweeter.

GO – Cafe Sopra above Fratelli Fresh on Danks Street, Waterloo Sydney. The private room where the Italian feast never stops.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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How to talk to a Widower

I finished this book yesterday. I can’t remember how I came across it but it was one of those funny, random reads and while the title sounds extremely depressing; it actually had a number of laugh-out-loud moments! Written by Jonathan Tropper, the whole story is from the point of view of Doug Parker whose wife has just died in a plane crash. He’s 29 with a dysfunctional family knocking down his door every second to check he’s ok and lives in middle class suburbia in upper state New York.

Without giving anything away, there is this one scene where he’s on a date and because Tropper writes so exceptionally well in first person, you feel like you ARE Doug on the blind date and sitting in front of you is this nattering, nervous ninny who talks a mile a minute and won’t let you have a word in sideways. His paragraph writes so there are no pauses or breaks and you feel like saying to this date “just take a breath will you!” This was just one of my many laugh-out-loud moments.

Totally recommend this book. LOVE

Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 7:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time for tea and no oranges

After 2 weeks of solid eating and no holding back for another golden gaytime, extra dollop of custard or another piece of cheese; it’s now time for tea and no oranges. In other words; I am on a detox. I have chosen the Quick Cleanse 7 day version and Mr ELG and I are on day 2. So far so good and no major headaches or withdrawals. To put it simply, it’s unlimited fruit and vegetables with oranges omitted, no coffee or caffeine-related drinks, no meat or chicken, lots of water and raw nuts, fish every second day, unlimited tofu and lentils and vitamins three times a day. Yes, I could do this without buying into the program, but at this time of year structure is welcome to get the body back into gear.

So last night in front of the telly when all I could think about was Lindt passion-fruit intense chocolate, I begrudgingly went and made myself a herbal tea. My only saving grace for the next 5 days.

Since having BIT, I have never consumed so much tea as I do now. I don’t know what changed as I still drink coffee (when not on detox) but suddenly herbal tea is no longer reserved for librarians and old ladies. I do have a preference for chamomile, peppermint and ginger and am still not swayed by the berry blends. When I was breastfeeding, a friend recommended the Weleda nursing tea and who knew if it was actually contributing to the supply, but I found it to be a supremely calming ritual at the time much to Mr ELG’s dislike who used to always comment the house smelt like Chinese medicine.

I took this photo of tea being brewed at Revolver Cafe in Annandale. A friend ordered peppermint tea and I love the way so much effort is put into one cup of tea complete with its own minute timer too.

And yesterday amongst all of the tempting madness in a shopping centre where I looked one way to see hot churros rolled in cinnamon or the other way to see chocolate ice-cream; I was a very good girl and took myself off to T2 to order a takeaway herbal tea. It was an iced Turkish Apple and Rose tea – all pretty with the rosebuds floating on top. And if I just closed my eyes, it tasted just like a golden gaytime! Don’t worry, I know I’m dreaming!

Revolver Cafe @ 291 Annandale Street, Annandale NSW 2038

Published in: on January 10, 2012 at 3:20 am  Comments (1)  
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New year, new loves!

8 days into the new year and I have a few new loves to share with you.

One of Mr ELG’s Christmas presents this year was the same as every other year that I’ve known him…brand new shirts. This year I bought him an orange and white striped one. With its crisp cotton and the sun kissed look he has from our week at the beach, the look is somewhere between the Amalfi and Lake Como; sophisticated, summer, Sydney. LOVE

BIT needs a new name as I looked at him today and thought “when did my baby grow up?!” Nearly 9 months, he is raring to go and as cheeky as they come. Like a lot of other mums cruising the cityscape; what was once retail therapy for me has quickly become scouting for him in as it excites me to find the latest toys to stimulate and entice him. However despite all the fandangle with wooden versus Fisher Price plastic, walkers versus bouncies, trend after trend after trend; I love that one thing has remained constant throughout the generations and that’s of the simple nursery rhyme. Singing to BIT about incy wincy spider’s wall antics or reciting about the piggys’ adventures while squeezing his little toes one by one has him amused longer than any of his wooden ring towers or colored cotton reels. Humpty Dumpty’s fall, the description of a round old teapot and singing about bus parts when he’s squirming on the nappy change table has an immediate calming effect. So this Christmas for BIT, I bought him a little book of nursery rhymes with all the classic ones included. Albeit it’s not your average golden book but a quirky material book with handles and moving parts and hopefully likes its nursery rhymes will too be passed down a few more generations!

Since meeting Mr ELG, we have been collecting blue and white Cornishware. We try and source the original English TG Green stuff and where failing, have picked up some of the newer pieces too. As we travel and explore; whenever we come across an antique store, Vinnies or bric-and-brac market, my eyes scan the place for the blue and white stripes.  In Tassie while we were honeymooning we found a gorgeous teapot and in Arrowtown, just outside of Queenstown, NZ we found a mixing bowl. For a birthday, one of my gorgeous girlfriends sourced some original egg cups for me so the collection is coming along nicely and growing steadily as we go places. On my kitchen bench, I have a couple of pieces out…a bowl storing grapes and another storing parsley, dill and coriander. I love the country feel it gives the home and the memories they stir whenever I gaze in their direction. LOVE

I’ve just returned from a week away up the coast and “away” time at this time of year means one thing; reading a good book or two if you’re lucky. Henry Porter is the author and A Dying Light is its title and it’s a fabulous read full of suspense, quick page turning and left me thinking afterwards. LOVE

And finally while up at the coast, I took my first swim in the ocean. Lost in my own moment, I love a new year as it stirs something fresh, gives me renewed hope and the thought of clean beginnings. Happy new year everyone!

Meanwhile I’ll keep thinking of a new nickname for BIT…suggestions?

Published in: on January 8, 2012 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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The triple cooked TURKISH TORTE

Everyone has their favourite things to cook. The recipes that just work and you can do with your eyes shut. The no-fails you can rely on at the last minute.  So when I was reading this month’s Delicious magazine and came across a photo of a beautifully decorated chocolate cake, I would never have thought that this recipe would become one of those on repeat. Primarily due to the ingredient list which are not your stock standard pantry staples with chocolate halva and pomegranate seeds on the list. But when the reaction after the first go and serving it up was silence, then seconds and even some people requesting thirds and no leftovers; all I could do was smile.

It was the beautiful photo that sealed the deal although it also initially met my other criteria in needing to be gluten-free. Sourcing the ingredients list sent me on a goose chase around Sydney finding chocolate halva at Russkis deli in Bondi and edible rose petals at Herbies in Rozelle and with Mr ELG and BIT sent out for a morning walk, the oven preheated to 170 degrees, the mix was surprisingly easy to whip up and bang together. With a Kitchenaid this recipe is a one-bowl wonder – love that!

As it baked in the oven I admit that I wasn’t too sure how it would turn out….too dry, too sweet, not sweet enough?! And after it emerged out of the oven, it definitely did not look like its photo just yet. More like a Cinderella waiting for the fairy godmother to swing on by to wave some magic. But with the magic of chocolate sauce, freshly torn mint leaves, scattered edible rose petals and pomegranate seeds; this TURKISH TORTE was the belle of the ball.

I cooked the Turkish Torte for Christmas and dressed it with cherries and Pariya Pashmak green pistachio fairy floss as well to give it an extra festive kick. And as I go to cook this recipe the third time this month (this time it’s a birthday cake), I am smiling again as I remember driving home with Mr ELG after eating the cake for the first time. We were chatting as you do, breaking down the night with our in-the-car analysis and when I asked what he thought of dessert, one word came out of his mouth. Humdinger! ” Humdinger!” I cried?!! “Yes, humdinger” he repeated, “the best ever chocolate cake”. It was my turn to smile and think I love you Mr ELG!

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The letter F

I am seeing the letter F a lot these days and sounding it out as I go through the alphabet with my son. F is for fish. F is for flamingo. F is for fox. F is for frog. F is for Felix (BIT). And this morning F is for French toast, frangelico and fairy floss.

I love my French toast buttery, crisp on the outside and gooey and eggy on the inside. I usually use brioche but today I used leftover pannettone. I also had leftover fairy floss in the fridge; green pistachio fairy floss. It has a fine texture with a delicate nutty flavour and looks like it should be decoration for a fairy wonderland instead of an ingredient.

The result was Mr ELG saying it was the best ever French toast so I will share this magnificent recipe with you just in case you also have these leftovers in your pantry post silly season:

Frangelico French toast with fairy floss

Ingredients:

8 eggs

2 cups milk

1/2 cup pure cream

Juice of one orange

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground nutmeg

60ml Frangelico

Zest of one lemon

8 slices of thickly cut panettone

100g Pariya Pashmak pistachio fairy floss

50g butter

Raspberry sauce, strawberries and maple syrup to serve

Whisk all ingredients together and dunk slices in custard mixture until bread is soaked through. Heat 20g butter in pan and cook slices until golden brown each side. Keep cooked French toast warm in oven until ready to serve.

Plate up two slices each, sprinkle with raspberry , strawberries and maple syrup. Finish with fairy floss scattered over the top and serve immediately. Serve with crispy bacon if desired!

Serves 4

Enjoy licking the plate!!

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 4:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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I love Aussie Bill!!!

My Dad aka Aussie Bill is amazing! With no stomach at all due to stomach cancer several years ago, Dad still adores food; eating it and cooking it and it is because of him that I inherited my love of food and adoration of the finer things in life. Dad lives in China and the minute he gets off the plane from Hong Kong, he heads straight for the nearest shop that sells pies as meat pies are one of his weaknesses. Food is always on Dad’s mind. Whether it is first thing in the morning or a midnight snack, I know he is always thinking about what to eat next! For much of his life Dad was in the catering business refining his culinary skills and defining the art of being a Chinese chef. For much of my childhood I used to think Dad was a magician as he could whip up meals in seconds.

In Sydney for Christmas, Dad loves eating homemade Christmas cake and custard. He loves his ham, nibbles on cheese, gorges on succulent turkey and has lashings of gravy.

And tonight the magician and his magic returned. Despite the piles of leftovers in the fridge from yesterday’s festive feast, he always knows what the family favorites are and what makes my sisters and I smile. Chinese food, the real stuff. The home cooked food that you can’t order in a restaurant yet takes minutes to make. I’ve seen him do this magic show plenty of times and tonight’s show did not disappoint. There was fresh ingredient fanfare. There was the cloak and dagger surprises and of course there was the staple rabbit out of the hat moment when dinner was ready in a flash leaving us all oohing and ahhing in amazement. Tonight Dad weaved his magic with prawns, pork mince, egg, barbecue pork, shallots, bean sprouts, snapper, sweet corn and chicken soup and duck. I left the table tonight thankful I was wearing elastic around the waist and even in more adoration of the magic of my Dad.

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The 24 year old Italian

It’s no secret that I love to eat Italian food. So when it was my turn to pick a Sydney restaurant to celebrate an early Christmas and mark the end of a brilliant year with friends, I drew up a shortlist of ten restaurants of which quite a few were Italian. The criteria was simple…..bloody great food required! From a bit of simple research, reading this and that – this is what I came up with:

1. Sepia

2. La Scala

3. The Devonshire

4. Almond Bar

5. Il Perugino

6. A Tavola

7. Assiette

8. Duke Bistro

9. Sake 

10. Buzo

I questioned do I try somewhere new that has had rave reviews or do I book somewhere tried and true. After some discussion with Mr ELG, I went with the latter.

Numero cinque; Il Perugino

I first went to Il Perugino 11 years ago. Memories of that night are bloody great food, no menus with the waiter telling you what is being served instead and lots of people talking, chatting and simply enjoying their food. Over the years I have been back numerous times and the memory never changes; just the people at my table and the food of course, as the seasons change. Situated on Avenue Road in Mosman, Sydney next door to the drycleaners, Il Perugino has been in the same place for 24 years, run by passionate people who describe the menu to you like poetry. Last night as I was listening to the menu (they did introduce postcard menus a couple of years back but go through the detail all the same), I was salivating from one course to the next and the food wasn’t even in front of me yet. At the next table, a man was devouring a steaming bowl of fresh seafood while his friend had ordered the lamb shank and I watched the meat just melt away from the bone. With Antipasti on the way, this menu had too many choices; a lovely position to be in rather than no inspiration at all.

Teasing the tastebuds, the Antipasti was laid in front of us and did not fail to excite. Button mushrooms, artichoke hearts, mussels, fritters and eggplant swooped in seconds.

Next up for me were the duck, sage and burnt butter crepes. Mr ELG ordered the salmon carpaccio. One word; delicious. Actually two words; magnificently delicious!

As a main, Mr ELG and I ordered the same dish (very rare) and again, from the kitchens of Il Perugino came a marvelous flavour from such simple ingredients; pappardelle, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, parsley and vongole.

We couldn’t not eat dessert and the four of us with no hesitation each ordered a sweetie with the promise to share. The tiramisu was tantalising, the limoncello cheesecake with baked rhubarb and blood orange gelato was so refreshing, the warm apple and walnut cake was comforting and the passion-fruit creme brulee made it hard to share!

As I looked around the room last night on the Tuesday before Christmas, all the tables were full and there were babies, children, young and old enjoying the moorish moments. Il Perugino is a local to be loved and in fact, numero uno in my mind.

Il Perugino @ 171 Avenue Road, Mosman Sydney 2088

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