Two hours ago I had a layer of clay lathered all over my skin as one part of the Rapt treatment at Endota Day Spa in the Hunter Valley. Jaime, my therapist, was halfway through telling me that clay draws the toxins to the skin when I think I switched off and realised I was smack bang in the midst of ME time and had another 24 hours to go.
Mr ELG and I have escaped the Sydney madhouse for a night away from MM. Our first full night away and while it’s only taken a couple of hours to realise I no longer need to tend to the every whim and need of a 13 month old child, I admit why didn’t I do this sooner!!
Driving down the F3 I just loved being able to have a full adult conversation, listen to music in peace, eat a bowl of soup while it’s still hot and most of all succumb to a 2 hour body treatment where the focus is solely ME!
So now I sit here in front of a smoldering fire with two warm scones to nibble on complete with a peppermint tea, mulberry jam and vanilla bean cream. I have the latest issues of Luxury Travel and Masterchef magazine to flick through and another two hours of blissful ME time whilst Mr ELG undergoes the same relaxing 2 hour body treatment at the hands of Jaime.
I now look forward to a yummy dinner where I don’t have to ask if there’s a high chair available and sleep which ends with a sleep in past 7am.
And finally I love having a sister who MM can stay with and become one of the gang with her other kids whilst mum and dad can spend time just being us.
This year’s mother’s day was technically my second to celebrate, however it felt more like my first as a) I was more coherent and well-slept since MD #1 – when I was then a sleep-deprived mum with a 4 week old newborn baby walking around like a zombie and b) I received my first mother’s day card from MM which instantly bought tears to my eyes. It has been a big month at ELG central. I have gone back to work full time and MM is in full time childcare. In the first four weeks, the three of us were struck down with illnesses of all kind being sickly passed from MM to Mr ELG to me and back around again like a vicious cycle. Dirty washing had taken over every surface of the laundry and if you had asked me what a home-cooked meal was; I would have looked at you like you were speaking to me in Russian as dinners became the last thing on my mind after sickness, snot and sleep and I think I broke the record of how much takeaway pizza one could consume in one week! So by the time mother’s day arrived this year on 13 May, 2012 and Mr ELG handed me a red heart-shaped card with MM’s tiny hand prints on the front and a poem inside, I had an out-pouring of love and happy tears rolled down my face leaving MM bewildered as to why mummy was crying and smiling at the same time! 9 days later and it has felt like the longest 9 days – primarily due to some sad news that a close friend shared with me on the Saturday before mother’s day (I can not even begin to imagine how the days have stretched for my friend). As I listened to her speak such difficult words to say, her voice shaking and croaking with each word; I felt numb, scared and in shock over life and how moments can suddenly unfold. Right there and then, I wanted to hold my friend, tight with love and tell her it was going to be alright. And so there I was the day after celebrating the unconditional love I have for MM and not being able to stop thinking about the conversation from the day before. Over the last 9 days, my thoughts have been consumed by the events which have since unfolded and intertwined with all of this have been my thoughts of the many shades and colours of a mother’s love. A love for the present, a love for the unknown, a love for the memories, a love for the now, a love of hope and a love of what may never come. As I said; a mixed bag of loves. These last 9 days have made me stop and think, stop and appreciate and be grateful for the blessing of my child who never ceases to amaze me. I recently wrote to my friend that there are no words. But today I feel that there are three… I love you xAx
There’s something so clean and crisp about country air first thing in the morning when the only thing lingering is the faint smell of smoke coming out of nearby chimneys after a fire has been smoldering all night warming up the heart of a home.
I’m in Orange this weekend, thankful to Mr ELG who has whisked me away with MM in tow for a surprise getaway.
Up and about early we stopped in at Byng St cafe; a block away from where we’re staying.
The sun is out and the leaves of the trees above are lemon yellow in colour. The bright rays are streaming over the balcony as I eat my yummy brekkie roll. It’s the perfect balance of egg, crispy bacon, Swiss cheese, rocket and tart chutney. A hot cappucino tops off the taste.
Love, love, love
Three days before the Easter Bunny arrives and I am still busily planning my menu for Easter Sunday lunch. If you could just see my dining table…I have open Donna Hay magazines strewn everywhere, a Nigella cook book on the floor, Gary Mehigan’s book flipped open to his crazy delicious brownie recipe and a carton of colourful rubber eggs that I picked up from Bed Bath and Table; perfect for MM’s first Easter egg hunt on Sunday as I’m trying to be a good Mummy and go steady with his chocolate intake! I’ve definitely decided on a starter to get the palate salivating but deciding on what’s to come…wish me luck!
For a while now, I have been enjoying making goodies to give at Easter, just like at Christmas too when I made a big batch of my Gourmet Chocolate and Apricot muesli and bottled portions of it up in glass bottles to giveaway. The smiles from people who are on the receiving end are so much bigger especially when they realise it’s homemade! And so I add this to my Thursday madness as while I am not attempting to make chocolate eggs, I may be planning to make something gooey which involves chocolate of course and maybe a bit of peanut butter…I will keep you posted 🙂
And yesterday out of all of the chocolate shops in Sydney, I paid a visit to the one I love best – Scrumptious on Cross Street in Double Bay. Quite close to another love; Papier D’Amour and two doors down from an endless love; Simmone Logue, Scrumptious is just as its name describes…utterly scrumptious. It is a small shop filled to the brim (especially around this time of year) with so many goodies; both edible and ornamental that it’s an overload on the senses. The scent of chocolate is amazing and the collection that the owners, Nicole and Briar, have amassed of glassware, bunnies, biscuits, eggs, vases, birdcages and baskets is truly extraordinary. On this particular visit, I picked up bits and pieces to decorate my Easter Sunday table and of course some chocolate to top it off.
I must now stop procrastinating and make some important decisions as to what to cook so I wish you all a beautiful Easter and hope you spend lots of time with family and friends relaxing over this long weekend, eating lots of chocolate and also taking some time out for yourself!
Scrumptious @ 4 Cross Street Double Bay NSW 2028
Simmone Logue @ 2 Cross Street Double Bay NSW 2028
Papier D’Amour @ 8 Cross Street Double Bay NSW 2028
There is something about Friday night cooking that I’m not a fan of. I just opened the fridge, then the freezer trying to rumble up some inspiration to get the juices flowing for what to cook tonight but as always there was zilch, nudder, nothing.
Someone also made a comment to me during the week that there hasn’t been a lot of go and eat posts of new places on ELG for a while and with no excuses to offer you or reports that I have been in a cave due to hibernation (wrong season!), I honestly put it down to being a mum and having a small fry on the go. After too many stares from people when MM made a small shout during entree or having a fair few people trip over the wheels of the pram even though I have tried to shove it in the corner – I admit I have become one of those mums who just prefers to be at home for meal times, where MM can scream as much as he likes and leave the staring to Mr ELG and I .
But last Friday night, I put that all to one side and braved the outside once again to try my luck at Pizza Moncur…dinner for the ELGs in the heart of Woollahra. Diagonally opposite the Woollahra hotel and next door to the well loved Big Mamas, Pizza Moncur has suburb sophistication written all over it with its black and wooden design. A lovely French waiter pointed us to a table kerbside with plenty of room for MM and his stroller to sit on the pavement. The menu had both the usuals (four cheeses) and the unusuals and between the two of us, we had one of each. Mr ELG can not go past a Quattro Formaggi although I note this one had haloumi which is on the rare side and I chose a Mediterranean style consisting of red peppers, scallops, chorizo and chili jam.
Pizzas were served on a square black slate and the base is thin with texture with extravagant amounts of topping. Both pizzas were in one word; divine. Clear tastes, hot and crisp just out of the woodfired oven and the accompanying friendly service finished off the night. There were no stares from other patrons as MM was on his best behavior and as we ate piece by piece, we noticed that the restaurant also does a roaring trade of takeaway on foot and scooters delivering boxes to the door.
Hmmm and as the clock approaches 3pm, I am still wondering what’s for dinner tonight?
Pizza Moncur @ 101 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW 2025
Happy Pancake Day!
OK I know I am 5 days late but we celebrated it all the same this morning in my kitchen with a sensational pancake recipe with inspiration drawn from Smitten Kitchen. I recently came across Smitten Kitchen after my ongoing search for the greatest birthday cake recipe…MM is turning 1 in April. In one of her posts, she boasts that she has found the recipe of all recipes when it comes to birthday cakes. When it comes time to baking the birthday cake, I will let you know. Another recipe that took my interest recently is the Chocolate Fudge Cake posted by Hostile Bacon. Miss Ren (of Hostile Bacon)and I share a love for a cake mixer and have had one or two discussions about the innocent Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and its all-reigning asset status in the kitchen…
So getting back on track with Pancake Day; the three ELGs were sensationally smitten. As usual, there was no rush to the corner shop so in PJs I used what was in the pantry so the original Smitten Kitchen recipe has been altered. The result was the pancakes were light, fluffy, golden and the mixture was easy to whip up and held itself together when it came time to flipping the pancakes in the pan. Mr ELG and I had them with the works; dusted icing sugar, squeeze of lemon juice, raspberry sauce and light drizzle of golden syrup. MM had them on his Bunnykins plate in an extremely watered down version. His pancakes were eaten bare but still woofed down all the same.
Apple and Raspberry pancakes
4 small apples (I used Gala apples but any would do) peeled and grated
2 eggs – beaten well
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup natural yoghurt
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
pinch of baking powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dollop of apple and cinnamon natural yogurt
1 banana – halved and sliced lengthways
raspberry sauce (if not your own then Cuttaway Creek is the next best thing!)
half a lemon
icing sugar to dust
Combine wet ingredients and lightly whisk together in a small bowl. Combine dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Add wet ingredients and grated apple; whisking it all together until just combined. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and stir in.
Brush a hot pan with some butter so it is thinly coated. Add two large tablespoons of mixture and flip over when bubbles start rising to surface. Place slices of banana between two cooked pancakes and dress with remaining ingredients according to personal taste. Makes 8
Eat. Love. Enjoy!
Salt and caramel. It’s up there with the best of food marriages….lamb and rosemary, chocolate and raspberry, egg and bacon. And truth be told, it’s all I can think about it this morning and when it’s not even midday on this glorious sunny Friday and I have read the phrase “salted caramel” twice already, well I think the food gods are trying to tell me something! Correct me if I’m wrong…. 🙂
First sighting: clicking into my Flipboard app this morning on my iPad and reading the latest Polka Dot Bride blog post. Miss Polka Dot has willingly shared Baroque Bistro’s recipe of their beautiful salted caramel macarons. I stare at the recipe and the photo takes me back to October 31, 2009 to be precise. The date of our Engagement party. Mr ELG and I had a “Party in the Park” at the Column gardens in Centennial Park in Sydney, Australia. The roses were in full bloom, the hedges freshly cut and the grass was soft and green. Mr ELG and I had just come back from a Paris trip where Laduree macarons were on our agenda each day. As Laduree has no Southern Hemisphere store, Baroque Bistro had the next best macarons (I prefer the delectable taste from the Rock’s Baroque kitchens over Zumbo any day but that’s my personal preference!) and if I recall correctly, I think I picked up 250 macarons that morning struggling to hold back from nibbling on a few. Salted Caramel was one of the flavours and take my word for it or get yourself down to Baroque Bistro today; the flavour combination is exquisite and as I write this post, know I am salivating!
Second sighting: while MM is snoozing and I have a spare ten minutes between chores, I grab the latest edition of Delicious magazine; Issue 113 – March 2012. In their latest foodiefile. there’s a write up on the latest cafe on the Surry Hills scene; The Hills. As I scan the short paragraph, my eyes find their way to “salted caramel shake”. Ooooohh I think; can I get there today with MM in tow? A shake with THE marriage of flavours today of all days would go down so well, so smooth, so satisfying on this summer’s day. OH I MUST GO!
If you need me, you know where I will be….happy Friday!
Baroque Bistro @ 88 George Street (corner of Hickson Road) The Rocks, Sydney Australia 2000
The Hills @ 61 Albion Street, Surry Hills NSW Australia 2010
Long title but quick post….
I’ve found another great dumpling place to go to and it’s tucked away in Top Ryde of all places! The restaurant is called The Poets and gives nothing away in its name but is situated in the alfresco area of the shopping centre is a restaurant with excellent quality Northern Chinese food at reasonable prices too. Unlike other dumpling haunts, The Poets is nicely decorated with comfortable custom made chairs, blue and white oriental cushions and has a wall entirely made out of chopsticks.
Tea was served in a stunning yellow teapot with matching tea cups which reminded me of a teapot that my mum has stashed somewhere. Note to self; must look for that and ask if I can borrow…?
And well the dumplings themselves were steaming hot, fresh and it was a lovely generous serving. MM also thought highly of them as an alternative baby food for lunch!
I told you – short and sweet.
The Poets @ Top Ryde Shopping Centre; corner Devlin and Blaxland Road Ryde 2112
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!
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.