Sunday, January 26, 2014

summer food and a super long weekend

(at home we've been cooking pretty exclusively from two cookbooks - nigel slater's 'eat', which is where this excellent prawn and watermelon salad came from, and bill's everyday asian.)

(my friend in bega is about to have her first baby - a little boy! so it was off to the post office to send her a gift, as well as a little gift for my best friend, my grandparents and my sister)

(we've spent our long weekend reading, eating and resting. I'm onto my third tao lin book in nearly as many weeks, they're very addictive.)

(more evidence of eating - this time homemade banana granola and fresh berries. because I don't really drink, I think it's kind of okay to spend silly amounts of money on special fruit, namely raspberries, mangoes and figs. this book of letters is excellent, it was a christmas gift that was carefully hunted down for me. each letter is so surprising.)

(and skype time with my sister and niece. she's growing up quickly - this week I saw her play with toys, suck on various frozen items to soothe her teething pains, heard her play with her voice and then get ready for bed. she might come to visit in a few months!)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

a weekend in the mountains

weeks ago, we spent the days before christmas in the mountains, visiting blackheath and tony's parents. it was our first christmas outside of sydney or wagga wagga, and it was exciting to drive through new towns enroute.

we stopped in young to pick up a big box of cherries and went onto orange to have lunch with my friend luke, who grew up in the town. we drove through bathurst (sadly the art gallery was closed but we're hoping to go back one day to try annie's ice cream and visit the gallery) and lithgow before arriving some six hours later in blackheath.

despite being summer, most of our days in blackheath were cool. I pretended that we were in the northern hemisphere and made spiced shortbread and a hot chicken caesar salad in the home's new kitchen. tony's mum wendy made everyone hot cups of ginger and honey tea to warm us up.

during the day we would read, wander up to the nearby village for cooking supplies, books and last minute gifts. we went to katoomba one afternoon to try on hats and found some cute bakeries and on our second last day, we went on a family excursion to the norman lindsay gallery.

on christmas eve, wendy taught me how to make a pavlova (the trick is super dry utensils and mixing bowls), which I took to my family's christmas dinner and we had a good giggle making these strawberry and cream santas.

it was raining on christmas morning, and we opened our presents from under the beautiful pine tree, ate a special ham and gravalax breakfast before driving down the mountain towards the city.

we're along way from the cool mountain weather now.  this week we're anticipating a heatwave, they're predicting a 44 degree days in a row so we're busy making ice and staying indoors.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

back from the beach! and a mini guide to mosman

hello! and happy new year. we've just come back from a few weeks away, first stopping in the mountains to celebrate christmas with tony's parents and then onto sydney to see mine.

this year we were very lucky with our little trip, tony's parents very generously let us stay in the apartment they rent in mosman, which happened to have an excellent view of sydney harbour (hello nye fireworks), be in walking distance of my most favourite cupcake shop and a 25 minute walk to the beach (no parking metres yay!). it was really nice to spend most of our holiday in one place, where we could leave the car at home and meet friends at the beach or see family for a night time fish and chip picnic.

we had an excellent holiday and have come back feeling very relaxed. we spent our mornings down by the beach, swimming, reading and drinking coffee and our days visiting family and friends, in particular one very special baby. I really loved wandering down to the little shops to buy ingredients for dinner or go exploring.

here's a little list of what we discovered in our holiday neighbourhood:

the classic cupcake company - shop 1/167-169 avenue rd, mosman

tony's mum discovered this shop early last year and every time she visits us in wagga, she very generously comes with half a dozen cupcakes, or a dozen mini cupcakes. I used to eat a lot of cupcakes when I lived in sydney (sadly the cupcake cafe craze didn't quite take off in wagga wagga) and favoured sparkle cupcakery but this shop is easily better.

the cupcakes are buttery yet flavoursome and have an excellent crumb. the buttercream icing to cake ratio is very good and for takeaways, the cupcakes are thoughtfully packed - in the past they've survived plane trips, 5 hour car journeys and handbag transportation. I'm pretty unadventurous (choc-mint please!) when it comes to cupcake flavours but at this cafe, I can happily report that all the flavours are delicious!

cremorne to mosman bay walk

one morning tony led a walk from cremorne to mosman bay, which was bushy, by the water and very beautiful. from the ferry to the city, we could see other people doing the same, their bright exercise shirts sticking out amongst the bush.

this was my favourite doorway on the way to the mosman bay wharf. the house itself looked space aged and sadly I never spotted its occupants.

best fruit - 866 military rd, mosman

so my favourite shop in mosman is a fruit shop :| I think I went there every day of our sydney stay to find things for dinner and buy special summer fruits like mangoes, figs and raspberries. I have been coconut obsessed of late and this shop had a really yummy brand of coconut yoghurt that I'll be looking out for now that I'm home.

bloom. the healthy food co - 118 prince albert st, mosman 

this was a late discovery and we ended up going two days in a row it was so yummy. despite being skeptical of health food and overly organic places, I really loved this cafe. I had a 'crazy ape' smoothie, made with soy milk, bananas and a shot of coffee, which was delicious and we shared some boiled eggs and vegemite soldiers and a very yummy summer berry trifle with crunchy housemade granola and fresh fruit.

the four frogs creperie - shop 1, 175 avenue rd, mosman

on our last night in town we had a late night dinner at a frenchie cafe, in a little laneway just off avenue road. I was craving a chicken and cheese crepe that night, which was an unexpected throwback to a suburban shopping centre donut shop from my childhood that used to make crepes for lunch. the donut shop used to have this train that snaked around the top of the shop, which would go back and forth to entertain the kids who were uninterested in watching the donut machine in operation. tony says that his friend's sister once lost a teddy bear at that same shopping centre, only to discover it'd been placed aboard the donut train!

anyway, back to the crepes, which were rich and yummy. I mistakenly decided that we should walk to the nearby gelato shop for dessert but should've stayed for a maple and ice cream crepe, that I could smell as I ate my dinner.

bather's pavilion kiosk - 4 the esplanade, balmoral beach

nice coffee is surprisingly tricky to find by the beach. one morning, instagram sucked me into trying the revamped balmoral boat shed by the esplanade, having seen a friend's smoothie, which had been served in a cute gummy bear shaped jar. sadly the place was packed, and didn't have a drinks menu on display so I mis-ordered and received a smoothie in a regular glass, which was especially sad having waited a good 30 minutes for it. after a few hit and misses by the beach, we found the bather's pavilion kiosk that serves coffee from the grounds (not that we've ever been!), along with yummy looking falafel salads and sunscreen for the disorganised.

the burger shed - 914 military road, mosman

because what's more rewarding than a beef burger after a morning spent at the beach :)

and here are a few things we discovered a little too late and hope to visit next time:

pressed juices - 557 military road, mosman
mainly for its super cute plywood fit out and smoothie menu. I don't think they do food.

sushi yachiyo
for slightly out of left field japanese. next time!

hope you had a wonderful christmas and new year break.