Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Take a deep breath, and.....

Well, it's certainly been a whirlwind of a fortnight with the realisation of our long anticipated European holiday - oh the sights that were seen, the sounds that were heard and the MASSIVE amount of incredible food consumed! So bear with me as I walk you through two weeks of food, fun and several 'cheesegasms'.

We kicked things off immediately upon landing in London. After a quick shower and costume change we met up with my little sister and headed east for brekkie in Spitalfields at St John Bread and Wine (offshoot of the Smithfield restaurant). We gorged ourselves on Old Spot bacon sandwiches (you can see me pictured here with my laughing gear wrapped around one!), porridge and prunes and poached fruit, yogurt and brioche. A perfect way to kick of for a couple of gourmet travellers!

The next couple of days were filled with treats from Hummingbird Bakery , great coffee at Coffee Plant in Notting Hill and tapas in Covent Garden before we crammed a few things in a bag and nicked off to Paris.

After scoffing a desperate microwave cheeseburger on the eurostar and catching a few much needed z's we made are way to the hotel. (A little note needs to be inserted here...I started writing this post in October and stopped after getting to this point because I needed to find the name of the kindly Parisian journalist who made our time in the city of lights oh so faboosh...H has told me a million times but it is very French and I cannot commit it to my hopelessly English speaking brain so the post continues and he will be known only as Mr Paris until I can correct it).

Update - The food writers names is Henri Yadan...YAY!

The Raddisson Trocedero was simply stunning. It was everything I hoped it would be. Classic French furnishings, perfect location! Henri met us before we had even checked in and whisked us away to L'Arc, a modern French restaurant in a prime position with the most perfect views of the Ard de Triumphe you will ever see. We ate like kings and banished all memories of the microwaved cheeseburger. Unfortunately I have no idea what we ate as we didn't order, we were just fed but the butter alone was worth the journey!

That night we ate at Michel Rostang - a hook up via H's employers..who also picked up the tab (it is always a concern when the woman - that's me - is handed a menu with no prices...) Again we were treated and ate like royalty. The wild duck being the absolute highest point among many.

We had only one full day in Paris and that was spent on a day trip to Versailles. A cycling day trip that is. I won't bore you with the details but let me say this...if you book a cycling tour please ensure you know how to ride a bike, otherwise there is a genuine risk that you will fall off said bike and scream the 'F-Word' at your husband in the middle of one of the most picturesque places on the planet resulting in American tourists 'tutting' disapprovingly...let's move on. We did have a fantastic picnic after a stop at the markets (pictured). This was also the site for the aforementioned 'cheesegasms', which involved H making very strange noises as we approached the many fromage stalls.

Our final night was spent at a newish restaurant recommended by Henri, Mini Palais. Again all French menus but very helpful waiters who confirmed my guess at 'chicken' and proceeded to bring me a bit of very fine roast chook...i mean le chook.

We were back in London 5 minutes before my bestie and her husband packed us in the back of the vauxhall for a mini-break in Cornwall which included a visit to Rick Stein's Seafood restaurant in Padstow. It DID NOT disappoint. There is a couple of pics here, yes that is a half lobster/full foie gras lobe salad. That was H's entree. And yes that is me attempting to fit the entire crab in my mouth at once, BRILL!

For our final few days we spent most of the time in pubs with breaks for visits to Borough Markets and a very speccy lunch at the Harwood Arms in Fulham, including English lamb shoulder, venison and grouse...yummers.

So that about sums it up, I'll spare you the emotional turmoil of returning to a place we once called home and still long to, and once again having to say good bye to my most precious friends not to mention my little blister (sister)...hmmm, maybe you weren't spared after all.

I'm sorry it took so long to wind this one up, i started writing in October and am typing now well into the new year but here it is...almost time for another trip me thinks!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sympathy Takes You Places

So yesterday's post got a few people a little worried (by a few people I mean my mother)! Don't worry Mum, I'm not about to fling myself of a bridge!

Not long after the post was published I received a text message from my cousin, fashion blogger @sarahstyle (for those of you on twitter). A little bit of sympathy will get you to exciting places these days, as my cousin was texting to say she had a spare ticket to Melbourne Spring Fashion Week Designer Series 3 and would I like to be rescued from another lonely night in? Ummmmmm, yes please.

So I heeled up, threw on my fab new trench coat and dragged my boring old butt into the Melbourne Town Hall, and MAN, am I glad I did.

It's all about who you know (and @sarahstyle seems to know everyone) we were seated on the floor, a mere metre from the runway and in prime position to see the fabulous new creations from the likes of Gorman, Wayne Cooper, Bettina Liano and Arabella Ramsay. The Gorman polka dot dress was a definite fave and I will be looking into investing into it (yes I see my fashion purchases as investments). It really was a fabulous was to pass a chilly September eve and a BIG thank you goes out to my beautiful cousin for thinking of me.

As I strutted my stuff back down Swanston Street, goodie bag in hand I found myself thinking 'a girl could get used to this' and I practiced my best runway walk all the way home. Now, if I could just grow 3 feet...and lose 30 kilos...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Dark Side of the Spoon

As of next week H and I will have been together for 11 years. H has been a chef for 10 of those years and I have never once felt like I was missing out on anything, having a partner who works so much...until now.

Most of our friends have now moved out of the city, my closest friends including my sister all live overseas, my parents live down the coast. This does not leave a girl with many options for human contact during the week. To be honest it's not even general socialisation I'm craving, I just miss my husband.

Every night I come home to an empty house, sure the cat is there but no matter how much I talk to him he doesn't answer back, with words I mean, he is constantly telling me he loves me with his eyes...SEE, I've become a crazy cat lady! Twenty-something married women are not supposed to be crazy cat ladies!

H doesn't understand and I can't ever expect him to. He has the opposite problem and I'm sure he craves some alone time but quite frankly I am sick of my own company, I'm just not that interesting.

Being married to a chef has a lot of benefits - great food, exciting adventures and proof that the expression 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' is absolutely true, but lately the mind numbing lonliness has been taking over.

I often think about what it will be like when we have children. Obviously it will be difficult but I guess it is for all new parents, and lots of families have one parent working long hours or shift work or the likes.

This post has been a little less jovial than usual but the blog is supposed to be about the life of a chef's wife and this is a big part of it. We all make sacrifices and compromises for the people we love and I would never ever ever ever expect H to make any changes to his career or choice but sometimes the person who sits around waiting for him gets to have a bit of a winge (once in 11 years isn't so horrible is it??)

So a big hug goes out to all the hospitality widows and widowers out there, this one's for you!

Monday, August 30, 2010


Don't forget to follow me on twitter - @chefwifelife

Here's a few other twitter-ers worth following:

@Slavisa_ :all things divine and domestic

@fromBecca :up to date info on all things foodie

@eatyourmeal :my hubby!!

@HomeZeroHome :UK based blogger, very interesting info on greening our homes

I am the (equal) Champion

I won the office footy tipping comp! Can you believe it? Yes you say? Well, did I mention I know NOTHING about football?

I have put this win down to pure luck and a good understanding of statistics and probability (one of the few mathematics subjects I received good grades in at school!).

Unfortunately one other colleague also achieved the awesome score of 120 so the prize was split in half however my winnings will still bump my London shopping fund up significantly.

H does not follow football at all. I asked him over the weekend, what if we have a child who is very interested in football, would he become a follower to support our child's interests? He said that by the looks of my tipping scores I could take that job. I reminded him that this win does not mean I can teach our kids anything about football, just about gambling...we're going to make fantastic parents!

Better Luck Next Year

Last night saw the launch of The Age Good Food Guide 2011. As those of you who put up with my intermittent blogging may remember, my husband (otherwise known as H) was shortlisted for Young Chef of the Year. Epicure readers will have seen his pretty face gracing the pages a couple of weeks ago along with the other four finalists (the photo the paper used was taken about 8 years ago when H was part of an article about up and coming apprentices in Melbourne!)

So H went along to the awards presentation at NGV last night and, as the invitation did not include a 'plus one' I followed the announcements via twitter from my front of the heater.

Unfortunately H did not win the award but will have one last shot (before he reaches the 30 age limit) so will throw his hat in the ring again next year. The restaurant did hold onto its coveted THREE hats (that's a major give away as to where he works) so that's a plus.

Also, very exciting news for Loam Restaurant (who I have previously blogged about). It is their first year in the guide and they walked away last night with two hats, best new country restaurant and dish of the year (suckling pig). A BIG congrats to the team, very well done and deserved! Check out the rest of the winners at

By Jorg!!

Let me begin by apologising for being the world's worst blogger (again). I promise to try and be more vigilant from now on!!

H and I went to the newly opened Jorg (pronounced George) on St Georges Road in North Fitzroy last week. The restaurant has only been open a couple of months but judging by the lunch we enjoyed all of the opening bugs have been ironed out. The space - formally a fruit and vege shop - is simply stunning and chefs Michael Smith and Bryce Bernhardt have poured their hearts and souls into creating not only a contemporary, stylish dining space but a warm, exciting menu that encourages plenty of foody conversation with a range of small plates designed to share.

The dining room is beautifully furnished - check out the gorgeous polished concrete floors and 'industrial chic' French light fittings. Even more impressive is the function room at the rear of the building. Light and airy I can envisage it hosting many ubercool parties in the future. One of the first such affairs will be the PinotNow dinner hosted at Jorg on Monday 13th September. To book call 9482 3002.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another Wild Adventure

Followers may recall my recent blog about dinner at Libertine. Disappointing meal, arguing with friends, doing the splits on Collins Street...

Well, our little dining club met again on Saturday night for a meal at Auction Rooms in North Melbourne. We were much better behaved this time and the meal well and truely met with our expectations. The cafe, situated on Errol Street, is a very cool space offering casual dining and great coffee.

We basically ordered everything on the tapas menu (including some delicious parfait and Mt Zero olives) then a main course each. Four of us ordered the pork belly - sticky and crispy with onion puree, black pudding and baked apple - while T, the non-pork eater, ordered a chickpea lambshank dish that was also very tasty. We all shared a fig pudding for dessert - anything with figs is a winner in my book.

We were all very civilised and no one cried or fell over so we decided to wander up to the Town Hall Hotel for a drink or two. That was when things got wierd.

After a little while 5 became 3 and I sat with my favortie marrieds chatting and laughing. We were then rudely interupted by a very drunk fellow who seemed to take a liking to the only male in our little threesome. In hindsight I can maybe see where the mistake was made, B was sitting with two girls, he's a very snappy dresser...BUT when this drunken idiot grabbed my friend's face and lunged in for a kiss it took us very much by surprise! B's wife and I didn't know what to do, picking different objects up from the table, preparing to throw them at B's attacker. Luckily B had the intelligence and maturity of mind to gently push the guy away, quietly mention to this idiots friends that perhaps they should take control of their mate and return to our little party not to dishevelled.

It was very funny but really, the drunk guy was lucky. My friend is a decent guy and reacted appropriately but I don't think there are too many people, man or woman, gay or straight, who would take kindly to being grabbed like that. If it had been me I would have slapped him!

But it's still kinda funny :)

Seaside Special

Once in a while H has an urgent need to get out of the city. The last time was March labour day weekend. We had a great day at the red hill wineries then spent the night fighting back flood waters!

A few weeks ago H felt the urge again and suggested we head to the Bellarine Peninsula to have lunch at Loam in Drysdale - a restaurant that has been receiving a lot of good press lately. Our booking was made quite last minute and we were really lucky to secure a table in the dining room.

Loam is run by chef and owner Aaron Turner and his wife Astrid. It is a small, intimate dining room overlooking the Lighthouse Olive Grove and Queenscliff. Once we were seated we were presented with a list of in season produce, asked if there was anything we didn't eat and how many courses we would like. We went all out and asked for seven courses (for $90.00, two and four course options also available). In the end we were presented with nine courses - it helps to be in the industry! That same day there were staff from Attica and Pearl also enjoying a coastal Sunday. I think it was just the following Sunday that the entire Attica staff descended on Loam (one of the waitresses is the girlfriend of one of the chefs who works with H so I heard all about it last weekend at the winery).

We were there for five hours, a long, luxurious lunch presented to us by friendly, knowledgeable staff. Astrid was a wonderful hostess and it was lovely to chat to her while H checked out the kitchen and picked Aaron's brain for a moment.

At the end of the meal we were presented with a print out of our courses. Looking around us other tables received different dishes so it was wonderful to be able to remember exactly what we here's the blow by blow:

1. HEN'S EGG, JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, BREAD CRUMBS, MISO - perfectly slow cooked egg, creamy artichoke, crunchy bread crumbs and salty miso broth made this rich dish a perfect start to our epic lunch.

2. PINE MUSHROOM, GARDEN SILVERBEAT, PINE NEEDLE YOGHURT - This was one of my favourites. Perfectly seasoned mushrooms with the tart yoghurt. Just yummy!

3. KINGFISH, PINK GRAPEFRUIT, WILD RICE, PONZU - very impressed with the ponzu noodle!

4. SAND CRAB, HORSERADISH, NASHI, CAULIFLOWER - I could have done without the cauliflower on this one but by no means did I dislike it.

5. SOUSED SNAPPER, CUCUMBER, SEAWATER CHEESE, MUSSEL - This was to die for. Beautifully cooked snapper. Fresh flavours of the sea, just the sort of thing I like!

6. BEEF TONGUE, GARLIC, HEIRLOOM TOMATO, QUINOA - Believe it or not I had never eaten tongue before. It sort of freaks me out. I think it's the whole 'it's tasting me while I'm tasting it' thing BUT it was heaven. H was bowled over by this one. the tongue was like the most tender beef I had ever tasted. drooooool.

7. VEAL RUMP, SPINACH, PEARL ONION, WAKAME, BLACK GARLIC - I'm not sure about the whole black garlic thing. H is a big fan but I'm not so sure! Having said that this dish was another winner.

8. OSSAU IRATY - RUBBLE - The cheese course, a very interesting version. Great cheese.

9. MANDARIN PEEL, COCONUT, ALMOND, OLIVE OIL - Loved the mandarin peel sorbet but the coconut cream and olive oil powder gave the dessert a slight fattiness that was mildly unappealing.

Overall Aaron and Astrid have something very special here and we will be time we'll make a weekend of it!

I know, I know

I'm slack. It's not that I haven't been doing anything interesting, I have! Lot's of things. I'm just too lazy to be a proper blogger!

So, stay tuned as there are a couple of reviews coming atcha very soon but for now here is an observation I have recently made...

Chefs are emotionally and socially stunted. I have always know this but just had an epiphany as to why - most of them start apprenticeships in their mid to late teens, while their mates are out on the town, being kids, chefs are working really hard, all hours of the night limiting their social interaction.

Therefore chefs never grow up properly. Case and point - on Sunday I went on a trip with H's workmates to Curly Flat winery (by the way GREAT chardonnay, totally bio-dynamic, very interesting)we had a very pleasant day but on the bus ride home they were like wild children, jumping around, laughing at bum jokes (some were pretty funny I guess) and generally behaving like hyped up kids on the way home from a school excursion.

I don't need a psychology degree but they should give me one for this discovery ;)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Slow Down Ploise

Geez, the weeks seem to be flying by at the moment. Only 17 weeks till our trip now so that's good but I can't keep up with my blog!!

Let's see, what's happened in the past week....

Last Saturday night some friends and I went to Libertine in North Melbourne. I think I have mentioned before that I regularly go to dinner with two particular couples, I'm their 5th wheel. They take pity on me as if I was there sad single friend because I'm constantly sans husband. In fact I went to the Husband's restaurant with the same peeps a few months ago (I was banned from blogging about it but I'll just say this....OH MY GOD). Unfortunately last Saturday nights dinner was not so successful. The wine was great and poured very generously but the food was not memorable. The lack of excitement in the food is, in my opinion, what led to a very heated discussion about politics, theology and history, quickly promoting us to the position of Most Obnoxious Table - you know what I'm talking about, sideways glances from other patrons, waiters avoiding us like the plague...the food might not have been great but nor was our behaviour! That was a weird night. After we cooled down and left the restaurant we headed into the city for a drink. I slipped on the wet footpath on Collins Street and did the full splits - my girlfriend F was super impressed, my hips were not...I'm still hobbling a week later!

Sunday was much quieter, brekkie at Collective Espresso (best coffee) and then a late session of the much anticipated Sex and the City 2...more on that later.

The beginning of this week passed without much fuss and on Wednesday I headed down the coast to visit my mum for her birthday. My grandmother came too and the three of us went to see SATC2, yes that's twice for me. Now, I have always been a massive fan of the show, I think it is still relevant and funny, and the first movie was great. It was such a thrill to see the four girls reunited and the storyline made sense. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the new film, i did, especially the second time when I had no expectations and could just enjoy the fashion and funny moments (especially Carrie's gold Louboutins in the opening scenes, THEY BLEW MY MIND) but the story was a bit weak and there were moments when I wondered what on earth the writers were thinking, scenes they completely broke with the cool, sassy nature of the original series.

After the film it was back to mum and dad's for dinner. I have mentioned that not only am I the wife of a chef but the daughter of one too. Dad is halfway through the second year of his apprenticeship and has taken to it like a duck to the proverbial water. He cooked a delicious sichuan pork belly dish which was, in the words of Seinfeld's Poppy 'even more'a succulent than I could have'a hoped for'. But the highlight of the night was the 'Toblerone' dessert (pictured). He's so clever!!

Thursday and Friday were non-events and that brings us back to Saturday. No plans tonight. I attempted to sew a skirt on an old sewing machine a picked up on ebay a while ago but I only got as far as cutting the fabric out last night before I realised I'd completely screwed it up already, oh, did I forget to mention I have absolutely no dressmaking/sewing/pattern making experience whatsoever? So that's on hold for a while!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful long weekend (thanks Queenie) and hopefully I'll be a better blogger next week.

OH!!!! H has been shortlisted for the Good Food Guide young chef of the year! VERY exciting!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

bad bad bad bad girl

Yes I am supposed to be saving, yes I am going on a fabulous holiday in a few months and should be putting all my savings towards that BUT I have also been looking for a pair of red shoes for a long time.

So I tried these on.

And I felt like Dorothy.

And I put them on lay-by....BAD!!

I haven't talked too much about my shoe collection (read obsession) but I had put myself on a total shoe ban to save for this holiday.

But just picture these boots in London, with boyfriend jeans, and tartan Pepe jeans jacket....CUTE!! How could I leave them behind?

H will yell...

By the way, they are Nude and little Miss M spotted them for me after lay-buying her own pair of HOT boots. The shop is Tienda and it just opened on Victoria Avenue in Albert Park. It's packed with lots of gorgeous goodies!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guess What.....

I've found heaven, and it was so close to home!!

Earlier this week H came home raving about the best bacon sandwich he had ever had, in fact I believe he said 'best sandwich hands down'! Being the typical picky and annoyingly critical chef that he is (if you've read earlier posts you'll see what I mean) it's unusual for him to eat anything new without having something negative to say so naturally I was intrigued...

As it happened we both had yesterday off - H had his young chef interview at Grossi's and his generous boss gave him the whole day off. Coincidentally I had a work commitment in the city which involved a massive screaming match(yes on my day off, I've really earned my pay rise. PS if you ever get into a screaming match with a crazy person you won't win, they can always out scream you) Once that was over I was quite happy to try on shoes that I can't afford at David Jones for an hour while H finished up, so once we were both done with the screaming and the shoes and the interviewing we were on Bourke Street and looking for some lunch. (FYI, H didn't seem confident, last year they questioned his choice of place of employment, and this year, when he has one of the top jobs in town they just seemed to want to know how his boss runs the business...sheesh!

H was still filled with warm scrummy bacon memories from his first jaunt to our new nirvana, so we whizzed down Little Bourke to the deli-slice of heaven (sorry for the pun), also known as Earl Canteen. We could only wrangle a 15 minute car park so we raced in, H ordered the Pork Belly - crispy skin Otway pork with apple and coleslaw on a crunchy baguette - and I could not look past the Confit Duck, with caramelised wild figs, walnuts, onion jam, radicchio and watercress on perfect ciabatta (half of which is pictured, I munched down the first half before it occurred to me to take a picture...I always do that). It came quickly served by friendly young staff and was scoffed down with 3 minutes to spare on our parking space.

My heaven can be found at 500 Bourke Street (enter from Little Bourke Street, located under Movida) and they open Monday to Friday for brekkie and lunch. Do it!

You can find their full menu at

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sharing The Love

For any of you game to try the magic rainbow cake here is a copy of the instructions I sent to a few friends. It really is quite easy so have fun!!

Ok guys, here is my invented techni-colour dream cake recipe. More experienced bakers might have a better way of doing this, but this is how I went about it. It really comes down to the food colouring. Ok, first the cake. I made three cakes, each a different colour. Try and get good quality gel icing colour as you will only need to use a tiny bit to get vibrant colour and it works for cake and icing. I did all of this in a kitchen aid with a paddle attachment but I think electric beaters would do the trick.


240g butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs (beaten lightly)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


Pre heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Grease and flour a 20-25cm cake tin (if you have a spring base PERFECT)

Mix butter and sugar together.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the butter mix, alternating a bit of flour for a bit of the beaten egg to get a really smooth batter.

Add the vanilla and food colour (a little bit at a time!)

The batter will be quite thick. Pour into tin , smooth out and give it a band to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 30 mins.



This is what makes this cake a winner. You will need one batch of the following for each cake layer and then a double batch for the outside of the cake.


250g icing sugar sifted
80g unsalted butter at room temp
25ml whole milk
couple of drops of vanilla extract


Beat the icing sugar and the butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or handheld electric mixer) on slow/medium speed until the mixture comes together.

Turn the mixer down to slow speed.

Combine the milk and vanilla in a separate bowl and add to the butter mixture a little at a time.

Once all the milk is incorporated turn the mixer up to high speed and continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy (at least 5 mins) add your colour at this point so it is totally incorporated.


Slice the tops off your cakes so you have three even, flat layers.

Choose which colour you want on the bottom and make one batch of the frosting in the same colour. Smooth the icing quite thickly over the cake, leaving a little to one side.

Place your next cake layer on top. fill in any gaps around the outside with the frosting and scrape off the excess. Make another batch of frosting the same colour as the middle layer and repeat the process with the final layer of cake. Once your third cake layer is on top make the double batch of icing to cover the entire top and sides of your masterpiece.

Decorate any way you see fit! We used multi-coloured choc rocks and edible glitter. H got this stuff and the food colour from a cake decorating shop in Melbourne which has an online store - I can highly recommend,

If my instructions are hard to follow feel free to call me (or invite me over and we can do it together - I'll even bring my colouring ;)

Good luck cake lovers - and once again thanks to L for the inspiration and inspired method of getting those sprinkles onto the side of the cake!

Good Vibes

H has his interview for Good Food Guide Young Chef of The Year tomorrow morning.

Everyone send him good thought please :)


Last year I fell in love with a new breed of reality TV. Masterchef was like a breath of fresh air, different format, judges who knew what they were talking about, contestants that didn't make me feel the need to go on a murderous rampage and best of all, some of Australia's most exciting culinary talent showcased for the nation to feast on.

That was last year. This year, I hate it.

The blatent product placement, the simpering, whining, crying contestants and the fact that most of them just want their faces on television drives me nuts and I find myself sounding so much like my father when I say, it's rubbish.

H and I caught up for drinks with another chef friend and his charming wife (M & A) on Sunday and M made an excellent point. Some of the contestants this year are quite young, not yet in there twenties, and they sit there on screen talking about their dreams of becoming a chef. Well if that is the case why not become a chef? Seriously, H didn't start his apprenticeship until he was 18, my own father started his last year and there is a serious shortage in Melbourne. H's boss wants to hire an apprentice at the moment - now that is the opportunity of a lifetime, if you want to be a chef, not if you want to be famous.

And to top it all off, Matt Preston's plate throwing antics and the cliffhanger style ad break truely was 'disgusting'. The lack of all of that scripted drama last year was what distinguished Masterchef from all the other annoying, crappy drizzle.

Like A said on Sunday, the first season of a reality TV show is always good, before the contestants start seeking the fame and money that will come along with it rather than persuing dreams of a different life.

Yuck. Rant over.


I've gotten a bit behind on my blogging so this is semi-old news....but regardless of that this deserves to be blogged about, my techni-colour dream cake was a massive success.

With the help of a couple of gorgeous cousins the cake was assembled and transported with minimal difficulty and cut and served with maximum success!

Getting the chocolate pebbles on the sides was a highlight, we began by throwing them at the still sticky frosting until L came up with an innovative idea and sort of spatulared them on.

I was so thrilled when it was cut and three perfect rainbow layers appeared (instead of the brown blobby mess I was expecting) that I proceeded to do a screaming victory lap of the party and then sit down to sign autographs on people's napkins.

Possible the proudest moment in my life, not sure that childbirth will even compare ;)

Monday, May 10, 2010

"I'm No Good At Weddings"

Many will recognise the title of this blog as a line from The Simpsons, uttered by a blubbering Moe Syzlak. Well, I am also no good at weddings, but I'm even worse at good byes.

Last month my sister left for her UK working holiday. I did not expect to get emotional for a few reasons: 1. She was meant to leave 3 weeks earlier but was delayed due to that oh so funny Icelandic volcano, so there was a big build up and a bit of an anti-climax. 2. I was really happy and excited for her, I've done it and it was the best experience of my life, nothing sad about it (except coming home) 3. I like to think of myself as a pretty cool customer, nothing phases me, I'm worldly and smart and oh so chic...BAH! I'm just lying to myself on that one!

When it came time to wave little sis off through those big doors we (being H and my parents) looked over to her travel companion who was in tears bidding her also very teary family adieu and laughed quietly to ourselves about how unemotional we all were...I think I was still laughing when I realised I was crying. It was big sobby crying too, much to the chagrin of H who muttered something about me being a two pot screamer. Yes, I admit, I had two ciders at dinner but I'm afraid this is not why I was so upset, I am just no good at good byes.

I hate the feeling of not knowing when I'll see someone again. Our last few days in London were particularly emotional, as was the last time I saw my girl HJ in Canada.

That was two years ago and now all it takes is a glance at a photo or an sms from my long lost friends to bring me undone...missing people is much worse than saying goodbye to them.

So we've decided enough is enough, WE'RE GOING TO LONDON!!! I am over the moon, crazy, freak out excited. We're going for two weeks in October (two weeks if H manages to drag me back onto the plane that it!)

More details to come but it is going to be a holiday filled with great food, fantastic friends, OH and of course a couple of days in Paris...before we have to say goodbye again :(

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Sometimes being married to a chef SUCKS!

Occasionally I have the urge to cook for my husband. Once I made a roast chicken with special stuffing that went under the skin on top of the breast meat. It took me all day and was pretty adventurous for my cooking abilities. H ate it and said 'my only criticism is that there was too much prosciutto in the stuffing...stunned silence. 'Your ONLY criticism?' I asked, 'why must there be a criticism, why not just say thank you?'. I swore I'd never cook again.

Having forgiven this past assassination on my cooking character I gave it another go with one of my mum's old recipes, tuna and spinach crepes. 'Needs pepper' were the only words uttered. After a few choice swear words I again swore off cooking for good...until last night.

As previously mentioned I had two dear friends over for a meal. Not wanting them to be disappointed with their allocated chef for the evening I spent the entire day slaving away to make a meal worthy of them. I even went to South Melbourne Market, which usually scares me!

The feast consisted of a roast garlic, thyme and marscapone risotto with toasted almonds and breadcrumbs followed by a pecan pie MADE FROM SCRATCH - yes pastry too (pictured)! The PHD and the Actress seemed very impressed, damn it they WERE impressed and I must say, so was I. In fact I felt so confident that I spooned the left over serve of risotto into a bowl and cut a piece of the special pie. H arrived home after I was asleep last night so I didn't get the verdict until this afternoon and while he liked the pie (he never seems to have an issue with my baked goods) the risotto was just 'ok'. IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK THAT HE JUST LIE TO ME???? I know he's a chef and will always know better than me but if he wants to avoid a punch in the lunch he's going the wrong way about it!

Anyway, rant over. I love you babe but next time please just say thanks!

In other cooking escapades I gave the rainbow sponge a go in hot pink...success! Looking forward to constructing the whole thing.

In a completely unrelated topic I am considering selling my wedding dress. It seems like a really sensible idea one minute and then the saddest thing the next. Has anyone done it? Regrets? Let me know.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


In a bid to de-clutter my life (wardrobe) I have put a few items on ebay.

There are some real treasures there so check it out!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Friends in High Places

Most of my closest friends are those who I have known my entire life. Friends from school or family friends have turned into successful adult relationships. This morning I had an email from one such friend informing me that she had started a blog, inspired by my bravery. This particular gal pal has spent the past few years living and working in Freetown, Sierre Leone...and she thinks I'm brave?

This got me thinking, so many people I know are doing much more interesting, brave things than me and what interesting blogs their lives would make!

Earlier this year one friend was treading the boards with Geoffrey Rush for the Melbourne Theatre Company, another is completing his PHD at Cambridge on full scholarship, one is a successful electrician whose beautiful wife works in shoes...SHOES! Another has the most beautiful baby girl in the world and one living and working in Japan. I have cousins writing novels, following their dreams at fashion week, being nurses and teachers and saving the world! Such exciting, interesting people who I have known since childhood, it is a real joy to be part of their lives (and it doesn't hurt that they provide good blog material!)

So the PHD is home from Cambridge for a few days and tonight he and the Actress are coming to my house for dinner - although most people would be disappointed to come to a chef's house to have his wife cook for them these two have known me long enough to know what to expect...take away. Just kidding, I will cook!!

These two lovelies have been friends since school days, I've known and loved them even longer than H! In fact if it weren't for the Actress I doubt I'd be married to him now! After breaking up with him, when I was all of 15 years old, and then realising I still liked him the famous C was the one who asked H if he hated me (on my request) and that paved the way for a reconciliation that has not faltered for almost 11 years.

I have so many people to be proud of, what a lucky girl I am.


Sunday, April 18, 2010


I was not christened, I have never been to a church service that wasn't a wedding, in fact I am an atheist so when an Icelandic volcano erupts sending plumes of ash into the atmosphere and delaying air travel to Europe days before my beloved sister is due to leave me for two years it ALMOST makes me question whether there isn't some greater power out there granting my secret wishes.....naahhh!

In all seriousness I will be thrilled to wave M off once air travel is deemed safe once more - and not just for the promise of Krispy Kremes at the airport :) Travelling and living in a foreign city was the best thing that I ever did (apart from marrying the love of my life of course)and I cannot recommend it highly enough. So, even though it is with a very heavy heart, I am preparing to bid my little sister blister so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu.

On a brighter note (literally) I am undertaking the great task of making a technicolour dream cake for my cousin's upcoming 21st birthday party. Another of my fabulous cousins posted a photo of the glorious creation online (I have included it in this post also) and I have accepted the challenge and enlisted H as my assistant. The cake looks to be several layers of a firm sponge, each a different colour, each separated by a different coloured frosting, the entire thing frosted and coated with multi coloured 100s and 1000s! Sublime. It will either look very magical and Dr Seuss like....or it will all melt into a brown mess. Cousin L, who made the initial discovery has agreed to take full responsibility so I figure it's win win for me, I'll be the hero or it will be L's fault!

One last thing - thank you to everyone who has been supporting this blog. I haven't written anything for a while and several people have told me they missed it - yes they are all related to me but hey, they're the best kind of people!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thar' She Blows!

Well, what a weekend it was for us Melbournians! After a boring day in the office on Saturday I arrived home just before the deluge. Wind, hail and rain so fierce we had rain coming inside the flat. Personally I've never seen a storm like it, I watched it all from my bedroom window and the way the wind was whipping around was downright scary. H had water coming through the light fittings in the restaurant which is never a good thing - I hear electricity and water don't mix! Check out the photos of our driveway, before and during!

Once everything calmed down and the mudslide formally known as our backyard looked stable we decided to take advantage of the public holiday and get out of Melbourne.

H's parents have had a caravan on the foreshore at Dromana forever and it's a gorgeous spot to unwind and relax and just do nothing in's also a great place to kick of a killer wine and cheese day in the Red Hill area! So that's what we, together with one of my fine selection of brothers in law, spent Saturday doing.

We kicked things off at Main Ridge Estate for a quick tasting, the Half Acre Pinot deserves a special mention. We then ducked across the road for some cheeky cheese and crackers at the Red Hill Cheesery (see pic) yum yum yum yum yum. I am partial to goats cheese and they have a fantastic selection. The Cheviot is particularly special and we have already devoured the chunk we took home!

Next on the list was Paradigm, this was something special. The air was filled with the scent of lavender and the view over the vineyards was spectacular. We were greeted by winemaker George Mihaly and walked through four really special wines. The Riesling was exquisite as was the pinot, well worth a visit.

We dropped into the Merricks General Store and were instantly greeted by winemaker Kathleen Quealy who spent a good hour chatting and pouring us wine - too many to remember but some really interesting stuff. The General Store (which was heaving) is the cellar door for Elgee Park, Baillieu Vineyard and Quealy Wines. The store is a great space and it was delightful to spend an hour there talking to the passionate Kathleen.

Our last winery was Ocean 8, relatively new it is owned by the former owners of Kooyong Wines. Only open once a month, we arrived at the cellar door a little late and missed the Pinot Gris which we had heard a lot about. The Chardonnay was great and the pinot looks like it will be in a couple of years.

Our day finished at Red Hill Brewery as all good days should (you will notice that I have not mentioned any food apart from a little taste of cheese - this is because we got so caught up in the winey deliciousness we forgot to eat and ended up back in Dromana feasting on chicken and chips...and cheviot!

So a very successful Sunday in the hills, unfortunately it all came to a screeching halt when the three of us woke up in the middle of the night drenched due to the torrential rain and very leaky annex roof, it seems we couldn't escape the weather after all!

The Mornington Peninsula is really very close to Melbourne, especially with the new east link extension, it's a perfect day trip...just make sure you have a trustworthy designated driver! H drew the short straw this time and my BIL and I were chauffeured around having a whale of a time.

Check out the websites below for more info on the wineries:

Alice in Wonder(ful)land

The story of Alice in Wonderland has always appealed to me - haunting and strange with a twist of beautiful - so when I heard that Tim Burton was recreating the classic tale I couldn't have been happier.

So when H and I had a surprise day off together yesterday we immediately decided to go and check it out. I left the choice of time and cinema up to H, a mistake evidently as he decided on the 3.30pm showing at IMAX only to discover that it was a 3pm sharp showing when we arrived to buy tickets at the theatre (this is not the first time he has made such a mistake and hence is fired from arranging social engagements going forward).

We raced across town to catch the 4pm at our local theatre - Gold Class no less, did you know it's cheaper during the day on a weekday???

Anyway, we got there eventually and loved the film. It was everything I hoped it would be, especially the Cheshire Cat voiced by Stephen Fry. Thoroughly recommend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Pathetic heading I know but in no way let it reflect the way that I really feel about tapas. I love it! The flavour, the spice and all things nice really appeal to me. I was first introduced to the Spanish delights in London, in fact one of my first 'dates' with my best friend was at a tapas restaurant. I read somewhere that tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people aren't so focused on working their way through an entire meal but rather nibble on little bits and tastes while chatting away. That was certainly true with Mrs London and it was true more recently at Bar Lourinha in Melbourne.

Located at the top end of Little Collins Street this cosy eatery is packed full of conversation and energy, even on a 'quiet' Monday night. We were seated at the bar and promptly dove into the menu, devouring green olives, Yellow Tail Kingfish 'pancetta' with lemon oil, Crystal Bay prawn tortilla, heirloom tomatoes with fromage frais, roasted mushrooms with garlic cream and a huge serve of pimientos (it's like Spanish pepper roulette, most of them are sweet and gorgeous but occasionally you get a hot one and MAN are they spicy little puppies...needless to say every single pepper that entered my mouth was hot, luckily beer sooths the pain).

It always helps to know the chef. Bar Lourinha is part owned by Matt McConnell but as most of you foodies will know the top chefs always employ a brilliant head chef to help run the show (my husband for instance ;). At Bar Lourinha that brilliant chef is Marcus Allen. Marcus and H worked together a couple of years ago and have remained great friends - who else would get the honour of a special dessert platter sent to their table?? OK, so the 'dessert platter' consisted of a couple of Kopikos (coffee lollies, a staple of the chef diet) but hey, we still felt special.

The real desserts were too good to pass up. Churros. Need I say more? Yes. Churros with dulche de leche (Spanish candied milk)....cue Homer Simpson drool noise.

So Bar Lourinha was definitely my cup of Spanish candied milk so to speak. They don't take dinner reservations but we didn't have to wait to be seated on a Monday night, apparently things can get crazy on the weekends but it's well worth the wait.

Check out the full menu and wine list at

NB The photos were taken on my phone so aren't great, but you get the idea

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's a Chef's Life

The following was written by H when he was working in London. He has quite a flair for writing but not much time to pursue it - as you will no doubt understand very soon!

A Typical Day

6.25am Wake up, make coffee in travel mug - 2 tablespoons coffee, two tablespoons sugar, just enough milk to make it drinkable.

6.32am Out of the house, run to the bus stop.

6.42am On the tube, surrounded by other chefs and some tradies.

6.58am Off the tube at Green Park (bang in the middle of Mayfair right over the road from The Ritz), grab a few bananas and an apple from Marks & Spencer.

7.05am Waiting out the back of the restaurant for one of the junior Sous chefs (both Aussies) to open up. 1st veg delivery has already arrived - check over it to make sure everything I need to start working straight away is there. Make sure the right spuds are there - at the moment we are ordering 5 different varieties - Charlotte, Roosevelt, Jersey Royal, Agrias and Bintjie.

7.15am Change into supplied uniform - a slightly ill-fitting jacket and seriously heavy duty blue and white striped bib apron. Finish second banana and pour myself a cup of tea - black. Turn on all the ovens and target tops, so they're all hot when the senior chef-de-parties turn up. Check the stocks, usually a white veal, white lamb, blond chicken and brown duck.

7.30am Set up my board, sharpen knives and check mise-en-place list, oh good, I'm on staff meals this morning, half an hour I couldn't afford to lose! I'll just use up all that veg we cooked off for service last night (all the baby and wild veg - turnips, carrots, leeks, fennel, asparagus, beans, peas are blanched or butter poached for every service).

7.45am The seniors start to arrive, us juniors are already busy prepping all the veg that arrived - a box of broad beans for every service, graded into size and blanched in separate batches. Morels, Chanterelles and Musserons have to be graded and cleaned...twice a day.

8.00am Get potatoes into the oven for mash, gnocchi, brandade and the truffle sauce - looks like we need 2.8kg of dry mash for lunch. Mash is made for every service. Spuds are graded, washed, pierced and baked on salt for 1.5 hours, then moulied. The dry mash is distributed as required and left overs are softened with heated double cream, butter and whole milk, then kept at room temperature, which by the time this is all ready (about 10am) is already well over 40*C.

8.15am Where is that yellow plastic asparagus peeler? It's the only one we're allowed to use on the one pound per spear English asparagus, it only takes off the skin and leaves a lovely green on the stem. Clean ten bunches and tie them into bundles of seven - ready to be blanched at 10.30am. Veg can be cooked a maximum of 2 hours before service.

8.30am I wonder what the fish of the day is today? At lunch there is a fish of the day and a fish course on the set lunch, never the same and often changing up to 5 times a week, and even between lunch and dinner.

9.00am The boss arrives - lovely bloke, got to admire a chef who left working for Marco [Pierre White] when he was just becoming huge, and goes out to open his own restaurant at the age of 25 and 15 years later is still making sure that he is there in the kitchen when he is rostered on. A few weeks ago he ran the London Marathon - so did Gordon [Ramsey]. The boss did (most of) service the night before, ran the 25 miles in just over three hours (45 minutes faster than Gordon) then turned up for service that night.

9.30am Start making the veg purees - the closest thing to a sauce we in garnish get to make! Sometimes just green pea but depending on the fish of the day and set lunch menu it can be pea, cauliflower, white onion, shallot, celeriac, parsnip, carrot and verjuice or many other combinations.

10.30am Mash made, purees are blending. Time to organise the farinaceous for set lunch fish - hand rolled macaroni, gnocchlettes, hand picked lentils, risottos - whatever it is. Oh, and don''t forget to put in the order for this afternoon's veg delivery.

11.00am Time to serve staff lunch, use up that old veg, yesterday's macaroni's, endive trim, anything - "it's just not a staff salad without day old eggs and oxidised endive". There are way too many staff to feed - up to 14 chefs, 3 or 4 kitchen porters, 4 commis waiters and I'm not sure but about 10 waiters, 1 sommelier a maitre'd, front of house manager and the two office girls.

11.15am Get the slow poached eggs on the induction top. Six eggs - organic Italian with the yellowest yolks ever. Cooked for 45 minutes at 65*C, then held at room temperature for service. Afterwards they are used in tonight's staff meal - because they are on a vegetarian main course and we hardly ever sell any.

11.20am Assemble pomme boulangere - discs of hand cut potato, layered on brunoise of shallot and leek that has been confit in duck fat, cover the whole lot with brown chicken stock and the foie gras terrine trim, oh yeah, don't forget the thyme petals today. Stick it under the salamander on pilot.

11.30am Time for a break, give the porters time to scrub the floors ready for lunch service. I think I'll have another coffee and another bottle of water while we sit on the wall out the back of the restaurant. Wow, it's sunny today - going to get hammered on fish at lunch, the meat guys probably could have arrived at 11am and still been ready for lunch.

11.45am That's it, fun time over, back in to set up for war. 65 booked in for lunch between 12.15pm and 1.30pm. Today is going to be no fun. Set the garnish pass. Warm up all the purees and get them checked by Jezz, our South Oz junior sous chef. He's been here for almost six years. The cauliflower is spot on, pea could use some stock syrup, the duxcelle (all hand diced mushrooms) needs some more cream and a splash of truffle juice.

11.50am Get the new season onions on the stove - poached in butter and chicken stock. And those Jersey Royal potatoes - tiny little things that have have had the skin scrubbed (not peeled) off them. These spuds are grown on the side of hills covered in seaweed, so tasty, almost no starch...make sure the water doesn't boil or they will break up.

MIDDAY SHIT! Check the boulangere! Somebody turned the gas on yesterday and cooked the whole lot into one big black mass. Not a problem today, golden brown and delicious, make sure Jezz checks that too.

12.10pm First table is in, canapes and bread go from the pastry section - man have they got it easy over there, so much no-brainer work happening in there, bake bread twice a day, bake same canapes twice a day. Three of them in there during service, and sometimes they may only sell 10 desserts.

12.20pm The printer starts going - check on, keep one for us, give the starters their copy. Yep, two fish mains, today it's macaroni with a ragout of broad beans, peas, asparagus tips and mousserons all sweated in butter and mounted with asparagus nage (the nage is tasty considering it's all veg). Cut the veg really fine - carrot, brown onion, fennel, celery, leek. Sweat in oil and plenty of salt - the salt helps the veg release its juice. Once the veg drops its juice chuck in fennel seeds, white peppercorns and coriander seeds then cover with water. Bring it up as quickly as possible, pull off the heat and chuck in all the asparagus trim along with any fine herbs left over from this morning's delivery, cover with glad wrap - I mean cling film...

12.30 Service is in full swing. All the garnish has to be cooked to order in individual pots - 7 pots on the stove at the moment, butter and salt just gone in the front pot, starting to foam in the next two, add the musserons to them, those little mushrooms take some serious butter and cooking considering they're so small, the next two are ready to have the veg added, "Get me that fucking bass garnish Skip" Oh man, quick get the macaroni in the back pot, "I need it now you useless Koala", finish it with parsley chiffonnade, lemon juice, make sure the nage and butter emulsified properly because if they didn't, don't bother sending it. This one's fine, get back to the six on the stove, mount this one, veg in that one, finish those two "for fucks sake H where the hell is the lemon in this one? Why has this one got butter in it but the other doesn't?"
"oui chef, send it back I'll fix it"
"that's better, make sure the rest come over just like that".

1.10pm Starting to run out of broad beans - 25 out of 40 covers have had the lunch menu fish, going to have to start podding them to order, I hate it when it gets to that stage. "H why are there so few feves in this serve?"
"I'm going down on them chef, just give me a minute to pod some"
"Would somebody help over in fish garnish? Peanut you Canadian shit, lend a hand will you?"
"Oui chef"
"Christian I know you think that all you have to do is dishes but help would you, you useless African/French hybrid!"

2.30pm Last pot of garnish goes up - wasn't from the lunch menu, it was Halibut. Pea puree, pomme boulangere, new season onions coated in panchetta powder and a silver side with petite pois a'la fraincais covered in pea foam. A really tasty dish.

2.35pm Get the spuds in for tonight's mash.

2.45pm Pack down quick, clean down the stoves, pull the pans down and scrub the ovens - clean everything, even though it's about 55*C at ground level and standing up above the stoves scrubbing the pan shelves (where the ovens vent to) it has to be 65*C - it's hot, that's all I know.

3.00pm Check the second veg order, yep, all looks good. Peel down some veg real quick and pass off the stocks.

3.15pm Time to scrub the floors again. "You guys going for a walk?"
"Yeah, going to Sainsburys"
"Yeah, let's go get some sun"
"Just like home for all you fucking Australians I suppose?" - some days we equal the number of English in the kitchen. Yeah, think I might have a break, go and buy a Powerade and sit down in Berkley Square for a minute - get some sort of a break.

3.50pm Back in the kitchen, start for tonight. Didn't sell much for lunch other than the lunch menu so there's plenty of prep around from this morning.

4.00pm Spuds out, make more mash - good mash can make or break you during a service, it has to be milled while it's hot so it won't go gluey, and plenty of butter has to go in so it goes really shiny. If you make bad mash, don't work out the grains or something - then you're going to know about it.

4.15pm Cook off More baby veg. "Fresh is best" but don't leave it too late because too fresh will leave you in the shit going into service and that ain't no fun.

4.45pm Don't have to bother with staff meals tonight, I'll keep pushing on, grab a plate and eat it later. Better get some more poached eggs on for tonight.

4.50pm Peel a box of spuds, gotta stay on top of things like this, it's that sort of thing that can ruin your day.

5.15pm Make another boulanger, forget about trying to use the one from lunch - "Why would our customers want to eat old potato? If they wanted shit like that they would go to Ramsay's!"

5.30pm Better make another pea puree for the Halibut dish. Sweat off a few finely diced whit onions in butter, making sure the salt goes in at the start so they soften right down, add a litre of milk and a litre of chicken stock, bring it up to boil, then add a bag of peas - frozen of course, no point wasting beautiful fresh peas in a puree. Now the tricky part, cook the peas long enough to make sure the skins are tender but not too far that they lose their bright green wonderfulness. Now blitz them in the thermo - a jug blender that can heat while blending, handy for some things, not for this. Get that puree ice cold quickly so it stays green. Once it's chilled I like to blitz it again so it goes super smooth. If the purees are top notch everybody loves you!

5.50pm Get all that stuff on the stove that needs to be cooked every service - Jersey Royal spuds, new season onions, confit garlic cloves and the list goes on.

6.00pm Check the prep, yep, all looks good. Double check the prep list, no problems. Scrub down and get ready for another sit on the wall. Don't forget that cold plate of staff food and another tepid cup of dishwater coffee.

6.30pm The floor is clean and everyone is pumped, tonight is the quietest Friday night in ages, we might even get out before the last drinks are called at The Coach and Horses - a stinky little pub just next door that is only good for serving chilled pints and borrowing trays of eggs from us.

6.45pm First check, dinner is never as painful as lunch, first orders from 6.30pm last orders at 11pm, so loads more time to feed the same amount of people.

10.30pm Dinner has run smoothly, it's Friday night, all we sell is the 'menu gourmand' and I only have to contribute to one dish - a mini version of the halibut.

10.45pm Last order comes through, oh man, gourmand 'assholes'. The whole kitchen cries out, an order like that at this time of night means that even if they rush through the meal they won't get their final savoury course until midnight.

10.50pm Guess I'll start cleaning down none the less. Get any left over prep into fresh gastro containers, wrap them nice and tight, label and date clearly.

11.05pm While the starters are still being sent for that last table we pull the stoves apart and scrub everything again. It's still damn hot in here. Guess we missed those last drinks, good luck trying to find somewhere to get a drink in this town after 11pm!

11.30pm All clean and tidy, send over the garnishes for 'That Table'.

11.45pm Still waiting to send the lamb, not my department but I have to hang around. It's Friday, we get a case of Becks to share between the kitchen and NOTHING is more enjoyable than those two green bottles of German love.

11.50pm The two gourmand lamb have left the pass in record time, the target tops, salamander and ovens are off. That's it, we are outta here.

11.55pm I'm convinced there is nothing worse that eight hot, stinky chefs crammed into a staff locker room, but at this time of day I don't care.

MIDNIGHT Sitting on the wall in the cool London night enjoying my Becks, chatting with the team. We've just spent sixteen hours together, now we finally have a chance to chat - but not for too long, the last northbound tube on the Jubilee line in in twenty three minutes.

12.23am Just made it. That chat went for too long, it's amazing how easy it is to slag off people you work with when they aren't there.
"Man she is so useless, chicks should just stay out of the kitchen"
"Yeah, and what was she thinking when she sent over that spinach? Water from the dead sea isn't that salty!"
"Yeah, and her fondants were shit"
Oh well, I made the last tube and tomorrow is Saturday and that means no lunch service so I get to sleep in.


Hu Tong Dumpling House in Prahran, Cafe Domain in South Yarra, Siam Orchid Thai in Helensvale QLD, Tea and Niceties in Eagle Heights QLD, Waterfront Station Pier in Port Melbourne, The Palace Hotel in Port Melbourne...PHEW. Just a few of the places where I have eaten, drank and been merry during two weeks of blissful leave from my dull job!

As H's fabulous new job has proven to be more demanding than we had even prepared ourselves for we were resigned to the fact that a holiday together in the next twelve months was simply an impossibility, so while he has been slaving in the kitchen (preparing for a special Valentines Day menu at The Restaurant - but more on that later) I decided to use up some of my copious amount of leave days and take a rest from my own demanding work load.

The past fortnight has centred around a trip to the Gold Coast to surprise a most beloved cousin with a baby shower at one of the most amazing venues I have ever encountered. The entire event was a surprise for said cousin - we don't do things by halves in this family and all the women congregated to wish her all the love and happiness for the final weeks of this very special pregnancy and pending motherhood. The shower was staged at Tea and Niceties in Eagle Heights, Queensland. A high tea establishment, Tea and Niceties was like a step back into the 19th century with immaculate table settings, tea roses and PINK SUGAR! Every last pink detail was utterly divine not to mention the abundance of food including savory muffins, tiny scones and the most beautiful pana cotta, so beautiful in fact my cousin apologised to it before daintily dissecting it while my Aunt downed it like a shot glass to enjoy all the delicious and decorative morsels at once.

The women in my family are a collection of witty, intelligent, loving and beautiful people who offer such wisdom and support that I do not fret for a moment about the difficulties we might face when H and I start a family. Obviously it's something we have to take into consideration, with the hours H works the brunt of the early days of parenting will fall to me but with a support system that spans the states we're not too worried!

So, the Valentines saga! The Restaurant are opening especially on Sunday as they are usually closed - yes that means another Valentines Day without any romance for us - so it's a long week for H and his team especially as they are offering lunch and dinner services and ESPECIALLY as the set 10 course menu on offer is entirely different to the regular menu. This means that on top of a week of busy regular service the kitchen staff must prep for Sunday's service...which is fully booked...lunch and dinner. This on the week that tafe starts back and H loses his apprentices for a day! So it's early mornings and late nights with this revolting heat and humidity to boot. H is a trooper though, as long as there is a cold beer in the fridge and Seinfeld in the DVD player when he gets home he's a happy boy.

As for the restaurants I mentioned at the beginning of this post - Hu Tong Dumplings on Commercial Road is great, super fast and friendly service, handmade dumplings and an extensive Chinese menu covering most regions. Cafe Domain on Domain Road is always good for a quick brekky or tasty salad. If you're up north and hankering for some really decent Thai food, Siam Orchid in Helensvale is your answer - try the Lad Na noodles, I've never seen them on another Thai menu and the dish was almost worth the trip alone! Tea and Niceties is in Eagle Heights on Mt Tamborine and is perfect for baby or bridal showers or just a special tea for two (see picture). The Waterfront seafood restaurant in Port Melbourne never disappoints - I had a wonderful meal with my wonderful parents there just yesterday...mmmmmm lobster risotto - need I say more?

The Palace Hotel in Port Melbourne is Luke Mangan's new gastro pub on City Road. Again with my parents, they know how to eat, my dad is also a chef and as I've mentioned before they own a restaurant. We had a really pleasant late supper/dinner in the courtyard on a particularly balmy evening. Pan fried gnocchi with cauliflower and asparagus polonaise, salt and pepper squid with miso mayo, chicken liver parfait and Wagyu beef burger were all highlights but with an extensive bar and restaurant menu we barely scratched the surface.

All in all a pretty fab couple of weeks. Tomorrow I'm off to Bunnings to start a little DIY project. I'm also hoping to get another post up here pretty quickly - something H wrote while we lived in London which has always deserved publication and this is the best way I know how!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

slack slack slack

It was pretty inevitable that I would be pretty hopeless keeping up the ol' blog but at least a decent break means lots of material saved up for one super excellent blog...maybe...

When last we met I'd just had a very lovely birthday and I'm pleased to report the loveliness continued into the following week when I met one of my favorite married couples for a delicious birthday treat. This particular Mr and Mrs are the stylish, savvy, city type so we met at The Italian at 101 Collins Street and while the Mrs regaled us with hilarious tales of her misadventures on a tropical island we enjoyed some really delightful food and wine including beef carpaccio with celeriac remoulade and Reggiano and really, really delicious spaghetti of blue swimmer crab, tomato and chili - mmmmmmmm. Being the wife of a chef I have become very good at being the third, fifth or seventh wheel, but these two make it so easy!

The following days were filled with fleeting visits from international uncles and worrying test results from the doc (being a chef's wife may have it's perks but high cholesterol - my doctor actually used the term "up the creek" - is not one of them!).

Sunday saw us at H's boss's house for a staff party, celebrating Christmas (obviously December is too busy to do it then) and the exciting award they worked so hard to receive last year. This makes the cholesterol kinda worth it...oysters, delicious salads, poached chicken, tender pork belly, wagu rump, pate en crute etc etc etc. The food was amazing and the company even better. They really do operate as a big family and it was quite a privilege to be invited in.

It was so wonderful to hear from my BFF who I spoke to on Monday while half dead from some sort of nasty stomach bug - especially since she was calling from London! It's always so great to speak to her, she makes me laugh and we reminisce about the high jinx we got up to over there! Her husband has put together a brilliant blog called Home Zero Home and I urge you all to check it out at

So all in all a very successful couple of weeks I must say and now I am off on two weeks delicious leave including a massage and a mini break away with some of my favorite women...stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Year Older...

Birthdays used to be such an event for me. I would let everyone know months in advance, how many sleeps until I'm another year older...that was until I turned 25. After gathering a few friends together for "a few quiet drinks" I proceeded to write myself off and behave so badly that I honestly feel I don't deserve to celebrate the momentous date anymore.

That was two years ago. I turned 27 last Monday, and much like last year it was very quiet, with next to no fanfare. Some people I know will disagree with me here but I'm really not much for being the centre of attention so this suited me just fine.

H decided Sunday was too nice a day to mope so dragged me out for a pre-birthday afternoon drinky poos. We took a short stroll in the sunshine to the Cherry Tree Hotel in Richmond. Situated next to the old Rosella Complex the pub was light and airy and really quiet for an afternoon so suited to kicking back with your bestie and enjoying a few boutique brews. I made quite good friends with the Knappstien Reserve Lager. Not a cheap shout at $10.00 a bottle but thoroughly worth it and my new favourite!

The Cherry Tree put us in a very good mood and we skipped home (still in the sunshine) making garlands from overhanging vines and acting like a couple of tipsy twenty somethings...H has the photos to prove it. We promptly decided the Cherry Tree is our new 'local' and will be spending many a Sunday arvo there - come and join us anytime!

After such a stunning pre-birthday celebration I hardly expected Monday to surpass Sunday, especially(as my fellow Melburnians will confirm) the temperature was set to soar into the mid 40s and I don't do well in the heat. However, much to my surprise and delight halfway through the sweltering workday my mum and little sister (who also work in hospitality - our family business in one of Victoria's top tourist destinations) appeared to whisk me off for a seafood lunch...not too shabby. Not to mention a delivery of my favorite roses from H!

By the time work was over the mercury sat at about 43 degrees and our plans for a quick Vietnamese and a movie were looking pretty grand. H and I headed to Victoria Street in Richmond for a delicious meal - it never disappoints, where else can you eat so much you feel like exploding and walk away having paid less than $50 for two? Codo is our fave, tiny, busy, really really yummy.

So all in all a pretty fab and low key birthday - drinks, seafood, gorgeous flowers, Vietnamese, great movie (The Lovely Bones - THOROUGHLY recommend) OH and a homemade strawberry tart by a word class chef...doesn't get much better!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Laziness is a Virtue

Usually, when H is working of an evening, I come home from work, organise something lame for dinner, sit down in front of the TV and stay there for a good three to four hours. Hey, no one's there to tell me not to! I have been pretty set in this routine for the past 12 months - there was some great crappy television in 2009!

However, since starting back at work a few days ago my lovely, lazy nights have become a thing of the past. For the past two nights I've actually done - cue dramatic music - EXERCISE! I have come home from work, eaten a healthy meal lovingly prepared by my hubbie and once that's done with we head out the door for a brisk walk around the gardens...and here's the shocking part...I LOVE IT!

A little exercise makes you feel good! Whoda thunk it??

The best part though is having time to chat with H. We walk around the beautiful park, soaking up our city and reminisce about holidays and great meals we've had while making plans to go back to these great restaurants with like minded pals.

One particularly fond memory is of The Commoner in Fitzroy. We've been a few times and think we might be due another round. A Honky Sandwich for brunch will stay on your mind well after the meal! Also open for dinner they offer modern British cuisine - hearty, tasty and really worth returning to.

So while H is still on holidays I am really going to make the most of pretending to be a normal person, I think we'll head out for another stroll tonight!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Here we go again...

So, it has been suggested to me many times that I should start a blog. Even if no one ever reads it, what an excellent way to 1. document my oh-so-thrilling existance 2. waste time at work!

Let's start with a breif intro. I am a 26 year old Melbournian, I work in a bayside office and live in a really cute flat. I have a cat, two fish and a husband whom I adore.

Said husband is a chef. In fact Husband is one of the best chefs going round. Truthfully, that's not just wife-speak!

For the past few years Husband has been a fixture at some of Melbourne's (and one of London's) top restaurants. We travelled to London in 2006 for the sole purpose of furthering his career. For a year my darling boy experienced extremely long work hours, weight loss and verbal abuse that makes Gordon Ramsey look like a pussy cat, while I worked a nine to fiver and spent time with a few of the most fabulous friends a girl could hope to find on the other side of the world...oh, and we NEVER saw each other.

London was at the extreme end of the hospitality relationship spectrum. Husband was out the door at 6am and home on the last tube. Since we have been home things have been slightly more relaxed, but slightly less stable. Within a week of arriving back in Melbourne Husband landed a job at what was one of Melbourne's most exciting restaurants, however after a year of back and forthing with new owners and a move into the CBD that never happened, the delightful and innovative eatery closed its doors and the young staff went their separate ways. Seemingly the timing was perfect as one of Husband's London collegues arrived back in Melbourne at that time. Together this talented team took over the kitchen at a flailing inner city restaurant and turned the menu into something special...but once again it was a constant battle with new owners and after a year the chefs moved on to bigger and better things.

So that brings us to late last year. Husband was hired to replace the sous chef at a busy little spot near our home. Within a month the head chef resigned and Husband was faced with a dilemma. Whilst the owners wanted him to replace the head chef they wanted to take the menu in a direction that did not suit him. Things were looking annoyingly up in the air until the phone rang and we heard those fateful words..."hello, this is your dream job calling"!

As of this week my dearest takes over the position of head chef at a Melbourne institution and whilst I could not be prouder (this gushing blog is proof of that) this does mean we are back to the unbearabley long hours.

A day off in common does mean we can retain something resembling a normal relationship, not to mention fodder for this blog when he updates me on all the goss!

In the meantime I hope that other ladies and gents who work a nine to five job while their partners slave away over the hot stoves can relate to these rants, at least I've passed a quick hour in the office!