Thursday, November 20, 2014

On the box

It's no surprise that Christmas is my favourite time of the year. 

Great food, great spirit, great excuse for celebrations.

And as soon as the Adelaide Christmas Pageant has been and gone, I'm ready to kick off the shenanigans (even in Melbourne!). 

Christmas marketing campaigns always grab my attention and two of my faves so far are below. They're both heavyweights in the retail world (UK and Australia) but do these ads speak to you?

John Lewis

David Jones

Yes, they do to me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Happy days

Have you ever had one of those ultimate weekends? Where life just can't get any better and you thank your lucky stars for all the good?

I just had one. And I'm tickled pink.

It all started on Friday night when I went to my first soccer game at AAMI Park. I'm not really into 'football' in this form, but being the sports fan I am and living in the heart of Melbourne's sports precinct, I was keen to give it a go. And Adelaide United was playing, so happy to jump on that bandwagon.

We won.

Then Saturday morning I got up bright and early and took the dog for a walk - I was housesitting in Hawthorn East which is a lovely suburb not far from my house and I cherished the opportunity to have a furry friend around. We went to get a coffee and kick start our day at 7.30am before heading over to celebrate my precious Goddaughter's first birthday with breakfast.

Love her to bits.

Her Mum Bree is a superstar and whipped up a gourmet feast to line my stomach for the day ahead. Eggs, chorizo, avocado, tomato and feta. TDF. So much fun with the kidlets.

Then it was back home to prep for Derby Day. The weather threw things into a bit of a spin and I had to rethink my hair style, but we got there in the end - thanks to a YouTube tutorial on how to do my makeup! 

Looks terrible in the pic below, but it was so much fun to do and I'm led to believe it looked better in real life (albeit not much like a Victoria's Secret Angel!) . . .

Didn't Em look hot? I have such pretty friends!

Derby Day was great, we were based in The Nursery and gorged ourselves on chicken sandwiches and champagne all day. We were hosted by the gorgeous McKinnon family and I was over the moon when Clare told me her cousin reads this little old thing. Who would've thought?! I have a reader out there who isn't a blood relative or friend of my Mum's!?

Randomly bumped into my dear friend Alice on the train platform on the way home which was a gift from the Gods - I was worried we'd never manage to catch up that night. 

Obligatory train selfie below . . .

Rocking the red lips, Acey! 

Then Sunday was a day of rest - of sorts. I was still housesitting so indulged in a Foxtel marathon (Say Yes to the Dress is my new fave!) and then went shopping with Lill to soothe the hangover. Thank goodness for burritos.

Caught up with Alice again Sunday night for drinks at City Wine Bar then dinner at Lucy Liu's followed by nightcap at Eau de Vie.

Wow, we look tired (but so brown and gorge, Acey!)

Monday morning saw Alice get up with the sparrows at 4.30am to catch the red eye back to Brisbane and I managed a few more hours sleep before dragging myself out of bed for a run. Good girl, Kate.

Such gorgeous (and rare) weather called for lunch outdoors so Melissa and I treated ourselves to a couple of hours at Porgie & Mr Jones whilst debriefing the races. Monday night called for some serious couch time and a Breaking Bad marathon (I'm hooked - half way through Season 4. It's so addictive!).

Tuesday was a bit manic preparing for a Melbourne Cup Day BBQ with new friends - made my new favourite Ottolenghi salad (recipe to come) and drank far too much champagne. Retired to the couch for more Breaking Bad last night. I can't help myself.

And that's it! How good!? A seriously fun weekend with seriously fun people and events. Lots to add to the gratitude board.

 Thank you Melbourne for your glorious public holiday (and work for the free day off on Monday!) How did your (long) weekends fare?

And what are you grateful for?


Monday, October 20, 2014

The best ragu. Ever.

It's times like these that I remember why I started ye olde blog.

It was to share my favourite recipes with my friends and family.

Well, I'm quietly confident that this is perhaps the best recipe I've ever shared. 

You know how when you buy a new brand of car, that's all you ever see on the streets from then on? Or when you hear a new song you like (or hate) and then it's playing on the radio every time you turn on your car? Well, that happened to me with a recipe last week.

A girl from work and I were talking cooking and she told me about this sausage ragu that she loves. The only sausage ragu I know is the terrible one we get served up at school with the sausages still in their skin, disguised in some weird coloured curry sauce. I smiled politely but deleted her email as soon as she sent the link through to the recipe.

Then later that week, my friend Shuggie told me about this amazing ragu she makes with pork and fennel sausages. Now, Shuggie would never lie to me when it comes to food, so this time I sat up and took notice. Sure enough, it was the same Karen Martini recipe and it's such a winner in her family, that her Dad now uses it as their lasagne base.

Then I was talking to someone else back home in Adelaide and I mentioned this random ragu recipe and they seconded (or is that thirded) the fact that it's a truly life-changing dish. Everywhere I looked, Karen Martini and her Roman Pork Sausage Ragu was waving hello!

So I just had to try it myself. And everything they said was true - I cooked it for the first 'family dinner' with my new housemate and it was so good we barely spoke - it was all 'mmmm, aaahhhh, yeeeessssss' kind of noises.

Do yourself a favour and get on board. You will never make a normal spaghetti bolognaise ever again. And you will have a newfound respect for the humble sausage!

Hot tip: Watch the video on Karen's website here. I was a bit confused about the whole 'crumble the meat' thing but she makes it look so easy.

And a confession - I didn't buy my sausages from the butcher like she recommends. I bought Coles 'pork, apple and cider' sausages then realised I needed more so topped up with Woolies' 'Italian beef, pork, red wine and fennel sausages'. They worked a TREAT. Oh, and I couldn't find thick-cut pancetta so I used a wedge of smoked pork. Same same but different?! Don't be afraid to experiment.

750 grams pork and fennel sausages 
150 grams thick-cut pancetta, diced
2 brown onions, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
3 celery stalks, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400 ml red wine
600 ml chicken stock
400 grams tinned crushed tomatoes
3 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
salt and pepper
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 grams pasta per person, such as pappardelle

Remove the skins from the sausages and crumble the meat. Discard the skins. Heat a heavy-based pot on medium heat, then add the sausage meat and pancetta. Fry until the sausage meat is golden brown, stirring every few minutes. Don’t worry if you get some sticky, crunchy bits – it’s all flavour.
Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaves, dried chilli and fennel seeds. Stir in well. The vegetables will sweat a little and ease all the crusty, caramelised pieces from the bottom of the pot.
Continue to cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised. Add the tomato paste and red wine and bring to a simmer. Add the stock, tinned tomatoes, rosemary and oregano and continue to simmer for about 45 minutes on low heat, until you have a thick, intense sauce consistency.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
When cooked, season the ragu carefully (the sausages will already be salted), then add the olive oil and the cooked pasta. Bring the pot to the table.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hunting for Hunters

Friends, travellers, wine lovers, romantics.

I'm off to the Hunter Valley with the two loveliest of gals and I'm in need of some accommodation recommendations. I'm flying blind here, people!

It's for two nights (Friday and Saturday) in the second week of November. 

Any hot tips? Restaurant musts, winery loves?

But most importantly, where should we stay!?

Hit me up!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

The cat that got the cream

Then this happened, people!

I am in hysterics, can't stop laughing.

I may not not a THING about finance or economics, but I do know about food. Or I pretend I do.

After the excitement of yesterday's post, the Fin Review got in touch and used some quotes from me for a story about The Fat Duck ballot. I was like a kid at Christmas, talk about media hussy!

Lucille Keen has a way with words, she's a cracker! And she's partial to a strand of pearls, a girl after my own heart!

I'd better just make sure I get picked in the ballot now, that would be totes awkies if I don't make it through! Imagine the follow up story then (although that's more a Today Tonight expose!).

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Am I daft?

So I did it, and I'm so nervous!

I entered The Fat Duck ballot and am sick with fear that I'll be drawn as a lucky winner.

I'm also like a kid before Christmas - can you imagine if I get picked?! It will be the most exciting day of my life (so far, of course).

The $525 (without beverages) pricetag scares the life out of me, but as my friend Em pointed out, it's 12-15 courses which breaks it down to about $35 per dish. Okay, it's still expensive, but it's also a lot of food and 4.5 hours of pure entertainment.

This article from Good Food justified it for me - I know where my tax return will be going this year!

Has anyone actually dined at The Fat Duck before? I'd love to know if you think it's worth it!

Gulp. It's A LOT of money.

Monday, September 29, 2014

An Italian love affair

Amal Alumuddin.

She totally nailed, it right?

What a stunner. And wasn't George so dreamy in his custom Armani tuxedo.

I particularly like the comment about her "love of quirky footwear" - a girl after my own heart . . . says me who's sitting at her desk in her terribly conservative office, rocking out in her ever so fabulous LCA twinkle toe flats. Shoes tell a lot about a girl (and a guy, mind you!)

See more pics from the wedding celebrations here at