Sunday, July 27, 2014

Truffle weekend

The Canberra region is celebrating truffle season with a full festival program this year.  We headed out to Grazing at Gundaroo last night, with Jennie & Wayne, for a gala event: a degustation dinner - featuring our region's sublime black truffles, throughout the six course menu.  The evening started with a Zierholz Brewery truffle infused ale, served at the bar with a scrumptuous duck foie gras with apple on dark rye.

The star of the evening was Antonio Carluccio, the so called Godfather of Italian gastronomy, and a man who is passionate about mushrooms!  He was in an expansive mood and told rambling stories and questionable jokes with the odd recipe or two in between courses.  Although one interesting point he made was that there is currently nowhere else in the world where you can go out and harvest a kilo of truffles like you can in the farms around Canberra!

Grazing was filled to capacity for the event but the food was wonderful (superb), the waitstaff was super professional and we really enjoyed the lively company. Along with Jennie and Wayne we also enjoyed meeting the gorgeous Amanda Whitley, editor of the well known Her Canberra website and the garrulous Dallas who sat on the other side of me and shared a lot of my own views about the way the PM is handling the aftermath of MH17 (not that that has anything to do with truffles).
Every dish was amazing - and generously flavoured with the fragrant black truffle - but the two stand outs for me were the: venison carpaccio with lardo, truffle shavings, remoulade and soft boiled quail egg.

..and dessert: warm chestnut fondant and fig fritter filled with truffle honey and caramelised white chocolate icecream (and a surprise little chocolate package on the side - yum!

On the same weekend as this unforgettable meal we were still lucky enough to be invited for one of Joshy's Sunday roasts this evening. It has been a lovely sunny winter warm day today and so the girls were able to play outside until quite late - without feeling too frozen.

 Abi's finally graduated to a big girl's swing - and the toddler seat has gone for good!

She's been going down that slippery slide for about a year already so I don't know why she looked so doubtful this afternoon.

Ella is getting ready for a hand stand duet with Davey when he arrives from London later this week. She's progressing well but is still not quite at the standard he demonstrated at his wedding last year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

BIG birthday coming up

There is a certain person in the family who is celebrating a HUGE birthday in a few weeks. Our planning is in overdrive and the excitement is building. I have been organising some family photos for the event and have had some fun putting together a BK Book .

I think the three sisters shot below is from about 1959 - 60.

..and the three sisters shot (below) is from November 2012. They are the same three sisters! Can you work out which was which in the b&w shot above?

You can all probably understand now why I spend so much at the hairdressers these days after the hair style abuse I suffered as a child!

The pic below is of BK and baby Joel in 1981 when he was about 3 and a half months old.

And the pic below is of BK with grown up Joel, thirty three years on, in February this year - see how they've both developed a taste for beer over all those years!

The pic below, taken at Josh and Jody's wedding ten years ago includes every member of BK's immediate family at that time. Since then a few more partners have joined the family group and seven gorgeous great grand-children - what a busy decade it has been!

Almost ALL of this wonderful crew, including six of the seven gorgeous great grand-children will be in Canberra to help BK celebrate her BIG birthday in a few weeks. It's wonderful!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fly July

It's July already and time seems to be just flying by. School finished for Ella on Friday and she's on holiday now for two weeks.  One of the last projects her class had for the term was to imagine (and photograph) themselves reading in some strange places. Ella and I had some fun after school one afternoon thinking up some weird places to read.

I did think Ella was enormously clever striking this perfectly balanced pose (below) without a waver (on her way down out of the little maple tree).

So on her first day of the holiday we headed into the National Gallery of Australia to participate in some workshops led by members of the Balinese community in Canberra (in celebration of the current Bali: Island of the Gods exhibition at the NGA).

The children were taught about the daily offering ceremonies and then had a go at making their own versions - sadly without the fresh palm leaves and flowers that they use in Bali.

There were some lovely Balinese ladies there too constructing elaborate temple offerings and keeping an eye on the traditional dance lessons. There was also the charming Made from the Indonesian embassy who demonstrated the instruments of the gamelan orchestra and helped us master the more intricate folding and cutting techniques for the offerings.

Claire's birthday is in July too so we made it a (big) girls night out on Saturday - just to celebrate. The boys stayed back at our place feeding all the collective young ones take away Turkish and being altogether  wonderful "babysitters".

We ended up at the lovely new "Lucky's Bar" at the QT Hotel at New Acton. The original plan was to hit the very hipster bar at Hotel Hotel but unfortunately we picked the night of "Hustle and Scout" (Fashion and Forage Festival) at New Acton/Nishi and the whole area was a glorious lively bunfight. We were very lucky to find our space (eventually) in this classy little speakeasy for our big night out!!

Claire had some wonderful news for our birthday this year so she's still over the moon about it (as are we!!)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sam and Lili and Heidi

Our morning started early with an 8.00am date at Chez Dre in Coventry Street, South Melbourne, to catch up with niece Erin and all the W family........which included a first sight of (and cuddle with) baby Sam (he's not even 3 months old yet and look how alert he is!).

Baby sam put up with all the cuddles and goo gaa-ing - all the while maintaining his general adorableness.

Lili is a very grown up big sister now and took a l-o-n-g breakfast session in a crowded (but wonderful) cafe with a bunch of adults in her stride. I really enjoyed our little D&Ms about Peppa Pig and co. Apparently she loves Peppa Pig just as much as her (second) cousin Abi does.

After our lovely catch up with the W family we dropped Claire back at the Intercontinental and then headed east of the CBD towards Bulleen, to the Heidi Museum of Modern Art.

Heidi (1) (the site of an old dairy farm) was bought by John and Sunday Reed in 1934. It was restored by them and eventually, throughout the 40s, right through to the 70s, became home to a collection of Australia's most important painters including Albert Tucker, Sydney Nolan, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Mirka Mora among others.

Sydney Nolan painted his iconic Ned Kelly series in the original Heidi dining room in the mid 1940s (allegedly with Sunday Reed's help).

We were stoked to find an exhibition of George Baldessin prints on show at Heidi 1 today - and to learn that Baldessin's original printing studio was in the old Winfield building on Collins Street - which has been absorbed into the Intercontinental Hotel now. Claire, Jeremy and the boys were possibly staying in a room that may have been a part of the old Baldessin studio!

I loved seeing the Mirka Mora "murals" painted on the glass windows of the old Heidi sunroom. She's 86 now - but just as much a free spirit as ever - a real Melbourne institution!

Heidi (2) was built for John and Sunday Reed in the early 1960s as a "gallery to be lived in". It remained their home until 1980. Today in the still very contemporary spaces of Heidi 2 we saw an exhibition of works curated from Mirka Mora's own personal collection.

This is the outside view of Heidi 2 complete with kangaroo installations.  We are lucky enough to have our own real life kangaroos in our front garden in Canberra.

The Reeds returned to live in Heidi 1 in 1980 after selling Heidi 2, their land holdings, and most of their art collection, to the Victorian government, after which Heidi 2 became a public art gallery.

After major re-development in 2005-2006 the current version of Heidi 3 opened as a contemporary gallery space adjacent to Heidi 2.

Today in Heidi 3 we were thrilled to see a room full of intricate and meditative work by Michael G Prior, based on the idea of the "Organum". His work was in the Explorations 14 show at Flinders Lane Gallery too, which we'd been to on Thursday night. well as Emily Floyd's playful but carefully constructed Far Rainbow exhibition in the main gallery......

As we were leaving the gallery I am thinking....... this is a really interesting garden space I see in front of me ...hmmmm....espaliered gum trees...hmmm....never seen that before.....hmmm.... Then I see that Fiona Hall is responsible for this garden...she of the amazing fern garden installation at the National Gallery of Australia...hmmm. Now I see why it is such an interesting garden!

Before we left we walked around Sunday Reed's kitchen garden to the side of Heidi 1 - noting her poignant little heart garden created by Sunday when her beloved Sydney Nolan departed Heidi in the late 1940s.

..and her expansive kitchen garden, now fully restored and in full use by the on site Cafe Vue at Heidi

24 hours in Melbourne

Claire's work was selected for the Exploration 14 exhibition of emerging artists at the prestigious Flinders Lane Gallery. We were all in Melbourne last night for the official opening of the exhibition - so exciting!

Each year one of the emerging artists "wins" a solo exhibition at this beautiful gallery. Because Claire had prepared us we were fairly unsurprised to hear that Annika Romeyn (another ANU student and coincidentally a former student of Claire's at Lyneham High School in another lifetime) was announced the "winner" of this rather wonderful opportunity, as her work was a clear favourite of the gallery  director.

The night didn't end there. We celebrated Claire's amazing achievements with a wonderful Italian meal after at Yak on Flinders Lane - with flavours to die for!

We kidnapped the boys this morning and took them for a tram ride up Elizabeth Street to the lovely old Victoria Markets. Rob had promised them a brattwurst and sauerkraut, but they were in no hurry, and spent ages taking a keen interest in all the food stalls, even the old school seafood and butchers' stalls.

They were amazed by seeing rows of beautifully arranged pigs trotters, livers and pigs ears for sale.

Ollie enjoyed his brattwurst but Rob couldn't tempt Angus - he preferred the raspberry doughnuts from the Polish baker.

The Victoria Market has an area out the back devoted to the sale of cheap bling and ticky tack and the boys were looking forward to checking that out.  But they were easily distracted by these cages of gorgeous chickens (for sale).

The boys eventually chose wisely at the bling stalls - selecting Pokomon cards to build on their existing collections.  I watched them play a game with them as we tried to warm ourselves over a hot coffee - It was surprisingly mathematical!

The boys showed us their hotel afterwards - the Intercontinental on Collins Street.  I offered to swap them our room keys at the Melbourne Citigate (on Flinders Street) but they wouldn't agree!

We love Melbourne, especially in Winter. The laneways are full of convivial warmth and life, the shopping and food outlets are amazing and we love the surprises around every corner - like the old ANZ bank building on Collins Street - still trading to this day - and looking amazing!

We met up again tonight: drinks at the old Young and Jacksons Pub opposite Flinders Street Station and then the most wonderful Japanese meal at Kenzan on Flinders Lane.  Claire chose beautiful dishes for us - fresh, delicately balanced flavours - enhanced with Japanese plum wine and semi dry sake - unforgettable! The boys just adored the food too. They'd been looking forward to it all day. They knew what to expect as they'd been before!