December was ridiculously busy, fun and featured an embarrassing amount of food and cocktails. Plus it was my birthday, so more the reason to celebrate!
♥ The Beach
I was finally convinced to go to the beach on a beautiful sunny day, I hid in a cave at first. I eventually got in the water and gave snorkelling a go, I had a great time! I have since returned for beachside walks and post-work swims – something I want to do on a more regular basis.
♥ Ticking more restaurants off my list
I managed to check out quite a few places on my never-ending list of places to eat around Sydney. Brunch at Orto was amazing and I can’t wait to return (why did it take me so long to get here when I live around the corner?!)
Queenies was delicious Jamaican food featuring jerk chicken, sweet potato fries and bammies (a traditional Jamaican cassava flatbread)
Santa Barbara is a Hawaiian Restaurant with delicious bings (asian-style tacos), more sweet potato fries (obsessed), chicken burgers and popcorn with pineapple and bacon chunks! They also have a great cocktail menu and it’s fast becoming one of my favourite places in Sydney for a drink and nibble.
Ippudo – so far I have only tried the takeaway ramen so I can’t comment on the famous pork buns which are sadly unavailable for t/a (tear). The broth was delicious but I found the noodles underwhelming.
And I finally made it to The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish to sample their delicious treats. The caramel slice and malteser pie were particularly amazing! I must return to give their milkshakes and burgers a go.
♥ An Embarrassing Amount of Cocktails…
I didn’t realise just how many cocktails were consumed during December until I went through my photos (and I haven’t even included the 1 litre mojito that was consumed at my work lunch!) Here are some highlights of the tastiest.
Clockwise from the top left we have the Amazing Perfect from Lil Darling, a Downtown Iced Tea from Santa Barbara, a giant cocktail made in a watermelon from The Norfolk and finally 2 very delicious cocktails from 4Fourteen.
♥ Iced Coffee Obsession
After drinking iced coffee daily in Vietnam I have been getting huge cravings for it here as the weather warms up. Unfortunately I can’t find the authentic Viet coffee with sweetened condensed milk too easily around where I work, so I have been settling for a “skim latte over ice”. Delicious and the perfect summer caffeine fix. Oh and the odd iced coffee with the works – ice cream and whipped cream, when I feel like a treat!
♥ My Birthday
And then it was my birthday and I decided to celebrate for a week because why not? Firstly I was taken to 4Fourteen for an absolutely amazing dinner featuring a ruben roll (pictured), roast pork, colcannon and the most amazing white chocolate sandwich with dulce de leche. I need to return.
A few nights later I was taken to Movida for my second birthday dinner. Here we have anchovies, goats curd + quince cigars, air baguette with “rost biff” and beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez.
And spicy pork ribs (best!!), salt cod fritters and grilled asparagus. A wonderful treat!
Then I had a birthday picnic Saturday morning with lots of lovely food bloggers! We went to Flour and Stone, bought out half the store, then headed to The Domain for a picnic. It was such a lovely way to spend the morning of my birthday with my new friends I made through this blog.
They stuck candles in the lamingtons and sang Happy Birthday to me, aw! (Life changing lamingtons, btw).
I had my second birthday party at The Norfolk and I wore a cat dress! I will not post any more photos from that night for fear of incrimination… I may have worn a watermelon on my head at one stage.
I had a nice time catching up with the family and actually loved the rainy stormy weather that Sydney encountered on Christmas Day. I baked ginger cupcakes, brownie cupcakes with strawberry santa hats and peanut butter M&M cookies plus I painted my nails coral and mint green to try and look “festive”.
I had a lovely dinner at Longrain for NYE with a great bunch of friends and got to wear my new sparkly dress. What a great way to finish a great year!
♥ A New Toy
Not much has happened in 2013 thus far as I got sick on the second day of the year and was bed ridden for a while. Hmmpf. But I did buy myself a new toy… the Olympus XZ-1! It’s been years since I have used a point and shoot camera, however this one has a lot of custom settings and the ability to set the focal point so I have high hopes for it.
I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season and is settling back into the reality of work!
I woke up early on Saturday morning with a mixture of excitement and stress. It was the day of the Sydney Food Bloggers Xmas Picnic – hooray for catching up with friends, meeting new people and eating delicious food. But I hadn’t baked anything! After the success of my ginger cupcakes at the last Food Bloggers Picnic I knew I had to create something equally delicious. I settled on my spiced cookies with salted caramel buttercream.
The cookies came out of the oven fragrant and crunchy from their raw sugar coating. It took all my willpower not to devour several whilst I waited for them to cool down!
I sandwiched them together with salted caramel buttercream and they looked delish! But alas as the salted caramel took forever to cool down I was running late…
I must admit I spent far too much time socialising and eating instead of taking photos of all the delicious food, but here is a sample of some of the delicious creations!
First up we have a gorgeous Strawberry Fresh Cream Cake (shaped like a Pig) by Jen Is Hungry
Delicious krokets by Irenes Getting Fat
Cookie Dough Dip with Apple and Biscuits by Cooking Crusade
Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies by Spoonfuls of Goodness
Rhubarb Meringue Tarts by Muppy (these were heavenly!)
Homemade Cheese Plate (!!) by Nic Cooks - I didn’t get to try any of Nic’s delicious looking homemade cheeses nooo!! Feel free to make some more?? :)
Thai Chicken Wonton Cups by The Sticky and Sweet. These were absolutely delicious, I must get the recipe!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Quinoa Crust by 84th & 3rd. I am often sceptical of vegan desserts as I feel the more butter and eggs the better, but JJ’s pie was delicious! And she ensured it had no nuts so I could safely devour it hooray!
Donuts! I have no idea who bought these but thankyou. I love donuts :)
Thanksgiving Turkeys by Gucci & Gyoza. So adorable!
A quick glance of my container and half the cookies had promptly disappeared. They were shortly polished off as sun + buttercream are not friends and things got really messy really quickly!!
And of course the obligatory group shot!
♥ Collecting pastel nail polishes (addicted)
♥ Matching my nail colour to my fruit
♥ Matching my nail colour to my new blog design
♥ Especially when the cat likes to sit on your toilet
♥ Doing a chocolate making class! (read more about the day here)
♥ Learning how to temper chocolate
♥ Eating naughty food. Hot dogs and chili cheese fries from The Snag Stand
♥ More naughty lunches! Pork belly from Slip Inn. Working in the city is dangerous
♥ Eating healthy homemade food to offset the naughtiness. Lean lamb meatballs with quinoa salad.
♥ DRY ICE! Especially when it’s applied to gelato. Finally made it to N2 Extreme Gelato :D
♥ Going for a run and seeing this beautiful sunset over the park. Makes exercise that bit more bearable.
What is making you happy right now?
Hello everyone I am home! I had a wonderful time in Vietnam and took over 1000 photos (!!) Whilst I sort through those, I will share with you some Instagram snaps I took to give you a little taste of my trip. Highlights included:
♥ Floating down the Mekong delta in a rickety boat, wearing a silly hat.
♥ Meeting far too many snakes in the Mekong Delta, and then drinking SNAKE WINE
♥ Waking up with a Vietnamese family in the middle of the Mekong. I was surprisingly perky considering I slept huddled under a mosquito net, praying that no geckos would fall on me. Meeting this darling old lady who owned the house was a great experience.
♥ Travelled back to Ho Chi Minh City by yet another boat, drank a coconut
♥ Ate delicious pho at Pho 2000 (Bill Clinton ate there once, as demonstrated by the countless photos lining the walls)
♥ I explored the Viet Cong tunnels and booby traps in Cu Chi (very claustrophobic). Back in HCM I finished my dinner and looked in the kitchen to see a kitty lounging on the prep bench (health and safety?!) But it was ok cause I got to play with him and he combed my hair with his claws. His name was Tommy.
♥ Had a fantastic time at the Nha Trang mud baths!
♥ Nha Trang beach was eerily beautiful
♥ Stayed in a gorgeous hotel in Hoi An and thoroughly enjoyed the pool (it was so hot!!)
♥ Woke up at 4.30 to go sunrise bike riding, fortunately there was a strong black Vietnamese coffee with a thick layer of sweetened condensed milk waiting for me at the end.
♥ Ate amazing food in Hoi An, tried betel nut and then wielded a knife at cooking class
♥ Fell in love with a stray, hungry kitten in The Forbidden City in Hue. Probably got cat rabies.
♥ Explored the grounds of Tu Duc’s Tomb
♥ Was disappointed to find out my hotel in Hue did not allow Liza Minnelli-esque prostitutes.
♥ Had a perfect example of why Hue is considered the rainiest city in Vietnam. The storm rolled in as we cruised down the Perfume River and soon enough our scenic boat ride wasn’t so scenic anymore.
♥ Returned to our hotel to find out entire street flooded!! Oh dear…
♥ Boarded our private junk boat for an overnight trip on the spectacular Halong Bay. I briefly enjoyed the sun deck before hiding in the shade.
♥ HALONG BAY IS AMAZING
♥ I stole the captain’s hat
♥ And then watched the sunset
♥ Our chef onboard the boat created the most beautiful vegetable sculptures. He demonstrated how to make the lotus out of a radish and a fishnet out of a carrot. A bit beyond my knife skills I’m afraid!
♥ Loved the hustle and bustle of Hanoi
♥ Said goodbye to Vietnam and hello to Hong Kong for a few days. First stop, the Michelin-starred Din Tai Fung for truffle dumplings!
♥ Tried an amazing cocktail featuring earl grey caviar and foam, and took in lovely views before flying home.
What an amazing trip! I am terrified to look at my credit card bill…
Highlights included Marron tail tempura and crisp pork belly, Kobe wagyu beef tartare and crisp quail egg and suckling pig, celeriac and bernaise.
Szechuan duck breast, confit leg and turnips and radish, and two lovely desserts - Vanilla pudding and pop rocks and souffle, miso milkshake and ice cream! Whoah!
♥ Had another amazing blogger meetup in the form of a pizza party at La Disfida
Entrees included polenta chips with gorgonzola sauce (!!) and ricotta and eggplant pasta and deep fried zucchini flowers. Pizzas included prosciutto and truffle (omg, my favourite!), marguerita and a tomato and pine nut pizza that reminded me of bruschetta.
♥ Little indulgences
It gets very cold in my office so I purchased myself some super comfy “office slippers”. I look like a dag but I am comfortable and warm! Also I took myself on a date in the park. Creme brulee tart + coffee from Bourke St Bakery = heaven.
♥ Hanging out with Bruce
I have been going back to visit my family a fair bit recently, including spending some quality time with my old cat Bruce. The photo on the right cracks me up as I smoothed her cheek fur down to make her look like a little old man. This was achieved quite successfully.
♥ A beautiful day on Cockatoo Island for the Biennale
I went to Cockatoo Island with my Mum on a gorgeous sunny day. I took loads of photos which will be up on the blog soon and I highly recommend you go if you haven’t been! For lunch we sat on the lawn and stared at the Harbour Bridge across the water whilst eating a pork and fennel sausage roll and the best arancini I’ve ever eaten!
♥ Ran the City2Surf!
To counteract all this eating I have been (kind of) training for the City2Surf again – although sickness had other plans. After walking half of it last year I tried to push myself much harder and shaved 23 minutes off my time. Also I got to dress like a soccer mum.
♥ A well earned treat post-City2Surf at Bruschetteria 102
We were starving and cold after our run and rewarded ourselves with a prosciutto, pear and walnut bruschetta and a NUTELLA COFFEE.
In other news, I cannot wait for spring!! What are you looking forward to?
You know how much I love chocolate and how much I love Instagram, well now Cocoagraph offers a service where they convert your favourite Instagram photos into edible milk, white, dark or organic dark chocolate bars!
Cocoagraph’s promo video
Rae Vittorelli - founder of Cocoagraph, and an example of a chocolate photo.
More chocolate photos!
So for a unique and personalised present, head on down to Cocoagraph! What would you want to eat – a photo of your cat, a pretty sunset, your ex’s head? The mind boggles ;)
What a busy month! It involved pretty skies, hair cuts, couches, and of course a lot of FOOD.
♥ Tapas Cooking Class at Mumu Grill
I recently attended a tapas class at Mumu with fellow bloggers Sophie and Flick. We learnt how to make various tasty dishes including bread, haloumi with chilli and lemon, meatballs and potato frittata. Yum!
♥ Got my hair cut and (finally) bought a couch
I took a leap of faith (wow, it’s just hair isn’t it?) and finally got a bob! I love it when it’s behaving, which is occasionally. And we finally bought a couch for our apartment. It’s name is Frenchie and you’ll meet her soon.
♥ Amazing skies
Sydney has been pulling out all the stops lately with her beautiful skies! These pics are all various sunsets except the bottom left hand photo which is when the sunrise bathed everything in pink. Beautiful!
♥ Food Bloggers Dinner at House Thai
A delicious and fun dinner with some food blogger Tweeps. Whilst I still prefer Spice I Am (they are owned by the same guys) there was a lot of tasty food to snack on. AND the dessert on the right is called “Better Than Sex” and involved a thick slab of buttery brioche, pandan gelato, caramel sauce and sesame seeds. It was pretty damn amazing, not sure if it’s better than sex though!
♥ The Dip
Had a delicious meal at The Dip with some high school friends. I only wish they would turn the music down as we had to shout to each other to be heard and eventually gave up and ate our hot dogs in silence. Am I getting old? On the left we have the Confuse di Mouth hot dog and on the right we have peanut butter + jelly and deep fried banana desserts. Heaven.
♥ District Dining
I crossed another restaurant off my list and it was District Dining, and it sure smashed all my expectations! Highlights included pigs ears and deep fried quail eggs, parmesan herb crusted pork cutlet, pear and rhubarb crumble with gingerbread icecream and white chocolate and coconut cheesecake with passionfruit sorbet. Wow.
♥ Spencer Guthrie
I ventured to Newtown (which is rare) for my father’s birthday and nabbed us a last minute table at Spencer Guthrie. The food was delicious and the desserts were a real highlight. On the left we have chewy meringue with pears and prune + green tea icecream (I really need to bake more meringues!) and on the right “All Things Chocolate”.
After perusing my Instagram photos for my regular “Lately on Instagram” post I didn’t realise how much I had been eating out. So that’s where my money is going!
♥ Finally made it to Gnome Espresso & Winebar
After reading about the infamous Super Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Chocolatesuze’s blog, I dragged my housemate out on a rainy Saturday morning in search of this wonder (we were meant to go running, oh well). Cheddar, gruyere, buffalo mozzarella AND prosciutto. Oh wow – heaven. This sandwich is one of those “once a year” kind of things. The coffee was great too, but overshadowed by the decadence of cheese!
♥ I also made it to The Baron!
I have been reading rave reviews from Suze and Mel about The Baron in Castle Hill. My parents live in the Hills so I conned them into driving me there (also with the promise of stimulating conversation). On the left we have the pulled pork sandwich with cabbage slaw and on the right we have the jamon, washed rind cheese, aioli, sundried tomatoes & pickles sandwich. Both were amazing! We also devoured homemade caramel slice and carrot cake – both absolutely divine. The blonde waitress was also super friendly so this place gets many thumbs up.
♥ More eating, Italian style
The housemate and I engaged in several lady dates featuring Italian food and fantasising about the Amalfi Coast as we stared at the never-ending rain. On the left is the amazing breakfast by Caffe Sicilia (it’s mean to come with eggs but I got spinach instead. I’m weird). And on the right are 2 delicious pizzas from Pizza e Birra. Bellissimo!
Sat front row at a comedy show and had a great time, although was continually heckled by the MC haha. And on the right this cat mugshot just made me laugh way.too.much.
♥ Random presents and cupcakes
Nothing perks you up like coming home to presents! I also tested a new recipe – chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream. Recipe to come soon!
♥ Exercise and sickness
To combat all this eating I started my training for the City2Surf. I was going really well until I got sick. And now I am in bed humpffff.
Vivid Sydney is a festival that takes over the city after dark from 25 May – 11 June this year and transforms Sydney into a spectacular canvas of light, music and ideas. I attended last year and was blown away by the light sculptures and projections and thoroughly enjoyed a performance by Bat For Lashes in the Sydney Opera House. This year my expectations were exceeded – the light sculptures were just as impressive but they really stepped it up a notch with the projections onto the MCA, Customs House and the Opera House. Amazing. My week was topped off by a performance of Karen O’s “psycho opera” Stop The Virgens at the Opera House.
Vivid Light Sculptures and Projections
The MCA was amazing this year with an ever changing kaleidoscope of colours projected onto its facade.
There were many other light sculptures dotted along the water from the Opera House to Walsh Bay.
The projection onto the Opera House by Urbanscreen, a German design collective, was truly breathtaking. Utilising the techniques of light projection, video mapping and motion graphics, they have incorporated pattern and writhing human forms that complement the unique design and shape of the Opera House.
Customs House has been covered with animation sequences by The Electric Canvas
I made some animated GIFS :D
A few more light sculpture shots from my Instagram:
After walking around in the dark and cold for hours it was 10pm and I was feeling peckish. Knowing my only food prospects at this time of night were McDonalds or Burger King, I sullenly walked back to the station. But lo and behold I stumbled across the Cantina Mobil parked outside Customs House – my first food truck spotting!
I got a soft taco with slow roasted chipotle beef and red cayenne chilli sauce for only $4.50! It was absolutely delicious and exactly what I needed at that time of night. To find out where the Cantina truck is next check out their Twitter.
Karen O in Stop the Virgens
A few nights later I returned to the Opera House to take in Karen O’s new project – Stop the Virgens. From the Vivid Live website: Seven years in the making and featuring over fifty artists onstage, Karen O’s STOP THE VIRGENS is Vivid LIVE’s most ambitious undertaking yet. Created by Karen O, the frontwoman of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, in collaboration with KK Barrett, production designer behind Being John Malkovich and Lost In Translation, and indie theatre/film director Adam Rapp (Red Light Winter, In Treatment) the self described ‘Psycho Opera’ transcends the traditional boundaries of popular music, theatre and performance.
The performance was visually and aurally stunning – the costumes and stage backdrops were amazing. Unfortunately there are no cameras allowed in the Opera House, these are photos by Prudence Upton and Daniel Boud.
The Karen O opera is now finished but you can still check out the light sculptures and projections until 11 June from 6pm-12am. Don’t miss out!!
My addiction to Instagram is intensifying and I am constantly on the hunt for new IG users to follow for inspiration or just a little amusement. Here are my current favs!
Dachshunds! Frollicking in fields! This user is from Japan and photographs their miniature dachshunds - Hatch is a boy who is 8 and Nico is a 3-month-old girl. I die a little of cuteness.
Another Japanese user who bakes and takes the most gorgeous pictures of her food. The styling is always so refined and elegant and constantly fills me with inspiration.
Bri from the amazing blog designlovefest fills her Instagram with cute hair and clothing ideas, inspiring design, travel snaps and more!
Another amazing Japanese Instagrammer (can you see a trend here?) who takes stunning photos of food, desserts and everyday sights. Always simply styled and eye catching!
I really gotta step up my game with Instagram! Taking photos of my cat Bruce sniffing my finger just ain’t going to cut it anymore…
Who are your favourite Instagram users? Please share with us!
This recipe for caramel peanut popcorn is deliciously dangerous – I can never stop eating it! I regularly make it as a gift (a zip locked bag full of this [...]
Sorry things have been a little quiet around here guys, currently experiencing the busiest weeks of my life… but fortunately I can see the light at the end of the [...]
I just realised I never showed you pictures of the cupcakes I made for a dear friend’s engagement party. I made in excess of 100 cupcakes over a few days and for [...]
- Happy (early) birthday to me! @ Vacanza In The Hills http://t.co/u7g861e0uI - posted on 11/12/2013 20:47:44
- I am getting festive this Christmas with Candy Cane Cupcakes wearing reindeer antlers! http://t.co/sjZWB3aFcB - posted on 11/12/2013 15:15:25
- This beautiful weather is terrible. - posted on 10/12/2013 11:56:22