Tag Archives: restaurant

Weekend Coffee Share -18th June, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Rather than joining me for coffee at my place, today I thought you might like to join me down at the San Antonio Bakery in Kirribilli. It’s right across the road from the stairs taking you up onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge. By the way, you might want to bring a bit of sun and the Northern Hemisphere Summer with you. It was a cheek-smacking 15°C (59° F) there today. Mind you, I must have Viking blood because yours truly sat outside this afternoon to soak up the Kirribilli charm, although I did wrap myself up in one of their blankets. By the way, the food there is amazing and I’ve indulged in a few of their delights. Today, I had a sort of nut crumble topping on a Nutella tart. The texture of the topping was fairly complex with a combination of seeds and nuts. The pasty was perfect and you can’t go wrong with Nutella.

Harbour Bridge Stairs

A wet day in Kirribilli. You can just make out the steps leading up onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

While I was there, I pulled out my notebook and simply started jotting. Kirribilli is a rather rustic part of Sydney with Victorian terraces heading down to the wharf and Sydney Harbour. If you were had bionic strength, you could throw a stone from Kirribilli Wharf straight through the Opera House windows if you were feeling like getting arrested and being rather unpopular.

As I said, I started jotted. A cold wind was blowing straight off the Harbour and round the corner blowing the Autumn leaves in the trees across the road. I was quite mesmerised by the fluttering leaves, although perhaps that was because the rest of me was snap frozen.

Of course, any sensible soul would’ve sat inside, but I wanted to experience Kirribilli. Be a part of it, and feel its breath blowing against my neck, even though it was freezing and giving me a different kind of goosebump experience.

However, my reasons for being in Sydney today weren’t social. After crossing the lung specialist off the list for the next three months, I was off to the gastroenterologist to see if he could do anything to get rid of The Cough. Well, he was full of ideas and conferred with the lung specialist on the mobile and they managed to cut it down to an endoscopy and colonoscopy. It’s not til August so I don’t need to get too excited about it yet. Some people go on a cruise, I’m cruising on off to the hospital. One thing I do know, is that a friend’s wife with MS died of bowel cancer because the early signs were dismissed. It’s important to keep in mind that things can always get worse and not to be complacent or in some kind of la-la land of uninformed positive thinking.

Anyway, aside from all that medical stuff today, there have been some great highlights during the last week.

Firstly, on Saturday my husband and I drove our daughter and friends up to perform in Starstruck at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, about 1.5 hours North of here. This showcases school talent in the performing arts, and our daughter appeared in two dance numbers with the Year 7 dance troupe. I have to be honest and say that during their performance, I only had eyes for her. She was like a twinkling star, and as much as their was that immense pride in watching her perform, I was also dumbstruck. She didn’t get any of this from her father or myself. Sometimes, you’ve got to wonder whether God can be a bit random in how he allocates gifts and interests. That, or he has a very good sense of humour!

scouts prepared

 

Also on Saturday, we dropped our son off for an overnight Scout Camp and something like a 17km hike. That meant he was sleeping in a tent in this freezing Winter weather, which as my Dad would say, puts hairs on your chest. They had to carry everything in, and everything out so it was quite a credit to him. The hike ended at the local tip and the backpack went straight into the car and tales of aching feet, back, neck began to unfold. Clearly, he went to great lengths to avoid going to his sister’s dance concert, and we’re proud of his efforts.

Meanwhile, with our daughter at an evening performance and our son away at camp, Geoff and I ventured out for dinner at Mum’s cousin’s restaurant Talulah at The Junction in Newcastle. This place has become a bit of a rock to me when visiting Newcastle and I think I’ve been there about 3 times in the last couple of years. I remember going up to Newcastle for family get togethers. My grandparents initially lived there, and then we went up to see mum’s aunt and her family and there were 21sts, weddings, birthdays, christenings and unfortunately too many funerals of loved ones who died before their time. The family home was sold years ago, so the restaurant gives me some kind of bearings, and there’s an old piano in there which I wrote into a story a few years back. I don’t know if it came from the family. Or, was simply found beside the road, but it’s over 100 years old and it tells a thousand stories, despite staying silent. There’s also a Cenotaph outside the restaurant where a soldier stands to attention. He looks like he’s standing over the place and looking out for us. Goodness knows we’ve needed it at times. Apparently, the pigeons poop all over him, and doesn’t show him an ounce of respect.

I’m not real good as a food writer, especially when I don’t take notes at the time. However, each mouthful had such a burst of flavour and the meal was very refreshing. The ambiance was also fantastic. Quite aside from the fact that we’re family, Talulah feels like a stylish yet casual family home with appealing paintings throughout and fresh, modern decor. It’s a fun place to be and I could feel the stresses of life fall away, although I was also rather conscious of a growing list of “absent friends”. You can read a review Here

Before I move on from Talulah, I just wanted to share about our navigation difficulties, which you could say are something of a feature of our marriage. Geoff drives the car. I navigate. Unfortunately, this division of labour is driven by necessity, not ability and I have no shame in admitting that I could get lost in our own driveway. However, when it comes to navigating our way through Newcastle, I’m back being a kid in the back seat of the Holden and Dad’s driving through the streets without a map saying he only needs to go somewhere once and he can find his way back again. Of course, this boast was filled with bravado and a bit of cheek, but it was true. Moreover, it did sting a bit as I couldn’t direct Geoff to Talulah using Google maps even though I’d been there three times before. Geoff turned down Darby Street and from there, we zigzagged back and forth desperately hoping to see a spark of familiarity but seemingly driving deeper and deeper into the maze. Both of us were getting frustrated and it came very close to simply driving home, but we persevered. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why they don’t have signs set up specially for my visit…”Rowena turn here!” It would’ve made it so much easier.

In terms of blogging, I posted two more family history stories. Firstly, there was Fire in North Sydney…Grandma & the Mosman Bomber. The next one focused on my difficulties to finding my 3rd Great Grandmother, Maria Bridget Flanagan’s, name of birth: Digging Up More Family Bones. I’m hoping that by posting this info in my blog, that I might flush out the answers.

Getting these stories written up, is feeling great. I’m gaining more confidence in my ability to weigh up quite a mass of data, and actually get a story onto the page. As far as I’m aware, the data is well researched and documented, which is just as important in my mind as a good story.

Lastly, I wrote a story revolving around food for this week’s contribution to Friday fictioneers: Madame Cuisinier.

Well, I’m sorry for talking at you for so long. Clearly, there’s been a lot on and all the chatter in my head has spewed onto the screen. Thank you for listening and being there for me tonight. It’s much appreciated and I look forward to popping round to catch up on your week.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Welcome to My Birthday Coffee Share 30th July, 2017.

Welcome to My Birthday Coffee Share!

It’s my birthday today. So, come along and join me. We can grab a huge chunk of sludgy chocolate cake with our coffee and swing from the chandeleir, until the whole  darn thing rips out of the ceiling. I might just leave out the bit about us falling to our doom.

I cherish each and every birthday and am grateful to be getting older…most of the time. I’ve never looked in the mirror and seen the wrinkles. However, I must confess that I’m profoundly short-sighted and as time’s gone by, I’m near sighted as well. So, I’d be lucky to see a fault line on my face, let alone a wrinkle without my glasses.

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Birthday Breakfast.

Anyway, we’ve had a fantastic day. It started out with a sleep-in. Our daughter made me a cheese and salami omelette, which she cooked up in heart-shaped silicone moulds. It really touched my heart.

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Mother and Son.

Not to be outdone by his sister, our son made pancakes for lunch and effortlessly flipped it. The smile on his face from pulling this off was priceless. He was stoked. I spent much of the day in my PJs, which I feel is the perfect birthday attire, especially for the middle of Winter. Then, we were ferrying our daughter to and from a last dance class before her exam tomorrow. She was be sitting for the RAD Grade 4 Class Award.

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Next, we were off for dinner with my parents at theThe Coast Bar & Restaurant, located on the Gosford Waterfront. I ordered a Pina Colada by some other name and shared a seafood platter. I wasn’t too sure about whether I would like the oysters. I’ve never been a huge fan. However, your tastes mature. So I thought I’d give them a try. I loved them. My mother has always been a huge lover of oysters and she’s always said that they taste like the sea. This was the first time I’ve ever eaten oysters where I’ve got that. They had that flavour of the sea and then, it suddenly intensified. Boom! They also had some charcoal coated prawns which were very crunchy and yum. Oops! I almost forgot to mention the lobster mornay. unfortunately, there was so much to enjoy and limited capacity.

Greed is good

Glasses? This might come as a surprise to you, but I always wear glasses but almost always take them off for photos. This is how I see myself. However, Geoff and the kids see me like this and think I look weird without them. Geoff actually likes to catch me with the glasses on. My shameful secret. 

For dessert, I had the cheese cake with salted caramel and chocolate ganache. That was so smooth and the presentation was incredibly artistic with a wave of caramel poised in suspended animation just asking to be photographed. Naturally, we had my camera there and that was more fun capturing those priceless memories of the family, and exploring some creative, photographic options.

Rewinding now to the rest of the week…

Yesterday, I went to an all-day drug and alcohol seminar at the local community centre. While this was geared towards people caring for someone living with drug and alcohol addiction (which I am not), it was also providing information on drugs and I thought my husband and I need to be more clued up. However, I not only learned so much about drug addiction, but I also learned some new strategies for getting through traumatic and conflicted family situations. So, it was really worthwhile.

During the week, my parenting skills were sorely challenged yet again when I caught our dog skyping the Queensland Governor’s do, Gavel from MY laptop at 2.00 AM. She gave me a bit of a woman-to-woman glance and crooned: “There’s nothing like a dog in uniform!” Turns out Gavel was training to become a Police dog. However, after being snubbed for being  “too friendly”, the Governor kept him on and he’s now been recruited as the Vice-Regal Dog. Well, thinking of herself as a real blue-blood, Lady’s fallen deep for Gavel. Or, was it all that bling on his coat and connections with the Royal Corgis.

Of course, I  snatched back my laptop and it’s now being stored in our room overnight.

However, my close friend who also has the rabbits and chickens which were of great interest to Lady, will be driving to Queensland this week. With a carload of kids all running helter skelter, I can just picture this sneaky little black dog who’s colouring enables to move with great stealth. She can’t chase a ball, but she can hunt AND she can hide.

You can read about Lady’s love life here: Love Is A Dog In Uniform. 

Rowena Backpacking

I also took part in Friday Fictioneers again this week. This week’s effort was inspired by my trip to Europe in 1992. A week after I’d left, I’d had wallet stolen, I’d lost my passport and I was missing a love interest back home in Australia, and I burst into tears as I was locking my backpack in a locker and wanted to go home. I found a telephone booth and phoned the bloke back home. I still remember standing there feeding that handful of coins into the phone with such desperation. I’d fallen apart on the other side of the world, where I knew nobody and nobody knew me. That thought didn’t hit me at the time. However, in hindsight it does. That utter dislocation from everyone and everything you know. Back then, it wasn’t like now where you can leave home without leaving home and Skype people. You also have email, Facebook. Travel just isn’t travel anymore. You’re still attached to the umbillical cord. Not doing it tough. You can read my flash Here

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Well, that just about covers it. Can’t remember the rest. So, it must’ve been good.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at Part-Time Monster Blog.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Lost & Found in Newcastle.

On Monday, I had the joy of being lost and found in Newcastle, finding out what it’s like to go off the grid and follow my senses. See where they’d take me.

Have you tried this yourself lately?

Letting yourself go, casting your goals, focus, and planning all to the wind and seeing what happens? Rather than planning your life down to the millisecond, shifting gears and exploring the spaces in between the lines and finding out where you end up?

As much as we might ignore the space in between the lines, the gaps between numbers and words, they’re there for a reason. After all, without these spaces, nothing makes sense. So, you could say that space is just as important as the words and all the stuff we cram into each day.

While you probably feel “too busy” to go off the grid, maybe you’re too busy not to. Perhaps, it’s long past time to stop the clock! Not unsurprisingly, if you’re living for work, you can end up struggling to live.Yet, what does it take for us to change?

Personally, driving Mum’s Taxi often takes me off the grid, launching me into all sorts of adventures. Adventures more along the lines of catastrophe, drama, and nail-biting stress as I get lost, run late and also have to round up recalcitrant kids. I’ve definitely had easier jobs…including brain surgery but I was the patient, not the surgeon.

However, taxi driving has its rewards.

On Monday, taxi duties took me up Newcastle. My daughter had a 3 hour rehearsal at The Junction Public School, which left me free to explore. Although I have friends and family in Newcastle, I didn’t get my act together and decided to wing it. Let adventure find me.

Well, after loads of “adventure” trying to find the school, I parked the car and set out on foot. I had directions on how to walk to the beach but spotted a cafe across the road. It was love at first sight. The way you feel when you spot your one true love across a crowded room and know they’re the one, as you share that stolen glance. Yet, at this stage, I didn’t know why. That connection is beyond explanation…almost spiritual. Meant to be.

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Just like those crowded room experiences, my cafe radar has let me down before and I hate paying for food I could’ve cooked better myself at home. I’m particularly fussy about my pet fave, chocolate cake, conducting full length interviews trying to find “the one”. Quite often, I bow out and order something else. I know what I like. There is no compromise! I’m a chocolate cake connoisseur!

So while I was checking out the shops, I decided to ask a local where to go. They confirmed my suspicions and recommended I go to  Talulah, which it turns out, is Mum’s cousin’s restaurant. What a coincidence! I’ve heard about Talulah at family weddings right from conception to birth and now, we were about to meet for the very first time. How exciting!

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The view from my table.

 

Is that what guided my footsteps there? Some sense of family? I don’t know. It’s on a corner block and there’s a soldier standing right out the front, which certainly commands wistful attention. Yet, how did I know from across the road, without even seeing inside, that this place would be so very me? Me… in such a personal way, before I even stepped in?

This happens to me a lot. That sixth sense, and a feeling of being led somewhere by forces unknown. Be that a guardian angel, God, subliminal messaging or plain good business. After all, if you want a restaurant to succeed, you’ve got to get them through the door. Food is secondary.

I walk through a series of cosy outdoor lounges heading out to the bathroom before I find a seat. This is when my camera finger first starts to switch as I spot two vintage ballet pictures on the wall. After my first adult ballet class last week, these stand out like neon signs. As crazy as it sounds, I have to take a photo. It’s like I’ve just walked in and found my own personal secret hanging on the wall and it feels so uncanny. How did they know?

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Dancing in My Dreams.

By the way, if word gets out that I’m taking photos in toilets, I’ll soon be heading off on an entirely different journey off to the psychiatrist! This will make particular sense if you’ve read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion!  That said, being creative I’d soon slip through that legal loophole and be back out on the streets. Not guilty!

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Anyway, I set up camp with a short story magazine, my notebook and a cappuccino. It’s a gloriously sunny, Winter’s day and I’m captivated by the autumn leaves still falling from the skeletal tree out the front. Deciduous trees can have it rough in parts of Australia better suited to native evergreens. The poor tree’s brain tells it to lose its leaves, yet their thermostat fights back. So instead of naked tree skeletons during Winter, these poor confused trees are still losing leaves in Spring.

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The Piano

That’s when I noticed the old piano sitting in the corner. We have an old piano at home, which I’m finding out is something of a museum piece. These days, you can’t even give an old piano away. This piano is even older than ours with brass candle sticks on the front and ornate detailing in the wood. While it feels like murder and an act of cruel betrayal, I’m getting to the point where we’ll be sending our piano to the tip. Throwing out even a mediocre piano, feels like murder. I come from a family of pianists where pianos were precious. Yet, I’m almost as fussy about pianos as I am about chocolate cake. It needs to make way for the new.

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Anyway, this piano starts speaking to me and I’m writing a macabre short story about a piano left outside beside the road. The candles are flickering on and off in the morning mists. A crow lands on the candle stick, turning it into a perch and it goes on from there.

I don’t usually write fiction so I was pretty stoked and thought this cafe made the perfect writer’s den…very inspiring!

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Being so engrossed in the piano, falling leaves and the soldier, time was slipping away. I was waiting for the lunch menu to start but before I knew it, I was needing to rush and only had time for a main, missing out on my much wanted dessert. I ordered sweet potato falafel with salad. I love falafel and sweet potato and was interested to try this twist on a familiar dish. It was great and also came with a salad I really liked.

By the way, I apologise if you were wanting a more detailed interpretation of the meal. I always struggle with that. Writing about food is incredibly difficult without sounding like a wanker (excuse the French) and I’m better at describing how it made me feel, than the taste. All I’ll say is that this complex mix of beautiful flavours more than exceeded my expectations and I’d love to take the chef/cook home. I’d graciously resign.

By the way, I’d even let them drive Mum’s Taxi. Aren’t I nice?!!

Meanwhile, I’d exit stage left and put my feet up. Putting your feet up can be incredibly difficult but someone’s got to do it.

It might as well be me!

Have you been to Newcastle and have any favourite spots? Or, have you discovered any fascinating nooks and crannies lately? I’d love to hear your tales!

Meanwhile, it’s time for me to pick up my daughter and head home. You can read about my efforts navigating through Newcastle here: Driving To Newcastle: Mum’s Taxi Seeks Gold.

xx Rowena

Telulah is located at 52 Glebe Road,The Junction, Newcastle (corner of Kenrick Street and Glebe Road).

No More Limp Carrot… Masterchef Australia Returns!

If you know anything at all about cooking, then you’ll already know that fresh produce is the secret to cooking like a master chef. After all, a meal is only as good as its ingredients.

However, if you’re cooking at home, you’ll also know that “fresh” can be open to interpretation. As long as that limp carrot hasn’t gone moldy, she’ll be right. Indeed, that very same limp carrot provides its own unique sense of “theatre”. It might not be Masterchef, but once it’s in the mince, it’s an unsung “hero”.

After all, fresh produce isn’t something you can always pull out of a hat. It can mean running back and forth to the shops like a yoyo and quite frankly, I have better things to do.

That leaves growing your own.

Of course, we have our own veggie patch and a corresponding worm farm.

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The Veggie Graveyard: Thyme has become grass & the corn has died.

However, while friends have flourishing veggie patches which could feed an army, ours is sad. The beans died. The peas died. Quite frankly, I’m totally mystified how the tomato plant has not only survived, but metamorphosed into a veritable triffid about to take over the world. Yet, while this monster plant has produced a multitude of green, cherry tomatoes, we are yet to see one RED tomato. We don’t know where they’re going, but even covering them in wire mesh hasn’t produced a yield.

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Tomatoes: At least something is growing!

Sorry, spuds. I almost forgot. We’re also growing potatoes. My daughter just seized my laptop to ensure I didn’t leave them out.

So, despite my best efforts, two somethings are still growing in the veggie patch. All is not dead…yet!

Anyway, last Sunday night, Masterchef returned to Australian TV screens. Much to my deep shame and embarrassment, we weren’t feasting on a sumptuous Sunday roast. Rather, we were eating re-heated chicken and mashed potato without dessert. I remember making Jamie Oliver’s Lasagne during last year’s series but during the intervening months, I’ve lost my mojo. Summer was so hot that I tried not to cook anything. After all, you could fry an egg on the footpath and melt chocolate on the bench. Being a particularly long and hot Summer, it’s only just getting cool enough for me to think “cook”. We’re been eating quite a lot of salad.

So, after this rather long sojourn, the return of Masterchef was an awakening…the call of the wild. It’s only been two days and tonight I was already starting to cook with Matt Preston’s voice talking in my ear. “Flavour…where’s the flavour? Where are you taking this?” I swear I’m toiling away in the Masterchef kitchen…a thousand miles away from home!

Definitely, no more limp carrots around here!

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Shepherd’s Pie.

Tonight, we had Shepherd’s Pie and I can assure you this was no ordinary shepherd. While it wasn’t quite Masterchef, it was well on the way. At least, it would have been if I’d had a bottle of crusty red wine. However, with Dijon mustard, garlic and fresh Basil from the garden (another resilient survivor), the mince was stewing with flavour.

However, I must confess there were also other elements, which weren’t very “Masterchef”. That includes boiling the potatoes in their skins in the microwave and using grated tasty cheese straight from the bag instead of your authentic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano. However, the cheese melted beautifully in the oven and the smell was divine.

However, what really mattered…I had no complaints. That’s quite a rarity around here. My kids have extremely discerning palates.

That could be one of the downsides of my love of cooking and watching Masterchef. That when I cook ordinary meals in between my more memorable creations, they know it. Aside from a few limp carrots, they’ve never had spaghetti on toast and I have my own peculiar fussiness myself.  Prefer to make things from scratch.

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Baking with Mister back in 2007, aged 3.

While I’m not on the show, I’m operating against our own clock here. We’re needing to bolt dinner down and bail into Mum’s Taxi and our son is off to Scouts.

Indeed, every night seems to come with its own inbuilt pressure test.

With that type of pressure, why on earth am I watching Masterchef when I should just get a BBQ chook  and have an instant meal?

Personally, despite trying to juggle a multitude of competing pressures, I value and believe in good, nutritious food. While I might not be wanting to cook like a master chef every night, I do want to produce meals which taste sensational, are nutritionally balanced and teach my kids how to put a meal together. Show them how to produce a symphony of flavours bursting with vitamins, imagination and creativity. That food doesn’t necessarily come in a box. That food is so much more, than something to shovel in your mouth to satisfy your hunger.

family at Yoda

Indeed, that food is an experience, producing memories by the mouthful…especially when it’s made with love.

At least, it will be as long as Masterchef is on the screen.

Then, slowly but surely we’ll inevitably return back to that stick of limp carrot.

xx Rowena