Thursday, December 23, 2010
Just a quick post to say that I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season.
I hope you enjoy good company, decadent food, some sparkly bubbles and just a few little gifts.
I know I will.
Thanks for dropping by the Hut Chronicles this year, I love to hear from you.
I'm looking forward to a new year of adventures and hope to spend Christmas 2011 in our new little hut (we'd better be in by then!)
Nigella and Claudia send licks and waggy tails your way too.
P.S. You have no idea how long it took to get this one photo- antlers are much more fun to steal from eachother than to pose in!
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
- concrete floors polished = tick
- all the walls are now up and bolted down = tick
- Rob has been digging away shifting fill from the house site into our terraced gardens
- we now (as of last night) have roof trusses on half of the hut.
Sadly the pics from last night are still on Rob's camera, so you'll have to be patient.
But the addition of the roof frame is pretty exciting. The hut looks so tall! The steep pitch of the roof is one of the design features we particuarly wanted and it looks impressive.
Apart from the hut, Claudia has been keeping us all amused (and busy trying to make sure she doesn't destroy everything), I've been to Melbourne for work, I've managed to come down with a head cold so spent the last couple of days lying on the couch, and my sister turned up from London to stay with my parents for a month.
Apart from all that we've been decorating the house, writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents and buying dried fruit in outrageous quantities. This year we're only making 2 large puddings and 4 cakes, but the ingredient list was still impressive!
Can't wait to show you the pics of the roof.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Despite this, as I drove into Melbourne in a taxi, I felt excited and glad to be back. I like Melbourne, in short bursts of course. I find Sydney a bit showy and besides a picturesque harbor is not such a novelty to someone who has grown up in Hobart. I’ve been to Melbourne frequently and love the restaurants, laneways and shops. We have our favourite haunts. But as I was heading there on my own for work, I had deliberately decided to try some new experiences. Stupidly I forgot to take a camera.
First off, I’d picked a hotel right in the city centre. Usually Rob and I choose to stay in Richmond. Hotel Causeway is a small hotel in one of the laneways off Little Collins Street. I dumped my suitcases and headed to Flinders Street station. The novelty factor of the large shopping centre called, that and the fact I’d realised I hadn’t bought any Christmas presents yet! But I was completely overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. I did find a few shops that we don’t have in Tasmania and ticked off a few people on my list. I also hit IKEA and that was a lot of fun! Getting it all back to the hotel on the tram was awkward though.
I had done a little prior research on restaurants, I went through the Gourmet Traveller book and picked out a few places that were new or we hadn’t tried before. Armed with this list, I’d pick one and try my luck, as I had no reservations. Even though I dined alone, I didn’t mind, I could concentrate on the food that way. So I tried the following places:
Coda: After a hard day shopping, a glass of burgundy and a few small dishes at the bar hit the spot. I have a soft spot for sang choy bao, so I tried the Quail lettuce delight, with lup cheong, shitake mushroom, coriander and water chestnuts, quite delicious. Next was a smoked trout fritter and paprika aioli, suitably moreish, before a crispy herb crumbed lamb cutlet with lemon and some steamed broccolini.
Rockpool: I’d heard about the wagyu burger, and wanted to try it out. After a brisk walk over to the Crown complex, I walked down the dimly lit wood lined corridor to reception. They let me know it would be half an hour before I could have a table, but I was happy to sit at the bar with a beer and read through the extensive and impressive (but totally out of my budget) wine list. Once seated I ordered a calamari entrée and the burger. The fried calamari was tender and came with a Romesco sauce. The Burger was as impressive as it sounded, piled up high on the plate, a soft bun, a thick juicy burger with bacon, gruyere cheese and pickle. It was worth the wait.
Cumulus Inc: I had braved the breakfast at the hotel on the first day, it was bad. Packet cereal, white shop toast and the worst coffee I have drunk in awhile. It seemed criminal to keep eating there (especially as it was an internal room with the worst music in history playing a little too loudly) so I headed out for breakfast on my second morning. I walked up the swanky Collins Street, with all of the beautiful shop fronts (at 6.45am it didn’t matter that I couldn’t afford to go in them!) and then walked over to Flinders Lane to find Cumulus Inc. By now I seriously needed coffee, the first latte disappeared quickly and gave me a chance to check out the place. Light and airy with a long bar overlooking the kitchen. Deciding to be virtuous I chose Bircher muesli and orange juice, and a 2nd coffee. Worth the walk, I laughed when I spied Miellerie honey for sale at the counter. I told them (quite proudly) that it’s the best honey!
MoVida Aqui: After a big day at the course I wandered in the humid evening over to the bigger but younger sister of MoVida. Overlooking a terrace to the dome of the Supreme Court it was buzzing on a Tuesday night. I got a spot at the bar, and deciding to be appropriately flippant in my choice of drink, a glass of sangria (Rob via text did warn me not to drink too many!) Over some olives I chose a couple of tapas and a main. It would have been better to be there with at least someone else to try paella, but I soldiered on alone. The Cantabrian anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet was delicious and gone in a flash, followed closely by a fresh baby sardine. Next up was the main of slow-roasted lamb with a dark sauce. It was so tender and I had plenty of bread to soak up the sauce with. I really didn’t need them, but I couldn’t resist the Churros with hot chocolate. Damn. They were good. Crispy fried but soft inside, perfect for dipping into the molten chocolate. It felt wicked, but I didn’t care. I walked slowly back to the hotel to lie down for awhile!
Grossi Florentino: Undaunted by the previous night’s excess, I was determined to make the most of my meal times on the final day. I slipped into the little Cellar Bar on the side of the main Grossi restaurant. Greeted by the two waiters with a very enthusiastic “Buongiorno” (especially pre-coffee and at such an early hour), I settled into a table by the window overlooking the pavement. I quickly ordered my first coffee to get the brain working. I decided on slow cooked poached eggs, smoked salmon, hollandaise, on a homemade muffin. It was a most civilised breakfast, with classical music playing in the background, and two very formally attired waiters bustling around ensuring all the customers were happy. It tasted as good as it sounds, and truthfully my choice was all about the sauce! I love hollandaise.
Café Vue: On a rushed walk from the final session of a course to a meeting on the other side of the CBD I dropped into Café Vue for a takeaway wagyu pastrami baguette. The baguette had a nice chewy crust and I hadn’t had the wagyu pastrami for ages. Rob and I used to buy a few slices of it from the Wursthaus and eat it simply in a Jean-Pascal baguette. Unfortunately I don’t think they stock it anymore. Would like to head back to Café Vue again, the menu and the cute macarons in the glass cabinet were enticing. Picked up a few of the Vue de Monde business cards with Tom Samek’s quirky paintings on them as bookmarks.
So there you have it, my culinary adventures in 4 days. Fun. Delicious. Indulgent. Satisfied for the moment, I can’t wait to return with Rob in the new year.
Friday, November 26, 2010
- they go through a teenage stage with big paws and ears!
- how sharp their teeth are,
- how they want to try to eat everything, rocks, tow balls, Nigella's tail,
- how they are really messy when drinking water (she sticks her whole face in the bowl),
- that first 15 minutes of whining when we put her in the laundry to sleep,
- that they're all action for a while then they just fall over and have a power nap.
But I haven't forgotten how they just make you smile for no reason, that she really does want to please you and that she wants to go everywhere with you.
I'm afraid both Rob and I (and Nigella but she won't admit it) are totally smitten.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
So I've been so busy that I didn't realise I had passed a significant milestone here at the Hut Chronicles, my 1st blogging birthday. The last year has gone by in a flash, a cliché I know!
So what have we been up to?
Hut wise, it’s been a little dull, just waiting for the slab to cure, but it has been fun to walk around on it. Imagining the space. Lying down where our bed or the window seat will be. The wallabies are quite taken with it too and have taken to decorating it with their clay covered paws and tails. The builder took the formwork off the other day, so Nigella had to pose for the obligatory photo.
Gardening at the block is another story. Things have been happening. Last year we started the garden at the block. I don’t think we realised what we were in for. We thought we’d just turn the soil over. But then we developed our plan into having two terraced gardens, my (flower) picking garden (15 x 16m) and Rob’s vegetable patch (21 x 16m). We had some time off last year so attacked it with gusto, by hand. Certainly makes you feel you’ve achieved something! But then we wanted to create some ag drains so that our gardens didn’t turn into a boggy mess in winter. We purchased some of the ag pipe and gravel, but only got half way finished before we had to start saving seriously for the hut. So it kind of went on the back burner.
Having a half finished job was irritating for Rob. So a couple of weekends ago we bought the remaining pipe and gravel, and shifted another 5.5 cubic metres of gravel into all of Rob’s carefully hand dug drains. It does seem a little crazy that we spent quite a bit of money on something we will never see again (well hopefully). But we both know it has been a worthwhile investment! Now we just need to fill in the paths that will be over the top of the drains with extra soil and the excavations will be complete.
I could pretend that the Veuve was to celebrate my 1st blogging birthday, but it was really for Rob’s father’s birthday, which we headed up north to Launceston for. We took up 2 dozen oysters to have with the Champagne (which disappeared quickly between four of us) and ocean trout to poach with leeks and carrots, and served it with steamed pink eye potatoes and salad. Graham was terribly indulgent and provided a Burgundy with dinner and then Sauternes for dessert. The Sauternes was amazing, although sweet at the front of your mouth; the acidity cleansed your palate, so it didn’t feel cloying at all. The wine was 3 years older than me! A real treat.
Finally I’ve been a little busy shopping on the internet and managed to get to exciting parcels on the same day. One contained a replacement handle for our Canadian ice-cream maker, the Donvier. I can’t wait to start trying some new sorbet and ice-cream recipes, as well as our old favourites, so bring on summer! I had also found a cake recipe in Maggie Beer’s book “Maggie’s Harvest” that called for dried cumquats. There is a special birthday coming up next year for someone and I think this cake would be perfect for him. I contacted Noelle Tolley at the Kumquatery and placed an order. They arrived too, they are so beautiful, like tiny perfect sweets, I can’t even begin to imagine just how many cumquats it took to produce 500g of dried cumquats!
Another little project has been keeping us occupied, but hopefully we'll have more news about that next week.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The build continues on. We had a magic day of sunshine before 5 days of showery grey weather, so our builder took his chance and poured our two slabs.
The only disappointment was that we arrived too late to put our hand (or paw) prints in!
The next few weeks will be a bit quiet then the fun begins, I can't wait for the frame to go up, then our little hut will start to take shape.
We'll have to get Nigella a bright orange safety vest, she takes her role as site foreman very seriously!
Years later when visiting the old family dentist he got me mixed up with my sister, he was so nervous, so I had a look at the patient card and saw my sister’s name with the sentence “tends to be hysterical particularly about needles”. I quickly put him right and the appointment went smoothly after that!
Anyway I digress, yesterday; I headed into see my new dentist. He’s ok really, but I could tell he thought he was going to get lucky with my teeth. Rob is a frequent visitor; I don’t think he has any teeth that haven’t had work done on them. Earlier this year he had the pleasure of his first root canal. It doesn’t bear thinking about really. You could tell the dentist thought he’d find something. He looked at me seriously, “now we haven’t had an x-ray for 3 years, so I’d like to do some today”. So I agreed. He arranged some plastic device that almost got the gag reflex to happen then two snaps later it’s all done.
He looked at those x-rays long and hard. I turn around in the chair to look too. The teeth look funny to me, so I tell him that. He looks at me as if I’ve lost it. Dead pan his reply “What do you mean funny, they’re normal”, all I could manage was “oh they look sort of skinny, I guess you look at more teeth than me”. Obviously!
He still hasn’t said anything about fillings though, so I ask him. “No” he says, “nothing is showing up on the x-ray”. Before I feel too relieved he adds “but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any decay, sometimes it doesn’t show up and I will find it during the examination”.
So I lie back and try to relax. Looking very trendy with my groovy old people sunnies to protect my eyes from the bright light I assume. A few pokes and prods, is he trying to hurt me? Then the cleaning starts. Now this is the bit where I get a little worried. For some reason I lose track of where my tongue is. Does this happen to you? I have no idea what my tongue is doing during this procedure. Between that and the suction thingy that the nurse is using I get a bit nervous, I’m hoping my tongue is behaving itself and at the same time trying not to drown in my own saliva. Next stage is that awful hook, I swear it feels like he is about to yank some of my teeth out with that one.
He still hasn’t mentioned any fillings. Polishing is next. This I can cope with. While this is happening I look at the dentist, he’s looking unnaturally tanned for someone who has just come out of a Tasmanian winter. Then I remember my appointment was shifted back by a week because he was “away”. Perhaps he was on a holiday in Queensland?
Still no mention of potential fillings. All he offers is “I’d like to give you a fluoride treatment now”. Ok I say. A quick rinse and then he comes over to me with what looks like a pot of goopy toothpaste, he smears it all over my teeth then tells me to swirl it around for 2 minutes. Trivial I think. So I start doing just that, but then I think that I probably shouldn’t swallow this stuff, the more I think about it the more I feel like I’m going to. Then I think how ridiculous I must look and I get the giggles, I somehow manage to keep it together and not dribble the stuff everywhere. After I’ve spat it out, I ask him again, do I need any fillings. He struggles to hide his disappointment, “no your teeth are fine”. I‘m sure he really wanted to slip in an “unfortunately” at the beginning of his statement.
I have a moment of smugness before I come to settle the bill. Even after the (not so) generous private health insurance helps out I’m still $150 poorer. On scanning the bill, I find that the fluoride treatment set me back $40! Geez, it must be pretty special toothpaste! I’m now thinking his tan is the result of a Mediterranean holiday, perhaps sailing the Greek Isles?
Monday, October 25, 2010
in two parts; it was a public holiday here in Tasmania (Show Day) on Thursday, but we had to go back to work on Friday. Oh well.
Thursday was an absolute cracker weather wise so we spent the day making the most of it by:
Walking Nigella at the dog beach,
Weeding in the garden,
Eating leftover asparagus, pea, leek, mint and goat cheese frittata on the swing chair,
Hanging out at the block, planting new trees (chinese quinces, a flowering chestnut and some Eucalyptus morrisbyi) and staking out older trees to protect them from wind damage.
The day came to end with a wonderful dinner (cooked by Rob) of roasted spatchcocked chickens (with garlic, red onions, lemon zest, rosemary and thyme), roast potatoes and salad, and I had made a yoghurt blancmange earlier in the day for dessert.
The weekend proper involved shopping at Salamanca (where I found the great ceramic jug above- I couldn't resist it!), toast and raspberry jam, walking around the perimeter of the block checking for wallaby damage to our trees and hiding under a big tree when we got caught in a rain shower. Watching old episodes of Nigella Bites (Rob hit Nigella overload and couldn't bear her anymore!), using up the left over chicken in a risotto, with leeks, broad beans and fennel from our garden. Inspired by Nigella I cooked her chocolate raspberry pudding cake, which was ok, but we won't do again, as Rob said, there are plenty of other cakes to try.
Yesterday involved weeding my lily pots and killing the hundreds of snails that were hiding in amongst them, and getting a little burnt in the process as this took far longer than I thought! A third trip to the block for digging (Rob) and dog grooming (Nigella & I). We headed home and I was spoilt by Rob who cooked dinner: steamed pink eyes, asparagus, peas & mint with bearnaise sauce and rib eye steak. Who needs to go out?
Hope your weekend was just as enjoyable.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
It was so wet last weekend we didn't take any photos at the block. But I just looked at this photo from the same time last year. The block was green and the dam was super full. It hasn't filled up this year yet.
Trawling through my photos led me to this. Taken in January 2008. I love the day after the hay is done. So different to the verdant pasture of winter and spring. A few things have changed. For a start I'm no longer blonde. The tree in the white plastic cover is a lot taller than me now. The orchard has doubled, our vegetable and flower gardens are taking shape, and there is a level house site with a picnic table.
Just one thing missing now.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Continuing on with our obsession for 50's Danish modern furniture, we started hunting around Hobart for an appropriate sideboard. Not entirely happy with the range we started googling yesterday, and found this. Unlike the ones we had seen around town that were veneer it is made of solid myrtle, and matches our table. It was designed by Fred Ward, during his time at Myer Heritage Furniture. Finding this style of furniture has peaked my interest in 1950's Australian furniture design, and has given us some direction in our bargain hunting.
So in a reckless moment we clicked the buy it now option on ebay.
Now we just have to work out how to get it from Melbourne to here! Luckily my aunt doesn't mind babysitting it until we do.
So in confessing my little moments of weakness to you I have found absolution.
Do I have to do penance?