Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good food right here

This week is a big one for the restaurant world in Australia with the announcement of the Gourmet Traveller top 100 and awards. I can't help but be interested as an outside viewer, a consumer with a keen interest in good food. A Tasmanian chef, Luke Burgess, won best new talent, and I'm sure this will certainly cement his restaurant Garagistes on the culinary map of not only Tasmania but that big island we are sometimes included in.

I haven't yet tried to visit Garagistes. The concept is certainly intriguing. But I'm worried now it will be near impossible to get anywhere near it!

It has had me thinking about the revolution in food in Tasmania. The bar has been lifted by keen chefs, bakers and producers. Take bread, it wasn't that long ago when our only option for good bread was Jackman & McRoss in Battery Point. Now we have such a wide variety of may I say damn good bread that Rob and I take some time to decide where we'd like to buy a loaf. We can have the Companion Bakery country batard, Sweet Envy's potato bread, Red Velvet Lounge rye, Summer Kitchen sprouted rye, or Pigeon Hole's sourdough, and that was just this week! Just joking, although we are eating a lot more bread than we ever used to.

Rob and I popped in for a quick mid-week lunch at Pigeon Hole, mainly because my friend Pauline has been working in the kitchen a few days week recently and I wanted to see her in action. We work together in our real life at uni, but I think I can safely say that most of our days are spent thinking about food, cooking, baking and mentally composing blog posts about it. She looked content, and perfectly at home there. Whilst eating my eggs baked with cheese, onions, spinach and jamon and Rob ate his jamon on bread, I said outloud, how lucky are we now to have a cafe like this in little ol' Hobart. We often linger 10 years behind the mainland, but the food was excellent and I didn't have to travel to eat it.

Not only Pigeon Hole, but Tricycle, Sweet Envy, even the perennial favourite Jackman & McRoss, we now have so many options for a quick meal during the week. I did then have a slight moment of panic- what if we regress in Tasmania- could that happen? Rob thought not, we always appear to go forward.

Things are exciting here in Tasmania at the moment, new food shops like Bottega Rotolo complement our old favourite haunts like the Italian Pantry and the Wursthaus. I am yet to get out to an Agrarian Kitchen cooking class but have heard nothing but good things from those who have been. I love the change at the Salamanca markets, more local produce, free-range eggs, cheese, and of course our favourite sweet treats from the C and C cupcake factory. Producers of well treated animals such as Mt Gnomon farm. Regional cafes and restaurants mean that you don't have to stick to Hobart to eat good, honest food.

We bookended our week with the Pig Day Out at what I like to call (now) our local, Red Velvet Lounge. Steve's food is a constant delight to us, and last night was great fun. A wood-roasted pig, local cider, beautiful smoked salmon and an apple pie with such crispy pastry I forced myself to finish up even though I probably shouldn't have. Such bloody good food highlighting the quality of the produce, shared with 68 other people who appreciated it as much as us, rustically shared with others at the table in such a generous way. No phaffy pretentious food here!

I am so excited that good food is right here, in Tasmania, my home, and I look forward to it only getting better.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our life:

Left to my own devices I am actually quite lazy. I admit that upfront. Some of it is learned behaviour, I guess, my parents are really “inside” people, movies, books that’s their thing. Given the choice between staying in bed with a good book (or more likely nowadays the iPad to check out what’s happening in blog-world) or get up and start gardening, I would choose bed nine times out of ten!

But then I started living with Rob. He doesn’t sit still. He lives for action. Doing something, anything, preferably outside with our dogs in tow. He lives by the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. For someone who is older than me he puts me to shame with his energy!

I think it works out ok for both of us as we counteract our natural tendencies for slothfulness (me) or busyness (him). Sometimes I encourage him to just sit and enjoy the moment with a cup of coffee and a Chocolate chip biscuit (best recipe ever thanks to C & C cupcake factory).

But more often he’s encouraging me to get my lazy butt out of bed and to live life.

I am grateful, for many things that I’ve learnt from my husband, but this is a good lesson to learn.

So our weekend consisted of:

  • watching Rob play real tennis (this was me at my multi-tasking best in between points I could read and comment on my favourite blogs with near perfect reception on the iPad and he got to run around for an hour);
  • heading to bed early to read new library books;
  • going to the gym for a weights class together;
  • shopping at Salamanca market, for vegies, seedlings to plant, treats from Jo and Michelle (the gin-soaked damson brownie was to. die. for.);
  • visiting my little niece Maisy and marveling at how much she’s grown;
  • cooking a lovely dinner of rib-eye steaks, baked potatoes and wilted spinach followed up by a Seville marmalade steamed pudding (I’m unjustifiably proud of my first batch of marmalade!);
  • being served said pudding in bed for breakfast;
  • sorting out a few last details with the builder at the hut- he even took down his builder’s signs at the front gate;
  • cleaning the hut as a team so it was done more quickly;
  • sitting for a moment in the sun coming through the bi-fold door while we ate toast and vegemite;
  • planting out five cider apple trees, four quince trees and a prune tree in the orchard (stage 3) and protecting them from marauding wallabies;
  • cooking a roast chicken in the Weber BBQ for Sunday’s dinner and chatting about how much we enjoyed our weekend but looking forward to falling asleep!
Sorry it probably sounds a little saccharine, but then we have only been married for four months and living in our hut for two of those so we’re still in that honeymoon phase!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yes I am addicted

I had to head up to Canberra for a quick work trip this week.
This gave me the perfect opportunity to go and stay at the University House at ANU.
Ever since we began collecting Australian mid-century furniture last year, and I found out that my favourite designer, Fred Ward, had designed all the furniture at the Uni House I’ve been desperate to visit. It’s a bit sad really!

The House was built in the 1950’s and it was home to all of the research students and professors of the University at the time. Very much styled on the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge it was, for a time, referred to as “Oxbridge in the Bush”.

To me as I walked through the front entrance into the garden beyond and looked at the wings of the building that surrounded it I felt as if I had stepped back 60 years. I wanted the young (albeit all male) academics to be strolling around discussing their research, meeting in the library to read, having a special dinner in the Great Hall, traipsing into the breakfast room together.
I’m at home in the university environment. After heading to my local one straight from school, I’ve never managed to leave, finding myself a job at the uni and a husband who feels exactly the same and works there too!

Anyway, I walked around the path to my section of the building, each six rooms had their own stairwell, and my room was on the top floor. I opened the door (sadly with an electronic swipe card) and there it was. A room full of the original myrtle (I think) furniture designed by Fred Ward. My own desk and chair, wardrobes, and lounge chairs and a separate bedroom and en suite. A small personal balcony with the original balustrade would have been a lovely spot to sit and drink a cup of tea in the late afternoon sun.

I rang Rob to tell him all the details, and I think for a moment he was worried that I wasn't coming home! But I did admit that I prefer my own little hut with our personal collection of
Fred Ward pieces to the Uni house.
I would thoroughly recommend a stay there if you are in Canberra (it's very close to the middle of town) and particularly if you are keen on visiting a part of our cultural history.

Exciting news on the furniture front at the hut- the long awaited window seat is nearing completion. We visited the workshop this morning to go over a few last details and we should have it by the end of next week. Rob and I are beside ourselves. I can't wait to show you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Good food weekend

The weather in Hobart was grey, rainy and cool.
This meant it was a perfect weekend for baking and cooking at the hut.
We had a little lunch party on Sunday to prepare for.
So we headed into town on Saturday morning to shop for vegetables, herbs and fresh ocean trout. Luckily C & C cupcake factory are now going to be at Salamanca markets, so we stocked up on salted chocolate chip biscuits, chocolate meringues (nice and nutty with hazels) and chocolate brownies. We also picked up a few loaves of bread from Pigeon Hole.

For Sunday's lunch we made 3 dips (hummus, red pepper and baba ghanooj), drained yoghurt for labnee, crispy lavosh and pitta bread, green beans in tomato, ocean trout with a tahini/yoghurt sauce topped with coriander, mint, chilli, red onion, walnut and sumac salad, a Persian love cake, and baklawa. Sorry the only dish I took a photo of was the baklawa straight out of the oven. It smelled delightful and extravagantly I used pistachios so it was very pretty! Lunch was lovely, but we all felt extremely full afterwards, in fact I struggled to eat breakfast this morning.
Last but not least, our favourite avocadoes are back in season- Reed. They're huge, but their flesh is so buttery, we ate them in a salad with some crispy cos lettuce earlier in the week.


Friday, August 5, 2011

I live here


I am already counting down the days to the start of daylight savings (58 days).
At the moment I'm enjoying every extra minute of daylight at the hut.
I woke up yesterday and saw the sun rise and I realised how extremely happy I am to be living at the hut.
It's my home.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Learning to slow down...

I couldn't go through another weekend of frantic jobs, just to ensure I ticked them all off my list. We tried to be better at slowing down. Friday night was a good start, a bottle of French red with a lovely French Brie and an Italian hard cheese pressed inside grapes. We lingered at our table chatting and enjoying the cheeses.
The weather was a little kinder this weekend- warmer, some sun, although the occasional shower did catch us unawares. Rob did have an important project- building a compost bin- our compost has been going to waste, and as we don't have rubbish collected making sure we cut down on our waste is paramount. So while he started sawing and measuring, I baked a chocolate cake- after watching Annabel Langbein's tv show, the Free Range Cook, we couldn't resist the book. For once I am trying to be good and cook all the things we'd like to try from a new book- this resolution may be sorely tested soon, Rob has just ordered 15 news books from Amazon (only 13 are cookbooks!)

I made sure we took the time to enjoy a cup of tea, and a few walks around the block to watch the dogs wrestle in the mud.
The hut is quite peaceful- although this weekend we had several types of bird visitors, our resident pair of geese (they have adopted us), flocks of native ducks who appeared to be fighting over the dam, cheeky currawongs that liked to tease Claudia and the occasional robin. I'd love to get clever enough to recognise all their calls and songs. But at the moment I just listen and wonder what they're trying to say.

We did go shopping on Saturday, we've been living without a mirror in our bathroom since we moved in. As someone who is extremely short sighted and has to put in contact lenses every day this has been a bit of a trial- the little hand mirror on the bench top wasn't going to cut it for much longer. So we headed into town to visit our favourite second hand furniture shop, after looking around we couldn't really find the right one, but we had a chat to the owner, and knowing our fondness for retro he ran out the back and came back with a simple blackwood framed mirror. Back home it was actually a bit big for our bathroom, but suited the guest bathroom better so we swapped the round mirror to our room and hung the new mirror up. It was a little marked from water or the sun, but as I was oiling the kitchen joinery I just ran the cloth over the frame and it improved it markedly.
We made good use of our kitchen on Saturday night and cooked a special meal, just for us. I steamed some mussels open, then topped them with a salsa of lemon rind and flesh, roasted and chopped up almonds, garlic and parsley. Then we blitzed them under our grill. I was quite proud of these, sorry I didn't get a picture, they were begging to be eaten. Rob tea smoked a piece of Salmon in the Weber, it just had a marinade of whiskey, sugar and salt. We ate it with a potato bread from Sweet Envy and a bottle of bubbles. The salmon was so tender, meltingly so, like it was confit. A slice of chocolate cake with a wicked ganache icing and a cup of chocolate tea for dessert. Another excellent meal together. It's still such a novelty for us both to be able to cook in the kitchen together. We love it.

Sunday was spent finishing the compost bin, I was even allowed to use the power tools to help! Then we put a second coat of tung oil on the kitchen cabinets, and then while we were at it we decided to oil all our retro furniture, rejuvenating them beautifully.
We're getting better at living at the hut now, maybe we'll be able to relax once the long awaited window seat is finished, which I'm hoping is soon!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...