Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Italia Again

Ahhh ... to be back in Italy and in spring too. Sight of rolling hills, scent of the tree blossoms, colourful fruits stands and berries bursting with sweetness.

We started off in the amazingly tourist-free Bologna, with a peaceful day of sightseeing, climbing one of the 14 towers to savour the breathtaking views and eating amazing food.

The following day we made a move, passed Modena and stopped off for a few peaceful hours in Parma. I love how Italian towns remind me of ghost towns mid afternoon. Everything closes and besides the odd homeless cat, there isn't a soul in the streets. And then around 4pm, like an efficient Swiss watch, it comes back to life. Arriving during the hiatus afforded some priceless photo opportunities ... beautiful empty streets.

The best part of the trip was Cinque Terre. An almost secret wonderland of five coastal towns nestled against steep hills, on the Mediterranean coats between Livorno and Genova. The last few years it is a place I keep hearing about. Finally trusting Minky's suggestion I made it there. Vernazza (the fourth town along if you are coming from La Spezia) had the most vibe. It is one of those places where people pass through and are remembered, and they return, and they tell their friends about. It is a place with a soul, full of warm friendly people. Reminded me of another place Minky introduced me to - Haad Rin with its Hiatus Cafe, and Vernazza has the Blue Marlin.

It was almost sunset when we arrived. The warm glow enveloping the gorgeous piazza on the sea. It was in the early hours of the next morning that it all changed. The sea went from serene to violent and then spectacular through the next day. Of course it was all background to the exquisite early cocktails, dessert wine and amaretti biscuits and later the mojitos. We enjoyed it from the slightly illegal vantage point in the police boat yard. My red heart necklace was lost in the storm. Sharing it all with a fellow Sydney soul ... all quite priceless.
Five days in Italy and I return a bit fluish, but with feeling that I have had a month out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Chef's Table

This will go down as one of the most amazing evenings of my life. Thank you to W for the idea and making it such a special way to celebrate a milestone. The perfect venue with a quintessential crowd.

Photos were allowed, but no one thought to bring a camera. My excuse ... it didn't fit into my ridiculously small clutch ... Mobile camera will do, but the colours don't work on the low resolution. I have included below a photo of one of the courses from the restaurant website.

The evening started at 6.30 pm with Louis Roederer champagne and some amazing canapes, including tuna & mayo which left me speechless. I love when something so simple can taste so amazing. The next step was introduction to the kitchen and sitting down at our table for the evening. Tucked away in a corner, but elevated a few steps to allow the ultimate vantage point. The Executive Chef Jason Atherton right in front of us as he looked over every dish leaving the kitchen.

He did not fail to disappoint displaying an outburst here and there, whenever something did not go to the tight plan. The kitchen seemed to operate like a well oiled machine. Different stations were responsible for the hot/cold starters, fish/meat mains and desserts. Within each section there was an assembly line approach ... and they all made it seem so so easy.

We were left to wonder around the kitchen freely and had a guided tour, complete with each of us donning a blue and white stripped aprons (just like all the chefs!). The birthday boy got to try a hand at our scallop course. He looked like a pro ...

The menu and wines were entirely selected for us. debating the grape and maturity of each bottle just added to already flowing conversation. There were some amazing flavours from beetroot pickled in Cab Sav vinegar with Italian goats cheese, to fois gras teamed up with a Hungarian dessert wine

We finished the evening at 12.30 am satisfied and breathess.

The menu is below, but there are some bits missing ... like the unbelievable Tyrrell's Hunter Valley semillon, the berry salad and truffle and date dessert..

Truffled swede velouté
with braised duck leg and cep brioche
Marinated beetroot, Sairass cheese,
pine nut and Cabernet Sauvignon dressing
Foie gras marinated in Pinot Noir caramel,
smoked ham hock and piccalilli
Roasted sea scallops with tomato,
ginger and vanilla chutney, spicy syrup
Honey and soy roasted quail with Landes foie gras
and spiced pear chutney
Duart salmon, pork belly with choucroute
and smoked raisin reduction
Spiced Royal Berkshire pork belly with slow roasted fillet,
apple cardamom purée and jasmine reduction
Selection of farmhouse cheeses
Selection of sorbets


Louis Roederer Brut Premier, NV
Riesling Achleiten, Prager
Austria, 2003
Soave Fonscarino, Stephano Inama, Veneto,
Italy, 2003
Jurançon Novembre, Cauhapé
France, 2004
Vosne-Romanée 1er En Orveaux,S.Cathiard
Burgundy, 2000
Spätburgunder, Franz Keller
Germany, 2004
Le Mistral, Joseph Phelps
California, 2003
Clos de Los Siete,
Argentina, 2003
Noble Late Harvest Tokaji, Oremus,
Hungary, 2003

Monday, May 21, 2007

Greatest Briton Awards

We waited in the cold, only to be turned away at the end ... but the best bit was being there as the stars arrived. Dame Helen Mirren was the breathtaking starlet you would have always imagined ...

And David Bekham emerging with his golden tan, from a blacked out Bentley, a meter away from A ... made her very happy :)

Not seeing the actual show, proved quite priceless ...

And She Bounces Back ...

I walked in there. Smiled, he smiled back in recognition. I asked him out. Wrote my number on the nearest thing, a wine cork. Smiled again. And walked out!

My outfit was a killer! I did not dress for him, but utilised it on the occasion ... balloon hem dress with the sexy peep toe sling backs and a coat. From where he was standing I could have just been wearing the coat and heels ...

It took me ten minutes to catch my breath afterwards. My heart was pounding. What a relief! And then the realisation ... whether he calls or not, is no longer important! I did it! I saw an opportunity and I took it!

A life lived without any regret ...

The Key

A, who has only recently arrived in London, has managed to crack the social scene like no one else I know! Within 3 weeks of her arrival we were in the audience for Castaway Exposed. One of these reality programs, with Exposed being the even more pointless follow up discussion. The beauty of it all, we were sitting right behind the presenter and A got a lot of airtime! Our first TV appearance has been burned onto a DVD for safe keeping ...

Tonight we are invited to the Greatest Briton 2007 Awards. A black tie event which is tipped to be filled with Z listers, although the Queen herself (not only Helen Mirren) has received a nomination. At least Kelly Osborne will be there, bringing some class to the event, or not!?! Oh well, it is Monday night after all. The rest of the week will be much better ... I promise

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Unexpected Friday Night

Waking up yesterday with a terrible hangover I was still wearing a sheepish grin. Despite the embarassing culmination of the evening, which I felt the need to blog about whilst still under the influence, it was a fantastic evening.

Started out with careful planning, including a much sought after table at SJ, but things got side tracked early on. Kath and I bumped into S & N and before I knew it I was attempting to sweet talk the SJ maitre d'. Unsuccessfully indeed, as we settled for an equally trendy place across the road. Before I knew it ... an Italian white and an Aussie red were selected and I was craving burnt toast. Not sure what it was about this place, but the addictive scent of burnt toast was constantly in the air! On that note ... I don't own a toaster, purposely! Next thing I know I'm sitting in front of a bowl of cauliflower and toasted almond soup, and the toast is all around me. Happy days!

The best bit of the evening was being surrounded by good friends and the constant laughter. When we weren't making fun of each other, surrounding souls were made the victims. All in good humour of course. My ability to handle the New York dating scene came under serious question ... of course all due to the last bit

Friday, May 18, 2007


You remember my crush ... well tonight I was there, in close proximity and did nothing about it. My friends were there, urging me to do something, but I couldn't. Is this why I'm single?

The Scent of Summer

Finally summer has arrived in London! Walking home last night at dusk I could smell the sun in the air. Everyone was smiling and yoga had helped bring cheer to my day too. Later in the isles of Sainsbury's I found what had been looking for the last few months ...

I can't help it. I LOVE the smell! Last night I lathered myself in it and went to sleep feeling like I'm back in Sydney. For me ... Palmer's Shea Butter is the ultimate smell of summer.

What is your favourite summer scent? The one thing that makes a summer's day complete?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Chef's Table Awaits

Tomorrow night the celebrations for a dear friend's birthday begin with nothing less than ... the Chef's Table at Gordon Ramsay's Maze

Another weekend

Another great weekend. Friday night met some interesting people over dinner at the Comedy Cafe. And the rest ... I managed one yoga class, many hours in the car driving through rain, visit to Brighton, tons of priceless chat with Annie and a spot of bargain shopping.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My Bedroom ...

... is looking more and more like the boudoir I would like it to be ...

Minky was asking where I have my favourite photo of us ...

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Weekend

In my usual style I had a fully packed week ... Monday night I saw Equus (the must see play of the year and not for the nudies) and Friday I found myself rushing from the airport to the Old Vic for The Entertainer (very intense). The evening ended over a cheese platter and glass of wine at Comptoir. I do love that place, but sadly my crush has moved on. Who knows ... maybe our paths will cross again ...

Saturday I helped a friend move, whilst in my mind putting together an appropriate outfit for the evening's civil ceremony reception I was due to attend. A poignant event for 2 reasons. It was the first gay wedding I have been invited to, admittedly I was to be W's 'plus one'. And they were having the reception at Soho House. What does one wear? Annie gave me some great advice ... 'Pick one key item, and plant the rest of the outfit around it'. The key item was my new peep toe sling backs, and then the rest just came together ... a simple wrap dress coupled with my Marc Jacobs patent belt. And the result ...

To be continued ...

Val D'isere ...

Previous post updated

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The weekend of dates got a tad sidelined (Murphy's Law!). Both Sunday dates were postponed until the following week, very good reasons were cited! I walked into Comptoir on Saturday all ready to 'make contact' and ... he wasn't there. (But the madelaines were a much appreciated by all later that evening.)

Still the weekend was hectic, lots of laughter and booze and little sleep. Saturday night we had our neighbours gathering. Each of use prepared a course and we seamlessly moved through the whole house. All the different tastes, textures and settings made it all the more special. I was in charge of cocktails and subsequently coffees. The French and Apple Martinis went down like a treat. Safe to say everyone was jolly by the time we moved on to the starter. It all ended with discovery of the Karaoke Chanel!

This week I am distracting myself with work related travel, and luxury travel at that. Flying out of City Airport and arriving to what I would say is one of the most luxurious hotels in the world on the other side, was just the treat I needed. It is all in the small touches ... the fruit plate, the bed turned down with miniature friand on the pillow, mood lighting and tea lights in the bathroom. How could I resist a warm bath ...

Photos are a bit grainy ... I forgot the camera and had to do with my camera phone

Lake Geneva