Yellow: Eat Your Veggies!

Yellow:  It’s the name of The Runner’s favorite Coldplay song and the name of a not so new vegetarian restaurant in Potts Point.

Normally, when someone brings up dining at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant I turn up my nose and immediately start thinking of reasons why I can’t go- (organising a wine rack? washing my hair? writing a blog post? Laundry? Any excuse that seems slightly plausible will do!)  It’s not that I’m anti-vegetable or anti-vegetarian- I love vegetables (even beetroot on certain occasions) and we tend to have a good mix of plant based and meat based dishes during the week at home.  We’ve been vegan and vegetarian during our 30 day challenges, but for some reason I tend to associate Vegetarian/Vegan restaurants with boring beans with tofu and a clientele who look like they should be playing hacky sack on the quad rather than sophisticated, urbane diners.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Salt Meats Cheese Meets Me!

So, if you’re not from Sydney, you probably haven’t been to Salt Meats Cheese or The Grounds in Alexandria.  So you’re missing out.

First of all, The Grounds.  The Grounds is smack bang in the middle of Sydney (not the CBD) but pretty close to inner Sydney in what used to be a fairly industrial area.  And if I’m honest, a few years ago when I had a chance to live in Alexandria, I turned up my nose and flatly refused to move there.  Well, gentrification is a powerful thing and now Alexandria is a pretty hip place for well, hipsters and yuppies.  The Runner and I are DEFINITELY NOT hipsters, however we *may* be yuppies…. Or at least the product of one time yuppie parents.  Anyway, The Grounds is a fairly new and fairly popular place in Sydney for those of us in our mid-30s who live near the city and drive mini-SUVs or Volkswagens.   They have great coffee, yummy food, a pig and some chickens.  Yup, you read that right, it’s a regular Old MacDonald’s Farm for city kids.  The pig is named Kevin Bacon-  get it, Kevin….BACON!  He’s a minor celebrity in Sydney having been the victim of a kidnapping earlier this year.   Yes, you read that correctly.   It was a massive news story.   The chickens are just chickens but there’s a lamb, or a goat…I’m not really sure which.  I grew up in a city, it has four legs and doesn’t bark or meow, it could be anything.    The Grounds is as close as I’ve gotten to a pig or chickens or lamb/goats/sheep unless you count the meat aisle of the grocery store.  Anyway, The Grounds has a garden, café,  and a bar, you can buy flowers, fresh fruit, blueberry lemonade,  donuts and all sorts of other treats.  You can have a coffee, have some lunch, get married (as some friends did) and have afternoon drinks.  It’s all very pretty and very urban- hence why the urban yuppies love it.  If you’re in Sydney, I highly recommend checking it out.

As if The Grounds wasn’t enough, Foodie-Hipster-Yuppie heaven aka Salt Meats Cheese is next door.   They have artisanal meats, cheeses, oils, salts and pastas.    They also have a wide range of imported and specialty foods.  They sell the type of food that seems like a great idea at the time but that you never actually eat and then you feel guilty about having in your house (I’m looking at you $8 spaghetti sauce).  You can buy chocolate pasta, a range of gluten free flours, flavoured olives and smoked and flavoured salts.  I still have not graduated to the level of Foodie-ism where I know what to do with a flavoured salt, but I do know where to buy them.   And yes, I have purchased, cooked, and eaten their chocolate pasta—and it’s delicious!  One of the best things about Salt Meats Cheese is that they also offer cooking classes.   For my pre-wedding, “hens” day, we did their pasta making class- super fun, and this past Sunday, I went to their Burger Making Workshop.

Wow!

First of all, I learned a lot.  The class was taught by a butcher who explained how to choose and prepare our own meat for our burgers.  Hint—buying the pre-minced mince at the butchers is for amateurs.  And don’t even think about buying the pre-made burger patties because according to the butcher, it may not even be beef.

Lucky for me, I happen to have a meat grinder (as should everyone, of course!) He showed us how to prepare the meat (3 parts chuck steak to 1 part brisket) for the mincer- it has to be cold and cut up in chunks.   We were allowed to choose our own seasonings- but told to Keep It Simple!  The meat was the star of this burger.  And it was!  It was one of the better burgers I’ve ever made- and all I put in it was ground thyme, a bit of cooked onion, and tomato ketchup.  We cooked the burgers ourselves, with a bit of help and another hint- cook the burger in olive oil for 6 minutes on one side and only 3-4 minutes on the other.

The team at Salt Meats Cheese was awesome as well- they had a selection of condiments, a delicious brioche bun and piping hot, super delicious fries to go with it.  YUM!  It was a super fun Sunday and we even got to take some burger patties home… which The Runner was particularly pleased with!  It also inspired me to start doing more cooking classes!  There’s so much to learn in the kitchen and so much fun to be had, so in 2015, I’m going to make learning to cook better a priority!

See below for some photos from the day…. try not to drool too much!

September and October 2014 070September and October 2014 057September and October 2014 058September and October 2014 062September and October 2014 052September and October 2014 069September and October 2014 066September and October 2014 068September and October 2014 042September and October 2014 059

I missed Christmas…

Clearly, that’s not true but I did miss St Patrick’s Day, which is a holiday I enjoy nearly more than Christmas.

Criticize if you like but as holidays go, I think St Patricks Day is pretty good.  It’s one of my favourite holidays ranked just behind Thanksgiving and my birthday– no really, in Australia sometimes my birthday is a holiday (it often coincides with the Easter long weekend).  Similar to Thanksgiving, it’s a holiday built around eating, drinking, spending time with friends.  It’s about celebrating what’s great about being Irish (or American for Thanksgiving).  There are no presents involved and really it’s just about getting together with friends- and it has a colour scheme/costume idea just to add an extra element!

 Or at least that’s my interpretation.

 I know that St Patricks day means different things to different people.  Until recently, in Ireland, it was a religious holiday and pubs weren’t even allowed to open- seriously.  American Irish or rather Irish Americans in New York, Chicago, and Boston were the ones who turned it into an occasion for a parade and wearing green and celebrating their Irishness and all things Irish in the US.  As it turns out, there are Irish people and Irish pubs in nearly every corner of the world—I think there’s a Chinatown and at least one Irish pub in every city on earth.  So the American version of St Patrick’s Day caught on pretty quickly. Unsurprisingly, Guinness saw a marketing opportunity for their uniquely Irish product and really promoted the party and pub aspect of St Patricks day, and once the marketing kids got involved-  boom, it’s pretty much taken off from there!

 As we all know, I’m an absolute sucker for marketing and St. Patrick’s Day is a product I’ve fully bought into.  I have no doubt I’ll be one of those parents who decorates the house with gold coins and rainbows and who tells the kids to find the leprechauns (apparently that’s a thing now).

 My first memories of St Patrick’s Day were from school, we had to wear green on March 17th.  We also wore red or pink on February 14th so what can I say, I went to a school where being seasonally appropriate was important.  It wasn’t a big deal growing up except that a few cities in the US would dye rivers green and they would do a quick news story on it.  Between that and my green turtleneck that was it. 

 When I lived in London, I remember hitting the pubs and being surrounded by Irish expats out for a few pints.  I think London was where I had my first Guinness- tasty but how did people keep drinking it??  Somewhere there is a picture of me in a Heineken hat – (it was the only green I had)- outside of a pub with a pint of Guinness!  I remember being surprised by the sheer volume of people who were all celebrating and hanging out in the street that night.  We didn’t have anything in common (I’m certainly not Irish, nor were the Italians I was with) but we all found ourselves in the same place.

 Realistically, it was moving to Sydney that really cemented things for me and St P.  Having two close Irish girl friends I got introduced to actual Irish people- not Americans with a vague connection to Ireland who listened to House of Pain and had a great great someone who had migrated across but actual, real live, real life Irish people.  For the first time Ireland was more than leprechauns and U2 and Sinead O’Connor and a vague concept of bombings and ‘troubles’.  Growing up in the 80s in the US, that was pretty much what the press coverage on Ireland could be condensed into.

After my first St Patrick’s Day with Irish friends, I was hooked.  Not just on the holiday but on what an amazing culture and people it celebrates.  Of course St Patrick’s Day oversimplifies 1000 years of history into a few key symbols that are easy to understand and celebrate- music, leprechaun, green, Guinness, shamrock, rainbows, pot of gold- most of which have nothing to do with the real Ireland – but I’m really pleased that I have friends and a fiancée whose culture is so rich, varied, and interesting.  Considering the population in Ireland is about the same as the Sydney metropolitan region, it really has made quite a big mark on the world—possibly because most people of Irish descent aren’t actually in Ireland.  

St Patrick’s Day for Irish expats is a day to celebrate “home” whatever that means to them- that’s the great thing about being an expat- you can pick and choose what from home you want to celebrate and what you want to sweep under the rug.   Everyone’s family and everyone’s experience with “Home” is different.  Much like Thanksgiving, It’s not how the holiday first started and everyone celebrates differently but it is an experience that everyone can share- Irish or not.

 Except for me this year.

 No sugar March meant I didn’t bake chocolate Guinness cupcakes this year, a downpour meant that we didn’t venture in for Sydney’s festivities in Hyde Park and a sprained ankle meant no going to the pub to soak up the atmosphere.  In fact, The Runner and I had a quiet dinner and although we had spoken about going to get a can of Guinness to share at home, we didn’t.  I don’t even think The Runner has worn his green t shirt in the past two weeks. A pretty poor effort from us really!

 So I feel a bit deflated and defeated, not only am I limping around pathetically but I missed one of my favorite days of the year.   On the bright side, it’s only 363 days until next year and less than a month until my favorite holiday of all- my birthday!

I scream, you scream…oh wait, I can’t have it for another 20 days…

It was 39 degrees in Sydney today and walking home from the bus stop, I finally worked out what I’ve missed most in the last 10 days…. Ice Cream.

Ice Cream is the single reason that no matter what science or a doctor tells me, I will never, ever, ever stop eating dairy.  I’ve had almond milk ice cream which was good, but don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING in the world that compares to a delicious tub of Ben and Jerry’s or a big bowl of mint chocolate chip!

Image

 

Hurry up 20 days, I know exactly where I”m heading when this challenge is over!

Image

 

Game on– in 20 days that is!

 

The Rain in Sydney

is absolutely torrential this weekend!  It’s a great excuse to put the ugg boots on and have a lazy Sunday- which is exactly what we’re doing!  

Lucky for me, I don’t have to leave the house today.  The Runner did the the grocery shopping yesterday to celebrate the joy of our new discovery in  Sydney– Vegan and Vegetarian friends look away now.  

The Meat Emporium.  It’s in Alexandria and it’s like Dan Murphy’s*** for Meat.  

***Dan Murphy’s, if you don’t know, is an alcohol superstore of sorts,  cheap prices, big selection and enough variety to make Ben Sanderson ask Whip Whitaker fly him to Las Vegas so they can both drink themselves to death…. Can you tell The Runner and I watched Flight this weekend?  Great movie, FYI!

 

Anyway, I digress.  The Meat Emporium, amazing selection of meat at wholesale prices. And they have butchers on site, just in case you need to get anything trimmed or cut down.  The Runner and I were like kids in a candy store or carnivores in a meat emporium.  We pretty much bought enough meat to feed a family of 4 for a month all for $100.  Result!!!!!!

And no, they haven’t sponsored this post– although, I am open to that sort of thing!  I just had to share.  I love finding bargains in Sydney, because they are so rare!  Anything that helps with future BBQs, dinner parties, life in general, has to be shared!  

So with our bounty, I made nachos last night (beef mince), making roast beef tonight (1 kg of eye fillet for $19.99), Tuesday I’m doing lamb shanks in the slow cooker, and Wednesday, it’s my favorite Veal Scallopine.  Plus we have steaks, lamb chops, pork loin, more mince, and a few other things in the freezer.   The Runner treated himself to Black Pudding as well and had it for breakfast with scrambled eggs this morning.  Personally black pudding makes me physically ill, but he loves it- and it was only $5.  

So, there you have it, a rainy, cold, and wet weekend in Sydney which will be topped off by a lovely, warm Sunday Roast Beef dinner.  I can’t wait!!!!

Taking the long way home…

I’ll spare you all of the details from the memorial service but it was fun, touching, funny, heart wrenching and basically everything a funeral should be.

I’m now on my way back to Sydney, but trust me kids, I’m taking the scenic route. Tampa to Washington to Boston to Dublin to Abu Dhabi to Sydney. All in one trip. I’m a good traveller but this could even test my limits!

So far, I’ve made it to Dublin, about 1/3 of the way, and I’ve been travelling for 17 hours, if not more already. I left Tampa on an 8:30am flight and it’s now 6:30am in Dublin the next day. (1:30am in the US). Yikes.

And the worst part is the waiting, I have another two hours to kill in Dublin airport so I’m enjoying a Baileys chocolate mocha at the chocolate lounge. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere right? And I figured if I’m going to drink on my own at 6:30am in an airport disguising it in a coffee was a good move.

Oh well… See you in Sydney…. Eventually. I hope.

20130527-063727.jpg

And we’re off!

Watch out Ireland, here we come!

As if we hadn’t been busy enough in the past 6 weeks, today we’re leaving for an overseas adventure!  2 weddings, a week of wedding planning and my Dad’s memorial service in Florida.  4 cities, 3 continents (including our stopover in Abu Dhabi), all in 20 days.   I wouldn’t call it a holiday, but hopefully it will be fun!  

The Runner can barely walk, poor thing, after his amazing performance over the weekend and I’m so tired I can barely see straight-  but it doesn’t matter, we’re getting ourselves sorted this morning and heading to the airport.

So see you Sydney!  And best of luck to everyone at work (we’re  they’re hosting an event with Richard Branson on Friday)!  Very sad to miss it but I know it will be fantastic, we’ve put in a lot of work over the last few months so fingers crossed!

 

Right, no time to dilly dally, I need to finish packing!

 

Next stop….. Ireland!

Image

 

Ok, so there probably won’t be palm trees….. or sunshine…. or warm weather, but a girl can dream!