Saturday, 31 December 2011


Last night, sixteen years ago, I met Kim at the infamous local institution of drinking, discoing and other such licentious disrepute which in times gone by was Nickleby's in Sandy Bay. When you confess that this was where you met your future husband  there can be no confusion that it may have been sophisticated and highbrow. It was decidedly messy and great fun.

While Nickleby's has gone the way of other such sordid Tasmanian entertainment options as the B & S, the venue has more recently morphed into this:

So last night we made a pilgrimmage and took the children back to the scene to reminisce about the magic that was our misspent youth:

We were all having a lovely time until we lost Tobes. He was missing for five minutes - it felt like a decade. Eventually we found him in the car park hiding under the car. Phew. Imagine. Then Mum took the children home.

And Kim and I finally got around to dining at Garagistes:

I had been scared about the random element of showing up and having to either wait interminably for a table or be turned away. I shouldn't have, as we only waited fifteen minutes, companionably, with a glass of bubbly in hand.

This is what we ate. 

Bread with smoked butter (and when they said 'smoked' they meant it, as it was flavoured with 'essence of campfire' which doesn't sound particularly appetising yet it was):

Potato crostini, braised onion + smoked potato mousse, herbs + flowers (isn't it pretty with the petals and borage flowers):

Saltfish fritters, garlic + salted lemon aioli:

Smoked eel, quails eggs, onion fondue, crisp bread + potato, oxalis leaves (and to think I had only ever considered oxalis a weed and dedicated vast amounts of time to trying to eradicate it - now I can make salad. Or maybe I can supply them with oxalis from my garden.):

Piment d'espelette braised tripe, shitake pickles, cured duck breast, young garlic (the entire time we were in France I was terrified that I would accidentally order an animals stomach lining as the whole concept made me squeamish. Last night we challenged ourselves and wittingly ordered tripe. It was DELICIOUS):

Grilled spring onion, kohlrabi, nettle sauce, duck egg yolk, lovage, toasted quinoa:

Burnt cream, shortcake, citrus meringue, rhubarb granita + gooseberry jelly (more beautiful flowers):

Kunzea ice cream, strawberries, raspberries, pepper meringue, lemon basil:

It was a great meal. The flavours were quirky, unexpected and delicious. The vibe was casual, buzzy and unfussy with the emphasis firmly on the food. I loved the industrial setting with long tables and the communal dining feel - I momentarily flashed back to the dining room at boarding school yet it was only fleeting as there was nothing institutional about the tables, stools or dinnerware.

The word Garagistes translates from French to garage/mechanic which not only evokes the restaurants previous incarnation - I can remember having my car serviced there - but also the way that they tinker with the food.

Afterwards we hit the town to catch up with Kim's old friend who raced down in the Sydney/Hobart:

And we are out and about again tonight.


Friday, 30 December 2011


We have been having a beach holiday around Hobart. On Wednesday we were at Bellerive Beach while the first Sydney - Hobart maxi yachts were racing up the river:

And yesterday we went to friends' farm beach. It may have been 16 degrees, gloomy and threatening rain in Hobart - I was so convinced we'd be sitting around drinking tea inside by the heater that I went without a bikini. Yet forty minutes outside town it was perfect beach weather and I found myself cajolling Mimi into lending me her bikini for a swim:

It was spectacular:

Between three couples we had 15 children:

For dinner we had abalone and flathead from the beach. It was an idyllic day.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Last night I went on a date with my husband. My mum is staying so we were making the most of the free babysitting and I have to say that it is liberating to be able to just walk out the door. Usually I have to exhaustingly have them all fed and pyjamaed beforehand. Not last night.

Because we are totally predictable we went and had dinner here:

Ever since we returned from our whirlwind tour of India, almost two months ago, we have been taste testing our way around Hobart's Indian Restaurants with the single minded intention of finding Hobart's best Indian Restaurant. We have come to the following conclusion - that either of the Annapurna Restaurant's win the title (either North Hobart or Salamanca) yet you have to dine in and the best meal to order is this:

The Annapurna Thali. It is a tasting plate of three curries that the chef randomly combines at whim along with rice, roti, raita and papadum. Unfortunately, they don't offer a takeaway Thali so you have to dine in - maybe it's for the best as the roti is still warm and puffy, not tepid and claggy the way it gets having spent time in the foil lined bag in the car on the way home.

See, it looks quite similar to the Thali we ate in our room at the divine Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur:

When I wore my beautiful pink sari:

I wore jeans and not the sari last night. While the food at Annapurna is good even though the fashion may be extremely casual unfortunately the view out the window just can't compete with the view from the Lake Palace:

Today, after four days of hedonistic Christmas carry on, I was back in the hot room. I regretted every mince tart, chocolate and glass of wine that I had consumed on my four day hiatus. At standing bow pose I started feeling dizzy and the tops of my ears tingled. How will it be tomorrow?


Monday, 26 December 2011


Mercifully festivities kicked off yesterday at the sensible hour of 7am. We have spent too many Christmases exhausted having been wrenched from sleep in the very very early hours. One particularly memorable year it was 4.30am. The secret was to set the alarm and enforce that there was NO getting up before it went off. It worked.

Here was the show before presents carefully choreographed by Tobes and Mimi (aka Santa and his helper):

While opening presents we ate and drank this:

My surprise present was this 120 year old 5 trumpet epergne:

Which Kim bought from Mr Kent at his splendid antique shop Kent and Kent, 3 Morrison Street, Hobart. Mum and I plundered the garden and tried it out with sweet peas and roses yet agreed that it looked best with artichokes. Luckily there were five growing on the one plant.

Between bouts of cooking and socialising I read this:

I couldn't put it down. My head is swimming with Marjorie's recipes and handy hints yet here's one I thought was timely in the lead up to dressing up for New Year and I quote directly from p115 of Danielle Wood's Housewife Superstar: The Very Best of Marjorie Bligh:

Gown Protected
If you .....walk to parties or dances, protect the bottom of your frock with a rubbish bag. Make 2 leg holes and pull on up to waist. It may look strange, but your frock will keep clean.

It will be perfect - especially if it's raining here in Hobart as is predicted. Not quite so sure about the recipes for mock oysters (mix cooked mashed brains with salt, pepper and lemon juice into a thick white sauce p119), stretching butter or rouge in case you run out (cut beetroot p104).

The thing about Christmas is that after all the hype it is always over so quickly, don't you think?

Saturday, 24 December 2011


So yesterday went by without a post. In my defense I was busy building up yoga credit and making this:

Which Nigella calls an 'Easy Action Christmas Cake' on page 92 in Feast. It really works fabulously as a last minute fruit cake and interestingly has a secret ingredient - chestnut puree. Luckily my corner shop sells it.

I have only just this minute finished it off by glazing it with this:

Which I am also hoping will also do double duty and work well with foie gras and toasted brioche.

Now my cake is all glazed and patterned with almonds it looks like this:

It's all ready for tomorrow and sitting in the pantry next to Jean Pascal mince tarts:

And  Jackman and McRoss mince tarts:

I can't really blame my lack of a post yesterday on yoga and baking. Time to fess up. After my baking frenzy the whole family wandered up the road to a drinks party. And that was the real reason that I didn't get around to posting yesterday - I was drinking bubbly and chatting and didn't get home until after midnight. 'Tis the season and all that.


Thursday, 22 December 2011


Another friend of mine originally from Launceston, has just started up her own contemporary fine art gallery in Paddington, Sydney. It's called Mick.

She has a stable of interesting artists including Nicholas Blowers, Michael McWilliams and Geoff Dyer who all work out of Tasmania.

If you don't remember, Geoff Dyer won the highly contested Archibald Prize in 2003 with a portrait of the Hobart writer Richard Flanagan. He was a finalist for the Archibald again this year. I really like both of their work - I took Richard Flanagan's book The Unknow Terrorist to hospital to read after Tobes was born. I took Margaret Drabble with Mimi, Patrick White with Felix and Iris Murdoch with Camelia, just in case you were wondering.

Earlier this year there was a Michael McWilliams exhibition in a Hobart Gallery. For years I have coveted one of his smaller sheep paintings. I registered my interest the day before the show opened and was duly emailed the catalogue an hour before they started taking calls. By the time I got through an hour and a half later the show was almost entirely sold. I missed out.

Now because this post is a bit light on the photo's here's a before and after. Today was Tobes' last day of preschool before he goes to kindergarten next year. This was him on his first day at the start of the year:

And this was him this afternoon when it was all over:

Hasn't this year gone quickly?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Today, Tobes went to school and I wagged Bikram Yoga and drove the rest of us to Launceston so that I could go out to lunch. On a map of Tassie, Hobart and Launceston are at geographically opposite ends of the state, one north, one south, 200 kilometres apart. It's possible to drive between the two extremites to do something as fickle as lunch.

In  Aussie slang, of course, a map of Tassie is also more than just a map of Tassie. If you aren't familiar with every schoolboy's favourite joke - consider the shape. A girl I went to school with has great fun with the double entendre and makes Map of Tassie Necklaces for expat Tasmanian girls nostalgic for home. It's all in terribly good taste though - apparently she has supplied the Royal House in Europe  which has the Tasmanian connection. Nicole Kidman also supposedly has a more sedate map of Australia necklace.

Anyway, I digress. I had lunch here at Pierre's in George Street:

We decided that we would frock up, so I wore this Collette Dinnigan dress I found in Melbourne and not Paris as people instantly assume because of the fabric. Out of necessity I had to wear a jacket, as when I left Hobart this morning it was cold and summery (as usual):

The occasion was to catch up with my best friend from school and meet her new beautiful new baby:


We had such a nice time. I really should drive north more. We both ate the special salad:

It was beef with tomato, mushroom, olive and onion and had scrambled egg on top. It was a curious combination.

Here's a confession - way back when, I went to school in Launceston. On my walk back to recue my Mum (who still lives there) from my children, I coincidentally bumped into not one, not two but three girls I went to school with. Twenty two years later. That's Tassie for you, I suppose.

I also walked past the pub where I spent an awful lot of time in my misspent youth, mostly with the friends I saw today.

These days I can't remember the last time I went to any pub. Maybe it's time to organise a trip down memory lane. 

And I still got home to Hobart in time to pick up Tobes from school.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011


So we agreed to meet Kim in town at 2.30pm for this years ubiquitous Santa photo. He'd scheduled us in his diary. By the time I'd ironed, brushed hair, removed poo and found shoes, we were late. Luckily when the carpark lift door opened, there was Kim. Phew.

We ended up with this:

Yet, only after lots of this:

Santa's helpers who take the photos are quite well equipped to deal with screaming babies. They know every trick in the book. no avail as there was no way Camelia was sitting on Santa's knee!

And this was how they all looked same time last year with Pere Noel at Polygone, Beziers:

That Pere Noel needed that heavy suit and gloves as they made him sit in this sleigh outside in the weather. A world away from Santa at Myer in Hobart who needs a fan.

Monday, 19 December 2011


I am finalising what we are going to eat for Christmas and have been busy perusing the cookbooks:

How much do you love Christmas food? I think about it almost obsessively at this time of year - OK maybe not on the yoga mat!

We always buy our ham and from The Wursthaus Kitchen at Salamanca and this year, because we are nostagic for France, we are also getting a guinea fowl. 

The best accompaniment to a glazed and clove studded Christmas ham is my friend Ally's Mango Mayonaise. Try it:

1. Blend 1 or 2 room temperature egg yolks in food processor and slowly drizzle in 1/2 to 1 cup flavourless oil.

2. Add lemon juice to taste and teensy clove of garlic if you fancy.

3. Add one or two ripe mangos.

Our pudding is all sorted - made back in November from Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion. Two have been dispatched to impress friends in  France ($133 in postage later!). All it needs to accompany it is a vanilla bean flecked custard and some fresh local berries. We have also ordered a Buche de Noel from Jean-Pascal Patisserie - Hobart's own French Pastry Chef originally from Normandy.

As we do every year at this time, Kim and I have been taste testing our way around Hobart's mince tarts. If you were to ask us both the question Kim would no doubt say his faves are from Jean - Pascal because he prefers the more malleable pastry and more subtle fruit mince. Whereas I am a fan of those that come from Jackman and McRoss (Hobart, Battery Point and New Town) with their light, short, crumbly pastry and darkly spiced fruit mince which boast whole hazlenuts and citrus peel.


Sunday, 18 December 2011


This morning for breakfast I cooked this:

It was delicious in the way that sugar, cream, butter, bread, egg and a piece of fruit tastes in the guise of a breakfast. I used a loaf of Summer Kitchen organic sourdough Vienna which I though may have been too heavy, however, it worked perfectly. I found the recipe in this magazine ( p168) which I have never bought before - I was seduced by the front cover. I want to make our deck look like this:

Here's hoping. In case you don't have this magazine and you are tempted, the recipe for Banana and Caramel French Toast is:

1. Make caramel sauce (1/2 cup brown sugar, 50g unsalted butter, 300ml cream) by combining and stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolved. Then low heat until thickened (approx 15 mins).

2. Beat together 5 eggs, 1/2tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup milk. Dip bread (ultimately 8 slices) into mixture then fry in buttery pan until each side cooked through and golden.

3. Plate up French toast and top with slices of banana (may have been even more delicious with grilled banana?) and drizzle with caramel.

Oops, I forgot to sprinkle with icing sugar yet does it really need it? This recipe says it is for four yet I reckon you could stretch it to serve six!

After breakfast we had a sugar induced frantic hour of weeding. I used the hoe to great advantage and got results.

Then it was time to take my new car for a spin. We drove for about an hour along the Midlands Highway to Oatlands - an interesting colonial township made predominently of sandstone, with of a lake, and this:

The Callington Mill. A restored amd fully operational Georgian tower mill which grinds locally grown, chemical free wheat into flour. You can take a tour with the miller and buy the flour in the visitor's centre. We bought a rather large bag and tested the scones in the cafe:

They were impressive - dense yet still light and a compelling colour. I hope when Mimi and I make scones with our recipe and the Callington Mill flour they have the same consistency and it's not attributed to some secret ingredient belonging to someone's great aunt.

Back to the hot room tomorrow - I'm a tad trepidatious as Thursday and especially Friday were confrontingly difficult.