I recently travelled the two hours offshore to Lord Howe Island to experience what David Attenborough calls “extraordinary”. That was enough to get me out there. It was such an incredible place and well worth the effort. You can read the story I wrote for news.com.au here. Thanks to Lord Howe Island Touriam Board and Pinetrees for being wonderful hosts.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week in Australia, in the lead up to World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10 October. On Monday two of our finest artists, Gurrumul and Paul Kelly teamed up on ABC’s Q&A program to perform Amazing Grace. It was a moving performance, particularly given that Gurrumul sang in language. Watch a pre-recorded version of their performance here.
I’ve recently become a little obsessed with watching short videos to punctuate my writing work. I love The Nowness, a website full of contemporary short films, and today I loved this one. Le Four (The Crazy) tells the story of Senegalese child gangs through krump dance. Yep, you read that right. Random, but fascinating. The dancer is Dexter and it was directed by Christopher Michael Tew.
I love skiing in Thredbo. It’s an easy drive from Sydney and I’ve always had a great time there. Yes, there are arguments for saving your dollars for overseas, but there’s something special about skiing through gumtrees and returning to your lodge for a hearty Australian red wine by the fire. I wrote about my tips for skiing Thredbo on a budget for YHA’s magazine, Backpacker Essentials, which is out now. But you can read it here.
I’ve never been that into seeing or hearing myself on tv or radio but sometimes it’s part of the job. Last week I popped in to the Sky Business studios in Sydney for a live spot talking travel on their programme, Business Class. I love heading to WA to explore so I had a great time sharing all my favourite spots, especially about my incredible experience swimming with the whalesharks. You can watch it here.
I love anything that is based around meringue – pavlova, macarons, amaretti. I recently inherited a mixmaster (last to the party!) and have made quite a few egg white/sugar based recipes. I saw a recipe recently for almond amaretti biscuits using almond meal and decided to give them a go. I went to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients and was shocked at how expensive good almond meal was. I understand you get what you pay for, but there was hazelnut meal right next to it for half the price so I thought I’d try that instead. It was a hit. Hazelnut is such a beautiful flavour and I actually couldn’t stop eating these little ones when they came out of the oven. They would also be lovely with a little bit of melted chocolate drizzled over them.
70g egg whites (about two decent sized eggs
250g hazelnut meal
Squeeze honey (about 1 tbs)
Preheat your over to 180C. Whisk the egg whites until they’re frothy then add the sugar. I do this a bit slowly. Whisk for about three minutes until the mixture is thick and white. Add the rest of the ingredients. Roll into small balls, about the size of a walnut and roll in icing sugar. Let them rest for 15 minutes (to collect their thoughts!) then cook on a lined baking tray for 12-15 minutes until they are golden and cracked.
It’s a fact that getting around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs you’re going to see a facelift or two. Some bad, some good. A few trout pouts and surprised expressions, a few very discreet nips and tucks. Gazebo Sydney, in Elizabeth Bay, has just booked herself in for a little facelift and the results are in – she looks fab!
I went for dinner last week with a few other foodies to try out the new menu by Head Chef Jason Dean (ex Gastro Park) and take in the new look. After a bit of a hiatus from these sort of dinner (thanks to my little man!), it was great to get out. I’d been waiting for the right invite, and as soon as this one dropped, I was keen to try. I’d been for lunch a while ago so it was going to be fun to see the development.
We started with a Negroni. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan, due to a disastrous relationship with gin shots (seriously, who does gin shots? Not a great idea!), so I had a couple of sips to be social then another foodie took it off my hands. The Four Pillars gin, I’m told, was good. I loved the De Illuis Semillon that replaced it much better though! This Hunter Valley winery shows such heart, and they’ve struck a winner with this Semillon. It’s not a hugely popular grape, like a Sauv Blanc or Chardonnay, but if you aren’t a regular Semillon drink, then one from the Hunter Valley should be your starting point.
First up we had what our table described as a deconstructed green curry. Generous sized prawns, coconut snow, green chilli (which looked like a scarily large blob of wasabi) and daikon. Delicious. This was shared with the cucumber cured kingfish served with a smoked oyster dressing, apple matchsticks and lime.
Next up we had a really interesting pairing of duck and honeycomb. I love honeycomb and have tried to make it at home with mixed results. Sometimes it’s been foul (burnt sugar!) and sometimes delicious. But with duck? I wasn’t too sure about it but always keen to try a new combination. It definitely worked, and especially well with the lovely red wine it was paired with – a Gamay – Nugues Beaujolais Villages Rouge 2012. Gamay, again, is underrated and if you haven’t tried it yet, do. It’s earthy with a really subtle sweetness to it. The glazed pork with carrot puree (little man would’ve loved the puree!), coriander and sweet & sour turnips was soft without being too fatty. I think I’m the only person who doesn’t like fatty pork belly!
Desserts came in two stages – pineapple with coconut and tarragon followed by cookie dough parfait with raspberry and yoghurt caramel. The pineapple was like a pina colada and the parfait was a satisfying end to the meal, even if the cookie dough chunks were a bit small for this cookie dough fan.
Gazebo Sydney is open Monday-Friday 4pm-12am, and weekends 12pm-12am.