Sunday, December 28, 2014

10 Tastes of 2014

It's the time of year when lists are made. Last week there were Christmas gift lists, and soon it will be New Year's resolutions. We were fortunate enough to have a few trips away during 2014, during which we tried to cram in some food experiences we knew we couldn't get at home. So here, in no particular order, are 10 amazing things I've eaten this year:

1. Cronuts from Dominique Ansel Bakery. The cronut is a croissant-doughnut hybrid, which was launched on May 10, 2013. Each month has a different flavour. Ours was Morello Cherry with Toasted Almond Cream.  Since coming back to Australia, I've tried cronuts here, but they haven't come up to the standard of the original.



2. Ramen Burger from Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. Described as 'A fresh USDA Prime ground beef chuck patty sandwiched between two craftily formed buns made from freshly cut ramen noodles. Accompanied by a special shoyu glaze, concocted by Keizo Shimamoto himself, and choice market fresh vegetables.' The taste and texture of the succulent beef patty and noodle 'bun' was a truly memorable experience.



3. Rice Pudding from Mishkin's Deli, London. It had rhubarb in the base and was the ultimate comfort food. The presentation in the white enamel dish set it off.


4. The brisket bun with horseradish, pickled red onion, cucumber from Momofuko Noodle Bar, New York. 



5. A bit of everything from the menu at Ottolenghi in Upper St, Islington, London.




6. Something cooked by Rick Stein at a cooking demonstration at his restaurant at Bannister's, Mollymook. I think it was sashimi but who cares? It was Rick Stein!




7. Brunch at the Top of the Standard which is on the 18th floor of the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District, New York. The food is great, as were these Eggs Benedict with scallops, but the view is even better.




8. The lobster roll at The Breslin restaurant at the Ace Hotel, New York.





9. Thanksgiving here at the boat shed. The candied yams were particularly amazing.





10. While technically still 2013, our New Year's Eve dinner at Kaspar's Seafood Bar and Grill at The Savoy in London was a high point. The menu began with this seafood feast.







Thursday, December 11, 2014

Not Too Shabby and Extremely Chic

No matter how many other lovely design concepts and images I'm exposed to, I still love Shabby Chic. There's something about the way Rachel Ashwell takes things to a certain level of distressed, mismatched, crumpled, rumpled dishevelment, and just when you think it's about to go beyond what's aesthetically acceptable, she pulls it back to somewhere beautiful. Take her Texas ranch, The Prairie, for example. There's a lot of rusty corrugated iron, uneven stone flooring, log cabin walls, wagon wheels and deer antlers, not to mention purple velvet upholstery and way more florals than there should be this side of the Laura Ashley eighties. But after staying there for three nights, I can attest to some kind of alchemy at work there which gives it an ethereal beauty so that you never want to leave.

Take the aforementioned violet velvet three-piece setting. Here it is:


Once it's placed against a plain slip-covered chair, lamp and wall in various shades of white, it fills up the white space. In turn, the white is lifted and beautifully complemented by it.

Here is some rusty old iron at the entrance to the Ranger's Lounge:


The iron has developed its own patina with wonderful rich colours of oxblood and silver, and it offsets the ornateness of the white wrought iron chairs.

Again, here is the balance between distressed and opulent, with the gold and turquoise chair pared back by the peeling paint on the plain and simple cupboards:


In the Ladies' room, floral wallpaper is juxtaposed with corrugated iron on the walls, and it all makes complete sense:


While I'll probably never return there, I know that I can close my eyes anytime and remember the deep pleasure of lolling in one of these generous squishy sofas surrounded by sheer luxury and loveliness:


We stayed in Liliput Lodge, which has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen, dining and living rooms. Here are the bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor:



And a couple of the upstairs rooms:



The Prairie is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been and I would thoroughly recommend a stay there. At once faded and opulent, gritty and glamorous, it weaves a spell which makes it difficult to leave. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Quite a Transformation

I can't believe that it's been two years since I last blogged anything. So much has happened since then. Such as … I bought a house. Here are some pics of it in its original state, and after we finished working on it:

The Exterior:





The Bedroom:



The Living Room:




The Kitchen:





The Rear View:




There's also a detached bedroom which used to look like this:





But this is how it looks now:




Monday, December 8, 2014

My Boatshed in Homes+ Magazine

I was very lucky to be asked to have my boat shed and home in the December issue of Homes+ Magazine. I think the photographs taken by Chris Warnes are really lovely.



(images by James Henry)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nanna Chic

I've always had a soft spot for Grandma Chic. I guess it's because I had such lovely grandmothers. I don't like too much of it because I can feel a little bit overwhelmed but I'm always interested in touches here and there, reinterpreted in fresh ways. I recently went to a bar in Sydney called, appropriately, Grandma's bar, a "retrosexual haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded granny glamour". I couldn't have said it bettter myself. It's tiny and a little like being in your grandmother's lounge room. There is a lot of paraphenalia like crocheted knee rugs and these cute canisters:


Retro pictures are artfully arranged:


This stag's head looks great against the lemon wallpaper:


Also, a few weeks ago, on our food pilgrimage through Victoria, we came across a lovely little inn called the Merrijig in Port Fairy on the Great Ocean Road. The food at the restaurant was delicious, and I also loved the retro, nanna touches, like cushion covers made from vintage tea towels:


Ceramic butterflies recycled from old china:


A cute idea was this cup, saucer and plate set with a tealight candle inside:



And a gorgeous apple green metal bed in our attic room:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Abigail Ahern and Cushions

On the weekend I attended one of Abigail Ahern's masterclasses at Megan Morton's The Studio at Koskela in Sydney. It was a fun day and I learnt many things such a how to age a mirror and how to bulk up Ikea shelving.


Here are some pics of her stylish interiors, which are very glamorous and dramatic:





She is so engaging and enthusiastic that I came home prepared to paint the boatshed and indeed all other properties I am involved with in a dark charcoal rather than the Berkshire White they are currently. And I think the darker hue would work in all of them. But then I realised that for myself I don't love pops of red, yelow or hot pink against charcoal. I prefer whites, pale greys, pearl pinks and generally washed out colours for cushions and other accents. Also, to paint everything again is a huge amount of work, considering we've only just painted one house interior in white.

As readers of this blog well know, all my places pretty much look like this (George's on the Basin):





More of the same (Villa Mimosa):






And yet more washed out-ness (Edna's at Erowal Bay):


And still more (Blackwattle Bay Apartment):


And then there's the boatshed itself:


So, not very adventurous and not a lot of scope for electric blues, olives or chartreuse in a big way.

However, there are some things from the masterclass that I will implement, such as having several light sources in a room, playing up texture, having flowers spill over the edges of vases, building up layers, using vintage, and combining expensive with less expensive items.

Which is where these cushions come in. Yesterday, I had a sewing day. I had previously bought a cotton sheet from the op shop for $4 and it was hanging around in the way as were a few cushion inserts. So I put them together, and for the price of a cup of coffee I have some pops of colour in Edna's, albeit a washed out blue ticking stripe kind of colour:


For George's I needed something to store cushions for the outdoor table, I saw in a catalogue something called a "cushion box" but didn't think it wass necessary to fork out the requisite $100 or so. So I painted a basket white and popped some more of the new cushions into it:


So there you go - pops of colour, layering, vintage, inexpensive items - I did learn something after all. And there's even a touch of charcoal grey in there. Thank you Abigail.
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