Sunday, March 27, 2011

Great times

We've done nothing much else but celebrate and socialise over the past three days (and nights). We kicked off on Friday night with a wonderful meal with friends at the Lanterne Rooms restaurant at Campbell. These women are my amazing work colleagues and we call ourselves the RED group (Retired, Extremely Dangerous - just like Helen Mirren in RED). So no prizes for guessing how we would decorate our Lanterne Room for this party. Then it was time for my yearly birthday (theirs) treat with Sophie and Maddie: afternoon tea at the utterly lovely Hyatt Hotel Tea Lounge. This is something I really look forward to doing each year, and luckily the girls seem to enjoy it too so far.

Then last night we saw our third French film in just over a week: De Vrais Mensonges (Beautiful Lies) a great showcase for the gorgeous Audrey Tautou and another sell out show for Greater Union, Manuka during the 2011 Alliance Francaise Film Festival. I enjoyed the very stylish French ads for Tefal and Peugeot in the opening film for the festival - but I am starting to grow weary of them now, although that dangerous looking man with the grey stubble in the Peugeot ad is always worth a second (third, fourth) look.

Today we met up with extended family for a yum cha lunch at Noble Palace. There's 12 of us altogether so it takes quite a few steamed dumplings before everyone is satisfied - especially those growing, active boys. (I mean the young ones, not the grandpas in the picture below.) Life has got very hectic for everybody now so we are lucky to find opportunities like this for precious catching up (and delicious eating) time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

We're done with flying kites

For the first three weeks of the school year Ella happily juggled her busy new schedule of two sessions of Play School, swimming and dance classes and having her Mummy at work for two days a week.

For the last three weeks however she has found it increasingly difficult to keep up with everything. She's even had a few tears on the way to our house as we have driven away from her beloved Mummy on her work days.

Last week everything seemed to be back to normal: happy smiles, new red gumboots, a very successful session baking gingerbread biscuits and an equally successful outing into the city for a ride on Canberra's vintage Carousel.

We were congratulating ourselves on a very successful two days with Ella when we decided to finish off the week with a bout of kite flying in the park after lunch on Friday.
Unfortunately there was no wind so despite Rob's best efforts running all over the very large park (for ages) with a bedraggled little kite flapping behind him we could not get it airborne. Ella quickly became completely overcome by the injustice of it all and started to express her feelings in a very pronounced way. She started by proclaiming loudly that she "was DONE with kite flying", but that evolved into a full scale diva-esque performance which included much wailing and thrashing of arms: she was "never going to be able to fly her kite" and "it was never going to be windy again", wail, wail.
Faced with this performance we found it hard not to laugh. Luckily getting back home and splitting open a fresh coconut seemed to distract her from her kite induced misery until her Mummy came home.
Does anyone else's children experience the end of week blues? We might try a little bit of gentle ABC Kids TV watching next week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Early Autumn lobster lunch

The onset of perfect Autumn weather (the best season for seafood at the South Coast) and two birthdays to celebrate, means it's time for our yearly lobster lunch celebration at Rosedale (thanks to the hospitality of Judy and Jurgen).
This year Judy and Chef Jane had decided on a "tropical" theme so with great expectations we all got into the party mood with our favourite starter-the Majella Sparkling Shiraz.

Wayne and Jenny could only stay for the afternoon - the grapes are ripening fast at Murrumbateman and they had to get back to do "bird patrol". Flocks of starlings can wreak a lot of havoc during vintage. They don't need this as crops are already under threat this year from the dreaded damp, cool weather fungi.
Wayne makes a start on canapes: pork and black mushroom wontons with home made sweet soy sauce and fried sticky sesame rice balls stuffed with pineapple chilli jam.
The rainbow lorikeets and James and Fiona's dress up efforts helped us get into a "tropical" frame of mind.

It's amazing what Chef Jane and partner Louise (Slick catering) are able to produce out of the Rosedale kitchen.

It wasn't just us oldies this year. The "children" are fast growing into gorgeous young people. (Maggie, the Jack Russel fits in anywhere there is an available lap.) The young people's menu, by special request, included Panko crumbed calamari and chicken with shoestring chips with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce and noodle salad.

Our entree comprised a trio of Clyde River oysters - natural, pickled ginger and wakame and tomato and lemon grass granita. Luscious!

Washed down with a Catalina Sound Sauvignon Blanc (from NZ) - nice and grassy and citrusy, not too sweet.

But the highlight is always the fresh lobster, just superlative this year, served with toasted coconut sambal, fresh lime salt and chilli. The banana leaf plating reminded me so much of our dining experiences in Bali - tropical indeed!

...and served with green papaya salad, sweet potato salad with ginger and tamarind dressing and peach and roasted macadamia nut salad. We are in foodie heaven!!

The two birthdays are a perfect excuse to bring out Chef Jane's famous Bombes (Alaska) adorned with sparklers and lots of theatrics. The young people enjoy choc mint Bombe Alaska.

and the grown ups get a 3 layered Bombe: comprising coconut sorbet, Pina Colada ice cream and pineapple sorbet served with roasted pineapple slices with palm sugar glaze.

and that luscious swirly feather light meringue that is Chef Jane's speciality.

A late afternoon walk to beautiful Rosedale Beach, and a swim for the young things in the soft afternoon light was a perfect ending to this most perfect dining experience we are so lucky to share with our friends. Thank you to both Judy & Jurgen and a very Happy Birthday to Judy and Sophie in 2011!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sydney parties

First of all we had to check on "Don's Party", David Williamson's play about the August 2010 election, revisiting characters we first met 40 years ago in his play about a 1969 election night party.

"Don Parties On" is about regret, remorse and includes lots of polemic. We know a lot of people like the characters in the play so some of it was a bit squirm making, but funny too. It was our first visit to Sydney Theatre, in the buzzy Walsh Bay arts precinct.

We enjoyed finding a Fratelli Fresh grocers and bistro/bar (what an inspired combination of services) near to the theatre, so we could indulge in a pre-theatre Pinot Grigio or two.

Walking back into the city centre we couldn't help but notice all the preparations in place for Saturday night's iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade......lots of hairy (sometimes) men in tutus and body paint everywhere.

and other gorgeous outfits....

We mingled with the gorgeously attired ones in Hyde Park for a while (the parade assembly area), absolutely charmed by the positive, inclusive, supportive and celebratory party atmosphere. We were surprised by the hundreds of Indonesian young men all sporting the transgender look. This beautiful young man looked particularly arresting.

But the Gay Sydney Nudists (GSN) for Gay Adoption were my personal favourites. They foresook the glitz and went straight for the message! The pink shopping bag guy's placard says "Me I'm Not Rude"!

And there were lots of young (and not so young) women involved too.
I was expecting the focus on same sex marriage support but I was surprised at the number of other issues raised by the "paraders". Mardi Gras started as an act of protest - it's great that it has kept (gentle) activism at its core still.

The yellow ballet tutu guys turned out to be campaigning against battery hens: "Queers Agree Set the Battery Hens Free".

On Sunday we were lucky enough to meet up with Joel and Imogen for lunch at the Kazbah on Darling (Balmain). We were looking forward to finishing off with pastries from the divine Adriano Zumbo Pattisserie on Darling Street but were shocked to see lines of people waiting in queues to be served and all the display cases looking absolutely thrashed. Oh no, now the world has discovered Zumbo and we are left out in the cold. It was never like this before he created that memorable macaron tower on Masterchef.

Although disappointed we drove over to Balmoral Beach to finish off a lovely few hours with J&I hearing all about their dramatic start to the year covering the Brisbane floods, cyclone Yasi and then the Christchurch earthquake for ABC news. We made plans to meet up next in London and swapped family news and holiday plans for our respective OS trips in April May.