Hello weekend

05 December 2019

Hello! Getting in a day early because I'm working a short week and heading to Sydney soon for a cookbook and cake day with Gillian Bell from Dispatch to a Friend and former publisher Julie Gibbs. And unlike last week, I have plenty of things to share :)

Being home alone has meant listening to a lot more music than usual - I'm also trying to limit myself to one podcast episode a day, to free up some brain space. I loved my brother's November mix, which I listened to on a chill Sunday as I headed to the markets and read magazines on the couch.

From the same podcast, this 15 minute classical-ish song is the calmest thing to listen to while sitting in traffic, running errands, baking a cake.

These are the prettiest cookies I have ever seen (mint choc! tie dye!). They're from Bon Appetit of course :)

Jia Tolentino's interview on In Good Company helped me make sense of a few things I've been wondering (pondering?) lately - like who I am on social media and why I often feel self-conscious there. Also interesting, her observations on the commercialisation of feminism (including 'girl boss' culture). I'm looking forward to reading her book.

I've also been listening to a lot of Alison Roman podcasts this week. One favourite was her Salt & Spine interview. Also on my to-listen list, her chat with Claire Ptak on Violet Sessions.

After finishing Queer Eye, Japan, I've been watching Love on the Spectrum, a dating show that follows several young Australians on the autism spectrum as they try and find love. If you're testing it out, episode two has been my favourite so far.

Finally - there are so many good ABC Life summer recipes to share! Here is Emiko Davies's charred zucchini salad with feta, herbs and lemon. It's light and excellent. Plus, how to make homemade fruit sodas - an excellent festive option for non-drinkers.


P.S How is it December??

Christmas wish list

01 December 2019

It's only the first day of December but I'm planning to wrap a bunch of Christmas presents later today. We're celebrating in a bunch of different ways this year, starting with an early lunch in Sydney next weekend with my parents and brother. Presents this year are a little smaller but hopefully no less thoughtful - I've tried especially hard not to get carried away out of panic and sheer excitement. And while I'm making this list just for fun, I feel very lucky to have everything I need already and know this is not the case for everyone. With that in mind, I'm starting with something most of us can give - a donation to OzHarvest, because everyone deserves to eat fresh, nourishing and delicious food.

A small luxury would be a new release book for the lazy post-Christmas days. Top of my list is Olive, Again - especially because I'm 54th on the library reserve list! I so loved reading Olive Kitteridge and am looking forward to savouring the sequel. I'm also yet to read Haruki Murakmi's latest Killing Commendatore. Reading a new Murakami at Christmastime is a bit of a ritual for me.

An Aesop room spray that smells like a forest for when cooking scents linger... which happens about once a week whether it's sardines or steak (poor Tony). They use this one at my yoga studio and it's super relaxing.

The cutest hat for wearing to the markets and chucking into my bag for trips. It's a bit cuter than a baseball cap and more fun too. Plus it looks a little stretchy, which is helpful for my giant head! This PJ set looks lovely too.

English Breakfast and peppermint tea leaves because I'm hoping to wean myself of teabags in 2020 - for the environment but also for the slow ritual of brewing tea. I'm curious about the Australian brand Ovvio organics after seeing Julie Gibb's collection on Instagram. I'm also on the hunt for a beautiful, minimal tea pot - for one or two - but have no idea where to look.

And finally something a little bit fancy - this octopus dish for serving snacks to friends, inspired by Alison Roman's colourful and fun kitchenware.

Hope you're travelling well as we head towards the end of the year!


Hello weekend

29 November 2019

Post-Melbourne, I have been skipping a bunch of yoga classes, cooking plenty of Heidi recipes (pasta, frittata and smoothies) and watching a lot of TV (we're obsessed with The Morning Show on Apple atm). I didn't realise it at the time but last week was packed!

Tony's just left for another residency - this time in Sydney - so I'll be having a solo weekend and week ahead. I'm planning to rewatch Call Me By Your Name, go to the farmers markets and bake a cake (this lemon loaf by Alison Roman that's on the NY Times).

Have a lovely weekend! Back with more recommendations soon :)

Super fun Melbourne week

26 November 2019

Hello! We are freshly back from nine days in Melbourne, where we ate plenty of delicious food and met some very good people. But most of all, I'm just glad I went! I almost didn't go because I was a bit worried about money and am a homebody but thankfully a good friend gave me just the shove I needed. Turns out that 'choosing the bigger life' is very good life advice.

Here are some highlights and places we liked to eat. I'm definitely into low-key and chill places these days :)

Tony was the main reason I was in Melbourne. He had a week-long print making residency at VCA and a place to stay in the city. Luckily, I was able to work out of the Melbourne office for the week, which was right around the corner from him. Every morning we walked to Patricia's for coffee before catching the tram to work. It's a stand up coffee bar with fun vibes, sparkling water on tap and a cute neon ceiling sign.

For dinner, one of our favourite spots was City Wine Shop in the CBD, especially on a night when we didn't feel like venturing far. I was extremely proud of my order - grilled saganaki with wild figs, house smoked salmon with sour cream, lemony meatballs in tomato sauce, and later a spring vegetable gnocchi - all to share. It was also near two good bookshops, the Hill of Content and The Paperback Bookshop, plus Spring Street Grocer for post-dinner gelato :)

Tony was working on a lithographic print and it was so great to visit him after to work to get my head around what he was up to. The process is so intricate and complicated, involving plate work, paint work and the printing itself. Sometimes multiple people are working on the print at the same time. Tony was paired with a master printer for the week to realise his image before the edition was finalised - it's being printed this week!

Visiting the studio gave me a new appreciation of how handmade prints like these can be. Tony's shared more of the process on Instagram including videos if you're curious. Seeing his work made me think of all of the times I've visited his studios, in Sydney, Wagga, Canberra and this time round Melbourne. It is always a nice surprise to see what direction the work is taking.

We both really enjoyed the change of scenery when it came to work, more than we'd anticipated. I found it easier to write and get things done, which surprised me because I love nothing more than routine during the work week.

Another highlight for me was catching up food writers that I work with but had never met. They were the best kinds of meetings too, at pasta bars and cake shops. I met Julia at Beatrix, which had a small crowd waiting for it to open at 9am. It was so hard just to pick one thing but I went with the sponge cake with whipped cream, lemon curd and passionfruit icing. And it was so lovely meeting Heidi for an afternoon picnic in the sun. 

Along with the week of work, we had two weekends either side of our stay which meant we could make it to the KAWS exhibition and cross town for doughnuts. We always find our way to Carlton for pizza, bookstore browsing, drinks, snacks and gelato. This visit I was introduced to the D.O.C deli and pasta bar, where I bought a panettone from Italy to lug home for Christmas.

Not pictured, a trip to Babajan for a Turkish lunch (it's as good as it's hyped up to be - especially the baked eggs with 12 hour lamb shoulder), a blustery 38 degree day, getting lost in Queen Victoria Markets, feeling awkward in a brand new office, and freshly baked Nutella filled madeleines.

I'll leave you with two last things - a post-work park hang out and our first dinner in town - honey and jalapeno pizza at Lazerpig which was noisy and fun. Travelling with Tony was so nice - he took care of all of the navigation, which was one less thing to worry about (I am terrible with directions) and it was nice among all of the busyness to be together for meals and just to chat and be ourselves. Sometimes when I'm on a work trip I feel like I have to be on all of the time or am just hyper-aware so I really noticed the difference doing it together.

P.S Here are some notes from our 2018 Melbourne trip, plus earlier visits in 2017, early 2016 and late  2016!

Hello weekend + getting ready for Melbourne

15 November 2019

For the first time ever, Tony and I have managed to break the internet at home. We're blaming our free Amazon trial for using up all of our data... from all of our Fleabag, Modern Love, Seinfeld and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel viewing. So, you might notice that this week's list of recommendations is a little shorter than usual 😂 While the TV has been off, we've been cooking together and doing the odd SMH target puzzle too (!). We're off to Melbourne tomorrow and I'm super excited about doing regular things in a new city like a market shop or a morning coffee. We're planning to visit this funny pizza parlour for our first dinner in town. To share:

I've been enjoying a couple of excellent longer reads - even if they take me a few sittings to get through. This story, where a former Obama speech-writer spending a year with an injured veteran who was written into many Presidential speeches moved me. It's nuanced and sensitive.

Also, I found this essay about a New York company's 'pivot to burnout' equally hilarious and relatable.

I know very little about Thanksgiving but am suddenly very interested in it and its funny food traditions after watching Alison Roman's (almost) real-time video of putting a feast together in a tiny kitchen.

And a couple of recipes to share! Julia Ostro has made a super summery chopped steak salad for ABC Life (avocado, mint, charred corn!). If you don't eat meat, she's also written a recipe for my No Big Deal Dinner Party newsletter, a Panzanella that's easily made vegan, vegetarian or GF.

P.S I'll be offline for much of next week - trying to catch cool films after work and night markets too. Write to you again from Canberra X

Hello weekend

08 November 2019

Hello! I made a cheesecake last weekend, this ricotta one to be exact, and still feel the need to bake something this weekend. Maybe because the weather's dipped again or maybe because it's the thing that can clear my head at the end of a week. I'm taking Tony on a surprise date tonight, we'll be stopping at a new cheese, cold cuts and wine bar (yay!) and seeing a movie about an artist at the British Film Festival. Also on the cards, a day trip to Braidwood and a favourite bakery/pasta shop with friends. For your weekend... sweets! Thoughtful thoughts! And brand new podcasts:

'I race to relax' is a little too relatable for me. Food writer and podcaster Lindsay Cameron Wilson on structuring her days.

Annabelle Hickson (of Dispatch to a Friend) writes a beautiful newsletter.

After Making Oprah and Making Obama comes the latest season... Making Beyonce. So excited for this podcast!

Also trying out Esther Perel's new podcast, How's Work?

Annabel Crabb's gingernut and caramel ice cream sandwiches via Benjamin Law.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Vogue interview (and cover).

And something I'm proud of... No Big Deal Dinner Party is a four-part newsletter series I've been producing that launched this week. It's all about feeding your friends and family without freaking out. The first edition is all about snacks and drinks and you can sign up here if you'd like to receive the three remaining editions.


Hello weekend

01 November 2019

I've got that slightly delirious feeling that comes with finishing the work week - a combination of feeling happy/relieved but also being totally spent. I'm taking things extra easy this weekend as a result and because last weekend was an accidental whirlwind of five cooking projects, tackled over two days. Tony and I are going to make a lasagne (his favourite!) and I am hoping the rainy Sunday that's forecast comes through. For your weekend (and thank you for being here!):

I'll be in Melbourne in a few weeks and am super excited to work my way through Eater's Ultimate Guide to Melbourne in preparation. Their guide to Australian snacks from a US perspective is very fun.

I am... 11 years too late but thoroughly enjoying Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge. The best thing about arriving late is that there's already a TV show and a sequel :)

An easy tomato sauce for summer pasta - Julia Ostro's cherry tomato, basil and garlic sauce. Inspired by this pic, we ate ours with bucatini.

Making plans according to your star sign. Can confirm, the Leo one is 100% correct.

Eva Chen was hilarious on The Cut podcast (plus she's a fellow germaphobe).

I've been really into thoughtful foodies of late. Especially Yasmin Khan (author of Zaitoun) on Julia Turshen's podcast and Aran Goyoaga's beautiful video series A Cook's Remedy. I'm waiting for her cookbook to arrive... hopefully it's any day now.

And two new ABC Life recipes to share this week! Hetty McKinnon's zucchini, couscous and preserved lemon salad (snapped above) is Christmas-worthy. Plus, Julia Ostro's sardines with midweek roast potatoes. I was nervous about cooking sardines but loved them - they're so fatty and satisfying, and the potatoes in this recipe are salt-and-vinegar chip like. Enjoy!