Author Archives: gracienumber1

Te Maeva Nui 2018—A Celebration of Culture

Those of you who follow us will know about our annual pilgrimage to our little piece of paradise, the Cook Islands, where we’ve been going almost every year for the past 18 years. In that time we’ve made some great friendships with the lovely people from the islands, and the following photos are from one such person—Ronnie Si’ulepa, a great guy and a brilliant photographer—so we thought he deserved a mention.

TMN 2018 7Te Maeva Nui is an annual event throughout the islands that celebrates and commemorates the Cook Island Maori culture and heritage. This event is held on the capital of Rarotonga during the first week in August every year; celebrating the 4 August birthday of the Cook Islands as an independent nation, and draws visitors from all the outer islands and around the world. The celebrations include parades, song and dance festivals and competitions, music and drumming, arts and crafts, and food!

 

Check out some of the terrific images from Te Maeva Nui 2018—photos by Ronnie Si’ulepa.

 

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And, on the subject of food … here’s something to tempt your appetite from cafés and restaurants on Rarotonga. Will we see you there next year?

FOTB Seared Tuna

FOTB Seared Tuna and crumbed Mahi Mahi – photo by LFW

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Smoked Marlin Hash – photo by LFW

Chicken and mango salad

Chicken and Mango Salad – photo by LFW

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Underground Spirits in Canberra

No it’s not about the Yowie Man’s ghost and poltergeist tours. Did you know Canberra has own award-winning distillery? Underground Spirits, located in Kambah, makes gin and vodka, and has recently revealed a completely new look. James Bond would love it!

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Although it’s had a rebrand, it’s still the same premium quality and taste which has just seen them knock out the competition and scoop major awards at two highly acclaimed international spirits awards, making them Canberra’s most awarded spirits brand.

Underground Spirits was awarded Silver for gin and vodka, Silver in the Vodka & Tonic category, and Bronze in the Gin & Tonic category, at the 2018 International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC). Announced on 24 July in London, the IWSC is the world’s oldest and most highly-regarded wine and spirits tasting competition, with entries received from nearly 90 countries worldwide. The distillery also received a Double Gold for its vodka, and a Silver medal for its gin at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, regarded as one of the most competitive and influential and competitions in the spirit world.

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Underground Spirits’ founder, Dr Toby Angstmann commented. “These recent award wins have seen Underground Spirits become Canberra’s most awarded spirits brand. We have now won eleven awards for our gin and seven awards for our vodka both here in Australia and internationally which is just phenomenal”.

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These awards have come at an exciting time for Underground Spirits which has recently undergone a complete rebrand. Underground Spirits’ vodkas and gins are now presented in modern bottles with bold new labels with a colour palette that reflects the Canberran landscape, and feature a stylised map of Canberra, and is designed to reflect the brands personality—modern, innovative, and a reflection of the true Australian character. The map is a symbol of place and process and signifies the use of regional ingredients.

Underground Spirits

“Our new brand will help launch and expand Underground Spirits globally, while firmly cementing our Canberra roots through the design and brand identity,” concluded Toby.

US Gettin figgyAnd to cap it off … here’s a recipe from Underground Spirits for their cocktail Getting’ Figgy with It.

40ml Underground Spirits Vodka
30ml Cider
2 fresh figs
A dash of lemon juice
Thyme syrup (optional)
Mix the figs & lemon juice into a cocktail shaker adding a scoop of ice & a dash of Thyme syrup.
Add our Signature Vodka shaking until well chilled, then strain into your glass of choice.
Finish off with the cider & a sprig of Thyme.

To celebrate the launch of their new brand, Underground Spirits is offering free shipping on all its orders within Australia for the month of August 2018.

Images courtesy Threesides Marketing and Underground Spirits.

Jewels of Sapphire Coast!

Having spent the June long weekend at Merimbula we taste-tested a few eateries while we were there. Merimbula is an interesting spot; with an almost perfect temperate climate, and with both coastal beaches and inland lakes, it attracts visitors from New South Wales and Victoria as well as the Canberra region. To that end there’s a plethora of restaurants and cafés to choose from, and that doesn’t include the big clubs and pubs. The following places not only have great food, but are also willing to accommodate dietary requests when they can. One thing that did surprise me about the cafés and restaurants is that they all seem to close rather early, often well before 10pm. So check opening hours before you book.

Waterfront Cafe Merimbula

Burgers at Waterfront Cafe – image by LFW

Waterfront Café: This is a bit of an icon in Merimbula and is usually packed to the rafters, so you need to get there early if you can. Serving up great breakfasts, and a range of lunches including salads, fish, burgers, and pasta; with friendly staff who actually know what’s on the menu and what’s in it. There’s also a good wine selection, and our once-upon-a-time barista family member scored the coffee 9/10—believe me, that’s good for her! Waterfront Café is open for breakfast (until 11.15am) and lunch (11.30 – 3pm) seven days a week.

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Thai fish cakes with spicy dipping sauce

Thai Noodle House: We stumbled across this place by accident. Leaving the Sapphire Club after a late’ish gig we just wanted something close and this was it … plus we love Thai food. First comment, the decision between choosing Tom Yum or Thai fish cakes for entrée—ended up with the fish cakes (the best Thai fish cakes I’ve tasted outside Thailand) and Satay chicken. We then ordered a main each, plus rice, which on reflection was a bit over the top as the meals are very generous—we could have easily got by with two mains and rice for the three of us. Service is good, but they do close at 9.30pm.

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Seafood Bird’s Nest at Dragon Lake

Dragon Lake Restaurant (at Crown Apartments): This restaurant is located right in the centre of the town at the Crown Apartments. It serves the usual Chinese food but also does a few that you won’t come across anywhere else—such as Seafood Bird’s Nest, a Chinese banquet dish often served at weddings and celebrations. Chock full of fresh seafood, the nest is usually made of noodles or taro (a modern version is fried potato), and fried until crispy and crunchy. Certainly worth a try!  At long weekends and during holiday time the restaurant gets very busy and bookings are recommended. Open for lunch and dinner until 8.30pm.

fish and chips

Simple but yummy fish ‘n’ chips

Hungry’s Café: You might think this is a bit out of whack, but when you’re at the coast you have to have fish and chips! This café is tiny and can get busy (and full) very quickly. I must admit we hesitated a bit as, well, it’s just a fish and chip shop where you can, if you’re lucky, manage to get a table. No fancy add-ons here, no tablecloths, no silverware, no wine glasses—no wine … but the fish and chips are awesome! As well as fish and chips they also serve up wraps, burgers, and often ring the changes with the occasional spicy curry, yummy pies, schnitzels, and heart-warming soups. But again, an early close at 8.30pm.

You can get more info on where to eat, what to do, and where to stay at www.sapphirecoast.com.au

All that Jazz at MJF!

The iconic Merimbula Jazz Festival kicks off next Friday 8 June and some great bands and performers from Canberra are on the program. Here’s a taste of who you can find when you’re down there.

Love a bit of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, or Tommy Dorsey? You can reminisce about the Swing Era and get your toes tapping to the following Canberra Big Bands.

ConneXion Big Band—directed by Sally Greenaway and with some of Canberra’s top musos and vocalists, ConneXion’s repertoire goes from the 40s and Glenn  Miller through to the 80s and James Bond. You can find ConneXion at the Auditorium Club Sapphire at 5pm 9 June.

traXion Big Band—together for over 10 years traXion plays a range of swing from Count Basie to modern and movie themes. traXion are at the Auditorium at 9pm 9 June, and the RSL at 4pm on 10 June.

In Full Swing—formed in 1991, In Full Swing starts in the big band era of the 30s and 40s through to contemporary funk, rock, and smooth jazz. In Full Swing will be swinging at the RSL at 6pm 9 June, and again at 5pm on Sunday 10 June.

Blamey Street Big Band—directed by Canberra vocalist and classical pianist Leisa Keen, Blamey Street plays music from all eras with a particular fondness for the 1930s. Former musical directors include Ian McLean and Derrick Brassington, and vocalists Tony Haley, Rachel Thorne and Annette Sloan. Blamey Street will be at the RSL at 2pm on 9 June, and the Auditorium at 1pm on 10 June.

traXion Big Band. Image courtesy traXion

If you’re into the more intimate music of small combos, duos or trios, check out In2Deep with vocalist Rachel Thorne and pianist/composer Mike Dooley. Covering jazz standards and original swing and soul composed by Dooley, this brilliant duo received a standing ovation at MJF last year. In2Deep will also launch their new album, A Good Man is Hard to Find, at MJF. You can find this one good man (and woman) at the Auditorium at 8pm on Saturday 9 June, and the Sapphire Room at 2pm Sunday 10 June which also includes their CD launch.

In2Deep. Courtesy In2Deep

And now for something completely different … if you want to hear a full choir perform jazz and swing, get over to the Auditorium at 7pm on Saturday, or the Sapphire Room at 3pm Sunday and have a listen to Rhythm Syndicate. This group has been performing around the Canberra region for almost 30 years, and at Merimbula for 14 years. If you can’t catch their Sapphire Club gigs, they will also performing some gospel—with a twist—at the Ecumenical Jazz Service at St Joseph’s Catholic Church at 11.30am on Sunday.

Rhythm Syndicate at the High Court Canberra with soprano Louise Page

Merimbula Jazz Festival is now in its 38th year and gets bigger every year! The Festival also includes the Jazz Dance on Thursday 7 June, the Jazz Hatters Party (formerly the picnic) on Monday 11 June, the Street Parade on Saturday morning, and the Jazz Quest for young (under 25) upcoming musicians at the Lakeview Hotel on Saturday evening.

For more information and full Festival program visit their website or Facebook page.

Find Merimbula accommodation here.

In Full Swing at Merimbula. Courtesy In Full Swing

Pies and Pinots in the Southern Highlands!

What’s better than a home-made pie to warm you up in winter? A trip to the Southern Highlands Pie Time –that’s what! Pie Time 2018 is a celebration of pies throughout the Southern Highlands and includes pie themed activities, tours, events, festivals, and competitions during the month of June.

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Competition time. Image http://www.pietime.com.au

One of the great highlights of the month is the Pie Competition from 13 – 15 June, and this year, for the first time will include bakers from the Canberra region.  ACT bakers include Shane Hughes from SomeBakers in Fyshwick, who as well as pies also does great scrolls and the tastiest sausage rolls! Wayne Sewell from Uncle Juan’s Bakehouse will be competing with vegetarian, pork and fennel, and Thai chicken pies as well as their standard beef, lamb, and sausage rolls. Uncle Juan’s is based in Bowral but is a regular at the Capital Region Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Local Highlands’ pie makers include Polly’s Pies, Robertson Pie Shop, Stones Patisserie, and Gumnut Patisserie. You can also indulge in cooking classes from the experts!

Thai chick and green curry pie

Thai chicken and green curry pie

And if the pies alone aren’t enough to tempt you, you can mix your pies with Pinot! A number of cool climate wineries are on board with some fantastic cellar door offers. Cherry Tree Hill Wines, at Sutton Forest, have partnered with Southern Rise Bakery and are offering a mouth-watering Beef and Burgundy Pie matched with a glass of Pinot Noir for only $15. Or you can take a Kombi or Jeep for a Pinot and Pie Discovery Tour to Artemis Wines for pie and pinot, then on to Gumnut Patisserie for dessert, and finish with a trip to Eden Brewery for a tasting session … all for only $130. To book contact Kombi Capers.

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Sweet cherry pie with ice-cream

On the other hand you can truly indulge yourself with a 2018 Pie and Pinot Dinner hosted by Eschalot Restaurant with seven courses (that’s right—seven courses!) of various pies, matched with pinots from Cuttaway Hill Wines, and Tractorless Vineyard. This amazing degustation is only $150 and is on 2 June. Bookings are essential. Tractorless Vineyard is also hosting a Pie Bonfire on 9 June with a lighting of the fire at 5pm. You can join in the family fun by pre-ordering your degustation pie pack of four mini pies and four pinots for only $20, or a tasty burger for only $10.

beef and burg pie

Beef and Burgundy pie

If pies and pinots don’t take your fancy there are heaps of other family events to check out including:

Pie Fest at the Bong Bong Picnic Racecourse—showcasing market stalls, pie cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, family fun and loads more. On 23 and 24 June.

Dine with a Pie—for the entire month of June right across the Southern Highlands at hotels, cafés, restaurants, and cellar doors.

Pie Tours—right through June showcasing the region’s best pie outlets, at various locations with various forms of transport such as Kombis, army jeeps and troop carriers, Trikes, mini buses, taxis, limousines, and even push bikes.

Cooking Classes—explore the world of savoury and sweet pies with guest cooks Lisa and Norma McGill on Saturday 16 June. Heatherbrae’s Pies will also hold classes—check the Pie Time website for more information.

Paddock to Plate—visit the farm that makes the pies and indulge in a paddock to plate experience.

Pie & Beers—Southern Highlands Brewing and Taphouse grow their own hops at Sutton Forest and have developed crafted beers which are now available at the Taphouse in Moss Vale with some great offers during Pie Time. For every litre of Godfather Porter sold during June they will donate $1 to Cure Cancer Australia. Eden Brewery located in Mittagong has teamed up with awarded winning pie makers, Gumnut Patisserie, to create the Eden Pie consisting of their Eden Black Beer and Gumnut beef and pastry available on the menu throughout Pie Time.

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Pie Time Pies. Image from http://www.pietime.com.au

For more information on all Pie Time events during June visit www.pietime.com.au

Perfect Pomegranates

Here at LFW we’ve recently become enamoured with a somewhat overlooked fruit—the pomegranate! As a child I remember eating pomegranates—imported from the Mediterranean—during the northern hemisphere summer, but here in Australia they can be a rare find, even in the summertime. The pomegranate was thought to originate in Iran (formerly Persia), and through Pakistan and northern India, and quickly spread to other areas in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and central and south Asia.

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The pomegranate is a really interesting fruit … a pain (and not to mention messy) to get the arils out, but worth it in the end. So if you’ve often looked at a pomegranate and thought what on earth do I do with that?; here’s your answer …

Once you have your pomegranate, cut it into quarters and you’ll see all the bright red arils—they’re not seeds by the way—the seed is inside the aril, both of which are edible. The white/yellow pith surrounding the aril is very bitter and you need to remove the aril from the pith before consuming. Open up the quarters and gently push out the arils with your thumb, discarding all the pith and hard outer skin. You’re best doing this over a large bowl as it can be messy, but you will end up with bowl of lovely red, juicy arils.

Then what? Well, here are just a few ideas, but first … do a taste test. The arils can be sweet or sour depending on the ripeness of the fruit, which is hard to tell until you’ve tasted the aril. Most of these recipes call for sweet or very lightly tart arils, so if the arils are very sour it’s best to use them in juices or salads with sweet fruits.

Smashed Avocado on Toast—how simple is this … GF bread, ½ an avo, and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.Avocado and pomegranate on toast

orange and pomegranate juice

 

Breakfast Bowl—healthy and colourful … nectarine, kiwi fruit, GF muesli, natural Greek yoghurt, and pomegranate (see featured image).

Juice—add 1 cup of pomegranate arils to your apple and carrot juice, or apple and beets, or orange juice—you can ring the changes with colour by using standard navel oranges, or lovely red blood oranges.

 

Or something completely different:

Pomegranate and Beetroot soup (serves 2-3)

What you need: 1 tablsp extra-virgin oil, ½ onion finely chopped, 2 large carrots diced, 1 large parsnip thinly sliced, 800ml vegetable stock, 2 cooked fresh beetroot diced (not tinned beetroot in vinegar)—you can buy ready-cooked beetroot in most large supermarkets, ½ teasp ground coriander, 2 teasp fresh dill finely chopped, natural yoghurt, and the arils of one pomegranate.

beet pomegranate soup

What you do: heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the carrot, onion and parsnip until soft, then add the coriander and cook for a further two minutes. Add the beetroot and stock and bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins. Add 1 teasp of dill and simmer for a further five minutes. Allow to cool. Extract the juice from the pomegranate arils—you don’t want the seeds inside the aril, just the juice. You can do this using a lemon squeezer—we did say pomegranates were messy; then add to the soup to taste—somewhere between three and four tablespoons. Blend well using an upright or stick blender. Serve warm sprinkled with the remaining chopped dill, a swirl of yoghurt, and crusty bread.

Lamb with Pomegranate Glaze

What you need: 3 cups pomegranate juice (see above recipe for extracting juice from the arils), 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teasp fresh oregano very finely chopped, 2 cloves minced garlic, and either a leg or rack of lamb for roasting, or lamb chops or steaks to grill or BBQ.

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What you do: place pomegranate juice and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir constantly until it turns to a thick syrup—about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm by placing the pan in a container of hot water. Mix together the finely chopped oregano and minced garlic to make a paste and spread over the lamb, then brush lightly with the syrup saving some for later. Cook the lamb to your preference and allow to rest. Mix the remaining syrup with the pan juices to make a gravy/sauce, pour over lamb and serve immediately.

Bon Appetit!

Zilpah tart goes Corporate

She’s known for her bright, colourful prints created digitally from photos she takes in Canberra and surrounds. So what’s the deal behind the corporate range in solid blacks, navy blues and royal blues just launched by local fashion designer Yumi Morrissey?

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Zilpah tart’s new corporate line in black, navy, and royal blue.

“A friend asked me to make her favourite Zilpah tart print dress in plain navy for work,” says Yumi. “She loves the style, shape and ease-of-wear of the Balloons dress she bought from me but works in a conservative office and thought a solid colour would be more appropriate. She discussed it with other female friends who agreed so I seized the opportunity to design a new corporate range for professional women.” And the range began attracting attention the moment it popped up on Zilpah tart’s website and social media platforms.

Yumi is staying true to her aesthetic—dresses that look fabulous; are flattering to the female silhouette and are comfortable. She’s also using the quality polyester jersey fabric so popular in her other collections because it doesn’t crease or crinkle or need ironing. It washes easily, dries quickly and is fabulous for those who travel.

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Heidi in royal blue

This isn’t the first time Yumi has made the smart move of responding direct to customer suggestions. She took a limited number of orders for the black diamond dress she made to wear to FASHFEST 2017, when launching her spring/summer Garden Paradise collection on the catwalk. When she ran out of that fabric, she sourced a sparkly forest green fabric in Sydney. “The runs were limited but customers thought they were perfect for Christmas and the party season,” says Yumi.

The initial line-up of Zilpah tart’s new corporate range features four styles, each named after one of the women who encouraged Yumi to ‘go for it’—Ash, Heidi, Penne and Sarah. “They also modelled the dresses for me in the photo shoot, which was really fun,” says Yumi. “I chose the four styles because they’re best sellers for Zilpah tart, and all four are made specifically for work, but they can easily take you to after-work drinks or events or special occasions.”

Each style is available in black, navy and royal blue. Yumi has designed two V-neck lines, shapes she knows her customers like, and has included two variations for the bottom of the dresses; a full skirt and a more A-line shape.

She plans to monitor sales of the new corporate range and add additional styles over time. She’ll also change the colours to reflect the change of seasons.

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Yumi in Zilpah tart black diamond dress at Fashfest 2017. Photo by Doug Hall Studio Vitae

The corporate range is sold through the Gungahlin Collective and Zilpah tart’s website. Yumi is also hoping to also sell it out of the Design A Space, Manchester Lane, Melbourne, where she already stocks many of her colourful prints. “Let’s face it, Melbourne loves a bit of black,” she says, “and with my colourful patterns, I’ll be looking to sell in Sydney and Queensland starting this year.”

While sales of the corporate range continue, Yumi has been busy. She’s just come back from a fabric buying trip and is now busy designing her autumn/winter 2018 collection, which will feature coats made from black wool (with her bright prints as lining for added interest), dresses out of wool jersey and skirts out of a cotton satin.

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V-neck styles in navy blue

The new corporate range starts at $160, with four part-payments available through Afterpay on www.zilpahtart.com.au