Thursday, November 26, 2009

Perks of the job

Now and then there's a perk. Last night I was lucky to score a ticket to le Concours des Vins, FACCI's annual Victorian wine awards at Zinc, Federation Square.
It was a dreary, rainy evening outside, but inside the 350 wines that were judged were all available for tasting. Of course, being a French event there was a delectable selection of French cheese to accompany the wine and  we also got to take our fabulous glass home!

Wandering through Fed Square's Atrium, I was taken by these artful summer displays - kinda like this Ode to Summer I created in our entrance on the weekend...

Lazy Days

  Anyone for cricket?


The tip-off

The hunt has begun.

I've put the word out for anyone who sees one to point me in the direction of an old wine box so that I too can carry a week's worth of groceries on the back of my bike. I was chatting to my colleague this morning when he suggested I try Nick's Cellars in High St Armadale or Prince Wine Store in Sth Melbourne. They sometimes sell them off for nothing but a few bucks.
I've scoured eBay and came across this '96 Penfolds 6 bottle box...

But I think I'm looking for something a little more obscure. I ducked into the Prince at lunchtime today and also CloudWine to no avail. Prince don't have any at the moment and CloudWine keeps all his - he did suggest Gray's second hand store across the road...

They had an assortment of lacquered 6-bottlers for $29 each, but still - Penfolds, Brown Brothers, Coldstream Hills? None of them were calling me...

As I pondered, I found myself wandering into one of the most beautiful florists in Melbourne, In Full Bloom. I forgot all about my worries when I spied the old clawfoot bath in the window brimming with fluffy white Hydrangea - just like a big floral bubble bath!

And then, a funny thing happened on the way to the car...

This time I can't say 'I wish I had my camera!'

Date Night: My Punkin & Me

It was such a mild evening last night, and with homemade Pumpkin, Sage and Ricotta Lasagne on the menu we turned it into a date night and dined in our courtyard.

Yep it was delicious.

Just me, my man, our dog and the caterpillar.....Hey -WHAT??!

After dinner we strolled over to Whitten Oven, home to the mighty Bulldogs and Rossi enjoyed a wriggle in the thick, soft grass. Bliss.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Put Vietnam on your plate

I first found out about this tour through a blogger I very much admire, MOO I MADE IT!

She has covered the tour so well that I'm not even going to attempt a full write up - just want to show you some highlights from the day we spent with Mei Ling.

It was a grey, humid morning when I arrived on the Footscray Market Rooftop (appropriate, considering we would be immersing ourselves in Vietnamese culture for the day). I had no idea just how much you can see from up here and wish I'd take a photo!

Our group of 8 began in the Fruit and Veg section of the market - and got to find out about all those interesting looking leafy bunches and what to do with them.

'droopy parsley'

grocery store

Mei Ling suggested seed packets as a way to get to know names and 'faces' of the various vegetables

 You can buy eels, fish and shellfish fresh from the tanks everyday!

 Flowers are so cheap at Little Saigon
 Yes, they tasted as good as they looked

A lesson for all those ladies out there at booty camp...

On the hunt again...

If you're anything like me now and then you'll come across a brilliant idea and won't be able to rest until it's real. When I was catching up on my favourite blogs this week I came across one of those ideas!
Charlotte at Chic Cyclists has been customising her beautiful blue 70's 10 speed and she's added a wine box for grocery day onto the rear rack - it even has a picture of a bicycle on it! My first reaction was
'Of Course! What else?!'
I started my Monday night grocery shopping by bike routine yesterday and Certainly could have used some sturdy storage like this on the Pashley. It's perfect because these wine boxes are quite light on their own.

Of course, had I realised this 2 months ago when we were moving offices, I would have grabbed one of the many wooden wine boxes from our office and stored it safely until this very day. Alas now I must begin the hunt. Started with eBay, and also checked our storeroom for any clues about which wineries actually use these boxes (almost everything is cardboard these days), I'm in luck, I found a few examples to keep in mind. eBay has a glorious range of french brands available internationally, however I don't really want to pay for shipping (and that defeats the point of repurposing to reduce impact on the environment too).
I really think a Cycles Gladiator box would be very appropriate but I'm not sure if they even use them... one way to find out!
So I will keep my eye out, will I be lucky enough to pick one up from the trash à la Charlotte? Wait and see...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Livin' La Dolce Vita - Day 2

After enjoying an energy packed plate of bacon and eggs on the sunny Sunday morning, we headed south down the King Valley Hwy to pick up where we left off.

La Cantina
It was shaping up to be another hot day and I got to ride shotgun next to Andrea for the first leg. Our first stop was the stunning cellar door of La Cantina made of Glenrowan granite. The range of preservative-free wines was very popular and I took home no less than 10 bottles (my rule is now to buy at least 2 bottles of a wine I like, this way I'll be less reluctant to drink it!) A market meandered through the garden and I picked up a cute white trilby for the princely sum of $13. One thing that has struck me about each winery we visited is just how lush and green the grass is everywhere, I guess their water restrictions aren't as restrictive as ours in Melbourne.

This place is simply amazing. The main building takes it's cue from the 110 year old stables on the site, and large doors spill out onto a vast raised wooden deck, tables and the band were up here for the festival. Descending the stairs onto the lawn, the tasting table was set up in a shady spot under an old tree, we selected a bottle of their Savingin and ordered a couple of scrumptios platters, enjoying morning tea under the shade of a marquee.

Beautiful spot for a wedding don't you think?

After a splash under the sprinklers, we swapped shotguns and were on our way...

Too pretty to eat? Nope.

Dal Zotto
EVERYONE was looking forward to this stop. Once again there was a fabulous shaded area to put our feet up after tasting was done and selections were made. This is where our Captain got really lucky!
There were helicopter joy flights running which offered great views through the valley and everyone put in for his ride as a thank you for driving us all around. When I raced over to book him in I ended up joining him - just check out these views...

Overlooking the King Valley

The gang at Dal Zotto


Dal Zotto had on offer gorgeous little Prosecco 'Bambino's' and everyone enjoyed a couple of cocktails while waiting for us to return to earth...

Saving the best for last? Well I couldn't possibly choose my favourite stop on this road trip but Pizzini was where we ended the adventure. I found myself in the tasting room for an hour and a half - and I even got to experience the $110 Rubacouri Sangiovese - a rare treat. Well because I lingered, I missed out on lunch but found everyone shading themselves under umbrellas - enjoying the live music by Maurice Milani. Before long we were all up, shoes off dancing the afternoon away on that soft lawn. Well, all but one. The Captain was pretty comfortable minding the seats and tucking into custard-filled profiteroles.



Things were a bit quiet on the way home - always the sign of a good weekend. Even though I missed the Gnocchi rolling competition I just absolutely had a BALL this weekend, what a great bunch of people to go away with! Plans are now in motion for a Brewery Road Trip for our Captain - let's give him the weekend off!

A BIG thank you to Kat and Matt for taking all these fine pictures of the weekend x

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Livin' La Dolce Vita - Day 1

Let's start at the start. We piled into Trusty Tarago and Lovely Lotus, and got to our first destination by about 12:30...

Here we purchased our Wines of King Valley souvenir tasting glasses and started with the three sparklings - unfortunately the Prosecco was still a week away from the Cellar Door. Making our way through the list we selected our poisons (mine was the Arneis) and headed out to the alfresco area to enjoy some delicious pizzas surrounded by a cicada serenade.

The Sweet Life

Not on the festival list - this was a special recommendation from friends. These guys are based right next to the Milawa Cheese Company, Milawa Chocolate Shop and Muse Gallery. After picking up some supplies for the evening, we headed off again.

We were welcomed through Brown Brother's gates with a taste of their NV Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier sparkling blend, before finding a shady table with a good view of the jazz quartet. The best thing about the weekend was that we took our time at each place, and the days didn't slip away too quickly. Here we cooled off in front of water-spraying fans and tried Gundowring's Orange and Cardamom ice cream.

King River Estate
Our final stop, here we tasted a Sparkling Shiraz and Sparkling Merlot, and savoured many other wines for which this region is know best, their Vermentino was especially good. We were also just in time to catch the owner and winemaker Trevor Knaggs speaking about the benefits of biodynamic viticulture.

Once settled at Moyhu Caravan Park, we all dived into the pool and enjoyed a BBQ feast for dinner before heading off to get a good nights sleep - we'd need it if Saturday was anything to go by!

Can't wait to tour Milawa and Oxley by bike one of these days!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I heart Fridays

What a great day! When I got home from work we went digging for potatoes (my first attempt ever at growing them) and came up with about 10 beautiful nicolas which we roasted with thyme and sea salt for a very easy but tasty dinner! I have never tasted them so fresh!

And before that I was having a chat to Stephen from Bakerlite about how my new bike is wearing in, when he said he'd love to talk to me about some ideas for his new website for next year!!!

A full rundown of La Dolce Vita is coming up soon...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bike Path Karma

Oh how I wish I was as organised as some of my favourite bloggers and carrying a camera with me at all times!

I'd have snapped a pic of the view I had on the way to work this morning, it was a lady riding in front of me wearing a t-shirt quoting H.H. the XIV Dalai Lama

‘Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life,
I am not going to waste it.I am going to use all my energies to develop myself,
to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings,
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others,
I am not going to get angry or think badly about others,
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.’

I've had great bike path karma this week, it's great striking up a quick conversation with another commuter while waiting at the lights!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Pub Grub

It seems that our friendly little local the Mona Castle is doing some BIG things. Earlier this year they won Vega FM's Best Melbourne Pub and now some lucky duck can win the whole place for a whole day!
Upon hearing about their fantastic Parma & Pot Wednesdays, we headed over with our neighbours to check it out.
I'm not generally known for chosing the parma from the menu when there are so many other things to try, but I've gotta say, this one was good! For $12, these parmas are HUGE - with all the trimmings of course. A hot day, great parma and a cold beer - what a winning combination.

Oooh and more good local news, I just discovered that my most favourite shop in Seddon has it's own blog! I always drool over Sedonia's gorgeous collection of clothes, toys, gifts and bags but must confess that I have only ever made one purchase - number 2 could be just around the corner though, I need to go and have a closer look at those wicker bicycle baskets in the window, I think it could be just the upgrade for Pashley!

Lovely day for a ride!

The heatwave has finally let up a bit in Melbourne, (well, it's only 30 today instead of the 34 we've seen the last few days). I decided to ride today - I'll have to get used to this weather sooner or later. On the way to work I was being passed by yet another lycra crew when one of them turned to me and said "Magnificent bicycle!"

Well Lycra Man, you made my day!

Ever wonder what you'd miss if you didn't ride?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Together at last!

Last Friday night I took delivery of my beautiful Pashley Princess Sovereign. I know I write this a week later, I haven't wanted to stop riding! Since picking it up a week ago I've taken her to work twice, Williamstown for fish'n'chips as well as running a few errands around town.
She's definitely heavier and slower than my old Great Vic mountain bike, but I feel so much more comfortable sitting higher, and I haven't had to rethink an outfit yet. We picked up heavy duty locks yesterday and next step is considering bicycle insurance.

We're heading along the Maribynong River this evening for Friday night drinks at the Boathouse with Matt and Kat, can't wait!

Thank you so much to Stephen @ Bakerlite Trading for putting up with my nagging (apparently I wasn't even the worst!)

Pashley & Me

I have to say, an evil grin spreads across my face as I catch up with my favourite bicycle blogs and see that all you poor American girls are bracing yourselves for Winter, we are finally enjoying some late spring sunshine here with nothing but summer to look forward to. And of course I now get to wear all my sweet skirts and dresses that have been hiding in the back of the wardrobe for months - I even find myself asking - what should I wear with Pashley today?

I am looking forward to becoming much stronger after a few weeks riding Pashley. When I started riding my old mountain bike - I had to walk it up some small hills in the beginning and although I haven't done this yet with Pashley, it still feels a lot harder to climb them. I love these signals that show I'm getting stronger every day!

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