Thursday, 19 October 2017

15 YA Books That Live Up to the Hype

This week a lovely list from the team at Epic Reads of 15 YA books that live up to the hype. I've only read one of these and it certainly did live up to the hype. Nice that there are three Australian authors (of two books) on the list. 

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken

The Sun is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon

This cover is cooler than I realised

Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake

The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson

Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

(On) Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

Illuminae - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzie Lee


Most of these books aren't really to my taste, so I don't aspire to read all of them, but I am embarrassed not to have read On Jellicoe Road and Illuminae. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Eat Melbourne 2017 Edition

It's no secret that I love Melbourne. I've had a wonderful relationship with Melbourne since 1987 when I lived there for a year. These days I try to visit as often as I can. Often I get there for Melbourne Writers Festival, one of my very favourite times of the Melbourne year. And so it was again this year. And once again I ate out for the entire ten days.

It's always a cracking pace in Melbourne and within hours of landing I was at the Sofitel for bubbles. Comme d'habitude. 

After dinner elsewhere we were back for more bubbles and some some fantastic back of house leftovers from a function (the perks of friends in high places).

The next morning, rather predictably, we were once again at Shark Fin House in Little Bourke St for yum cha. There was much deliciousness consumed.

Excuse my bad photo, but these are fab-
a definite favourite
lotus root and seafood
Saturday night was a dinner at Philippe. A return visit for the beautifully tasteful French food. 

Prawn in brik pastry. Amazing. 

Cassoulet. Robust and gorgeous

Ouef a la neige, hazelnut praliné,
vanilla bean sauce anglaise
Many of my Melbourne excursions consist of Another Day, Another Yum Cha, but this time there was sadly only two. Another visit to Tim Ho Wan. There may have been more than two dishes...

I'd been aware of Supernormal for some time, but had never managed to fit in a visit. This time I made certain I did.  I was by myself this evening, and had a fabulous light dinner at the bar. Hip Melbourne eateries don't have great lighting, excuse my poor low light photography skills. I need to go back in a group to sample many more things.

A scallop special
Delicate and extraordinary 
The legendary Lobster Roll
brought back memories of my childhood,
sweet fresh crab sandwiches
 made with crabs caught that day by my grandfather

Pan fried pot sticker dumplings
Supernormal is very accomodating for solo diners
I had 3 dumplings not the usual serve of 5
Naturally I fell in the door of Chin Chin once, or more likely, twice. It's very hip in there, so naturally lighting is difficult whatever the time of day. These two are my absolute favourite dishes (even though I'm far from having eaten my way through the menu), and my meal always consists of these with other things depending on the number of diners. 

Son in Law Eggs with Broccolini,
Herb Salad and Chilli Jam

Pad Seuw of Braised Wagyu Beef
Gai Laan, Rice Noodles and
Crispy Shallots
Chin Chin has just recently opened in Sydney to much excitement. It will be quite some time before I get there, but hope they have the eggs and beef on the menu.  

Most mornings I breakfasted at Bowery to Williamsburg in Oliver Lane. I discovered it last year, and just love it. It's convenient to where I stay, and has fabulous food and great staff. I've worked my way through much of the breakfast menu over multiple visits. 

Corn and sweet potato hash
with bonus thumb

One of my favourite breakfasts, I had this a few days.
Lox and potato latkes

Sour cherries on porridge. Oh my. So very good.
The apple, pecan and cinnamon helped too.

I absolutely fell in love with the
Spiced Hot Apple Tea

One morning I ventured forth to Higher Ground, a super hip cafe at the Spencer St end of Little Bourke St. There is often a queue. The food was worth it, the service a bit hit and miss. 

Avocado, seed cracker,
macadamia feta, mojo verde
poached eggs, toasted and fresh seaweed
So many phytonutrients!
With a side of Berkshire bacon-incredible. 

Other new experiences this year included:

The hunt for Butterbing was more exhaustive than I anticipated, but I finally found some at a cool cafe called Kinfolk, that looked well worth checking out at another time. 

They may have looked better before
 being smooshed in my bag for the day
You can only walk past these so many times without succumbing, both to temptation and curiosity. 

I was lucky and got a still molten glaze... 
I sought the sage advice from Agathé 

and had a magnificent Paris style chausson aux pommes for breakfast before I popped into The House of Dior show at NGV (which is totally incredible. Stop what you're doing right now and GO)

Naturally I experienced the full gamut of Melbourne weather in my 10 days or so in the city. One morning in particular you could feel the wind coming off the Antarctic, and yet after I spent 5.5 hours in The House of Dior (what did I say? It's jaw dropping. GO!) it was so warm that I was compelled to have a gelato whilst wandering about at Southbank. 

Gingerbread and banana

I wandered into Doughboys a little late in the day one day and many of the deliciousness was already sold out. Pandan seemed to be a thing this year. I didn't have it so I can't report back. I was sad that whatever the meringue spiked delight in the middle was was sold out. Still I consoled myself with French Toast. 

I discovered that my friends were holding back on knowledge of Jimmy Grants

Mr Popadopolous may not look much here
but that slow cooked lamb is incredible
fall apart incredible

I ventured into the suburbs a few times this trip (some trips I barely leave Flinders Lane), and it was worthwhile, for the company and the food. Ayam Chef is a Malaysian restaurant in South Melbourne. 

Fried Kueh Teow always my favourite
-those rice noodles...

Beef Rendang with Roti- best ever Roti. 

One night I made a long awaited trip to the Valley Cellardoor at Moonee Ponds. 

The rather incredible Mushroom and Brie pizza,
the Bress pinot was also fabulous

During my Melbourne visit I was limbering up for my Steptember adventures, so I walked out to Collingwood one day to visit the Australian outpost of Parisian boulanger Gontran Cherrier. They have somehow evaded my grasp in Paris, but Collingwood was on the list for this visit. I've been meaning to get there since they opened of course. 

Lovely flaky croissants

The sadly for next time
pain au chocolat

I was very intrigued by the squid ink bread,
but it too fell in the next time basket
There may have been some pastries of deliciousness consumed that night in Moonee Ponds, but there's no photos so perhaps it didn't really happen. 

See my previous Eat Melbourne adventures. 

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly memenow hosted by WestMetroMommy

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking
a fabulous weekly meme at BethFishReads

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Steptember Wrap-up

Well, Steptember is finally done and dusted. I'm actually kind of glad. I need a rest. My left knee really needs a rest.

But it was a fun month. I did a lot of walking....

A rather massive total of 367, 957 steps!

Walking myself most of the way to Sydney...

Along the way my team raised $1090 for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. 

I battled the elements- wind, rain, snow (yes snow, though not very much), sun, and then hayfever for the last few days.

I watched many birds. The birds I see everyday- galahs, magpies, crimson rosellas, eastern rosellas, crested pigeons and more, but there were a few special appearances too- some king parrots, and a red-capped robin made an appearance on a couple of days.

Picture source

I didn't know it at the time but it seems I was doing Mindfulness Walking (yes there's a right way to even go for a walk these days) for most of the month. I've since spoilt that, got myself some new headphones and have been listening to an audiobook or a selection of fabulous walking songs whilst out pounding the pavements. 

My dogs really liked it. They walked about six times as many steps as I did I guess and yet were still keen every time to head out for another walk. 

They smelled hundreds of new smells.

Actually I enjoyed it so much that I'm kind of plotting a new plan...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Supporting Marriage Equality in Melbourne

Australia is in the midst of a divisive, completely unnecessary and non-binding postal vote on whether we should adopt Marriage Equality. (You may guess from that opening that I voted Yes. Yes I did) When I was in Melbourne recently for Melbourne Writers Festival 2017 it was in the lead-up to the ballot being mailed out. 

I was rather astonished, and very pleased, at all the widespread support in Melbourne for the Yes vote. Marriage Equality doesn't need to be divisive. The Yes vote can bring together church and state (well, city). 

The church where my
great-great-great grandparents
were married in the 1840s

The City of Melbourne supports Marriage Equality night and day. 

and in the gloaming

Lots of businesses were supporting the Yes vote. 

The people, the community support Equality and the Yes vote. 

In amongst this rainbow of support I only saw the occasional dissenting No. 

Please vote Yes Australia. 

Saturday Snapshot is a wonderful weekly memenow hosted by WestMetroMommy