Monday, February 22, 2010


Those who read this blog and know me well will attest to the fact that I live for my holidays. I try to eke out as much annual leave every year as I can. I attach weeks to public holidays and try and make them go as far as possible. I often take leave without pay to take the holidays I love.

Over the last few years Mr Kitty and I have had some marvelous jaunts. Some spectacular trips. In 2006 we did the east coast of the US during Autumn and did some leaf peeping (beautiful). We also visited New York, the place I consider my spiritual home, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal and Quebec City amongst other places. In 2007 we did South Africa, which I adored, with a stop over in Hong Kong.

In 2008 and 2009, our trips were to Europe. In 2008 we took a 3 month trip around the continent for our honeymoon (how very E.M. Forster of us!) taking in many different countries, including UK, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Finland before finishing up in the US (Las Vegas, Yosemite, Napa and San Francisco) for 2 weeks. Last year it was 5 weeks in Europe, mostly in France, with a stop off in London on the way over and Singapore on the way home.

In addition to these trips we have also had week-10 day long jaunts to Margaret River and Bali - twice. I really do love my holidays.

This year will be no exception. And given I have resigned and won't be working for a little while, we can go on as many trips as we like (well, so long as we can get the kitties babysat)!

With that in mind, the holiday planning for 2010 has begun. We are heading off shortly to Phuket for 10 days and in late April we are skipping off to the US for 3 weeks.

Phuket, for me, will consist of a lot of sitting and relaxing, a few massages and loads and loads of beautiful food. I plan on reading and swimming in our private pool. It will be Bliss.

Our US trip will be a lot of fun. Mr Kitty has work to do (boo!) but we'll still make time for some fun as well. We plan to visit LA, New York and Las Vegas on our travels. We made most of the bookings over the weekend (flights, majority of hotels and some of the car rentals). I am looking forward to Disneyland and a fun and exciting week in New York. I cannot wait.

But for the meantime, the Phuket trip will have to sustain me. If anyone has any shopping, eating or relaxation tips for Phuket, please let me know!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Miss Kitty is excited!

For all you readers who aren't my friends on facebook and who don't know me off the interwebs, Miss Kitty has news.

I resigned last week.

A little bit of background on the situation: I have been working at the same company for almost five years. I like what I do, but I've been in the same industry for 14 years, without ever giving much thought to what I REALLY want to do. Do I want to go back to Uni? Do I want to work with small animals? Do I want to cook? What is it that makes Miss Kitty tick?

So in the usual way I mulled it over, thought about it and considered my situation. I did this for about 5 months with no result. Well, I came to one conclusion: that unless I forced myself to take a leap of faith I would never leave. Ever. The company I work for is dynamic, a market leader, fast paced. I have an interesting job. It's just that after 5 years, it's not the job I want to do anymore. I needed to take some time out to work out what I do want to do and I can't think about it when my mind is totally focused on doing the job here.

So after lengthy discussions with Mr Kitty and anyone else who would listen to my whining, I decided to hand in my resignation. For the first time in my life I don't have a job to go to. Part of me is just a little scared about it (and occasionally nauseous), but for the most part, the thought of a break really excites and thrills me. Some time off to navel gaze and ponder my existence for a little while. To indulge my love of baking and food. To get fitter (although points two and three really don't go hand in hand). But most of all, I am looking forward to having some time off to invest in myself and my relationships. To stop being a cranky wife and start being a better, more available friend. Leaving my job gives me the freedom to discover who I am and decide who I want to be. And for that reason I am really excited about what 2010 holds for me.

So if anyone is interested in being a PR Manager for a large multi-national company, let me know! Plenty of perks and you occasionally even get to be on TV...


Thursday, February 18, 2010


Why is it that I always come home from Melbourne needing a massive holiday?

Maybe it's the fact I try to jam far too much into a weekend or that I run around like a headless chook trying to see too many people. I don't know, but whatever I have done a weekend in Melbourne I end up feeling like I have been hit by a truck.

This weekend was no different. A relatively pain free flight down (if you set aside the one hour delay on the tarmac in Sydney) and a quick ride into our apartment in South Yarra meant that we could get out to dinner on time. Instead of trekking to Malvern to have dinner, my parents opted for something a little closer to home. We dined at the fabulous Kagu Ra Zaka on Toorak Road and had the most delicious and fresh sushi, good gyoza (could have been slightly less cabbagey and a bit more gingery but was still good), wonderful endamame and awesome nasu dengaku (deep-fried half eggplant with miso sauce). It was silky heaven. The highlight of our evening. The mains were slightly less successful - the tonkatsu was fried in slightly old oil so that was the lasting impression and the overwhelming flavour. The Teriyaki beef was fine, if somewhat generic, but the really annoying thing was the preparation of the beef. It was so soft it was spongey. It had the consistency of a wettex. It wasn't offensive or bad, it was just an inferior cut of beef that had been marinated in bicarb to tenderise it. I like my meat with a bit of give or resistance when you chew it and this didn't need to be chewed at all. Other than that the meal was good.

Saturday morning saw me getting up early for a hair appointment with the lovely Kristianna from Shibui. Curly haired goddesses: pay attention! She is the supreme queen of curly locks. She is the Ringlet specialist. Yes I go all the way to Melbourne to have my hair cut and it's WORTH IT. Run and make a booking NOW!

After my blissful session with Kristianna, I met the Divine Miss J for coffee and breakfast at Harveys. We both had the avocado on sourdough with grilled pancetta and chilli jam and it was fantastic. The coffee and gossip were also amazing.

After such a wonderful morning I did wonder if the afternoon could live up to expectations. It did. I went to visit My friend C and her lovely baby L (who is so divine I could just eat her). C organised lunch boxes from Cafe Vue that were absolutely fantastic. They contained a cous cous tabbouleh salad, mini ocean trout brioche rolls, lamb rillette with croutons and a marvelous rhubarb cheesecake pudding. Awesome. My little sister came to meet me at C's for lunch and then we headed off shopping for the afternoon.

My shopping trip on Saturday was not overly successful. I had a list (which is a good thing) but didn't manage to find anything on it. Nevermind.

Dinner on Saturday, however, was absolutely sensational. I think Red Spice Road could be one of my favourite restaurants ever. It is reason alone to move to Melbourne. We had the most amazing food. We started with corn and chive fritters with tamarind caramel and asian coleslaw and steamed beef, shitake and ginger dumplings. For mains we had shredded chicken salad with pomelo, coconut and herbs and minced wagyu beef stir fried with thick rice noodles. The highlight of the evening however was the Pork Belly with chilli caramel, black vinegar, cabbage and mint. It is the best pork dish I have ever eaten. It's in my top 10 wonderful food moments. Of all time. It is really that good. It is sweet and hot and sour and salty and refreshing all at once. The pork belly is cooked twice rendering most of the fat out of it. I'm not saying it's lean but it doesn't have that flabby quality that some pork bellies tend to have. Divine. There is nothing more to be said. If you haven't been I urge to to go now. And if you are not in Melbourne, book a flight. It's worth it.

Sunday was far more productive on the shopping front. After having no luck at all in the purchasing stakes, I conned my parents and sister into taking me out to Chadstone shopping centre for a whip around the shops. It was precision shopping. Lightening speed. I managed to find 2 bathing suits, a cashmere wrap cardigan and a white kaftanny shirt thing for over my bathers all in the space of a little over an hour and a half. Nice work. I am now ready for Thailand.

The afternoon was spent with my brother and his kids out at Chesterfield Farm. The kids were really cute - they loved feeding the animals and milking the cows and riding the ponies. Apart from the fact is was baking hot, we all had fun and it was so nice to see them.

After a brisk ride out to the airport, it seems my brief trip to Melbourne was at an end. After recounting the trip I now know why I was exhausted - I managed to jam so much into the weekend!

Le sigh. I can't wait to go back...


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Old Blighty...

As part of my usual (weekly) trawl of etsy, I came across this seller of whimsy and frou frou. Helkat Designs manufactures cushions fashioned with heraldic designs and flags, inspired by the British Empire. Being the fan I am of everything British (afternoon tea, shortbread, Harry Potter and tiaras are just some examples), the cushions in this store are therefore crying out to be bought and come and live in my house. With me.

There are three issues with the above statement.

1. I live in a 1970's house that is brown. With beige and tan accents. So none of it would work. I know it's hard to imagine but it is sadly true.

2. We are about to knock down aforementioned house and rebuild hence the purchase of homewares has been restricted until we have a theme. For the colours. And the design. Actually just final plans would be a start. I could live with plans.

3. Millie's objective in life is to eat and scratch anything fluffy and soft (especially cushions), so these would basically be $50 snacks for the cat. I like to think that I am reasonably openminded in terms of how much things cost but even I shudder at that thought.

So for the moment these have been bookmarked for a later stage when I have the house sorted. Le sigh.


Friday, February 12, 2010


This afternoon I head to Melbourne to visit the family. My sister, Little Miss Kitty, is in town (she lives in London) so we are all catching up together.

When the Kitties catch up, it more than likely revolves around food. My mother and I will discuss for weeks beforehand what we are going to eat. Where we are going to eat. Lists will be made. Yes - we are that obsessed. It shouldn't surprise you at all.

This time we are staying in South Yarra. We will eat dinner tonight at a Japanese restaurant (an old family favourite) in Malvern for Bento Boxes and then tomorrow night we'll have dinner at Red Spice Road which is a new favourite of mine. My parents introduced me. The pork belly there is divine. It comes with caramel. Seriously. And being big fans of breakfast, no doubt the Kitties will also eat at Harveys too. It's tradition for us.

LMK will also want to go shopping. And we'll catch up with my friend and her cuter than cute baby Lucy. An all round top weekend.

The only bad thing about going to Melbourne is that I will miss Mr Kitty. He is staying home to take care of the children (er.... cats...). I might have to buy him a little present to say thank you. But what to get for the man who wants (or wants for) nothing?



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wicked part deux

Call me dumb, call me crazy, but I do appreciate a good musical, particularly one with good singing, great sets and fab humour. And I particularly like musicals with former Australian Idol competitors in them. Okay - I have only seen one and I loved that so I will venture that I like them all. Until I am convinced otherwise.

With two of my friends I have known for almost a decade (eeep!) we trundled off to watch the Sydney production of Wicked on Tuesday night. I didn't know the songs at all before the show, but I felt like I did - they were very familiar and catchy. It was fantastic - the sets were amazing and the costumes to die for. It was funny, it was cute and it was singing and dancing at it's finest.

And most importantly, it was Rob Mills. I was a little afraid going to see it, just in case he wasn't as good as I hoped. But he was better and in the role of Fiyero, he danced and sang up a storm. Others I went with didn't really rate his dancing, but it was better than mine so I classify it as good. Well, good enough for me! I have liked him ever since he was in Idol (the only series I have ever actually watched) and it was fab seeing him "tread the boards".

But, putting aside my love of Millsy, the real star of the show was the actress in the role of Glinda-with-a-GA. She was amazing. Worth the ticket price alone. She was funny and witty and made the three hour long production seem fast and pacey. Plus she had a fantastic wardrobe and delicious shoes!

I highly recommend you go and see it if you get a chance. Not many Australian Idol contestants can sing well enough to be in a musical (cough*shannonnoll*cough) so you should get your tickets while you can.

The Capitol Theatre, Haymarket
Tickets available from Ticketmaster


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Tonight I am off to see a show I have been wanting to see for ages - the Sydney production of Wicked! Mr Kitty not being a fan of the musical (movie, stage or otherwise) I am going with some of my girlfriends.

And before the show, we'll stop in at Seabay for some dumplings to tide us over.

What a fun night I have in store!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Burlington Bar and Grill

An unfortunate tale for me to tell, is this review of The Burlington Bar and Grill. Unfortunate because it has so much potential and because our dinner was let down by some very small things that made a very big difference.

I really had been looking forward to my (ever so slightly belated) birthday dinner at the aforementioned establishment. I had perused the menu, read reviews and whipped myself into a frenzy of excitement. Well, perhaps "frenzy" is a bit of a strong reaction, but I was excited.

As Sydney had it's wettest February day ever on record, Mr Kitty and I made our way through the deluge to Crows Nest. Due to the weather being so poor, we struggled to find a parking space so Mr Kitty let me out in front of the restaurant and he drove the streets looking for somewhere to leave the Kitty-mobile.

Upon arrival at the restaurant I was greeted by one of the waitstaff who, once she confirmed I did indeed have a booking at their fine establishment, pointed at a table in the middle of the restaurant. It seemed to be under a bit of a spotlight (in other words, it was operating theatre bright for what was supposed to be a romantic dinner). I asked politely if there were any other tables free, noting that the restaurant was perhaps half full, and she pointed to an equally bright table in the corner, saying "you can sit there, but there is a leak above it."

Slightly stunned by her fantastic grasp of customer relations, I opted for the spotlit table in the middle of the restaurant. Naturellement. No-one wants rain on their dinner.

Mr Kitty finally arrives and notes our position in the restaurant. I shrug, explaining it was this or Niagara Falls, and he is lost for words. A common theme of our evening.

We order some water and start looking at the menu. Because it's so cold in the restaurant I put my cardigan on and one of the waitstaff notices. Immediately she comes over and asks if we would like to be moved. She installs us in a much more comfortable position at the back of the restaurant on a banquette which is not only more comfortable but also slightly more romantic. Still fairly cold though, because it's under the air-conditioner which seems to be set to Siberia, but it's better than where we were.

The evening is looking up, it seems.

The food is good. I lie - some of the food is good. Some is average. Some is disappointing for a restaurant of this pedigree.

Mr Kitty starts with the gnocchi with cavalo nero, peas, corn, mushrooms and almonds. The gnocchi is tender inside with a crisp pan-seared outer crust. The mix of vegetables in the "sauce" is unusual but it works. This dish is a winner. Interesting and tasty.

My entree of Lyonnaise onion tart with truffled asparagus is a disappointment. It's merely a square of puff pastry (I strongly suspect bought, which is not a crime, just a comment) with not-very-caramelised onions plonked on top. There are some weedy pieces of chargrilled asparagus placed delicately on top of the "tart" and a handful of watercress as well. The truffle element of the dish comes from a few flakes of truffle salt on the salad. Although it was okay, I certainly expected something demonstrating a little more skill than this. It's something you can whip up at home - probably a lot better, in less than 20 minutes from scratch. I should have gone for the chicken liver parfait instead.

Our entree plates are taken away and the wait for our mains begins. And continues. And continues. We wait for an hour. And then some. We arrived at the restaurant a little after 8pm and it's 10 before we get our mains. I am hungry. Mr Kitty starving. We ponder asking for more bread to tide us over. Service it seems is not a strong point - disappointing because some of the serving staff are stellar, some are apathetic. So variable.

When our mains finally do arrive, they are great. Mr Kitty opted for the pan seared tuna loin with roasted red peppers, jamon & saffron which was stunning. A little on the small side for a main though, with the tuna being about half what I would have expected. It looks bigger in the picture. It wasn't that big in real life. About half the size of a pack of cigarettes, for comparison. Certainly not enough for a growing man like Mr Kitty, perfectly cooked and pink though it was.

I had the 120 day grain fed sirloin served with Bearnaise sauce, red wine jus and hand cut chips. No picture because by this stage it was too dark to take anything decent. Perhaps I should have opted for the first table instead?

Back to the food -The steak was stellar. Perfectly cooked, charred to perfection. The Bearnaise was fabulous - just the right level of piquancy. The chips were awesome. The right level of crunch to soft pillowy filling. Stunning. I could have eaten them all night. The red wine jus was meh. Meh. It added nothing to the dish at all. My idea of it was as a sticky unctuous reduction, glazing the steak with a dark garnet slick, but unfortunately it was thin, liquidy, pale and tasted of... nothing. Meh.

We also ordered a side of beans with beurre noisette (browned butter) and almonds. Fabulous. Crunchy beans beautifully offset but the nutty butter and the dark brown nuts. Sublime.

As we were finishing up our mains the evening took a turn for the worse. One of the people sitting next to us on the banquette lept up to her feet. Not knowing what was happening, I naturally (being the nosy person I am) asked her what the matter was. "Cockroach," she said.

You heard me. Cockroach.

So did the waitstaff.

One brave waitress attempted to catch the little bugger as it skidded across the carpet. She did not succeed. When I say little, it was about three inches long. So not little, actually. In fact, I wouldn't want to meet it in a dark alleyway. I thought she must have caught it because she walked away and thing calmed down slightly, until the cockroach decided it wanted to crawl the wall and sit above my head. Now, I'm not scared of them particularly, but we didn't invite it to dinner so I wasn't impressed with it crashing our party. As one of the waitresses collected out plates for our mains, Mr Kitty looked up at the cockroach, she followed his gaze, clocked the little bugger, shrugged her shoulders and walked off.

Now that's what I call service. Not. We thought she might have gone off to get someone bigger or more manly to deal with it, but she didn't. She just didn't care.

Massive fail.

Eventually someone came and asked us if we wanted dessert. We said yes, particularly given Mr Kitty's main wasn't huge. We weren't ordering for the cockroach though, and eventually he took the hint, flying onto another dining table terrorizing some of the other diners (they moved to another table - quite loudly and with much fuss).

But back to the food, if you can think about it after all that excitement.

Mr Kitty opted for the fig and sticky date pudding with vanilla ice-cream and toffee sauce. It was great. Well parts of it were great. The pudding was dense and sticky, studded with fruit, the ice-cream sufficiently vanilla-esque without being too rich. The toffee sauce was grainy and disappointing. So simple to get right and yet again, fall at the last hurdle.

I had the Lindt chocolate tart with ice-cream, one of the dessert specials. Twas average and that's a big call from a chocoholic like moi. The pastry was a tad flabby and anaemic and the filling of the tart was a straight up ganache that was too bitter for my liking. The ice-cream was banana. An odd combination and it didn't work.

We finished up our meal and called for the bill. It was 11pm, and it had taken them 3 hours to serve up what was essentially a variable bistro meal. I have had faster meals in two star Michelin restaurants that have run to many more courses. And for a one hatted restaurant I don't think it was fantastic. I wish I could rave about it but I just cant.

The piece de resitance was the bill. When it was finally presented, it was the wrong one. Another table's invoice. Yet again, ambivalent waitress strikes. When we finally did get the correct bill, we paid it, but alas, Mr Kitty was loathed to leave a tip. Just not enough care and consideration to warrant it for him. And this is someone who tips for everything. It says something no?

The damage came to $175 for 3 courses each, 4 glasses of wine and a large bottle of sparkling San Pellegrino. Cockroaches come free, it seems. Reasonable value for money but just not quite up to scratch. As I said, it has such ridiculous potential but is let down by simple things that they should be getting right. That any restaurant of this calibre should get right. In it's sleep. So disappointing because I wanted to like it so very much.

Mr Kitty and I leave, dashing out into the rainy evening, leaving the staff and the cockroach to it.

The Burlington Bar and Grill
6 Burlington St,
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Tel: 02 9439 7888

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Marianne Faithfull

I have always been a massive fan of Marianne Faithfull. I first saw her perform at the Athaneum in Melbourne with my Dad in 1989. I was 13 and was probably the youngest person in the audience by a good 20 years. At least. I loved the grittiness of her voice and the subject matter of her songs. She was, and still is, the antithesis of the upbeat pop phenomenon and I loved her. She'd survived so much and still kept going despite the drug overdoses, the anorexia, the health issues, the failed marriages. The relationships with rock stars like Mick Jagger, the cultured noble upbringing. It all combined to create such a glamourous, sophisticated and exotic creature for a 13 year old. She even smoked on stage. Get out!

Fast forward 20-odd years and to be frank, with everything she has been through I am surprised (yet delighted) she is still performing.

She is such a rock and roll survivor and her performance last night at the Sydney Opera House demonstrated that in spades. She sang most of my favourites - Times Square, Broken English, Strange Weather, Why d'ya do it? Sister Morphine, As Tears go By and my absolute favourite - The Ballad of Lucy Jordan. Strangly upbeat version for a song about suicide, but it was still Lucy. No Working Class Hero, though. She promised - she'll open with it next time she comes.

So, despite being 64 and slightly nutty (she's fairly batty, actually), and her voice getting more and more cracked and worn with age, she's still got it. In spades.

Viva La Marianne!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Le Birthday...

Yesterday was my actual birthday. I had a good day - I went to lunch with a friend and her baby, and then I had dinner at home, cooked by Mr Kitty: Wagyu steak and salad followed by a flourless chocolate cake that he baked from the new Bourke Street Bakery Cookbook. It was sensational!

I also received some lovely presents - a really lovely necklace from Oroton:


My purple Limoges teapot!!!

Very happy Kitty indeed.

Kitty xx