ten rules for a happy relationship

I find it a huge compliment when friends tell me that they think Jay & I have a great marriage.

We’ve been together since we were kids, which is a long time to build trust and love and friendship. Which are all things that I think make a successful relationship.

Not that I don’t sometimes struggle with these myself, but here are my ten rules for a happy relationship

  1. neglect the whole world rather than each other
  2. it takes two to quarrel and if you’re going to fight passionately, make sure you make up just as passionately!
  3. say I love you and share kisses and hugs every.single.day
  4. never hog the remote
  5. if you must criticize, do it lovingly
  6. leave the mistakes of the past in the past
  7. never go to sleep with an argument unsettled
  8. allow time for separate interests & friends, as well as shared adventures
  9. keep yourself right – look your best for your partner (no-one else wants to see you in daggy trakkies so why would your partner?)
  10. in the words of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “be a lamb in the kitchen and a tiger in the bedroom”!
Ever After | photography by Max Wanger

Advertisements

grill’d | burger review

Those who know me, know I love a good burger.

I could go so far as to say burgers are one of my favourite foods!

Janine was in amazement when I told her I had never heard of Grill’d Burgers before considering there is one right near us in Darling Harbour (having since gone there, I do remember actually seeing it before but it didn’t register at the time)…

My first life changing moment with my Grill’d burger occurred on Degraves Lane in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago.

Grill’d Burger is seriously good. Seriously cool. Seriously mouth-watering. Seriously burger. There is no ridiculous fancy-pants Turkish bread or aoli. It’s the perfect beef (or chicken/lamb/veggie if that’s your thing) burger pattie with classic accompaniments like pineapple, beetroot, egg and bacon.

Grill'd Degraves Lane (photo from LittleCupcakes)
the clever wall art
wall @ Grill'd Darling Harbour

For a moment, I am lost in the menu. So many delicious burgers. So little tummy space.

the menu

How can I go past the Summer Sunset; grilled 100% lean beef, avocado, crispy trim bacon, golden pineapple, salad, relish and herbed mayo. For $0.80 I get extras of beetroot and pickles.  It’s a towering inferno that I can’t fit my mouth around, but it is seriously good. 

Summer Sunset burger

Jay goes for the Mighty Melbourne (or called the Almighty in Sydney); grilled 100% lean beef, tasty cheese, crispy trim bacon, free range egg, a couple of slices of beetroot with salad, relish and herbed mayo.

Mighty Melbourne (aka the Almighty)

The chips deserve their own shrine. For starters, they aren’t fries! They are chips. They are fat, crispy, herbed potato on the outside and fluffy starchy goodness on the inside. You can get them served with several different dipping sauces (herbed-mayo, tomato sauce, tomato relish, sweet chilli mayo).

chips

Jay orders with a lunchtime beer which, hurrah! comes in pints.

a pint of Little Creatures pale ale

Whatever your burger preference, Grill’d has it covered. And its all good!

Check here for Grill’d locations, but if you live in Oz they are located in 5 out of the 8 states. 

Joy!

aerial ping pong | guest post by Nathan

Some facts about my friend Nath;

  • I’ve known him since I was 13-ish
  • We were on the swim team together for 5 years
  • For about 2 weeks in year 10, I had a crush on his twin brother
  • I used to beg him and Grant to dress the same (much to their disgust)
  • He’s a fantastic electrical conductor; he’s a Sparky who’s been seriously electrocuted a couple of times, and
  • He was hit by lightening while out sailing.
  • He once ate raw oysters off a rock with me at dawn
  • He’s quite stubborn
  • He was one of my husband’s groomsmen
  • Last year he ran through the pitch-black jungles in Borneo following a tribe of headhunters
  • Last year he married a wonderful girl named Mandy who has turned out to be one of my good girlfriends
  • He makes a good home brew
And he’s my guest blogger today! Here is his wonderful account of our Melbourne adventure to an AFL match…
.
Words by Nathan:
ψψψψψ

To the unobservant eye it was just like any other ordinary Saturday, it was June 11th 2011 and it started just like every other, I woke up as I have done each and every Saturday since the day I was born. But that is where the similarities ended.

It was the first morning of our long Victorian weekend and although all participants may not have acknowledged it, as travelling through Paris a visit to the Eiffel tower is a given, when in Melbourne a sporting event at the MCG is a necessity. A few distractions before the big event were inevitable, I had to have a shower and brush my teeth, breakfast and coffee in some cute little cafe, knitting in Federation square, catching trams and cheeky beers at noon. All things to pass the time before the main reason for visiting the southern state of Victoria – Geelong Cats V Hawthorn Hawks at the “ G “ (that’s what Victorians call the Melbourne Cricket Ground)

The evening was always going to be cold so the correct attire was required to ensure maximum comfort and enjoyment. We all purchased new scarfs to support our team. It might have been viewed as an attempt to blend in with the local Victorians and we definitely didn’t let on that our first choice would have been to watch the Rebels or Storm play. I like to believe that Geelong embraced its six newest and relatively uneducated AFL supporters along with a Hawks supporter who took time out from feeding his 10 month old son a greasy McWhopper burger to inform us of the unlimited interchange rule and the confusing time keeping methods.

The first bounce was everything we could have hoped for, cheering supporters, giant pom poms behind goals, soul warming takeaway food, icy cold beer and scantily clad cheerleaders … maybe the cold weather kept them away? It is difficult to understand how the umpires keep their jobs as the extreme number of knock ons, forward passes and offside infringements that were missed was unbelievable.

Putting the umpires deplorable performance aside, the game was played at a fast pace and the athleticism of the players was unquestionable. I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology for the code of football but the MVP for the game was never in doubt after a first half bag of 6 goals from Podsy (he plays for our team the Cats and a goal is when they kick the ball between the two tallest sticks), The Go To Man, target el Podsy. Not wanting to rub salt into the wounds of the Hawks but Podsy was undefendable, be the man 10 foot tall and bullet proof.

The 63 thousand 4 hundred and 76 strong crowd definitely got their money’s worth. From the unquestionably talented busker outside the “ G “ to the short queue for food and beer along with a game of aerial ping pong between two of the great teams in the League a fantastic evening was had by all including the six newest, scarf wearing  Geelong supporters.

To be serious the game was great to watch live and the result was not decided until the final siren with only 5 points the final margin. Watching Buddy Franklin run around only proved he is an amazing talent and although he played on the unsuccessful side that night he stood out not only on stature but in his performance.

The final siren went and with the crowds dispersing and every tram overfull to bursting with people we decided to leg it back into the city and burn off some of the calories we had partaken in that evening. Although walking back to our hotel was not the ideal scenario…

AFL was the winner on the night!
Geelong Cats 13.10.88 v Hawthorn Hawks 13.5.83
.
the end
.
Nath & Mandy; on the way to the game
Janine & Ian; on the tram to the game
Mel & Jay; on the way to the game
63,476 supporters to be exact!

ψψψψψ

*We initially found the points scoring confusing, but once it was explained it was actually pretty cool. Here is the best way I can explain the scoring: 

(My goodness! It’s like an equation!)

three days…

…til True Blood Season 4

til then here are;

three pictures of Alexander Skarsgård

Skarsgård for Interview Magazine June2011
Skarsgård for GQ Magazine June2011
Alexander Skarsgård

three pictures of Anna Paquin

Paquin for Stella Magazine
Paquin for Nylon Magazine
Anna Paquin

three pictures of Stephen Moyer

Moyer for Details Magazine
Moyer for Entertainment Weekly
Moyer for Playboy

three pictures of Ryan Kwanten

Kwanten for GQ Magazine
Ryan Kwanten
Kwanten for SMH interview

three pictures of Joe Manganiello

Manganiello for People Magazine
Manganiello for Interview Magazine
Joe Manganiello

three pictures of Rutina Wesley

Wesley for Esquire Magazine
Wesley for Edge Magazine
Wesley for King Magazine

three pictures of Deborah Ann Woll

Woll for H Magazine
Woll for MarkT Beauty
Woll for H Magazine

andiamo cafe | degraves lane | melbourne

Degraves Street and Lane in Melbourne are named after two brothers who were pioneer settlers in the mid 1800’s. They arrived from Tasmania in 1849 and set up grazing farms in Melbourne. The streets are located near Flinders St Station and Degraves Lane is famous for it’s European cafe culture.

Degraves Street Melbourne

My first walk down Degraves and I’m transported back to Montemarte in Paris; it’s cobbled stone street, little hole-in-the-wall coffee vendors, green & white lattice chairs and the abundance of cafes and little specialty stores. It’s so cute!

Degraves Lane
Degraves Lane

The six of us eat breakfast at Andiamo Cafe which is a really cool space; rustic chunky wooden furniture, recycled industrial accessories on the tables and a giant over-sized brown paper butcher’s roll on the wall on which the menu is written. It’s busy and packed full of people wanting Sunday brekkie and coffee. We’re squeezed into a communal table with chunky wooden block stools.

Adiamo cafe

 We drink; coffees and fresh juices

coffee
freshly squeezed juice

We eat; 

big breakfast (poached)
big breakfast (scrambled)
big breakfast with avocado
French toast with Andrew's sausages
Mediterranean breakfast
Special: Mexican breakfast

I have the Mexican brekkie; it’s a flour tortilla heaped with fresh grilled corn, wilted spinach, poached eggs and avocado salsa. I’m in heaven!

Andiamo cafe | 36 Degraves Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph |  03 9650 8060

it’s nice when a politician gives a damn

Australian’s were upset, horrified and outraged when the lid was blown by ABC’s Four Corner’s on the live animal export to Indonesia and the shocking conditions in which the cattle are slaughtered for meat.

That story barely scratches the surface of the cruelty inflicted on the animals within the live export trade but at least it raised awareness, and it’s through awareness that ordinary people can help make a difference. I may not be a vegetarian but that doesn’t mean that I don’t care how the food gets to my plate. The regulations are strict in Australia, but it seems that other countries such as the Middle East and parts of Asia don’t have the same laws that regulate how the animal is treated leading up to the kill.

The WSPA emailed out an action plan which included writing a letter to our local MPs that demonstrated our need for action.

WSPA message

Here is my letter sent on the 2nd June:

≈≈≈≈≈

Subject: It’s time to end live animal exports

Dear The Hon Tanya Plibersek,

I am writing this letter to voice my outrage about Australia’s abhorrent live animal export trade.

As an animal lover I was shocked to hear that around 4 million of our sheep are subjected to live export to the Middle East annually, as are up to a million cattle, most destined for Asia. In a country that prides itself on its animal welfare standards, this is inexcusable. During the inherently risky journey, animals are often subjected to appalling conditions. Imagine enduring temperatures of up to 40 degrees for up to 40 days, without familiar food causing you to starve to death (almost half of all mortalities are due to starvation). It’s something that brings me to tears.

When animals arrive at their final destination they are often treated in ways that Australian meat workers could be fined for. The fact that this cruelty can be avoided makes it even worse.

Contrary to popular belief, live export is not our only option. Australia has a strong chilled and frozen meat trade, which could be expanded to meet the international market demands for meat. In fact, our chilled meat trade has huge potential. So for the sake of our animals and our economy, further developing the chilled meat industry only makes sense.

Whether you focus on the economics or the ethics, live export is a bad thing. So I ask you as a fellow Australian, who wants to do the right thing to transition away from this shameful practice.

Regards,

Melissa

≈≈≈≈≈

And here is the reply from my local MP Tanya Plibersek on the 20th June:

Dear Melissa,

Anyone who watched the footage aired on Four Corners recently would have been shocked by the treatment of the animals shown.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, received the footage on the same day it went to air.  In the time since receiving it, the Minister, and the Government, have undertaken the following actions:

•       asked the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to conduct an investigation into the footage
•       announced that the Government will appoint an independent reviewer to investigate the complete supply chain for live exports up to and including the point of slaughter
•       asked for a briefing on the range of legislative and regulatory options available to respond to issues concerned with animal welfare
•       in the interim, asked for orders to enforce the suspension of live animal exports to the facilities identified by the evidence provided by RSPCA and Animals Australia
•       the Minister will add further facilities to the list of banned facilities in future, if required
•       implemented a moratorium on the installation of the restraint boxes, seen being used in the footage.  This will apply to the instalment of any new boxes with Commonwealth funds across all global markets, and
•       asked the Chief Veterinary Officer to co-ordinate an independent, scientific assessment of the restraint boxes used in Indonesia.

Following the completion of this work, the Government will consider what further actions may be necessary.

The Government shares the legitimate concerns of the Australian community about animal welfare abuses, and is taking the necessary actions to investigate this footage.

Thank you for writing to me on this important issue.

Best wishes,
Tanya

≈≈≈≈≈

I know it’s a standard response but I appreciate her response. There is a lot of pressure on the government to act quickly, which they did in the form of a stop-gap immediately after Four Corners aired, by suspending trade to Indonesia until a full investigation could be completed. All Australians need to keep abreast of this issue and place pressure on their local MPs to take action and change the legislation. The latest report is that our Agricultural Minister Joe Ludwig is in talks with the Indonesian government to discuss a compromise, but that may come too late as the government is being pressured by the farmer’s to resume live export asap. A Bill has been flagged by Independent MP’s Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie to ban live animal trade by 2014. Meanwhile, Animals Australia and RSPCA have released video from Kuwait showing Australian sheep being shoved into car boots and having their throats cut while fully conscious.

A ban by 2014 is just not quickly enough in my opinion.

for more info visit:

http://www.animalsaustralia.org/

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2011/s3228880.htm

http://www.rspca.org.au/

http://www.liveexportshame.com/

http://www.banliveexport.com/

http://www.wspa.org.au/

aa gill is away

I’m going to break up my blogging week of Melbourne lovin’ to write a review on the latest book I just finished;

AA Gill is Away (funnily enough by AA Gill). 

Adrian Anthony Gill is a food and travel writer who I first read as a regular feature article in Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine. He’s a handsome, 50-something journalist who literally fell into the profession after an unsuccessful stint as an artist.

The first thing I love about AA Gill is that he’s funny. Literally laugh out loud funny. After you accept his decidedly British humour then you can focus on his in-depth knowledge and sublime prose. When his first editor at GQ magazine asked him what he wanted to achieve as a journalist he said “I’d like to interview places. To treat a place as if it were a person, to go and listen to it, ask it questions.” And that he does. He’s not your usual travel writer. He is brutally honest with no regard for political correctness, which I find extremely refreshing, but whether or not he falls in love with a destination (whether it be village, city, country or restaurant) he takes the time to explore and gets to know it intimately.

Away is written in essay format and sectioned into four parts; north, south, east and west. The North focuses on Europe, South mainly on Africa, East on Asia and West on the Americas.

I love the story on The Kalahari entitled ‘Out of their Element’ so much that I read it twice. I had tears rolling down my eyes as I read the description of his bowel movements in the middle of a gargantuan dessert storm.

And similarly, the story of how he came to be a porn producer in Hollywood was both fascinating and surprising. Read ‘When DD met AA’ for a titillating account of a journalistic man’s wet dream! (and many other men, I’m sure)

For those who know his magazine and newspaper columns (he writes for UK Sunday Times, Vanity Fair and Australian Gourmet Traveller) the noticeable difference in his book is that he swears. A lot. Most people say that people who swear have a limited vocabulary but this is simply not the case with Gill. I have to look up words on more than one occasion. The swearing doesn’t bother me but I’m sure some people would take offence to all the F-bombs. But then again, those same people would probably take offence to half of the essays in this book considering his satirical, non-censored account of the people and places he visits (refer to East essay ‘Mad in Japan’).

I am envious of his exceptional talent and the number of stamps on his passport. But you know that he works for it; in one essay he references that he took 30 minutes to write the previous sentence and it’s common knowledge that he has a serious case of dyslexia (his articles are written by dictation); and you admire him for that.

I really enjoyed this book and I’ve got the order in for two more.

movida | melbourne restaurant review by Neen

We had a lot of expectations for this restaurant and Neen being a fabulous wordsmith was tasked with conveying it to blog. Here is her review, reposted from her blog.

≈≈≈≈≈

Dinner at MoVida

One of the things I was most looking forward to about our long weekend in Melbourne, was dining at MoVida. I’ve always heard such good things about it. It gets great reviews, it wins lots of awards, you have to book months in advance, they’ve opened three additional restaurants to cope with demand and they have a hugely popular cook book.

Did it live up to the hype? Well, I have to say that for me, it didn’t. Maybe it’s because my expectations were too high. Maybe it’s because I’d had the best meal of my life two nights before. Or maybe it’s because every time I have tapas, I realise I don’t actually like it that much.

Now don’t get me wrong. We did have a fabulous night there. At our table there were good stories being told, funny games being played and chickens being made out of napkins.

But the thing is, I didn’t walk away with a desire to go back. While most of the food was nice, I’m just not sure I’d really recommend it to anyone as a ‘must dine there’ experience. I’m sceptical that the hype about MoVida’s is warranted.

So here is the low down according to me:

The name: MoVida is named after the art and film movement that flourished in Madrid during Spain’s reawakening in the 1970s.

The chef: Frank Camorra, originally from Barcelona.

The location: 1 Hosier Lane, just past MoVida Next Door.  The laneway is really quite cool. There’s European style cobblestone and walls of graffiti.

The ambience: The dining area is pretty compact and didn’t feel all that Spanish to me. I had also expected it to be busy and bustling but it wasn’t really. Although I guess that’s because we were there on a Sunday night.

The service: We were left alone for a while when we first arrived but then our waitress got it together and was good to us for the rest of the evening.

The price: Individually, no dish was all that expensive. But as usual when you have tapas, it all adds up and you can sometimes end up paying more than you expected.

The beverages: The wine list is pretty pricey, with only a couple of bottle costing less than $50.

The menu: There’s the choice of tapa (small individual dishes) or raciones (plates to share among two or more people, or a larger dish for one). They also had a few specials. There were lots of options in each category so it took us a little while to decide on our ordering strategy.

The foodage: First of all, we were brought two different types of bread. One had a cheesy top and one was sort of dense and crumbly, a bit like sourdough. There was some peppery, almost bitter, olive oil to accompany it. If I hadn’t had the most amazing bread EVER, two nights before, I might have liked this.

duo of bread

The other tapa we ordered included:

Croqueta $4.00 each
I love a good croquette, so we ordered four of the MoVida version which were fried and silky. We cut them up to share and oozing out came some deliciously smooth, creamy jamon and egg filling.  I think the jamon (Spanish for ham) brought a nice smoky depth to the flavour.

Croqueta

Gambas con romesco $3.50 each
Mandy, Nath and I each tried one of these cubes of freshly cooked prawns. We liked the romesco sauce, which seemed to be made of pine nuts, garlic and red capsicum. However unfortunately it completely overpowered the flavour of the prawn itself. And they were a bit cold.

Gambas Con Romesco

Tigre $3.70 each
Mel and Jay each ordered one of these Spring Bay mussels. Stuffed with dried chorizo and lemon alioli , they certainly looked delightful!

Tigre

From the raciones side of the menu, we ordered:

Aceitunas, marinated in citrus, garlic and thyme $7.00
After I had declared to everyone at the table that olives were MY VERY FAVOURITE FOOD, it seemed important to order two serves. I guess my fellow diners were worried I’d devour every last one of them.

Accompanying the large green olives were a whole bunch of tiny ones, which to me, didn’t really taste all that flavoursome.

As far as marinated olives go, I’ve had a lot better.

marinated olives

Pulpo $18
I love to eat octopus. Love it! I was most excited to discover that Mandy & Nathan do too!

The MoVida version is char grilled and served with chickpeas and their own, house made chorizo. This dish was cooked to perfection – the occy were tender and intensely flavoursome.

I did an undignified amount of ooohhhing, ahhiing and eye rolls of bliss. This led to Mandy kindly letting me eat the last few pieces. I must remember this trick!

These little suckers (I had to say it) were my favourite dish the night.

Pulpo

Bistec tartar of wagyu $18
Bleh. I can barely look at the picture below without feeling sick. Ian loves a steak tartar but I myself am not at all a fan of raw meat. The others all tried this though, Mel and Jay being tartar fans also.

The general consensus, (when I could bare to turn and look across at them eating this raw stuff) was that the wagyu was incredibly good. The chilli on top was too spicy though and overpowered the meat.

Bistec Tartar of Wagyu

Setas asadas con jerez $12.50
My initial bite of the mushrooms made me screw my face up. They’re oven roasted in sherry vinegar and I found the flavour too strong. A few more mouthfuls though and they’d grown on me.

After Ian’s first mouthful he said, with a frown, ‘They taste quite mushroomy’. Then a few bites later he claimed with a happier face, “They taste like meat!”

Setas Asadas Con Jerez

Codornices $16.50
This dish seemed to be everyone’s favourite. Pan seared quail breasts with fried bread and grapes. I didn’t taste the quail itself but I did like the grapes.

The words ‘scrumptious’, ‘sweet’, ‘tender’ and ‘delicate’ were being thrown around by my friends and there was a whole lotta lip smacking going on. I should have asked more questions really, because I feel bad now that I am lacking in adjectives for what seemed to be the dish of the night.

Codornices

Espinacas con garbanzos $12.50
This delicious dish of sautéed spinach with chickpeas was super tasty. I loved the earthy, spicy flavours, especially the cumin.

It came out at the wrong time of night though. We were just about finishing up and it felt far too filling for the last plate of the night.

Espinacas Con Garbanzos

From the specials menu, we ordered:

Rabbit wrapped in prosciutto
The only thing I’m fussy about when it comes to food is meat. I don’t like anything raw and I don’t really like anything other than beef. Sometimes I’ll eat lamb and sometimes I’ll eat chicken. But rabbit is not something I’d ever had before or had the desire to try. However before I got to MoVida I had pre-decided that I was going to be brave about at least one dish. So when our waitress told us that the tapa special of the night was rabbit, I happily agreed to ordering a couple of serves so that we could all try it.

I was instantly put off when it was delivered to our table. The waitress plonked down the two dishes, saying with a flourish “Here’s the bunny”.

I did try a few little nibbles but it was far too fresh and succulent for me. I know fresh and succulent is a meant to be good when it comes to meat. All I could think though was ‘I’m eating a bunny. And it’s really fresh. Freshly dead. And juicy. Bunny. Juicy. Juicy bunny’.  Suffice to say, it messed with my chi, hard.

I couldn’t finish my piece. I know the others like it though. Ian commented that he thought it should have been a more generous, racion serve. However I think that because it was so rich, eating more than just a tapa share could have been too much.

Rabbit wrapped in prosciutto

Paella
I seriously loved this paella. We ordered two for the table and then realised it was a silly move, given that half of our group are not big seafood eaters.

But seafood to me is the best food on earth so I tucked into what I thought was a perfectly cooked dish. The flavours were really simple. There was just the right amount of garlic as well as a hint of chilli. I also liked that it didn’t taste too fishy. Sometimes a heavy fish flavour really overpowers paella.

This is my favourite Spanish dish so I was happy that it was cooked well.

Seafood wet rice (aka paella)

Churros
Nobody really felt like dessert except for Ian. He ordered some churros and shared it around. I passed – churros to me always tastes sickly sweet. E did say though that this version was lovely. Not knock out amazing, but a nice end to the night.

Churros

So there we have it. MoVidas. I’d give it about 7/10.

≈≈≈≈≈

Mel’s note: I would have scored it about 5/10….not that impressive. Australian Gourmet Traveller must have been on crack when they talk about it with the catch-phrase “MoVida mo magic”. What.Evs. But mixed reviews seem to be the only consistent thing about MoVida. Critics seem to love it and every person I’ve spoken to who have been there said it was crap.