Friday, October 30, 2009

Tracing the Wall Flower

Are you the kind of person who always picks out the most expensive fabric, pair of jeans, earrings, wine, shoes, chair, rug or painting even before you know the price?

I am that person. This could be characterised as either innate good taste, or subconscious extravagance.

I have been having a wallpaper hunt this week, as I have decided to wallpaper the Evil Alcove in the Problem Room. I have decided against birch trees, that would be a little too creepy. And I have fallen deeply and madly in love with these designs, by Fromental.

I love that in this room the wallpaper is not a focus wall to stare at but there to make the descent into the kitchen a flowery skip. And what about those lights? If they are copper as I believe they are, wouldn't they be the best fun (for someone else) to clean? Tom Dixon also makes these:

I need to mention that these designs are hand painted and in some cases actually embroidered. Lilac and gold and sage green:

This is the most perfect little reading spot.

And, they do custom furniture with panels of their fabric.

Wallpaper has a long history, and flowery wallpaper like the Fromental design can, I think, be traced way back to China, where in 1702 they were painting poppies and cornflowers like these:

And of course the Japanese have for centuries mastered the art of the delicate flower and fluttery butterfly vista.

And we can see it here, albeit heavier and more Victorian in this William Morris 'Trellis' design in 1864.

And now, we can have golden De Gournay walls.

Or customise our own wallpaper (I think the crown and butterfly are the additions)

So, today, ignorance is bliss. I have no plan to investigate the cost of this amazing Fromental wallpaper. Knowing me, it will be no bargain but the incredible quality screams out loudly to me.

What do you think?

(Images (1)(3)(4) (5) Fromental (2) Tom Dixon (6) (7) All Posters (9) Flickr (Geishaboy 500) (10) Seattle Home Mag)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Restaurant Inspiration - Mr Wolf and Tree Wallpaper

Today - Mr Wolf, a pizza restaurant in Inkerman Street St Kilda.

But so much more than just a pizza joint.

It welcomes children and casts no frowny looks towards crumbs on the ground. And believe me, with little children, that attitude is worth its weight. They (generally) play wonderful jazz. Their pizzas are interesting and yet sufficiently authentic that I can imagine picking up a square in the Piazza Navona. Their grissini is divine. As are the marinated olives. The windows look out onto the street where we can see a blur of grimy, stylish pedestrians (take your pick).

And look at this wallpaper. I know I know, tree wallpaper is ubiquitous. But Mr Wolf did it 8 years ago.

I love the feeling of sitting in a forest. And I have a thing for birch trees. Perhaps to Swedes they are not particularly interesting, but to me, they evoke Peter and the Wolf and goblins, and elves, and picnics and hiking in the gentle sunshine.

And how I would love to own this LP - narrated by Boris Karloff himself. I can feel the wolf sniffing behind me as I type.

Anyway, perhaps the birch tree wallpaper thing is no longer a trend but becoming a permanent classic. To demonstrate, a quick purview threw up these examples which are readily available:

And if these are not realistic enough for you, what about a photographic wall mural complete with dappled light and patches of tufted emerald grass?

I suppose the real question about this type of wallpaper is where would you use it? A bathroom? I have seen it in kitchens in the backsplash \ splashback. Or maybe in a dining room?
On to today's recipes:

Pizza Dough (this recipe is from one of Karen Martini's cookbooks. I know it is pretty much what they use as she owns the restaurant)

400 g plain flour
110 g fine semolina
2 tsp table salt
1.5 cups warm water (375 ml)
3 table spoons olive oil
2 teaspoons (ie 7 grams) dried yeast

Combine flour, salt and semolina in the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook. Mix water oil an dyeast in small bowl and stir to dissolve. Pour water mixture into flour and mix at low speed untl combined then on high speed for10 minutes until dough is smooth and elsatic but wet and sticky. Place dough in oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap and rest in warm place for 20 minutes. (Makes 4 pizza bases). Make sure you roll roll very thin.


(1) Eggplant

I just list the toppings here - you can combine in anyway but remember, do as the Romans do: not too much topping.
Roasted cubes of eggplant
Roasted garlic, mashed.
Basil, torn
Ricotta, in small chunks
Fior di latte, sliced thinly

(2) Cauliflower

I can't recall all the ingredients but it is incredible. There is roasted caulflower, parsley, sliced green chilli and slices of Italian pork sausage of some sort. This is on a cheesy base only (not tomato). Fantastic.

Mr Wolf on Urbanspoon

(Images (1) Mr Wolf (3) Cole & Son (4) Graham & Brown (6) (7)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Serendipity and Raw Fish

The other day a lovely surprise was delivered to me through the front door:

From Kristine, whom I have actually known since university and noticed from my cookbook rants on this blog that I love to cook and so generously gave me this signed copy of Tetsuya Wakuda's cookbook. Thank you so much.

Tetsuya runs the eponymous restaurant in Sydney which is on one list of things to do before death takes me. It is one of the best restaurants in Australia and the world.

My husband read it and was inspired, and wrote me a list full of provisions to pick up at the market.

As an aside, my husband, who is an excellent cook, in fact cooks very very rarely. The reasons for this range from: he works hard to I like to cook myself to all kinds of plausible excuses in between. Hence I really value those evenings when I am cooked for.

His shopping list was a bit strange, it contained no quantities and consisted of five 'groups' of ingredients. Buy any 2 or 3 groups, the list said.

(Read no further if you don't like raw fish).

I ignored the unreasonable injunction to just buy some ingredients, and bought all 5 groupings.

That evening we realised we had the makings of a five course meal, one duck and the other four seafood. And it was just the two of us.

He decided to cook the four seafood. It was then we realised that each seafood dish was raw. Okay, challenging, but good for you, right?

So, this is what we ate. Apologies for the deteriorating quality of the photos. It was rather a long night!

Raw snapper with cucumber and sherry vinegar dressing

Tuna and Hamachi with orange oil and ginger juice

Sea scallops with lemonade fruit and yuzu. I have never seen lemonade fruit here - he used lemon. The scallops are 'cooked' by immersing in hot water then refreshed in ice and sliced.

Cuttlefish noodles with mirin, soy and capers with broccoli florets and (raw) quail egg.

What an interesting evening of food......

As an aside we had lots of quail eggs left over so the next night I deep fried them for one minute then rolled them in a mixture of rice flour, chilli powder and sea salt. Really divine (and filling) with drinks!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paintings in the Kitchen

By kitchen art I don't mean the scribbles we stick on the fridge, or our daughter's latest take on Sleeping Beauty's puffed sleeves and pouty lips but real art.

When I was little my parents had a huge oil canvas hanging over our kitchen dining table. It was a painting of an enormous orange hill, with only spindly trees and a bit of scrubby grass to alleviate the baking dryness. At the very top of the hill was a little man, with his arms in the air either waving hello or help. I can see that painting in my mind's eye as if it were yesterday, it is imprinted on my psyche. It is one of those paintings which is happy-sad, because you never really knew whether the man was pleased to be at the top of the hill or frantically trying to be rescued. Like life really.

For this reason, I was determined to have art in our house, art which would become part of our children's life and evoke a time for them many years later. Further, kitchens can be very sterile and art can really humanise the space.

One has to be practical however, I guess a canvas over the stovetop is not very sensible unless you want it to change colour pretty quickly.

You can include a statement piece:

What about a jumble of frames:

Or vintage style:

Or perhaps a perfectly pristine 'Aerin Lauder in the Hamptons' style lithograph:

Or just one gilt framed delight:

In our kitchen we have two paintings, by an artist from Adelaide called Nona Burden. I love their orangey tones and the round bowl. It felt to us like they evoked the feeling of food and sharing.

They may be due for a move, so perhaps I need to start looking out for some new kitchen art so I can still look at a painting when I am musing over a cookbook, and not feel like the kitchen is reproving me to:

What about you? Do you have art in the kitchen? If so, what kind?

Have a happy weekend.

(Images: (1)Tim Evan Cook (2)(3) House and Garden Aust (4) Verandah (5) Apartment Therapy (6) Marie Claire Maison (7) Abigail Ahern (8) Apartment Therapy (9) (10) PCH (11) Hannah Zakari)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Questions and Answers in a minor key

JMW from the lovely blog A Place to Dwell has tagged me. I am not usually that keen on these types of things, so am getting it over with now. Plus, I am limited to one word answers, which is a challenge for me, anti Twitterer extraordinaire.

1. Where is your cell [Mobile] phone? Desk

2. Your hair? Unsatisfactory

3. Your mother? Organised

4. Your father? Inspiring

5. Your favorite food? Artichokes

6. Your dream last night? Epic

7. Your favorite drink? Reisling

8. Your dream/goal? Freedom

9. What room are you in? Office

10. Your hobby? Blogging. No, reading.

11. Your fear? Harm to my children

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here

13. Where were you last night? Work

14. Something that you aren’t? Patient

15. Muffins? No

16. Wish list item? Kilim for the front room (there I knew I couldn't stick to one word)

17. Where did you grow up? Melbourne

18. Last thing you did? Drafting

19. What are you wearing? Dress

20. Your TV? Loewe

21. Your pets? None

22. Friends? Away

23. Your life? Jumbled

24. Your mood? Optimistic

25. Missing someone? No.

26. Vehicle? German

27. Something you’re not wearing? Jewelry

28. Your favorite store? Scanlan & Theodore

29. Your favorite color? Pink

30. When was the last time you laughed? Lunchtime

31. Last time you cried? Revolutionary Road

32. Your best friend? Husband

33. One place that I go to over and over? Royal Botanic Gardens

34. One person who emails me regularly? Teammates

35. Favorite place to eat? Bistro Thierry

I have six people to tag, which I should do shortly and very soon.

(Images (1) Daniel Farmer (2) Joanna Henderson)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An anemone in cross stitch

I have been working on a bit of cross stitch, which comes from this book which was given to me by my father and stepmother.

I got quite a lot done on my recent holiday and I feel that with a proper spurt of energy I could even complete it.

The flowers are intended to be anemones. You can see this if you squint hard at it.

Here is the template from the book:

This is the most time consuming embroidery I have ever done. It takes a long long time to sew even just a little petal which is meditative or frustrating, depending on your point of view.

But now I am approaching the end I am wondering what I will do with it.

I started doing cross stitch because I wanted to make my own embroidered linen hand towels like these from Plane Tree Farm. You know the ones I mean, which are so delicate and beautiful you don't even want your guests using them.

I don't think my anemones will work as a hand towel because the fabric is wrong.
It has now been sitting at home untouched for weeks and I feel guilty when I look at it. I could always frame it but I really don't have a suitable spot for anything like a framed cross stitch flower. The other option may be to turn it into a little lavender pillow for a drawer.

Any ideas? I know at least one of my readers (Kristine) is an exceptional craftslady......

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dream House - Bluestone Estate in the Western District

Our recent holiday necessitated a lovely drive west of Melbourne for many hours until we got to the South Australian border. This means you drive through rich green dairy and cattle country, low rise blue stone fences (built by convicts), little towns with names like Hexham and Moriac, and occasionally, down a long drive way, you can catch a glimpe of a house like this:

This house. Leslie Manor, near Colac, was built in 1845 by Scotsman John Hastie. It has been renovated and comes complete with 18 foot ceilings, herb garden, friendly hens and lots of eggs, separate 4 bedroom manager's cottage, harness room and 183 hectares of verdant arable land:

Divine little bluestone shed for the lawnmower:

Access to two lakes:

And this green view when you are washing up, or preparing hearty country meals or just staring and daydreaming (or in my case given my slight country-0-phobia, mixing the first martini of the day at 10 am):

All this, just 2 hours from Melbourne, and yours for (price undisclosed) but I would be guessing about $6 million. But that is just a stab in the dark. If you are in the market check out their website. The auction is this Sunday!

One thing you can be certain about - there are no bright white or dark black floorboards in this house. No chandeliers in the kitchen. No quirky mix of mid century furniture and ultra modern Italian fittings. No walk in wardrobes. No mosaic tiles. Just country goodness.

I haven't shown the interior shots because although it has been renovated, in my view it would need some more work, but probably just superficial (soft not hard!).

I have previously written about my fear of being trapped forever in the countryside. But I could make an exception for this house.

(Images: Leslie Manor Homestead)
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