Thursday, December 31, 2009

Edible Balcony - Weber Baby Q100 BBQ

Very Compact - the Weber Baby Q100 on its trolley unit

Space is getting tight on my Edible Balcony. With plants now slowly encroaching on all the balcony's entertaining area my extremely patient husband has finally put his foot down. 'Very soon we won't have any view at all!' he said exasperatedly the other morning. It was a timely wake-up call. As all you obsessive gardeners out there know we would happily sacrifice living space to see our plants grow and thrive! Could plants and humans co-habit happily on my balcony?

A month ago our old, faulty 4 burner gas BBQ was taken to the tip to make room for a green wall planting system that's being installed in a few weeks time. It's an ingenius system developed here in Sydney from recycled plastic by Ecovert. With the system I'll be able to grow up to 20 more herbs and greens without taking up any more floor space. Great solution for balcony gardeners.

It also means our replacement BBQ needed to be compact but still give a good result. I always consult consumer advocacy group choice
for independent reliable consumer advice. The Weber Baby Q100 topped their scientific testing for best cooking results and ease of use so we got one. Its stand rated low on stability tests so we bought a small kitchen trolley from Howard Storage for it to sit on. And last night we cooked some marinated pork spare ribs to see if choice was right.

the Baby Q100 is only 70cm long

the grill plate and hood are large enough to cook a small leg of lamb or roast chicken

I bought the ribs from the David Jones FoodHall in Market St pre-marinated in a spicy paprika tomato sauce

the BabyQ needs about 10 minutes to heat up....

a regular visitor pops in to have a steaky beak

None for you. Rainbow Lorikeets should only eat Grevillea flowers. Maybe I should plant one?...

The ribs were cooked to perfection. Still juicy and tender but with a lovely caramelised crust.

I think BabyQ is going to be a very welcome addition to the Edible Balcony.... I can just picture it now.... roasted tomatoes fresh off the bush, chargrilled red peppers, eggplant babaganoush.....

Have a great New Years's Eve wherever you are in the world. Thanks for following Saucy so loyally in her inaugural year. Here's to 2010 - a year filled with wonderful food and gardening adventures and many friends to share your bounty with.
Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lunch at Velero, Woolloomooloo

Oh, it is so good to be back in the 'hood. I've missed the hard-working ferries chugging along the harbour, the cool shade from the rustling plane trees along Macleay Street, the buzzy cafes, the excited tourists snapping scenes I've long taken for granted.Sometimes I think the best thing about travel is that it makes you see your home, friends and family in a new light. Distance certainly makes the heart grow fonder.
And fond I am indeed of my friends Andrew and Sean.Today we all took advantage of that glorious sun we've missed so much and chowed down on a tapas lunch at Velero on Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo. To friendship!
the spread

manchego sheep's milk cheese with jamon and quince paste 

Frito Mixto -  Deep fried cuttlefish, zucchini flowers and lemon and aioli

wonderful ooze and texture

Pan-fried Barramundi with spinach, tomatoes and pickled zucchini

Didn't get to try Sean's meal but he loved the flavours and the meaty fillet

Cochinillo Asado: Roast suckling pig with chorizo, cavello nero and borlotti beans.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Edible Balcony - Concierge deserves medal

Like a parent whose child loved summer camp mainly because you weren't there, I have come back to an Edible Balcony that has thrived in my absence.
Our building concierge Daryl - with a little help from his colleague Chris - has worked magic. The plants have erupted into a healthy jungle of leaves and flowers. No sign of the 40 degree days I fretted about while I was in the States. I am so relieved! All that was needed from me was a little seaweed fertiliser, a prune of the dried stalks from the tomato plants and a few squirts of Pest Oil on the basil leaves to keep some aphids at bay. It was a very happy reunion....

not missed at all it seems

The Curry Leaf tree just keeps on erupting in this heat.

the herbs and vegies along the glass balcony wall were lush and glossy

My little buddha kept a watchful eye over the herbs

The last of the tomatoes. Daryl said he picked about 5 kgs while we were away.

He couldn't believe how sweet the cherry toms were and has convinced his wife to make some room in their garden for a few tomato plants.

The rainbow chard was resplendent in its Christmas colours

There's now almost enough basil for me to try out that recipe I found for basil ice-cream

the nastursiums are tumbling out of their hanging basket - wonder how long before they flower?

the strawberries have sent out five runners

I popped in 4 long black eggplant seeds before I left and they've germinated and are looking strong and healthy

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

St Regis Hotel, San Francisco

We decide to splash out a little on our last two nights in San Francisco and book in to the St Regis Hotel on 3rd St. The St Regis is renowned for its excellent service and mod cons which incude a Michelin-star restaurant 'Ame', a Remede Spa complex, the latest touch button room controls (including motorised curtains!)  - and a personal butler for all guests. After our 'butler' shows us to our room he wants to unpack our clothes for us but that feels a little 'too much' service when you're a rough and tumble Aussie traveller. We do, however, know a Hoover Cam who would be most appreciative of this service.

The views of the city centre are breathtaking

It feels as though we're suspended in mid-air

blogging station

another great bed

bedside touch-screen control panel that requires a tech-nerd to operate

The downstairs bar area is a popular meeting space...

And has these amazing pieces of artwork by A Morrow.. 'LOVE

....and WAR'.

But its the bar food prepared by the Michelin-starred Ame restaurant that is worth making a pit-stop here

these are the real works of art

Tempura 'Poke' with Ogo seaweed, Hawaiian sea salt and green onion

'Kaisen' Sashimi salad with Japanese Cucumber, Hijiki, Tobiko caviar and Yuzu vinaigrette

The sashimi was melt-in-your-mouth

the caviar were little mouth explosions of sea and salt

Sounds macabre I know but I think I've found my Death Row meal.

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The best news is that we're sitting in the Qantas Club at San Francisco International Airport about to board our on-time flight back home to sweltering Sydney and my edible balcony. What awaits me I wonder? Lush and thriving or wilted and singed?
I'll let you know.....

Blizzard 2009 - How We Escaped

There has been some talk about the heavy snowfalls the North-East Coast of the USA is going to experience this weekend but by the time we wake up on Saturday morning the warnings have been upgraded to BLIZZARD and the storm is now predicted to hit New York at about the time our 330pm American Airlines flight leaves for San Francisco. Yikes!
We frantically get on the phone to see if we can get an earlier flight out. No luck.Thousands of holiday travellers have beaten us to it and all the early flights have gone. At this stage our flight is still leaving on time -remarkably.
We're just going to have to sit it out at the airport and pray we can take off from JFK on time

We get nervous when they cancel the 6pm flight to San Francisco which is just after ours. Don't like the idea of spending the night marooned at the airport.

Miraculously at 430pm we push away from the gate after our plane is 'de-iced'.
We arrive in San Francisco 6 hours later to the news that the blizzard hit hard closing several airports in Washington, New York and Baltimore. Over 1500 flights had to be cancelled stranding tens of thousands of holidaymakers. Our flight was one of the last to get out.
I put it down to the Irish luck of Mark FitzGerald!
Fingers crossed our Qantas flight to Sydney from San Francisco late tonight is not affected by the backlog of cancelled flights and we get home in time for Christmas.

Hotel Beacon, Manhattan - A New York Must-Stay

We've been coming back to the Hotel Beacon for ten years now. Situated on Broadway in the leafy Upper West Side, the Hotel Beacon has become our New York home away from home. It is conveniently located on the Red subway line one block away from the West 72nd subway stop. The Beacon has undergone extensive renovations in the past three years, making the rooms and suites
 - all with kitchenettes - some of the best value for money accommodation you'll find.  With two great supermarkets literally across the road (Fairway and Citarella) and the food emporium, Zabars, five blocks away you can easily cook up the treats you find in the markets.  And sometimes - even when you're in the ciy that never sleeps - you just want to rug up inside, cook some spag bol and watch some trashy TV!

Our suite had a spacious lounge/dining room, kitchen and a bathroom off the entrance hallway

My blogging station. The Beacon has WiFi ($10 for 24 hours) and an iPod docking station

The king-size bed was heavenly comfortable

delicious crisp white sheets and downy pillows

flat screen tv in both the living room and bedroom

lots of room to relax

great shower and deep bath

tiny kitchen that is equipped with everything except a sharp knife which we had to buy from Zabars

high-wattage microwave and good bagel toaster

just enough room for a cuppa....
..and to throw together a comforting bolognaise.

 the Beacon has a doorman who will take in your bags and call you a cab which makes all the difference when the winter wind whips up

most Beacon guests are from Australia and Europe

 The staff are efficient, friendly but low-key - just the way I like it.

 The Beacon has over 25 floors and 250 rooms and suites

The Fairway supermarket and cafe from our window across Broadway

 Fairway is opened from 7am until 1am and gets it's organic food deliveries in big semi-trailers

A beautiful French Haussman-style apartment block opposite the Beacon Hotel

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