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entertaining

Lifestyle

The drink you’ll be sipping non-stop over spring and summer

4th September, 2018

I’ll often go for a gin-based cocktail, especially during the warmer months so I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that I’ve been named an ambassador for Gordon’s Pink Gin. There’s something quite fun and stylish about sipping a drink that’s also such an on trend hue of pink (it’s definitely made for Instagram!). A classic spirit yet with a modern of-the-moment touch, this is one staple that I’m going to have on hand when I’m entertaining over the coming months. Here I chat to Krystal Hart, National Gin Ambassador to discuss how best to serve this drink at your next event including a recipe for what will no doubt become a fave beverage over summer.

What should people look out for when choosing a great gin?

Price doesn’t always mean quality. Think about what attracted you to gin in the first place and choose a gin that suits that occasion. If you like the aroma of citrus for example, there are options which uses whole citrus in the botanicals recipe. Or if you love the vast array of botanicals try something a little more exotic and rare.

What are some mistakes people should avoid when serving gin?

Not enough ice! You can never have too much ice. Ice keeps your drinks cold for longer, keeps your cocktails in balance and helps preserve carbonation of your at-home Gin & Tonics.

What’s the best way to serve gin? Do you have any tips for people who are planning to serve it at their next event?

Don’t underestimate the power of a simple, classic gin & tonic. Add some fresh herbs and citrus and you have the perfect way to start any event. For a splash of colour on a Sunday afternoon with the girls try Gordon’s Pink Gin as a Spritz, with prosecco, soda and some fresh strawberries!

Apart from a classic gin & tonic, what are some other great ways to hero gin in a drink?

The Spritz is such a popular cocktail and perfect throughout summer; just grab a bottle of prosecco, some soda water and your favourite gin.

For people who haven’t really considered gin a go-to drink, why do you think they should add it to their list?

As a category, gin is booming. It’s such an exciting time to be drinking gin with so many varieties and an incredible array of botanicals sourced right here in Australia you’re bound to find something that screams, “THIS is what I’m talking about!”

What do you think is the appeal in drinking gin?

Without a doubt, its versatility. Gin is one of the few spirits that speaks to people who love experimenting with flavour, or those of us who have decided to taste and stick to what we know and love. It’s also very welcoming to newcomers who haven’t quite embraced a love affair with gin; and pink is the perfect place to start!

What’s your favourite gin-based drink?

I’m a martini girl through and through. I travel quite a bit, so when I get a chance I get the girls together and we catch up over a great martini and even better conversation!

Gordon’s Premium Pink Gin Spritz

Want to impress during your next soireé? This Pink Gin Spritz* is a delicious cocktail that will have you coming back time and time again

*Contains 1.8 standard drinks per serve

  1. Fill a large wine glass with ice and add 45ml Gordon’s Premium Pink Gin
  2. Add 45ml Prosecco
  3. Add 90ml lemonade
  4. Garnish with strawberries

This post was produced in collaboration with Gordon’s Gin

Lifestyle

Sophia’s 4th Birthday Fairy Picnic

30th May, 2018

I still remember sharing Sophia’s first birthday on the blog with you all so it’s so hard for me to believe that she’s now turning four! I’m sure most parents would agree that time really does fly and each birthday comes around quicker than the next. This year we decided to hold Sophia’s party at our family property in the Southern Highlands. Given we were going for a fairy picnic theme it seemed the perfect setting.

We decided on a picnic as it made a lot simpler to style and we just wanted guests to feel relaxed throughout the day. We stuck to a simple colour palette of soft pink and white with little touches of gold which we carried through to everything from the lollies to the cake and the decorations. Sophia was able to have a little more input in her party this year and she actually chose her tutu (from Tutu Du Monde) and the cake that she wanted. We found the cake on Instagram (from @sweetmamacakes) and it worked well with the theme as it was a fairy with a mushroom house.

In terms of decorations we opted for a few balloons and some bunting to give the party area a festive atmosphere. We put down a few pink and white blankets on the grass and scattered a few pillows for the kids to sit on and dotted the place with flowers and gold confetti. It dressed the area up quite easily and it didn’t require us to spend hours decorating.

We didn’t really want to be stressing about catering on the day so we stuck to a simple menu. We had finger foods such as sandwiches, fairy bread (of course!), sultanas, popcorn and cupcakes and fruit platters for the little ones. For the adults we had a few cheese platters and fruit platters and had a good ol’ fashioned sausage sizzle, which worked out great as it was quick and easy.

We always like to have some entertainment on hand to keep the kids occupied so we hired a birthday fairy and she did everything from  dancing with the kids to games like pass the parcel and activities like colouring in. As a special treat we also had pony rides with our family ponies Harley and Jack, and we dressed them up with unicorn horns in keeping with the magical theme.

It was a great day with a few close family and friends and Sophia had the time of her life. I’m sure the next birthday celebration will sneak up on us just as quickly!

Photography: Sophia Athas

Party for the kids

The birthday girl

The picnic set up

Sophia with her friends

Sophia with the birthday fairy

It was a great day for the four of us

The kids having a ball

Grace and I with our friend Emma Watkins aka the Yellow Wiggle!

Cutting the cake

The gorgeous cake

A great day with family and friends

 

Lifestyle

A sommelier shares her expert tips on choosing great wine

12th January, 2017

One of the great dishes at Mistelle

Mistelle is a French-inspired wine bar and restaurant located in Sydney’s Double Bay and without a doubt one of its highlights would have to be the unique and extensive wine list and that’s all courtesy of its owner and sommelier Alicia Wadsworth. Wadsworth is a member of the Commanderie du Bordeaux, a graduate of the Gastronomicom Wine School in Languedox, South of France as well as holding her Wine Spirit Education Trust (WSET) levels 2 and 3 and a Diploma from the Sydney Wine Academy so she knows how to identify a seriously good drop. Here, she shares her top tips on choosing wine like an expert.

What inspired your interest in wine?

I grew up in the hospitality industry with a father who loved great wine, particularly red. We would always chat about it and he would teach me to appreciate it. As I got older and into the industry myself, I started trying different wines and found myself challenging my friends to try with me, a lot very reluctantly. The love just kept growing until I decided that rather than try learn myself I would start doing my WSET levels and once I started I loved it so much I continued.

What’s your favourite type of wine?

I love so many different wines for different reasons, I am always trying new producers and different regions making new favourites. At the moment I am loving a good crisp Gruner Veltliner from Austria or a lovely Vouvray from the Loire, Marc Bredif is an easy go-to.

I love my reds too. Red Burgundy and Bordeaux have a special place. I recently tried Chateau de Tertre from Margaux in Bordeaux and was impressed with a lot of their wines. I also love good old classic Aussie reds. Big, bold and punchy such as Torbreck.

Sitting in the sun on my day off a lovely glass of cold rosé is always a winner. Lately I have been drinking Château Vannières from Bandol.

What should people consider when choosing wine?

Be adventurous! If you like a certain grape variety, try it from a different region.

Also what is the occasion? If you are going to sit in the sun and eat oysters and prawns you probably don’t want a big juicy McLaren Vale Shiraz, so you need to pick a style and grape that suits your purpose.

Even if you are not totally into food pairing, you still want something that will heighten the occasion.

If someone wants to bring a bottle of wine to a friend’s house what are some of your tips for choosing one that will please without breaking the budget?

My friends struggle with this all the time as they are worried I won’t like what they bring…. When in doubt bring Champagne. And it is so much more affordable and accessible these days! Otherwise call the host and ask what would suit what they are cooking.

If you were going to buy a wine for a special occasion what type would you choose?

A good red Bordeaux or Burgundy if it’s a dinner, to celebrate I love vintage Champagne like Krug.

What are some of your tips for choosing wine on a restaurant menu?

Ask for the sommelier or someone who knows a little about the list. Know your price range and what style you like. That way it is easy for someone to point you in the right direction. Or if they serve it by the glass ask for a little taste.

Which regions are producing great wines at the moment?

That’s tough. I am a big fan of Margaret River wines, beautiful consistency in vintages. I love the Bordeaux style. I am loving cool climate Shiraz and Cabernet from the Yarra valley, Yarra Yering and Warramate have been doing some great examples. Exciting new wines from the Adelaide Hills region are playing around with Italian varieties which is always entertaining like Nebbiolo and Vermentino.  South Africa is doing some fabulous stuff, particularly the Swartland region. Eben Sadie and Mullineux to name but a few. They are producing some fabulous white and red Rhone style wines.

Mistelle’s owner and sommelier, Alicia Wadsworth

What’s a little known type of wine you wish more people would try?

Mistelle which is a grape juice or slightly fermented wine, which has been fortified by various types of spirit, depending on the region in which it’s made. It can be a lovely and refreshing style, served chilled or on ice as an aperitif, or a heavier, more complex expression, accompanied with a selection of cheeses and desserts.

What are some trends you’re seeing when it comes to wine?

Provenance Rose is trumping everything. Pinot Gris and Grigio also extremely popular. Riesling seems to be getting more and more accepted. All the pushing for all those years is starting to pay off.

What is the best way to store wine?

In a Vintec cabinet or similar brand.

What’s the key to selecting good wine glasses?

Zalto glasses are amazing! I pretty much drink most things from these at the moment. You really only need a really good quality red and white standard glass.

What type of wine should every person always have on hand at home?

Champagne, Chablis and a good cool climate Shiraz.

What are some common mistakes people make when it comes to wine?

Serve it too warm or too cold, put ice in it.

If you were to compile the ideal selection of foods to graze on whilst enjoying a glass of wine what would it entail?

I am loving gorgonzola with a lovely glass of Chenin Blanc or steak tartare and Blanc de Blanc Champagne.

What are some of your tips when it comes to serving wine at home during a gathering?

I like to have a bit of a theme to my food and wine. Whether it be Italian food matched with Italian varietals, Old world vs New World like Australia vs France. I also like to open things that people may not have had before to try and test [guests’] boundaries. It gets the conversation going.

Complete this sentence. A good wine is…. to be drunk and enjoyed with your nearest and dearest.

 

Lifestyle

My Christmas entertaining tips

12th December, 2016

I try and make this time of year as stress free as possible so my summer entertaining usually involves a lot of BBQs, really easy salads, fresh fruit and cheese platters. I’d rather be spending time with my nearest and dearest than hanging out in the kitchen so as much as possible I do lots of my prep beforehand or just pick really simple things to make. Here’s what I do when it comes to managing festive gatherings….

Stock the fridge

As I said I am a very casual entertainer so I always make sure to have the fridge stocked up with fresh ingredients. I always do a big online shop to get my supplies in order. I usually go on the Harris Farm website and order all my fruit and veg, cheeses and everything I need before the weekend so it’s always on hand in case I unexpectedly have people pop in. I think great produce is always key so you can make really simple, easy things that will still be a hit with guests.

Prep platters

I’m all about a great platter as I think it’s a great shortcut when you’re busy or low on time. Whether it’s pastries or fruit platters in the morning or it’s prosciutto and cheeses or ham for lunch they’re great for being able to lay on a spread quickly. Whenever I have people over I always have a selection of cheeses, various types of dips and crackers ready to go as I like to make sure people are fed as soon as they walk through the door. And you never know when people are just going to pop in. We live close to the beach so we get lots of people popping in all the time and platters are something you can put together really quickly if you have everything in the fridge (this is why the first step is so important!).

Take advantage of Christmas hampers

One of my little tricks is to use the contents of Christmas hampers whenever I’m entertaining. They’re stocked with such a variety of different condiments or nibblies that it’s great for putting together an interesting platter of goodies for guests that are just slightly more special in nature.

Have drinks on hand

As it’s so hot I like having drinks that are really refreshing. I’ll stock up on bottles of champagne, beer for the boys or have the ingredients for a quick cocktail or mocktail ready to go such as peach juice in case I want to make a peach bellini. Aperol spritzes and mojitos are also a favourite during summer as they’re so refreshing. I always make sure to have some sparkling water in the fridge to serve to guests. I think overall the most crucial thing to remember is to keep everything as simple as possible so you can get onto more important things, and that’s spending time with friends and family.

 

Lifestyle

Decorating inspiration from the Lexus Design Pavilion

6th November, 2015

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During Derby Day and Melbourne Cup I spend most of my time at the Lexus Design Pavilion and each year it’s so beautifully styled and the interiors are so incredible that I always walk away with lots of design inspiration. This year’s Lexus Design Pavilion is based on a ‘Journey of the Senses.’ The theme was inspired by the theme of Lexus’ presentation at Milan Design Week 2015. Lexus collaborated with a stable of world-class creatives including Joost Bakker, Mim Design Studio, Ben Shewry, Dan Hong and Georgie Seccull. Guests of Lexus enjoyed the luxury experience through custom created sound scapes, scents, striking visual aspects and of course, taste. These pics give you a bit of an idea of how stunning the space was and these are some of the tips I took away from this year’s space.

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1. Don’t be afraid of colour

The gorgeous mint and forest green tones used on the dining chairs and banquette seating in the pavilion provided a great contrast to the white tones throughout. Sometimes it pays to be a little bit adventurous in your colour selections to give a room some personality.

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2. Use flowers unexpectedly

The tulip flower installation throughout the space was amazing. Suspending tulips from the ceiling all throughout was definitely striking and a great way to decorate a room in an unconventional way.

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3. Mix textures

The different textures throughout the room, including the stunning marble gave the room a luxe feel. Using multiple bowls was also a great way to decorate and is easily achieved at home.
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4. White on white

Much like white on white is a fail-safe option when it comes to fashion, white is is also a great way to keep a room fresh and inviting and gives the illusion of space. The touches of colour with the flooring and flowers gave it just the right amount of personality.

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5. Find a statement piece

The amazing butterfly wall art was a talking point for many guests. While you might not be able to recreate something quite so intricate at home, it’s a good lesson in the fact that you can dress up a wall by simply finding one stand out piece and letting it do the talking.

Photography: Earl Carter

Lifestyle

Sophia’s First Birthday celebrations

3rd June, 2015

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Sophia turned 1 recently which is a really exciting milestone. I really wanted to host a low key celebration (she is only 1!) that was casual and kid-friendly so we opted to have it at a park near our house. We invited our family and a few of my friends who are also mums brought their kids along too. Here are a few details from the day (I’ve received questions about everything from the cake topper to the decorations so I’ve popped all the supplier details at the end of the post):

Food
I was away the week before Sophia’s birthday so I wanted to keep things simple so we got the food catered for the adults and just had nice finger food and for the kids we had carrot sticks, cheese sandwiches in the shape of stars and lots of fruit. Oh and cupcakes and cake of course! I highly recommend just keeping the menu simple and just having a few key things – it helps cut down on prep time and also you want to be able to hang out with your guests and just enjoy the day as opposed to worrying about the food.

Entertainment
We knew we had to keep the kids entertained so we set up in the park a mini pool filled with balls and we gave Sophia a little tee pee for her birthday so we brought that to the park too.

Decorations
I decorated the table with some flowers from my local fruit store and just popped them in some vases from home and we added a nice oversized balloon for a festive touch. It was all very casual and nothing too over the top.

Party outfit
I wanted a special birthday outfit for Sophia so I decided to have her wear a really sweet tutu from Tutu Du Monde.

Present
And as for the tee pee? I’d been searching high and low for a neutral tee pee made of plain canvas but everything was either too girly or had too many patterns and prints. I eventually found a company overseas that made exactly what I was looking for thanks to Pinterest. I liked this particular tee pee because you can do it up how you want it to look. Sophia absolutely loves her present and has spent copious amounts of time hanging out in there as you can see from the pic above.

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Sophia’s first birthday outfit. Can’t go wrong with a pink tutu!

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Our starry cheese sandwiches

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The birthday girl cuts her cake

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It was pink all round!

The birthday spread

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A personalised cake topper

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Sophia playing with one of her friends

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Besties!

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Gorgeous flowers helped add the finishing touch to the table

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First birthday family shot

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Our little Sophia enjoying her day

 

Sophia’s Dress: Tutu Du Monde

Cake: My Little Cupcake

Cake topper: little Miss Az

Catering: Serena Sanderson

Balloon: Born To Party

Teepee: Moozle