My Birthday

Take me back 5 years ago and my birthday meant everything to me! It wasn’t just a day, oh no! It was at least a whole weekend if not pushing it out to a week. Well, when you had as many friends as I did you needed to organise a few more dinners to fit everyone one in to celebrate you turning another year older!

This year was different though. The two months leading up to my birthday were filled with sadness and loss. My mum got diagnosed with cancer and my husband got made redundant. This all happened a few weeks before Christmas and was a big blow to the emotions and wallet!

Over Christmas we had an amazing time and although didn’t go as lavish as we usually would have, still had wonderful food, plenty of drinks and were surrounded by people we love dearly! New year’s came and went and I hurt my neck.

So when I was asked by hubby what I would like to do for my birthday I truly had no need or want to do anything. I am a pretty homely body as it is but this year I just didn’t feel like celebrating!

Luckily for me I have wonderful friends and family who jeered me up.

Walking into my office I found my desk covered in balloons and posters of cakes pined up on my walls! I even had gifts!

It is the responsibility of the birthday girl/boy to provide the cake for morning tea. I understand why they do this it’s so no-one’s birthday is forgotten! Being as I am not a baker and hubby isn’t working I thought he may take the roll of making my cake. Alas, no…..he would not make my cake as he was busy working hard in our back yard. I did opt for a packet mix for the cake base itself but made the icing and decorated it to boot!

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Needless to say after the chocolate coating covered in marshmallows and raspberry flavoured M’n’M’s and the filling being white chocolate, my colleagues were flying high for a good couple of hours!

V decided we had to go for a drink after work so I had luckily planned it with hubby that he would drop me to work and then come back in and be my chauffer.

We were tossing up between the Reserve Wine Bar a newish establishment opened up in the Mall of Newcastle or Les Passe Temp, a French inspired bar/restaurant located at the end of Hunter Street.

Being as someone we used to work with was behind the opening of the Reserve Wine Bar I decided I should go and check it out!

Being as V and hubby were both driving we were taking it easy. V and I opted for the well-mannered Rose, to the nose you got great smells of strawberries and watermelon. On the palate the wine was delicate and slightly dry, with great berry notes and a hint of melon. Delicious to say the least! B went for a Founders Brewing All Day IPA which was really fruity smelling and tasting. He enjoyed it but was only allowed one as driving!

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We ordered the specials to share as well which were the mushroom aranchini balls and lamb empanadas. Unfortunately, we were starving at this point and I completely forgot to take photos. HOWEVER, they were delicious and went down a treat.

I highly recommend a trip to Reserve Wine Bar. Don’t expect your bill to be small but do expect to be wowed by the interior, the serve and knowledge everyone had and the table serve to boot.

Hubby had gone ahead and booked us a table at Pauls Asian Affair. We well renowned restaurant in New Lambton that we had been to a few years ago. We got there and I ordered a Traminer-Riesling. Working in the wine industry I did begrudge paying $28 for a bottle of Rosemount wine when you can buy it for under $10 but this was the cheapest on the menu and the rest were even more absurd!

We opted for a prawn toast to start and a nice big bowl of delicious prawn crackers, not overly Thai inspired but still hit the spot! For the mains we opted for a fried rice, crispy fried chicken with a hot sweet and sour sauce and spicy sate pork.

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We were so full that we didn’t manage to get through half of it but luckily for us we are able to take home both unfinished food and wine! So that was a plus point!

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I recommend Pauls Asian Affair for somewhere with great food and fast table service, but don’t go there to enjoy wine. You will just end up bankrupt!

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Creature Comforts

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately. Not for any other reason they I just didn’t feel like I had anything important or worthwhile to say.

Brad and I have been out for breakfast a few times in the past few weeks and I have still been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, namely clean eating stuff but a few treats also.

My writers block got me thinking though…..why was I struggling so hard to write? Was I concerned about what others would think? Is what I want to put down on this blog important and worthy of others reading and enjoying/hating/not caring what was written and then it hit me…..I go through moments every now and then (and they are gradually getting less and less and don’t stick around for as much time) of “homesickness”

Now I have written homesick but really it’s just a craving for creature comforts I grew up with back in Wales. 5 years ago when I first came here I craved three things so badly!

  1. Hellmanns Mayonnaise
  2. Unsmoked bacon
  3. A proper good Indian curry

About 3 years ago, Brad and I drove out to see some friends for a lunchtime birthday party. We arrived and found out it was BYO so Brad shot off, like the dutiful husband and went and bought me a beautiful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (Drift NZ) there was a Bi Lo in the complex where this bottle shop was and someone, a while before, had told us that they had seen Hellmans mayo in a Bi Lo. Brad decided to quickly pop into this shop and what did he find? Hellmanns mayonnaise! I was elated when he came back to the restaurant bearing to gifts, one of wine and one of mayo! Of course being imported from the UK we now paid a premium of nearly $7 per jar – but we have not bought any other mayonnaise since

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Next was the curry, Brad and I decided that we would venture out into Hamilton and find someone where to eat, midweek. We walked for a few moments down Beaumont Street when we stopped and looking into a shop front window, this is how we found, Indiana Raj.

From the outset it looked like someone’s living room, but we decided to give it a go and walked in to literally be greeted by the whole family. We were seated and ordered and oh my goodness did my taste buds do a little dance!!! This food was amazing and the experience didn’t stop there! After dinner, the music paused before following on with a loud bollywood track and the staff/family members encouraged all the patrons to get involved with a makeshift bollywood dancing class! Well, what fun I had, but I’m pretty pleased I’d had those 3 glasses of red wine prior!

And lastly my search for British, unsmoked bacon.

When Brad and I went back to the UK for our wedding, I had been in Australia 11 months. My mum asked me what I wanted in her flat food wise for when we were there. Hellmans and Bacon were on the top of the list.

Once Brad had his first taste of unsmoked British bacon there was no turning him back. He was a convert and walked miles every morning just to buy more bacon for us to have for breakfast.

We have not stopped searching for butchers in Australia who would leave this cut in it’s purest form and yet we constantly failed. I have been in Australia 4 years and 11 months and I had all but given up hope of ever achieving final tick on my list of three.

Last weekend I needed to go to a different shopping complex to pick up my engagement ring that had been in for a clean. I decided as I was there I would just do my weekly shop in the Coles. I was slowly pushing my trolley around as I had never been here before and I was concerned I would miss important food items, when a reduced sticker on a pack of pre-packaged bacon caught my eye!

Usually I get my bacon from the deli counter, but if there is a deal to be had I love getting them, so I walked over to the fridge and picked up this packet bacon to study it further. LOW.AND.BEHOLD the label read “Authentic British Bacon” Oh wow did my heart start racing, I checked the bacon itself and YES it was raw! There as a deal on the “not coming up to used by date” two packets for $10 so I through the reduced packet down and grabbed two fresh packets. How I couldn’t wait to get home and show hubby!

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We actually froze the two packets and had it for breakfast the following weekend and it was DELISH!

So there you have it! I have achieved everything on my tick list for things I really would like in my life here in Australia and less than 5 years have achieved them all. Yum yum yum! I just think it’s going to make me very poor buying $7 mayo and $10 for 500g of bacon!

OutBack Jacks – Glendale NSW – Review

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Brad and I have beautiful friends. Some we see often and some we don’t but when we do get together it’s like we were never apart. A friend of ours, Jason (who used to work with Brad) applied and got accepted to work  FIFO (fly in fly out) and one his last night in Newcastle we were lucky enough to catch up with him, his wife Alyson and his son Joey, for dinner at Outback Jacks.

Brad and I went to this establishment for the first time 3 years ago when it was Lone Star. WOW, what a disappointment that was! Brad had been raving about this place for weeks (after finding it at Glendale) and was desperate to get there. My white wine was warm, our entrées looked like they had been thrown on the plate and our mains failed to even come out. After 1 hour of waiting we were told our “dockets” had been misplaced. Needless to say, we got a full refund back and ended up at McDonald’s!

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Anyway, Lone Star changed hands and became Outback Jacks. Of course I was dubious when Brad suggested we go there for dinner one night….”it might be better” he said “we need to eat and we are right there” he proclaimed. When we got there then ambiance of the place was completely different, all the waitresses were wearing cowgirl hats and had huge smiles on their faces. We ordered and I’m happy to report the food was amazing! So this is why we went back!

We met A, J and J at the restaurant and they had already ordered their drinks, a beer, a cider and a coke. We had a quick look at the menu and progressed to order a house red and a beer also. I have to admit now that I was slightly surprised at paying $8.50 for a glass of house red (only known once I received the bill) but the wine was good, I’ll give it that! We all ordered.

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Jason ordered the Lump-a-Rump 500g rump steak with chips and salad. He ordered medium and I advised they cooked the steaks pretty on key so he went medium rare – this bloke has eaten blue with me before! He was super impressed with the way his steak was cut and how it came out. IMG_0911 Alyson ordered the chicken and ribs combo and unfortunately was the only dish on that was ordered that failed to come out with the rest of them, we thought it had not been cooked, but eventually it came out and A was very impressed and managed to finish it off! IMG_0916   Joey, as teenagers do, ordered the chicken schnitzel and gravy with chips and he was delighted with what was placed in front of him! IMG_0913   Brad opted for  what he had the time before, the Wagyu burger. WOW when it came out on a silver platter it was like dinning with a king! Hilarious but still delicious. I had a bite of Brads burger and normally trying to eat a steak burger doesn’t work for me with an over bite but it was that tender it just pulled apart! IMG_0915   And me, well I opted for the same I had last time, the Sparrows Rump at 300g. OMG it was huge! I ordered blue and pleased I did because I came out rare but I am happy with that. IMG_0912 IMG_0918

So again, a really successful trip to a franchised joint Outback Jacks! Go there people of Newcastle NSW you will not be disappointed!

 

Note: picture of outside and inside of outback jacks taken from google images.