Monday, June 22, 2015

Strawberry and Watermelon Cake at Blackstar Pastry, Sydney

It was a small cake cafe called Blackstar Pastry and there were people spilling out of the shop, sitting or standing holding a beautifully coloured layered confection called the strawberry and watermelon cake. According to the shop's website, the cake consists of two layers of almond dacquoise, fresh whipped cream, watermelon, strawberries, Iranian pistachios and rose petals. It was really unusual to have a layer of water melon in a cake. Apparently, this cake has gained quite a cult status in Sydney through social media. 

Darnell Bed and Breakfast on the Gib, Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia

Over the years, I have been to a few Bed and Breakfast places in different parts of the world to stay and my experience has taught me not to expect too much. In some cases, the pictures on the website do not match what I see in reality. But Darnell Bed and Breakfast at Mittagong was really quite different.

My friends and I had trouble finding the place in the night as it turns dark very quickly in winter and it doesn't help when we took a wrong route in the foggy weather. But we heaved a sign of relief when we finally got there. The place was warm and inviting, a contrast to the cold and dark environment we came in from. It also looked as if the pictures of my favorite British magazine Living Etc popped out to life. The poster bed, the black and white tiles of the bathroom and of course the bath itself were elegantly beautiful.Think we took so many pictures upon arrival that it surprised our hosts Melinda and Jerry. We even posed for a picture - all 4 of us in the Jacuzzi of one of our rooms.

Our hosts were very warm , just like the real fireplace that greeted us in the morning for breakfast. Wished we could have met their little daughter Abby who was already off to school in the early morning. A wonderful bed and breakfast place nestled among the peaceful upper slopes of Mt Gibraltar and just 5 minutes drive from Bowral and Mittagong. This place was built with the intention of having a separate guest wing so it is really like having your own private space, something quite rare for a B and B place. Darnell Bed and Breakfast on the Gib deserves its no 1 rank in Mittagong's Bed and Breakfast recommendations in tripadvisor.

Darnell Bed and Breakfast on the Gib
197 Oxley Drive, Mittagong NSW 2575

Henry, the life size mannequin with attitude greets you at the door

Our balcony overlooks Mt Gibraltar Reserves and the personal wing of our hosts

A place to chop wood for the fireplace in winter

Abby's little playground on the site of Darnell B and B 

Dirty Jane's Emporium and Market Place at Bowral , New South Wales, Australia

It is called Dirty Jane's Emporium and Market Place, a huge warehouse or shall I say Aladdin 's Cave full of antique treasures from over 60 independent sellers. These sellers are not based there as all selling are handled by just a few service staff based on a consignment model. Every antique already has a price tag and if you fancy a piece of vintage treasure, just bring it to the counter to pay. You could also call for service if you want to find out more about the antique chest of drawers that caught your eye. Everything is pretty relaxed here and I just love how everything is displayed. It feels like you've just walked in to someone's kitchen or dining room in the 60s. 

I spent quite a few hours browsing through it, reminiscing how things were better made to last back in those good old days. Being a collector, I was so tempted to buy the drinks trolley but it would be too much a hassle of trying to get it back to Singapore. 

An early cash register 

Fancy making house calls in that beautiful doctor bag

A beautiful butter dish 

A lovely shade of green for this vintage kitchen piece.

A modern paper light pendent amidst the old treasures

Washing clothes was done by hand and a good ole washboard back in the old days

Vintage Tea Salon @ Dirty Jane's Emporium, Bowral, New South Wales, Australia

Took a day trip to Bowral with my friend Cynthia. It was a little town just an hour and a half away from Sydney by car. Her friends were going there for a side trip and asked if we would like to join them. All I heard was that it was a quaint little town which had vintage stuff. That got me interested.

It turned out better than I had expected. Our first stop was at the Vintage Tea Salon located within a place with the most unusual name - Dirty Jane's Emporium and Market Place. The tea place was small but BEAUTIFUL ! Even the patrons at the cafe were so elegant. Two stylishly dressed ladies across our table looked like they have been going there every afternoon and I'm sure the Sartorialist would have loved to be there to take their picture. I was just too shy to do so as they looked like they were in the midst of a very private conversation.

The Vintage Tea Salon is run by a mother and daughter team whom we learned actually spent a number of years in Singapore. They lived at Cairnhill where the daughter spent most of her growing up years. It really is a small world after all. Ordered the 3 tier tea set which came with an assortment of the most delicately made cakes and pastries. The lowest tier had savory items - a salmon with dill sandwich, a chicken sandwich and an egg one with a little quiche at the side.  I love the egg sandwich in particular. The bread was fluffy soft and the egg within it, light with just the right amount of seasoning.

The second tier consists of a pavlova and scones accompanied by lemon curd and the most delicious raspberry jam which had delicate touches of fragrant rose water.

And on the top tier - a chocolate tart that isn't cloyingly sweet, my favourite orange and almond cake and a fairy cupcake. Had the princess tea which was very similar to my favourite TWG Silvery Moon back home - a green tea with notes of berry. The tea set also came with pumpkin soup served in pretty china teacups. I never liked pumpkin soup or cream soups in particular but this was light and spiced so delicately with cinammon. Each tea set costs $25 which is so reasonable for its quality not to mention the vintage ambience. I heard it is very hard to get seating over the weekends as the place is very small. Good thing we were here on a Monday.

Dainty and delicate. Just lovely.

Vintage Tea Salon @ Dirty Jane's Emporium
Entry via Banyetter St. Bowral - Southern Highlands