new & notable in melbourne

Just a quick stay in Melbourne this trip, I didn’t have time for a whole lot of new but made a point of getting to some of the places I’ve been dying to get to for awhile. Melbourne never disappoints!

NEW

The Hub General Store:  Down a back street in Collingwood there’s a charming little brick building that houses a million and one basic treasures from around the world. Need a scrub brush? A bar of soap? A bunch of clothespins? How about a loaf of freshly baked bread and a jar of local creamed honey? Or maple syrup from America? A children’s book or miniature stuffed animal? A notebook and a pen or pencil perhpas?  You get the gist.

Piled high and a bit of a treasure hunt, the every day is elevated to the sublime. And before you get to those everyday treasures, there’s a small gallery in front where invited artists treat visitors with a different sort of sensory experience. When I was there the gallery was overstuffed with big, round, white balloons — a stark contrast to the slowly deflating black balloons creeping up and around the exterior facade. Simple objects raised to the level of art.

36 Cambridge Street, Collingwood

Higher Ground:  The new CBD restaurant brought to you by the same folks that own Kettle Black. It’s another beautiful space with unique all day dining. Located in an old power station just across the way from the Southern Cross station, it has soaring ceilings and various seating arrangements from traditional tables, to common tables and cozy lounge areas across multiple floors. Look for their signature beautiful brunch dishes like this polenta porridge offering

and some unusual and interesting fare. Expect a wait even on a weekday. But worth it.

650 Little Burke Street, CBD

NOTABLE

Lune Croissanterie:  Not new but certainly notable, Lune might just be a national treasure if that can be said of a bakery in Australia that specializes in signature French pastries. Proclaimed as being the best croissants in the world by The New York Times no less, the lines can snake out the door and around the block to purchase croissants that can cost upwards of $12+ each. Open from 7:30 AM until sold out most days, get there early, stand in line and make sure whatever concoction of a croissant you indulge in, your box of goodies (yes, you will purchase many because each looks better than the next) includes at least one classic ham & gruyere — it’s buttery, crunchy, salty and cheesy goodness not to be missed.

119 Rose Street, Fitzroy

Meatsmith:  This absolutely fabulous (and beautiful) butchery is from my favorite local chef, Andrew McConnell, where you can get the best cuts of meat from local farmers, Australian wines, spectacular condiments in simple glass jars (they make great gifts!) and other specialty grocery items. But I am here to tell you about the house made lasagna.

If you need a heat and serve meal, this one is sublime. Ready in just 30 minutes, it’s rich, meaty, creamy, tasty and the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of red — or maybe that’s the other way around. At any rate, it will only set you back $22 and serves 2-3. My recommendation — leave it in the oven a bit longer to crisp the top to a crunchy charred finish. (My little heat and serve disaster actually turned out to make it that much better!)

273 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Bobbie Burns Shiraz:  No it’s not a place in Melbourne. But If you’re looking for a nice bottle of wine to pair with your lasagna, consider this 2013 vintage from Victorian winery Campbells

I am not a wine connoisseur but I do know what I like. I found this smooth and easy to drink. I liked it so much I came home and bought 6 bottles here in America. And don’t be fooled by the twist top bottle — it’s an Aussie thing.

 

gift guide 2017

Objects of DesireWho wouldn’t want one of these beauties adorning their desk?  The Glass House Snow Globe $75 and the 14K Gold Plated Slinky $150, both from the Glass House Design Store. The rubber band ball gets a make over in designer black & white $9 from The Line.

BAH Humbug!Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year and sometimes, you just have to celebrate the bad times. The snow globe that says it all $60 from Artware Editions. A dram a day Advent Calendar, available with a range of alcoholic pleasures from Whiskey to Tequila or customize your own mix. $110 – $308 from Master of Malt. And for the naughty ones. . . shiny coal all wrapped up in a beautiful Tiffany Blue box  $12,95 at Amazon.com.

My Favorite ThingsI’m pretty particular about the objects I let into my life these days but these items are most definitely worthy! The new space saving cookware by Calphalon — why didn’t somebody think of this years ago?  Available in both non-stick (pictured) and stainless steel it’s a bargain at just $381 for the 10 piece set at Macy’s. It’s a splurge to spend $125 on a candle but it’s also a beautiful reproduction bust from a 1777 sculpture by a French candle company that has been producing since 1624. Pretty special if you ask me. And lastly, the most ingenious teapot I have ever seen. I used this at my hotel in Lisbon and ordered one to be delivered to my house before I even arrived home thanks to the internet. Made by MENU of heat-resistant glass, when the tea reaches your desired strength simply pull on the silicone string to lift the infuser out of the water — no dripping, no mess. Keep tea warm over a tealight candle with the add on porcelain and silicone studded base. Apprx. $120 for the two pieces (candles not included).

The One Thing We Should All Have Rarely do we spend the money on something like this ourselves. Exactly why this makes the perfect gift! The most comprehensive survival kit on the market, with everything you may need to stay alive for 72 hours after an emergency. From Uncharted Supply Company $350

simple solutions

So simple. So Smart. A good looking bin to hold your grocery bags that hold your recycling. I’m in.  $48 from Rebin.

worthwhile investment

I never thought i could love a machine quite so much. And worth every bit of that $450 price tag it is!  I make smoothies every morning for breakfast — have for years. But after going through a slew of bar blenders in just the past year, it was time to upgrade. And now I get up every morning excited to take my Rolls Royce of blenders for a spin. Fast, easy, efficient and self-cleaning. That is my favorite part — just fill half way with warm water, add a couple drops of soap and blend for 30 seconds. Done and ready for the next morning when I might indulge in one of my favorite smoothie recipes:

1 cup unsweetened chocolate  almond milk
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 small avocado
1T almond butter
1-2T ground chia seeds
agave syrup to taste
Ice

Place ingredients in blender jar in the order listed. Turn blender on low and slowly ramp up speed to high. Blend for 30 seconds on high. Pour and enjoy!

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how do you hydrate?

The latest fashion accessory is a good looking water bottle. Here are some favorites:

1. The classic Swell bottle comes in multiple sizes (go big!) and more designs than you can imagine. The fashionable choice: monochromatic solids and metallics  2. Corksicle’s non-slip, easy grab shape makes it unique  3. This BPA free plastic number, is easy to use with a flip top/carry ring, one hand operation and comfortable wide mouth is a winner in the functionality department. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe. From Contigo  4.  Easy to look at perhaps hard to use, the notebook style water bottle fits easy in a pocket or purse.  5. Boho chic, the good old fashioned canning jar gets a new life with screw in beverage top.  6. If you’re going to have a small opening water bottle you gotta have one of these.

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funny face

plates-stackA funny little collaboration between Case Studio and artist Jean Jullian. An assortment of porcelain plates equally suited for eating as objects of decor. Six different sizes and assorted retro colors in each set. Certain to make you smile!

plates-asstdAvailable here in limited edition only.  Apprx US $260

packaged-plates

soup’s on

2-piece-soup-and-sandwich-setIt’s cold and rainy here in California and freezing in just about every other part of the country so soup seems the perfect meal for everyone about now. Love these soup and sandwich mug/plate combos designed by Barbara Eigen for Crate & Barrel. The mug is ample sized and can also be used for cereal, ice cream, fruit salad or just about anything destined for a bowl. $12.95 set. Matching soup tureen sold separately.

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holy menorasaurs!

minorasaursI can’t imagine a family who celebrates Hanuakah with kids that wouldn’t appreciate one of these fantastical dinosaur menorahs. A sure way to make the holiday fun for all. $85 each from The Vanilla Studio.

dear sir madam

sir-madam-a sir-madam-bRarely do I come across a single homewares company from which I could purchase so much and simply love everything. But walking by the Sir|Madam booth at this Fall’s NYC Gift Show, I was smitten. First by a simple baby swaddle blanket that can be customized with birth stats and then slowly but surely, one by one, nearly everything in their booth. Pitchers that recall Morandi, tote bags that turn into picnic blankets, French cafe bowls, love letter napkins, the most amazing collection of wooden spoons, old world sheers and candlesticks . . . the list goes on.

For a simple gift this holiday season, check out their grand cups ($20 ea). Pair a “Hero” cup with a small tin of organic tea (find my favorites here) and you have the perfect teacher gift. But I dare you to not buy more goodies for your favorite cook, your best friend, your resident Francophile, a hopeless romantic or just for yourself . . .

 

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