2 Living the college dream... American football

It was like something out of Glee. The college football game I went to on the weekend was an absolute spectacle for the senses and one of the things I think I appreciate most about the American culture…  Americans really, really know how to throw themselves into something properly. The stadium was a sea of red, the chants were loud, the (friendly) heckling was serious - it was easy to get carried away on the sense of anticipation and excitement in the air.

Some of the things that were particularly fun -
·      Anyone who took their shirt off was guaranteed a spot on the big screen, especially when said shirtlessness was paired with some really bad dancing
·      Everyone who wasn't shirtless was wearing a red Rutgers top and despite the fact I bought a Rutgers hat, I still stuck out like a sore thumb in my white shirt with green underneath, which incidentally was the other team's colours (oops…)
·      "Tailgating"* before the game aka stuffing your face with barbeque food and drinking beer while kicking the (American) football around
·      The cannon that went off every single time the home team scored a touchdown and the horse that galloped out across the field – I thought I was dreaming the first time it all happened
·      Definitely the cheerleaders and dancers who I think I watched more than I watched the actual game itself (ps. I totally want to relive my "college" days so I can be a cheerleader!)
·      The 200 piece brass band – it really added to the sense of excitement when there was a touch down

- Running onto the field - band playing, fans screaming, smoke machine  
going... hard to be a college football star! - 
- The crowd and the standard gesture for a touchdown -

- Planning the next move ... and looking cool! -
- Getting ready for some play I didn't understand -
- ouch... -
- The Rutgers Scarlet Knight... had to take a photo so you'd believe me! -
- Tailgating pre-game -
Sound like an Aussie football game… much? I don't think so. I'm actually really looking forward to going to a game in winter, sitting there all rugged up, with my breath frosty in the air before me and a hot chocolate in my hands… in the meantime, I plan to rock out to the Black Eyed Peas in Central Park tomorrow night!

From New York, with love xox

* Park the car in a field outside the stadium and have a barbeque out of the boot/trunk

0 Eat your heart out in NYC

I cannot remember the last time I ate at home. In my defense, our kitchen is tiny. Soooo tiny that it doesn't have a cutlery draw. The owners removed it in the last renovation, deeming a wine fridge as far more important… which gives you some idea of how often New Yorkers use their kitchens. And who can blame them, when there are just so many fantastic restaurants around?

I (very happily) spent the weekend eating my way through NYC, with two food and wine loving friends L. and U. and of course, lovely husband C. We've been to a long list of visit worthy places since Thursday night, many of which I would gladly go back to… if there weren't so many other new places to explore that is.

- In no order... Jeffrey's Grocery, Third Rail coffee, Washington Square Park, Katz's Deli-
Here's where we visited:

To start the day off…
1.      Jeffrey's Grocery in the West Village – I know, I know, this has popped up in my posts at least three times... but it is just SO good. Love the food, the ambience, the service and the location.

2.      Katz's Deli in the Lower East side, aka where Harry met Sally way back in '89. It's huge, crowded and serves a mean pastrami sandwich.

3.      Philip Marie in the West Village – have to admit the décor isn't to my taste and the service was slow but our pancakes and salmon bagel were worth the wait.

For a late night dinner…
1.      August on Bleecker St in the West Village – lovely lighting, fabulous ambience and very delicious Mediterranean food.  

2.     11 Madison Park for a swanky degustation meal. The décor is a bit old money (as is the crowd), but loved the New York inspired degustation dishes.

3.      Fiat Café in Nolita – a tiny little café serving really good pasta, really cheap.

4.      Beyond Thai – simple and healthy (um, relatively speaking) to finish the weekend off (over an episode of Glee from season 2 – how good is that show?!)

Pre- and/or post-dinner drinks…
1.     Upholstery Wine Bar – an intimate wine bar with a relaxed crowd and an eclectic wine list, perfect for long, cold winter evenings spent slowly sipping red wine.

2.      Me Bar – an outdoor rooftop bar right under the Empire State Building - a more a relaxed feel and crowd than the usual NYC bar... don't dress up

3.      Pegu Club reminds me of a time when the British were colonialising the Asian countries. The cocktails are too die for.

1.     Molly's Cupcakes near the corner of Sixth Ave and Bleecker St in the West Village beats Magnolia Bakery hands down (but Magnolia is a rite of passage for a NYC visitor).

Right… having read that list, I think I need to go burn some calories – back to the Bar method classes for me!

From New York, with love xox

0 A day at the US Open...

Is it just me or do the weekends fly by? I feel like I blink and all of a sudden it's Sunday night and I'm packing for the week in Chicago again. I suspect it may have something to do with the amount of stuff we tend to cram in on the weekend. There's no time to slow down - there's just way too many fun things to do and try here in The Big City….

… so this weekend was no exception. We spent a day at the US Open watching Federer and Djokovic battle for entry into the men's final. I was firmly behind Fed – not only talented, but so gracious and humble as well.  It was an exciting match and I swear, there were times when you could have heard a pin drop in the stadium as the crowd held its breath to see the outcome of the point being played.

- Full house at the Arthur Ashe stadium -
- The start of a fun day -  
- Fed in action -
- It turned into a beautiful day -
- Watching the night game -
We went home quickly to get changed and headed out to a 10pm dinner at 5 ninth in the Meatpacking District. The nights are cooling down but we sat outside in the courtyard, drinking red wine and eating large plates of steaming fresh pasta. I realized as I was people watching that there's a very distinct "uniform" in the Meat Market Packing District (which I wasn't wearing) – sky high heels and short skirts are obligatory and if you really want to fit in, it helps to look like a model as well.

We wrapped up the night (morning?) with cocktails at Employees Only, a tiny little art deco bar in the West Village, rolling distance from our apartment. After a long sleep in and brunch at Kitchenette in Tribeca, we spent Sunday trying (unsuccessfully) to get down to the 9/11 memorial* and running errands around Soho and Chelsea.

Today was the first real fall day (or autumn, for us Australians!) – the stores have brought out their fall collections and the coats, boots and hats look like fun to wear… I can feel a winter shopping trip coming on very soon!

From New York, with love xox

* You need to reserve a time – we booked today and the earliest we can get in is 16 October

2 A little bit of Melbourne magic

Melbourne was recently chosen as the most liveable city in the world, which of course got me to thinking about all the things I grew to love about it in the seven years I was there. Its European feel, coffee culture and fabulous food are a few of the things that made life in Melbourne easy and always interesting.

Here's a few of the things I particularly adored about my Melbourne life… you may need to get yourself a coffee and settle in as I think this is the longest post I've ever written! Also, I should mention my fabulous mother in law took many of these amazing Melbourne photos the last weekend she visited us - thank you F. (xx).

No. 1 coffee
I mean, really good coffee. The kind that alerts and satisfies all the senses. I love that Melbourne has such a strong coffee culture, or coffee snobbery as I usually say, particularly when trying to explain to the Americans why Starbucks just doesn't cut it. Best places to go - Sensory Lab in the city and Noisette in Port Melbourne where you can also get a lovely, flaky pain au chocolat (oh ok, and a croissant and a peach danish… all in a breakfast for one!).

- A Friday coffee morning on Little Collins St -
No. 2 brunches
Brunch has to come a close second to coffee as one of Melbourne's delights. Weekend mornings are lazy as Melburnians soak up the sunshine in café courtyards over scrumptious food and newspapers. We loved eating at Q11 in South Melbourne and Nacional and Mart 130 in Middle Park.

- Brunches to die for from Nacional in Middle Park, they also serve
Noisette breads -
No. 3 restaurants in general
The food in Melbourne is spectacular and I (luckily) got to eat at many of the best spots – Vue de Monde, Jacques Reymond, Hellenic Republic, Cutler and Co, Gingerboy, Grossi Florentino, Circa The Prince, Movida to name (and highly recommend) a few. I could write a whole three pages on this but think I should just leave it there. 

No. 3 the Bay
Walking along the Bay is always interesting – it's fun on a stormy night, getting buffeted by the wind and doused in sea spray, it's fun in the spring as the sun starts to shine again and it's at its best on a balmy summer evening – the healthy among us play beach volleyball (not me…), romantic couples hold seaside picnics and friends eat fish and chips with their hands while sitting on the low wall overlooking the water.

- We could always hear the Spirit of Tasmania leaving every evening...
a friendly toot of the ship's horn -
No. 5 horses
My little getaway from the inner city. I love the outdoors, the sunshine and the smell of the country. Each ride on Miss Millie was different as she thought up exciting ways (for her) to spice up our dressage training. As you may guess, our thoughts differed quite a lot on what constituted as fun. 

- Miss Millie and I -
- MM's favourite things - eating, finishing up for the day and staring
dreamily into the distance! -
No. 6 our little Victorian house
Originally built in the early 1900's, as a dock workers cottage, it was renovated (extensively) before lovely husband C. and I bought it in 2007. All we had to do was fix the courtyard and then we settled in to enjoy the place. Luckily for us, there's a gorgeous little family renting it now and hopefully they're loving it as much as we do! 

- Workers cottage rooftops in Port Melbourne -
- Our very own workers cottage! For rent : ( -
- Our lovely courtyard - home of many long brunches and dinner and
many glasses of superb Australian wine -
Where does New York rank I hear you thinking? Well that’s number 50 something…

From New York, with love xox

2 Favourite Photo: West Village Garage

The mad weeks just keep piling up at the moment. The only thing that got me through my hectic work week was the thought of coming home to my New York apartment, which is now filled with all my favourite things from my Melbourne house.

A few other fabulous things of note this week – lovely husband C. starts his new job on Wednesday as a very important consultant – he'll be working in Orlando, Chicago (where I am!) and New York. In between negotiating his contract and unpacking the rest of the house, the same lovely husband started to hang our paintings, making our little part of New York feel more like home. Finally, we bought ourselves our first "real" camera - a DSLR. My favourite photo this week is one of what I hope are a series of fun photos I accidentally take as I'm trying to learn how to use it.

- A West Village side street -
Happy Weekend!

From New York, with love xox