Weekend Wanderings…


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Over the weekend I had such a wonderful time celebrating both my birthday, and my Mum’s! My family came down to visit so we could catch up, exchange gifts and enjoy a beautiful dinner together.

Saturday afternoon we hung out at home, catching up and chatting over some lunch which was very nice. As we don’t all live in Sydney we try and see each other every few months and I really cherish these times together.

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That night I had made a booking at one of my favourite local venues, The Potting Shed. The decor and styling of this place still blows me away each and every time we visit. It was certainly bustling for a Saturday night, and the food was delicious as always.

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We had such a great weekend together, and celebrating birthdays is always such a fun time in my household! Growing up, birthdays were very high on the celebration list so it’s nice to continue the tradition on (even though we may rather forget the fact that we’re continuing to get older!)

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Have you visited The Potting Shed? Are birthdays a big deal in your household?

Wedding: Jordana+Brett

JordanaCohen-2A sunny Sunday morning in Watson’s Bay, the perfect setting for a engagement party brunch. This is exactly what most of the guests who arrived for Jordana and Brett’s special day thought were in for. Little did they know, that in just over an hours time the happy couple would become husband and wife!

As guests arrived at the house of Jordana’s parents, they were treated to beautiful fresh breakfast treats, coffees and juices. Many of the guests mingled amongst themselves, taking time to wish the happy couple all the best for their recent engagement. Only a select few in the crowd were in on the little secret.

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As Jordana and Brett stood up to say a few words many in the crowd were none the wiser, only assuming the couple were standing up to thank them all for attending and sharing in the special day. What happened next had quite a few of the guests in shock! The couple announcing that not only were they planning on getting married, they were doing so in 30mins time!

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The guests were directed down the stairs towards Gibsons Beach where the chuppah was set up ready for the wedding to take place. Jordana and Brett followed behind accompanied by their parents, walking them towards the ceremony all holding hands as Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ played.

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After the ceremony, I headed to capture some gorgeous photos of the newly married couple! We had the perfect backdrop of Watson’s Bay and surrounds which made for some beautiful photographs of the pair. Looking so in love, Jordana and Brett were naturals in front of the camera so it made my job very easy!

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Once back upstairs at the house, it was time for some words from the groom about his gorgeous wife and the afternoon’s festivities. Brunch was served up in the kitchen and guests were invited to help themselves to so many delicious treats. All in all, a perfect surprise Sunday wedding with a gorgeous couple!

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MONA, Hobart

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No trip to Tasmania would be complete without staying in Hobart and taking a trip out to MONA. The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is an art museum located on the Berriedale peninsula and it is the largest privately funded museum in Australia. The museum presents antiquities, modern and contemporary art from the David Walsh collection. Walsh has described the museum as a “subversive adult Disneyland.”

MONA was officially opened on 21 January 2011. Along with its frequently updated indoor collection, MONA also hosts the annual MOFO and Dark Mofo festivals which showcase large-scale public art and live performances.

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One of the most enjoyable ways to visit the gallery is aboard the Mona Roma. It takes roughly half an hour, so you can sit back have a coffee and some breakfast all while relaxing and taking in the surrounds of Hobart along the river. The captain even provides some tourist commentary for guests on board so you learn quite a thing or two about the local area along the way!

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The single-story MONA building appears at street level to be dominated by its surroundings, but its interior possesses a spiral staircase that leads down to three larger levels of labyrinthine display spaces built into the side of the cliffs around Berriedale peninsula. The decision to build it largely underground was taken, according to Walsh, to preserve the heritage setting of the two Roy Grounds houses on the property. Walsh has also said that he wanted a building that “could sneak up on visitors rather than broadcast its presence … ‘a sense of danger’ that would enliven the experience of viewing art”.

There are no windows and the atmosphere is intentionally ominous. On entering the museum, visitors descend a “seemingly endless flight of stairs”, an experience one critic compared with “going down into Petra”. To see the art, the visitor must work back upwards towards the surface, a trajectory that has been contrasted with the descending spiral that many visitors follow in New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

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The museum houses over 400 artistic works from David Walsh’s private collection. Notable works in its inaugural exhibition, Monanism, include Sidney Nolan’s Snake, displayed publicly for the first time in Australia; Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional, a machine which turns food into excrement; Stephen Shanabrook’s On the road to heaven the highway to hell, remnants from asuicide bomber cast in dark chocolate; and Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary.

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The art inside MONA is unlike any I have seen before. It really is a sensory overload in some ways, but very enjoyable. Each and every piece is so interesting and detailed that it can take some time to see all the exhibits. We visited on a weekday, which meant there were less crowds and thankfully easier to get up close and personal with each piece, allowing us time to learn more about them individually and without the need to feel rushed.

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After we took in all of the gallery, we ascended the stairs to find a glorious afternoon outside, so enjoyed a beautiful lunch at the cafe with a local beer and wine, also from the same grounds! MONA is certainly a must do for anyone travelling to Tasmania, and be sure to set aside a whole day if you wish to see all of the art and then move on to visit the Moorilla winery and enjoy some local produce and beer too.

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Museum of Old and New Art

655 Main Road Berriedale
Hobart Tasmania 7011
Australia +61 (3) 6277 9900

Wed-Mon 10am-6pm

Have you visited MONA?

What is your favourite art gallery in the world?

Weekend Wanderings…

LeahStanistreet-3 On Friday, I celebrated my birthday! It was a fun filled day, and the husband and I even took it off work so it was even better. We began the morning with a little sleep in, before heading down to Coogee where we had some scrumptious breakfast by the ocean and strolling along the sand. Nothing makes me quite as happy as the beach does, so it was the perfect way to kick start an awesome day of celebrations.

We visited The Lemon Tree in Australia Square with some friends for lunch. It is a beautiful Italian restaurant, with gorgeous white decor and delicious pastas and wine. I was spoilt with gifts and we had such a wonderful lunch!

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That afternoon I had arranged some birthday drinks at a Mexican inspired bar in the city called El Loco. It was so great to catch up with so many friends who dropped in to celebrate with a birthday drink! As usual, February is a killer for humidity here in Sydney, so sadly we didn’t stay very long as it was just too damn hot! We ended up back at a friends house (who thankfully has air conditioning!) to enjoy the rest of the evening – thanks Ben!

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Harvest in The Hunter

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We all know how much my husband and I enjoy our wine. This certainly is no secret if you read this blog on a regular basis! So when I saw an event come up through The Wine Society, I knew it would be a perfect gift for Ryan’s birthday.

With the help of my parents and sister we purchased two tickets for Harvest in the Hunter. It was a day long event, departing Sydney bright and early on a Sunday morning to take the trip up to visit one of our all time favourite vineyards.

Margan Hunter Valley Wines has over 320 acres of its own vineyards and a state of the art winery, all located in the beautiful sub-region of Broke Fordwich in the Lower Hunter Valley. We have visited many times before, wine tasting and eating at the beautiful restaurant, but this trip was a little different. We were going to have a personal tour from Andrew Margan and his wife Lisa, explaining the wine making process and then a 3 course lunch with matching wines before heading home to Sydney later that afternoon.

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The weather was absolutely perfect for our trip, and on arrival we were greeted with some delicious Margan Style Range Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling 2012. This gave us plenty of opportunity for some photographs of the beautiful building and surrounding gardens, before we headed off with Andrew for a tour of the vineyard.

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Once inside, we were met by Andrew Margan who gave us a brief history in to his background in the wine industry. Following in his fathers footsteps, he entered the wine industry over 20 years ago, working as a “Flying Winemaker” in Europe, then for Tyrrells before starting Margan Hunter Valley Wines.

Andrew places immense importance on making wines in a style that suits the vineyards where the grapes are grown and making his own wines in his own winery, and putting his name on the bottle of unblended wine as a point of difference.

We began to understand the process in which the grapes are harvested and slowly produced in to wine. As it is currently harvest time in the Hunter Valley, there was a lot to be shown and even taste while Andrew talked us through all the steps involved.

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We were very lucky to be so hands on during the tour, looking at different varietals and and techniques used to create such delicious wines. We could ask many questions, and really had an in depth look behind the scenes of the wine making process.

The Hunter Valley had been hit by some large storms earlier this year, so right now the winemakers of the region are determining the damage to their vintage for 2015. It is a shame as the 2014 vintage was superb for the Hunter Valley, one that hadn’t been rivalled since the 1960’s and this year was looking to follow in it’s footsteps. I think everyone in the industry is hoping for a chance to produce some quality wines for 2015 despite the terrible weather conditions.

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As the weather was almost a little too nice and the temperature was soaring, we were lucky enough to enjoy our beautiful 3 course lunch inside the barrel room which was also air conditioned! Before we sat down, we were lucky enough to taste some wines straight from the oak barrels as Andrew talked us through the ageing process.

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Once we were seated for lunch, we were introduced to Andrew’s wife Lisa Margan, who works side by side to Andrew in the running of the Margan winery, restaurant and kitchen garden.

Having a background in nutrition and as a chef, Lisa works with her kitchen team to design seasonally inspired menus which change monthly and reflect the excellent produce available at that time. Care and attention in sourcing quality ingredients ensures that food does not have to be over processed in the kitchen prior to presentation in the restaurant. She oversees every aspect of the restaurant to ensure visitors receive an unsurpassed food and wine experience.

As well as working with Andrew to design the stunning rammed earth building which houses the new tasting room and restaurant, Lisa oversaw and styled the landscaping and internal fit out. Andrew contributes to the restaurant by overseeing the kitchens vegetable garden and orchard as well as putting together a wine list of Margan wines and also some of his personal favourites from Australia and beyond.

LeahStanistreet-47Entree – salmon pastrami, cucumber, kohlrabi, rye; Margan Range Semillon 2014, White Label Aged Release Semillon 2009

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LeahStanistreet-48Main – slow cooked Margan lamb, spiced yoghurt, caper, raisin; Margan Range Shiraz 2013, White Label Barbera 2012

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LeahStanistreet-53Dessert – chocolate cremeaux, peanut sponge, salted peanut ice cream; Botrytis Semillon 2014, Botrytis Semillon 2010

After dessert we finished off the amazing day of wine and food with a stroll through the kitchen garden with Lisa. This is one thing I really love about Margan, the fresh produce and quality of each dish that is presented is second to none.

After such an incredible day, it was such a shame that we needed to hop back on the bus and make the journey back to Sydney! It really does make us appreciate the Hunter Valley and all it has to offer, and being so close to Sydney it is somewhere that everyone should visit.

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