#BlogAlong in March is all about travel. Our love for travel and of course your love for travel too.
Being an Army kid, as cliched as it sounds, travelling is in my blood. It’s what keeps life exciting, right? And every time I get extremely nostalgic about returning to India, Arjun always reminds me that I am a fauji bacha. ‘Ours is not to question why, ours is but to travel, and keep life on the fly‘
Excuse my extremely bad rhyme, but you know what I mean eh!
It’s December already? Wasn’t it the start of this year just a teensy while back? I feel like a goldfish, purely because I’m trying to remember what all I got up to in the past year, and I just am unable to. It all flew by in a whiz. Pffffft.
I do know where some of my last few months went; being so caught up with work and home that the blog was ignored. But see how loyal I am to our monthly #BlogAlong, that Upasna, Pooja and I host every first Sunday of the month. It’s pretty much the one thing that I make sure I post to the blog lately. So much to share with you and so little I actually am. I am not going to jump the gun and start spouting my New Years resolutions, not just yet. However what I do want to share is my favourite memories of the year that was 2015.
Lately, Arjun Singh and I are saving all our moolah and energy for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef for New Years Eve, so most of the weekends go by binge-watching The Walking Dead. So when I sat down to write this post and recapped some fun times, all I could picture were zombies running after me. Ugh. Not good. So flash-backed a bit more, and realised it wasn’t all zombies and lazy time. 2015 was special in so so many ways, and the following are just a few of my favourite blog posts of the last one year.
The Hobo Road Trip: 5 friends, one car, 6000 kms, and some epic memories
We drove all the way from Melbourne to the Gold Coast and back, meandering here and there, and created memories to last a lifetime. Along the way, we discovered this trippy little town Nimbin, the story of which I shared with you all a while back. What a trip. haha.
Starting my #MarketsofMelbourne series for the blog
I love markets, and Melbourne has a gazillion of these. Ranging from farmers markets, to art and craft, to food festivals, its a crazy smorgasbord here. Just another reason for me to get up and go market-walking every other weekend, but hey it’s all for a good cause, innit. (Albeit I am behind on the posts, but too many markets, one little me: Hold on for 2016, it’s going to be market heaven here :) )
A vacation which consisted of wine-tasting, lazy strolls in wine-yards, and lots of me and him time. Do I need to list out any other reason at all why this made it in here? :) Yes, there is so much more to do in Barossa other than wines, and which you should definitely experience them when you are there. But the wines, oh the wines, I swear it’s like it’s literally in the air up there.
When My Recipe Got Featured On Buzzfeed
What a win! And it was a Himachali recipe of mine, to boot. It’s not like I am super creative or a hyper-perfectionist or pull out all stops with the food styling and my food photography with the blog. All I want to get right is the detail and the colors. And then one day I wake up to tons of traffic on the blog, directed from Buzzfeed, and you just smile to yourself, knowing yes, that’s a Win for today!
2015 is also special because this is the year I started my blog link up party with two absolutely delightful blogger gal-pals and we LOVE it. Every month, we get alarm-clocked by the enthu-cutlet (you know we heart you Pooja), and then we put on our blogger hats and come up with our topics for that month. It’s pretty much an endless discussion on food, and travel, and then some more food. The way to our hearts is ALSO through our gluttonous stomachs. And eyes.
We hope you are enjoying the #BlogAlong as much as we are. This is as much your link up party as it is ours, and we want you to tell us if you have any exciting ideas for us to #BlogAlong about in 2016.
Phew. I did manage to get up to a lot this year. No wonder I am so tired. Haha. The last month of this year and I are going to continue to make some wonderful memories, and ring in 2016 with its wonderful delights. Am glad I had a chance to recap some of my favorite blogging memories with you all, and I cannot wait to read a round up of yours.
Hello there, lovely people. I realised that in all the absence and then some action, my Markets of Melbourne feature has been very badly ignored. And I feel horrible. Truly, I do.
So keeping you all as witnesses, this I solemnly swear that henceforth, I shall not ignore this series. As promised, every 2 months, I shall take you all on a jaunt around Melbourne via its charming and vibrant market life.
The weather hasn’t been all that great these last few weeks, and try as I might, I hadn’t been able to make a trip to the market that I really wanted to share next with you all. However, the gods were kind, and finally the week before last, the sun shone through and I ran to get my fill of the Esplanade Market.
With a location that adjoins St Kilda beach on one side, and the bustling Acland Street with its cafes on the other, the Esplanade Market couldn’t be a more fun experience for a Sunday morning. So read on for some of the things that make this market different from some of Melbourne’s other markets.
Esplanade Market, St Kilda
Established in the year 1970, the St Kilda Esplanade Market was originally known as the Art Bank, serving as a showcase venue for art and craft. The market is held every Sunday from 10 am onwards, and is one of the best places in Melbourne to source curios and souvenirs which are different from regular commercial establishments. Being purely an arts and craft market, you are bound to find interesting knick knacks as people showcase their super creative talent. Seeing all those wonderful stalls, I was quite amazed that there are such myriad ways of showcasing your talent to the world. Just goes to show that no idea is too big or too small.
Read on for the things that caught my eye at the Esplanade market. There were tons of delightful things but these were the ones I found the most unique. Head on over to the market in case you feel curious enough to discover the other quirky curios.
Creative artist Imbi makes these cute and super quirky pieces from natural material like wood, gum nuts, and seed pods. She fashions these raw materials into cute little animals like owls, rats, or even little fairy huts, and mushroom homes.
How cute are they? And in case you’re wondering how the heck do I pronounce the name of the shop, just wood will do real fast and you are there my friend. thatoldo too.
Aah, the pets my dreams are made of.. Dogs. Whenever I come across anything pooch related and cute, I feel so happy. And the Jolly Wagtails (how adorable is that name) stall at the Esplanade market offers a myriad of all things nice, and all things bright for our pet pooches. Described as a Moroccan bazaar for dogs, the stall offers customised collars, pet coats, pet soaps, and the like. But what caught my eye was this colorful holdall that actually serves as a bed AND carry-all for your pet.
Simply lay it down for your precious (and tiny) dog to lie down in, and when you want to stroll down the market, just pick ’em up. Brilliant. And so pretty!
III. The Timber Shack
Enlarged photo prints on recycled wooden frames. How ingenious is that. And environment friendly too. Plus looks quite vintage too. And that is all the rage nowadays.
I want the one with the superheroes on them. How old am I!
IV. This yummy looking Banana Milkshake candle
V. Anatolian food
Are you thinking what I was thinking? What is Anatolian food?? Well, I had no clue too. But there was a food truck there called Kurbside Kravings specialising in Anatolian food and I was curious. One look at the menu and I knew I wanted some. They were serving Anatolian street food with a twist, and the options were a good mix of lamb and seafood with the middle eastern type yogurt based sauces that I really love. I got me a grilled fish sandwich with tons of salad and a sauce that was very much like tsatziki, while Arjun tried a chicken and cheese burek from another stall. One bite of the sandwich and I was hooked. Anatolian street food has a new fan, me!
The market website says that these mugs are Lord Of The Rings inspired but you know what they made me think of? The little tea cup in Beauty and the Beast. I know I am definitely picking one of these up in my next saunter to the market.
I love wooden boxes. And especially wooden boxes with carvings. Reminds me of the stuff I used too buy with my mom in the markets of Srinagar, or the ones my aunt and cousins would buy for me from Lakkar Bazaar in Shimla.
But at the Esplanade market, I discovered a whole new type of carving on wooden boxes. Flamin’ carvings, made right there in front of you by Mick, based on a design you want or customised to any of the multiple stencils that Mick has to offer. The designs are carved on to the boxes and signs by using a hot wire, so we have a bit of the theatrics happening as designs are being made too. Quite unique, I must say, and definitely a good idea for a birthday or going away gift. Mental bookmark made.
VIII. Flattened Glass Bottle Art as Cheese Boards
I saw these flattened bottles way back in 2012, in a craft market at London, Camden if I remember correctly, and went crazy about them. Got them back for friends, got one back for my future house (unfortunately that broke :( ). However, at the Esplanade market, I saw them being used in a novel manner: as a cheese board.
Looked gorgeous. My only concern was how functional were they really. While Arjun Singh was more curious about how they managed to remove the labels so neatly off the bottle and then adhere them back to the flattened bottle. (yeah, my husband has a thing for taking off bottle labels and pasting them all over the house. He was just trying ti get more professional about it!)
So there you have it. My trip through one of Melbournes favorite crafts market, the Esplanade Market at St Kilda. If you liked what you saw (and read), and are curious for more, head on over there one of these Sundays.
Have any of you been to this market? What did you like the most? What all did you buy?
If you liked this post, please do let me know by leaving a comment below or sharing this on social media. I might be lazy but I do make it a point to acknowledge your appreciation.
#BlogAlong April 2016 invites you to share food stories. This post has been one of my most favourite ones to write and got so much love so I had to share it again with everyone. Come along and #BlogAlong and share your FOOD stories, no limits or holds barred :)
That’s what Arjun Singh must have felt when we were in the Barossa because guess who was the designated driver? Hehe…But it was either him or me and ummm, I don’t drive that well, so poor him. So he kept up the conscientious resolve…. Until we reached the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre. And I signed us up both for the Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting, which included a tour of ….the vineyards (duh!), and a complimentary tasting of 7 of their premium blends. He was not going to give up on THAT.
Jacobs Creek is one of the biggest wine makers from Australia, and their wines are grown and made all over the South; Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra. However, it is at Barossa that their visitor centre is located and where you meet the elves in Jacob ‘Claus’ Creek’s wine workshop. Haha, I wish there were elves. Maybe there are. But we’ll never know ;)
The centre offers a host of tours and tasting experiences to cater to all types of visitors: the foodie, the history-buff, the environmentalist, the wine-lover. The photographer? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong. The premises are beautiful, the setting is elegant and scenic.
You are treated to views of the grape plantation spread over the rolling hills. It’s quite a sight. However visitors aren’t really allowed to visit the plantation in Barossa. You are only allowed access to the visitor centre, and a dedicated green patch where you can relax on picnic style benches, and leisurely take in the views, while lying back on super comfy bean bag style mattresses. There is also a special area that is exclusive to the vineyard tour groups which is cordoned off from the rest of the visitors. This has a sample of each type of the 14 grapes that Jacobs Creek growers cultivate.
The Vineyard Tour and Tasting tour starts off with a bit of history, a tour of the visitor centre which takes you via an informative display. The gallery has an interesting display of the wine bottles, the corking and bottling techniques over the years. You then move onto the vineyard, or in this case the exclusive tour-special vineyard, with the sample crops.
Once there, you are then allowed to roam around, check out each type of grape and even taste some. That was my favourite part. Most of the whites had dried up but the reds were plump and ready for picking. They were like super sweet raisins, the kind you want in christmas cake, except that they were fresh, and ripe for picking. And I picked a lot. Yay!
It was here that I discovered a new grape called the Grenache. The time we visited the valley, it was end of harvesting season already, so most of the crops were bare, but there was a particular grape that was still on the vines, and looked ripe and ready. This was the Grenache, a red grape that ripens late and typically has a high tolerance for heat and drought. True that, because given the hot hot days we encountered and the heat the area is prone to during end of harvesting season, the Grenache was doing spectacularly well. Typically used in blends (mixing with other grapes), you will most likely not find a grenache wine on it’s own, as they have high oxidation levels, which leads to a stronger tanin flavour on the palate as the wine ages. The most favoured blend for this grape is a GSM: Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.
I am not a big fan of red wines, however there are certain reds that I do like, a good Shiraz makes my day, a Merlot not so much. However, the idea of a GSM sounded very enticing (I had already tried the dried grape, I was sure the wine would be delicioussimo too :D) And it totally was. We tried the St Hugos GSM as part of our tasting, and WIN for the red wine corner. (Don’t worry, white, you are still my favourite)
The wine tasting was quite a lovely experience. As I mentioned before, you get to try 7 of their best wines, and they are superbly generous. Arjun Singh tried his reds, and I the whites, and ofcourse the GSM. By the end of it, we were in a state of delicious bliss, and the bean bag hammocks were calling out to us. So we put up our feet, gazed out at the fine Jacobs Creek plantations, smiled indulgently at everyone around us, gazed adoringly at each other, and even snoozed a teensy bit. (Hey, it’s us, we LOVE to sleep).
Things You Must Know About The Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre:
The Vineyard Tour and Tasting allows you access to the exclusive sample crops of the Jacobs Creek wineyards, where you get ample time to explore, taste, touch, and click
A generous sampling of some of their best wines. 7, to be precise, for AUD 15 is a super good deal
There are also free samplings of the chosen wine of the month, which happen every 2-3 hours
The premises are gorgeous. The outdoorsy deck, the plantation views, everyone is allowed to visit and relax.
An amazing variety of tours offered for the wine lover
I felt it the setup was a bit commercial, especially the special plantation area open only to people who sign up for tours. Without that you aren’t allowed access to the crops at all. The only place you were allowed free access too was the bar and the restaurant and the picnic area.
Too much paranoia. We had to sanitise our shoes before entering the sample crop area, which was essentially a gated and boxed crop patch. Maybe my displeasure stemmed from the fact that we had visited many other wine growers and makers who were far less paranoid about people checking out their crops, or bringing in the dreaded phylloxera pest.
Nothing at all, I just wanted to use the headings in the post :)
The family behind the Jacobs Creek wines are actually the Grampp family. Jacob was the land owner, from whom the Grampps bought land for commercial cultivation, and the creek running beside his house was named after him. The bottles carry the Gramps family signature, of Johann Grampp.
All views expressed are mine. I had a yummazing time at the visitor centre, however did not get a detailed look at the brand and its wines. But that is purely because I chose the tour but wasn’t too well informed about it. Make sure you pick the tour that appeals most to you, and what you want to do at the centre. Eat, drink, be merry, learn, bike around, and even cook. It’s all yours for the picking :)
If you want to know more about Jacobs Creek, you can visit their website here .
Also, this is an extensive and uber-gorgeous post by Katie from What Katie Ate, where she was a guest of Jacobs Creek (sigh). Read on here to marvel at her photography and learn tonnes more about the behind-the-scenes plus the magic behind Jacobs Creek.
I am linking this post to #TheWeeklyPostcard link up that happens in some super fun blogs hosted by Lyn and her pals. Head on there to check out her fun blog.
Scarecrows? Really? THAT’s what I choose to talk to you about from my trip to the Barossa? You know, the valley which is the Napa of Australia! Gazillions of vineyards all across town and I am posting about scarecrows.
Of course I am posting about scarecrows. Because they were colorful, creative, and all over the place, I just HAD to tell you about it too. See, everyone knows that Barossa is home to some yummazing wines. Jacobs Creek, Seppenfelts, & Penfolds come from this valley, people. And I am guessing the serious Masterchef Australia fans know that Barossa is also home to Maggie Beer and her lovely farm/cafe.
But you know the first thing I saw when I entered the town centre of Barossa?
As we drove past this, for a split second Arjun Singh and I thought that these were very colorful people, just sitting about and doing nothing. But hold on, those were not people dressed in overalls, and that was not a woman who had crashed into a tree. We stopped and went close for a look. This was definitely not a woman who had crashed into a tree.
Waitaminnnit, I screamed, these are PUPPETS. Arjun Singh is like, ermmm, can you not read, it says the Scarecrow Garden. Oh ya, it does. Okay, I screamed again, these are such COOL SCARECROWS.
There was Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall.
This puppet (see, there were puppets too) was taking his scarecrow to the market, or farm maybe.
We drove on and in the next few miles, found another scarecrow, this time at the entrance to one of the wineyards
So of course the curious cat that I am, I checked Google, and was informed that this was the time of the year when the residents of the Barossa Valley celebrated their end of harvesting season with the Barossa Vintage Festival. (See, lazy plan-da me, comes to know of something after I get there.. eeps) And as part of the celebrations, the residents come up with these scarecrow montages all across town to participate in the Barossa Scarecrow Trail. It’s a real thing, yep, with a prize worth AUD 1000 to the winner. And boy, do these guys get into with unbridled enthusiasm. Men and scarecrows, alike.
These scarecrows were all over. On the streets, at petrol stations, on telephone wires, in the back of a truck, outside of family-owned vineyards.
We found a dedication to Red Riding Hood and 3 Little Piggies, with the big, bad wolf as their big bad villain, in the middle of a recently harvested vineyard. How creative is that!
Wasn’t that the cutest?
What say you tell me which ones you liked too? Would be fun to see what tickles your scarecrow-appreciation bone.
If you want to know more about the Barossa Scarecrow Trail, you can click here. Plus here’s another great post about these scarecrows, from Fiona.
We were lucky enough to get to see this when we visited because the festival happens once in 2 years, and the next one is now in April 2017. So, do plan accordingly.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you did, please do subscribe to this blog. I only share fun stories, so you won’t get bored. I promise.
Pssst, and don’t you worry. I am going to be gushing about the Wines of Barossa soon enough. I HAVE TO.
I am linking this post to the Wanderlust link up party hosted here
And also to the #WeekendWanderlust link up party. To know more about the #WeekendWanderlust link up party, you can click here: