Isn’t it amazing how quickly things can change? This current lockdown that Sydney is going through now is a great example of that.
As you’ll see in this Edition, we went from having an almost back-to-normal life to not being allowed to leave the house almost overnight.
But while we all sit this one out, the past couple of weeks have been really important – full of launches of some absolutely amazing things. Two brand new Aussie spirits, a new book, even a new music album and its accompanying concert!
Apart from learning about and experiencing these exciting moments, we also caught up with some dear family friends for a beautiful high tea.
We hope you enjoy this Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
We’re so excited tonight. We haven’t been to a concert in ages – and to be able to enjoy the brilliant music of Amy Shark from the comfort of the ALL Star Accor Live Limitless Hospitality Suite at Qudos Bank Arena makes it even better.
While we wait to meet Amy in person, we relax and enjoy the generous hospitality in this very exclusive room high above the stage.
Just before she goes on stage, Amy Shark comes into our suite to meet everyone and say hi. She’s so down to earth and friendly – it must be pretty hard coming into a room full of strangers all staring at you. Though I suppose that’s what being on stage must be like too!
We’re all really looking forward to the performance, Amy included. Her tour is promoting the release of her new album Cry Forever, which just came out in April.
Soon we’re looking down on the stage, watching the same person we just met sing and entertain a pretty full arena. It’s quite surreal really.
Amy’s brilliant and the crowd has great energy. I think they’re almost as excited just to be at a live music event as they are seeing Amy perform.
Absolutely awesome performance by Amy Shark. She has the crowd eating out of her hand. It’s funny that mobile phone torches have replaced the good ol’ lighter for the ballads. Much safer and actually more impactful too. Everyone’s got their phone out for this one though.
It’s a wonderful evening, with superb music from Amy Shark – even better from the comfort and luxury of Accor’s corporate suite.
Thanks to ALL Accor Live Limitless for inviting us. Check out their new-look website for more exclusive experiences.
This afternoon, Christina and I are visiting some dear family friends – people Christina has known her whole life and who have been pretty much part of the family for most of theirs too.
Today, we’re round our friend Jackie’s house for high tea. Jackie is an amazing host, making everything on the stand.
My best mate Riccardo is here too. He says he’s not really a high tea kind of guy, but that pinky finger tells another story! I’ve always loved hanging out with him; he’s full of fascinating stories, a whip-crack wit and a few bawdy jokes too.
The ladies strike a pose – Christina’s mum Jeanette, Riccardo’s long-suffering wife Mara, our elegant host Jackie and of course Christina herself.
Riccardo and I try to keep them standing there as long as possible so we can scoff as many finger sandwiches as we can. It doesn’t work.
This afternoon, I’m in my hospitality journalist capacity at The Barber Shop, Sydney’s preeminent gin bar. Behind the bar is Daniel Motlop. In a previous life, Daniel was a famous AFL player, playing for North Melbourne and Port Adelaide in his day.
Now, however, he’s making spirits and has just launched his Seven Seasons Spirits Company. Daniel is of the Larrakia people in the Darwin region, who divide the year into seven seasons, hence the distillery’s name.
Daniel has used his knowledge of the land and these seasons to create spirits that reflect the produce available at these different times of year. His first three spirits – the Green Ant Gin, the Bush Apple Gin and the Wild Yam Vodka – are delicious expressions of this concept, and it’s fascinating to listen to him talk through each one.
You can read my write-up and review of Seven Seasons Spirits here on Nip of Courage – an amazing resource and retailer for Australian craft spirits.
Today I’m out with the Nip of Courage crew again, but this time we’re visiting one of my favourite distilleries: Karu Distillery. I’ve been dying to visit Karu and the lovely Ally and Nick Ayres who own the company for ages.
I first met Ally at a Women in Distilling event earlier this year, where I interviewed her as part of this eye-opening story about women in the alcohol industry.
But I’ve been a fan of Karu ever since my first sip of their internationally awarded Lightning navy strength gin.
Not only is it awesome to catch up with Nick and Ally, and see their place for the first time, I get to check out this beautiful part of the country. This is the Devil’s Wilderness – part of the Blue Mountains and about 90 minutes out of Sydney.
Karu will be opening their new cellar door and tasting centre quite soon, which looks amazing, but all of this is not why we’re here.
They have a brand new spirit I want to tell you about… but first, how about a bit of lunch?
On our way back to Sydney but not far from Karu, we stop in at Enniskillen Orchard. This little roadside stop is quite lovely; full of homewares, locally made produce and some of the best pies you’ll find.
Word is that the pulled pork pie is to die for. Isaiah has the good sense to go for one of these. But Kathleen and I are pulled in by the freshly baked breakfast pies. The good news is that no one is suffering food envy. These pies really are magic.
But this is it! This is the big story – Karu Distillery’s absolutely sensational Morita Chipotle Vodka.
Initially, I thought Morita was a reference to Karate Kid and the late great Pat Morita, better known as Mr Miyagi. But it is in fact the name of one of the chillies traditionally used to make chipotle.
Nick and Ally have distilled morita and meco chillies – along with a host of other ingredients – to create something really special. There’s so much flavour and texture here, it’s almost like a gin without any juniper. And Ally actually tells me she and Nick used a lot of the skills and techniques from their gin making to create Morita.
You can read my full write-up on the Morita Vodka here, but watch this space for our cocktail we’re planning with this delicious drop too.
Today, Christina and I have met up for a work lunch. Christina’s been looking after her mum recently, so we haven’t seen much of each other. Perhaps somewhat prophetically, Christina’s also received a copy of her friend Brooke McAlary’s new book Care – the radical art of taking time.
Brooke’s inspiring story of slowing down your life and paring back a lot of the extraneous details you gather around you as you live is remarkable. This, her latest book, is all about getting rid of all that clutter and how that impacts so much of your well-being.
As for our working lunch, well, I don’t think I need tell you more. This sumptuous platter of mixed beans, salad, felafel, tahini and labneh is excellent. Christina’s rosti benedictine is just as formidable – the rosti are about two inches thick and the hollandaise is rich and smooth. Delicious.
And where is this magical place, I hear you ask. This is Charlotte Cafe in Birchgrove. It’s a spot we haven’t been to in absolutely ages – in fact, here’s our review where I talk about their monster burger.
I think we’ll be back as soon as we can!
As the moon rises eerily above the city, backlighting the monolith of Crown Casino, Sydney sits quiet. The lockdown due to the latest Covid19 outbreak has silenced her for now, but hopefully not for long.
Stay safe, everyone.
Jim & Christina xx