Whether you like it or not, Valentine’s week is billed as the most romantic week of the year. And in fact, only Christmas Day beats Feb 14 with more wedding proposals.
Of course, Valentine’s Day featured a bit for us this past week, but not as much as you might think. There’s nothing less romantic than being told to be romantic!
Christina and I only see it as a kind of reminder to consider and acknowledge each other. And an excuse for a glass of wine or two!
So this week we’re talking chocolate and wine for Valentine’s, news about an incredible new sundae range available at Event Cinemas by Arnott’s, and a new special edition Mr Black coffee liqueur you shouldn’t miss.
We hope you enjoy this Weekly Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
Tonight, Christina and I are at the Event Cinema in Bondi Junction – in Gold Class in fact! If you haven’t been to a Gold Class cinema before, you’ve got to check this out. First off, you get huge recliner seats that have motorised reclining and foot rest actions.
Better than that, you can have food and drink to the screen – you order at the bar when you come in and the wait staff bring you your order to your seat.
The only thing you have to worry about is spoiling your usual cinema experience. It’s a bit like going on holiday; once you’ve had a taste of the good stuff, it’s hard to go back to regular.
And the thing that’s brought us here tonight will have you looking at your next dessert thinking you definitely need a holiday!
We’ve been invited here tonight because Even Cinemas are working with Arnott’s Biscuits to bring out a range of epic sundaes available at Gold Class screens across Australia…
But first, we have a bite to eat. The sliders you can get at Gold Class are actually incredible. Definitely ordering these next time we come here.
Group Director for Culinary for Event Hospitality and Entertainment Adam Petta, who’s also responsible for our sliders, is showing us how the sundaes are made. It also highlights how truly epic these things are.
Scoop after scoop of ice cream, swirl after swirl of sauce. And then crumbled and whole, signature biscuits from the Arnott’s range go on top to create four different masterpieces.
Adam leads us through all four of the different Arnott’s sundaes that feature Tim Tams, Mint Slices, Monte Carlos and Caramel Crowns.
On the right – the one Adam’s finished building – is the Classic Tim Tam. In this vase of a sundae glass (this is exactly how it’s served when you order it by the way) is vanilla bean and chocolate obsession ice cream, warm chocolate fudge, waffles, malt crispy bits, Tim Tam biscuits (whole and crumbled), whipped cream and – of course – a cherry on top!
Here’s a glimpse of another monster sundae – or ‘feature-length sundae’ as Adam calls it.
This is the Full Monte Carlo. This one’s full of vanilla bean and berry ice cream, Monte Carlo biscuits, raspberry crumble, strawberry coulis, vanilla malt crumb, whipped cream and fresh strawberries for a flash of colour!
Christina and I get try a sundae each – and I suddenly wish I hadn’t had so many of those sliders! These glasses are truly massive, so expect value for money when you order one.
Talking of which, these beauties are $25 each and available at Event and BCC Gold Class Cinemas across Australia.
On the left, you can see the Minty Mint Slice. It’s got scoops of mint choc chip and chocolate obsession ice cream, warm chocolate fudge, Mint Slice biscuits, chocolate malt crumble, choc coated wafers and whipped cream.
I wasn’t expecting to like this one much, but I end up preferring it over the others. It’s minty, but not overwhelming. It’s sweet, but not in a vile, sickly sort of way.
The other sundae is the Salted Caramel Crowns, and this is a truly incredible creation. You’re looking at rock salted caramel ice cream, salted caramel popcorn, malt crumble, Caramel Crowns, warm caramel fudge, whipped cream, classic wafers and – for that final crowning glory – honeycomb!
The only thing missing from this visit to the cinema is a film. And this is quickly remedied. We’re here to watch a pre-screening of the comedy What Men Want, starring Taraji Henson, Aldis Hodge, Josh Brener and Tracy Morgan.
Henson plays a sports agent facing a glass ceiling put in place by her boss and jock co-workers. A mysterious psychic (Erykah Badu) casts a spell on her so she can hear men’s thoughts. It’s a power that helps her career, but damages her personal life. All with comic consequences of course.
With our film (and enormous ice creams) we get to try Event’s quirky popcorn flavours. Parlour Lane Caramel and Cheese, and Spice nacho popcorn – things have come a long way since just sweet or savoury!
This afternoon, I look up from my keyboard to spot this monster coming round the corner of the harbour. With an ever growing skyline behind, it’s hard to get scale on these floating monsters. It’s not until I spot 5 semi-trailer tankers parked on the ship that I realise just how bit it is.
We’re very lucky to have this view from where we work. It does make it harder to put pens down at the end of each day though!
This afternoon, Christina and I are in Charlie Parker’s in Paddington. This little underground speakeasy right on Oxford Street is a firm favourite of ours.
It feels like the perfect venue to meet two gents from a London bar that’s achieved the heady status of one of the top 50 cocktail bars in the world. Swift Bar in Soho – London’s cocktail bar epicentre – is run by Bobby Hiddleston, who talks us through Swift’s success.
Meanwhile Swift’s award-winning bartender Hamish Dowie is behind the jump mixing up his take on the illustrious Irish coffee. His modest admission: “Irish coffee’s a popular cocktail at Swift. I just made a cold one.”
It’s now one of Swift’s most requested cocktails.
The duo are in town not just to show off about how good Swift Bar is or how good Hamish’s cocktails are. They’re here to talk about the latest Mr Black creation.
If you haven’t heard of Mr Black, it’s an Aussie coffee liqueur that’s taken the world by storm. We’ve been following these guys since they first launched back in 2014, their original cold-drip filtered and lovingly distilled tipple is a work of art.
We’ve made a couple of cocktails with the original Mr Black – a Halloween special called Black Promise and a take on the espresso martini for our lovely friend Nikki Parkinson from Styling You.
But Mr Black have crafted a new special edition coffee liqueur called Mr Black Amaro.
Herbaceous, cleverly bitter, citrusy, spicy and lightly fruity, master distiller Phillip Moore’s latest creation is excellent. Blending the classic flavours of the signature Mr Black cold-drip filtered coffee liqueur with a fascinating range of botanicals. The Amaro is almost like a coffee gin without the juniper.
Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, angelica, Illawarra plum, coriander, liquorice root, macadamia, gentian, quassia, caraway and cardamum – it’s quite the shopping list, isn’t it?
Mr Black and Mr Black Amaro are available from BWS and Dan Murphy’s at $55 and $75 RRP.
And so Valentine’s Day. It’s here! Christina and I don’t usually do much for Valentine’s Day, though it obviously still features in our lives. It’s a great little reminder to recognise and appreciate the person you’ve chosen to share your life with – and that can extend to friends too. It doesn’t have to be about that traditional type of romance.
We’ve taken a bit of time out today to go down to the water and enjoy the stunning summer weather. This excellent bunch of flowers from Daily Bloom help the day along a bit too.
You can get one-off bunches like this for a special occasion or even better, Daily Bloom have subscriptions where you can have deliveries of flowers weekly, fortnightly or monthly – Sydney and Melbourne only.
Along with the flowers, we’ve joined forces with Belgian chocolatiers Guylain over Valentine’s Day. They’ve produced these limited edition ‘couple name’ boxes to create a unique portmanteau of romance.
Because that’s exactly where the name Guylian comes from. In 1960, Guy and Liliane Foubert started making chocolates from their home in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. Now their seahorse and seashell truffles are one of the most recognisable confectionary shapes.
And seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, we’ve made our way to The Exchange Hotel in Balmain for a couple of cheekies. Alan and Alana Sudale have taken over this Balmain institution of a pub and made it whole again. After a tumultuous few years of closing down, opening up again, closing down again… it’s great to see a steady hand at the helm.
Better is to see a healthy happy hour for Valentine’s Day, and best of all is to learn that Alan is a mad Chelsea fan. I always liked that guy!
Who can say no to a $5 rosé? The wine list at The Exchange is pretty good, though we’re still hard at work campaigning for a Scarborough Chardonnay to come on the list. Who’s with me?
We’re also looking forward to the kitchen opening soon. It’s going to be good, I feel it in my bones.
It’s always dangerous going into the supermarket after a couple of wines. However, as the saying goes ‘from drunk beginnings comes great things’.
We’ve recently discovered the virtues of the La Famiglia Kitchen sourdough garlic bread loaves you can get. They’re absolutely delicious.
But if you then jam half a wheel of brie into the slices and pop it all back in the oven for a couple of minutes, you create something truly beautiful.
This morning, Christina and I have popped over to see our mate Paul Frasca. He may look like a young Kenny G, but he’s actually half the mega-brain behind something quite exceptional.
Paul and his partner Ewelina have a company called Sustainable Salons. They take stuff that was always considered rubbish from hair salons and turn it into something amazing. The discarded foils from colouring hair, they have re-smelted into rolls of aluminium, cardboard and paper, they collect to recycle too along with a host of other initiatives.
But most amazingly, they also collect hair clippings.
Behind Paul and Christina is a mountain of hair. This will all be turned into ‘booms’ – tubes of hair stuffed into stocking-like material that’s used to soak up oil spills. It turns out hair absorbs oil at an unbeatable rate.
Sustainable Salons is a remarkable company doing great things for the environment and for the hair industry. Ask if your hairdressers’ has gone down the Sustainable Salons route. If they haven’t, perhaps they should give Paul a ring.
Tonight I’m out with the lads. A couple of beers here and there and then dinner at Fratelli Fresh in the city. If you haven’t been to one of these Italian restaurants before, you should make it a priority. Their food is excellent. This is the share platter of antipasto. Impressive.
My pizza (not pictured as I ate it too fast) was also superb, as is the quality of staffing. Great customer service. I’ll definitely be coming back here.
Well, here’s to the end of another Weekly Edition. We hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx