Tag: bubbly

5 Good Bubbly’s for $15

5 Good Bubbly’s for $15

A Bubbly Sunday Experiment

I am not sure whether living on the same block as a bottle shop is a godsend or a problem. Either way, it makes a bad day a bit easier when you simply have to walk next door to make yourself feel better – albeit until tomorrow. Whilst we are lovers of fine wine, there is always those days when you just need a good drop of bubbly to put a little fizz back into your day.

So purely in the name of research, we toddled off next door and brought them out of bubbly, in order to give you the best 5 Bubbly’s for under $15. Paired with a nice Mezze plate, we sat on the balcony in the sun, enjoying a Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, the hard work just simply has to be done!

At $15 or less, all 5 of these lovely wines, will definitely cheer you up after a bad day at the office or make a Sunday afternoon with friends a bit of an occasion. Don’t get me wrong… I love the finer things in life! But sometimes the finer things don’t have to cost the earth. Let me prove it to you!

And while we did rate these bubbles from 1 to 5 (number 1 being our favourite of course!), do understand that there was half a point between each, so not a big difference in the love-factor overall.

Coming in at Number 5 is the Jacobs Creek Reserve Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2015. This beautiful and quite serious drop from a very affordable vineyard is a great “bad day wine”. It’s boldness lets you sink into it and relax after a hard day and would be great paired with some hot and spicy Thai food! This is a great Hump Day drop when you can’t be bothered to cook and get take-out and watch The Bachelor, laughing at all the silly girls!

Number 4 on our list is one of our all-time favourites! Henkell Trocken Sparkling Wine can be found in our fridge on any given day of the week and the lady at our local bottle shop even quietly lets us know when it’s going in special so we can buy up in bulk! Henkell is a zesty, fun, lively bubbly with an everlasting citrus flavour that is just too easy to drink! Really… A bloody nice wine!!!

Our Number 3 is one of the prettiest wines I have ever seen. The Yellowglen Vintage 2015 Bella Pink Moscato is decorated with beautiful packaging and makes it perfect for drinks with the girls on a Friday afternoon. This lovely wine is like a super-sweet nectar that tickles the end of your nose as you sip and is good old plain fun! If I have a night at home alone, you will find me on the couch with a bottle of Yellowglen Pink Moscato and a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel topping. Paired with a great girly movie and Mr. George Clooney, it feels like a naughty night in. But don’t tell KAM!

Number 2 was a bit of a surprise package! Living with an Italian, I have enjoyed my fair-share of Prosecco’s, but the Porta Dante Prosecco in my opinion is one of the best (and one of the most inexpensive). This lovely wine is smooth, sophisticated, and gentle – just like a good Italian should be! I could easily sip a Sunday away with a bottle of this lovely bubbly with KAM. Although I do wonder…. Are two Italians too much to handle at the same time?!

And finally our favourite! As we were conducting this experiment we tried not to taint the results, however with a bottle of Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon in the mix, it was hard not to be bias. The Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon is pure sunshine in a glass and makes all your bad days disappear like the fizz that escapes from the bottle as you open it. This beautiful bubbly is summer at its best and showcases the Hunter Valley Semillon’s with class, style and grace. Happy songs start to play in my head as I sip a glass of this spectacular wine and I remember all of the beautiful meals KAM and I have shared with a bottle of Bimbadgen Sparkling Semillon on the side. This wine is simply the best money can buy at around $15 and in my opinion is worth much more – but don’t tell Bimbadgen I said that or they might up the price!

So there you have it! This list proves that for under $15 you can enjoy a little luxury at any time of the week without breaking the budget! But don’t take our word for it… Try them for yourselves. After all, life would be boring without a little experimentation, right?!

Bells at Killcare

Bells at Killcare

All the Bells ring!

Every girl dreams of the ultimate proposal. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or whether you have been married before. When you know you have met Mr. Right, the thought of the perfect proposal is always in the foreground of your mind. Talk of marriage has been bantered around for a while and you have an inkling that he has purchased ‘the ring’. You don’t care how he asks you or where it is, just as long as it is romantic and as perfect in real-life as it is in your mind. Enter… the beautiful Bells at Killcare.

Turning down the drive, you literally have no idea what you are in for. You really have reached Heaven on Earth. A place that meets all of your desires and bathes you in the lap of luxury every single moment you are within this hidden paradise.

The gardens at Bells are lush and beautifully manicured and the soft sound of running water is constant from the number of fountains and miniature rivers dotted around the property. The buildings are all designed in East Coast Hamptons style and the main house, which includes Manfredi’s restaurant, is the height of elegance.

We recently organised a two night stay in one of their two story spa cottages. Really, for no reason at all – we didn’t really feel like we needed an excuse to return to Bells. Neither of us can say we have enjoyed a hotel stay more than this and for 3 days bathed ourselves in the simple luxury that ‘Bells’ seem to do with ease – as if its second nature.

Each of the staff are highly trained and perfectly professional in every aspect of their role. You can tell that Bells expects a certain standard from them and they seem happy to oblige, always aiming to please. Welcomed by each and every one of them you feel like you are being invited into a big family home with beautiful amenities, a Chef Hat Restaurant, and possibly the best wine room I have ever seen. KAM found me a number of times just standing at the glass staring at all the beautiful wines I wanted to experience while there.

The weekend of our stay, the weather is cold with sleeting rain a constant on the landscape. This suited us perfectly as the cabin has a big slow-combustion fireplace which KAM gets cranking. Each of the cabins here are like a secret hideaway, completely hidden from other guests by careful placement and well-designed gardens. The cabin is roomy but homely and there is a beautiful large bed gracing the top floor, draped in expensive linens and big soft pillows. My favourite spot is on the covered balcony watching the rain and enjoying a glass of wine with the most beautiful man I have ever known, sure that this moment will be one we will treasure forever.

The bathroom has a big corner spa which I recommend enjoying with a glass of bubbly. I did and enjoyed getting myself ready for dinner in such a luxurious space. Just as I am ready for dinner though, I exit the bathroom to find the lights off in our cabin and the whole space lit with soft candlelight. There is music playing – Lior, This Old Love and I wonder why KAM is pacing back and forth with his back to me.

The moment he turns to face me, there is a knowing in my heart and as he begins to say the most beautiful words I have ever heard him speak, he gets down on one knee and says “Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” Of course I say yes (a thousand times over and over again) and he reaches for a beautiful Gregory’s box on the coffee table. Its only then do I see it for the first time and the two glasses of champagne strategically placed next to it! I wonder how I never saw it when I first came out of the bathroom!?

After enjoying the moment, I realize we are now running very late for dinner. It’s the only problem with Bells. Time seems to slow to a point of almost standing still. There is magic in the air as we walk across the lawn towards Manfredi’s and although this is my favourite restaurant of all time, KAM and the excitement has haltered my hunger for a while. I am sure once I see the menu though, my appetite will come roaring back! Nothing a beautiful bottle of wine won’t fix, I’m sure!

The team have taken care of everything and have arranged for us to have the verandah to ourselves. Seated at a big table with comfy cushions and blankets, we gaze out over the garden and reflect on the moment just passed.

But from here on in is a whole other story, for another time. Bells and Manfredi’s are each two amazing experiences in their own right and deserve their own chapters. So you will just have to wait for the next installment in this amazing property.

In the meantime, thanks to all at Bells with all of our hearts. This remains one of our favourite stories to tell and one which we can’t wait to experience again. We were made to feel ever so special and the memories we made that weekend, we will treasure forever.

But please don’t take our word for it – pick a weekend to write your own story of love, enchantment, and luxury. Who knows…. There may just be a proposal on the horizon for you as well?

Bells at Killcare
107 The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights
P: 02 4349 7000
info@bellsatkillcare.com.au
http://www.bellsatkillcare.com.au/

Hungerford Hill Wines

Hungerford Hill Wines

Fun flirtation or mortal sin?

If I was a wine, I would be a bubbly, full of fun flavours and a little bit of zest. If KAM were a bubbly, he would be a dark, brooding red, full of reliability and strong flavours – the kind of wine you want to snuggle up with on the couch in front of a fireplace in winter.

I guess that’s why when it comes to Bubbles, we happen to class the sparkling range of Hungerford Hill Winery one of the best. With only 2 bubbly’s, their range might not be large, but why do a lot of something, when you have reached perfection in just 2 bottles?!

The white variety is a Sparkling Chardonnay Pino Noir called the “Dalliance”. When looking up the dictionary, Dalliance is defined as a fun flirtation toying with the idea of procrastination. I can’t find a better reason to procrastinate than sitting with a beautiful bottle of Dalliance and a good meal, not wanting either of them to end. The Dalliance has won countless awards and at around $45 a bottle rivals any of the more expensive French bubbles on the market. This is a light, bright wine, with an exuberance that twinkles in the glass as your pour it. Perfect for a hot Summer afternoon in the sun with good friends – although you may find yourself not wanting to share!

In total complete contrast, is the NV Cardinal Sparkling Shiraz. If ever it was worth committing a mortal sin for all the right reasons – this is it! This is not a wine to be taken lightly, and as the name suggests, “The Cardinal” is in my opinion, paramount in a region with a number of comparative wines. This wine is sacred and should be saved for moments of utmost importance. Perfect for Christmas lunch, the spices in this wine go perfectly with a roast dinner or pudding afterwards. At around $30 you will definitely not be disappointed when you open a bottle of this!

So whether you are a bright white or a dark red drinker, I suggest you try both of these beautiful wines from Hungerford Hill. Even if you thought you knew what you liked – these bubbles will change your thinking. If the definition of Dalliance is to ‘hesitate’ and the definition of committing a Mortal Sin is to ‘deprive your soul’, why do either when Hungerford Hill bubbly range can give you the kick-start you need!

Hungerford Hill Wines

Hungerford Hill Wines
2450 Broke Road,
Pokolbin NSW
http://www.hungerfordhill.com.au/

The Sebel, Hawkesbury Valley

The Sebel, Hawkesbury Valley

Stop-over in style at the Sebel

There are some places where luxury is in abundance. Hotel after hotel offering luxury inclusions and top of the line service. I have to travel to the Hawkesbury region of southern Sydney quite a bit, and when I do, there is only one place I choose to stay. I mean, if you have to work, you may as well lay your head somewhere nice at the end of a long day, right?

Heading out through town towards the air force base, the Sebel Hawkesbury Resort and Spa appears like a mirage in the middle of a desert. The country Manor House styling of this hotel and its beautiful grounds are inviting from the moment you enter the gate. The lobby is grand and the staff welcomes you back like a member of the family.

After checking in and before heading to our room, we usually head straight to the bar. Set with big booths and deep leather couches, it is the perfect place to unpack your day, before unpacking your luggage. If you are up to it, the snooker room is a great place to challenge a loved one. If you are going to do this though, have a Shivers and take your time. The space is perfect for a slow afternoon wind-down after a long day. And KAM is a good snooker player, so I need something to soften the blow!

There are a number of room types in this lovely hotel, but we only ever chose to stay in the Balcony Suite. Priced at around $ 300 per night, this room is full of heritage country charm with the separate living room having big comfy lounges to meld into while staring at the blazing fireplace (which you will need in winter as it gets very bloody cold here!). The living room also has a tiny hideaway balcony where you can sit with a morning coffee and watch the mist rising from the mountains beyond.

While you are here, if you are lucky enough to catch some of the training exercises being performed from the air force base, it is a sight to take in. Every now and again, the massive planes roar low over the hotel and hundreds of tiny parachuters jump from the rear hatch. It is awe-inspiring! I’m like a kid every time they fly over and I can’t help myself but to wave in excitement.

The bedrooms here are full of dark antique furniture and you really feel as if you have stepped back in time. There are lots of blankets piled high to keep you warm and the large European duck-down pillows are the softest anywhere. I look forward to this luxury every time I stay! You can snuggle up in bed on a cold night with a glass of something nice, watching television, forgetting all about the world beyond for a while.

In the morning, we suggest going down for their big buffet breakfast in the Atrium. This is the prettiest of spaces with floor to ceiling windows and a romantic courtyard off to the side. If you are warm enough, sit outside under the big umbrellas and take your time. The eggs are piping hot, the bacon is crispy and it all pairs very wel

The beautiful Atrium & Courtyard at Sebel Hawkesbury Valley
The beautiful Atrium & Courtyard at Sebel Hawkesbury Valley

l with a glass of bubbly – if you don’t have to go to work, that is!

 

Whilst the Sebel might just be a stop-over, who says you can’t do a stop-over in style? And the Sebel has style and charm in abundance. It might cost a little more than the company credit card will allow, but it’s worth the splurge. You can’t live to work, so you may as well work to LIVE.

Sebel Hawkesbury Resort and Spa
61 Hawkesbury Valley Way
Windsor NSW 2756
http://www.sebelhawkesbury.com.au
h8799@accor.com

Patonga Beach, NSW

Patonga Beach, NSW

An Endless Summer Snow Globe

It’s winter and windy and cold. There is something about winter that can start to get you down unless you’re snuggled up in a fancy hotel with a fireplace and a good bottle of scotch. So in an effort to feel a little sunshine on our skin, we decide to head to Patonga for the day. It seems like the perfect choice with the local Patonga Beach Hotel perched right across from the water.

On your way there, glimpses of the ocean tease you and as you wind your way through the tree-line, you can feel the winter sun beckoning you closer to a small but busy piece of paradise.

The little township is ruled by the Patonga Beach Hotel which sits grandly in white-wash, nestled amongst 100 year old pine trees. The local (and very well fed) pelicans and sea hawks take solace in the branches when they tire of fishing and sit and watch the spectacle of the people as they arrive for lunch. We can’t help but wondering who’s watching who – as they seem just as curious about us, as we are of them.

A good idea is to get there early as by Midday the place is buzzing and tables are scarce. We are excited to see Craigmoor bubbly on the wine list for only $26 a bottle – this is a fraction of the cost at other places! It’s delicious and cold and is presented beautifully in a large wine bucket, protecting it from the warmth of the winter sun. Patonga Beach HotelWe are seated at a table right opposite the ocean which sparkles bright aqua blue against the white sand. There is an open-mic session happening and the soft jazz tones suit the mood as we while-away a Saturday afternoon.

For lunch we can’t resist ordering a bucket of fresh prawns ($24) which when they arrive, stacked high on ice, are sweet and fresh making us even more nostalgic for summer days. We also share the Braised Beef Burger ($22) which is almost to divine to share! These 2 dishes are however perfect for sharing if you want to enjoy a lunch without feeling so full you can’t move. I guarantee you will be more than satisfied.

So we sit, watch the birds, listen to the soft lapping of the waves on the beach and spend an afternoon with good champagne and even better company. When we do eventually decide to head off, KAM suggests a walk on the beach to delay our leaving just a little longer.

Any reminder of summer is a good one and as we leave Patonga and head back up the mountain, the sand between my toes is like a souvenir. Summer is too far away, but the Patonga Beach Hotel has done a good job of jogging my memory. This place is like one of my snow-globes. A forever memory locked in time – just add sunshine and bubbles for the place to come alive.

The Patonga Beach Hotel
6-8 Patonga Drive,
Patonga NSW 2256
http://www.patongahotel.com/
info@patongahotel.com

Common Ground Canteen Kitchen

Common Ground Canteen Kitchen

Nothing Common about Common Ground

Nestled in a tiny shop, on the corner of a very busy street in Long Jetty on the NSW Central Coast, you will find Common Ground Canteen and Kitchen. It seems like a strange placement for this paddock to plate style cafe, but it works for them as they are always busy and you need to fight for a table on the sidewalk.

But it is more than just their location that seems to capture everyone from a morning coffee run, to a late night pasta. It is the brilliance of Chef Nic and his wife Kath and the honesty of this place, that keeps people coming back again and again.

Opened a few years ago by this dynamic pair, the place has gotten busier but their philosophy has remained the same. Fresh ingredients, cooked on an open fire in front of you, with a no-fuss attitude and it works. This is not a place for Pima Dona’s.  common Ground Blog 3

Open every day, this Chef and his team work hard to get good wholesome food to you, presented simply, but always filling your belly. You will not leave here hungry and need to do a Macca’s run on the way home. For the reasonable prices, the plates are huge and their share plates are great if you want to try everything they have to offer.

The daily menu, with old favourites, is rustic with a modern twist and the myriad of specials changes daily. It seems like Nic buys what is fresh and inspires him on the day and the concept of the dish starts from there. No recipes required.

They are licensed for BYO and you are always welcome to take a bottle of bubbly to go with their massive breakfast. You can build your own, but can I suggest Kath’s AM Dinner. A 130gram grass fed sirloin for breakfast might seem excessive, but it’s great after a big night out and at $19.50 you can’t go wrong. This is good steak, cooked right!

Of an evening, try their pasta nights. Big bowls with steaming hot ingredients that you will want to share and pass to your partner to try. Our faves are the Grinds Burger ($12) and the Lamb Forequarter on a roll ($10). After a long day at work, we pick up an easy, breezy bottle of wine and head down to Common for some no fuss fun. This is where you go when you don’t want to cook and you want someone to do the work for you. Take a deck of cards and just sit and watch the world go by. We do this so often, that when we don’t appear there for a while, the guys are all asking us where we have been when we finally have time to return!

Common Ground Blog 2Nic and Kath want to remind you of home, and they have achieved this. Common Ground Canteen and Kitchen is definitely our home away from home.

7/328 The Entrance Road, Long Jetty NSW 2261
Phone: (02) 4333 4214
http://www.thisiscommonground.com.au/
https://www.facebook.com/commonground2261/

Easy, breezy, Beach House

Easy, breezy, Beach House

KAM is cool. He was always one of the popular kids in school who got chosen for all the top sports teams and was constantly surrounded by lots of friends. I am the total opposite, never getting picked for anything except the school musical and was a ballerina in my spare time. Very uncool. 

But if there was ever a place where everyone is cool, it is the Beach House at Port Macquarie. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a tourist passing through, a regular local or a mum with 2 Kids in her gym gear walking the kids and dogs along the waterfront – everyone is welcome.  

We stumbled across this place by accident on our very first trip to Port and since have experienced breakfast, lunch and dinner sitting out on the long communal tables watching the world go by and listening to whatever music they happen to have on that day. There is something happening here most days, but their live and local sessions by acoustic artists on a Sunday afternoon is my favourite. You’re sitting there with a glass of bubbles and a beat up old car pulls up. A guy gets out of the car with his guitar, plonks himself on a chair, plugs himself in and just starts playing. Easy, breezy and ever so cool. 

Open from 7.00am and located in one of the best spots in Port, you can stare out over the water and watch the dolphins gilding past as they start their day along with you. This is a busy little waterway with multi-million dollars yachts anchoring at the jetty or seaplanes coming into land on water that resembles glass. But it never feels rushed. Everyone here just takes there time, and life seems to be more about enjoyment than caring about running late for a meeting. In fact, I have seen a number of business meetings held here – guys arriving and striping off their suit jackets and ties to sit for a casual beer over what looks like a relatively serious meeting. 

The breakfasts here are massive and I recommend the Beach House Big Breaky which at $25 is more than adequate for 2 people to share. Pair it with a bottle of Taltarni Blanc de Blach ($55) and you have a breakfast made for champions. This is the way to start a day! 

The girls here also know how to mix a mean Martini and on a Friday evening they are $7 each at their Martini Club event, accompanied with live DJs out on the veranda.  

Every time we are in Port (which is not often enough), we visit this cool place and the last time we were there, the girls behind the bar remembered us and our order – and we hadn’t visited for over 3 months! That’s cool! 

The Beach House at Sunset
The Beach House at Sunset

Time moves slower in Port Macquarie and everywhere you look its like a moving postcard. This is the place you want to go to chill out and feel like a local even if only travelling on through. Be warned though…. Once you are here, you will find it very hard to leave. But the Beach House is a staple and will always be there when you feel the need to slow it down, relax and just be a bit cool.

The Beach House
2 Horton Street,
Port Macquarie NSW 2444
Ph: (02) 6584 6011
http://www.thebeachhouse.net.au/

info@thebeachhouse.net.au