Category: Fabulous Food

Manfredi at Bells, Killcare NSW

Manfredi at Bells, Killcare NSW

The purpose for perfection.

I was in a meeting the other day in which the theme was focused on Motivation. What is your motivation to get out of bed every day? What is your motivation to do the work you do? I sat there, contemplating, and just like everyone else, could not come up with an answer. If you are within a Leadership team, in which you feel like you don’t belong, what are you doing there? If you cannot find your motivation to be a part of that meeting, are you in fact, not wasting that moment in time?

Moments in our life time are simply too fleeting. If you love your life as much as I love mine, there are no moments to waste. What are you doing sitting in a meeting for which you have very little care for, when there are moments out there just waiting for you to find them?

Every moment of your life should be about love. Love for that moment, in some way or another. Love for the person you are with at the time and of course, love for what you are experiencing. When was the last time you were sick with longing? I can truthfully say that every day that passes and I am not doing what I love, it is not only a moment missed but a moment I am beyond doubt, sick with longing. Longing for what was. Longing for what could be and longing for a moment when time stands still and all is right with the world – if not just for a moment.

This is what its like to be at Manfredi restaurant.

Located within the beautiful grounds of Bells at Killcare, Manfredi Chef’s Hat restaurant shines like a diamond in an area where even gemstones are rarely found.

Having worked in many fine dining establishments over the years, food to me is not simply a means to an end. Food is to be smelled, sincerely tasted and enjoyed for all its complex layers. Great kitchens and chef’s, create dishes that are more an art-form rather than food and should be appreciated slowly and sensually so that your taste buds are aware of every single flavour the chef has lovingly infused.

Ask yourself… what are you eating for? When dining at Manfredi, the answer should be nothing less than an orgasm. Have you ever had a culinary orgasm? If the answer is no, then you haven’t eaten at Manfredi.

From the moment the maître’D seats you at your table, the dance begins. Fine dining at its best is represented here from the crisp white linens, to the wine list you could and should, swim in for days. You will never get through it all, so don’t even try and simply buy the best bottle from their epic wine room money can afford. It’s the only way to do it.

If I could win a competition to spend a day in their kitchen observing the art come to life and figuring out at least some of the tricks that takes food and turns it to magic, I would do whatever it took. Just to stand quietly at the back of the ultra-clean kitchen and watch the magic unfold, would be a dream come true. If by chance, the sommelier would then take me into their wine room and explain the food and wine paring, I think I honestly just might die. Is it possible to die of happiness? I would be willing to find out if that was indeed the moment to test the theory.

If one eats simply to be satisfied, ask yourself what is your level of satisfaction? Should it not be more than just to have a full stomach? Why do we so often rush through our meals without ever fully appreciating what actually went into it in the first place?

Manfredi Restaurant is the quintessential orgasm on a plate. And being a Chef’s Hat Restaurant, they may not be happy with me describing them this way. However I cannot think of a better compliment than this. There are chef’s that strive their whole lives to be this good. And there are chef’s that will work their whole lives to simply try to be in the same league. But whatever magic Mandfredi has, is firmly locked within the stainless steel walls of the endlessly spotless kitchen. I have tried many a time to stand at the pass and get a glimpse of what goes on behind. But just like magic, all the tricks are hidden from the naked eye and the waitresses seem to direct you to your table so the chef’s never reveal any of their supernatural powers.

Please don’t go to Manfredi if you don’t care for the food. Don’t go there if you don’t care about the obvious love and attention that goes into each and every bite. And please don’t go there if you are not going to appreciate the staff – each and every one of them. This restaurant knows how things are done and there is a reason why they are rated so highly amongst their peers.

This is a one-of-a-kind experience and you should value such a culinary sensation. When we waste so many moments in life not caring about what we are doing or where we are, take yourself to a place where every single morsel of life matters. Oh and try the steak – not a morsel – its massive – and I guarantee you will enjoy every single bite and never want the moment to end. There, is savouring a moment!

Manfredi at Bells Restaurant
107 The Scenic Road,
Killcare Heights NSW
P: 4349 7000

Moneypenny, Newcastle NSW

Moneypenny, Newcastle NSW

Sexy Solace with a little ‘tude!

If you want romance, you call Holly Golightly. If you want adventure you call Lara Croft. If you want strength you call The Bride. But if you want solace, you always call Moneypenny.

Solace can often be found in a place you least expect. When running through Newcastle recently, trying to escape the wind and the cold, relief was found in a little bar called Moneypenny. Located within the Honeysuckle Precinct the view from Moneypenny is beautiful even on a cold day and you can imagine how pumping this place would be during the warmer months.

The interior of the bar is petite, dark and sexy with flair and the slight nod to Asia adds a little cheekiness – just like Moneypenny herself – and the enclosed deck area provides a welcome relief from the wind, while still giving a stonking view over the industrial style harbour area. With heaters burning on high and a combination of the Bombay and upscale pub food warming me, it a formula that kick starts our hearts since being frozen by the winter chill.

And its not just us who have been attracted to this place. There is a hen’s party on one side and an elderly lady who has just had her hair permed on the other. I almost feel sorry for her and her new hair-do because of the weather, until I see the look on her face as the fancy cocktail she ordered arrives at her table beautifully presented like a scientist presenting a prize-winning formula. Priceless! At that point, I don’t think she cares what her hair looks like!

Two smart ladies also hide out in a corner gossiping and sipping espresso martini’s and as a young family, obviously in a hurry to escape the cold, run along the foreshore, I want to invite them in for a moment of solace and a stress-relieving beverage.

Whilst this place is known for its cocktails, don’t discount their wine list. We order a bottle of Tyrrell’s Brookdale Semillon to go with our Cheese Burger Sliders, Prawn and Avocado Taco’s and massive Cheesy Bacon Fries. All up at a cost of around $100 including drinks we consider this a bargain!

I used to live in this town and I think if Moneypenny were here then, I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to leave. Everyone needs a little solace sometimes. A retreat from life in general for a while. Moneypenny offers all that and more and let’s be honest… solace is always served best with a good, strong beverage.

1 Honeysuckle Dr,
Newcastle NSW
Phone: (02) 4926 1799


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
[email protected]

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

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

[email protected]



Journey to a Happy Place

Journey to a Happy Place

Everyone should have a Happy Place. A place where you can go and completely get away from it all, enjoy a quiet glass of something sparkly and indulge in a nice meal. Our such place is the Mercure Kooindah Waters Golf & Spa Resort on the NSW Central Coast, which is literally an Aboriginal word for Happy Place! 

Completely hidden and somewhat off the beaten track is a place that most Coasties don’t even know exists. This out-of-the-way site includes a beautiful hotel, an award winning golf course and a restaurant and cafe option that will suit even the pickiest of foodies.  

Perched high over the 9th Hole, Karinya’s Restaurant and Wine Bar is cosy during Winter with a large glass fireplace to keep you warm while you watch the rain fall on the large picture windows. Dimly lit, it is very romantic and with excellent service, Karinya’s is the perfect place to impress a first date. I should know! KAM is a smart man! Whilst their menu changes seasonally, I can highly recommend their steak dishes – they are always cooked to perfection! With dishes priced around $35-$40 each, this is love at first bite! The wine list too, changes quite regularly and they obviously have a great relationship with some top wine companies, so you won’t get bored with the offerings on the list. 

On the flip-side the more relaxed wine bar with a cafe style menu is great for a lazy Summer lunch and is no “poor cousin” to its fine dining counterpart. Lazing on the sunny verandah (watching poor golfers having the occasional tantrum over a terrible shot!), a large umbrella shades us as we sip champagne and wait for our meals. Taltarni finalWe can usually order enough food for the two of us to share for around $30 which is very reasonable considering the size of the dishes when they arrive, and bottles of bubbly are usually around $35 each – today we have chosen Taltarni T Series, Chardonnay Pinot Noir to pair with our lunch – a stonking drop! All in all, a small expense for the level of quality served here. 

Mercure Kooindah Waters is always a quiet place to relax in chic, contemporary style and is 100% our go-to place when life starts to overwhelm us. All the staff know us by name and always greet us with a smile and a warm welcome. When we decide to head to Kooindah, we don’t tell anyone where we are going, we turn off our mobile phones and do not allow devices at the table. We have had many a moment here just breathing and sitting in the silence, trying to regroup. This is our Happy Place and I guarantee you will find your “happy” here too. 

Mercure Kooindah Waters
40 Kooindah Blvd, Wyong
NSW 2259
(02) 4355 5777

Find Your Muse

Find Your Muse

Muse Kitchen is not only an assault on your senses – it is an awakening of your soul. 

A spin-off from the larger Muse, located at Hungerford Hill Winery, Muse Kitchen is set a bit further out in Pokolbin, within the beautiful grounds of Keith Tulloch Winery and in my opinion, does not play second fiddle to its larger rival. In fact, I prefer this restaurant.

The magical hideaway that Muse Kitchen is nestled within, is an Alice in Wonderland like place where you completely forget about the rest of the world and are sure you have happily fallen down the rabbit hole. 

The service here is beyond expectations and you find yourself smiling even before you have ordered. The menu is smart, sophisticated and has a sense of rustic charm making it difficult to decide, and wanting to order everything including dessert. The service is smart and efficient but not intrusive or in your face and if you are a Hunter Valley virgin, the staff will happily recommend a great drop to suit the dish of your choice. Although this is fine dining, there is nothing pretentious about Muse Kitchen.  

Then…. There is the food. The word ‘food’ seems an understatement when describing the art on a plate that is delivered to your table. The aromas that float through the restaurant, leave your mouth watering and you find yourself wishing that each dish ready for delivery is yours. 

We each chose the Wagyu and the Lamb and because it’s a cold day out, these warm country style dishes (Approx. $36 each) are the perfect thing to warm your insides. They arrive in big, deep, stoneware bowls and the fresh crusty bread, warm straight from the oven, is just tempting us to wipe the bowl clean! These dishes would go perfectly with a deep glass of Red, but as it is in the middle of the day, we choose a bottle of the 2015 Keith Tulloch ‘Semi-Dry’ Semillon ($24) which is zesty enough to perfectly compliment the flavours within each of the dishes. YUM! 

A masterpiece for the senses is every dish designed by the Chef at Muse Kitchen. Each ingredient is fresh and vibrant and is beautifully paired so that every bite involves a myriad of flavour combinations. The dishes create a sense of warmth and make you want to share and swap with one another so you can experience everything this restaurant has to offer. 

The Chef at Muse Kitchen is not merely a Chef – he is a magician. We don’t know how the magic is done, and want to know, but also know we will never be able to replicate the slight of hand that results in the enchantment of every dish. MUSE FLOWERS

All in all, do not go to Muse Kitchen if you want a quick on-the-run lunch. Take the time to immerse yourself in this beautiful place and the love within menu. Order a beautiful bottle of wine, share your dishes and take the time to enjoy the overall experience. Muse Kitchen is the inspiration for art with food, and rivals some of the greatest masterpieces of all time. An awe-inspiring experience!

Muse Kitchen
Keith Tulloch Winery
Cnr. Hermitage & Deasys Roads,
Pokolbin NSW 2320

A New Custom

A New Custom

We decide to try something new. Some investigation on the net finds some very cool and trendy bars and restaurants in the Newcastle area. Why didn’t I know about these places when I lived here? Luxury in Newcastle – Who’d of thought?!

Neither KAM or I have ever been to the places we have selected to visit and we are like little children on Christmas Eve, dying to get there to start our food and wine adventure of Newcastle. I am sceptical and somewhat nervous, as I have my doubts that Newcastle could be a place of trend and any type of hip. But as we arrive in the pouring rain to our first location, Customs House Hotel, we are not disappointed and feel right at home in this ultra cool but super chilled-out space.

BAROur first impression is the lady behind the bar who let’s me swim for a bit in their extensive wine list. We choose a glass to start of the Brokenwood Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. The waitress tells us to take a seat on the beautiful covered veranda and she will bring it out to us. Although the weather has turned nasty we are seated a cute cafe table on a veranda that rivals one from Downtown Abbey. The foreboding structure of this place, does nothing to describe the cool surprise that awaits behind it’s somewhat intimidating facade. The wine, with the bottle is casually brought out to us and the waitress checks the wine with us before pouring the glasses. It is ice cold. And has a hint of spice that lasts on your tongue. Perfect to pair with the two meals we order – which come out at the perfect time, having just enough time to relax and feel like we have arrived.

KAM says that the steak sandwich ($16) is the best he has ever had. The steak was succulent and from the moment he cut it in half, he couldn’t wait to indulge. The steak oozes out both sides of the sourdough bun and he says that there was no chewing involved – it really does melt in the mouth, despite the cliché!

Meanwhile, I am busy melting into a linguine with pesto, garlic, white wine and the largest prawns I have ever seen!($31). The texture of this dish blows me away and I want to simply bathe in this dish forever. The wine pairs perfectly with both dishes and I’m glad we ordered a wine with a bit of a kick to go with these funky, yet traditional plates. The dishes are massive too, but not so big that you can’t eat them. For the price, they are excellent value for money.

To finish off our experience we decide to try a glass of one of our favourites. Tyrrell’s Stevens Semillon. Love, love, love. And at $10 a glass or $44 a bottle it is cheaper than anywhere we have seen it before. I don’t really need reminding about good this wine is, as it is a favourite of ours, but the smooth sensation of this beautiful wine, never fails to surprise me. If you are a Semillon drinker, this wine is a hard one to beat.FullSizeRender (3)

Even on a crappy day, the view is spectacular and reminds us both of sitting at the Beach House in Port Macquarie on a Summer’s day. There is a vibe about this place, and you can tell that it pumps on days when the weather is nice. A perfect place for a weekend beverage. Cool music pumps throughout the building and as I type Donovan Frankenreiter comes on, somewhat cementing me to this place. We will return here. I just know it. It’s cool. It’s pretty. It’s like a secret that everyone somehow knows about. It’s very us.

Customs House Hotel
1 Bond Street,
Newcastle NSW
[email protected]