Sunday, 27 July 2014

Lifestyle // 'My Guide To Melbourne's Best Restaurants'

Since leaving Melbourne I've wanted to publish a sort of guide to Melbourne and it's best restaurants/bars. We ate out at so many amazing places so it was hard to come up with a top 5 but I think I've just about managed it. Of course these are just mine and Stew's personal opinions, and there are plenty more cafes, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, takeaways, frozen yogurt places that are worthy of a top 5. The food and drink in Melbourne is exceptional so you won't be disappointed anywhere you go! But we all have our personal faves and here are mine...

Sweet Monday, Top Paddock, Melbourne's best restaurant, Melbourne
1. Top Paddock

Located in Richmond, but very close to South Yarra and Chapel Street this incredible cafe is worth a trip too. From the city you can get a tram or two to Richmond, otherwise you can walk along the rivers edge for maybe 20-30 minutes. Top Paddock has an excellent reputation for producing incredibly flavoursome food that looks stunning and is very reasonably priced. Everywhere in Australia is more expensive than it is in the UK so if you come here as a tourist you might be shocked at the prices on arrival. However once you adjust to the Australian dollar you will find that everywhere is about the same price when eating out, in the evening especially. I would say you can expect to spend anywhere between $10-$20 for a good lunch, and $20-30 for dinner. 

We visited Top Paddock twice but I wish we'd gone more. From following them on instagram I could see that the rest of their menu was just as good as what we tried. From left to right we had the blueberry hotcake (complete with edible flowers), the soft shell crab in a brioche bun, and the poached fruit and coconut bread (again with edible flowers). All were amazing on the taste buds and the presentation is definitely instagram/blog worthy.

Sweet Monday, Meatballs and Wine Bar, Melbourne
2. The Meatball and Wine Bar

I loved this restaurant so much I ate there 3 times, twice with Stew and once with a friend. Located on Flinders Lane this beauty is in the heart of the city centre, close to Flinders Street Station and Federation Square. It's likely that you will have to queue to eat here or put your name on the list and come back later, no matter what time of the day you go and seven days a week. It's pretty famous in Melbourne with tourists and locals. 

I'm not a huge fan of meatballs but their dishes are something to shout about. The menu is simple and easy, you first choose your ball (pork, beef, chicken, fish or veggie), you then choose your sauce (tomato, cheese or pesto) and then you choose what you want them sitting on top of. You can pick from creamy mash, polenta, pasta or you can have them on their own. They also come served with a mouth watering slice of bread. From my 3 experiences I think I have now tried every combination and can safely say they all blew me away. And you must must must try their mini sliders!! A meatball in a brioche bun covered in whichever sauce you prefer. Seriously so good!

Sweet Monday, N2 Extreme Gelato, Fitzroy Melbourne, Melbourne's best icecream
3. N2 Extreme Gelato

If you visit Melbourne or Sydney I suggest follow N2 on instagram to see a full range of their marvellous creations. The ice-cream itself is so creamy and the flavours are delicious! They go to town with their inventive ingredients and style. We tried the Ferrero Rocher one which came complete with an injection of hot liquid chocolate. Mm mm! The place itself is pretty cool to hang out and watch them making it too. I can't wait to visit the Sydney one too.

Sweet Monday, Sweet Water Inn, Chapel Street, Melbourne's best restaurant
4. Sweetwater Inn

Tucked away behind Chapel Street this place has to be found! If you're heading to Chapel Street for a shopping trip stop by for lunch, otherwise make a visit for dinner and cocktails. It's an American style restaurant in a huge warehouse building. With an open fire, the owners dog roaming around and cute Jack Daniels salt and pepper pots, this place is bursting with personality. 

The cocktails pictured above were only $10 which is the cheapest cocktail I've found so far in Australia, so it's worth a visit just for that. And who doesn't love a cocktail in a jam jar or a tin can?! :) The food above was the pulled pork bun and beer battered chips! But since visiting twice the second time I had the wagu beef sandwich which came with a layer of gravy inside and I would highly recommend that for all you meat lovers. It was insanely good and pretty cheap for Melbourne. 

Sweet Monday, Naked For Satan, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Melbourne's best rooftop bar
5. Naked For Satan

Naked For Satan is a really cool bar in Fitzroy with a roof top area home to an incredible view of the city skyline. They serve up an extensive list of cocktails, they're pretty pricey ($20-$25) but they look and taste amazing. They also serve tapas style food for $2 each. You simple help yourself and then they come over and count up how many cocktail sticks you've left behind. Pretty genius way of doing bar snacks. This is definitely the best rooftop bar we visited in Melbourne but be warned on a busy Saturday night you might be queuing for half an hour to get in the lift! It gets crazily busy, especially on a hot day. Fitzroy is a super cool area to explore though and go out for food or drinks, so Naked For Satan has to be on the list to stop by for a quick cocktail. 

I may do another post similar to this but of things to do and see in Melbourne :)

Hope you liked it! If you ever come to Melbourne and visit any of these places you'll have to ket me know.

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Friday, 25 July 2014

A Retro Night In!

Sweet Monday, Retro night in

It’s great to have the odd night in with your mates instead of feeling that you have to go out somewhere and spend loads of money every time you want to have a get-together. But if you’re going to stay in, you need to have something planned in terms of activity so that you don’t just spend the night flopped out in front of the TV.

A retro night in is always an entertaining option and these are the kind of activities you could think about including.

Play some games

Go back to life before the internet and get out some of your favourite board games. Great ones to play in a big group include Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. There are also those classic party games that you could try – charades or ‘Who am I?’ where everyone has a name of a famous person stuck on their forehead, and needs to ask other people questions to find out who they are. Party games work even better when everyone’s had a few drinks and is feeling more relaxed and uninhibited, of course.

Sweet Monday, retro night in

Play games of chance

Buy a lottery ticket – either one each or a few for the group to share as a syndicate – and watch the lottery draw live on TV. You never know, if you hit the jackpot like one of the Euromillions most recent draws have had, none of you might not need to get up for work in the morning – ever again!

Bingo’s another game that can take you back in time but there’s no need to go to the local bingo hall; you can play it at home in a group. With online bingo sites, you can all login to play the same games on your mobiles or tablets and see who has the most luck as the numbers are called.

Sweet Monday blog, retro night in

Throw a house party

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned house party. Pick a retro theme like the seventies or eighties, or even go back further in time with a Roman toga party – which were all the rage in the seventies! Get everyone to dress up and increase the retro feel by serving food and drink appropriate to the theme of your party. Retro nights in are easy to organise and make a great change from heading to the usual bars and clubs in town. Next time you all want to meet up, try hosting some old-fashioned fun at your place.

*Written by Hannah Richardson. All photos my own

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lifestyle // Our new home in Sydney!

Sweet Monday, Ultimo, Sydney

It's about time I posted an update on our lives. We've now moved into our new apartment in Sydney. It's very similar to the place we lived in in Melbourne, in the fact that it's another modern apartment block with a swimming pool and great rooftop bbq area. However this apartment is much bigger and our bedroom is lovely and bright which I love! Our room in Melbourne was so dark as we had the smallest window and it just gets you down when no light gets into your room all day. 

This apartment is bigger because we're now living with another couple called Mel and Dave, they're from New Zealand and both seem lovely :) It's nice to live with others, I was hesitant at first but it's a great way of meeting new people and actually interacting with someone other than Stew. Ha!

Sweet Monday, Ultimo, Sydney Sweet Monday, Ultimo, Sydney

We did originally want a cosy terrace house in a leafy suburb but the price was so expensive and all of the ones we saw were very run down and we'd be sharing with a zillion backpackers which we definitely didn't want. I don't see us as backpackers when we're living and working for at least 6 months in once place and at 26 years old I can't be dealing with the whole 'student living' situation again. So I'm really pleased with the place we've found. We've made it our own with new bedding and a little trip to Ikea has brought new bedside tables and a shelving unit. As well as little bits like the potted plant below and two bottles for vases. Gotta give it that girly touch!

Sweet Monday, Ultimo, Sydney

We've also finally put all of our instagram polaroid prints up. We couldn't in our last place because the landlord wouldn't let us stick anything to the walls but now we can. I wanted to try and make a pattern to look like the opera house but that was way too complicated so we settled for SYD for Sydney. The little bits below are a beautiful Mexican skull that Jfahri (my last job) gave me as a leaving present, and a 'Sweet Monday In The Kitchen' recipe book that my super talented best friend Millie made me. It's a great notebook to put all my recipes in. 

Sweet Monday, Ultimo, Sydney Sweet Monday, Ultimo, Sydney

And finally this is the view of the city from our rooftop. There's also an outdoor pool up there which I can't wait to use in Summer.

Sydney, Sydney skyline

I know I haven't published any outfit posts recently, it's all been a bit difficult with the move. I haven't bought anything new for ages and haven't found a good spot to take any photos yet but I'll get there. Sometimes it's about living our real lives a little more than our blog ones. It's hard to take a step back but it's also been really refreshing not worrying about how many posts I have this week and what to post about. 

I hope I don't lose your interest though! My next post is going to be a guide to Melbourne with all my favourite places to eat and drink and then I'll get back into the swing of things. Now we have a place to cook I want to post more recipes again and maybe even get back into baking. I've really missed it.

Anyway enough of me babbling on. I hope you're still enjoying my posts and seeing what I'm up to on the other side of the world. I know it must be hard to relate to if you've never been to Australia but I enjoy reading and looking at photos of other peoples travels :)

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How Should You Dress At The Casino?

If you are going to a casino for the first time, you may not be sure of some things about the evening. This is especially true if you’re used to online casinos and have never gambled at a land based venue, as you don’t need to adhere to a dress code whilst playing at an iPad casino.

Images via Pinterest

For many women, knowing what to wear to an evening out can be a question they have. Usually casinos today prefer that women dress in a style known as smart casual, there’s no need to look like Sharon Stone in the film "Casino". This is a style that falls somewhere between casual clothing and the dressy styles on would wear to the office. Learning to pull together a smart casual outfit can be quite simple as most women have what they need already in their closet.
When thinking about the smart casual style, it may seem fairly straightforward which in a respect it is, with many people donning that attire for work. However, it does take a little effort to get it just right. The reason for this is that it is important to find balance between being too dressy or too casual. The look should fall somewhere in the middle. For some women this may be difficult to get right initially, but it also should be said that there can be so many smart casual outfits put together with a few basic pieces so it is open to many different combinations.
 There are a few garments that can be worked into a smart casual outfit. These would include tank tops, t-shirts, athletic jerseys, sweatshirts and hoodies. However, they should never be worn to the casino in the evening. Additionally, the garments worn should be decent. Casinos do not approve of patrons that dress too provocatively. Tops that show too much cleavage or expose one’s midriff should be left at home in the closet. Pants or skirts shouldn’t be too tight or have high rising slits that show too much leg.

*Written by Abi Stevenson
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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Lifestyle // Nectar & Stone

Sweet Monday, Nectar and Stone Sweet Monday, Nectar and Stone Sweet Monday, Nectar and Stone Sweet Monday, Nectar and Stone

I've been dying to blog about these beautiful chocolates by Nectar & Stone for so long! The lady behind these little pyramids of heaven is Caroline Khoo, single handedly crafting a range of delicious sweet treats from chocolates to cakes to macarons and biscuits. Based in Melbourne, I have followed Caroline on Instagram for a couple of months now and become quite addicted. Not only to her wonderful desserts but also to the stunning photos she takes of them. If you're on Instagram I highly recommend following her account, even if you're not from Melbourne or Australia. It will blow your mind!!

Last week I helped arrange a beauty event at my internship and was delighted to see these pack of 4 pink chocolates in the goodie bags. We had a couple left over so sneakily took a box each home with us. Each chocolate is bright pink in colour, filled with real oreo pieces and finished with gold leaf on top. 

Caroline has created these pyramids in just about every colour imaginable, including pastels, monochromes and ombre effect. There is plenty of inspiration to be had from this wonderful creative lady. She's certainly given me a boost to get back into baking. 

Oh and I promise I'll try to take a few hundred boxes of these bad boys back home for you all!

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