January, February, March, April, May, *BLINK*, December, January...
What a whirlwind time this year has been, particularly the last few weeks, which seem to have flown by quicker than a turbojet-powered Concorde travelling at something like Mach 2.04.
It seems like ages since I last wrote a blog post, and yet it was a mere ten days ago. Still, it feels like a month, so I'm going to take a moment to ask, 'How was your Christmas?' What good things have you been doing lately?
Peter and I spent time gallivanting and socialising throughout December.
Melbourne and The Art of Banksy (unauthorised) exhibition...
At the beginning of the month, we had a few days in Melbourne. We flew down for The Art of Bansky exhibition, which can be found in a marquee "in the dodgy carpark, behind the good carpark behind Federation Square". It is showing until 22 January 2017.
Curated by Banky's former manager, Steve Lazarides, the exhibition presents what is said to be "the largest collection of Banksy pieces to reach Australian shores", including the iconic ‘Girl with Balloon’ (my favourite), ‘Flag Wall’, ‘Laugh Now’, and the controversial 'Migrants not Welcome'.
Granted, not everyone is a fan of the infamous graffiti/stencil artist and the messages conveyed, but we certainly appreciate Banksy's work, and we love Melbourne, so it was the perfect excuse to visit this beautiful city again.
While in Melbourne, we explored the Queen Victoria Markets (image at top), as well as calling in to our favourite cake shops, cafes and eateries. We also discovered some fabulous laneways and foodie precincts that we hadn't previously visited. More about Melbourne in an upcoming article.
Dining out in Canberra...
Ginger Catering and The Conservatory Restaurant at the National Arboretum:
December was a most convivial month and we had the pleasure of attending Ginger Catering's Christmas Belles event at the stunning Conservatory Restaurant, hosted by chef/owner, Janet Jeffs.
The Conservatory Restaurant is, without question, one of my favourite venues in Canberra... and Janet has long been one of my favourite chefs. A farmer herself, Janet is a champion for local producers and regional produce, which she showcases superbly.
Janet explains that her aim is to source produce primarily within Canberra’s 100-mile foodshed to support good farming in the region. Her focus is on organic and biodynamic produce, heirloom meats, seasonal vegetables and fruits, and sustainable sea and fresh water foods.
At one of the Ginger Catering events that we attended earlier this year, I popped into the kitchen and presented Janet with a bag of fresh hazelnuts bought from a grower just outside of Orange in NSW. She popped a hazelnut into her mouth and said, 'These are really good, Liz.' I nodded knowingly and smiled. As the first course of tender young asparagus was served, I was delighted to see lightly roasted hazelnuts on the plate, scattered atop the asparagus. A last minute addition, and yet the perfect match.
Not only is the food and vibe outstanding, the outlook from The Conservatory Restaurant is magnificent. These are some of THE BEST views in my home town of Canberra.
Poachers Pantry and Wily Trout Vineyard:
At Poachers Pantry, Rob and Susan Bruce have been creating delicious stories for some 25 years. Recently, Susan and her family launched the "restored, renovated, reinvigorated and reenergised" Poachers Pantry Smokehouse Restaurant and Wily Trout Cellar Door.
The new-look Poachers Pantry seats 100 people inside. While the outdoor deck and terrace area offers seating for 100, looking out over the 1890s slab woolshed and the kitchen garden, to the hills beyond. There's a fireplace made from stones collected by Susan’s son, Will Bruce, and a new cool room for displaying Poachers’ smoked goods.
The Good Things team was invited to lunch at Poachers Pantry in November, and I went back again in the middle of December for a pre-Christmas catch up with my local food blogger friends. It was a good opportunity to check out chef Marcel's latest menu, which includes my absolute favourite smoked lamb cutlets with sprouts. Yum!
News on the book...
On this journey as an author, I have felt humbled, honoured and chuffed every second of the day.
A fortnight ago, ahead of the UN's International Migrants Day, I had the great honour of presenting a copy of my book, The Barber from Budapest & other stories, to Mr Joseph S. Appiah, Chief of Mission/Australia, Coordinator and Advisor for NZ PNG and the Pacific, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Canberra.
The IOM and its predecessor agency, together with The International Red Cross, assisted my family, and many thousands of others, who had fled Hungary following the Revolution and Freedom Fight in 1956. To this day, this inter-governmental organisation continues to assist refugees and migrants around the world; working to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
This cause is very close to my heart and, as such, a percentage of the royalties from sales of my book will be donated to the IOM. It is only a small gesture in the big scheme of things, but I would like to do my bit to say thank you to the IOM and help those who are so desparately in need of aid.
Media coverage since the launch has been remarkable - with a four-page (cover) feature appearing in the Relax magazine of The Canberra Times; as well as reviews on several other print and online publications. I was also invited to speak on Radio National's Life Matters program; together with Sunday Brunch with Lish Fejer on 666 ABC, and Radio 2CC in Canberra.
Feedback from readers has been deeply touching - and greatly appreciated.
"Cannot wait to give mum these wonderful reads by Rick Stein and Liz Posmyk for Christmas. I started reading The Barber from Budapest & other stories and almost kept it for myself!" Chloe.
"I heard you speak on Radio National, Liz. I'm just a country boy, but I found your story to be so moving. I can't wait to read the book." Colin.
"I love holidays the most because it provides time to read. I've been saving up things for my break and this was one of them. My friend, Liz Posmyk, wrote this beautiful, enjoyable and very memorable book. I just finished reading it, my mum read it straight after me and dad is reading it now. Not often a book is good enough that everyone wants a turn!" Kyrstie.
"It has arrived. I'm so looking forward to reading this book!" Charmaine.
"The amazing Liz Posmyk has published a heartfelt book telling her family's migration story. The book also includes a whole series of Hungarian recipes that I can't wait to try." Sharon.
"It's beautifully written, Liz. I cried, I laughed. I loved it and I want everyone to read it." Alicia.
"I have been thinking about your book all day since I finished reading it. It is an amazing story and beautifully written." Kay.
"I gave my mother a copy of your beautiful book for Christmas. My step father was found sitting engrossed in it today. This is significant, as he is definitely not a book reader." Serina
Above are just a few of the images that have come my way. Seeing these photographs of my book on social media, alongside positive comments, has made my heart sing.
I have also received numerous congratulatory emails and heartwarming telephone calls from across Australia. I would like to take this opportunity to say 'thank you' once again.
As an author, it means the world to to me to know that people are delighted with the look, feel and content of my book; and, more importantly, that my family's story resonates.
I hope that it inspires you to sit down and talk with members of your own family. Let curiosity get the better of you. Ask those probing questions and look through those old photographs and documents together. Delve into your family's history before you lose your loved ones, and then preserve their stories for generations to come.
Versailles - Treasures from the Palace in Canberra...
I purchased special tickets to see an exclusive exhibition of more than 130 treasures from the Palace
of Versailles, which is currently showing at the National Gallery of Australia.
Versailles: Treasures from the Palace brings to life the extraordinary history of one of the world’s most opulent palaces, the centre of French power and taste during the reigns of King Louis XIV, XV and XVI. Featuring paintings, tapestries, sculptures, furniture and many other objects, this monumental exhibition evokes the sights, sounds and even scents of the French court during the 17th–18th centuries.
It was fascinating to see the 1.5 tonne fountain sculpture of 'Latona and her children', as well as treasures from the world famous Hall of Mirrors. The Gallery's main entrance has also been transformed by renowned gardener, Paul Bangay, who has created a garden avenue as a homage to Versailles.
Versailles: Treasures from the Palace at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra until 17 April 2017. Tickets are available through Ticketek. More on this exhibition in an upcoming photographic essay.
A cheery and delicious Christmas...
The festive season came and went so quickly. In the European tradition, my extended family joined us for a feast on Christmas Eve. Peter and I enjoyed a quieter day on the 25th, and took the opportunity to have much-needed cat naps.
Boxing Day birthday...
I really don't mind that my birthday falls on Boxing Day. My dear friends and family always seem to go out of their way to make it a special day for me.
Using the last of the ham...
Happy New Year to you and yours!
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours good health and happiness in 2017. Thank you kindly for your readership and encouragement throughout 2016.
It's your turn now, dearest readers. What's been happening in your part of the world this month? Did you have a good Christmas? Do please tell, I love hearing your news xo
I'm Liz, a.k.a Bizzy Lizzy,
the writer, cook and traveller behind
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.