Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New York - Hotels with rooftop veggie gardens

The rooftop garden of the Westin New York Grand Central with the Chrysler building in the background.

Squeezing this post in on the last day of the year!
In September, I spent a week exploring the rooftop gardens of some of Manhattan's swankiest hotels.
Here's my story published in the Sun Herald 'Traveller' lift out. You'll be inspired!

 41 floors up

 luscious cherry tomatoes

 Chef Brain Wieler with his just-harvested crop

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Australian Garden Show Sydney - Sept 5-8

Just 6 weeks to go before I unveil my Kitchen Garden installation at the inaugural Australian Garden Show Sydney. Australia's premiere horticultural and garden show will be held at Centennial Park from September 5 - 8.
As an ambassador and curator for the show I was asked to design a sustainable edible garden to capture the imagination of the tens of thousands of garden enthusiasts who will be visiting our displays. My installation will feature heritage breed chooks, aqua-ponics, pedal-powered sprinklers, native bee hives, worm farms, composting systems, vegetable arches, a vertical strawberry wall and - a merry-go-round ! (plan below)
There'll also be talks and cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs Kylie Kwong and Matt Moran and a champagne bar so you can kick back while the kids are running around the gardens.
Of course they'll be the traditional garden and flower displays from some of the country's and the world's leading garden designers including Andrew Fisher Tomlin, Patrick Blanc, and Myles Baldwin.
Book your tickets now at

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Palm Beach - Sustainable Seafood Lunch

It's late autumn and we're in Palm Beach, NSW, to throw a sustainable seafood feast for our friends.

The setting is the glorious beach-side garden of Frangipani Cottage.

The two-bedroom cottage, owned by Barrenjoey House, is a stone's throw from Pittwater Beach and the Central Station bus and ferry stop. A perfect getaway from the hubbub of city life.
The table is set...

.. and the guests arrive.
Our sustainable seafood selection has been hand-picked by Carmelo at De Costi Seafoods at the Sydney Fish Markets. With the world's fish stocks in desperate decline, it's vital that consumers only purchase sustainable fish species. How can you tell? Well, the best reference guide is the Marine Stewardship Council. They put their label of approval on 11,000 sustainable species. Look out for it before you buy.

The oysters Carmelo has selected for us are 3-4 year old Sydney rock oysters from Merimbula on the NSW south coast. We're having them with an aged champagne vinaigrette.

They have that wonderful briny bite of a younger Sydney rock but are also larger and creamier with a spritzy ozoney after-taste.

Sensational with this bottle of toasty Pol Roger 1998 that's been gathering dust on our wine rack.

Next it's meaty prawns from Yamba on the NSW north coast.

The hungry crowd goes through 2kgs in no time.

Everyone agrees they're the tastiest prawns they've ever had.

'No, please - I simply can't have anymore!'
Next, Carmelo has carefully filleted some saltwater barramundi fillets from Wild River in Queensland for us. They are firm-textured and deliciously fresh.
Lunch guests Paul and Tim simply fry them in olive oil, salt and pepper and drizzle over a sage burnt butter sauce.

Served with a simple boiled new potato and spinach salad tossed with a tangy salsa verde, seafood really doesn't get any better than this.
The seafood we've feasted on has been raised in pristine waters in their natural ecosystems which is why it tasted so good.

clean plates tell the story.

and of course there is always room for a little chocolate tart prepared by the chefs at Barrenjoey House. 
Saucy Onion stayed as a guest of Barrenjoey House and all seafood was supplied by De Costi Seafood at the Sydney Fish Markets.
Phone: +61 (2) 9974 4001
Fax: +61 (2) 9974 5008
1108 Barrenjoey Rd, Palm Beach NSW 2108

De Costi Seafood at the Sydney Fish Market
Black Wattle Bay Pyrmont
(02) 9692 9188

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013

12 day Mushroom Kit - for Windowsill farmers

There I was thinking I've got a tiny space to grow my food. But in reality a 20 square metre balcony is a rather generous acreage for pots and plantings. What about those folk who only have a windowsill or worse still a windowsill without much light? Here's a solution if you love mushrooms.

These wonderful shoe-box size kits, are easy to use and just require a water spray four or five times a day to produce a delicious crop of pearl oyster mushrooms. The box fits on a kitchen bench or window sill and after your mushrooms have finished cropping for a second time, the box and straw filling can be completely recycled in your worm farm or compost bin. At $20 a pop you'll save money as

Day 1

Day 1
Day 4

Day 5

Day 7

Day 10

Day 11
break off your mushrooms from their box, fry up some onions, garlic and some pancetta, add your fresh, crunchy mushrooms, blitz up and....
........... viola! Mushroom soup with a swirl of yoghurt.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DIY Magnetic Spice Rack

Who else has an out of control spice rack,drawer or cupboard with hits and memories from the 70s, 80s and 90's ? Well, my summer holiday job was to organise my spices with a dymo labeller, magnetic spice containers and a magnetic whiteboard. Et voila! Now I have a fabulous spice wall and an art installation in one! The containers are from

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Brooklyn, NYC - Roof top farms

Roof top farms in the city are not some futuristic fantasy. They're a reality. A what's more they're profitable businesses employing hundreds of city folk.
One of the most successful farms is 'Brooklyn Grange' set up three years ago on a roof top in Queens New York. They now have two roof tops supplying local restaurants and farmers stalls with fresh organic produce from lettuces to tomatoes to honey.
Watch their inspiring story....


Thursday, March 21, 2013

House restaurant - spicy edible courtyard

House has been wowing CBD workers with its $10 lunches and refreshing beers from the next door pub for a few years now.

The restaurant flows into a shaded courtyard on busy Elizabeth Street.

But rather than the usual ornamental plantings to cut down on noise and pollution, House has planted a spicy edible garden.

Instead of boring box hedges there are hedges of pungent bird's eye chillies that are used in the kitchen.

Beautiful and edible all in one.

Potted kaffir lime trees act as a split level barrier.

How healthy do they look?

 And I just adore this vast hedge of Vietnamese mint. What a great idea!
And there's plenty of basil for the kitchen as well...
 Thai basil and lemongrass
One of the best edible gardens I've seen. Built to be beautiful and practical.