Author Archives: Celeste

About Celeste

Kiwi girl. Mum of twins. Passionate about New Zealand, wine, travel and social media. New to California.

Gastropubbing in Temecula

PUBlic House TemeculaPUBlic House
41971 Main Street, Temecula, California 92590

“A table for four, please?” I hungrily inquired. We were lead to a high bench table on the patio, complete with tall stools and right next to an indoor water feature. Dining with three year old twins in such an environment, what could possibly go wrong?

We were in Old Town Temecula, California and on a Scavenger Hunt (you can read about our Urban Adventure Quest here). Our tummies started to grumble half way through our Quest, so it was time to find somewhere scrumptious to fill our bellies.

There were plenty of dining options in the township to choose from. The PUBlic House, on Main Street, looked enticing (plus had kid’s food and vegetarian options). So, in we ventured.

PUBlic House is a gastropub, located within a 1950’s restored home in the middle of Old Town. It’s pretty funky, with wooden pallets adorning the walls sprouting greenery, and pages of a novel providing wallpaper on the bathroom walls.Public House Wallpaper Temecula

Public House TemeculaWith the kids perched precariously on high stools, fortunately with backs on the seats, and one tornado insisting he had to climb up and down and up and down and up and down (you get the picture) by himself, I was braced for the worst. But no one fell too hard. To be fair, putting us as close to the exit as possible, was probably a smart move on their part.

The water feature provided ample temptation, but after the same tornado put his hand under the deluge once, it was forgotten.

After three and a half years of twins, hubby and I are now experts at ordering the kid’s food ASAP, before we even attempt to contemplate what we’d like to eat ourselves, the twin tornados were happily munching on their grilled cheese (a cheese toasty for my Kiwi readers) in no time.

Grilled Cheese Public House TemeculaUnfortunately they tried to serve a green salad with the grilled cheese, ARE THEY CRAZY? They had mistakenly pushed a ‘greens’ button, instead of a fries button (if only I could get my three year olds munching spinach and lettuce leaves), but the fries were on the table in no time. We save the use of tablets for such as occasion as this, which then provides 15 mins of peace and quiet for the adults to consume their meals. Yep, that’s great parenting 101 right there!

The beer was large, and cold, which was perfect after running around the town solving clues on a hot day. My beer was even a little fruity, since I ordered the Refuge Grapefruit IPA (I like to mix it up a bit). A nice tall refreshing ale! Beer Public House Temecula

The food tasted as fantastic as it looked. I devoured my crispy roasted squash and potato gnocchi with gusto, savouring the sage brown butter sauce. I’m sure there was a hint of citrus in there too, but it could have been the beer.Public House Temecula Gnocchi

Hubby embarked on a journey of pork loin stuffed with roast duck, or Duck Stuffed Pork. He was a happy Hubby at the end of it. Yes, I am the only vegetarian in this family.Public House Temecula Duck stuffed Pork

Both the beer and the food impressed, as did the behaviour of our children. A winning trifecta, and very rare occurrence.

As we say in our household when something goes well – High Five!

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Coming To You From SoCal

This blog has been a little quiet, so I thought I’d explain.

We’ve moved…

Being an ‘all or nothing’ kind of family we didn’t just move house, or to a different neighbourhood or town. Three months ago, my little New Zealand family (Hubby, the twin tornados and myself) packed up our Kiwi life and moved halfway across the world to Southern California. We don’t do things by halves – we have twins, remember!

Now that the kids are getting a little older (they are four this year), I’m hoping we’ll get out a little more and I can kick start this blog again. Although, we are suffering from a lack of babysitters here, but I’m sure that will change.

If you’d like to follow our American journey, you can read all about our move and what we’re up to in SoCal on my other blog, Jandals and Jet Planes.

I’ll try and keep this blog for reviews of restaurants and attractions, but there is bound to be a little cross over from time to time.

We’ve already:

But it wasn’t until I wrote a post about a wonderful lunch experience that I had last week, that I realised that I should resurrect CelesteReviews properly.

Plus, the good folks at Zomato invited me to be one of their NZ bloggers when they first bought out Menu Mania, so I kind of feel a little bad that I haven’t been writing for a while.

So here I am. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Rose on Roberts
92 Roberts Street, Taupo

I can’t believe we’ve never been to Rose on Roberts before. The food is incredible, the craft beer selection and wine list is great, the staff both knowledgeable and friendly, with a fun, yet family friendly atmosphere.

CelesteReviews Rose on Roberts Nori Seaweed Bread

Nori Seaweed Loaf

We should have known we were in for a treat when the complimentary bread was served. A warm loaf of nori seaweed bread, with a dollop of truffle butter. Absolutely gorgeous.

For an entree, I chose the a Yam Soup ($10). I was a little nervous, but it was a great choice – flavoursome and hot (which is always a bonus), and a lovely start to a chilly evening.

CelesteReviews Rose on Roberts Yam Soup

Yam Soup

CelesteReviews Rose on Roberts Pork Belly

Pork Belly

Hubby started with the Pork Belly starter, served with white bean puree, lentils, carrot and daikon salad ($16). As a vegetarian, I have no concept of this, but apparently the crunch/pop you get when you cut into it was “perfect”. There was nothing left on his plate, so I believe him.

CelesteReviews Rose on Roberts  Tagliatelle

Duck Leg Tagliatelle

For mains, Hubby chose the pasta special – braised duck legs with tagliatelle and parmesan ($30). Once again he was impressed with his selection.

My order, was a generous serving of pumpkin risotto with creme fraiche ($28). So generous in size, that I couldn’t finish it – however it was very tasty.

CelesteReviews Rose on Roberts Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

I’ve included the pricing in this article, because I want to let you in on a little secret. Who hasn’t used BookMe yet? We dined on the Rose on Roberts 6pm dining, 3 courses for $32.90 special from this site. Phenomenal value!

Which brings me to dessert. Hubby and I are usually so full by this stage in the evening, that we are lucky if we can even share a dessert between us. But, because we ordered the 3 course special, we had to try. We both ordered the beautifully presented chocolate dish – Valrhona peanut slab, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, chocolate and peanut ice cream ($16). It broke me! Hubby had to roll me out in a chocolate coma! Delicious, but way more than I could fit in my belly.

CelesteReviews Rose on Roberts Chocolate

Chocolate, peanuts, chocolate, chocolate and chocolate

Don’t forget a trip to the bathroom to admire the quirky quotes.

All in all, we were very impressed with our dining experience. Hubby wants to return with meat eating family members to give the ‘Whole Slow Cooked Lamb Leg to Share’ ($80) a go. Sunday roast, anyone?


Delectable Feast in Newport Beach

CUCINA ENOTECA
Fashion Island, Newport Beach,
Orange County, California

Suffice to say, being the parents of 3 year old twins, we don’t often time for a ‘date night’ meal. Especially one that is 11,000kms away. However, sometimes you have to go the distance, to make these things happen!CelesteReviews Cucina Enoteca

Blame it on the jet lag, or the rose tinted glasses of a few days of ‘twinlessness’, but I still believe Cucina Enoteca was one of the best dining experiences that Hubby and I have ever had.

Celeste CelesteReviews

From our wonderfully attentive waiter (Andy), who intelligently answered all our questions (of both the food and wine), all while deciphering our thick NZ accents, to the quirky decor, funky ambience and interesting toilet wishes (more about that later), this was a 5 Star, A+, top quality meal.

And, I haven’t even touched on the food or wine yet.

The wine selection was huge and as an added bonus, you could purchase a bottle from their retail store and consume it (for a small corkage fee) with your meal.

As a vegetarian, I was impressed with the unique options available on the menu. We began our evening with the artichoke and truffle hummus, which was served in a mason jar, and so delicious, we had to order more bread.

CelesteReviews Aritchoke Truffle Hummus

Artichoke & Truffle Hummus

CelesteReview Mushroom Bolognaise

Mushroom Bolognaise

The mushroom bolognaise was an outstanding dish – and I’m sure a meat eater wouldn’t have even realised it was vegetarian.

Hubby opted for one of the signature dishes (short rib pappardelli) and wasn’t disappointed. Both meals were perfectly portioned and went well with our local Zinfandel.

CelesteReviews Short Rib Pappardelli

Short Rib Pappardelli

We were having such a great evening that we even indulged in dessert, which we are usually too full to enjoy.

CelesteReviews Torta Della Nonn

Torta della Nonna

We shared the torta della nonna – pinenut and blackberry prosecco sorbet with lemon sago – absolutely scrumptious.

No trip to this restaurant is complete without visiting the ladies toilet. As another quirky touch, a wish board awaits. You can write your hearts desire on a small piece of paper and tuck it into a frame with all the other wishes.

The staff delight in reading these wishes from time to time, so being the curious girl that I am, I had to find out what the most interesting wish they had seen was. Apparently, “I wish that my cheating husband contracts Ebola” is at the top of the list…

We can not wait to move to California, so we can enjoy this dining experience again. Oh, didn’t I tell you that we will be setting up house in the OC in the not too distant future? Well, that adventure might just be the next blog that I embark on…


It’s A Jungle Out There…

TWO TURN TWO

CelesteReviews Jungle Safari Photobooth

Jungle/Safari Photobooth

My twins are winter babies, so our household is in full party season, with all their twin friends turning two. BC (before children), I was a busy marketing professional and event organiser, so it gives me great delight to have an excuse to plan a party. Here’s what we created for their birthday party this year…

THEME

The key to any party planning is the THEME. I have boy/girl twins (the best of both worlds), but this can be a challenging problem when deciding on a unisex birthday idea. At the moment, they are really into animals and love to visit the zoo, so this year we chose a jungle/safari theme to celebrate their 2nd birthday.

To narrow the theme down even further, I decided to give each child an animal. Mr E a tiger and Miss H a zebra. Both were similar patterns (orange and black stripes versus white and black stripes), so this would be easy to bring a design together.

INVITE

Usually I’d create a pdf invite, but this year I was pressed for time and found a great graphic designer who was willing to create what I wanted at a reasonable price (cheaper than buying or printing and posting them myself). I sent the invites out via email.

DECORATIONS

BUNTING

Home made bunting (or a string of flags) is an easy, cost effective way to decorate a large space. I painted three separate A4 pages with different animal prints (giraffe, tiger and zebra), took them to Warehouse Stationery and printed them on coloured paper. The tiger print onto orange, the zebra print onto white, and the giraffe onto grey. In hindsight, I should have used yellow for the giraffe, but I was still happy with the outcome. To these three prints, I also added a plain green paper, which I had left over from a previous project.

CelesteReviews Jungle Bunting

You can get 3 triangle flags from a sheet of A4. Each A4 sheet is approx 30cm long. Make a pencil mark along one side at 15cm, and mark the other side at 7.5cm and 22.5cm. Draw a line between each mark and the corners of the page, and that is your cutting line. When you are done cutting, use a hole punch to place two holes evenly along the base of each triangle. Then thread string or ribbon through the holes.

It took the hubby and I one evening in front of the TV to measure and cut, and another to thread.

CelesteReviews Jungle table

Paper grass and plastic wild animals for the table

TABLE DECORATIONS

I have no idea what Mine Craft is, but when looking for ‘fake grass’ to use as a table cloth, I found someone selling Mine Craft paper grass sheets on Trade Me. They arrived flat packed and you pull them into a spiky square shape. They looked awesome, and with a cheap green table cloth underneath and some wild plastic animals placed strategically in the ‘grass’, we had a great base to add the food to.

PHOTO BOOTH

I love the idea of capturing guests in costume at a party. I wasn’t sure how successful we’d be working with two year olds, so I looked for something that would be low to the ground. I found this awesome safari jeep cut out at www.partyparty.co.nz, and created a back drop using a green table cloth, extra bunting and a few animal cut outs. The adults didn’t mind getting down to kiddie level to capture the moment. I also sent some of these images out with my thank you emails, and the guests loved them.

COSTUMES

CelesteReviews Face Painting

Facepainting by Rainbow Rascals

We love any excuse for a dress up party, and a kids party is no exception. To ensure no one had an excuse not to come in theme, I downloaded some printable jungle masks from Etsy and sent them (via email) with the party invitation.

The twins, their grandmother, their oddmother (we don’t have god parents, we have odd parents, but that’s a whole other blog), and myself headed to the talented Jane, from Rainbow Rascals, to be turned into wild creatures for the party. Considering it was the first time either child had been face painted, Jane did a remarkable job creating my little tiger and zebra. I’m pretty sure it was my first face painting too, as I was transformed into a fierce lion. Although the twins’ faces were a bit smeared by cake cutting and presents time (main photo moments), the adults’ lasted until bed time. Note to self: It’s perhaps not the best idea to answer the door to two year old guests by roaring at them while painted as a lion. I did have fun getting into character!

We had lions, tigers, zebras, leopards, a giraffe, chipmunk, panther, safari suits, and where the wild things are as characters.

FOOD

As a helpful gesture to those with allergies, and to keep in theme, I created themed food signs using PicMonkey.com. Food included;

  • Banana, mandarin, kiwifruit slices on a platter, displayed as a tree – Jungle Fruit
  • Chips, carrot sticks and dip – Hungry Hippo Dip
  • Pretzels – Tarzan Twigs
  • Peanuts – Elephant snacks
  • Sausages in pastry (pigs in a blanket) – Wild Boars
  • Ham and egg sandwiches – Safari Sammies

I also made signs saying ‘Don’t Feed the Animals’ and ‘Watering Hole’ for added aesthetics.

CelesteReviews Jungle Food

Jungle Fruit


CAKE

Last year I paid someone else to take care of the cake, but we really wanted to give it a go this year. The hubby did the baking – one round chocolate mud cake and one round banana cake. Keeping with the twins’ characters, I kept the cake design simple – Mr E’s was orange with black stripes and a plastic tiger on top, while Miss H was white with black strips and a plastic zebra on top. I used a bit of green butter icing and green coconut to create ‘grass’ to tidy up the bottom of the cakes. Thank you YouTube for the tutorials on how to put fondant (including zebra stripes) onto a cake.CelesteReviews Jungle Cakes

MUSIC

My husband loves the challenge of creating a playlist for every party we hold, and this was no exception (although I’m not sure if many people even noticed all the wild/jungle music over the noise of 20 toddlers). The rules for our selection were that they had to be wild animals/jungle lyrics or titles, and he had to like the songs. Not sure how I managed to sneak Katie Perry in the list, but most were of the rock genre and included:

  • Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N Roses
  • Monkey Wrench – Foo Fighters
  • Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  • Wild Thing – The Troggs
  • Run through the Jungle – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Roar – Katie Perry
  • Born to be Wild
  • Bare Necessities – from the Jungle Book
  • Baby Elephant Walk

OTHER IDEAS

PHOTO DISPLAY

Like most living rooms, the TV is a focal point in the room. So, to take advantage of that, we put together a slide show of photos of the twins from the past year (including as many of the guests as we could) and had that on a continuous loop.

THANK YOUS

Call me old fashioned, but I think every present giver should be thanked. It was a big day for the kids and they were slightly overwhelmed with the task of present opening, so over the next week, as they played with new toys or we read new books together, I tried to take a quick photo of them enjoying their gifts, so I could email the images with a thank you note.

A roaring good time was had by all. Now, only 11 months to plan their 3rd Birthday. Any ideas for a unisex twin theme?


It’s Been A While

Hello world. Remember me? It’s been a while since I last updated you from cyber space.

With starting a new consulting business (CMB Marketing Solutions) and the general mayhem of wrangling toddler twins, this poor blog has been sorely neglected.

Luckily, I have been taking notes of what we’ve been up to. So, hopefully I’ll turn these into a few reviews for your entertainment over the next few weeks.

You have been warned.

Cheers,
Celeste (CelesteReviews)

 


Sculpture in the Gardens 2013

Auckland Botanic Gardens
9 November 2013 – 16 February 2014

The beautiful flowers and nicely trimmed trees have been taken over by horses, rabbits, crabs, giant ants and a magpie. Nope, I’m not having bizarre dreams. The weird and wonderful world of art has appeared in the Auckland Botanic Gardens, with twenty nine sculptures installed for the Summer. These sculptures are set upon a two kilometre trail that meanders through the picturesque gardens.

They’ve even gone ‘techie’ this year. QR codes are available at each installation for you to scan and view videos on the art work, creative process or artist.

Opening day was bustling, with many families and groups of friends packing a picnic and making a day of it. Our group of four adults and four children had a blast, enjoying a gentle stroll in the sun.

Here is a run down of some of our favourite sculptures on display this year;

I believe that you should be able to touch and feel art. None of this admire from afar business. And, the kids in our group agree. So, they absolutely loved Oliver Stretton-Pow’s ‘Rooks‘. They could chase each other around the sculpture and pop their heads (and bodies) inside the pieces. Loads of fun! The big shady trees make this the perfect place to stop for a picnic lunch and a spot of people watching.

CelesteReviews Rooks Oliver Stretton-Pow

Rooks by Oliver Stretton-Pow

Nearby, just waiting for the knight in shining armour to jump atop, is ‘The White Horse’ by Ben Foster. An angular creation of aluminium and epoxy automotive spray, I loved it’s stark contrast to the greenery surrounding the sculpture. I also love the intrigue this piece causes, as you can glimpse it in the distance from the main entrance of the Gardens and you catch moments of white between the trees as you walk the trail towards it.

CelesteReviews The White Horse by Ben Foster

The White Horse by Ben Foster

According to Bryan Verey, Magpies say “Quardle Oodle Ardle Wardle Doodle”. The beady eyed magpie sitting atop a rustic farm gate in ‘Over the Farm Gate’ brought back a lot of childhood rural memories. I was careful with my glittery jewellery as I passed!

CelesteReveiws Bryan Verey

Over the Farm Gate by Bryan Verey

A picnic in the park isn’t complete without some ants. Three giant bronze ants happily march along the patio of the Visitor’s Centre towards Jim Wheeler’s two ‘Regeneration’ installations.
CelesteReviews Samantha Lissette Sculpture

Part of “Atta Mediae” by Samantha Lissette

CelesteReviews Jim Wheeler Sculpture in the Gardens

Regenration: Oak Garden Fork & Regeneration: Oak Garden Spade by Jim Wheeler

The talented Llew Summers was invited to exhibit his work again this year, developing ‘Ariel’ from his fascination with wings. Be sure you also view his gorgeous ‘Butterfly’ bronze situated on the lawn in front of the cafe. It’s one of my favourites and is a permanent sculpture at the Gardens.

CelesteReviews Ariel Llew Summers

Ariel by Llew Summers

Croc Dundee would be proud of size of the knife served up by Michael Klaja and Gordon Smith. The hubby particularly liked this piece of art, aptly named ‘Carving up the Land’. (Image to follow – sorry, my photo was blurry).

My nieces (aged 4 and 6) thought the ‘rabbit and the crab’ were fun, but the crab was a little scary. Rabbit and Crabby have a great position, looking out over the rose gardens.

CelesteReviews Jamie Pickernell

Oh Crabby I do believe we’re rather last! by Jamie Pickernall

Clever use of woven corrugated iron and timber create ‘Home Sweet Home’ by Jeff Thomson. This fun installation is vibrant among the trees.

CelesteReviews Jeff Thomson

Home Sweet Home by Jeff Thomson

I would have loved to have been able to get up closer to ‘Flotilla’. I enjoyed Lucy Bucknall’s Otter piece on the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail in Snells Beach, so I was really interested to see this installation. However, set in the upper lake, you couldn’t quite make out all the animals and facial expressions that I’m sure make this sculpture delightful.

CelesteReviews Flotilla by Lucky Bucknall and Andy MacVicar

Flotilla by Lucky Bucknall and Andy MacVicar

Spring is a magical time of the year to visit the Gardens.  The smells and colour on show are a feast for the senses. Don’t forget to also take a peek at the permanent art works that are also on display around the property.

Top Tip: It’s FREE to visit the Auckland Botanic Gardens, so pack a picnic and make a day of it.

In a Nutshell: A wonderful way to spend a Summer’s Day.