Wednesday, January 18, 2012




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Rabbit Pictures - Pictures

We are only a bunny hop, skip and a jump from Chinatown, and the area has been all abuzz with the Chinese New Year Celebrations.  They know how to party, with celebrations lasting traditionally for fifteen days.
This year, is the year of the Rabbit.  Last year, was the year of the Tiger.  This year, the sweet bunny rabbit is a symbol of A placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the Tiger.

Good taste and refinement will shine on everything and people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force. A congenial time in which diplomacy, international relations and politics will be given a front seat again. We will act with discretion and make reasonable concessions without too much difficulty.

A time to watch out that we do not become too indulgent. The influence of the Rabbit tends to spoil those who like too much comfort and thus impair their effectiveness and sense of duty.

Law and order will be lax; rules and regulations will not be rigidly enforced. No one seems very inclined to bother with these unpleasant realities. They are busy enjoying themselves, entertaining others or simply taking it easy. The scene is quiet and calm, even deteriorating to the point of somnolence. We will all have a tendency to put off disagreeable tasks as long as possible

Money can be made without too much labor. Our life style will be languid and leisurely as we allow ourselves the luxuries we have always craved for. A temperate year with unhurried pace. For once, it may seem possible for us to be carefree and happy without too many annoyances.....we are liking this forecast for 2011, it ticks all the boxes!
We should go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds and get some rest after all the battles of the previous year.


We have had some more beautiful new arrivals this week.  Each unique in its own way and just may be what you have been looking for!

Black Chinese Cabinet – originated Shanxi Province, simple clean lines indicative of the Ming Dynasty influence through the Qing era.
Elmwood timbers with black stained finish. Circa 1890’s.

Side  Cabinet in natural Elm Timbers, drawers with carved detailed inlay and hinged cabinet doors, Chinoiserie influence, Qing Dynasty.
Shanxi Province.

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LOVE IS IN THE more ways than one this week...

Well, as well as being Valentines Day (aka Singles Awareness Day) on Monday, its also a very big weekend coming up for us all here at Charcoal Interiors.  We have a wedding to attend!  Jen and Pete the Greek are getting hitched on Sunday the 13th of February in beautiful Sth Australia.  Its going to be a 'Wedding Weekend' in actual fact, with VIP tickets to Kate Ceberano including dinner amongst the vines at Bird In The Hand Winery on Saturday and then Sunday is the big day with the ceremony at Jens brother and sister-in-laws property 'Bon-Haye' vineyards.  And so, the showroom will be closed this Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th February, with trading back as usual on the Tuesday 15th (we are closed on Mondays).
We will have all the pics of the special day in upcoming stay tuned...



Well, Champagne really is the nectar of lovers and what better way to celebrate Valentines, Wedding Day or any other special occasion than with a glass of bubbles.  Champagne was invented by French Monk Dom Perignon...true story.  A few years back, the laws were changed as to naming Champagne..Champagne, due to the fact that the French had the copyright to the name and usage of it.  So, we now have to call ours 'sparkling wine' which kind of takes the fun out of really...however, the good news is that our sparkling eines here in Australia are still made using the same traditional Champagne method...hence, you will see on the bottle of a true Champagne bottle 'Methode Champenoise'.  

We actually have some great Champagnes here in Australia and one of my faves is Grant Burge.  They make an excellent buttery style that is affordable and yet very rich and indulgent. Here's a little twist on the usual long stemmed flute with a piece of strawberry bunged in it (have never been a fan of that really....).

Champagne served with Wild Hibiscus flower.  I have tried this before and its absolutely gorgeous.  Wild Hibiscus flowers can be found in any gourmet food store.  I know they sell them at the James St Markets here in the Valley.  So easy to serve up too.  Just place one of the flowers into the glass and then top with bubbles.  They spring to life and look divine.  You can eat them too...yes and they taste amazing.  Pretty sure there would be some kind of vitamin content in them since they are a plant and there you go, nutritious and an indulgence.  Just dont quote me on that....

Being big fans of citrus flavours here...lets not get started on limes, and theres a glut at the moment so they are so affordable and available.  But I digress...  This is a very classic way to serve up champagne if you love citrus.  Simply add a dash of Limencello to your glass of bubbles and garnish with a swirl of rind.  The look is fresh and sophisticated and I find this drink to be really refreshing also...but pace yourselves and be sure to alternate with water otherwise you could end up anything BUT refreshed and sophisticated!


You know I just couldnt believe how easy these little Valentines Day Chocolate tarts were to make, so I  had to share the recipe.  To me, love comes in many forms.  When I was single I would send a Valentines Day card to myself...I have had dear friends send me flowers and vice versa...I have sent my parents a card on Valentines Day to say how much I love them and what they mean to me...and same for my children...and then theres the flowers from Pete the Greek and beautiful card etc... dont have to be in a relationship to enjoy Valentines Day, which really is, to me, a celebration of love in all its forms.  So, to show yourself and others how much you care...make these...they are easy to make and taste deeeelish!

Image via Taste

You don't need heart-shaped pans to cook something which says I love you - dust a heart on this Snickers' laden tart and it will have the same effect! Happy Valentine's Day.

Makes 4


  • 2 x 60g Snickers bars, finely chopped
  • 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pure cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • icing sugar mixture, to serve
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 125g butter, chilled, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. Make pastry: Place flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg. Process until dough just comes together. Turn pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until just smooth. Shape into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease four 3cm-deep, 10cm (base) loose-based fluted tart pans. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Using a 13cm cutter, cut 4 rounds from pastry. Line pans with pastry. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  3. Place pans on a baking tray. Line pastry cases with baking paper. Fill with uncooked rice or ceramic pie weights. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are light golden. Remove baking paper and rice or pie weights. Bake for 5 minutes or until base is light golden. Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, reduce oven to 160°C. Divide Snickers between pastry cases. Combine chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until melted and smooth. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat egg, egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add chocolate mixture. Fold in until just combined. Pour mixture into pastry cases. Bake for 25 minutes or until just set. Allow tarts to cool in pans for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until cold. Dust tarts with icing sugar to form a heart shape (see note). Serve.


  • To make an icing sugar stencil, cut a 12cm circle from a piece of paper. Draw an 8cm heart shape on the circle and cut out, leaving circle intact. Place stencil on tart. Dust heavily with icing sugar to form heart shape.
  • Tip: Dust icing sugar on cooled tarts, otherwise icing sugar will dissolve.

    Until next week.....

Cathie, Colette and Jen xxx

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