Friday, March 23, 2012



To say that we were excited at the prospect of meeting Sunshine Coast artist Emma Sheldrake last week was an understatement.  Emma personally delivered her range of quality prints, which now make her artworks accessible to those who may have missed out on a certain original piece, or perhaps cant quite squeeze an original into the budget for now.....but we warn you...once you start collecting Emmas work it can become quite addictive.

For those of you who may have been living on another planet and have not yet discovered Emma, her signature style is a blend of pop art with a blend of eroticism and a dash of mischief all blended into one.  We highly recommend that you look through her website which is now updated and categorised into yearly works, so you can see how her art has evolved and changed through the years.

A new addition to my bucket list is to commission Emma.  The commission section of her website is also worth a look....those lucky, lucky clients.....

Emmas prints range from $100 for 400mm x 400mm sizes in a variety of her works, and we also have 2 styles (Blondie and Amy) for $150 in the larger sizings.  EXCLUSIVE: For a limited time only we have the range of her prints hand signed by Emma....but be quick as these will not last and will be snapped up by those who understand the value of the offer!

I was fortunate enough to snare a few minutes of Emmas very precious time, in between her working on the latest Archibald Prize entry for an interview.  We thank Emma for her time, and hope you enjoy learning a little insight into the artist that is Emma Sheldrake.

Q.  Emma what has been the most memorable reaction a person has had to your work?
A gentleman cried when he saw a portrait I completed of his wife when I presented it. It was very moving.

Q. Has there ever been a real life experience that inspired a particular piece?

Recently my visit to the Costa Rica last June inspired at least 6 current pieces. I was inspired by the energy of the country, the colours and richness of the flora & fauna.

Q. Besides your art, what are some of the things that are most important to you?
Family, friends, nature, gardening, entertaining/cooking, surfing & being in the sea to rejuvenate whenever I can :)

Q. If you could invite 3 people living or not to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook for them? (we know you love cooking).
This is so hard I can’t decide! You always seem tempted to say famous people & so if is the case it would be Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol & David Lachapelle (photographer) for a very quirky dinner. First thing that comes to mind because I live near the beach I would do a Bouillabaisse for main with a good Rose or Sauvignon Blanc Semillon! I would do h'orderves that would be pop/surreal inspired made from seafood/smoked meats/cheeses/vegs served on palettes. For dessert I would do a crazy Croquembouche served with pink champagne with some sour cherry compote with fresh cream and a classic crème brulee as well. Definitely a rich decadent French Mediterranean theme with strong bold colours!!

And on the other hand I would ask to make it 4 people and I would bring back my grandparents. I was the only child and spent a lot of time with my grandparents and had both grandma’s living with my family after both my grandpa’s died. I feel I owe my grandparent’s A LOT of cooking after all the thousands of times they cooked for me and all the recipes they taught me over the years! I miss them so much & they were like brothers and sisters to me versus grandparents! I would cook a good old roast first up with very well prepared gravy & Yorkshire Pudding. For dessert a mean apple pie with fresh berries & ice cream :)!

Q. What is your dream project or subject to paint and why?

Simply someone that I connect with in the eyes. It’s all in the eyes...

Q.  Emma, you are currently completed a piece for the Archibald Prize with subject matter being Kim McKenzie.  How did that come about?

I met Kim through my partner when I recently did a surfing trip to double island point and I was so keen to paint her due to her intense energy & eyes. Whether it’s been navigating a trawler in the dead of night in treacherous seas, surfing 15 foot waves, or pulling 4 metre sharks from nets off the Queensland Coast, this woman is one of the strongest & fearless women I have ever met. I wanted to capture this essence on canvas!

Emmas 2012 Archibald Prize Entry...Kim McKenzie.  
A fisherman's daughter who first found international fame when she started running a shark patrol on the Queensland coast. She went on to become one of the first females to compete against males in the world's biggest surf in Hawaii. 25 years later, she's still making a living in a competitive environment dominated by men - the multimillion dollar spanner crab industry. 

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Ok, so I am supposed to be waiting until next week before unleashing our latest project on you....but we are so happy with the result, in particular the custom made and designed cabinetry in their study.  Our clients have a gorgeous Queenslander at Herston in Brisbane and between them...and us....everyone is thrilled with the result.
More photos to come next week, but in the meantime, heres some snaps of the Study.

From the Verandah looking in....all custom made built-in cabinetry by Charcoal Interiors

Our client now loves this space....

Who would mind working from home when youre in a space like this?

Stay tuned for more of this exclusive Charcoal Interiors project on next weeks Style In The City blog...

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Last night Pete the Greek and I went to dinner with some friends...a great Mediterranean style restaurant and had the nicest fish I thought I would share with you a french version of it that I have cooked many times at home...
This fish would also be great on a bed of baby spinach (uncooked) and a fresh salsa topping in the warmer months.  Enjoy the Autumn version....

serves 6

250g cherry tomatoes halved
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 sprig of thyme, leaves stripped
2tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tbsp extra
80g butter, chopped
1 leek, well washed, white part chopped
1/3 cup (80ml) white wine
1tbsp white wine vinegar
1tbsp cream
6 x 100g snapper filled pin boned
24 asparagus spears

1. Preheat oven to 120C (100C fan).  Place tomato, garlic, thyme and a pinch of caster sugar in a large baking tray.  Add oil and toss to combine.  Arrange tomatoes cut-side up.  Season well.  Roast 1hr 45 mins.
2. Meanwhile, melt 20g butter in a frypan over low heat.  Cook leek, covered, about 5 mins.  Add wine and vinegar.  Increase heat to high.  Simmer for 3 mins or until reduced and syrupy.  Remove from heat.  Using a hand blender, blend until smooth.
3. Reheat leek puree over medium heat.  Add butter, one piece at a time, whisking constantly, until combined.  Add cream and whisk until sauce thickens slightly.
4. Meanwhile, heat extra oil in a frypan over high heat.  Season snapper and cook, skin-side down, for 2 mins or until crisp.  Turn fish and cook a further 1  min until golden.  Steam asparagus 2 mins or until tender.
5. To serve arrange asparagus spears on each serving plate.  Scatter around semi-dried tomatoes.  Top with snapper and spoon over leek cream sauce.



Last weekend, Pete the Greek, myself and some friends discovered Bitter Suite Bar and Restaurant at New Farm in Brisbane.  Its a great place to eat with a super selection of Tapas style meals (share plates seem to be all the rage complaints here...) and a very extensive list of Boutique style happy boys and happy girls.  A fun afternoon was had by all (hope we didnt outstay our welcome....we hung around for about 5 hours...) and we capped off the afternoon/early evening with our new fave...The Espresso Martini.

  Because it was so close to St Pats day, ours had a cinnamon Shamrock on top of the froth.  The aroma hit of cinnamon and coffee....ohhhh beeehave!
And so here is our version of the Espresso Martini.  Try making one this weekend as they are a hit of coffee, alcohol and dessert all in the one glass.


1 oz Coffee Liqueur
2 oz Vanilla Vodka
2 oz Freshly pressed espresso Coffee

How to....
Pour coffee liqueur. Vodka. and espresso into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled Martini (cocktail) glass. and serve. The drink should be slightly frothy.   
If you want to be super fancy and impress your friends then garnish with a couple of roasted coffee beans, or better still, the chocolate covered ones....oh my!...prepare to be up all night!


Until next week...have a fabulous kind to yourself and rest up if your weeks been a big one.
In the words of the great Jim Stynes who passed away this week "You realise your family - my kids and my wife Sam - they are everything to me. It's not just enough to say it - you've got to live it."   Sooo Just Live It...why do we always need to be reminded of these things?

The Charcoal Team....Colette, Cathie, Jen and Brian....

Friday, March 16, 2012



It's Autumn and here at Style In The City we aim to keep you up to date with all things beautiful in design, plus sumptuous seasonal recipes, our latest cocktail finds and more.
We love classic and timeless design to luxuriate in.  Like your favourite little black dress...some things just never go out of fashion and you find yourself reaching for the classic again and we do in design.
Enjoy our blog and be sure to subscribe...also we are on Facebook...we love it when you 'like' us!


Welcome to our latest arrival....this massive stone, hand carved Buddha on a separate base.
We watched while holding our breath as our delivery man 'aka' Mr Muscles, actually moved this statue (which we reckon is around 300 - 400 kilos...give or take a hundred kilos....) by himself!
Afterwards...we joked about it not looking right in the that spot....hmmmm...not impressed!



Our 'Out and About' blog section is purely for the purpose of promoting quality Australian businesses that we have had the fortune to stumble upon.  Our motto is that "If you cant say anything nice, then you shouldnt say anything at all."  So, its with great pleasure this week, that I take you on a little mental journey to beautiful seaside Mooloolaba and our experience at 'Bella Venezia' Italian Restaurant.

It's hard to quantify perfection, and so to do this story justice you really do have to make it a priority to dine there next time you're in that neck of the woods.  But, suffice to say, the whole experience on the night we dined there was magic and I will do my best to tell the story without waffling on.....
Firstly, myself, Pete the Greek and 2 good mates Jac and Richie (it was Richies twas our treat) couldnt decide on where to eat...always a  quandry, expecially for the birthday boy who has an issue with Pepper.  It's an allergy actually.  Any intake of pepper ends up with a very unhappy ending.  So, we decided a 'safe' meal would be Italian.  Thinking we would sit down to the usual pasta, pizza, garlic bread blah blah....but not at the Bella Venezia.

 Firstly, our very attentive waiter went out of his way to cater to our friends pepper me, we have been asked to leave by other establishments because it can be just 'too hard' for some chefs to be bothered creating something from scratch.  But, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with the chef, our waiter came up with some delicious options for birthday boy.  
Anyway, I really could go on and on about our meals and exactly what we had...but the highlights were the Ravioli topped with Moreton Bay bug, Steam Mussels (huuuuge plate full of mussels...a flavour explosion with perfect balance of herbs, tomato chili and white wine) and the Pizza Dolci (dessert)....OH....MY....GOODNESS.....The 'Pizza Dolci' is by far the best dessert I have ever my life....ever......mentally envision slices of banana on top of baked patisserie, finished with a rich butterscotch sauce and vanilla icecream. 

 This was simply divine.  I ate it all and would not share with Pete the Greek...and we share everything...because sharing is caring.
Also a quick mention of the wine list which was quite extensive with lots of imported and Aus options ( we had an imported Chianti) and a thank you to our waiter, who brought us complimentary Limoncellos because of a teensie wait on the Pizza Dolci (it takes a bit to bake...who cares!..we are on holidays!!...)...and we finished the night with the best Espresso Martinis I have ever had also....a night of of bests and we will most definitely be back to Bella Venezia.  In fact I would make a trip to just dine there.  This is no average Italian Restaurant.
Footnote: Jac and Richard stayed on an extra night and dined there again....and had the Pizza Dolci this time!
For more info on 'Bella Venezia' click on the link below.

Bella Venezia Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon



Faithful to its philosophy, Lizzo takes its inspiration from the diversity of cultures created by different civilisations and periods in history to launch its new collections. Through these, the company creates an exquisite and personal review of some of the most important decorating concepts of recent times. The result is a comprehensive catalogue of imaginative motifs, colours and textures, which enrich the latest trends in interior décor and share new ways of interpreting the world of design through a combination of elements of the past with utterly contemporary pieces. 
We adore working with Lizzo fabrics.  Heres a sample of the luxurious looks achievable...and the exciting part is that we help to make this happen for you!

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I discovered this recipe last year, but only just remembered about it whilst leafing through a magazine today.  
I love strawberries and this is such a simple recipe and looks flashy...great to cook up and take to a BBQ.  Its fresh and tarty sweet, so instead of serving with cream I like to just use a scoop of quality vanilla bean icecream.

Takes 26 minutes to prepare and just 6 minutes to cook.
Dust afterwards with icing sugar once it cools just before serving.  Otherwise the icing sugar just gets absorbed into the juices if you leave it on for too long.  The other thing I forgot to mention is that the other reason I love this recipe so much is that you get to use a pre-bought tart base!...I'm such a corner-cutter....


  • 150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) water
  • 100g (3 tablespoons) strawberry jam
  • 30g (3 tablespoons) cornflour
  • 1kg sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 x 23cm pre-made or bought sweet tart shell

Preparation method


1. Mix together sugar, water, jam and cornflour in medium to large saucepan.
Stir until boiling and then cook for 1 carefully.
Remove from the heat.

2. Stir in sliced strawberries until well coated and glossy.
Pour into prepared pie shell.

3. Chill until set and serve topped with quality vanilla bean ice cream or cream.  Dust with icing sugar when cooled just before serving.



Well, its Friday and that means Cocktails and I am ready and waiting for the clock to strike 5.30pm before busting out of here for a sweet, sweet umbrella drink.

If Pete the Greek and I had a dollar for every time we have recommended our new favourite after hours drink 'Rekorderlig' we would be substantially better off financially.
We have suggested this to so many friends and they love it.

Rekorderlig is a premium Swedish cider you can enjoy all year round.
There are quite a few flavours but so far we have only been able to source Pear, Wildberries, Strawberry and Lime and traditional Apple...but there is a Blackcurrant and a Winter Cider that you can have hot for winter (will be waiting with bated breath for that one....its a combo of Apple, Cinnamon and Vanilla)

And so, my little tip this week for cocktail Friday is this....a tried and tested new favourite of mine and the girls.

Rekorderlig Strawberry and Lime - Fill to half of your glass.
Top with sparkling mineral water.
Add a dash of vodka
Finish off with a nice thick slice of lime and ice
Swizzle around with a swizzle stick
Sip....and enjoy!
This is such a delicious drink....let me know what you think!..perhaps we should get shares in Rekorderlig!

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I just wanted to finish this weeks blog with a lovely photo I took this week of 3 generations of the Charcoal Team.
From left to right....Colette...Cathie and Colette (junior)...with Brian.  3 generations of the Venardos family working together.

Until next week....Love...Light and Laughter always!

The Charcoal Team

Friday, March 9, 2012



Have you ever dreamt of building your own home to your exact specifications and then having it fitted out with brand new furniture throughout?
What can be a dream for some, is now a reality for our latest client.
Torn between the city and the country, our client decided to retain her residence in town and build a home on acreage for weekend retreats and holidays to sate the yearning for the country lifestyle that she also enjoys.
The client brief was Timeless, Quality, Easy Maintenance with a mix of Modern and Long-Lived.  She also loves the Asian influences but didnt want them to overpower. 

 Handcrafted Middle Eastern Rug with Custom Made Sofa and Ottoman in Luxurious European Velvet

The design team entered into this project with gusto and organised all the interior finishes and furniture, accessories, drapery etc...  The kitchen and bathrooms were given clean lines with elegant neutral tonings and quality fittings throughout.

Clean line bathroom and kitchen with quality fittings.

The very large expanse of window area in the home was treated to an open weave, linen/cotton mix for the drapes.  The views from all windows are so beautiful that the weave allows access to the outside beauty but also maintains the privacy within when required.

Custom Made Console Table by Charcoal Interiors. Quality Drapery which still lets the outside in, yet maintains privacy. Black Cane Tango Chair available now also through Charcoal Interiors.

Charcoal Interiors Custom Made Dining Table.

Custom Made Leather Feature Chair by Charcoal Interiors

The additions of quality rugs with simple upholsteries.  Custom Made dining table, tub chair, sofas and ottoman in luxurious European velvet, give this retreat warmth and character reflecting the tastes of our client.
We were thrilled to be involved in this project.  

Colette and client.

Colette says "For us, standing in the home when everything is installed and ready for the client to move in and seeing the look of happiness on their face is the biggest buzz of all".  "We look back to when we had the architectural plans out on the table, discussing furniture placements and aspects now...standing in the finished product".  "It's extremely satisfying and rewarding to Cathie and I".

All Products, Services, Furniture etc...Available via Charcoal Interiors Brisbane

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Hands up if you love Cocktails, Sunshine, Holidays, Beaches, Tropical Settings, Dining Out and being Pampered!!.....Aha!...Lots of hands... :-)

Palm Cove with the Queen Mary in the foreground.

Well, if you love all these things then you are going to love Palm Cove in tropical North Queensland.  
A month or so ago, Pete the Greek and I were bogged down with the kids and work and an out of control little puppy (who has now eaten through a door....but thats another story...), when I was doing the usual multi-tasking thing of eating breakfast, paying the bills online and directing the family traffic before school/work, when the God of the Internet (who I think may be named Dave...) sent me via email a list of holiday specials in North Queensland for some ridiculous discount that we just couldn't refuse.  So...drab morning went to fab morning when Pete just said book it!...before we even had the chance to look at where we were staying.
Needless to say, our choice The Sarayi in beautiful Palm Cove was an outstanding one. 

Thats Me Surveying the Lay of the Land from our balcony :-)

 Collected from the airport by the bubbly  Karen there was lively chatter for the 20 minute commute to the hotel.  Greeted by Vanessa the manager and her little dog Lily, we just felt very welcome and surprisingly at home....which is pretty hard when you have just met strangers and in unaccustomed surroundings, but this boutique hotel right on the beach front is one special gem of a place.
Our rooms were super spick and span clean and had everything we needed.  Rooftop pool at our disposal and great restaurant The Rising Sun downstairs where they make THE BEST lime margueritas, and run by Award winning chef Nick Holloway (also head chef at the well respected NuNu restaurant).  Nick recently appeared with chef Poh on her show Pohs needless to say we had top class food, wine and umbrella drinks at our fingertips.

The Rising Sun on Urbanspoon

The Rising Sun Bar and Restaurant

There is nothing better than booking accommodation online and then being happy with absolutely everything from the beginning to the end.  This was our experience at Sarayi.  Palm Cove is our latest favourite place to visit and we are looking forward to coming back again and again.
Thank you to all the staff at Sarayi and Rising Sun.  We also dined at a few other great restaurants during the weekend...pretty much everywhere has something delicious on offer.  
Ahhhh....until next time.....
Like to know more about Sarayi?



Asparagus is such a decadent treat.  I love it!  And its still in season.  So get in while its still fresh, and try this super easy recipe for Parmesan Asparagus Spears.
These are a great side dish and pack a statement visually and the flavour is divine.  A combo of two of my fave foods...asparagus and cheese....mmmmmmmm....

Via Healthy Food Ideas

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Sticks
1 bunch of asparagus
2 egg whites
1/4 cup plain flour
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat with non-stick spray.
Snap off the tough ends of each asparagus spear. On two separate plates, add the eggs whites (lightly beaten) and the panko + flour + cheese. Season the panko mixture with salt and pepper if desires. Coat each asparagus spear in egg whites, then lay in the panko mixture and thoroughly cover. If the panko won’t stick, dip back in the egg whites and roll in panko once again. Lay each spear on the wire rack.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Everybody loves a cocktail/mocktail.  Those little umbrella garnishes really get me going.  Even dipping the toes in the blow up kids pool on a hot day can feel like the Palazzo Versace if you have cocktail in hand.
Since Summer just wont go away yet here in Brisbane, we can officially keep the spirit going with the Blue Day Cocktail.  A mixture of White Rum, Curacao and Grapefruit juice...break out the Harry Belafonte CD, paddle away and enjoy your weekend!

1 x measure White Rum
.5 measure Blue Curacao
1.5 measure Grapefruit Juice
Top up...with Soda
Just stir...and serve in a nice tall glass....

Be sure to visit us this weekend for our BIG...HUGE...GIGANTIC..Sale!
Plenty of Luxe products for you to purchase and we are here to answer all your questions.
Sale finishes tomorrow (Saturday 10th March).
59 Doggett Street. Newstead.  PH. 07 38526002