Archive for category Artisanal

Chocolatier becomes Alain Ducasse

IMG_0398Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse not content with his Michelin stars had another life long career wish that he had not fulfilled and now he has achieved it.

IMG_0407His own chocolate brand.

And not just a brand, they are making chocolate from the beginning – roasting and crushing the cacao bean, preparation that is usually performed before most chocolatiers receive their chocolate supplies to take to the tempering stage. The trend for quality chocolatiers in France and Belgium now is to produce single origin chocolate and Ducasse has launched straight into that trend.


An appealing entrance. Large enough to bring a truck through for delivery and despatch.

It is in a former factory near Bastille in Paris.

IMG_0401When all the Parisian chocolatiers compete to make sure they have the most beautiful packaging and boutiques to sell their wares, he has gone for simplicity.

IMG_0400Antique style cabinetry.


Showroom antique chocolate moulds.


On the way out – cocoa bean man.

Ours was a hurried visit on the last morning of our stay in Paris, we had no time to organise a special behind the scenes tour for this blog but on his website there is a short movie showing all the behind the scenes view of the workshop.  La Manufacture de chocolate –


Old houses in need of repair

IMG_0087Old houses require constant maintenance and you have to love them to put up with the cost and then there are further issues to find the right tradespeople and craftspeople to give you quality restoration work.

We have lived in this post Federation ‘Queenslander’ house for 18 years, we only intended to live in it for around 8 years but we liked it so much we stayed. We had tried to sell it two years ago and as real estate is still in the doldrums we took it off the open market.

But in the meantime when there is a problem we get right onto it, like the window that nearly fell out recently after the wind slammed the front door one too many times.

I rang an old friend who used to have a glass business and he had retired so I started searching for someone to fix it. One craftsman I found in the phone book told me he was up north fixing up a church, to send him an email and he would get back to me, well I sent the email but he did not reply. So it was on to the next option of finding someone. John went into a restoration hardware store and was given the number of a fellow also named John. He turned out to be the answer. He came out, assessed it, gave us a quote and once we appointed him he returned with a glass disc he inserted as a temporary measure. I was so happy as it still let the light in the hallway whilst our panel was being restored. The phone book glass craftsman told me he would be inserting a panel of ply so I was much happier with John’s temporary alternative.IMG_0086

Here is John the glass artist with the panel all renewed, the glass is now cleaned and put it back in as though it had never left its home.

The design in our ‘high waisted’ front door, he tells me is a ‘Dog Rose’ but I cannot find any other examples of Dog Roses. The style is a really a combination of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. All the original glass is still there but with one more slam all that glass would have landed on the floor.

IMG_0089The white version door the view from inside hallway. The Black version is the front door entry from the verandah.



Makers’ Workshop Burnie

IMG_9705The former industrial town of Burnie in Tasmania was once known for its paper pulp mill.  Paper is still made in Burnie today but it is fashioned in a more creative way in an entirely new setting. The Makers’ Workshop building, purpose designed by Tasmanian architect Scott Balmforth of architectural practice ‘Terroir‘ is an eye catching addition to the western headland of Burnie town.

The Makers’ Workshop has many functions but importantly it provides a history lesson on Burnie’s industrial past whilst providing a centre for community arts and tourism. We visited it with our Burnie based friend and teacher Michelle who herself had undertaken a paper sculpture workshop.  Michelle pointed out to us the paper chandelier that her tutor Tasmanian artist Ritchie Ares Dona, created for the entrance foyer.

IMG_9707Dona’s spectacular paper sculpture.


Here is a new way to use paper, as building blocks, an original wallpaper design.

IMG_9716Of course they do not miss an opportunity, here is the cafe menu on handmade paper.

Makers’ Workshop have a system where local artists and craftspeople work throughout the centre in front of the public on a rotating basis. There are name cards for the artists involved in the programme mounted on the wall, so if you want to know who is in residence you visit the wall to see which names have a sign indicating they are working that day and you can make your way to their temporary studios.

There is also a creative paper making atelier that started in the 1990’s as a Work for the Dole project. In 2009 the training scheme moved into the building.

IMG_9713Sometimes you discover things in the most unlikely places like this display featuring water chestnuts. Now even I did not know they were encased in a pod.

The retail shop has a very large section devoted to handmade paper in hundreds of colours and various sheet sizes, all for sale and just to make sure there is something for everyone, a cheese shop specialising in Tasmanian cheese. Regardless of your interests this place will not disappoint, it is a must for a visit to Burnie.


For lunch we visited its cafe. A tasty pumpkin feta cheese tart with salad. The salad could have been a bit larger, a garnish would describe it best. Not complaining, just saying.

IMG_9718Here is a more hearty dish, a take on a Ploughman’s lunch.

IMG_9714Our view whilst taking lunch, toward the wharves where the old pulp and paper mill is still located.

The Makers’ Centre is so multifunctional it also operates a tourist office here. The service is outstanding, if you just happen to stop by some of the brochures the staff come out from behind their desks and benches and ask it they can help you.

Open seven days a week 9 – 5. Free entry, so there is no excuse for anyone travelling to Burnie – GO THERE.



Melville Street Market at last


We made it to the Melville Street Market in Hobart this past weekend. We live some four hours drive away so it is not possible to drop in each Sunday and since we had a special party to attend in Hobart on Saturday evening we decided to get up early on Sunday to visit the market and still head back in good time to the Bay of Fires. The market is held on Sunday mornings each week and very well patronised so I had to get used to queuing. Even though many Hobart residents are used to visiting the Salamanca Market on Saturdays to buy fruit, vegetables and comestibles this market is still filling a vital need  for people to buy high quality food and plants from Tasmanian growers and makers.

Callington Mill flour and bread from Oatlands

Callington Mill flour and bread from Oatlands mill and shop

It is a Farmers Market people, you must bring your own stylish shopping bag, French market bags, recycle bags or buy one from the market organisers, as plastic bags are a no no here. A couple more rules to follow and you will be set so leave your dog on a leash outside the entrance and there is no smoking allowed and the best rule of all is that as a stall holder, you must grow, pick, raise, produce, or extract within the geographical Tasmanian boundaries.

Elgar cheese

Elgaar cheese and next time we will try the advertised mascarpone

After we left the market we headed for a petrol station to buy a bag of ice to keep our fresh food cool.

A lovely bright couple

A well dressed couple


Coffee stall had a monopoly

The market could do with more Coffee stalls

These ladies sold out quickly

These ladies sold out their strawberries quickly

We did not buy the peonies as they would droop on a long drive on a sunny day.

Peonies in a bucket

Peony is the new rose, in my opinion anyway

Best array of herbs I have seen

Best variety of herbs I have seen ever at Provenance Growers

Red is the colour of the day

Red is the colour of the day

Garlic grows well here
Garlic grows well here



Harvest Farmers Market, Launceston

Never found before at a Farmers Market, fresh bunch of Angelica

As soon as we arrived back in our second home in north eastern Tasmania we headed off to the new (since February 2012) Harvest Farmers’ Market  in Launceston.  We set the alarm early for our 2 hour drive from Binalong Bay.

Cimitiere Street car park, Launceston – every saturday 8.30am-12.30pm.

We have shopped at many Farmers Markets over the years on our travels through Australia and abroad and this one is the real deal. Owners, growers, makers, producers fronting their wares therefore possessing the vital knowledge sought when selecting and buying.

I had no idea what I would do with the angelica, just bought it to be inspired.

We could not resist the big bunch of Angelica (a biennial and perennial herb from the Apiaceae family), sold by Rosie MacKinnon alongside her fresh garlic.

Small but juicy garlic bulbs

There were two bakers present on this day and we bought from Sandy Baines, and next time we will try another. We also bought a bottle of award-winning Coronea Grove Olive Oil after a taste offered proved it had the peppery aftertaste we love. No wonder they won a medal this year.

A bottle of rhubarb vinegar and rhubarb lemonade cordial went into our straw market bag

Here the tent sports the website address so it cannot be missed

Cute labels for Thirlstane Gardens coriander and rocket

A few fruit loaves left made by Sandy Baines baker by weekend, studying nursing by day

We admired the wood bread crates Sandy commissioned for transporting his bread

Red butter lettuce sold out quickly

Ginseng in honey and other products but it is now the sideline to the successful 41 degree South salmon farm

The Laotians gardeners are here

We bought rabbit hindquarters and rabbit sausages

 Yondover cheese is new to us so we bought two types and Yondover’s goat salami



Donna Marcus Transformation

Title: code-xiv-122-cm-h-x-122-w  Photo Roz MacAllan

Donna Marcus is an Australian artist whose work is frequently inspired by objects that have been taken for granted as kitchen gadgets. Most of the objects and utensils she transforms have outlived their original usefulness. Some of the components are instantly recognizable whilst others become compelling sculptures that are such an intelligent reworking of found and garnered materials that they take you a moment or two to decipher any original purpose.

I am drawn to her work on various levels, as sculptures in the media of assemblage and for such an evocative use of domestic objects of which I am very familiar and fond of.

Donna resides in Queensland with a studios on Mt Tamborine and in Brisbane. Her art training was undertaken at the Tasmanian School of Art, more background can be found on her website.

Title: Plat du jour (after Escher)195 h x 170 w x 10d cm Photo Donna Marcus

The kitchen has been a great source of inspiration and some tools and appliances may have outlived their usefulness and ended up at garage sales but Donna has put them to work in another guise. At the same time her clever adaptations helps us preserve the memory of many family gatherings. I obtained one of these very same fish moulds over thirty years ago, alas it has only been used once. I made a salmon mousse in the tropical summer, certainly not one of my best ideas – unless you live in a fully air-conditioned house. Her ‘Plat du jour’ brings back memories of my pink mousse oozing in a most unappealing way under the Queensland sun.

Title: 360 degrees  Photo: Roz MacAllan

Abstraction inspired again from the back of the kitchen cupboard.  The title 360 degrees refers to the oven temperature (before Australia changed to metric measurements) and 360 indentations.

Hearts on mirror in Donna’s bedroom Photo: Roz MacAllan

Marcus is more familiar with op shops than art material suppliers. She frequents auction houses or anywhere there is likely to be household objects. Once again I have two of these heart-shaped cake tins but I am happy to say they have been used regularly in our household to more positive effect than the fish moulds.

More of yesterdays treasures –  colourful anodised  ashtrays Photo: Roz MacAllan

‘Slither’  Photo taken outside studio window: Roz MacAllan

Title: Slither-160-cm-w-x-120-cm  Photo: Donna Marcus

‘Slither’ mounted for exhibition, it totally transforms the original reading of the objects.

Photo: Donna Marcus

This beautiful shape was derived from a humble citrus juice squeezer and as been the inspiration for many more sculptures created in a range of sizes. Some have been cast in bathroom quality (industrial) ceramic and traditional sculpture material of bronze.

Title:   Photo: Donna Marcus

Donna’s website link is at the end of the post. There will see macroscopic bronze versions in vast public areas.

Title: Dissolve 120-h-x-192-w  Photo Donna Marcus

Another skilful composition of a re-purposed collection of lids.

Title: Earthed  Photo: Donna Marcus

Can  you guess what these objects were in a former life.

If you are visiting the city of Brisbane look for Steam, it was the first major public artwork by Donna Marcus. 7,000 aluminium vegetable steamers were cast to build 15 aluminium spheres comprising 2 large spheres @ 2488 mm diameter and 13 small spheres @ 1303 mm diameter. Not hard to locate, they are scattered randomly in the plaza area of Brisbane Square.

Steam was based on Fall, an earlier work made of vegetable steamers. These works referred to the geodesic domes of 1940s architect and inventor, Buckminster Fuller. The company Cheras was engaged to fabricate 7000 steamers; Queensland Spinners pressed 480 plates; a hole-drilling machine created a million holes; and Everything Metal bolted the plates together and welded the steamers in place.

Title: True north canopy 3  Photo: Donna Marcus

The small city of Mackay in Queensland acquired several of her large-scale works this year.

Title: Big red and white blue water trail  Photo: Donna Marcus

Title: Blue water trail pieces Photo: Donna Marcus

Find out more about Donna Marcus and her work on her website.

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A yarn from Adelaide

We were walking along a main street in Adelaide minding our business when we came across street posts and trees sporting winter finery.

It is called Yarn Bombing and although we did not see anymore there is more of it around the streets of Adelaide and Port Adelaide.

I took some crochet lap rugs to the charity shop a few years back and now I regret it. Trees get cold too.

A baby boy is missing his ‘blanky’.

Hiding from the traffic wardens.

Thinner trees need to be warmest.

So if you want to join in and get more inspiration, just Google or Yahoo Yarn Bombing and grab some ideas.



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