Wednesday, June 27, 2012



Another port of call on Caths latest trip to New York was the historic Dakota Building, built in 1884.
Credit - Wikicommons
Built on the west side of Manhattan across from Central Park, it was a lone structure in the beginning with open fields and squatters tents to the back of it.  So far from what was then the center of Manhattan, the locals said it may as well have been built in Dakota!....hence the name The Dakota building.

With its Gothic and Victorian architectural and interior detailing, this is one of the citys most legendary apartment buildings.  Many of the the 93 apartments in the building have 14 foot high ceilings that spread over huge floor spaces.

The apartment complex is not only famous for its grandeur but also for being the movie set to  Rosemarys Baby and also more recently Vanilla Sky.  Unfortunately its saddest claim to fame is that John Lennon was murdered at the front entrance (see below) of the Dakota on the 8th December 1980.  He was only 40 years of age...and what I personally believe to be one of the greatest losses in my lifetime.

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John and Yoko lived in the building for several years prior to his death and Yoko still resides there today.  She can often be seen strolling the grounds of Strawberry Fields which is a 2.5 acre landscaped  section of Central Park, dedicated to the memory of John Lennon.  The focal point of the memorial is the mosaic circular pathway of inlaid stones with the single word 'Imagine' in the centre (see below).  This was gifted to the project by the city of Naples.

There are rumours that the Dakota building is haunted, but that doesnt seem to stop people from residing there and at up to 6 million dollars for an apartment, I dont think the ghosts have had any impact.
Other famous residents were Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall and U.S television reporter Connie Chung...word on the street is that Lindsay Lohan has been trying to buy an apartment there, but due to the selectiveness of the  private administration mentioned below, this may well happen about the same time that hell freezes over.

The building which is closed to the public and administered by a private board is particularly difficult to attain photos of the apartments and interior.  This is one very rare photograph that we managed to find.
Credit to Studio M blogspot
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Last week we brought you the Rock Baroque range from Hooked On Walls with its super daring blend of pattern, colours and texture.  And now to take the tone down a tad, this week for the more conservative we introduce the new Urban Classic range of wall coverings by Hooked on Walls.  
Classical Ornament

Urban Classic is about Belgium craftsmanship and the transformation of this heritage.

'Grid' - available in a huge variety of colourways

Designs are transformed with the old reworked, creating a new passionate connection with art at its heart.

Urban Flower

Classical Ornament - perfect in the lighter tonings for this room

A selection of wall covering in the Urban Classic range...exquisite detailing akin to beading and tapestry in some of the range.

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Oh I do love lamb...lamb cutlets, lamb stew, lamb korma....lamb icecream....not really.  But, yes, I do love lamb...and my apologies in advance to all the vegetarians and vegans out there, but I was raised on a farm...

This is such a simple and super tasty recipe and great for Winter too.  Because we are using lamb mince you will also find this to be a fairly budget friendly meal also.  Enjoy!

Serves 4


500g lamb mince
1 cup pistachio kernels, finely chopped
1 medium red onion peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 egg
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
1 large bunch continental parsley - leaves only
half cup pearl barley
2 roma tomatoes finely diced
half bunch coriander
half bunch mint, leaves only
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon juiced
third of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
extra 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachio kernels
2 limes juiced
1 teaspoon cardamon
1 tablespoon olive oil


Place lamb, pistachios, half the onion, garlic paprika, cumin, coriander, egg and breadcrumbs in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.
Roughly chop 1 cup parsley leaves and add to lamb mix, reserve rest of the parsley leaves.  Stir in until well combined.
Divide the mix into 8 portions and form into 7cm long log shapes.  Insert a metal skewer through the centre of each log.
Place debabs on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required...refrigerating helps the mixture to hold and slightly set.
Place barley in a fine sieve and rinse under cold water.
Place barley in a saucepan and cover with water.  Boil over a high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 25 mins or until tender.  Drain.
Allow to cool and then place barley in a large bowl.
Add remaining red onion and parsley, tomato, coriander and mint.
Toss until well combined.  Whisk oil with lemon juice in a jug and season with salt and pepper.  Add dressing to barley tabouleh just before serving.  Whisk extra virgin olive oil, extra pistachios, lime juice and cardamon in a jug.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside until required.
Heat a chargrill, barbecue hot plate or large frying pan over a medium-high heat.  When hot, brush with olive oil.  Cook lamb kebabs, turning often, for 8 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  To serve spoon tabouleh onto serving plates.  Top with kebabs.  Drizzle cardamon, pistachio and lime dressing over kebabs.


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Due to the fact that its completely freezing here and that none of us have frequented or will be in the coming weeks a tropical island full of cocktail selections to inspire us, I have decided to stick with the theme of late and promote another quality Australian wine.  This is the latest 'must-drink' and a bargain at that too.  This is an exquisite drop and I was initially reticent to share as then word will get out and everyone will want some...but sharing is caring right!?

Polished Shiraz Cabernet 2010 by Godfrey Wines is the latest find and as their website states "I challenge you to find a better wine for the price"....challenge accepted and they win hands down!

Godfrey Wines is a super premium winery based in Springton, South Australia. This small outlying town of the Barossa Valley is only minutes from the Eden Valley and some of the most wonderful vineyards in Australia.

In June 2008, Lisa and Sandy Goda range of wines that over delivers in every way. Lisa and Sandy promise never to release a wine that is not good enough for their table.

We are the not completely snobbish about our wines, but with that said, I can tell the good from the not so great.  Polished is my all time favourite wine so far as I love the big boldness of a good Shiraz Cab blend but with a smooth finish....and this wine has it.  Its not super complicated and very easy drinking....Mothers Milk we call it at home.  And the other sign of a great wine is that you dont wake up the next day feeling ordinary.  And so in summary, if you enjoy a really oaky Shiraz with a smooth finish and that lovely blackberry and red currant on the nose then this wine is definitely for you.  But just remember...its our little secret :-)

Like to know more about Godfrey Wines?  Just click on the link below.


And until next week.....or this coming Friday...which is only a couple of days away!  I better get cracking on the next blog!
Love, light and most importantly...laughter!....
The Charcoal Team

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