Travel Swellness: Curtis Stone’s top 7 things to do in Australia

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I had a date with Curtis Stone last month.

Alright…it was actually a Tourism Australia dinner, and Curtis is an ambassador with them. You may know Curtis from his cooking shows. To be totally honest, I know much less about Curtis Stone than I do other chefs (I’ve seen a few episodes of his shows in the past and I remember he was on Celebrity Apprentice, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried any of his recipes and I don’t own any of his cookbooks). What I do know, though, is that he’s married to Lindsay Price, who was on Beverly Hills, 90210, which is basically one of my fave shows ever.

So when I was introduced to him before dinner, I told him that his wife was on my favourite show (yes, I was that fangirl), and he said, “Let me guess, Lipstick Jungle.” Huh. Nope, I told him 90210 (which he admitted he’d never seen when he first met Lindsay; he’s since seen the show — I should hope so!).

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I ended up getting to sit beside Curtis through two whole courses, and what a cool, gracious guy. We talked about fitness, and I asked if he surfs much now living in L.A., and he said he doesn’t have much time to, but gets in the water about four or five times a year. I also asked him about what his guilty food pleasure is, and he loves tacos. And being in L.A., he said there’s tons of great taco trucks (and he couldn’t name one favourite as he loves them all).

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He was there, of course, to chat about Australia, which was long been high on my travel wish list. Here’s a to-do list of what are essentials when you visit Australia based on what Curtis chatted with us all about that night.

1. Indulge in fresh tropical fruit. “We have a variety of climates at home, tropical, subtropical, dry heat, some with limited rain, some crazy rain, cooler climates as well. Which will tell you what will grow. And we as a country grow some 50 varieties of mango…we’re more a part of southeast Asia geographically and we can grow all sorts of tropical fruits and that’s probably what I miss more than anything else.”

2. Get fish and chips and eat it on the beach. “The thing I have every time I’m home is fish and chips because we have the most fantastic fish and chips. And when you try to explain to someone overseas it sounds a bit strange, right” ‘Well, we have flake, well, that’s shark. Deep fried in batter, and potato cakes, but that’s regionality; if you’re from Melbourne, it’s potato cakes, and if from New South Wales, it’s potato scallops. There’a s variety of other seafoods and chips. For me it’s something we’d have every Friday night at home growing up. Later in life, it’s something I’d sit on a beach with a girlfriend or buddy and eat fish and chips, so that’s what I have every time I go back.”

3. Try some native foods prepared in a modern way. “Most gastro forward restaurants like Vue de Monde or like Attica, they take indigenous ingredients and apply sophisticated, whimsical techniques to them. I was recently at Vue de Monde and had wallaby raw, served on a salt rock from Mary River, very out there kind of ideas. It wasn’t that dissimilar to carpaccio of beef. I ate magpie goose really slowly cooked at Attica, and you wouldn’t have seen that here because they don’t exist here, and truly when I was a kid I wouldn’t think of eating those animals either. It wasn’t something we did, but these days we are getting more adventurous.”

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4. Visit his fave city, Melbourne, and also Sydney. “That’s where I lived. Melbournians have a way of being very very patriotic. I did live in Sydney for a minute and that was a beautiful city, too, built right on the harbour. It’s the one city in the world where you finish work and you’re like ‘it’s a beach day, yeah,. I’m going to stop by and have a quick swim on my way home.’ Because there are inner city beaches that are really sensational.” 

5.Don’t overlook visiting Brisbane. “Brisbane is great city, too. We call it Brisvegas because they’re a little glitzy up in Brisbane but it’s a fun city to spend time in for sure. There was a milk bar on every corner when I growing up. It’s where you buy milk and the newspaper. They’re less and less common now but they’re being repurposed. My friend’s got this old milk bar, which he’s turned turned into restaurant called billy cart. I was just explaining this to someone today, too, a billy cart is what we used to race down hill made out of milk crates and put ties on and stuff. Places like that out in suburbs are really special and also Brisbane city centre has really developed into cosmopolitan city.”

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6. Go to a sporting event. “I’m in a fortunate position as I take a lot of Americans to Australia as I still work there quite often and I take a team and half of them are American and I’m thinking of making a rule that Americans can’t travel there, because I’ve lost three; three have stayed, over a ten-year period but still that’s not a good ratio.The thing they seem to love is if I take them to a sporting event. We’re mad about football in Australia, it’s a special atmosphere. You get 100,000 spectators to a game that’s not even in the finals, it’s a fast-paced game, action packed. My wife seems to really like it, a little more than I would like her to like it, she seems to think all the players are quite handsome, and short shorts. So you have to go to a sporting event whether it’s Melbourne Cup, a famous horse race we have or the footy.”

7. Make time to visit a country town. “My dad lives in Woodend, the countryside of Victoria, only one and half hours outside of town, but I think it’s a really unique experience because within 20 to 30 minutes of driving out of town, there’s sheep everywhere, cows everywhere. It feels very rural very fast and if you go to one of those small country towns and have dinner in a pub, you probably will meet a shearer or a farmer of some description, it’s a very unique experience.”

Curtis has two young sons who he’s brought back down under with him. “In Australia, we’re less protective around our kids. We let them figure it out themselves, I quite like that. I like that culture. Let my boys be boys and not be too over top of them. Go to the ciuntry a lot, go to the backyard and chase the horses around. It’s a nice way of life, lots to experience. Nature is a big part of culture, beaches and countryside. I think they come back a little rougher and a little more ready for life each time I take them back.”

Alright, Curtis, I was already keen to visit, but now you’ve sold me even more so on Australia.

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As for what we ate at Bosk that night, well, Curtis admitted to me that he didn’t have that much to do with the menu, other than discussing some key ingredients. He’d said he’d have loved to cook for us, though. The dinner was fantastic and paired with Australian wines. I’ve shown all of the courses here in the post in order. We started with prawn tartare with shell powder, chili thread, mango and avocado. Next, we had seared foie gras with Vegemite-miso, beet gel and A.N.Z.A.C. crumble. When we ate this course, Curtis pointed out to me that the plating was very Wylie Dufresne and he googled a photo on his phone to show me. For the main, we enjoyed spiced lamb with quinoa tabbouleh, and finally, for dessert, mango and passionfruit pavlova. I adored the rich foie gras and the very refreshing pavlova (and I’m usually not that into dessert, since it’s often chocolate cake of some sort).

OK, now, back to planning on getting myself to Australia…Have you been? What did you love most about your travels there?

 

Leave a Comment November 22, 2017

Beauty Swellness: 5 lessons in looking and feeling beautiful as you age

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Getting older makes me nervous. Plain and simple. I’m going to assume I’m not alone in this. Ladies, are you a bit stressed about aging, too?

But a recent roundtable I attended with a group of very successful women helped to ease some of that anxiety about aging. Assembled by Procter & Gamble Canada, the group of inspiring women included fashion expert Jeanne Beker, lifestyle expert Lynn Spence, dermatologist Kucy Pon, dentist Janet Tamo, and wellness expert Tosca Reno. Jeanne, who’s just turned 65, shared that she’s finding this time of her life exhilarating. “So many years, it was all about pushing forward and having to survive and going out there and getting it, we all need that drive, but this stage of our lives where we can sit back and see the forest for the trees, it’s a sweet time,” she says.

That sounds pretty incredible, doesn’t it? A little bit of a waiting-to-exhale moment when it comes to life…Here are the other useful nuggets of inspo I gathered from this powerhouse of women when it comes to taking care of one’s health and beauty.

1. Look to your meals as a way to nourish your body. “Each meal, I see as an opportunity to load myself with nutrients. Not “is it going to be chicken or steak tonight?” I look at food differently, as a way to flood my cells with nutrients.” says Tosca. She added that according to the World Health Organization, wellness is the presence of three lifestyle practices. “Eating clean, whole. nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, exercise and emotional wellness,” she says. And while she noted that keeping moving physically is important, so is keeping your digestive system moving things along is key, too. And her tip for making sure you’ve got that down pat? Adding Metamucil and a shelf-stable probiotic (just open the capsule and add the powder right in!) to your smoothie is a simple way to make your smoothie instantly better for you.

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2. Feed your skin vitamins, too. Eighty percent of premature aging is due to sun damage, says Kucy. And while you can’t undo all the sun damage to your skin, you can make sure your skincare has vitamins that’ll benefit it. Such as vitamin B3 (niacinamide) — it moisturizes, it’s anti-inflammatory, helps pigmentation, and prevents irregular skin tone; vitamin A, which you should use in the evenings, which will help repair some sun damage; and vitamin C, as this antioxidant will help neutralizing damaging free radicals. Where to get these vitamins? Well, Olay Regenerist is, as Lynn points out, affordable and accessible to most women.

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3. Give your hair some TLC. Have you ever watched Lynn on TV and admired her shiny, voluminous hair? I know I have. Lynn swears by Pantene 2-in-1 products and its Smart Technology, which targets the areas it needs to treat and then washes out, but still leaves the hair nice and hydrated. She also makes sure to limit her use of heat tools by using a hair dryer that works efficiently so she can minimize the time it’s blow dried, and she finishes off with velcro rollers to build volume.

4. Create a budget and regimen for your dental health. Discoloured teeth are seen as a sign of aging and your teeth will darken with years of smoking and drinking coffee and red wine. The strategies to maintain a healthy mouth, though, are simple. Start with planning a budget for your dental health. “People budget for their hair, but hair grows back, teeth don’t,” says Janet. That’s so true, and good oral health over your lifetime is so essential, it should have its own budget. As for how to use that budget? Crest Whitestrips will immediately make your teeth look healthier and more beautiful. Invest in an Oral-B electric toothbrush, as it has been proven to better remove plaque. And lastly, floss daily as it helps to remove bacteria from your mouth. Did you know  most dental conditions are preventable?

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5. Exercise can fit into even the busiest of schedules. People often ask Tosca if she spends hours at the gym and she tells them she doesn’t have hours to spend. Thirty minutes performed at 65 percent maximum heart rate is far more effective than spending hours at the gym, she says. Women in the baby boomer demo need to hit metabolic catalysts and target large muscle groups, that is the glutes, core and and quads, so that your burning fat at a faster rate all the time. Her fave? Rebounding. Fifteen minutes on this mini trampoline is the same as running 30 minutes on land, she says.

And when it comes to all of these lessons, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself inside and out doesn’t have to be an all-consuming, overwhelming task. “Do the doable thing,” says Tosca. “Once you’ve done that thing, the next thing becomes easier. Do it 10 times in a row, and now that’s a new habit, and you can move onto the next one and commit to the next doable thing.”

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Leave a Comment November 21, 2017

Travel Swellness: Glamping at Whispering Springs

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My summer of road tripping came to a close at a lovely new property that’s only about two hours from Toronto: Whispering Springs.

Whispering Springs is in Northumberland County near the towns of Grafton and Brighton. It’s located nor far from the Big Apple on the 401, where I somehow have yet to visit even though I’ve driven by it many, many times.

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With four glamping tents and more being added for 2018, Whispering Springs is exactly the kind of getaway to nature that does the body good. It’s close enough to Toronto for a quick escape and yet the accommodations are luxurious so it won’t make city slickers feel put out.

For example, you make your own fire and cook your own food on a BBQ, but there’s a fridge for your groceries in your tent (no need to pack a cooler) and firewood is supplied. Plus, you can even purchase a basket of market ingredients from Whispering Springs if you prefer to lie in the hammock rather than go pick up your own supplies. There is a farmers market nearby, however it sadly wasn’t open while we were at Whispering Springs as we visited during the week so we shopped for our groceries at the supermarket in Brighton.

If you’d rather not cook at all, there are restaurants in the nearby towns. We went out for lunch one day and picked up some great fish and chips at Zack’s Diner followed by Kawartha Dairy ice cream cones for dessert at Mrs. B’s Country Candy. I got my last fix of Moose Tracks for summer seventeen!

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You won’t need to worry about breakfast at Whispering Springs, though, as a lovely basket will be dropped off at your glamping tent each morning. Homemade granola with yogurt, fresh baked pastries, fruit bowls; exactly what I was craving each day as I woke up to the sound of the trees rustling in the morning breeze.

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It’s blissful quiet at Whispering Springs and we spent most of our time just enjoying a breather from our hectic schedule. We took a whirl, well, as much as one can whirl, in the paddle boat. Enjoyed some quality hammock time. Lounged in the hot tub. And, my favourite, we hiked two of the trails. One leads you by the lovely wedding chapel in the woods and follows one lovely little spring.

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There are also yoga classes and massage therapy available at this glamping property but we didn’t have a chance to try either this trip; instead carved out our own quiet time by the pond.

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The glamping tents each feature a different theme. The comfortable king-size bed will make it hard to get your day going. There’s a very inviting freestanding bathtub as well; if you prefer a shower, there is an outdoor shower by the lounge area which I couldn’t pass up (showering in the fresh air is such a novelty, isn’t it?).

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Whispering Springs had only been open a couple of weeks when I visited (and is now closed for the season until spring 2018) but there is much more to come. More tents will be added, and even during our short visit, we saw so much progress: the wedding chapel was coming together, and meditation stations were added along one of the trails.

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I can’t wait to see this gem of a destination develop even more in the years to come.

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If you’re thinking ahead to 2018 getaways, book now to make sure you get the nights you want at Whispering Springs; or if you’re looking for a great gift idea, Whispering Springs also has gift cards for sale (tuck one into someone’s stocking as an extra special gift this holiday season!).

Is glamping something you’re planning on for 2018? I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a Comment November 14, 2017

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