A jolly winter solstice celebration.

I love Christmas, any excuse for me to throw another turkey or leg ham on the table really; soon we found ourselves quickly adapted to the idea of having Christmas during winter months every year. Last year we had a get together here at ATFT's HQ and gorged ourselves stupid with a spectacular feast. And this year we've decided to have our own little getaway with friends to celebrate Christmas in July at the Mountain View homestead up in Portland, a rural town in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales.

The Pom first found this pet friendly homestead and took me there during my MasterChef production break not long ago. We both fell in love with this charming home instantly. This rural retreat is set on a five acres of bushland; there is no concrete buildings in sight but an unobtrusive view of the Great Dividing Range. It is a nice breakaway from the city smoke and breathe in the fresh air of the countryside.

I am going to keep this a pictorial post, use your imagination and let the photos take you to this magical winter wonderland.

The retreat is home to two alpacas, chickens, ducks and all kinds of birds and wildlife. House guests are more than welcome to feed the animals.

Knock Knock Who's there! Alpaca! Alpaca who? Alpaca the trunk, you pack the suitcase!

The house was built from recycled materials; chunky bridge timbers as the frame structure, floorboards rescued from the old Bathurst hat factory and the fireplace was built using old convict bricks.

It feels like home as soon as you step inside. There are so much charm and characters in this house; quaint and eclectic decorations draped from ceiling to wall. There is even a crystal chandelier hanging right above the bath tub! I must admit I was rather excited to see all the mismatched cutlery, plates and bowls; it is a food stylist's dream.

Christmas Eve

We brought along Christmas tree for the Secret Santa and fairy lights to lift up the festive spirit. The Pom incharged of the turkey and had it brined overnight in the fridge. The fireplace crackled merrily whilst Billie Holiday swooned the room with mellow Blues, that's exactly how I pictured what a wintery Christmas should be.

On Christmas Eve, we nibbled on cheeses, olives, charcuterie and I also made some chicken liver parfait for the special occasion. My recipe coming soon.

You simply can't have wintery Christmas without mulled wine and eggnog. Zesty mulled wine warmed the heart and soul while the extra boozy eggnog sent everyone into festive mood.

It is also truffle season here in Australia. For a little indulgence, we spoilt ourselves with some fresh truffle that I bought from Lowes Mount Truffiere in Oberon.

We kept the dinner simple on Christmas Eve to save stomach space for tomorrow's feast. I've prepared mushroom fettuccine served with Pecorino Romano and shaved truffles. The truffle actually had stronger aroma than its flavour, I loved the smell but found that not everyone can appreciate that distinctive earthy funk.

Christmas Day

The next day we woke up to a frosty morning.

In keeping with tradition, everyone must put on their daggy jumpers on Christmas Day before opening the presents. The Pom's teddy bears jumper definitely the winner of the lot, because it squeaked when the teddy bear was pressed!

The daggy jumper parade was not limited to human only obviously.

Pressies! Who doesn't like pressies?

A relaxing afternoon on the verandah with ukuleles. A simple lunch of leg ham sandwiches and a good selection of exotic sausages of Chicken & Corn, TexMex and San Choy Bao (seriously?) from the famous Tender Value Meats butcher shop at Hornsby.

The Christmas feast was nothing short but spectacular! Nothing fancy but a truly classic mix of roast meats and vegetables. Bonbons, lame jokes, useless toys, coloured paper crowns, dry meats, wilted vegies, laughter and dirty jokes, the sickness of overindulged one self, ahh.... the joy of Christmas.

Then, there's desserts - deadly chocolate delice (recipe here) with coffee semifreddo. Do I need to say more? On your knees and bow to the Chocolate God!

The day after Christmas

The eating continues......

Waffles! The Manlyboys Coogeeboys woke up bright and early in the morning and started making fresh waffles for breakfast. Nothing beat piping hot waffles freshly pressed on hot plate. The sweet toffee aroma filled the air; I kept picturing myself in Belgium.

The leftover truffles were crumbed and sprinkled over scrambled eggs. Everyone was slowly woken up to the welcoming aroma of fried bacons and eggs. Blood pudding wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but they were 'bloody' good!

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, playing boardgames, nursing the bloated stomachs and feeling sorry for ourselves. I guess that's what Christmas is all about. But until next time...

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