• Best 8 Free Tools For Freelance Writers

    At a first glance, you might think that for you to become a freelance writer, you only need a keyboard and word processor.

    While these can make the job done, serious writers are always out looking for a wide variety of tools to enhance their work.

    Since being a writer requires more than just writing, you need certain types of tools to make your work easier. Here are the best 8 free tools for freelance writers.

     

    1. Open office

    Open Office is an open source software suite for spreadsheets, word processing, graphics, presentations, databases among others.

    As a free alternative to Microsoft word, Open office has almost everything that you need for editing and writing. You, therefore, need it if you are a freelance writer.

     

    2. Write or Die 2

    As a free tool, Write or Die 2 forces you to write through reward and punishment. If you stop writing for few seconds, you can set it to present you with consequences such as alarming sounds, poor image or even delete your words.

    You just need to set it with the amount of words that you want to write. More so, since it automatically saves your work, you don’t have to stop writing to save what you’ve written.

    3. Evertone

    This is a note taking app for both mobile and web. However, it’s more than just that. It’s like a cabinet where you can store links, images, videos, and texts and checklists.

    With this tool, you can create notes, keep them in notebooks and put these notebooks in stacks. Once you have an idea of how it works, you can easily create your own organizational system and come up with techniques that can help you wok well.

     

    4. Toggl app

    If you are looking for the best time tracking app then you need to choose toggl. As a relatively simple app, it allows you to create a project and set up specific tasks.

    You will then use a timer to record the amount of time that you will spend on each task. This app creates a clean looking reports showing the amount of time that you’ve spend on the project

     

    5. Wunderlist

    This is perhaps the best list making app of choice. Having a cool interface, you can use this app to quickly come up with a list of things including what to do list, books to read, article title ideas among others. Whatever things you want to list, you will find this list quite handy.

     

    6. ZenWriter

    If you usually get destructed by other word processors, then you need ZenWriter. This app features a full screen, adjustable texts, and various sounds. Since it lacks most formatting options, this is great. If you combine this with other tools, then you will definitely become a great writer.

     

    7. Drop box

    This is a file sharing system that you can easily use to share photos, docs, and other documents. You can also use this system to ensure that your files are safely stored for future use.

    When transferring files and other photos that are tool large this tool comes in handy. You just need to drop them into the box and choose the ones that you want to share.

    8. Pocket

    If you want to be a great writer, you must be a great reader. Thankfully, there are many interesting thoughtful and informative articles online. Pocket is an online tool that allows you to save the articles and archive them later on.

    Since Pocket strips the articles of ads and any other junks thereby offering you a very pleasant reading experience. More so you can sync it across many devices.

     

    Conclusion

    From pocket and ZenWriter to Drop box and Wunderlist, there are many tools and apps for freelance writers. Whether you are a professional writer or you are just starting out, then this tools are very essential to help you manage your business.

  • Wine Spectator blog on South

    Those who have been there know how well Australia’s food scene has kept up with the wines in quality and innovation. Surprisingly few Aussies have ventured to this side of the Pacific Ocean to show us what they can do, however. Now one of the best has gained a foothold in San Francisco.

    Luke Mangan, whose restaurants in Sydney (and now Tokyo) get high accolades, is the culinary mind behind South Food + Wine Bar, which opened in November in SF’s trendy South of Market district. The 50-seat bistro has a casual vibe, an all-Australia, New Zealand and South Africa wine list, and a real taste of Oz.

    Mangan’s partners in South know what they’re about when it comes to things antipodean. Liz O’Connell, born in Perth, grew up at her parents’ winery, Mandalay Lane. She left her vice president’s position with Foster’s, Australia’s largest wine company, to pursue this project with New Zealand-born Anna Weinberg.

    She most recently managed Ame, husband and wife team Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani’s San Francisco sister restaurant to their Napa Valley-based Terra.

    Carved out of what had been a deli in a warehouse-type commercial building across the street from the Caltrain station (and two blocks from AT&T Park, where the Giants play baseball), the space is fitted out with tables made of jarra, a beautifully grained Australian hardwood, and wood-lattice light fixtures designed by New Zealander David Trubridge.

    “We didn’t want any koalas or kangaroos,” Liz said. The restaurant’s designer, Chloe Warner, based her wall mosaic on Anna’s carved Maori necklace.

    The buzzing crowd scene attests to how well these partners have thought through what they’re doing. For example, Mangan obviously can’t be there all the time, so he installed Nicole Ferguson as chef.

    She worked with him for six years, and most recently opened a resort in South Africa for Richard Branson of Virgin. She runs the kitchen between Mangan’s visits, planned for every couple of months.

    Ferguson encloses whole New Zealand green lip mussels in delicate dumplings, floating them in a mildly spicy coconut broth, pefect for a fresh white like Leasingham Riesling Magnus 2004 ($28). “Rozelle Spices,” an aromatic blend from Australia, flavors grilled fillets of barramundi, a white-fleshed fish, nicely enhancing Vasse Felix Chardonnay Adams Road 2005 ($46).

    A good way to start is with the Bushman’s Plate, ($13 for two), a platter of interestingly cut and seasoned grilled vegetables, salame and lamb sausages. It’s the sort of thing you see served at Australian cellar doors (what they call tasting rooms).

    The salmon sashimi, made from pure-tasting Tasmanian salmon and drizzled with lime cream, also mates well with the Southern Hemisphere’s crisp, aromatic whites.

    I also recommend the barbecued baby chicken, redolent of ginger, the pieces arrayed around a generous mound of pickled cucumber that’s been cut into long strips.

    High marks, too, for the New Zealand lamb cutlets, which are really double chops with mint-infused chimichurri. If you’re a squash fan like me, don’t miss the curry-roasted butternut with goat cheese. Spectacular.

    Limited storage keeps the wine list at 80 options, rotated among 300 wines on a master list. High-end wines such as Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series 2001 ($130) and Clarendon Hills Syrah Hickinbotham 2004 ($165) offer better value than the high markups on the lower end (sometimes four times retail). But you can sample a glass of this or that for around $12 and buy a bottle for less than $50.

    I asked Liz about this. “It’s true, the bargains are on the high end,” she said. “I’m comfortable with the markup at the low end.

    Most people come and want to try something new. They know Australian Shiraz or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but they don’t realize the regional differences and the less familiar wine types. Aussies come in and most of them know [the wines], but there’ll be conversation about what they should have with 75 percent of the people.”

    Indeed, perceptive wine lovers can find Jansz Rosé NV ($44), a nice pink fizzer from Tasmania, or Innocent Bystander Sangiovese blend 2004 ($44) from Yarra Valley, or Mount Langi Cliff Edge Shiraz 2002 ($46) from Victoria.

    “Where it’s possible, I highlight smaller producers, and regionality,” Liz added. That’s fine, but my experience with too many of the choices (especially among the New Zealand wines) is that better wines exist at similar prices.

    Still, South delivers a happy, buzzy dining experience. The welcome and the food make you smile, and careful choices from the wine list can create a perfect meal.

  • Prawns and Mango Salsa

    People  ask us about shrimp on the barbie (Paul Hogan be damned!) but Luke does have a recipe for prawns and mango salsa that people seem to be really loving at South.

     

    Prawns and Mango Salsa

     

    To prepare the prawns

    Remove the head and shell leaving the tail, devein and place back into the refrigerator.

     

    Mango Salsa

    • 1 semi firm mango
    • 1 small red chili – remove the seeds
    • 1 small shallot
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger
    • 1 tablespoon of roughly chopped coriander leaf
    • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 3-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

    Remove the skin off the mango and slice into ‘sheets’, finely dice the sheets to small cubes.  Finely dice the shallot, garlic and the chili add the all the ingredients together and add a small amount of salt to balance the taste.

     

    To assemble

    Char grill the prawns till moist, sprinkle the mango salsa over the prawns and garnish with picked wild rocket and extra virgin olive oil.

  • Recipe: Barramundi, tomato salsa and burnt lime

    Barramundi is a loanword from an Aboriginal language of  meaning “large scales” or “large, scaly river” fish. It is native to Australia.

    The fish’s white flesh is delicate, mild-flavoured, and relatively boneless, making it a popular food which can be prepared in many ways. Barramundi was the theme ingredient in a Season 3 episode of Iron Chef America.

     

    Barramundi, tomato salsa and burnt lime

     

    (this is the most popular main dish at South)

    • 4 x 7oz Barramundi fillets, skin on
    • Sea salt
    • Extra – virgin olive oil
    • 2 limes, top and tail and cut in half

     

    Tomato Salsa

     

    • 4 vine – ripened or seasonal tomatoes
    • Sea salt
    • 1 fl oz white wine vinegar
    • 2/3 oz basil sliced finely
    • 1 1/3 fl oz extra – virgin olive oil
    • 1 small red onion peeled

     

    Remove the core from the tomato dice into small cubes, finely dice the red onion and mix with the tomato and basil.  Add the olive oil and vinegar, season to taste.

    Place the limes onto the char grill and score till blackened.

    Salt the skin of the Barramundi fillet and place skin side down in a hot pan and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.  You may need to finish in the oven depending on the thickness of the fish.  Remove from the pan and rest.

    Place the fish on the plate skin side up and dress with the tomato salsa, garnish with the burnt lime half and a micro salad of olive oil dressed watercress.

  • Corked Wine in the Restaurant

    Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

    More than half the wines on the South wine list are screw capped wines. We love them for a few reasons.

     

    1.  It makes it much quicker for waiters to get drinks out to people, we hate people waiting (I hate waiting for drinks!)
    2. Wines are NEVER corked (because they have no cork of course). You still need to make sure they weren’t spoiled by heat or some other issue but that is highly unusual.
    3. Its easier to seal them during service to retain freshness (for wines we serve by the glass)

     

    On Tuesday night we had a big group of doctors in ordering one of our expensive Cabernets and 3 out of the 4 bottles were corked.

    In this situation, we send it back to the distributor and they are usually good about replacing it but unfortunately, the guest is disappointed (particularly after their first bottle was spectacular) and we don’t feel comfortable continuing to open more bottles so we need to change wines.

    We can always recommend an alternative of course but still we’d rather the wines weren’t bloody corked! This is not the fault of the winery, but the cork itself which is infected with bacteria. Wineries can be careful about choosing high grade cork but there are no guarantees that the more you pay, the safer you are.

    The Portuguese cork producers say the incidence has decreased and that they are solving the problem (see this article) but the jury is still out there. Some industry pundits say that up to 10% of wines are tainted by cork to varying degrees and the Australian Wine Research Institute leads the world in the research into screw caps, cork and cork taint and synthetic corks. My humble experience in the restaurant is about 5-7%.

    New Zealand led the way using screw caps commericially back in the 90’s and Australia followed. For white wines meant to be drunk young, there seems is no downside to screw caps, they are fresher and seal better but the argument continues for ageable reds.

    Time will tell on that. Now, most of the reds and whites in New Zealand are screw-capped, in Australia almost all of the age-worthy reds of note are still sealed with cork including the best wines like Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace.

    Most of the winemakers you talk to however would prefer to use screw caps but their marketing people are against it fearing the backlash from luxury wine drinkers in the US. 

    Interestingly, we have had very few negative comments on the number of wines in screw caps at South from our guests.

    I think I had one email about it where I customer said if she was paying $40 for a bottle of wine, she thinks that screw caps are tacky but South customers seem to be absolutely fine with it, the tide has turned with the discerning US wine consumer I am pleased to say.  Or perhaps it is just the very smart people that come to South 🙂

  • Who stole Vanya Cullen?

    Winemaker Vanya Cullen has gone missing from South, one day she was here, next she had disappeared into the night, a victim of a drunken prank perhaps? Let me explain.

    South’s interior was designed by the up and coming San Francisco designer Chloe Redmond Warner.

    We love what she did (California Home and Design and Elle Decor did too, they are both coming in to photograph), but we did have to have just a little bit of fun too, we can’t take ourselves all too seriously now can we? We decided to send an email out to all our Aussie and Kiwi winemaker and importer mates asking for photos for a “winemaker wall of fame”.

    Chloe then had them printed all different sizes, framed and mounted and we hung them all around the bathroom in no particular order (by the way, the winemakers that have found out the wall of fame is actually in the toilet think its hilarious, thank god there are no prima donnas among them).

    Many of them submitted answers to a series of questions when they sent their photos in, which are also printed on the photos.

    People tell us they love reading the winemakers comments on the photos, they also tell us that it is slightly strange to be sitting (or standing ) with 50 faces staring at you while you do your business.

    So here the real story begins. Last Friday morning Anna was going about her morning business and discovered that some bugger had pinched a photo off the wall.

    After standing there mystified for a few minutes staring at the empty hook where this face once was, we realized it was Vanya Cullen, from the wonderful Cullen winery in Margaret River.

    Now I have never met her but judging by her photo, Vanya is a very nice looking lady but also no slouch in the field, perhaps that is why she got knicked first?

    Other than running the Cullen winery, she worked vintage at Robert Mondavi in 1985 and Domain Joseph Drouhin in Burgundy in 1987 and was named winemaker of the year in Australia in 2000 among many other achievements. 

    The Diana Madeline Cab Merlot (named after her mother and co-founder of Cullen), is considered one of the best in Australia and I secured on of the best vintages, the 2001, directly from my mate Gavin Speight at Old Bridge Cellars (the importer).

    So we love the winery, love the wine, she is arguably one of Australia’s best winemakers (and very committed to biodynamic practices) and one of only a handful of women on the wall (which also raises her in importance in my mind).

    We love a joke as much as the next person but perhaps taking pictures off the wall does push the limits of even drunken decency?

    I have heard of (but yet to meet) the salt and pepper shaker bandits that prey on restaurants (you know who you are).

    Our loo is unisex so the popular theory around South is that unless the guy had a big jacket to hide it under or a manbag (this is San Francisco after all), it would’ve had to go into a ladies handbag, not the evening-just-fits-lipstick-and-ID kind, an oversized, I-just-came-from-work-and-need-to-carry-lots-of-stuff kind.

    So, you heard it here first folks, the new rule of restaurant thievery is that anything edible in a satchel should be considered fair game, if its attached to a wall (or other hard surface), refillable and/or looks like it cost more than 5 smackaroos, paws off please.

    Any information leading to the return of the photo will get a reward of what else, a bottle of the 2001 Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot (incidentally one of the more expensive wine on our list at $125 dollars a bottle but totally worth it in my book).

    Only catch is, you have to put up with us, because we plan to sit and drink it with you and enjoy every drop. And we will post your photo on the blog (OK, that can be negotiated) Lets bring back Vanya!

  • South Story – Part 1

    This is the beginning of the story of how South came to be. I will space it out over time so it doesn’t get too boring!

    Last year, I was working at Fosters Wine Estates, a large Australian wine company that owns many major Californian and Australian wineries like BeringerPenfolds, Stags Leap and Rosemount.

    After more than 5 years working for Fosters (and the company it took over in 2005 called Southcorp), I started to think I needed to indulge my entrepreneurial ambitions.

    I had been in the US 10 years working in marketing and PR roles, mostly in the wine business and I had long thought about opening an Aussie/Kiwi wine bar but as a marketing person, didn’t have the operational background to actually put it together.

    But fortuitously, a good friend of mine, an Aussie named Shelli Anne who owns that fabulous Billion Dollar Babes (traveling designer sample sales), told me I had to meet Anna. I think her exact words were, “you girls will love to go out to lunch and drink wine together”.

    So we arranged to meet at a wine tasting at Hotel Vitale and drank lots of wine and hit it off immediately (some would say too much wine, particularly those that went out to dinner with us that night).

    We have much in common, both of us come from winemaking families (myself from Western Australia, Anna’s from the Hawkes Bay in NZ), we both have lived in the US for 10 years, me here in the Bay Area, Anna in New York and San Francisco.

    Anna had also visited Perth and Margaret River where I am from and has family ties there so, other than just sharing a love of food and wine, we also shared common bonds from our homes.

    Not long after that, my husband and I joined Anna and James in Napa Valley for a weekend of eating and drinking. It was that weekend that the conversation turned to my idea of a down under wine bar.

    I told Anna about  it and she immediately started firing operational questions at me (that I basically had trouble answering) and right there and then I knew I needed her as a partner.

    I have spent most of my 16 working years in the corporate world whereas Anna had spent all of her career in restaurants, including owning her own restaurant called Stella in New York.

    My husband Clint claims it was his idea for me to ask her to be my business partner, isn’t it funny how history gets rewritten among couples? (a whole different blog). So, suffice to say, by the end of the weekend, which incidentally was Thanksgiving 2006 (which is late November for you non Americans), a partnership was born.

    Next installments will cover how we named it “South” (and the truly awful names that came before we decided on this) , how we got Luke involved, and how South morphed from a wine bar to “food and wine bar”

    Cheers, Liz

  • Where did week one go?

    Its been a mad week and a half since opening. Getting the kinks worked out is so important. The kitchen feels like it is humming along really well.

    We start lunch next week which is exciting and also slightly nerve wracking at the same time. Nicole, Luke’s chef de cuisine is confident as is Luke so that is just going to have to be enough for me (as Luke would say).

    We finally have all our systems down, restaurants these days have to run on very good systems, computer and service and the thing is, you can test them before you open but its not until the pressure of service that you see the weak (or bloody broken) links.

    Little fun things like the money not getting sent to the bank when the computer said it was. Yes, we did fix that one within hours!!

    What has been really nice is all the people from the neighbourhood dropping in to say , “glad you are open”, or “welcome”.

    We really want to make sure we are a place people feel like the can drop into if they live close by. We are small enough to be like that I think. Thats why the communal table will always be for walk ins.

    Anna and I are a little buggered (in our countries that is not a rude word so please don’t be offended) but we have just hired some more staff which will help a lot.

    Most excitingly, Gerard is our new bar manager. He comes from Luke’s restaurant Glass in Sydney. He and his wife arrived on the weekend and he started work yesterday.

    Gerard is an Aussie and comes from a wine family too, his wine knowledge is exceptional so he will be a huge help educating our staff and also answering any questions our guests might have.

    All our new press is on the site, not the radio show we did yet,  I will post about that tomorrow. That was good fun, Cheers, Liz 

  • Simon’s table

    Many people have asked us about the table in the middle of the room. It is a 16 foot long jarrah table and it is named after Anna’s friend Simon Woolley, owner of the fabulous Antipodes water brand from New Zealand (which we sell at South).

    When we bought the restaurant back in April, it had an ugly half wall with a structural diagonal beam through it smack bang in the middle of the space.

    Very bad feng shui or something, whatever it was it looked bloody terrible and ruined the flow. Anna and I were a bit at a loss of what to do with this wall, put a leaner bar on each side so people can stand there while waiting for the table perhaps?

    Enter the creative Simon who was visiting from New Zealand. Simon has been in the restaurant biz for years and immediately saw that the wall was not structural (OK engineering is not our forte) and suggested knocking it down and building a communal table around the beam.

    So we knocked the wall down and our artisan table makers found us some fabulous Australian jarrah , sourced from Western Australia where I am from, which they built around the beam.

    They also found a way to make the whole  table floating, it has no legs at all which is pretty incredible considering how heavy jarrah is.

    It had clamps on it for a week to stabilize it and now apparently you can stand on it and jump up and down it will hold (please don’t try after you’ve had a few too many).

    People sit there for a quick drink or enjoy a full meal, we keep it open for walk ins.

    And it is affectionately known as the Simon table in his honour. Thanks mate!