Saturday, 26 February 2011

And the Best new artist award goes to ... David Lynch??

Ok ... yes that David Lynch ... and he doesn't do that bad a job? Apparently the notes came to him in a fit of inspiration and in collaboration with a studio engineer he released 2 "electro-pop" singles late last year ... with perhaps an album to come?? I'm just guessing. But notes come to me all the time ... and still no recording contract! Then again, I am not David Lynch nor am I his resources. But here are the 2 videos for your delectation (the second one is my fav). Oh and I guess he doesn't have to hire someone to do his own videos ... oh wait ... he turned it into a competition and got punters to do it for him ... and thats why he's a Hollywood hotshot and I spend my days talking to librarians!!



Monday, 21 February 2011

Goodbye Savings ... Hello Mr Porter!!!!

Ok ... if you know me, then this is the biggest news out!!


http://mrporter.com/

That just makes it official!! - how a potential crappy day was salvaged!

Ok ... I hate to do this but I have never had a more unappetizing plate of Nasi Goreng Kampung than at our very first visit to Chilli Padi in Flemington. And let me just say that it is a really bad sign when M does not even finish his meal ... and our friends can certainly attest to this.

Look, on paper, this joint (despite being a chain of sorts) ticks all the right boxes. Located in Flemington, (which is slowly becoming Little Malaysia ... well I hope!), it has a reasonably extensive menu that includes a few offbeat touches like Ayam Petai. It has a showcase hotplate kitchen where Rotis can be made fresh, and the staff, going by the accents, are largely Malaysian, and this is not to be scoffed at.

Even before stepping into the restaurant proper I was already excited about the prospect of having Roti Jala, or net bread (the batter is extruded in a lacy pattern that forms a net). Roti Jala can be used as an alternative to Rice or Roti and is usually served with curry.

Roti Jala

It was relatively speaking the shining light of the meal, although it should have come first as an entree (these little oversights are really starting to bug me!). Roti Jala is not something that is readily available in coffee shops (although you won't have much trouble finding some in the Arab Street area - try Kampong Glam Cafe for a start). Its more of a homecooked thing. But although the Jala at Chilli Padi itself was on the mark, the accompanying curry was limp and lifeless! Now even in Singapore these sorts of accompaniements can be watered down and on the cold end of the lukewarm spectrum ... but in comparison to the slop that arrived with my Jala ... well no further comment!

M's Asam Laksa arrived with a little plate of Hae ko on the side, which earned them a tick, BUT, the balance of the Laksa was all wrong!! Lets forgive them the use of tinned pineapple, but it was too strong a fish hit without the balance of the sweetness of tamarind. The noodles were way too thick and probably soaked up too much liquid in the cooking process. Instead of being refreshed in boiling water, they were probably left in there to soak. Not good!!


My Nasi Goreng Kampung came out gluggy and way too heavy on the sauce!!! It had the required ikan bilis, but where was the prawn flavour? And the chicken was tasteless!!! Oh and excuse me for going all Kanye on you but WHAT'S UP WITH THE DICED CARROTS???? It threw the Kampung taste completely out of whack! Angry much?? You bet. And don't let me get started on the 2 sticks of whatever passing as Satay.


Listen up all potential restaraunteurs who may be reading this blog, when you serve Malaysian food, the condiments are as important as the main ingredients. I should not have to ask you for some sambal!!! Especially if the words Authentic and Malaysian are being bandied around. Sambal should either have been spooned onto the plate, or brought out as a side dish.

Alright! my rant is over. We salvaged the day by going to the wonderful Sun Theatre (if you live in the region and haven't been .. why not???) to see The King's Speech, which was a lovely piece of fluff, and thoroughly enjoyable.


Colin Firth was adorable as usual, Helena Bottom Carter played her role with elan and Geoffrey Rush was surprisingly restrained. The only casting I'm still unsure of was Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII. I just can't get Felicia out of my head everytime he comes on screen. Oh and how old does Anthony Andrews look! I barely recognised him (he's responsible for what  is still the most convincing vomit scene ever filmed in Brideshead Revisited).


M found a recording of the original speech on youtube and it was interesting to compare the 2. The original was longer and Bertie didn't have as many pauses, but I think you can hear Lionel in the background at one point.


We decided to stop by Sabroso ostensibly for one drink on the way home. However Jackie was tending bar and Trina eventually turned up so that one drink ended up being a few with the staff at closing. What was really exciting was finding out that I was possibly at Uni, maybe even sharing some classes, and staying at the same Halls of residence as Richenda Pritchard, who is the co-owner (well soon to be ex-owner) of Delizia Cucina.

We celebrated an anniversary at Delizia and the food was amazing. Its a shame that Richenda has decided to pack it in. She said that she needed a break and that it had been a tough 2 years. Here's hoping I bump into Richenda at Sabroso on a regular basis. I would love to keep track on what she does next.

If you're thinking of hurrying down there before the new owners take over, you're too late. Richenda and some of her staff were at Sabroso to toast their final night.

So peops out West, you need to support these places!!

(in an effort to be fair and balanced, please find a favourable and certainly a much more comprehensive review of Chilli Padi here - moral of the story is ... try it out and make your own mind up)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The King Of Limbs - Radiohead's newie

Ok ... In.My.Hot.Little.Hands. ... well not exactly. I've unzipped the file and am now listening to the new Radiohead album - The King of Limbs.


Its too soon for me to write a review but on first listen, it pretty much picks up from where In Rainbows left off. There's no pay what you like gimmick this time round, but for £30 you get a bit of bang for your buck. In addition to receiving the album as a download, you can look forward to the following hardware delights (which they are tagging as the world's first newspaper album ... yah your fucking guess is as good as mine!!) when they are shipped in May:
  • Two clear 10" vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve.
  • A compact disc.
  • Many large sheets of newspaper artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork and a full-colour piece of oxo-degradable plastic to hold it all together
And one lucky owner of the digital version of The King Of Limbs, purchased from the website, will receive a signed 2 track 12" vinyl. (Fingers crossed!)

The "Single" released is Lotus Flower and the video shows a rather gaunt Thom Yorke ... wait for it ... Dancing!!!! I'm not sure how comfortable I am with this, but you can judge for yourself. Tell me what you think.


Friday, 18 February 2011

The Original Emo-tional singers

Ok let me kill my credibility for a bit and talk about what I call EMO-tional singers ... and what exactly am I referring to? Well, those singers (by and large female) who are so overwhelmed by the emotion and content of the performance that they start to cry. Let me clarify ... I don't mean fake tears squeezed out on cue every night of the performance ... (Janet "Miss Jackson if you're nasty"! I'm looking at u!) I mean a genuine emotional response to the moment, usually accompanied by a dramatic "turning away from the microphone" flourish, but anyhoo. Its something you see less of nowadays in these autotune-wireless mic-lipsynching times.

I was watching vids of the Brit awards on youtube when I came across one of Adele performing "Someone Like You" from her new CD "21". Now, Adele is a big fan of the old acoustic performance, I think mainly because she can actually sing and has some pretty decent material. Anyways, towards the end of the performance at the Brits she cracks up and has to look away ... bless!! Whether its pure artifice, or a genuine reaction, I don't care! My little gay heart cannot resist a big number!!!


I have a soft spot for Adele. I love popstars who drink and smoke and are guileless about their success. I'm not sure if her new love for Americana will resonate in the same way with me, but her debut album 19 will always remain a classic.



My good friend RA has a brilliant blog which is so effective in its simplicity (here, now and always..). He has posted a few videos of EMO-tional singing in action and I hope that he won't mind me pilfering. Because this clip of Amy Winehouse is A-mazing!!! You barely see her face and she pretty much talk/sings her way through the song without much regard for quantizing, but wow this packs a real punch!!



And as these are both strong female british voices, we have to do due provenance and go back to earlier times to the Emo-tional singer par excellence, Dame Shirley Bassey.


I say it again "A-mazing!!"

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Sun is falling and it lies in Blood - Black Swan

Ok ... so we went and saw Aronofsky's oscar contender Black Swan. Looking him up on imdb, I've realised that the only other film of his that I have ever gelled with was Black Swan's predecessor, The Wrestler.



I never really got into Pi, though I did try my very best in order to fit in with the cool kids. Requiem for a Dream left me cold (pretty much everyone else slobbered over it around me), and credibility left the building for me during the double dildo (oh shock horror!) denouement. I didn't even bother with Below. And despite my perfect man being the headliner, what was up with the Fountain??

The Wrestler, on the other hand, was telling a story with genuine compassion and a refreshing lack of artifice. And I found it incredibly moving.


Natalie Portman's Nina in the Black Swan is the celluloid sister to Mickey Rourke's Randy in the Wrestler. Both fragile creatures trying to reconcile the allure of the spotlight with the quest of some kind of normalcy in their lives. Both consumed by the drive to achieve their goals, regardless of the cost and sacrifice that success entails.



Ballet is closer to Wrestling than you think. Both are physically demanding sports and every crunch, click, pull and tear is suitably amplified in Aronsofsky's companion pieces. Although a little more stylistic in structure, Black Swan successfully portrays, through some extremely claustrophobic close-ups, the gradual decline of its fractured protagonist.


The film is by no means perfect, and teeters a little too finely on the point of melodrama, but Natalie's performance is rivetting and the rush towards her transmogrification at the end left me on the edge and breathless.

So we pretty much know she is a sure thing for the oscar, but what about Mila Kunis!!! I wanted more of her on screen. I may very well have a girl crush!!!



Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Shameless Plug - The new and improved Tramway Hotel in Nth Fitzroy

Ok ... we were privileged enough to have been invited to the launch of Chris Crouch's (erstwhile owner of Polyester and Candle records, now avid twitterer - http://twitter.com/thecrouchpotato) new business venture.

He has resumed an old business partnership, thrown in a new element in the form of the lovely Jess, bar manager extraordinaire and purchased the old Tramway Hotel in North Fitzroy (165 Rae Street), with the hopes of turning it into a new and improved funky local for denizens of this hip and happening suburb.

The Bar

What was once a fairly standard pub with an overly red interior (or so I have been informed) is now all polished concrete and blond wood. But don't let that put you off, there is enough of a no fuss no muss attitude both with the interiors and the staff for this to qualify as a true local, and just simply a nice place to chill out with a bevvie and friends. And thats all you really want from a pub isn't it?

Detail looking out into the outdoor area

Be warned, they're still working on a kitchen and hope to have it up and running within a month. It will be standard pub fare, mainly burgers, steak sangers and definitely a few vegetarian options - the "publican's wife" is vego and a good friend of ours ... I know I know, we do have vego friends ... there will always be roadblocks on life's journey!

Chris pulling a cold one

I can't wait to see how this all pans out. But in the meantime, M will encourage afterwork drinks here, and I hope to make this a regular venue for those "long time no see" catch ups.
Oh and they have Gypsy Pear Cider on tap!! Bonus!

PS if you have returned to this post and feel as though something is missing ... well there is. I have been advised to remove a photo of the lovely "publican's wife" on pain of some horrible form of torture ... so sad.

PPS You may wish to read our review of the food here.

Tramway Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 13 February 2011

nian nian yo yi - belated cny rundown

Ok ... I was dying in Sydney humidity on market street when I got the call ... and I was so touched to know that CNY celebrations had to be postponed so that I could attend. At the risk of being the reason for a break in tradition and therefore good fortune, I had to make the tough decision to ditch a party as I had stupidly doublebooked my Friday night.

So once again down the Chandler we arrived at J & CC's to find CC in full preparation mode. He didn't really want any help but we had to chip in somehow. But we really didn't do anything of much significance apart from tucking into a truly delicious CNY meal, soundtracked by the free CD (words cannot describe how woeful ...) that G recieved for ordering 5 kilos worth of Bak Kwa!!

To begin with, fried carrot (yam?) cake:


CC also devised this delicious cucumber starter with fish eggs, lap cheong and herbs which was so fresh and full flavoured and deifinitely on the cards for our next dinner party:


We then had CC's version of winter melon soup - refreshingly sweet and delicious:


We had to have a bowl of noodles (long life and all that) of some description, which he whipped up and served with the slow cooked chicken and a thick soy calamari which was absolutely heaven.

 

At this stage we were pretty much full to bursting and even struggling to continue the drink. But you have to have Fish at CNY. Its mandatory. CC even served the half eaten fish from CNY Eve - apparently you can't eat the whole thing ... but I can't remember why.



So happy belated CNY everyone!!!

And by the way, I am insanely jealous of our J & CC's vegie patch!!! Look at the array of produce in the photo below ... all fresh from their garden!!

Infinium

Ok ... could a beer really be worth $70 per bottle ... even if you take into account the restaurant mark-up? Well it comes with its own little blackboard write-up at Josie Bones and apparently they could only import 12 bottles and we ordered the penultimate one. Oh and they serve it in a champagne glass because it takes like champagne but with a hint of beer. Does that sound appealling? If I told you that you could sample it by the glass for $13 a pop, would you give it a go? Particularly if the recommendation comes from someone who doesn't really appreciate beer? I present you the boutique de plus beer which is Infinium!



And does it taste like champagne but with a hint of beer ... hell yeah!

Peach Garden

Ok ... love em or loathe em ... chain restaurants where they can charge according to ambience and service more than the quality of the food itself ... if you're in a foreign country you could inadvertantly stumble upon one of these palaces of entrepreneurialship ... it could turn out to be the worst meal ever, or it could turn out to be the best ... but very rarely does the meal bear repeating ... but we were fortunate enough to sample the delights of Peach Garden twice.

The first time was several years ago when M had his first taste of Winter Melon Soup served in a hollowed out Winter Melon which he absolutely adored! We were lucky to have LT along for the ride then as she is in the biz and has connections, she was equally cajoling this time round and got us the best deals and our own little room. But I don't think we really got used to alcohol consumption of that volume during daylight hours.

There was alot of food ordered, perhaps a little too much to be enjoyed. And the restaurant is by no means cheap and cheerful. Far from it. But if you ever have a chance to go, I would recommend it, but take someone with you in the know. Its a pretty extensive menu and you want to get just the right combination of textures and flavours.

Here is a sampling of what we had -

Spicy Tofu with Beans

This was actually served chilled as a sort of starter ... and it was the perfect appetiser. In fact I could have eaten a whole plate of it and would still have wanted more.

Peking Duck

Peking duck in Singapore is served cut as close to the skin as possible. Very rarely due you have but the tiniest sliver of fat and definitely no flesh. This is how it should be done. Even the most prosaic of ducks would taste wonderful if treated this way.

A Selection of Dim Sum dishes including Xiao Long Bao - (I have had better!)

Xiu Mai

I absolutely adore this. Always reminds me of childhood. I love that slightly sweet vinegary sauce that comes with it. And for the next dish, if you are sensitive to this issue (and so you should be) best to look away now.

Sharks Fin Soup

I won't belabour the point, but this was the most fin I have ever had, although my Taiwanese friend reliably informs me that the best and most expensive serve would have large pieces of fin, at least a thumb and finger span.

A beautifully fresh steamed scallop

Nothing beats a fresh scallop simply steamed with ginger and spring onion and a dash of Xiao Shing wine.

Can't rememeber the name of this fish, but I think it was a Bream that again was steamed.

Pork Rib served with the same type of bun they have with Chilli Crab

Spinach with goji beads

This Spinach dish was pretty much a highlight, and a welcome relief after all the rich food that preceeded it. It was nice to have some clear soup heavy with spinach flavour and only a slight hint of the medicinal herbs which has a tendency to overpower some of these so called herbal soups.

The left over duck flesh used in a simple stir fry

Mango and Coconut Sago

Didn't really need it but as M says "there's always room for sweets"!
 
We were rolling out of the joint let me tell you!! And we "walked" it off with the top down and LT once again at the helm!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Monday, 7 February 2011

Life in the Lion City - the charm of Little India

Ok .. I have fond memories of Tekka Market. Mum used to do her weekend marketing here. I remember the chicken boilers, the smell of mutton, the curry paste man, the fishball woman, the fishmonger with the gravelly voice, and of course doshay (or dosay, or dosa, or thosai, etc) at Komala Villas to round off the morning's shop.

Seafood section - Tekka Market
 
Veg out at Tekka Market


The original Komala Villas is still there on Serangoon Road, although they have fixed the rickety pressed metal stairs which are no longer a life threatening climb. But you still can't have the bready meals upstairs ... that is strictly for the banana leaf vego rice.

We had to have our fix but were remarkably restrained. We started with a shared plate of Wadai or Vada served with beautiful sambar and coconut chutney that is never watered down here.


We then had a Paper Dosai each, again served with the sambar and coconut chutney, but slightly wetter versions.


Apart from Doshay at Komala Villas, another attraction that pulls us to Tekka Centre is the promise of Braised Goose rice. The last few times we were here, the shop remain inexplicably closed. When we were at Tekka this time round, the stall was opened but they had run out of Goose. So we made sure we were early when we came back the next day.


I don't believe we were the first to order the goose, but as we were eating ours, the tables around us gradually filled up and we watched the pile of plump looking geese slowly disappear from the shop front window as more and more plates were ordered.

I think in the way that the Night Safari is a must see, Heng Gi Goose rice is a must eat.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Asian Truffle - the charm of Buah Keluak

Ok if you love food from the Malayan Peninsula, there are a lot of necessary ingredients to be got in Melbourne. You could replicate any of the dishes commonly found in hawker centres around the region except this one - Ayam Buah Keluak ... for that you need what is sometims referred to as Asian Truffle ... the nut from the Pangium Edule (or Kepayang) tree.



We were very lucky to have the bro's friend LT offer to make this sumptious Peranakan dish for us. Of course, more hands were coerced into the bargain, and before you know it, a little dinner party was planned which included said Ayam Buah Keluak, Chap Cheng (mixed veg consisting of a variety of fungus and beancurd related delicacies - word also doubles as a derogatory term referring to mixed blood), Devils Curry and Satay Curry Chicken.

 Ayam Buah Keluak

I recently learnt that the Buah Keluak nut in its natural state is poisonous. It has to be buried before use, which acts as a sort of fermentation, which I gather kills the toxicity.

Some people say its easy to cook, and others bemoan the hassle of scooping out the flesh, cooking this seprately and then spoon feeding the cooked flesh back into the nut ... time consuming if nothing else.

Chap Cheng

I have to confess that I can take it or leave it. I love the dish in itself and the nut does contribute heavily to the scent and flavour of the sauce, but M absolutely adores this. Its always wise to have a little teaspoon handy to scoop out the black morass held within. It has a tangy,earthy flavour, like truffle, but it also has a sweet accent which reminds me of stewed prunes.

 Satay Curry Chicken

It was one of the big ticks on our culinary list for Singapore. And it was great to share it with friends and family.

Here's M showing you how its done!



video

Ken Done called and he wants his bedsheets back ... Questionable fashion at the Laneway Festival

Ok ... I kid you not!! This was the bedsheet we had when we first met ... now its arguably a scarf and shorts to be worn at outdoor festivals such as this ...


PS ... I really hated those sheets!
PPS ... here's another pic that K took ... we kinda stalked her!!

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