Wednesday, 30 November 2011

On Being Patient and discovering Kurt Geiger

Ok ... there are times when it pays to be overly cautious, and perhaps a little nervous precaution is sometimes warranted in a decision making process ... what exactly am I waffling on about? Well, bryanboy has been rocking the Kurt Geiger's something shocking in recent times, so I decided to do a little cyber sherlocking, thinking all the while that given bryanboy's proclivity (apart from the odd Uniqlo and H&M "misstep) for high end couture the pricetag would be something even Jessie J would baulk at, I was pleasantly surprised to find that prices were not entirely astronomical, and at an additional £12 or so, goods were actually shipped to this part of the world.

So before I knew it, I was registered and filling up the shopping cart with wild abandon (some styles do not ship out of the UK). As its my want, I add then cull ferociously, usually ending up with absolutely nothing in my cart! But I just couldn't empty this particular shoe out. Its called the Rio, and if it was pushing 6 feet with a hairy chest, I would marry it in a flash.

Needless to say, close sartorial advisers amongst my friends were suitably harrassed with my "do you like it as much as I do" emails/txts/FBmsgs. Bless them all, even if they didn't they lied convincingly.

My chest still heaving with the sighs of indecision, I got to work and found a stack of ELLE UK magazines each emblazoned with a shiny piece of red plastic the size of a credit card with the words Kurt Geiger in bold print in the foreground, with a slightly more subtle motif of £25 repeated underneath.

To cut a long story short, I had just scored myself a Gift Card worh £25. And that is straight up £25. No committing to a subscription or entering a draw! It was just a mater of registering the number and logging on to purchase.

Friday, 18 November 2011

CBA Friday at the Laksa Bar

Ok ... this is not a story of authenticity, its a story of a homespun idea, an intrepid businesswoman from Johore, of jealously guarded recipes, and food cooked with love and enthusiasm.

Laksa Bar is the latest addition to the hipster enclave of Little Lonsdale Street, between Russell and Exhibition. And a welcome addition it is too. I have been watching this space for some time now in the lead up to its recent official opening. The laminated posters spoke of different types of Laksas from Nonya, to Assam through to Sarawak.

And when it finally opened, the smell of Malaysia permeated my daily sojourn into work, feeding both appetite and anticipation. And now finally, I have tasted Alina's lovingly fashioned noodles, and my life experience has been suitably enriched.

We tried the House Style Laksa, with chicken as our protein of choice. We asked for it to be spicy, as advised by the menu. You help yourself to cutlery and plates of sambal (hello! Big tick!!). And you're provided with a disposable Bib.

The Laksa arrives absolutely brimming with ingredients, with a mixture of egg noodles and thin vermicelli. So its not your plain pared back Hawker style Laksa, its Alina's homecooked version, how she likes to eat it, and so how she likes to serve it.

The chicken is roasted and then cut into pieces, the fish cake is amazingly fresh, the eggplant is cooked to perfection, the green beans wonderfully crunchy, the tofu ... well from a packet, the sauce is super creamy (a mixture of coconut milk and cow's milk) and the added spicy samble to die for! My first mouthful of the sauce, with its subtle laksa leaf herb hit, was the hello that it had me at (did this work? Whatevs!).

Lets overlook the fact that perhaps this is not quite as authentic as some would prefer it to be (where's the laksa noodles I hear you cry, "way too many ingredients" someone yells out from the back, "whats with the fried egg, crackers and limpid wedge of tomato" someone else sneers), but its still a formidably unctuous dish, creamy, salty, and most importantly, just downright delicious.

The owner must have taken a shine to us for some reason and she sat down at our table and we talked about food and her philosophy. Each day she plans a special Laksa (Mondays is Assam Laksa - with real Spanish Mackerel she assures us), and is working her way towards Johore Laksa, which actually uses spaghetti rather than the conventional chinese noodle. She also intends to start making Satay, the real way, over charcoal. She even offered to whip us a batch of Chwee Kueh if we rang ahead!! We love you Alina ... and we can't wait to come back and try your Nasi Lemak, and that intriguing Nasi Lemak Pattaya that's served within an omelette crust ... much like some versions of Pad Thai.

We could very well become regulars ... even if its just takeaway.

PS - its licensed and you can pay by card

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The World is So Loud. Keep Falling. I'll Find You.

Ok ... she said it herself. "Every old sock meets an old shoe" And its exactly how I feel listening to Kate Bush's newie "50 Words For Snow".

Officially this is released on Nov 21, but I chanced upon a full rack of CDs when I dropped into the Yellow Peril (aka JB Hifi) at lunchtime. Sounding briefly like a constipated cat, I nearly hopped, skipped and jumped my way to the counter, credit card at the ready.

Then I had to spend an entire angonising afternoon at work before rushing home to pop this on the stereo. Mind you I'd already streamed it the night before on NPR.Org (National Public Radio)  - great site by the way. Here's the Kate Bush link.

But there's nothing like the full stereo experience, comfy couch, glass of wine, booklet in hand, lets go! And there's Kate ... booming out of the speakers from an amazingly produced album, singing about snow in the warmest of tones ... like a snuggie on a cold winter's night ... except its a balmy 20 degrees outside.

Let me warn you. This is not a Pop album. It requires more patience than your average knifepoint-haired gnat posseses! Oh but it repays in spades. Its an album of short stories built round the central theme of snow. Mainly pianistic in construct, Kate really knows how to work the spaces in between the sounds. With Elton John, Stephen Fry and good ole Bertie joining in the process, this album is not for everyone, but if you're embarrasingly in love with Kate Bush as I am, you will not be dissappointed.

"Only you can do something about it.
There's no-one there, my friend, any better.
I might know what you mean when you say you fall apart.
Aren't we all the same? In and out of doubt."
Among Angels - Kate Bush

PS - did we finally get something early for a change over here in the arse end of the world? Or did we flout some kind of embargo today? Anyhoo, Australia, we may have been the first country to have purchased Kate Bush's new CD in the world!

I love Coloured Pencils

Ok ... I've always loved Coloured Pencils ... only because when I was young I lusted after Faber-Castell, and only ever got those hard wood Staedlers. Mum and Dad never really encouraged the artistic streak in me ... so I still get shivers when I go past the Coloured Pencils rack in a stationary store. And now, in addition to Ghost Patrol's Coloured Pencil paintings, we have even more Coloured Pencils madness. Enjoy!

Hudson - Against The Grain from Dropbear on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Quien Viet or Camp Viet rather

Ok ... I say "Braybrook" You say "Where?" And its kinda like that. What wiki reliably informs me is classified as a Bedroom suburb, i.e. people "sleep" here and travel away for work, Braybrook is a mixture of residential and industrial with abandon fields of weeds in between. Not necessarily the first place that springs to mind when you're searching for a good meal out. But thats the fun of unexpected and surprising discoveries ... the incongruity and randomness of it all ... a bit like life ... No? *insert throwaway alain de boton soundbite here*.

With a solid tip from Lauren over at Footscray Food Blog, we paid a visit to this newly minted temple to hawker style vietnamese fare on one of our recent CBA friday nights. There is something about Spring evenings that seems to coat seemingly mundane street scenes (in this case, a snake infested patch of weeds, a busy road and some seriously ugly houses - ok thats just my take, don't hate me!) in a sort of arthouse cinematic sheen ... its the weather's natural photoshop.

With every snippet of conversation I engaged in with M, I was Sophia Loren in a big floppy straw hat. With the simple act of ordering from the gaily coloured menu, I was Catherine Deneuve looking over the rim of my Givenchy shades ... ok it was all in my head ... but our camp waiter knew the score ... he was down with it!!

Anyhoo, for starters we went with Grilled Pork Patties Rice Paper Roll, which came with this creamy slightly fishy yellowy sauce. The Pork patties taste like those Thai Sausages (their version of Lup Cheong, I'm guessing) you can buy in a packet at some of the better stocked Asian foodstores (the one opposite Aldi/Daiso in Victoria Street would be our recommend.) around.

I'm still undecided about the sauce and beyond the overpowering taste of the sweet pock, the rest of the ingredients sort of paled into the distance.

We fared better with the crispy mini rice cakes ... all yellowy with turmeric, each housing a plump little piece of prawn sprinkled with some kind of floss (which could have been alot stronger in flavour). We could have sat there and just had that for dinner. Imagine sitting down to a big plate of these, fresh herbs and lettuce for wraps and a kick arse dipping sauce, in front of the TV with a DVD of your choice on a lazy afternoon ... bliss.

For mains, we had the Fried Rice with Crab meat - a bit of a let down with the bland crab bits that were worryingly orange in colour:

A vegetable curry, heavily scented with lemon grass - beautiful:

And Shaken Beef!! The name cracks me up, but this is edging its way up into my Top 10 of dishes! Its a simply designed dish packing a maximum flavour punch!!!

Time to get the Melways out, or recallibrate the GPS for the quickest route to Braybrook. I think Quien Viet is going to be a bit of a homespun success.

DOC - A Girls Night Out

Ok ... I think its getting to the point (in the same vein as Melbourne is synonymous with fussy coffee) that you can get great pizza anywhere you go in this lovely city of ours. I'm so glad we're moving farther away from cheesy thick crusts to the more refined, and infinitely superior thin crust varieties. And I love that we're exploring bianchi options, although the true mark of a good Pizza restaurant is ultimately how well they serve their Margherita!

DV, CC and myself recently had a girls night out ... i.e. no stifling partners in tow. We started with drinks over at Von Haus on a lovely Friday evening, clouding the quaint little outdoor backyard (the size of a dunny lane) with cigarette smoke and twilight conversation. CC trailed behind with a story of an arsehole bus driver and doe-eyed persistance that we could walk an evening stroll to Carlton Espresso, which had no room for us.

So we ended up at DOC, where the beautiful people hang out ... including Dan from Cut Copy sat at the table next to us. (And No Licio, I couldn't get up the courage to say Hi and my efforts to sneak a pic were a dismal failure). Be prepared to wait for a table, and that Italian exuberance could come across as abrasive to some, but really you're pretty much here to eat or takeaway Pizza.

It was a trully pleasant evening as we chatted and munched on delicious pizza, amongst an endless parade of boys we could have fallen in love with, giddy from the heavy scent of truffle that emanates from the open kitchen.

Lets do this all over again ... very shortly.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Under the Milkwood Tree

Aah lovely spring days when the simple act of lunching is an exercise in serenity and rejuvenation. We recently took our midday repast over at Milkwood in Brunswick (opposite Triple R) on busy Nicholson Street.

Simple unadorned meals and beautiful coffee (minus those ridiculous tasting notes) served by well put together staff dressed in vintage tea towels ... what more could you ask for.

M's pork pie

My chicken sanger

I'm 5

Ok ... 5 years old!

I'm five, I'm five
I am a big (boy) now, I'm five
My mother doesn't spank me just
For going without a hat
She knows darn well I'd run away
'Cause I'm too old for that
What does she think I'm three? Not me
What does she think I'm four?
I'm more than four
I'm even more than four and a half...
I'm five!
(On November the 1st)

PS ... I want shares in Lego ... thats all I'm saying

Tramway - a few new additions to the menu

Ok ... indulge me for a second. I just needed to "jot" down these new additions to the Tramway menu, mainly for my own reference. But of course I can thoroughly recommend each and every one, although the Venison burger, I recommend in proxy, as I don't eat Vension. Period.

The current Tramway special: VENISON BURGER - Char-grilled venison pattie topped with homemade blackberry chutney, fresh pecorino, aioli, Spanish onion, tomato, cos lettuce and chips

A revamped Chicken Main with the addition of these amazing potato and chive croquettes: Free-range roasted chicken breast, dusted with prosciutto salt, drizzled with jus and served with Italian coleslaw and potato and chive croquette.

A new addition to the vegetarian selection which is an absolute winner!: Homemade Semolina and Ricotta Gnocchi in a confit of new season tomatoes, olives, basil and garlic Topped with Reggiano parmigiano

If you haven't been ... hello!! C'mon!! Get your butt into gear. When you visit the website, the first photo you see is mine! I'm still chuffed about the fact that they've left it on there even though there have been better photos taken.

If I was a girl ...

Ok ... following on from the pussy theme of the last post (sorry I just had to go there!), if I was a woman, I would like to be:

Here's Tilda channelling Bowie and Annie Lennox in equal measure!!

ps ... doesn't Jimmy Choo look like such an apek (old man for those non-singaporeans out there)!! He looks like he should be selling you a plate of kway teow ... not shoe-ing up some of hollywood's greatest!!

Pussy Love ... yes it is safe for work

Ok ... my pussies have never been this close!! Bless.

Dat Way him naw go plop plop - Rediscovering Grace Jones aka being distracted from work

Ok one of the advantages of working from home (amongst many including slopping around in jammies and raiding the pantry every 5 secs) is that while I type away robotically responding to endless email queries and "isewes", I can soundtrack this mindless tedium with a selection from the mouldy and mothridden recesses of our record collection.

As I type this, the gruff booming tones of one Grace Jones is blaring out of the speakers at me. Our musical accompaniement today is supplied by Grace Jones' "Living my life".

What would Grace Jones be without Sly Dunbar and that Armani Jacket!! There was a whole teenage era when hordes of bespectacled schoolboys harried their local "Supercuts" with shrill requests to look like Ms Jones, in an effort to surreptitiously flout the short back and sides hairstyle rules by piling everything up top and giving it one fell swoop with a chainsaw to emulate the hirsute representation of the geographical feature known as a plateau! And in the 80s, you made your money in hair gel ... nuff said!

I say hordes of schoolboys, but frankly speaking it was really only schoolboys of a certain inclination ... i.e. the entire flute section of the school band ... and the odd percussionist at the back.

Anyhoos, Living my Life, perhaps not as well known as Nighclubbing, is still a fantastic album with some banging tracks, least of all is "My Jamaican Guy". The production values are suberb. Sly Dunbar really knew how to work the spaces in between their dub and dancehall riffs. And Grace isn't just a pretty face .. no really! She wrote quite a lot of her own material. And there are very few singers who have a sound and a voice distinctively their own. It wasn't the autotuned hell we now consider pop music these days.

And although the album in many ways is a lovesong to her spiritual home, New York, some of its social concerns are both topical and relevant to our country today. Just listen to "Cry now Laugh Later" (my fav track here):

"I don't know why I'm laughing
Immigration breathing down my back
Ain't got no money for a pay off
Stay in jail until they send me back
I don't know why I'm laughing
I'm still hurting from the pain
A foreigner in this hell hole
He ain't never gonna touch me again"

Finger on the pulse peops ... finger on the pulse.

*Commercial Manager: "get back to work Temasek!*

PS - another thing to add to the list to advantages working from home - updating your blog!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Sometimes I feel like a fraud

Ok ... I'm not a foodblogger ... I just really really love food!! And I also love music.

So I think its time for another music roundup. And as I am lazy, I'm not going to sway opinions and display lack of creative writing prowess by proferring a carefully worded soundbite, which you will only skim read anyways.

I will however endeavour to encapsulate each track with a single defining word.

And you can let your ears and clicking finger do the rest!

Suffice it to say, these are the "choons" that I'm digging at the mo. Enjoy!

Death in Vegas - Your Loft My Acid


M83 - Too Late


Bjork - Virus


Justice - Canon


Tori Amos - Job's Coffin


Beyonce - Love on Top

Happy!! (aka hot piece in blue!!)

Glass Candy - Digital Versicolor


Onra - A New Dynasty

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