Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Hashtag Winter - from darkness to light, murky to bright

Ok ... Winter in Melbourne ... you're not so bad at all ... rug up and head bush ... even in the cold and wet there is a sort of glamour ...

And under Winter's silvery grey cloak, the most prosaic of views strikes a pose of colour and hue ...

Meanwhile in the city, if you are prepared to brave and brace the icy climes, there are urban projections to be savoured ...

Full up on soi38's pop up noodles and accidental conversation, we upcollared and upstakes down to Gertrude to take in the wintry nocturnal sights ... we watched the birth of stars in a shop window ...

We marvelled at geometry in motion on bricks and mortar ...

We gawped as building facades transfigured into altars of illummination and colour ...


And the inevitable audience participation ...

Oh but then there was the EYE ... but that will be another post.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Soi38 PopUp Thai Noodles Part 2

Ok ... this time round is was Sukhothai Noodles ... and we had Thai friends in tow who I think were suitably impressed.

Another fine bowl of winning noodles ... and yes another serving please kind sir! I said to M that it reminded me of the butchers at the wet market in Singapore, and well it should being a pork based stock in which the noodles are drenched.

The snackage this time was some kind of  Minced pork toast - suitably snacky and perfect with my aperol and soda.

Sadly the sago pudding was a little bit of a letdown (sorry Andy ... just keeping it real) - it could have been a lot sweeter and richer in flavour ...

If you haven't yet been to one of these Soi38 Popup Friday nights, you need to fix that sitch up straightaway. Here's last weeks edition for your reading pleasure.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

A Bitter Sweet Day (or Two) Out - Wintry weekend in Daylesford

Ok ... whats that saying? When life throws you lemons, you make lemonade? What if it hurls at you a big pile of poo? You make a stack of shit cakes and hope for the best ...

Well you could wallow in shit at home, or you could get your lazy arse off your couch of self pity and wallow in shit somewhere peaceful and pretty like Daylesford.

Which is exactly what we did! And it was fantastic. We haven't really been able to do the spontaneous bush weekend for absolutely ages. And now that we're pet free, it was easy just to find a place to stay, pack up, get in the car and go.

So on a lovely sunnyWinter's morning ...

We rocked up at The Albert on Camp street and after getting the low down hoe down from Ziggy the wrestler, we headed back out to our favouriest bookstore - Paradise Bookstore, to browse rooms full of every kind of book imaginable, including music sheets, comics and even Vinyl.

We then gradually worked our way through the town's eateries, starting with the newest addition to the Vincent Street strip, Wine and The Country, which is very much like our own Seddon Wine Store, a place owners Jenny and Owen seem to be familiar with.

 Jenny is an absolute charmer, and although the decor pulls no new punches as far as modern melbourne cafes/bars/restaurants/pop-ups go, it is a warm and welcoming space.

And strategically placed in the corner are 2 turntables and a microphone! ... ok well no microphone, but a turntable nonetheless and a stack of Vinyl, including Sigur Ros' "svefn-g-englar" - big big tick.

We sat at the communal table and worked our way through a number of glasses of wine and an amazing selection of nibbles pulled from producers in the area, including an amazing chilli and fennel salami from Istra Smallgoods in Musk*, and this delightful soft blue cheese biscuit, which Jenny kindly topped up free of charge.

We sampled pub fair over at the revamped Daylesford hotel including a reasonably cooked Steak served with yummy thin fries and a decent salad ...

and I think a less than impressive pie according to M. although taste buds could have been tempered somewhat by the darkening mood oozing from a fug of alcohol. Sometimes a few rounds in the wringer is what every relationship needs ...

We visited our friends M & S and marvelled at their collection of Hi-fi paraphernalia, including a number of valve amps that I am insanely jealous of.

We took in the wintry sights and stumbled across a Antiques shop in Newellyn, who coincidentally, ran the Antiques shop just round the corner from our house. Its an amazing place to wander round and apparently the nursery out back is pretty impressive too, but the weather was foul, and the warmth indoors made it perhaps too easy a place to spend a couple of hours, so much so, M ended up parting with his hard-earneds for a mantlepiece clock that he is absolutley chuffed with!

In fact there seems to be plenty of these Antique markets sprouting all over the shop. The Mill Markets is one such establishment, where I scored my long sought after tripod! (already filmed a few vids for my Youtube channel - Temasekdan - plug!)

We also managed to revisit the Wild Mushroom Risotto at the Himalaya Bakery - and though the price seems to have increased somewhat dispproportionately (from $10 to $18.90), the dish still remains vibrant and exciting. The perfect lunch for a cold winter's day.

Our second night we spent dinner at Gracenotes Cafe, a quaint little restaurant at the further end of Vincent Street. Its singular soft yellow glow amongst the darkened shops shut for business on the strip seemed warm and welcoming, and although the food couldn't quite match up with the ambience, we had a lovely night regardless with Brighton accents from our friendly host to boot.

I had the chicken with cumin and pomegranate, which was reasonable, rather than mind blowing. The potatoes were delicious and so was the kale, but it needed more of a cummin hit and because there was no richness for it to counter, the pomegranate seeds seemed perfunctory.

M enjoyed his Salmon with asparagus in a Bernaise sauce served on a bed of kipfler potatoes.

And we couldn't go past the chocolate lava cake. Whats a weekend away if you're not going to splurge!!

So we didn't do Cliffy's and we didn't swing by the Convent gallery like we normally do, but it was still nice to just get away from it all. Now I have the monumental task of documenting our recent European jaunt - which I hope to do in parts over the coming months. Its going to be good!

* There are a number of great places to Breakfast in Daylesford. The bacon from Istra is amazing so a visit to their shop in Musk is a must. You can sample their sausages at Bocconcini, which is a lovely shiny cafe on the main street of Dayelsford, crisp white and modern with flashes of colour.

Love the cushions at Bocconcini

My scrambled eggs with Istra Sausage
M's Breakfast with the lot!

And you can check out Istra's bacon at Larder, which is oh so melbourne it hurts! Great space, great staff, good coffee and food ... its a must try!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby's - Just a short interlude at Ruby's Music Room

Ok ... my forays into Jazz country very rarely stray beyond the borders of Jazz Standard and Jazz Lite. Having been shushed at a certain establishment hasn't helped endear me to this particular scion of the musical pantheon either. So its one of life's mysterious ironies that my office is now bookended by two venues with their foundations firmly set in this genre's stone, with the (finally) official opening of Ruby's Music Room.

We have been captive audience to this venue's slow and gradual fit out, having to walk past the work site at least 5 days a week for the past few months or so ... I think it could have almost been a year. Ruby the dog, sadly now deceased, was as much a daily fixture as his silver haired-pony tailed owner, Robert, who kindly invited his neighbours in the street for a drinks and nibbles lunch.

I'm not completely au fait with the display cabinet windows, but at least it gives you little points of visual mulling if nothing else. Inside its the standard combination of kitsch, nostalgia, affected distress and sharp industrial modernity that is the blueprint for most cafe/bar/restaurants these days. But there are still elements to distract including this wall light peeping through the curtains.

Ruby's is set up not just as a bar but as a brunch cafe and dinner restaurant. The menu is small, but enticing. And judging by the quality of nibbles we were served, there is an adept hand in the kitchen which bodes very well indeed.

So I am excited about trying a full meal here soon. And as they are planning to open at 7am, I am also keen to sample the coffee.

Welcome Ruby's. I think we might be very glad you're here.

PS - I wish I was there when they delivered the full grand - it was huge!!

PPS - everytime time I see the word Ruby, I hear Liza Minelli's voice in this interview with Ruby Wax - priceless!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Boat Noodles - Perfect for a Wet Wintry Melbourne Night - CBAs at Soi 38

Ok ... how's these wet Wintry nights hey Melbournians?! Cosy and romantic or just downright cold and inconvenient? I'm managing to keep myself distracted and warming the cockles any chance I get. So it was a no brainer when word of Soi 38's Popup tour of Thai noodles started spreading round food blogger circles.

First up, we've been wanting Andy to give his noodles some kind of permanent fixed address, ever since we sampled his wares at the North Melbourne Spring Fling last year. Sadly this is still a pipe dream, but Andy plans to have more events and we certainly plan to be there each time if we can.

Its a 6 Friday night residency at the Sketch and Tulip in North Melbourne, featuring a different noodle dish each week. Last Friday featured Andy's Boat Noodles, a slightly darker version to the one we had at Spring Fling, but still a wonderfully balanced dish full of rich spice and fresh herb flavours. $5 gets you a reasonably sized bowl of thin pad thai noodles in a rich unctuos dark broth, heavy with 5 spice and redolent of the sweet-salty-sour tennets that form the basis of traditional Thai food. I can't testify to authenticity as I'm no expert, but we loved it so much we went back for seconds.

Another $5 will get you some Thai style Popiah - decent pop piah skins filled with seafood, omelette, lap cheong and bean shoots ... perhaps not as complex as the Nonya version, but delicious nonetheless.

And a final $5 will get you sweets in the form of banana leaf wrapped coconut pudding squares centred by a piece of chestnut ... coconuty, gooey, sweet - perfect!

So if you missed out last Friday, you have another 5 chances - we are looking forward to sampling each one. Oh and bring cash. And cut Andy some slack, you may have to give him a friendly "nudge" if he happens to forget an order.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Goodbye My Little Sascha Push ... no more pitbull fights for you

Ok ... I am so fucking mad at life! Barely 2 weeks, 2 fucking weeks of trying to piece my life together and it dumps all over me again. We lost Finney earlier this year and just before our holiday, it was almost touch and go with Sascha, but he pulled through the little trooper. So why did it have to end like this. I want to unsee the X-ray with that impossibly ugly crack, unopen the door to let him limp on forward across hardwood floors, unhold his frail body as I took him out into the cold wet night, uncall him as he struggled to crawl back towards my voice and into the warmth of the house, unfeed him all those years when he started sniffing out company in our backyard, unhand him as I punched walls out of frustration at finding yet another puddle of pee in the corner of the bathroom ... forgive me Sascha ... even then I knew I would have to come to live with the regret.

This is the life
Everyone has to be somewhere
I am here
Testing a dream
The pressure of dreams is the killer
Of dreams
And it only gets harder

This is the life
This is the life
This is my life

Time is the monster
All of us fight the same monster
To win
I scream when I breathe
Fearing that worry will trigger
All my fears

And it only gets harder

(How did I get so serious?)

This is the life
This is the life
This is the life
This is my life

Everyone has to do something
I am here
Doing what I do best

But this is the life
This is the life
This is the life
(This is the Life - Wendy & Lisa)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Mother the car is here ... somebody leave the light on

Ok ... there is only so much sorrow and loss one can take, and I am thrice spurned and yet I have survived.
I guess I should take some comfort in that.
But its a hollow victory, devoid of any solace or celebration.
What has been lost remains lost, with nothing more to be gained.
Death does not benefit your life with experience. It simply is and then passes on with time.

Oh but those sharp burrs of memory that jump up from the corners of your mind, like the worst of all migraines ... I stop breathing, and reach out to clench invisible hands that are no longer there, or stroke warm bodies that once curled in the nooks and crannies of my sleeping form, now lying cold in the earth in our backyard.

So dear readers please forgive me my silence, please let me grieve, I will get better, I will once again engage, its already happening so we will have much to catch up on soon.

Mummy I can't believe you're gone. But I'm glad that you no longer suffer. I just wish I had seen you alive just once more. 3 hours isn't such a long time, but 3 hours late is torture. This one is for you.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
                                        Mary Frye

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