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Happening and catching up

Jack Fruit love

Life has a funny way of burying my days with completely unremarkable days. Work managed to steal most of my walking moments, but once in a while the occasional surprise managed to find its way among the monotony. Like the piece of jack fruit that some very nice neighbours donated after we knocked on their door and asked about their fruitful jack fruit tree (no it’s not weird at all).

Angus & Julia Stone at the MetroAs usual I am terribly behind with posts and blogs, with exhaustion taking its toll. I nearly forgot about the Angus and Julia Stone gig a few (weeks!) ago during Earth Hour. I honestly didn’t think that they would try turning off the light in an already dim venue, but they did! Also for good measure they either accidentally switched the air con off or it just wasn’t working.

Angus & Julia Stone at the Metro

It was an amazingly beautiful show though. The set looked like someone’s living room, with Angus and Julia Stone being bathe in gorgeous blue light throughout most of the gig. I didn’t expect them to be soo playful, and was pleasantly surprised when Julia played”You’re  The One That I want” solo.

Angus & Julia Stone at the Metro

Crowd favourite such as “Mango Tree” drew the biggest reaction, but right now all I want to do is play The Beast on a continuous loop.

A Valentine preview

Valentine at Zumbo

It’s been a while.

Moving house, a draining busy work schedule and simply doing too much meant that I have very little time to process my own thoughts. Unfortunately, unless something major happens in the near future, the situation is unlikely to change.

Sunday will mark the double celebration of Chinese New Year and Valentine Day. Not a big fan of the latter, but news of the heart shaped macaroons tempted us to brave the rain and wander down to Adriano Zumbo for a sneak peek.

Valentine at Zumbo

Both the cafe and the store were packed with people looking for some sweet treats. Sitting on top of the glass counters are macaroons packed in transparent plastic boxes wrapped with black satin ribbons. Rather wistfully, I commented to T that although Valentine Day is rubbish, I wouldn’t say no if someone offered these goodies to me. A lady next to us laughed and ended up adding two boxes to her pile.

If you go to the cafe, they sell a pack of 4 macarons containing chocolate, raspberry, salted caramel and mexique chocolate & nougatine for $8. The store has similar flavours, with the addition of coconut and pandan and a few others packaged in the aforementioned plastic box. I bought the packet of 4, but I might come back for more on Sunday.

This is our city in Summer – Sydney Festival 2010

Sydney Festival 2010

The first Saturday of the year marked the beginning of the Sydney Festival for 2010. Although this is my favourite time of the year and my favourite festival of the year, holiday plans in the past meant that I always ended up on missing out on the Festival’s First Night. Not knowing what to expect I wandered into town expecting underwhelming attractions and was pleasantly surprised to see otherwise.

Sydney Festival 2010

Despite the humidity, Sydney siders thronged into the centre of town. Wandering down Hyde Park you can hear Indian drums, or see acrobats on swings. The only blight to the evening was the army of teenagers roving around looking for free entertainment. Perhaps I am getting old when the sight of yet another group of screeching teenagers made me want to douse them with precious water to shut them up.

Sydney Festival 2010

We somehow managed to sneak into the domain just in time before they shut the gates due to overwhelming number of crowds. Even so, the photo above was the closest I get to see Al Green in a packed park.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears

I went back the next night to watch Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at Beck’s Bar. This swing band had been on my to watch list for years, but I never managed to catch them live! Supported by the soulful Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears , it promised to be a fun gig to watch.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears

I turned up outside Beck’s bar around 8 and joined a queue that was snaking its way around Hyde Park Barracks. I knew I was in the right place when I spotted a number of ladies dressed in 40s fashion with billowing dresses accompanies by men with 50’s sideburns.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears

Moments before BBVD came on stage some impromptu swing dancing took place in the courtyard. The crowd was restless and I can’t wait to see them live. It wasn’t long before these sharply suited crooners stepped on the stage and the big sound of brass instruments took over the stage.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddies

I was hoping they would play I Wanna Be Like You, and was rather chuffed when they did. A number of songs came from their new album – How Big Can You Get? such as Reefer Man and The Jumpin’ Jive, but it was the old favourites such as Zig Zaggity Woop Woop and Go Daddy O that brought out the biggest response from the die hard fans.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddies

One of the highlights for me was when they started playing a scat version of Teen Spirit just before they left the stage. There was a momentary pause by the audience as they collectively entertained the idea of moshing for a split second…

Big Bad Voodoo Daddies

You might wonder at this point why the obsession with this band and swing in particular? Isn’t it a type of music played by retirees when they want to remember their youth? I always wonder whether this same sentiment would apply to aging Heavy Metal fans couple of dozens of years from now. Swing with its strong rhythm and Big Band sensibilities has a charming in your face liveliness that always made me want to tap my feet on the dance floor. It doesn’t hurt that I like watching and dancing swing (for a time) and love love the fashion of the era.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddies

I don’t quite remember how I managed to stumble upon this genre, but being forever unfashionable I might have caught the tail end of the swing revival in the late ’90s. It was during that time that I picked up bands like Royal Crown Revue, Cherry Poppin Daddies and Indigo Swing. It’s a love affair that is rarely shared by others and I was often told to change to a different CD on long drives to something a bit more lively

Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears

If you are based in Sydney and you have not explored what the Sydney Festival has to offer, you should hang your head in shame and mossy over to see what it has to offer this year. The Festival is growing bigger by the year, attracting an international group of performers that are rarely seen in this side of the world!I am rather sad that I missed out on tickets to watch Laura Marling in my home turf, but I do have a number of theater tickets to look forward to.

2010

2010 started by drunkenly toasting the year ahead to the strain of Black Eyed Peas’s I’ve Got A Feeling. Not quite sure what this means, but on the first day of the year, my voice was husky and I was very happy.

I can hardly believe, that it’s already the 9th day of the New Year and I am still processing photos from previous years (gasp!). Looking through photos of the two monk statue in Penang I took some years back, it seem appropriate to use them for this post.

I don’t know what this year will bring, I thought I knew what to expect last year, but a number of variables fell into place and I ended up back in Sydney after a short stint in the UK.

Happy and Sad

2009 was a year of one too many changes for comfort. The year in summary:

  • Bounced back between Australia and UK  for the golden ticket a Visa
  • Visa failed!
  • Came back despondent, but found the closest thing to a dream job
  • Ate some memorable meals throughout October
  • Met a number of delightful people through starting MSG
  • Moved into a cottage within walking distance to Zumbo (ok it is a long-ish walk)
  • Completed my life with the iPhone

Last year made me realise, how lucky I am to have the most lovely, supportive friends around me. I wish I could mass migrate a number of them across the sea, such as the  London SnB crew, but not sure that’s possible…

For 2010, I am hoping to:

  • Organise more Midweek Supper Group (MSG) dinners. We’re up to supper #7 next week, and it’s incredible to see how this little group managed to build up momentum ever so quickly
  • Knit more
  • Blog more
  • Enjoy life more
  • Achieve the laughing monk’s  zen like state throughout the year. I believe eating plenty of good food with good friends is a prerequisite to a good life.

Happy and Sad

Sydney’s Food Blogger Christmas Picnic

Sydney Food Blogger's Picnic

I somehow managed to earn the right to be a food blogger for some reason. How else, did I manage to score an invitation to Sydney’s biggest food blogger event last Sunday? Organised by the lovely Helen and Suze, it was the biggest gathering of foodies I have ever encountered. The group met in Hyde Park and as I scanned the park, all I had to do was keep my eye open for a mountain of food and 50+ cameras.

Sydney Food Blogger's Picnic

Or in this case, plenty of cameras being pointed to the mountain of food…

Sydney Food Blogger's Picnic

It was quite amazing to be surrounded by so many foodies and although I don’t know the majority of those present, the conversation came easily. Towards the end of the afternoon, we each selected a present from the mound of Kris Kringle gifts, with one particular gift being coveted more than normal. I managed to take a quick snap before it was claimed by another hand. All in all, a fun afternoon and thanks for organising such a great event ladies!

Sydney Food Blogger's Picnic

By the sea

Sculpture by the Sea

The rather insane heat wave in the past week was an unwelcome reminder of how hot the Australian summer can be. Scanning through photos of last week’s visit to Sculpture by the Sea I wonder what will power prevented me from flinging myself into the sea rather than be jostled around by the thousands of visitors on the last day of exhibition. This year’s exhibition was bigger than before, stretching along from Bondi to Tamarama.

Sculpture by the Sea

I met up with Y and B at the beginning of the walk, before quickly losing them within the crowd of sight seers while waiting for T. While waiting, it struck me again how the setting managed to steal the thunder away from the many sculptures around the area. On a beautiful summer day, Bondi with its jeweled coloured sea and blindingly blue sky dominated the setting and it was almost easy to forget why I was there in the first place.

Wandering along the path, it was great to see some familiar work. Keid Moseholm was a regular exhibitor with his easily recognisable sumo like figures in bronze and granite.

Sculpture by the Sea

I loved Phil Price’s Morpheus, this wind driven sculpture danced with each breeze through a number of fluid, graceful permutation that was mesmerising to watch. Had they install this sculpture in the middle of the city, I would happily spend my lunch time watching it for hours.

Sculpture by the Sea

Other noticeable sculptures for me was the Big Drink (also known as the straw), Stephen King’s The Eight, Brenner and Medwell’s visual pun of Step by step, inch by inch…towards the precipice made out of sand shoes and Marguerite Derricourt’s delightful rat race.

Sculpture by the Sea

Ra

Sculpture by the Sea

Arola at Bentley (World Showcase Dinner)

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with Arola

One would think that one World Showcase Dinner in a month, let alone a year is enough to last for a while. Then again, if the experience was so great, why not repeat it? It’s a week after Bras at Quay, Y and I were the first to arrive for the World Showcase Dinner with Sergi Arola at Bentley in Surry Hills.

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with Arola

Aside from being well known for his restaurant Gastro, Arola was famous for training at the well known el Bulli and was considered to be even then, one of the most promising chef in the industry. When this is combined with Brent Savage’s of Bentley’s highly experimental approach to fine dining, I was expecting something rather extraordinary.

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with Arola

We started with Patatas Bravas and Ajo Blanco with Cherry Caviar ( both from Arola), Kingfish Ceviche with Pickled Daikon and Yuzu Mayonaise and Smoked Eel Parfait with White Soy and Seaweed Salad (Savage). This particular World Showcase Dinner came with matching wine for all courses and this one was the MV Lancelot-Pienne ‘Cuvee de Table Ronde’ from Cragmant Champagne.

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with Arola

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with ArolaI wasn’t quite sure how the partnership between Savage and Arola was going to play out until this first course arrived. When it did, it dawned on me that it wasn’t exactly a duet of styles, but more of a solo of their signature dishes appearing side by side. Looking around the web later on, I wasn’t suprised to see that the Patatas Bravas and Ajo Blanco with Cherry Caviar usually appeared on Arola’s menu. I personally would happily nibble on the Patatas Bravas with its cute aoili topping all night, there was something deliciously more-ish and simple about the little dish.

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with ArolaNext was Arola’s Scallop and Bacon Saugage, Jerusalem Artichoke and Smoked Scallop matched with the 2007 Marques De Riscal Limousin Verdejo, Rueda Spain. The bite sized sausage was surprisingly bacony (if there is such a word) had I ate it with my eyes closes it would not be surprising to believe I was eating bacon.

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with ArolaNext was Savage’s Black Sesame and Pea Fondant with Snow Peas and Goats Curd. We were a little puzzled with this one, noting the strong presence of licorice, but missing out on the Black Sesame flavour. Whilst pondering whether they managed to mix up licorice and black sesame in the kitchen I sipped the 2008 Keller Trocken Riesling, Rheinhessen Germany and discovered a whole new dish. The fruity sweetness of the wine perfectly balanced the strong licorice flavour of the dish.

By this stage in the evening the light was getting dimmer, the decor and the light combined threw shades of red on everything we ate and my photos became progressively more abstract.

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with Arola

The next dish was Arola’s Snapper Sandwich, Mango, Haricots Verts and a Rockfish Consome paired with 2008 Bodegas Campante ‘Gran Reboreda’ Treixadura Blend from Ribeiro Spain. It wasn’t the most memorable of dish to me, being basically pan fried snapper with fish stock.

I couldn’t say much about Savage’s Pork Belly and Bubble, Green Olive, Apple and Tonka paired with Sidra Extra Brut Lagar De Camin, Lavandera Spain. I can understand the idea behind matching pork with apple cider, apple and pork is a magical classic pairing after all, but I found the cider too overpowering for my poor pork belly topped with crackle and had to put it away.

Arola’s Foie Gras ‘coca’ with Roasted Bellpeppers paired with 2004 Marques De Velila Crianza Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero made up for the other two dishes. Described as a Spanish pizza it was a magical layering of a crusty base with caramelised capsicums.

World Showcase Dinner @ Bentley with Arola

Next was Savage’s Duck Breast with Sweet Corn, Pistachio and Asparagus paired with 2004 Muga ‘Reserva’ Tempranillo Garmacha, Rioja Spain. It was a nice dish, but after the high of the ‘coca’ it was somewhat of a let down. Perhaps the most noticeable difference between Bras at Quay and Arola at Bentley was the direction of the dishes as the night progressed. At Quay there was a definite theme and direction with each dish, whereas at Bentley it was rather like observing two very different performers on the same stage without quite knowing what the theme of the show was.

With dessert coming soon, I finally abandoned my manners and took out my flash. I hate taking it out when out in restaurants like Bentley, but thought a few discreet flash would hardly make a difference. The Seared and Marinated Watermelon, Hibiscus Infusion, Pomegranate Seeds and Green Tomato Ice Cream paired with the delicious lychee scented 2007 Fustanova Moscatel, Valencia Spain was a surprisingly savoury tast dessert with a hint of tomato.

World Showcase Dinnert @ Bentley with Sergi Arola

Reading the menu earlier in the night we speculated how Savage would present his Hazelnut White Chocolte and Blubery. I predicted it will turn up as a block whereas Y predicted a tube, when it arrived it turned out that we were both right. The white chocolate tube contained yogurt sauce that glide out when pierced. It was paired with 2004 Alain Brumont Pacherenc ‘Larmes Celestes’ from South West France.

World Showcase Dinnert @ Bentley with Sergi ArolaThe last dish for the night was Arola’s Dark Chocolate Mousse, coated in Mango Chutney and Toasted Sweetcorn, Coconut Espuma paired with the 2006 Castano Dulce Monastrell from Yecia Spain. I think Arola served this dish himself on the night. Instead of staying in the kitchen he was very much visible throughout the night making his ways to different tables. I remembered the fact that the chocolate mousse was not as dark as I would expect and the sweet corn was so subtle it appeared only for an instant on my tongue. If sight contributed to sensation when eating, I must confess I was eating blindly by this stage of the night and what you see on the photo with the aid of flash was not what I remembered on my plate.
World Showcase Dinnert @ Bentley with Sergi ArolaIt was close to eleven when we staggered out. There were some definite hits during the night, also dishes that didn’t quite work. At the same time it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to taste dishes that I would have to travel to the other side of the world to experience. The experience also reminded me how food and wine can be amazing when done right, and although I drink the occasional glass or two with my meal it made me rethink the idea  in a whole different light.

Reading challenge and comedians in October

Glenn Wool at the Comedy Store

Meet Glenn Wool,  one of the funniest and scruffiest comedian around who’s currently in Sydney until the end of next week. He was also the comedian I watched during the Late Show at the Fringe whose name completely slipped my mind. I would recommend buying tickets before he flies off to the other side of the world.

As I type this, I cringe thinking that you might be able to see my mug promoting his show in the very near future. The Comedy Store was grabbing audience members for soundbites after the show and as everyone around us suddenly took a step back, we found ourselves shoved in front of a microphone.

Talking about comedians I’m thinking of watching The Bedroom Philosopher later on this month and hopefully stalking Lawrence Leung at TINA this weekend. No I’m not a geeky comedian groupie at all (ahem). For readers who are interested issue 4 of Sharp and Pointy will hopefully be available at TINA. I’m still trying to put it all together right now and wonder why my time management skills falls apart when it comes to zines.

Talking about zines and reading. The 2009 Books Alive Reading Challenge is  finished and although I didn’t do too badly, I realise that I am an horridly unfaithful reader with a penchant to read multiple books at the same time.  Rather like my knitting habit really…

The theme for this started of as the 50 books from Books Alive, but it morphed into “Library Books I am reading”

Books read between September 7 to October 1

  1. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – sweet adaptation of fairy tale of the same title. Light beach read.
  2. Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey – her first non fantasy novel. A surprisingly believable post plague America with a very strong heroine.
  3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – reminded me of Diane W. Jones more so than any of his other books. Quoting Epany, his books are fairy tales for adults and that’s just fine!
  4. Grug Learns To Read by Ted Prior – 🙂
  5. The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart – shades of Chocolat with some rather lovely prose, but left me feeling a little unsatisfied. The setting and the characters felt a little contrived at times and the ending was rather abrupt.
  6. Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner – can be summarised as “the world is not going to end and stop freaking out”

Other books I am currently reading are listed here. I am somewhat in love with Library Thing, I love the way it can search and find books that are not necessarily published within the UK or America.

Sydney a post apocalyptic preview

The weather today according to Google

There are many reasons to love Sydney, like its constant blue sky. On the other hand today’s orange start gave an early preview of a post apocalyptic Sydney. I am waiting for the dust storm to come back later on in the afternoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of a very red sun set across the Quay. I guess this answers that old question “if the world is ending today, what will you do?” Looks like I will be out and about with a camera hoping that an alien race will be able to find my footage somewhere down the line.

Talking about the future, I managed to catch the last of the City Talks last week.

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone will give a free public talk about sustainable cities and integrated transport on Wednesday 16 September.


He will be joined by Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP. Ms Moore said; “We have much in common in our vision for our respective cities. Sustainable Sydney 2030 calls for better public transport, less cars, more walking and cycling.”

“A green, global and connected Sydney needs an integrated public transport system. Major public transport is at capacity and it is difficult to move efficiently around the city. Congestion inhibits economic development and private vehicle use is a major source of green house emissions,” Ms Moore said.

Also speaking at the City Talk will be The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Leader of the House, Federal Member for Grayndler.

The speakers will participate in a panel discussion chaired by ABC broadcaster Simon Marnie. They will be joined by Garry Glazebrook, Senior Lecturer, School of the Built Environment, University of Technology, Sydney, and Robert Whitehead, Director, Marketing & Newspaper Sales, The Sydney Morning Herald.

Sydney City Talk

Aside from the fact that the talk was free, I was curious to hear what the panel would say about Sydney’s transport infrastructure. If there is one cause that all Sydney siders are united under, it’s our useless public transportation. Trains, buses, light rails and ferries are run separately with their own separate ticketing systems. Unless you live within the inner city suburbs, you will need a car. Riding a bike is just not an option for long distances unless you enjoy near death experiences on a daily basis.

It was actually quite depressing to hear Ken Livingstone speak. In less than a decade London managed to transform its transportation system into an efficient system that does exactly what a growing, vibrant city require. Listening to our Lord Mayor it became clear that any real changes to Sydney’s transportation system will only happen in the long term, and only after years of negotiations between the various bodies governing the entire transportation systems. I didn’t realise that as Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone was given almost total power to do as he saw fit to change the transportation system, hence cutting the years of red tape to almost nothing.

When the suggestion of congestion charge was mentioned, it was rather laughable as  this article rightly pointeded out in order to even think of congestion charge, this city will need a working transportation system to begin with.

I walked out feeling inspired, jaded and hopeful at the same time. Thankful that at least attempts were being made to start working on a single plan, but not trusting the fact that everything will happen within my lifetime. Food for thought, and on that note I am off to enjoy what Sydney has plenty to offer, food and plenty of it at one of Merivale’s Winter Feast.

Stay tune for more food news, in the meantime you might want to check Billy’s review on Teppanyaki’s Winter Feast.

Creative Sydney

Go there, because I am…