Sunday, 30 March 2008
Sheer emerald green capelet: From one of the scarf bins at the Salvation Army Store at Oxford Square. No runs, no tears - pristine condition. I imagine it to be part of a vintage strapless prom dress of the same colour with bits of silver-beaded details?
Bow tie in a colourful plaid: By a Japanese company [ixi:s] that was big with trendy teens in Asia in the 80s for their colourful range of rubber-like stationery, pencil cases and wallets. Remember them? Can't wait to wear it with one of my many crispy white shirts to take my likklegirl-goes-to-the-Hamptons summer look into autumn, or just round my bare neck like a necklace.
Saturday, 29 March 2008
They are a band that has provided the soundtrack to significant parts of our lives, been cited by countless great bands as "a major influence" and the reason why some of these bands started making music in the first place. But the Pixies is also a band that I never thought I would get to see. Ever. Growing up in Singapore where the red tape (it's not so bad now but the amount of paperwork that my friends had to do to bring Fugazi in for a tiny gig in the early 90s!) and the small population (= insufficient ticket sales) just couldn't justify, in big concert organisers' books, the major set-up involved. And then they broke up! On terms so bad that no fan dared dream of a reunion. But made-up they did! And we saw them play their first ever Australian show! With hundreds of other fans, all singing themselves hoarse along to lyrics that they have heard thousands of times before and not really believing that it was all happening.
My "Pixies" at the festival this year is The Jesus and Mary Chain. Same history - a band that I've given up on seeing 'live', broke up and made up and played at V. Not tear-inducing at all but brought back fond memories of transferring their records onto tapes to listen to on my Walkman to and from school and homemade band t-shirts from lovingly-handcut stencils of their album artwork. Looking forward to watching the Reid brothers at a more intimate venue on Wednesday.
Another blast-from-the-past band that many would say is a different kettle of fish from the Pixies and The Jesus and Mary Chain but Duran Duran rocked my teenage heart as much - I have five scrapbooks of press cuttings (remember Smash Hits and Just Seventeen?) and photographs still sitting in a box somewhere at my parents'.
The boyfriend and I weren't expecting a very big turn-out for their set but we were surprised. They look like they haven't aged a day from the last time I saw them play in Singapore nearly ten years ago. Cheeky Simon Lebon could still, literally, charm the tops off the ladies!
Other acts that we wanted (and managed) to catch:
Modest Mouse: Still angsty and great!
Roisin Murphy: The "opening graphics" to her set. I like!
I was as excited to see her perform as I was to see what she would be wearing. I mean, this is the girl who wore the it-only-works-on-the-runway Victor & Rolf creation with the overhead lighting grid contraption and all on her single's cover. I was not disappointed by her effortless wardrobe changes but I was distracted by a friend we met and forgot photos.
Air: We love them but felt that their brand of music is not really suited for huge open space? Knocking ourselves now for not getting tickets to their show at the Sydney Opera House.
Cansei de Ser Sexy ("Tired of being Sexy" in Brazilian Portugese): We were pissed off as we missed quite a good chunk of their set because of a last-minute change in the schedule at their stage. I wanted more of Lovefoxxx and her pals on the happy colourful balloon-filled stage!
Queens of the Stone Age: This is as far as we got to them. Not at all bothered.
And the Smashing Pumpkins? The headlining act that everyone went to see. Bah! We were home before the end of their set.
Thursday, 27 March 2008
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Joining the other five well-stocked recycled fashion stores - C's Flashback, Puff'n'Stuff and Zoo Emporium on one side of the street, and Grandma Takes A Trip and Cream on Crown on the other - U-Turn might just be my new favourite on the strip. It is a very well-laid-out space with uncrowded colour-coded racks of a very good selection of well-preserved clothes and accessories which makes browsing so much easier - it took me less than 5 minutes to pick out at least six items to take to the fitting room.
I bought three out of the lot and this vintage opera coat has to be my top pick of the day - in a very light brocade of beige and gold, it's trapeze body ends just above the knees and is fastened at the neck with a pussy-bow.
And U-Turn's prices are all very reasonable too compared to its neighbours'. Chatting with the friendly boss-lady, she told me that they are actually a secondhand/vintage fashion wholesaler (one of the neighbours actually buys from her warehouse) and that's why she can keep the costs low and she's going to bring prices down even further because "a little competition is good for the business". Good for the consumers too, I say!
227 Crown Street
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
These are stills from one of our Easter long weekend rentals, Paris - When It Sizzles, starring the always-lovely Audrey Hepburn.
The movie was pretty funny especially the movie-within-a movie bits but it was her deliciously colourful wardrobe of cute little suits and dresses in solid sherbet hues that made it special for me.
Next change: Two for the Road in which her character wears Mary Quant and Paco Rabanne. Weyhey!
Sunday, 23 March 2008
Nearly spilled my juice this morning when I read in the "fluffy" section of today's papers that Alice McCall is doing a line for Topshop and I just mentioned her diffusion range a few days ago!
I sure hope the collection gets to Topshop in Singapore on May 12. It's a bit round-about but how funny it is to have to get Lyd, my "personal shopper" there to buy me pieces by an Australian designer in Singapore!
Fun was had by all - with the help of a few bottles of bubbly (it's a bar afterall), dance-o-rama music by the DJ, a great crowd and good sales (and purchases). So much so that we're thinking of doing it again.
The Fringe Bar Markets
106 Oxford Street
Every Saturday from 10am to 5pm
Grish suggested Shanghai Night since we haven't been in ages so off we drove to Ashfield, a 'burb west of Sydney, on a quest for a cheap, cheery and yummy Northern Chinese-style feed. Grish's dad is of Russian-descent and used to live in that part of China where he grew up eating similar food. He found the eatery and brought Grish there and Grish has since spread the love.
We've always over-ordered the last few times we dined there (everything just sounded so good!) but we've learnt our lesson. Our pared-down order last night - steamed dumplings (a must-have for the meat-loving boys!), shallot pancakes, radish cakes, tofu and Asian greens on a hotplate, a spicy shredded chicken salad and a big bowl of duck and mushroom noodles - filled our tummies just right with enough room left for...
...dessert of deep fried ice cream all around. Nyum nyum.
Thursday, 20 March 2008
- Bread with a chilli-infused dipping oil: The complimentary focaccia was nicely herby and the oil had a good bitey heat. An "appetite-opener", the Chinese would say.
- Baked olives: Not what we thought it'd be - I don't know what we had expected but certainly not just some plain warmed-up olives in a bowl. However, the good quality olives they used saved the day.
- Fig salad: Quartered figs with Taleggio (one of my favourite cheeses!) melted over, a sprinkle of walnuts and a generous drizzle of honey. A classic combo done very well.
-Treviso, asparagus, parmesan & lemon salad: I like the bitter red leaves of treviso but my pal didn't. The asparagus was shaved and somehow made it taste more fibrous compared to eating the spears whole. The lemon dressing didn't really complement the other ingredients. My tastebuds were calling out for something a bit sweeter. Maybe we should have ordered the red cabbage, raisins, dolce latte, walnuts and balsamic salad instead.
- Parpadelle with slow-cooked wagyu beef knuckles: My pal's main dish. She was worried about having to "gnaw" the meat off the bone but the bowl of tomato sauce-based pasta came with chunks of meat stewed so long that they have have left the bone in the pot.
- Fettucine with brussel sprouts and buffalo mozzarella: My main dish. I eat only fish and chicken (nothing with four legs) and there wasn't much to choose from last night - only a spaghetti vongole on the menu and another seafood-y thing on the "specials" blackboard, and no chicken dish on both - but I was very happy with my vegetarian option. The pasta and brussel sprouts were tossed in a light creamy sauce laced with just enough truffle oil and topped with a generous heap of grated buffalo mozzarella (another cheese that I love).
- Trifle: One food critic said the desserts he had were disappointing but the one we shared was lovely! Served in a martini glass, it had a base layer of vanilla sponge, followed by a layer of silky chocolate custard (that I think had yummy malt added) and topped with a final layer of custard that's flavoured with Noilly Prat.
The wine list is all-Italian ranging from $39 a bottle to $259. However, you can bring-you-own and pay a corkage charge of $12 per bottle.
Service was great. We had the sweetest waitress who translated everything on the chalkboard (all written in Italian) for us and was able to answer all our little foodie questions about ingredients, cooking methods and all. Call me impressionable but besides the food served at an establishment, a patient and knowledgeable waitstaff who has pride in his/her work really makes a difference to the whole experience.
With the colder months just round the corner, I think the boyfriend (I can already see him ordering things with offals in them and the terrines) and I will be back at A Tavola for more of their simple but oomphy comfort-food and their warm hospitality.
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
I know I shouldn't be shopping when I'm not working but how could I resist this pretty hydrangea-print number with an equally pretty price tag?
Besides, my collection of "clip-clop" (the sound they make when you open and shut them) bags, from tiny coin purses to a huge mock-croc doctor's bag, are gagging for a new friend for new games in the closet for when I don't take them out to play.
This Holly-Hobbie-in-Little-House-on-the-Prairie patchwork dress (kids' size 14) from Fiona, a range of clothes for teenage girls designed by Fiona Scanlan of Scanlan & Theodore fame, is my latest find from the kiddies' racks.
And this is not the first piece that I've bought from the label - all of which are extremely well-made and of course much cheaper than grown-ups' clothes (since mommy is no longer paying).
Another local designer whose teens' range is worth a look at (and buying) is Gracie by Alice McCall.
Monday, 17 March 2008
I like how the edges of everything are so well-defined under the cloudless sky and how radiant all colours look in the glorious sunshine. Like in this painting "Family Home" by one of my favourite Australian artists, the late Howard Arkley.
Thursday, 13 March 2008
Thought I'd treat the boyfriend to some for dinner tonight with my bastardised version of the 'sang choy bao' ('sang choy' = lettuce, 'bao' = wrap, in Cantonese).
Traditionally, the bowl-shaped leaves of the iceberg lettuce are used (trimmed to make smaller 'bowls' to hold the filling) but I couldn't find a head, not one (!), in the local supermarket so I got the next best thing - the baby cos with its boat-shaped leaves. I think they look and work better anyway.
Felt like Thai flavours tonight so veered away from tradition again with the filling - with the addition of Thai basil, mint, coriander, fish sauce, chilli, palm sugar and lime juice to the mix of chicken mince, shiitake mushrooms, beansprouts, garlic, eschallot, shallot and ginger.
It's a fun way to eat and we thought we'd be able to eat heaps of the stuff since there are no carbs in it but I guess the fibrous nature of the leaves and its high moisture content made us feel full pretty quickly. Maybe lettuce wasn't the hamster's favourite food because, like us, he couldn't eat very much else after stuffing himself with the leaves?
A new fwiend for the Usame. I have always found such ashtrays a little Russian-Mafia-tacky but I think the table and its decorative art-deco-esque flowers needed something take-the-piss ostentatious.
And a citrus fruit juice squeezer thing. Just like one my grandma used to have.
From the boyfriend to not go overboard with all the sweet stuff that I've been making lately?
Happy Tooth/Sad Tooth Fabric Case from the Princess Tina range by design extraordinaire Beci Orpin who also illustrated this Built by Wendy book.
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
It's basically a big bowl of vinegared sushi rice topped with your favourite sushi fillings (go wild!) - think big sushi salad. Tastes exactly like your favourite sushi roll without the fiddly bamboo mat process - just toss and serve (with top-grade soy sauce and wasabi, of course).
I used raw sashimi-grade salmon, avocado (tossed in lemon juice), crab sticks (super-processed but I love them), cucumber, omelette (cut into thin slivers) , bonito flakes and crispy Japanese sprinkle-y things (a mix of dried seaweed, sesame seeds and more) from a bottle.
One of my favourite jobs at work (when I was working) was making chocolate truffles - I find it extremely therapeutic balling trays and trays of them by hand (none of that melon scoop nonsense!), coating them with melted chocolate and dusting them with cocoa powder.
And of course I miss popping the occasional few in my mouth so I made a batch at home today - laced with crushed almond praline for that extra crunch. Nyum-nyum.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
I'm not a banana-lover and have always avoided things with the fruit in them until my ex-boss baked me a loaf of this but it is still the only banana-ey thing that I'll eat. Here you go, Ms Phay, the recipe you've requested for:-
Boss' Banana & Walnut Bread
288g butter (unsalted)
294g caster sugar
522g plain flour (sifted)
13g baking powder
567g very very ripe bananas (mashed with a fork - if you like chunky bits, do not overdo it)
200g walnuts (lightly roasted and roughly chopped)
- Line loaf tins with greaseproof paper (I like my loaves pwetty and cute so I use eight tiny 12cm x 6cm x 4.5cm tins but you can use loaf tins of any size)
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Cream butter and sugar until pale
- Add eggs and yolks one at a time and mix well before adding the next
- Stream in cream in small in small quantities, mixing well between each addition
- Gently fold in flour and baking powder
- Fold in bananas and walnuts
- Pour into prepared tins
- Bake for 45 minutes and do the skewer test - insert a skewer into the middle of a loaf and if it comes out clean and dry, the bread is ready
Monday, 10 March 2008
A kite brooch. Have had the idea in my head for some time now but not have had time to try it out until today (Day #11 of being a lady-of-leisure).
Some sewing, hot glue-gunning and two hours later, the prototype is ready. I'm glad I hung out with the neighbourhood boys instead of playing with dolls indoors when I was a child - whatever I can remember from our kite-making sessions has certainly paid off but I'm sure this is not one that they would approve of - too girly and it's definitely not going to fly.
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Another thing that sets it apart from major festivals is the crowd - these are people who are there because they truly love the bands and their music. I mean, how many people would want to pay to spent a day watching "obscure"/up-and-coming bands play radio-unfriendly songs that they've not heard on commercial stations and can't sing along to? No drunken louts, no unruly behaviour and very good crowd etiquette (the number of times strangers in front of not-very-tall me have asked if they were in my way!).
I'm not a music snob but here's hoping that the organisers will not be lured by the ker-ching of the cash register (this year is the first time they sold tickets out in Sydney) and get tempted to make it bigger and include "wrong" crowd-pulling acts. One change that I'll welcome, though, is the date. Laneway has always been held on the first Sunday of March in Sydney, the day after Mardi Gras - it's no fun having to wake up to clean up the apartment after having hosted a Watch-The-Parade party (we live along the route) the night before.
So we were late but here are some of the highlights of our day:-
- The shiny Stars! It was hard concentrating when we just had Feist(!) and her man from Broken Social Scene say "Excuse me" and squeezing past us to find a spot next to us to watch their pals play. She is so tiny in person and was wearing the hottest pair of sandals but I wasn't plucky fangirl enough to ask for a photo.
- Broken Social Scene: When they first got on stage - four guitarists, a bassist and a drummer...
...At the tail-end of their set - nearly everyone from Stars and Feist have been on the stage at least once.
- Feist: That's her with the hair on the right.