Monday, January 31, 2011

hellenic republic: the breakfast edition

for me there are only a few people for whom buying presents is an easy, enjoyable affair. for the vast majority though, il either fail spectacularly or resort to cold-hard cash. in the case of this christmas, mish and i just gave up with the grandparents and promised instead to take them all out for a spot of breakfast. we also took out our aunt roza, who seems to be constantly moving between hk and melbourne. between the three of them, the chances of them appreciating the industrial chic of say, seven seeds or st ali would be slim-to-none.

so this wiped off most of the options on our hypothetical list. we thought of cumulus maybe, but we had to go sunday and i was not prepared to stand and wait around for 40 minutes or so for a table to open up. so mish thought of trying press club, which seemed a bit classier. turns out they dont open for breakfast on weekends (trying to make less money?) but the woman on the phone directed mish to hellenic republic instead.

so sunday came and we all packed in the car and drove off to brunswick for a feed. the menu was small but interesting enough by avoiding the expected choices of muesli and eggs benedict. mum had a spanokopita that was more pie-shaped than filo triangle with a poached egg perched on top to reel it back to breakfast. roza at first ordered baked eggs, but then loudly and annoyingly proclaimed that it was swimming in fat because she thought the egg whites were a layer of cheese. she swapped hers with dad, who had ouzo-cured salmon and tzatziki on toast. she once again complained about the portion size. i ignored her.

me and fish shared two on toasts. there was the aforementioned cured salmon and another one with smoked lamb, a fried egg and an alarmingly flavoursome roasted tomato on top. we also ordered a plate of thick-cut bacon for good measure and some roasted mushrooms. the mushrooms were a huge revelation, they were fantastically juicy and flavoursome.. i dont know what it was. the flavours just seemed so concentrated. i couldve just eaten several plates of those (sorry ineke)

the coffee was reasonable too, for a place that doesnt sell itself as a shrine for devotees. (try a minor place round the corner) after the usual round of lattes and flat whites, we ordered a few frappes. not the max brenner rip offs but the authentic greek variety. it was this thick frosty churned up coffee drink which tasted like a really strong homogeneous iced coffee. after time the drink settles into the liquid and the foam (a ratio of about 1:1) but the foam tasted more like an under-set mousse than latte foam. it was delicious, and im really at a loss as to how they made it.

il be back here for dinner next sunday, and id want it to be breakfast instead if i wasnt aware of how amazing the dinner menu is.

salmon smoked lamb frappe Hellenic Republic on Urbanspoon

liar liar

ok so we're backtracking quite a bit here back to thursday. (apologies) maddie, anne-marie and i visited liar liar for a spot of breakfast. i had heard of the place before, but never bothered to go owing to its proximity to porgies. right off glenferrie road, its in an ideal spot to go rest the feet after shopping up and down glenferrie. there's already a plethora of other cafes in the area but i guess liar liar can rightfully claim to have some damn fine coffee served on site so it sort of has that edge..

i ordered myself the baked beans with fried haloumi. yes you heard right, its vegetarian. what can i say, im a sucker for fried cheese. the serving was quite expansive, i had to resort to ordering a piccolo afterwards because the thought of fitting in another latte seemed daunting.

maddie had the breakfast plate, which looked tasty i guess in a super-healthy sort of way. not my favourite way of starting the day. i says bring on the bacon.

i never know what to say about the coffee itself, there are only so many adjectives i can employ without sounding like a pretentious chode. i mean, ive had many coffees in my lifetime but its not as if i consume it like a wine buff. i can certainly tell you what a bad coffee will taste like, but just dont ask me for notes on mouth-feel and earthy top notes. in saying that though, i thoroughly enjoyed my beverages there. they are after all, my substitute for crack.


bev beans Liar, Liar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 30, 2011

black swan

ever since i had seen the trailer mid last year, id been lusting to see black swan. a number of reasons: natalie portman, darren aronofsky, clint mansell & a fairly engaging trailer. it was given the label of 'psychological thriller', which i would usually avoid, but it was all too hard to resist. after all, how bad could it be? just another fluffed up drama centered around cray-cray ballerinas fighting for a lead. how wrong i was.

{warning: semi-spoilers ahead}
the film was intense, to say the least. other good descriptors would be horrifying, unnerving and engrossing. instead of big elaborate dance sequences, more time was spent illustrating natalie portman's character slowly falling to pieces as her leading role eats up her mental health entirely.

the film centres around a new production of swan lake by a new york ballet company. the director (a pompous yet dashing vincent cassel) stresses that the lead role of the swan queen must be balanced between the fragility of the white swan and the "dark sensuality" of the black swan. natalie is nina, who as the director describes is ideal if he were only casting the white swan. she is completely innocent, bubble-wrapped and her life seemingly revolves only around ballet.

she somehow manages to get the lead despite being an overgrown child (in age and in size) and things slowly unravel from there. reb and i were watching from between our fingers at times as her loose grasp of sanity blossoms into freakish hallucinations, wayward reflections and bleeding from extremities. mr. aronofsky is not a nice man to have been so abrupt in his shows of skin-ripping.

but despite all the acting, there was plenty of time to watch natalie show off her rigorous training regime. i cant imagine either natalie or mila kunis as being large women, but the two of them were just SO tiny. one scene in particular involved portman's creeptacular stage mother strip her down to her knickers to inspect a rash on her back. the two of them are huddled in the bathroom with portman looking the same size as her stupefied personality suggests.

i honestly did enjoy the film, even if it wasnt entertaining in the traditional sense aside from a few moments. nina's solo lovin' was a bit naughty until she realises her mother is asleep in the room. i actually laughed out loud. and benjamin millepied (portman's baby's daddy), the film's choreographer who also played the prince, was stunning in a pro-dancer sort of way. portman was adequately stupendous, as was expected after the innumerable headlines reading OSCAR GLORY and CAREER BEST. whilst it was gripping to watch her act, i couldnt help but imagine aronofsky enjoying himself a little in a sadistic kind of way by focusing so much on portman's suffering.

lesbian love the other reason why droves of people are flocking to see it, lesbian sex scenes!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

lumineuse

chiaroscuro

the latest in my apparent series.. i did this on an old canvas which had long been just something to smear leftover paint on, hence the enormous bumps and ripples on the surface. im glad its finally become something. i think i like her hands more than i enjoy her face. what could she be thinking about?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

butoh, robots & cranes

1 1 1

holy shit, givenchy haute couture ss/11 by riccardo tisci. i have no words.

i also wanna hang this badboy around my neck



surround

subtle hints anyone? found these amazing agate neck-pieces by brook & lyn via park & cube. any excuse to cock-block will do. have yourself a peruse on this jeweller's blog, i fancy the black rope varieties (naturally).

and whilst we're on the topic of things that i wanna bone, natalie portman's current other half is a hottie, for lack of a better word. benjamin millepied choreographed black swan. il also gladly take ryan gosling, joseph gordon-levitt, jake gyllenhaal, elijah wood, james franco, james mcavoy, guillaume canet, gaspard ulliel, adrien brody, juan martin del potro & tomas berdych (he lost tonight! how unfortunate.. his eyes are frighteningly blue) apologies, just a little brainstorm there.

i feel like an omelette



this is epic advertising. i dont think there's a better incarnation of fat than butter. screw all that nasty hear'say about how unhealthy butter is. look at the example set by luminaries such as julia child, and those two fat ladies. they appreciated and cherished the potency and supreme tastiness of butter. watch the ad and ask yourself why YOU didnt add a stick of butter to YOUR last meal.

Monday, January 24, 2011

ground pass

ahhh so my wavering blogging interest continues on. annoying much in the same way as rafael nadal's uncontested progress through the australian open is.. watched him bite off marin cilic's head, chew it up and spit it out tonight. it was merciless. and equally annoying, though in a different way entirely would be channel 7's questionable attachment to kim clijsters. the minute the last genuine australian player exits the tournament they'll make a beeline for ms clijsters, because being engaged to a has-been australian player eons ago warrants a hasty green card. im now crossing my fingers for a men's final with either andy murray, novak djokovic or tomas berdych. sadly, the latter 2 will be playing each other tomorrow night.

i only recently discovered berdych when i saw him play against richard gasquet on friday. bel, mel and i got good seats on margaret court arena and we stubbornly sat there for the next 6 hours in the baking sun. in that time we saw francesca schiavone grunt her way to the 4th round and na li beating down that czech player with the really long name. after that came berdych and gasquet. our supposedly good seats turned out to be in the row directly in front of berdych's most vocal and naked supporters. perhaps their raucous chanting and whooping for every berdych winner and gasquet error won me over.. but tomas himself is a great player (6th seed) and attractive in an aryan sort of way (im thinking rupert friend in boy in the striped pajamas).

i only watched through to the end of the 2nd set because of work but in the time that i had spent sitting there, i had already acquired a rather fetching tanline. you can clearly see the shadow left behind around my le specs and shirt. and now ive begun to peel; further proof that i should be spending more time indoors.


li na torsos

Thursday, January 20, 2011

formachetti for mugler

dreamy cadaver

there is every certainty that these images from jak & jil have already been reposted with a quickness on a shit tonne of blogs, but i must succumb to self-inflicted peer pressure and do the same. nicola formachetti being most well-known for being lady gaga's stylist and now showing his first collection for thierry mugler. i can almost faintly hear the collective pants explosion of a thousand little monsters.

guilt

ehhh blogger's guilt. hours passed into days, which passed into a lot of days. i dunno, havent been in a right mood to write anything here. mostly because i dont feel that there is anything going on which is particularly noteworthy. tennis is underway as i type, ive been glued to the tv screen for what is one of only a few sporting events that i will very willingly see through to the end with enthusiasm and fervor (world cup, olympics). its just disappointing when all your much-loved players are either losing; or getting your hopes up, then losing. im just glad that lleyton hewitt's been booted out. i dont understand why he always makes that vow to return the next year when everyone has already jumped off his particular bandwagon. just give it up. in other news, ive finally made commitments to two areas in life which really ought to have been addressed earlier. mish directed me to a nice facial scrub and i got me a gym membership. so that i may traverse this year with a little less whinging of how shitty life can be with a mugshot for a face and a beer keg stomach for a stomach.

Friday, January 14, 2011

sticky

now i know i should be thankful that there are no floods coming my way anytime soon. but as i type this, i am sweating bullets. not because ive just gone for a run, nor because i forgot to dry myself after a shower, and i certainly havent won any recent sporting events to warrant a tank full of gatorade to be emptied on me. no. its just this fucking humidity. im not walking, im wading through air dense with moisture. see, there's a reason why i try to avoid travelling to south-east asian countries and hong kong in the summer months. nothing i detest more than inescapable, unrelenting humidity. it doesnt matter that the air conditioner's turned up full bore, its not a matter of temperature.. its just MOIST. everything is moist and sticky and i just want to move to the inside of the fridge until this all goes away. melbourne weather go die.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

sink

gaze

the latest addition to a growing pile, this guy started life looking a lot like this earlier man-with-a-piercing-glance. i started it off wanting to see if i could conjure up a subject without any photo-reference whatsoever and make it look believable. turns out i cant; what i ended up with was an ugly sort of caricature and i hid it under some scrap paper for a while because it wouldnt stop staring morosely at me.

a few weeks later and with a bit too much black and white paint left over to just let go, i returned once more and things got better. i borrowed an image from the sartorialist this time round.

this one has a bit more detail in it as compared to the last few. for a while he looked a little more hispanic than what i had intended. i lightened the mo' and that seemed to shave a few years off of him. in my mind his name is something like sam, or gregory and he's in his early thirties, desk job and 1-2 kids. partner optional.

a minor place

weatherboard facade communal table bagel-tastic

oh dear, this place is turning into a food blog, with the possibility of me getting off my ass to lady-pose for the category of sartorializin' ever diminishing. i blame it on this filthy weather. ive never been keen to dress impressively for the summer months. its more about pure comfort and practicality. these two sole factors usually equate to shorts + tee shirt. and i have neither the calves nor the arms to make that look particularly sexy. so dont expect to see me hamming it up until things cool down. soz. lol.

in other news, i spent an hour or so at a minor place today. its not exactly down the street for me. ineke and i spent a solid 40 minutes maybe driving up. the reason for this will be revealed further down. but as for the cafe, its located on albion street in brunswick in an area which to the casual observer looks to be purely residential. but some saint-like creature has gone and taken one of those fascinatingly deep old-school terraced houses and morphed it into a cafe. it feels homely and small; a frankie reader's wet dream of diy and aged floorboards but still maintaining a casual sense of professionalism.

the lattes were smooth and at an optimum temperature. we shared a toasted bagel with a filling of fetta, onion jam, roquette and a fried egg. it was only $10 and yet so damn tasty. the bagel itself was satisfyingly chewy on the inside but crispy-edged. the filling was salty and caramelly and gooey all at once. those that are in search of a good cheap feed, i recommend this joint. the lattes were also 3.20, as compared to st ali which now charges a whopping 3.8 for their services. you'll probably be stiffed a surcharge for soy as well.

we went round the corner onto sydney road afterwards where ineke took me to brunswick bound, a deceptively large bookstore in the same vein as metropolis. she had given me a $40 voucher for christmas which i had no trouble in spending. we didnt stay for long because the humidity was making me leak sweat just standing perfectly still, and i wasnt prepared to fork out for unwanted books that i had dirtied with my moist fingertips. A Minor Place on Urbanspoon

sal-mon

i remember a little trip to los angeles back in the spring of 2004. a troupe of maybe a dozen or so (the memories are hazy at best) huntingtower students flew over to spend a week and a half with our sister school on the west coast. i recall the first day after landing where we toured the school. we joined in their supremely patriotic rendition of the star-spangled banner, learnt the basics of gridiron and argued endlessly over the proper pronunciations of words such as aluminium, tomato and emu. however there was no other word which aggravated me more than salmon. they read it with a distinct emphasis on the l, in direct contrast with what we were used to. imagine the 'sal' in salmonella. it was that bad.

but i dont know why im bringing up this anecdote, it was a bad segue into what im really trying to say. tonight i cooked again. but for the first time it was an ad lib, more or less.. based on a few recollections of having cooked something similar in the past, and the hours spent vacantly staring at whosit on the food channel on foxtel.

tray-bake

now im no ferran adria, and this salmon really cant be given any such label of restaurant quality, fine-dining, or haute cuisine.. but i did enjoy the surging feeling of accomplishment when i hefted the tray onto the table. and it was tasty and looked damn good and thats really all i need. excuse the messy zero-styling of the photo. the weather is much too humid and we were far too hungry to wait for me to fuss about with lemon wedges and matching table settings. and being my first partially-invented recipe, i feel that it is fitting to add a recipe.

oven-baked salmon w/ basil, capers, lemon & truss tomatoes
5 large salmon fillets skin on
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
2 punnets cherry tomatoes (mine were those tomatoes neatly packaged in a long row attached to the stem, looks pretty when you serve it up)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 lemons
handful of capers
big bunch of basil
olive oil
salt & pepper

1. preheat the oven to 180 or so. ours is fanforced
2. zest the lemons and set aside the zest. thinly slice the lemons and arrange most of it in a single layer on a large baking tray. leave aside 5 slices.
3. put the onion quarters, tomatoes, capers and the garlic cloves with that little hard end lopped off into the pan with the lemons. spread out evenly.
4. splosh on a generous amount of olive oil over everything, season with salt and pepper.
5. lower the oven to 160 and bake the vegetables for half an hour.
6. maybe 10 minutes before theyre done, oil the salmon fillets and sear on a hot hot pan or grill for 2 minutes skin side down.
7. when the vegetables are done, pull the tray out and arrange the salmon on top. stick a lemon slice on top of each one, tear up half the basil and throw that and the lemon zest on top of the fish.
8. bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your fish. my ideal salmon is basically still raw in the middle..
9. the fish could probably be served individually, but i just brought out the whole thing pan and all with the remaining basil casually sprinkled on top. serve it with some sort of carbohydrate. i had mashed potatoes.

Monday, January 10, 2011

mille feuille

mille-feuille

my interest in savoury dessert rip-offs continued tonight. after the successes of the meat trifle, i aimed high with a layered meat and pasta bake along the lines of a mille-feuille. some would argue that this is in fact a lasagna, but i say otherwise.

things started off as smoothly as one could hope for. the sugo was a great way to use up more of dad's cabernet and it tasted all the better for it. i threw in an absurd amount of herbs to make jamie oliver proud and let the mixture simmer for an hour. the bechamel was equally fine, and the pasta dough rolled out without a hitch. but then when it came time for assembly, i hit a bump. i guess the extra large organic eggs i put in the dough had made the sheets too sticky and thus the whole pile of them had clumped together irreparably. mum dashed off to the store while i rerolled the mess out once more. after lots of arm-waving, sweat and cussing-under-breath the magnificent specimen came together and i threw it in the oven for 30.

the result was damn fine. and yet at the same time i cant help but tear my thoughts away from the fact that as i type, the national are playing their second and last gig in melbourne. tickets were sold out you see.. and thats one to add to the list. no bloodbuzz for me. fuck.

Friday, January 7, 2011

aurel schmidt

supernatural

and whilst we're on the topic of intricately detailed images of wonderment and awe, i give you this jaw-dropping work by aurel schmidt. its more or less a life-sized drawing, available as a 6 foot tall poster. i cant find much online about her.. but i wonder how long it took to finish it.

linn olofsdotter

flower me gently grolsch the mark mcqueen

random clicking has unearthed this illustrator by the name of linn olofdotter (swedish). a lot of that intricate linework reminds me of what i used to do on my hands.. but this is just so much more developed and varied. and there's the welcome addition of colour as well. go have a click around on her site, its close to what i think i wanna do be doing after uni..

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

atomica, and things

today heralds the anniversary of mish's 22nd year on this earth. i say it every year, but it feels a bit odd that she's made it this far. most sorts of vermin get destroyed a lot sooner before theyre allowed to develop and thrive. real shame. but anyway, the day needed to be celebrated by equal parts shopping and eating. we were to go get some pork belly sandwich goodness from earl but it turns out theyre closed until the 10th. heads hung in sadness we traipsed over to le triskel, which ive mentioned before.

mish, dim and i shared two galettes and two crepes. i dont know how they do it, but the side salad is dressed in something extraordinary. its an unassuming bowl of mixed salad leaves slicked with some oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. but unlike any other salad ive had before, it has the pulling power of something wrapped in bacon. i do not know what it is.

later on we rid ourselves of dimothy and digested over at metropolis, and then at fat, then at atomica on brunswick street. ive passed the little cafe numerous times, never thinking to investigate further. i now know what ive missed out on. the coffee is quite smooth and mellow.. and i appreciate the unpolished grunge of the establishment. could easily spend a few others there with a good book curled up in the corner.

essentials cakeage

this was followed by a trip to zetta florence, (mish's first) where we encountered a behemoth of a photo album at the wee price of $495. round the corner there was a vintage poster store with my name written all over it. i think of vintage posters as being something of a cliche in the homes of people who are assumed to possess 'taste', alongside eames chairs and discarded letterpress stamps. on the other hand though, i cant say i wouldnt disagree to hanging one up in my future home. (21st this year readers, ring-a-ding ding)

hallowed details

mish's day of mirth ended at sarti, a little italian restaurant on russell place recommended to us by the good food guide. i really wish i had brought a camera, not only because the food was quite worthy of being photographed and documented, but also because of the good amount of light in the space as opposed to most fine dining establishments which enjoy dimming the lights to the point where there's every possibility of missing one's mouth.

we began with an obscene number of starters. stuffed fried zucchini flowers, crystal bay prawn 'salami' with a tinge of spice, marsala-glazed sausages on a bed of polenta, fried calamari, soft-shelled crab and seared emu fillet with a blue cheese foam. all supremely tasty, though it was a little worrying when they just kept on bringing out more plates. my main was a suckling lamb with some other bits and bobs. the lamb only required a little prodding for it to fall to pieces. it felt like it had been cooked for a good week or so. the majority of my plate envy fell on mish who ordered a plate of tortelli stuffed with rabbit. all the other dishes were well-received but the tortelli sticks out in my mind. dessert was a bit of dad's chocolate semi freddo and some of mish's pistachio panna cotta with a solid mound of salted caramel popcorn on the side. the coffee was also surprisingly good for a restaurant whose main objective isnt so caffeine-centric.

i liked that the place was certainly under the banner of 'fine-dining', but not in a way that necessitated crisp white linen, hushed voices and table-side carvery. the waiters were relaxed and wearing jeans; lots of noise and conversation. but that's really what i prefer.. i dont feel like im forking out an exorbitant amount of money only to have to follow a strict unspoken protocol in order to appease a snotty gang of wait staff and co. everyone go celebrate your 22nds at sarti.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

parmesan toast

dearest johanna is leaving our shores thursday night, and so we made plans to go to proud mary today for a good hard feed. there were nine of us coming so i tried to avoid becoming those customers by calling up to give some forewarning but noone answered. we soon found out the place was closed, as was our second option 3 bags full. i was already on the eastern when carly called so we moved on over to st ali, the old reliable. and as much as ive frequented the place over the past few years, i cant say i get sick of the place at all. the coffee is understandably stupendous each and every time, and they make enough minor tweaks to the menu for it to avoid feeling stale and boring.

i ordered myself the parmesan toast, and i wish id brought along a camera. think of it as a souped up version of the cheese toast served alongside everything at sizzler back in the day. i received two 2 inch thick slabs of bread coated in a crust of melted parmesan sitting next to a mound of eggplant, tomatoes, mint, basil, capsicum, a generous smear of sheep's milk yoghurt on the side and the crispiest pancetta on top. this is the sort of food that ought to come with a nap on the side. washed it down with a few lattes and a long macchiato. i really dont deserve to bitch 'n moan about my eating habits when i find such joy in gluttonous moments such as this.

on a sadder note, the much-loved sultan's eggs are no longer on the menu. they will be sadly missed. and as a secondary high note, st ali are supposedly opening up a branch in london! from what i hear, there isnt much of a 'london cafe scene' so i guess they need it. {correct me if im wrong} il have a looksee if im ever in the country.

at the moment, im sitting at a computer in the monash caulfield library. mish and i drove out together and now she's busy yelling at some people for cancelling three of her upcoming units for no apparent reason. we'll be going to chadstone later to inspect a pair of shoes i saw at fat. its so very difficult to find any respectable open-toed male footwear that doesnt fit under the banners of haviaiana, mandle, velcro-happy sandle or (god-forbid) croc. knowing my luck though, i wont get my way now that ive mentioned it in writing. boo-urns.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

felt-lined goodness

plushie

i have a bit of a crush on audrey kawasaki. such an incredible talent, despite sticking so rigidly to one particular subject matter.. she always somehow manages to find some new angle to depict her scantily-clad ladies. im rather excited about these felt toys. she's painted her stock-standard lady-face + hands on some canvas and then sewn it onto a plump little body. i hope and pray that outre can be coerced into selling them, after audrey gets coerced into belching forth a few thousand of em. read more on her livejournal.

two zero one one

il be honest with you, 2011 did not start with a bang. my mild feelings of sick continued on from thursday and i was really not prepared to go to any extreme drunken lengths to celebrate the birth of a new year. i only managed to get to ev's house for a few snags (read: sausages) and beverages. 2010 was quite an average year for me.. it just doesnt stand out as being particularly eventful despite the longish list that i wrote out underneath. i enter 2011 with a small bit of optimism i suppose.