Thursday, September 29, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

I'm sad to say blogging has taken second priority to life in general this week! But I wanted to stop by quickly to say I have some Shoe Subscription goodies on the way to me too so watch this space :)

In the meantime, my new favourite widget on my Mac is the 'Delivery Status' one. It's fantastic for tracking my NAP parcels...see:

You can see it in the middle and it tells me where my parcels are with DHL. Squee! 

P.S It does give a little hint about what I've ordered ;)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life in Photos: September

It's been a busy weekend so I'm exhausted. Last night was a Hen's night for my uni friend who is getting married next week - cannot wait! It was practically a whole day affair, plus I'd been up since 7am after we visited the Kirribilli Markets in the morning (more on that in a post to come soon!). Needless to say, I was a bit of a party pooper and bailed just after midnight, but it was heaps of fun catching up with the girls.

Thankfully, the weather has switched back to lovely rainy and cold Winter weather today which suits me perfectly since all I want to do is sleep and stay indoors with tv shows and magazines while I recuperate from the partying.

I haven't had a chance to look through photos from last night, but here are some other recent photos...

David Jones Flower Show
I just so happened to be doing a quick after work shop at David Jones when they were launching their Floriade like exhibition. I have never seen the place so beautiful. Every corner you turned had beautiful floral arrangements and exquisite vases, plus because it was the launch night there was a string ensemble and you could tell all the workers were on their best behaviour.

A few friends decided to catch up over a meal so whipped up a quick noodle dish on a lazy Sunday night. Well I didn't do much of the cooking (give me baking duties anyday over main course meals!) but we ended up with this huge bowl of Pad Thai esque noodles. Nonetheless they were tasty!

I'm a little too excited about this one...I was getting tired of slouching over a laptop everyday for hours on end so I connected my Macbook to my 22inch monitor which was feeling unloved since I reverted to using my laptop. Yay! So excited to be back to the big screen life.

Mamak Roti Tissue
Mmmm love going to Mamak and a few weeks ago I couldn't help but add dessert to the meal. There's nothing like a sugary crispy roti shaped into an impressive cone to finish off a meal! And yes, that's a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream accompanying it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bécasse: Chef's Table

I usually take my time posting about some of my dining experiences but last Friday night was a special occasion so I thought it was worthy of posting straight away! Plus there's a bit of a story...

It was my friend's birthday so we had discussed going to Bécasse, Justin North's two hatted restaurant which has reopened in Westfield Sydney. I'd been to Bécasse back when it was on Clarence Street and of course anyone who reads this blog would know I love Etch and the North's other foodie ventures.

Anyway, we unfortunately couldn't get a booking (even 3 weeks in advance!) so opted for sister restaurant Quarter 21 instead and I popped myself on the waitlist. Fast forward to Friday and to cut a long story short, they were able to offer us a booking last minute at BécasseNot only that, we were offered the unique Chef's Table dining experience - a beautiful table for 6 nestled within the hustle and bustle of the kitchen.
It was of course amazing in every way! The vibe is exciting, being able to stop mid conversation and look up and realise you're able to watch your food getting plated up and prepared. We all agreed that it was far more relaxed and enjoyable being able to still chatter at a reasonable volume and snap photos without feeling self conscious. Compare that to the actual dining room, which while lovely, has that air of fine dining to it that just wasn't as laid back. And I mean what is a meal if it isn't fun and an opportunity to come together with friends and laugh? Excuse me now while I post a tonne of photos...
We chose the 5 course degustation and our lovely waiter for the evening Lily was wonderfully detailed in explaining the specials and allowing us to mix and match menu items from the specials list and the 3 course set menu so that we could try the most dishes. We all tried each other's food to so that we could see what we liked the best!
Our menu and bread from Becasse Bakery of course!
My overall impression of the food was that it was hearty, colourful but yet accessible. I mean of course every morsel was exquisite and the balance of flavours 'just' right, but my favourite fine dining is the type of food that doesn't take itself too seriously and to me, Becasse achieved that perfectly.

Hopefully you can see from the photos the action of the kitchen behind - others have commented previously how quiet it is there which was definitely the case on our visit! Plus one of the surprising things is how many chefs are in action despite the restaurant serving only 20 or so diners at a time. They do have a private dining room, but when Lily took us on a tour we learnt that it is shared by Quarter 21 (more on that later!)
Marinated local yellowfish tuna, confit octopus, mandarin and white radish
Blue eye trevalla cooked in wasabi leaf, cuttlefish, grilled oyster and cucumber
This was my favourite dish so it gets special attention - pea puree risotto with prosciutto and spanner crab. It was punchy, yet smooth and delicately put together and exactly what I was saying earlier about being homely simple but exquisitely executed food!

The chef was cheeky too and presented both of the two dishes above (which we had as alternate second courses across our table) in the same beautiful bowl so that we would think it was for another table. Usually the blue eye trevalla in the middle picture is contrasted on a black japanese inspired dish.
Head chef Monty in action putting together signature dish 'Forgotten Vegetables'
'Forgotten Vegetables' has to be one of the signature dishes at Becasse which I'd heard a lot about previously. As with all dishes, our waiter went to great detail to explain the ingredients, where they came from and the inspiration of Justin North's childhood in bringing together this dish, complete with smoking cedar.
Forgotten Vegetables, smoked pork jowl, yabby tails with aromas of cedar
Now by this time we were feeling extremely full so our waiter kindly asked the chefs to stagger our dishes more to help us digest. Because it was a Friday night and the kitchen was hectic, they let us know that there would be a longer delay than they anticipated but we were quite happy to enjoy the great company and take in our surrounds. Plus it meant we were able to take a quick tour around the rest of the kitchen, Quarter 21, the bakery and the providore. 
Throughout the night, all the staff were so obliging in answering any of our questions and we were able to watch some of the 9 course degustation dishes get created which was fantastic also. The picture photo is the wall behind us with windows to the main dining room. Those are meant to be 'tastebuds' we were told! How novel!

As we took our tour we were able to see the joint kitchen section of Quarter 21 and Becasse - apparently they work well in sharing the space but they're very careful to not share staff. The chefs also work a full lunch and dinner shift, but there are separate kitchen staff who come in to do prep for them. The kitchen definitely is a well oiled machine though, as when we were there everyone knew what they were doing with little noise, no catastrophes and just everything falling into place without us even noticing. Perhaps we were enjoying ourselves too much to notice though?

18 hour pork neck, sherry, chickweed, garlic soubise, black pudding jus
Lamb special (so I don't have the full description unfortunately)
Visiting the bakery, we saw all the busy bakers at work. We learnt that one adorable man was making burger buns for Charlie & Co - a staggering 900 for Saturday's trade! Lucky for him he had an intriguing 'dough divider' machine which we learnt was new. He first weighed out something like 3kg of dough to be divided evenly into 30 buns at a time. He told us he used to do this all by hand back in their Clarence Street 'Plan B' days!
Pre dessert - rockmelon sorbet and jelly

Now for dessert! We couldn't resist choosing one of the special 'Still life' desserts from the 3 course menu which was presented like a cute garden complete with sweet treat mushrooms.

68% Alto Beni Zokoko chocolate cadeau and salted black cumin caramel
This signature chocolate dish was rich but with bite so that it didn't become too sickly sweet - plus it came with a side of chocolate sorbet which added some texture to the dish.

Silken Lemongrass and blood orange caramel, strawberry crunch with vanilla yoghurt sorbet
I love this close up photo that ended up turning out better than I thought! I actually ended up with this dessert and thought, oh no, this won't be that good but it was my favourite dessert of the night! Even though on the menu I would've been my last choice, it had a balanced mix of sweet, texture, meringue and delicate fruit so it was a perfect way to end a meal.

Petit Fours - with a special happy birthday message!
The lightbulb decor above our table
I'd read about many food bloggers dining at the Chef's table as guests of the restaurant, but with a fairly lofty minimum spend it's something that us mere mortals wouldn't usually get to experience. The restaurant was gracious in waiving that for us due to the last minute nature of the booking, but if any of you ever have a special occasion it's truly an experience worth paying for! 

Friday, September 16, 2011


I tend to be pretty traditionalist when it comes to jewellery - I have my key pieces which I wear religiously and on the odd special occasion I'll whip out some fancy interesting stuff. But what many people forget about me is that I don't have my ears pierced!

To be honest, I've never really felt like I was missing out on much because I wear every other type of jewellery possible. Rings are my 'thing' and so I figured having my ears pierced would just give me an extra thing to buy so really I'm saving myself money!

That hasn't stopped my sister and I from buying the odd, amazing pair of earrings when we see them "just in case". Granted, all of these have been super on sale and so under $50 so seemed worth it, right?

Anyway I've been doing a lot of NAP browsing lately because I really want to buy a few key things - a new bag and a new coat (more on that in another post to come soon!) and was really pleasantly surprised to see all these clip-on earrings making their debut on the site.

So in honour of all those without their ears pierced, here are some of the awesome (and well priced!) ones.

Miu Miu (£84) and Oscar de la Renta (£267)

Etro (£333) and Oscar de la Renta (£300)

Oscar de la Renta (£121) and Aurelie Bidermann (£171)

I particularly love the Oscars for being elegant but glamorous and they don't even look like clip ons. The only time I think I would like my ears pierced is for special occasions when I see all the other girls with dazzling long drop earrings and these Oscars are exactly that!

And there are so many more on the website too! Check them out for yourself :)

In the meantime, I just added a heap of items to my wishlist while I think of what I need/want/must-have!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Celebrity Spotting: Charlotte Casiraghi

Charlotte Casiraghi has always been my favourite Royal and I know I've said it here before but she's absolutely stunning, poised and seemingly down-to-earth. Of course the fact she's part of the Monaco Royal Family and her grandmother is Grace Kelly made me love her even more!

I remember years before I went to Monaco on my Europe trip last year, I thought, it must be amazing growing up in Monaco. When I arrived there, it didn't disappoint. The beautiful shops, the sailing, the weather and the whole 'aura' of the place was fantastic.

Anyway I know I'm a little late to post about this but I looooved her Vogue Paris cover and photoshoot by none other than Mario Testino.

Don't you think she has a sense of elegant beauty about her which is timeless yet different at the same time?

But besides the high fashion, I think the candid everyday shots of Charlotte without the glamour and make up show how down to earth and everyday her life is. These are some of my faves...
 I remember seeing this photo around years ago when she was quite young....

How cute is her puppy? I used to have a dachshund too!!
And for good measure, another more recent one from the Dolce Vita premiere - she's dressed in Gucci. Stunning right?

Now if only we all could be Princesses!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Holiday Memories: Per Se, NYC

In honour of today marking the start of NY Fashion Week, I thought I'd post about one of my memorable NYC meals from my US holiday a few months back.

Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant is famous not only for it's 3 michelin star rating, but for being notoriously hard to get a reservation for. Knowing this, I had a plan of action (and a back up plan!) to get a booking and was fortunate enough to get one by being persistent and calling on the dot of opening one month before my preferred dining date. Being in Australia, this meant staying up till 1am in the morning and staying on hold for 20 minutes but it was well worth it!

It was a beautifully sunny day and sitting perched in the middle of hectic NYC in a serene dining room overlooking Columbus Circle, it was almost like time stood still as we slowly ate through our courses. And boy were there many!

Our beautiful (and personalised!) menus
Of course the food was exquisite, each dish carefully tamed but extraordinary at the same time. It perhaps wasn't the most unique meal I've ever had but it was definitely blissful to be able to sit there and enjoy some beautiful food with fabulously chilled out but attentive service.

My favourite dish of the day was this one below, which was also one of the first and simplest.
This was the Charcoal Grilled Japanese Aji and it was sublime! Each grain of rice was perfect with no stickiness, and the Aji was crispy yet fresh!

Because I'm lazy to describe, I'll let you just take it all in with your eyes and show you a whole lot of pics.
Foie Gras Terrine
Scallops with cherries, avocado and soubise
Smoked columbia river sturgeon
Berkshire Pork
Now let me focus on the  main event - dessert of course!

Actual dessert was a rich and textural "Chocolate and Sour Cherry" dessert, with all the best dessert techniques in one dish - marquis, mint choc chip ice cream, cherry meringue stick, chocolate chunks and drizzled chocolate.
By this stage I was getting very full, but I couldn't leave a sliver of dessert on the plate could I?

Then there was all my favourite aspects of fine dining - the after-desserts!!! I really wish I was in less of a rush so I could take the time to enjoy everything but I was absolutely raring to head out and see the sights of NYC. Plus I'm notoriously known to have a small stomach so by this stage I couldn't even fathom stomaching all the tasty morsels which really disappointed me. I only got to try one of everything :( I so badly wanted to eat all the truffles and all the macarons.

Truffles, caramels, macarons and chocolate coated nuts
And then there was the white chocolate covered gelato (sublime! But still doesn't live up to my favourite version of this which I sampled at Gordon Ramsay in London), take-home shortbread biscuits and cinnamon 'doughnuts'. Insane selection right? I really wish I had asked to take them all home in a doggy bag because they were so tasty.
So let's just say Per Se was a once in a lifetime experience and I was glad to be able to have the opportunity to dine there. If you ever get the chance, you should run for it.

The day we went to Per Se also happened to be the monumental Gay and Lesbian parade marking the passing of gay marriage in NYC, so suffice to say I won't be forgetting that date anytime soon!

What are some of the most memorable meals you've had?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Holiday Shopping

It's been almost 2 months since I got back from the US (crazy!) and I realised I never posted about some of the goodies I bought while there. To be honest, I didn't really shop all that much because I was trying to be good and I was quite happy for it to be an enjoyable holiday, not shopping trip! I know that probably puts me in the minority because everyone I talk to says they come back from the US with two extra suitcases and I certainly saw that in person at the airport!

Anyway, these are two of the things I did buy, in keeping with the shoe theme of this blog :)

Another pair of Ferragamo Varina's on sale at Saks. They're definitely more of a summer shoe so perhaps I got caught up in the warmth of Northern Hemisphere summer but these have cute textured dotted detailing.

And one of the more unique patterns of the infamous Manolo Blahnik Sedaraby from Barneys. Most would remember this as the style of shoe in Sex And The City's "A Woman's Right to Shoes" (one of my fave SATC episodes!)
They of course come in a whole array of colours/styles each season and I wish I could have one of each!

This pair are an almost 'strange' colour combination but they just 'pop' when worn (and looked fabulous with the tan I worked up while I was in the Bahamas) and I can imagine them being worn at a Spring-time garden wedding. Luckily these were at absolute steal as part of the mid season sales!