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You've got to throw your boomerang to get it back, otherwise you're just carrying around a bent stick!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hanging and meringuing

Yes I'm aware meringuing is not a word, but those sweet, soft, chewy, crumbly treats best sum up today. A planned picnic in the park with a few girlfriends signaled the right circumstance for me to take up my wooden spoon and get baking. Like the food bloggers picnic I thought I'd strike a balance, choosing to bring both a sweet and savoury dish. However, my criteria for today was to whip up something impressive, yet crowd friendly, and enjoyable for devouring on a humid high twenties day. After a little deliberation I settled on Bocconcini Tomato Skewers over Salmon Blini for the savoury course. Upon a quick flick through my Australian Women's Weekly macaroons & biscuits cookbook i settled on making lemon meringue kisses. I do want to attempt making macaroons and I believe getting savvy with meringues could be a good step to mastering those magnificent morsels adored by many. Both recipes were super easy and straight forward. My tips are get the eggs to room temperature for lovely meringues and really beat them until the peaks form. I use a hand beater and it only took me five minutes whereas the recipe says it will take about 15 with an electric mixer. 


Tomato Bocconcini Skewers

Ingredients:
  • small whole bocconcini or larger ones sliced into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • cherry tomators
  • basil leaves
Method: 
  1. Place Bocconcini in a medium sized bowl
  2. Finely chop the herbs
  3. Add the oil, herbs, salt and pepper to the bocconcini and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight if possible
  4. Half the cherry tomatoes, then place on half of each on a toothpick. Thread on a basil leaf, then bocconcini, then another basil leaf, then another bocconcini, then another basil leaf, followed by the other half of the cherry tomato. Repeat this for the remaining skewers
PS. I dare you to prevent yourself from gobbling the bocconcini as you assemble this kicking kebabs :P
Lemon Meringue Kisses

Ingredients
Lemon curd
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
Meringues
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
 
Method 
  1. Chop the butter and lightly beat the egg
  2. Combine the ingredients in a small heatproof bowl.
  3. Stir over a small saucepan of simmering water for about 10 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
  4. Refrigerate the lemon curd for three hours or overnight
  5. Preheat oven to 120 degrees celsius. Grease the oven trays and line them with baking paper. 
  6. Beat the ingredients with an electric or hand mixer for 5-15 minutes (depending on when the sugar is dissolved and soft peaks form.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag or tool with a 2cm fluted tube; pipe 4cm stars on trays 2cm apart. 
  8. Bake meringues for 40 minutes to an hour until they appear to have formed a skin on the outside or in my case begin to turn golden.
  9. Cool on trays
  10. When cool, sandwich meringues with lemon curd
Jess' magnificent fruit platter
Our picnic also featured taramasalata & hommus dips (I wanted to make my own but didn't leave time), avocado, pita bread, soft chewy chocolate brownies, red rock deli and doritos chips and of course a magnificent choc-a-bloc fruit platter (pictured above that was assembled by Jess). With our picnic mats poised underneath a shady tree we sumpted on our banquet, drinking Becks beers, Spanish Cava (sparkling wine) and Strawberries & Cream iced tea.

How lovely

x

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let's Do Lunch: Becasse

Dining at restaurants like Bécasse make me feel like I'm on the other side of this desire
Cutting back my shifts at the restaurant meant I would have more time to be full-time student. However, I seem to have replaced serving food with observing food, and eating it of course. Last Wednesday was no exception! October truly is a wonderful month. Not only is it smack bang in the middle of Spring which means picnics, extended hours of sunshine (courtesy of daylight savings), music festival announcements, a new semester of university, and more birthdays than you can poke a stick at, it also means it's time for the Crave Sydney International Food Festival! If money was no concern, and time was mine for the taking, I'd possibly only come home to sleep, choosing instead to wile away my days and nights doing brunch, lunch, talks, classes, special dinners, desserts, cocktails, wine tasting and high teas until my stomach (and liver) exploded into smithereens.

So, when my good friend Patrick Roche suggested we take advantage of this marvellous month of months and get together for luncheons, I leapt at the idea. Initially, his heart was set on dining once again at Aria, like he had the year before. Dreamily musing of the harbour views, cool cucumber aperetif soup, and superb seafood he suggested we try our luck booking at table in the morning for lunch that day. Oh how blissfully optimistic we were. Not a place in the restaurant all day. Not to worry, with a day off I let my fingers do the walking and scored us a table for two at Bécasse at two! Paddy (Patrick), was pleased at this outcome and I was excited about dining at my first two hat restaurant (having dined at Tetsuya's - when it had three hats - and Zest - one hat, respectively).



Bécasse was a lot closer to Town Hall station than we envisioned, so after a short stroll we arrived with five minutes to spare. Prying open the large glass doors, I felt like Thumbelina, a small humble girl stepping into a giant beautiful room of clean pressed white linen tablecloths, a cascading marble staircase and glittering circular Swarovoski crystal Chandeleirs. Greeted by a suave waiter we were informed our table would be ready shortly after two and with a room as elegant as that to ogle, we were happy to wait. 

Swarovoski crystal chandeleirs over the grand dining room
 Pining for a window seat, we still lucked out with our place down the stairs but right in front of the kitchen. Being a lady has it's advantages, as I got to choose my seat first and couldn't overlook a spot overlooking the kitchen. Water was filled up in our wine glasses straight away. How I love drinking beverages other than alcohol in wine glasses. When I get the opportunity I enjoy imagining I am Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's as parading around my house with milk in a martini glass.

Holly go lightly just chilling like a villain with a martini glass of milk
 Presented with a our menus, we were able to peruse the tantalizing dishes we may have selected from, had we not decided to indulge in the $35 lunch deal of a main course and glass of Brown Brothers wine. However, when we got to the 'Let's do lunch' section we spotted a $65 three course option of which we greedily ummed and ahhed over. We let gluttony get the best of us, claiming the value of the deal and superb opportunity as reasons not to refuse such an offer.

First out of the kitchen was an appetiser which the waitress explained was Black Olive Biscotti with sour cream and chives. The combination of salty black olives in the chewy sweet biscotti with the soft creamy, mild onion dollop met with such exciting textural fervour. I really enjoy the growing sweet meets savoury mash-up and this wonderful apperetif could almost be a dessert in a bigger portion.

Black Olive Biscotti with sour cream and chives 


Next we were presented with our entree, a salad of beetroot and prosciutto. The dish looked incredible, the elements appeared to replicate a delicious forest. The wafer thin prosciutto added only a tiny salty hit which contrasted superbly with the semi-circle cubes of beetroot, crunch of the roasted hazelnuts and sweet chewy Biscotti. This was all rounded off by sweet, oily sauce to die for.

Salad of Prosciotto and Beetroot

We snacked on a chewy white roll with a special butter whilst awaiting the main event. As our mains sailed towards our table the warm, buttery scent of seafood wafted filling our eyes with joy. Whilst to the onlooker (such as my brother) the dish may look suspiciously like something my dog brought up, rather than something you'd want to wolf down, I assure you the reality is far from that. The soft, meaty prawns sat in a warm, sensuous froth, with loads of beautiful prosciotto, perfectly cooked rice and peas to dive in to. It seemed well matched with the wonderful Brown Brothers Pinot Grigio - a brilliant, light yellow drop with citrus and herbaceous characters and great length and balance. Although the richness of the crustacean flavour meant that we ate it slowly, savouring it and contemplating how it almost beckoned for the other suggested wine, a Brown Brothers Tempranillo. However, we'd chose on the basis that seafood traditionally matches best with white, and a crisp white refreshes best on a hot day.


Risotto of South Australian prawns and prosciutto
With every last spoonful of risotto scraped from the bowl,  we waited for dessert to arrive. Dessert was not as prompt to be brought out as the other courses, but we were thankful as we needed that time to check our dessert compartment had room. Even if it hadn't been vacant, such a gorgeous dish would mosey on in regardless. When our lemon meringue pies arrived we struggled to bring ourselves to destroy such a creation with our lusty spoons. Cracking the side of the tart was met with an unexpected surprise. The pastry rather than being flaky or crumbly was golden and wickedly sweet and crispy, whilst the lemon curd was slightly runny and wonderfully bitersweet. Topped with the oh so fluffy meringue, it was hard to surmount the task of eating such an indulgent, sweet on one's own. I also adored the teeny weeny toasted meringues and pistachio praline that circled the tart.
Lemon Meringue Tart

Upon slowly and steadily savouring the dessert, we couldn't refuse a coffee. Topped with love heart, the shiny, silky milk, a good rich nutty brown colour, displayed the characteristics of a good coffee. Not over roasted or under extracted, the coffee was divine in the afternoon and definetly one I would have again.
A good looking coffee
Oh Bécasse what a joy, what a pleasure! How I long to return to your glittering room to dine on your fascinating and seductive French dishes such as the veal baked in coffee and clay, or be part of the local food scene with the producers lunches and dinners. I shall and must return. 
 


Bécasse 

204 Clarence St

 Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 9283 3440



I leave you with another French delicacy in the form of Nouvelle Vague - a new wave musical collective from France who do gorgeous covers among other wonderful musical morsels. Their sad, yet soothing cover of the classic Joy Division track, 'Love will Tear us Apart', is so tragic, delicate and beautiful. Sometimes when you love something too much - whether it be food, study, or a significant other - you burn yourself out with your passion. Whether, I have eaten too much, spent too much, or drank too much, I am often torn apart from pursuing my greedy gastronomic pursuits. I always want more and I want to love everything so fully, so whole-heartedly that the effort can tear my world apart.

Bon appetit!
x

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whether or weather? Here I come

The Holidays + The Cairos + We Are Fans
Wednesday 29th September 2010
Beach Road Hotel

Doing happy laps trying to find a park in the side streets of Bondi on a weeknight with rain dripping down is not fun. Especially if it’s for a free gig that leaves you underwhelmed. Beach Road Hotel has a pretty strong music scene, with Wednesdays being the popular night to get down when the venue plays host to ‘Sideshows’: a free gig which continues to attract up & coming bands, with past acts including Cut off Your Hands and Yves Klein Blue. We squashed onto a couch out of the cold and into the heat of the ‘We Are fans’ beat. Italian disco pop meets lo-fi grungy pop, the band from Melbourne grooved on stage as a very likeable opening act. The bubbly lead brunette dominated, with her black bat wings shimmying as she banged that tambourine. Oozing the charisma of Karen O, her confident optimism led the band and drew a small crowd of revelers. One couldn’t help being a fan of their infectious toe-tapping songs. Check them out for yourself here.

We are fans: black panther sexy
The next set by the Cairos was promising. The post-punk indie rockers from Cairns started with broody, heavy strumming but the first few songs whilst enjoyable, seemed monotonous and lacked a climactic roar. ‘Listening Party’ had an air of a tame Nine Inch Nails or Foo Fighters rock song, but with softer vocals. The sliding guitar solo was impressive but not long enough! Lead singer Alistar Richardson, had magnetic, slightly haunting, brooding vocals reminiscent of the Foals lead singer. The later songs of the set proving far more danceable with ‘Today’, a sunny optimistic number echoing the lovable effervescence of US surf-rock bands like Wild Nothing. ‘Whales’, one of the more impressive songs of the set had a dark, alluring catchiness to it, harking veins of the Cure’s popular eighties work. With a bit of maturation I could see these Queensland boys really tearing it up. You can listen for yourself here.

Young guns from The Cairos
Finally, the Holidays graced the stage and the audience surged forward. Already the gig was running later than anticipated and the underwhelming performance of the headliners did little to bade me to stay. Whilst, they were clearly the most polished act on the bill, Sydney five piece, the Holidays seemed happy to cruise with their island breeze vocals and tracks. The tropical calypso beat of ‘Moonlight Hours’, complete with magical marimba bridge, was easily the highlight, inviting a sweet desire to escape reality with lyrics like “we can get on board, let’s get out of touch”. Beginning with some strong afro-drumming, ‘Golden Sky’, had me grooving with the fluid guitars and lovely harmonies at the end. However, I was hankering for their older gutsier electric guitar compositions, embodied in songs like ‘Mexico’ and ‘Planes’, which had a more cyclical pace to it, punching their way from the beginning with sliding guitars and punchy vocals, before building up into a fiery crescendo then silence. Nevertheless, I uncharacteristically left the gig part way through the set. If the thought of bed entices me more than the music in stage then one has to worry. Perhaps the sunnier sounds of this chilled band are better enjoyed shaken not stirred and less sober in the summer sun. Go on holidays with their sounds here.

Summery sounds and attitudes from The Holidays

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interview: Yacht Club DJS




Get crazy with the Yacht Club DJs. With adventurous, cutting-edge, mash-ups and riotous high-energy on-stage antics, the two boys from Ballarat have become one of this year’s most talked about acts.

I caught up Gaz Harrison from the Yacht Club DJS where we talked mixing, mooning, music trivia and mayhem. It was my very first phone interview with a band, and I was able to seize this exciting opportunity with the help of Ella Reweti the music editor for the dynamic, cultural hub of Music Mayhem on WOTS (Word on the street).  After checking out their clever, punchy, party tracks online and grabbing the opportunity to share some awesome stories with one half of the act, it’s easy to see just how these boys are making waves as crowd favourites virally and on stage. 

You can check them out in all their glory here

Eliza: So Yacht Club DJs, tell me, what inspired the name?

Gaz: Yacht Club was originally Guy’s name on Facebook. It was his idea to do the whole show on laptops and he wanted to call us Lap dancers. At the time I was a bit more serious than I am now and I wasn’t keen on being involved in a group called the Lap dancers. So I suggested ‘Yacht Club’, cause I couldn’t be bothered thinking of a name myself but it was the name of his Myspace and thankfully it was agreeable.

Eliza: Wow, well I guess Lap dancers would have got a lot of attention but it’s good to go with something you know I suppose…

Gaz: I think it would have been the wrong kind of attention. Like it was one of those short-lived names and you’ve already got Bang Gang [DJs] and stuff like that. I didn’t want a shock and awe name, I just wanted be known for making fun music. I always wanted to let the music do the talking more than the name.

Eliza: The word club makes it sound kind of exclusive, is it?

Gaz: If we called ourselves Yacht DJs everyone would mistake us for those Canadians. We’re definitely not exclusive; we’re the most un-exclusive people you’ve ever met in your life. We make friends with all our fans and we wanna hang out with them more than we wanna play our shows. It started as something really tongue in cheek, with us sitting around in cafes trying to make each other laugh and we’ve just had fantastic luck being able to make a life of music out of it. It’s completely tongue in cheek to this day. There’s a serious side to it but we’re just a lot of having fun and we’re lucky enough to make money out of it and have a fan base that wants to keep seeing it.

Eliza: So you are hitting the road pretty soon with your ‘Demons of Gymnastics’ tour. Having played some sold-out national tours and a string of festival appearances including Meredith Music Festival, Groovin The Moo and Splendour In The Grass, you must have had some amazing memories. What are some of your favourite festival moments?

Gaz: It’s been really crazy, like it’s gone in the space of maybe two years or two and a half, of us being these white-knuckled indie kids that just had no idea what they were doing in front of 10,000 at the first Meredith we played, to just being road dogs. I feel at home on the road now and if I’m not touring I feel like something’s missing in my life. As for moments there’s been so many. I broke my leg at Sydney Parklife, and went to Adelaide and played a show with tape on it when I should have been in the car. We tour with bands and we tend to make best friends with them if we can. We get really involved with them and just get in a tour bus and go shenanigan crazy. I think for me, one of my favourite tour moments of all time was when we were traveling from Byron Bay to Brisbane with the Howl and DD. Howl just are PH punks, they are insane, and Muz the drummer was obsessed with mooning people. On the highway from Byron to Brisbane, the Melodics were doing an interview for Triple J on the radio and we were listening to it and they said they were sitting on the side of the road near Brisbane. Of course the whole bus of fifteen people had their asses pressed on the window as we drove pass The Melodics. Later it just sped on crazy and half of them were wearing dresses. We got this one guy in a car next to us so very angry and he started ringing the police and followed us all the way into town screaming at us and his girlfriend was throwing empty bottles at the van. It just got insane, and it was just so much fun! It was like being a fourteen-year-old kid again.

Eliza: So those crazy shenanigans aren’t just because you’re ‘a band’, it’s also that you guys are relatively young and having fun?

Gaz: That’s exactly right. We’ve always had a pretty fucked attitude but we’ve had to get a bit more professional lately with the level we’ve got to but we defiantly try to keep that whole ‘We’re just punks from the bush and gonna get in everyone’s faces and try to cause as much trouble as we can’ attitude, everywhere we go. I think people have really responded to that. When they come to our shows they treat it like a big house party and they all try to get as crazy as we are.

Eliza: Speaking of crazy antics, many DJs embrace kooky costumes and props when performing. What kinds of antics and outfits could we expect at a Yacht Club DJs show?

Gaz: Lots of sweating and jumping…swigging vodka bottles. We do all the horrible clichés of rock and roll. This tour we’ve invested heavily in inflatables! We decided as a band we wanna bring back that eighties set thing [where for example] metal bands had like these big thirty foot grim reapers swinging into the crowd. I think it’d be really funny to bring that back, but we’re taking baby steps. Hopefully if they’re able to make it in time, we’ve got two twelve foot cats heads that inflate on side of stage and their mouths open and close and stuff. We’ve also got a zillion inflatable palm trees. We basically wanna have the whole stage set up and end up in the crowd getting torn apart, and the crowd to end up on stage with us tearing everything apart. Just one of those raucous house parties you can imagine. That’s always what we try and achieve.

Eliza: Your new tour is called ‘Demons of Gymnastics? What was the inspiration behind this?

Gaz: (laughs) We were in Ballarat and there was this horrible movie about people who’d been in gymnastics when they were kids. These young boys, were sort of overdriven to succeed by this crazy coach and they were scared of gymnastics and they had all these demons about it. So the end of the movie was that they had all grown up and were getting rid of their demons by getting into a gymnastics competition. We thought it was about the funniest thing we’d ever seen, but it was probably just the amount of gin that we’d drank. So we turned it into this big in-joke about fighting off our demons with gymnastics, so subsequently it ended up being the name of the tour.

Eliza: I heard you had a pretty fun gym-themed photo shoot to promote the tour involving foam pits and heaps of other fun stuff. How was that?

Gaz: We’re lucky enough to have this girl who works for the crew, in a local paper who pulled some strings and promised the local university that they’d do story on them if we could use their gymnastics gym for our photoshoot. So basically we were let in there, and there was this massive foam pit with a trampoline, so we stuffed around for about half an hour being little kids again jumping into this foam pit and doing backflips and stuff, in which I completely destroyed my jeans. I ripped them from the crotch all the way right down to my knees and my underwear was hanging out and stuff. It was very unpretty. If you actually look close enough at the photos on facebook you can see the rip. It ended up being great fun and we took some ridiculously stupid photos, most of which we couldn’t use. The ones we’ve chosen we’re doing all these completely odd, crazy things.

Eliza: You sample a huge range of artists and genres in your tracks. What are some of the most popular songs to get a party started?

Gaz: We’ve sort of been treated like a band in that respect. We’ve got specific mash-ups people always wanna hear, and that’s cool, there’s always part of our set spoken for where we can just turn up and play the same things, which annoys some people, but I think it’s really cool that people know us that well that they can expect to hear those kind of things all the time and they give it the same awesome response. Really early on when we first started I mixed ‘Yakkity-Yak’ by the Trash-man with ‘My people’ by the Presets. Sometimes you hear it so many times that you’re really sick of it but it gets such a response from the crowd everytime we play it. It’s gonna be a sad day when we stop playing that in our sets. Other ones like the theme from Roger Ramjet mixed with the song ‘Formerly known as’ by Regurgitator is another one that gets such a big crowd response. We get people leaving messages on our facebook saying ‘you’ve gotta play this’. The little lion one that Guy did as well with Missy Elliot and Mumford and Sons, people just know us because of those ridiculous mash-ups and it seems we can’t turn up to a festival without people screaming one of the other from the front of the stage. It’s awesome, such a cool thing.

Eliza: You seem like a huge music lover. What are some of the biggest influences on your music?

Gaz: We always enjoyed the whole music trivia side of things, like getting an album like ‘Since I left you’ by the Avalanches and 2manydjs with ‘All this love’ and Soulwax, and listening to them and going over them with a fine tooth comb and trying to pick out all the samples and stuff like that. I don’t think either of us when we were younger thought they we were going to make a career out of doing that but it’s awesome that we are. Apart from that we’re both metal heads. I was in punk bands and really bad hard rock bands and Guy was in new metal and heavy metal bands just around Ballarat, some Indie bands and things like that. So we were surprised more than anyone that this thing that we started for fun turned into a career. It’s just great, everyday I wake up and it’s awesome cause we’re in this band and we get to do funny things all the time.

Eliza: That’s fascinating that you started off with a love of heavy metal and then moved into this dj world!

Gaz: Not many people would’ve picked it. For a while I was quite into minimal house and prog-house. I was brought up in a night club my dad started when I was four years old and the guys that taught me to DJ were all involved in that deep, progressive like long track with all those techno sounds. I really enjoy that sort of music but I lost my steam on playing that sort of music earlier on, because I did have such an interest in so many forms of music and I felt like I was missing out. After a while I realized I would rather be in a band and I’d given up on DJing for a while. Yacht Club sort of brought me back round because it gave me an excuse to listen to everything at once and I could do music trivia cause that’s what the band’s for.

Eliza: Your eclectic DJ style has been embraced with open arms for it’s exciting mash up of various popular tracks. Do you find any particular genres or artists mash the best?

Gaz: It’s always hard to go past your hard rock and rock music, and generally the stuff that mashes with it the easiest is, hip-hop. That’s really your bread and butter when you’re doing these sorts of things, where everyone knows your hip hop and there’s always a good hard rock underneath it that they can really get up and dance out to. We try to change it up as much as we can, try to bring in a bit of blues and funk and old songs and weird pieces into it as much as we can.

Eliza: You’re not the first act to map a career of mashing songs, but you have been hugely successful with claims to be one of the most sought after acts of the year. What do you think sets the Yacht Club DJs apart from similar acts like Miami Horror and Girl Talk?

Gaz: I think Ben it’d yell at you if you called him a mash-up DJ. I think they’re more like Indie djs where they just get popular indie songs or try and find remixes, or in Miami Horror’s case, a lot of the remixes he makes himself. They’re more just about Indie party where they play their songs out and everyone knows their songs and you get a big taste of it. We try to be more like music trivia. We take the songs and sample them really quickly. So rather than playing out the songs we tend to use parts of them to create music collages. Sometimes we hope to create new songs out of old parts, like keeping them in key and really working hard to keep them as one piece of music rather than separate dj mixes. We like to keep it quick and brief and have lots of things happening all at once that are all recognizable but not necessarily mixing track to track. I think that’s the idea behind mash-ups. It’s not so much about creating a straight dj mix for a party as much as getting in there and trying to make something new.

Eliza: As you sample a lot of music have you ever had issues with copyright infringement or encountered any nasty lawsuits?

Gaz: We’ve been really careful with the CDs, we treat them as promo CDs. I think it’s been bandied around a bit that they’re albums and things like that, but we can’t actually do that because we don’t think we have the same sort of laws that say, Girl Talk get away with in the US. We definitely don’t have the time span to do what 2ManyDjs did and give it two years to clear all the samples or spend a year or two as the Avalanches did on ‘Since I left you’ because we wanna keep it relevant and have lots of pop culture today, as well as pop culture 70 or so years ago that we draw from. So what we’ve been putting them out for free for promo only and the only way people can get [our CDs] is to come to our shows where we give them out. Sometimes we make them available for download off our facebook, but it’s to the bane of our fans, who are constantly requesting where to buy things, they all want something that they can take home. The climate isn’t really ripe for it so we have to be very very careful. I’m expecting a cease and desist order anyday now.

Eliza: It’s pretty amazing that your demo mix-tape Kleptomania released online, due to popular demand, was downloaded more than 15,000 times in just one week. Even more astounding is that some copies of your mix-tape ended up selling on Ebay for more than $150.

Gaz: Yeah, and that’s on top of the 500 we had hard copies of and gave them away at shows as well. So yeah, just the response to that was absolutely amazing

Eliza: Having successfully distributed your music through the Internet, what made you choose to embrace file sharing as opposed to a mainstream record release? Do you see file sharing as furthering creative freedom or hindering potential income?

Gaz: I think that’s a big grey area. We don’t see it as doing anything wrong but depending on who you talk to in the music industry, they do and don’t. We got personally invited to the screening of the Girl Talk movie ‘ripper remixes manifesto’ by APRA (Australian Performing Right Association), and there was a forum where they talked quite heavily about what we do, like it’s legal ramifications. We do our best to contact the actual artist and always have a big ethos of [encouraging] support for the artists we use. At some point I hope the industry just gets over it because there quite clearly is a place for what we do in the music industry, people really want it as a product. If the music industry got over itself a little bit and became a bit more lenient for things we do, I think they’d do what they really wanna do and make more money, whereas at the moment we’re having a bit of this quirky gag stagger and we’re playing by their rules and that’s what we actually have to do so we don’t get put in jail. We’re not out to hurt anybody, we basically play the music we play because we love it and that’s the reason we do it.

Eliza: Being a band that is highly interactive with the internet, how are you affected by public feedback through forums and twitter?

Gaz: Yeah I’ve run my mouth quite a bit. I blame having an iphone which I conveniently dropped in a guiness a few weeks ago so I’ve had the breaks on a little bit. I think when you’re doing something like we do it really helps to be involved with the public about feedback. I don’t wanna be one of those djs that says they’re out there educating people and things like that. We’re definetly not, we’re having good fun. But sometimes some of the negatives can be misguided and you find it’s basically people on a forum having a shot at you because they don’t like what you do coz it’s not what they do, or they might be jealous of where you got because they’re not there. I’ve got a bit of a fiery temperament in that respect where I don’t wanna go out and fight them but I wanna have a talk with them about it and go “hey man you’re out there soiling my name across the internet”. I’d rather be involved in direct forum with them about why they don’t like me so they can have their facts straight so we can actually have an intellectual conversation about it rather than them getting on the internet and just philandering me. I think everyone deserves a defence as well as the ability to get slandered. I really take a lot of joy away from getting into conversations about it cause it is an intellectual pursuit at the end of the day as well as something that’s really perhaps a joke at sometimes as well. So I think it’s important to have that forum

Eliza: So how do you deal with these comments in terms of managing them especially if you do receive negative feedback?

Gaz: Well, Ajax’s advice is to ignore them and my manager is desperately trying to stop me getting online and talking to people but at some point you’ve gotta stop listening to the negative stuff cause otherwise if everyone just listened to everything bad that was sad about them you’d never leave the house! I guess you’d never do something where you put yourself on the line as much as we do. But I think that you’ve gotta know what people are saying bad about you. You can either decide to change something or perhaps make it better or just know what you’re up against I guess as well.

Eliza: Tell me about the creative process. How do things go down in the Yacht Club DJs collaboration? Is it all smooth sailing, or do you and Guy get into a bit of rough and tumble?

Gaz: Nah, I think that with what we do it’s good. There can be a rough and tumble if there’s a big long awkward silence, but that’s about as rough as it ever gets, and that’s really quite rare. We’re lucky enough with what we do that it is really just a lot of sitting around by yourself and then coming together and sharing it, rather than having to sit together and work on things. We’re making a lot of original music and remixing some people at the moment, where we do have to work together, and it’s been a wholly enjoyable experience for us. It’s learning to work together in a new way when we’ve already come so far as an act and it’s been heaps of fun and a really interesting process. So no rough and tumble whatsoever, there’s been no band mates getting murdered over a song or anything like that.

Eliza: I understand you boys from Ballarat, I hear you still live there when you’re not touring like mad. With your exhaustive traveling what sort of things do you miss about home?

Gaz: Nah, not at all, I grew up in a small town called Achuko and I really didn’t like living there. It wasn’t really a creatively geared town and I was built to be a bit weird I guess, that’s how I like to put it. When I moved to Ballarat for university about 12 years ago I sort of found a home in Ballarat. Then I moved away to Melbourne for a few years but I was at a point in my life where I needed to be creative again. I thought traveling and being in the city so much with the music I might as well live in the country. It’s been a really good move to come back here so I don’t miss anything at all, I’ve never been happier in my life and I’ve never been more productive in my life. There’s nothing like country air and a dust filled garden out the front of your cottage to get you in the mood for making some music…I know it sounds pretty seedy I should say I have a sheep or something that eats my grass

Eliza: Being a country boy do you have anything awesome like a vegie patch you can tend to?

Gaz: Nah I have a lot of grass that I haven’t mown. Yeah, we’re still studio dogs, we work inside all the time and ignore everything that’s going on outside, including the grass that’s about a foot tall.

Eliza: Perhaps you’ll see a bit more grass on your new ‘Demons of Gymnastics’ tour. But it sounds like you’ll be playing inside a bit? Are there any plans to release another demo CD to coincide with the tour?

Gaz: Well we’ve just finished putting together a ‘Demons of Gymnastics’ mix tape, which we sent to a publicist yesterday and it should be ready for the tour. Like the other tours ‘kleptomania’, and subsequently [the] ‘batten down the hatches’ we’ll be there with CDs to give copies to everyone and most of the music we’ll be presenting on the tour will be off that CD. So a lot of it will be new stuff that people haven’t really had a chance to hear before. With that we’ve done some remixing. We’ve done ‘Rocket’ by Little Red and we’ve done the good news by the Billy Jays and a few things like that, which we’ll be presenting for the first time on the tour and they’re on the CD as well so people will get to hear a bit of that. We’ve approached the remixes a bit more as a live band with live music instruments rather than just cutting up their songs like we used to. So the remixing is sort of starting to introduce our original music to the mash up thing as well. 

Eliza: If someone can’t get along to your gig are they able to download the mix tape through other avenues?

Gaz: It’s kind of hard because of all the legalities. Last time I did a thing over twitter where people sent me their addresses and I did a post out cause we had a heap leftover and people really appreciated that a lot more than I expected they would. We also did a release of downloads over facebook and things like that. So there’ll be a lot of different ways people can get it but we really want them to come out to the shows cause then they get the hard copy and people go insane about those things. Kleptomania’s been selling on ebay, and the other day I saw one for $300 and it kind of made me a bit sad because we paid for them and gave them away for free and we didn’t get any money back and people are making $390 off a CD that cost us $15 to give them! It’s pretty funny.

Eliza: Is there pretty much nothing you can do about that sort of stuff?

Gaz: I don’t think so but people love it, that’s why we’re in it, we’re in it for the music, not the money thank god.

Eliza: Considering you’re gymnasts of the DJ scene, what’s the trickiest mash up you’ve ever done?

Gaz: There’s one on the new CD that has about 15 songs in about 30 seconds and some of the samples are less than a note, it’s just so fast. It took a lot of mixing but I’ve always wanted to have so many songs that you can’t recognize any of it and it just comes out as a piece of new music entirely. I did that on the new CD and it actually works pretty well. I’d say that was the trickiest. I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard on one before.

Eliza: Finally, Jessica Watson had the Pink Lady when she circumnavigated the globe. If you were a yacht what would be the name of your vessel?

Gaz: If I had a boat to navigate the globe…I’d call it Carl (laughs) simple as that. Just Carl. He’s got loads of personality and he sounds like your crazy uncle.

Upcoming shows:
 “DEMONS OF GYMNASTICS” TOUR
w/ very special guests The Bleeding Knees Club
 14th October @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne
15th October @ Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
16th October @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne *SOLD OUT*
 20th October @  Republic Bar, Hobart
22nd October @ The Maram, Canberra w/ special guests Grafton Primary
23rd October @ Fat as Butter Festival, Newcastle
29th  October @ Amplifier, Perth
30th October @ Fowlers Live, Adelaide 
4th November @ Great Northern Hotel, Byron Bay
5th November @ The Zoo, Brisbane

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You've gotta hand it to the sandwich

The following post is dedicated to one of my dearest friends: Frances Grant. This girl is one of the coolest cats out. I met Frances way back in August 2007 in strange circumstances. At a friends seventeenth birthday both of us were alarmed by a boy hiding under a red cloth that covered a table. Questioning the boys actions was the moment we first spoke, and once our concern had been expressed we talked some more. Upon exclaiming our mutual desire to be involved in the media industry we decided to be magazine editor besties! Following my bid to ditch the boys for books in the hope of gaining the UAI I needed for my dream course, along came Frances, like an Angel into my life. And so, with her blinding halo we skipped into the sunset, choosing to spend our Saturdays of year 12, shopping, sunbaking, and being generally spontaneous in the city, and wile away our study vacations prancing and posing in and around the State Library. Always chasing that boy, always searching for that bargain and always seeking that tasty snack. Not only did she contribute to my survival of the HSC, but she was also my most definitive fashion influence. Under her wing I have since found it trés difficult to succumb to pants over swishing skirts and flowy frocks. Whilst, my wardrobe is certainly overflowing so much so that my clothes have begun to take residence in the study built-in, I doubt I will ever have a collection as magnificent as Miss Grant's. FACT: at one point last year the rod in her cupboard actually collapsed under the burdern of beautiful garments. Furthermore, her eclectic, romantic love of music brought me hours of joy in the form of mixtapes, which would come with one of her surrealistic montage pictures on the cover. These mixtapes provided me with the soundtrack for countless times scrapbooking, card making and dreaming in my garage in a bid to escape study. She is also the queen of snacking and her favourite fiendish treats are such simple pleasures such as vegemite on crackers, an alphabetical fridge of cheese and plenty of bread. So crazy is she that she once actually set herself a daily sandwich quota to limit the amount of she was consuming per day. She failed. But she certainly wins life! And my heart<3

***

Eating alone, for me, is most often a prompt to shop. This is where self-absorption and consumerism meet - a rapt, satisfyingly convoluted pleasure. The food I want most to buy is the food I most often try not to eat - a swollen-bellied tranche of cheese, a loaf of bread. These constitute the perfect meal. A slither of gorgonzola or coulommiers sacrificed on the intrusive and unyielding surface of a biscuit at the end of dinner is food out of kilter. Just bread and cheese is fine to give others if you're shown the kind of consideration of providing variety. But I want for myself the obsessive focus of the one huge, heady, haveuse soft cheese, or else a wedge of the palate burning hard stuff, a vintage Cheddar or strong blue - too much, too strong. If I'm eating a salty blue cheese, it's texture somewhere between creamy and crumbly, I want baguette or a bitter, fudge-coloured pain au levain; with Cheddar, real Cheddar, I want doughier white bread - whichever, it must be a whole loaf. I might eat tomatoes with the bread and cheese, but the tomatoes mustn't be in a salad, but left whole on the plate, to be slice or chopped, à la minute.

- Nigella Lawson, 'How to Eat', extracted from 'Solitary Pleasures' in The Virago Book of Food, The Joy of Eating

Tonight I went down into the kitchen to make myself dinner. The cupboards and the fridge were far more bare than fair, with a severe shortage of fruit, vegetable and meat. Tossing up between an omelette, a make-shift paella, pasta or a salad, I realized none would make the cut with what was at hand. So I put my hands to work, spreading caramelised capsicum jam on light rye bread, then layering slices of Brie and leftover barbecue chicken on top before popping the whole package into the jaffle iron with plenty of Olive oil spray. Two minutes later and I gotta hand it to you the sandwich - sweet, tangy, creamy, with a little bite, tender chicken and soft yet crunchy bread just hit the spot. I can now see how Frances Grant finds it so hard to adhere to the sandwich quota.

Edith Piaf's, 'Non je ne regrette rien', (I have no regrets) is one of Frances' favourite songs of all time. Those of you who saw Inception would recognize the ascending brass notes as the 'kick', the music designed to warn the dreamers that they would soon exit a dream. It's such a powerful piece of music which I initially discovered from watching La vie en Rose (2007), a recent movie that dramatises the life of Edith Piaf. Marion Cottilard plays the French singer known as "the little Bird", in an un-chronological story of the triumphs and tragedies in her rollercoaster rise and fall. The movie comes to a magnificent round off when this track is sung at the end.
A movie with heart, guts, and a hell of a set of lungs.

 Also, the song reminds me of my adventurous, gluttonous, attitude to food, of which non je ne regrette rien!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

A hot date

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance
-Oscar Wilde

Amelie: A girl with an overactive imagination who enjoyed life's simple pleasures
 So it's Saturday night and I'm home alone.  Abandoned by my parents who have gone off on a gourmet adventure in Orange, dogged by my brother who has gone off celebrating at an eighteenth birthday party, and rejected by my boyfriend who's having a guys poker night, I have been left to watch over the pets and toil over my university work. My first instinct was to cry in despair, but after five minutes of sulking in a dark corner on the floor with as much motivation as I could muster I picked up my soggy, sad self. I'd been feeling a little off all day, but I knew that a good meal does wonders for the heart and soul. So with that wisdom and my mother's suggestion to treat myself, I set off to the kitchen for some cooking therapy. On offer were hamburger patties, provided by my mother to cook in her absence. However, being such a curious kitchen dweller, one who always wants something a little more left of centre, I just needed to break free of the boundaries of the standard hamburger. Inspired by my fellow foodie Gemma, I decided to be a cheap glut and whip up a feast using what was in my house. My idea was to create Mexican hamburgers. 

I love Mexican food: the spices, the textures, that warm, tingly, creamy sensation that leaves one happy from eating something a little bit too hot. Chilli, is awesome for your immune system, and apparently has medicinal uses (in fact my exploding headache prior to dinner has been eradicated by the consumption of it). Not being a fan of huge, white, buns (well, the bread ones anyway), I decided to use one of the wholemeal wraps leftover from dinner a few nights ago. I also had an overripe avocado and a lime lying around, perfect for some Guacamole. There were also plenty of tomatoes in the fruit bowl to throw together a salsa. How exciting!

Mexican Hamburgers
For one 
(or more...just increase the recipe)

Salsa
Ingredients
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli paste (or fresh chilli)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
* You could also add green capsicum, but I didn't have any

Method  
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft. 
  2. Add chilli and capsicum (if you have it). Cook for 2 minutes or until tender. 
  3. Stir in tomato paste and tomatoes. Bring mixture to the boil. 
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until thick. 
  5. Remove from heat. Cool completely.
Guacamole 
I got my Guacamole recipe from Gemma's (The Cheap Glut) scrumptious foodie blog

Ingredients
  •  1 ripe avocado
  • 1 TBSP good quality whole egg mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • freshly ground rock salt and black peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced or crushed
  •  use chilli flakes if you wish

Method
  1. Scoop out the avocado flesh into a bowl
  2. Add the mayonnaise, chilli (if using), garlic and lime and mash to combine.
  3. Season well with salt and pepper.
Hamburger patties
I used lean beef patties from Woolworths. I like my meat medium rare so I didn't cook the patties for very long. The instructions say to cook the patties slowly, and they can be grilled, or fried. I prefer grilled patties, because I love the aesthetics of the grill marks and don't like the excess oil from frying. However, I couldn't find the plug for our grill. If you have a non-stick pan you can fry the patties without oil as they will release their own oil, which makes it easier to flip them. 
  1. Before frying the patties though press them down using a spatula to get your desired thickness. 
  2. Fry the patties until they're no longer pink and they start developing a golden brown colour. 
  3. Before I put the meat on I spread a generous amount of salsa on to the wrap.
  4. Then, place the patties on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil, before slicing and placing the pieces on the wrap. 
  5. On top of the meat place a lovely dollop of the guacamole.
  6. Then roll up the wrap and ay carumba! Mexican hamburgers :)
    By candlelight I dined on my dish to the smooth sounds of, Louis Armstrong's 'La vie en Rose'. The rich, spicy, sweet salsa, creamy, citrusy guacamole, tender beef pieces and flaky wrap brought truth to the notion of comfort food. Needless to say I'm glad I was dining alone because I certainly made a mess of myself with a lot of the filling ending up smeared across my face and fingers. Now that's what I call a hot date :) 



    Friday, October 1, 2010

    TAKE ONE: Family Cooking Challenge - Paella

    "Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love."
    Craig Claiborne, Kitchen Primer

    Once upon a time my interaction in the kitchen was manifested in three ways: eating, snacking and baking. Watching with a greedy curiosity I'd wait as her mother or father toiled away over a hot stove, jousted away with appliances, poking, stirring, prodding and boiling all kinds of tasty things. When the table was set and the dishes were placed in front of her hungry eyes, I'd voraciously devour the contents of her dish. In between times I can still to this day be spotted perusing the cupboards and fridge, searching high and low to gather foods for snacking. Sneakily she'd poke her hands into the pantry, scan the shelves and investigate the drawers, all in search of some tucker to tide her over til her next meal. Sometimes, when the house is quiet and empty except for myself, the cat and the dog, I'd fill the rooms with the warmth and sweet smell of cakes, cookies or muffins rising in the oven. Baking in the heat of a Bossa Nova Beat, I'd whip up mouth-watering treats, always savouring the moment when she could lick the spoon and bowl clean. 

    Now, that i'm getting older, having turned twenty this year, I believe it's time I stepped up my kitchen interaction to another level. So for my third decade of life on this planet I've decided to gain some cooking skills by designating myself as weekly guest chef in the family kitchen. I mean one day I'm gonna move out and come dinner time I can't just be all like "hey so options, I've got toast, or take-away'. That's why each week I will be selecting a recipe from our exhaustive amount of recipe books and food magazines and cooking til my heart's content to get my family fed.

    This week chicken, pasta and prawns were requested. Taking these wants into consideration and after much deliberation I decided to go with Paella, because I love Spanish food and it's got Chorizo. I mean c'mon big chunky chorizo, juicy prawns, succulent chicken, veggies and crunchy rice, it's just such a delightful combination.

    I chose a recipe called 'Easy Paella', from the cookbook Valli Little's Delicious Cookbook, 'Five of the Best', because I knew I wouldn't have loads of time to prepare it after work. 


    Easy Paella
    Serves 4-6 (Depending on how hungry, or greedy you are)

    Ingredients
    • 1tbsp (20ml olive oil)
    • 500g chicken breast fillets (preferably with skin), cut into bite sized pieces
    • 1 onion finely chopped
    • 1 chorizo sausage, chopped
    • 1 cup (200g) basmati rice
    • 1 tsp ground tumeric
    • 1 x 425g can chopped tomatoes, drained
    • 1 red capsicum, deseeded and finely chopped
    • 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
    • 250g cooked prawns, peeled
    • 1 x 425g can cannelini beans, rinsed, drained
    • 100g baby green beans, topped, blanched and rinsed
    • 2tbsp chopped coriander leaves
    • lemon wedges, to serve


    Method
    1. I suggest preparing the beans first because this is the step I didn't achieve too well. You can find an excellent illustrated guide for blanching here.
    2. Also, for the garlic, I have a super neat way of peeling the skin off. I always pop the cloves into the microwave on medium for about 5 seconds. Presto! The skin just falls away :) plus warm garlic is a heavenly aroma!
    3. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the chicken pieces in batches for 3-4 minutes, turning until golden and cooked through. Remove and set aside to drain on paper towels.
    4. Add the onion and chorizo to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes, until the chorizo begins to crisp. 
    5. Add the rice and tumeric and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then add the drained chopped tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, chilli and stock.
      Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
    6. Return the chicken to the pan with the prawns, cannelini beans and green beans. Toss and heat through for 1 minute.
    7. Stir in the coriander and serve immediately with the lemon wedges as a garnish 
    8. Que aproveche! :) - Which is Spanish for 'Enjoy your food!'

    Paella on a plate

    I leave you with a Bossa Nova classic. Stan Getz & Astrud Gilbert's 'The Girl from Impanema', is one of my favourite songs, especially when getting busy in the kitchen. The song written in 1962 was a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s and won a grammy for record of the year in 1965. According to myth it was inspired by Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (now Helô Pinheiro), a fifteen-year-old girl living in Montenegro Street of the fashionable Impanema district of Rio de Janeiro, , Brazil. Daily, she would stroll past the popular Veloso bar-café on her way to the beach, attracting the attention of regulars Jobim and Moraes. This song intrigues me endlessly with it's juxtaposition of sad lyrics about unrequited desire and sexy, saxophone. 
    Enjoy!