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

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We're gonna party like it's ma Birthday!

Third time lucky. Third decade luckier.
On Thursday the 12th of August I crashed into my roaring twenties. The celebrations commenced on Wednesday night when Kate one of my neighbourhood besties popped over with a delightful hazelnut vanilla sponge. We tucked into cake with French champagne whilst watching my favourite episodes of the OC (season one of course, the New years Eve and Valentine's day ones). Initially I was going to tune into some disney movies, but realized the best way to end my teenage years was to revisit a show that was the epitome of those angsty years. 
Birthday cake #1

Then Thursday morning I awoke to find a bottle of Spanish sparkling wine and an enrollment into a Tafe Sommelier course from my dear parents. Off to university for a long day of presents, study and Spanish. I took advantage of my three hour break to enjoy some bubbly, a mezze plate and a couple of jugs of pimms with some of my favourite ladies: Frances and Annie.

Mezze plate at the Loft

 When the day was done, Pete picked me up from uni and we headed back to my house for a home-cooked birthday dinner extravaganza.

The menu featured a starter of lovely roasted nuts, mersey valley cheese, brie cheese, Maggie Beer Fig and quince paste and drinks. This was followed by the main fare of Duck Tagine with Date and Pomengranate Chutney, a recipe picked up from the August issue of NZ food magazine Dish. It had such a wonderful variety of texture, with the tender duck, crunchy almonds, golden carrots that snapped, soft, salty olives, and smooth caramel chutney.
Duck Tagine with Date and Pomengranate Chutney

Dessert had me up in arms all week struggling to pick an indulgent sweet treat, birthday-esque enough, not too rich, but tempting to even the fussiest of palates. I settled with a inventive recipe from my favourite sweet masterchef contestant Callum (the dessert king): Chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding. My was it divine. Coupled with very naughty brandy soaked raisins, it was like eating a pud of love.
Enjoying the chocolate croissant bread and butter pudding. Cake #2

Chocolate Croissant Puddings

Serves 4
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes

·   50g (1/3 cup) raisins
·   60ml (1/4 cup) brandy
·   300ml pouring cream
·   6 egg yolks
·   55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
·   2 chocolate croissants torn into 2cm pieces
·   40g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
·   Roasted hazelnuts
·   Strawberries
·   Pomegranate seeds
·   Marscapone

  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly grease 4x180ml (3/4 cup) dariole moulds
  2. Cut 4x3cm x 24cm strips of baking paper and place a strip in each mould to partially line the base and side, and extend beyond the rim (this helps to remove puddings from the moulds).
  3. Combine raisins and brandy in a bowl and leave to soak until needed.
  4. Place cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk egg yolks until thick and pale.
  5. Gradually add cream, whisking continuously until well combined. Add torn croissants and soak for 10 minutes.
  6. Fill each mould halfway with croissant mixture, then top with one-quarter of the chocolate and spoon over remaining croissant mixture.
  7. Bake puddings for 25 minutes or until custard is set.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes then transfer to plates
  9. Spoon over the raisin mixture and scatter with hazelnuts, strawberries and pomegranate. Serve with marscapone
  10. Devour with delight :)

The birthday girl, her Prince Charming Pete and Brown Brothers Muscast mmm :)

Now, I have a little birthday tradition that began way back in 2008, with my eighteenth birthday, It consists of donning a gorgeous vintage dress to celebrate my birthday like a party princess. They say it's my party and I'll cry if I want to. But why cry when you can shine! There truly is no better way to sashay into a room or swing and get crunk on the dance floor than in a ridiculous, but beautiful frock. In 2008 it was a dress with a corset bodice of black sequins and metallic blue ribbon with a metallic blue frou frou skirt. Last year it was a square cut mini dress with rainbow metallic patterns on the fabric. My past two dresses I gathered at Paddington markets and a vintage shop in Newtown respectively. This year I tried something new and tread a road I'd not yet travelled in bidding and buying off ebay. Searching "vintage dress" I found this stunning number from the funki chunki vintage store: A to die for pastel pink lace sequinned and beaded mini dress of eighties vintage! The auction was due to expire on my birthday and I committed myself to being the highest bidder. The only catch, it was a size 6. This made the Saturday (the day of my party) an exhausting experience as I had to knock back my work lunch of an evil enticing ham cheese tomato croissant to commit to pulling the booty hugging dress off!

 'The' birthday dress
Despite wasting away my food and instant gratification, it all had a happy ending as the dress fit like a glove, or like anything on beyonce. That is it was a bootylicious number!

Sam and I enjoying classy cocktails at the Burdeken=

I wore this number out for some smashing snacks with friends at Cafe Lounge in Surry Hills. Recently voted Sydney small bar, this hole in the wall packs a punch and left me whole-heartedly happy. Entering through the red moulin rouge curtain draped over the door frame, patrons are greeted by sunny yellow and ravishing red walls, tonnes of dynamic art work, vairious furniture arrangements and an awesome dj that actually uses LPs.
Cafe Lounge
Sexy red lounge at Cafe Lounge

We enjoyed the $20 function menu. The menu included a trio of moreish dips, baba ghanoush, tzaziki and kalamata olives with shreds of turkish bread, which the only fault I found was that there was not nearly enough bread to soak up the dips, or it simply was gobbled up to quickly. The wedges, extrodinarily golden and crunchy were served with sweet chilli but were enhanced with aioli instead of the traditional sour cream. The salt and pepper squid had a soft coating that just fell of as the perfectly cooked squid melted in your mouth. Served with a pickled ginger sauce these morsels were the catch of the day. The selection of thin crust pizzas included Anna: roast pumpkin, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, sage, blue cheese and dried roquette. The sharp blue cheese just blew my mind with those tender sweet vegetables and thin crunchy base.  Similarly, tasty was the sharpness of the balsamic onion sauce on the chorizo pizza (baby spinach, chorizo and balsamic onions), whilst the  Mediterranean (Artichoke, eggplant, olives and oregano) was lovely but mild in comparison to the other heartier toppings. With our meals I enjoyed a glass of the bubbly Dunes Pinot Chardonnay ($9), a sweet, fresh, strawberry sensation, as well as the strong, but quenching bohemian (green fairy absinthe, creme de cassis, fresh lime and cranberry juice shaken over ice at $17). I finished off with a glass of the wonderfully perfumed sweet Spanish wine, Vina Esmerelda (at $9).

At our next venue, the Burdekin, a wonderful easy to get to place on the corner of oxford street and Hyde Park, I enjoyed a rockstar reception. The Burdekin is a seductive establishment, with five levels. The street level is sparse, has a comforting wooden floor, plenty of booths, stools and chairs for chilling, a long bar, and some well-tuned ambient djs. Some friends that had arrived earlier notified the bartenders of a birthday girl on the way, and when I arrived I was greeted and treated to a sexy strawberry cocktail served in a martini glass (my favourite). Sipping on that sweet soft, slightly foamy beverage was like drinking a strawberry lollypop only more sophisticated :) This flavour conjuring sweet childhood nostalgia but served in an alluring adult glass summarizes my joy on the night. I had such a marvellous night giggling, talking a little too loud, being spoilt and enjoying the company of so many friends old and new. Truly good food and drinks put one in the mood, but friends improve it because they join you in it.
My best friend Jack and I - check out the hectic beading on the left sleeve.

Plus, as if my week couldn't get any better. My iphone 4 arrived yesterday! Hello instant communication and amazing apps! Love that sleek slidey apple box it comes in. Will review some apps perhaps.

Cafe Lounge
277 Goulburn St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9356 8888

 Open Tue-Thu 5pm-10:30pm
Fri 5pm-12am
Sat 9pm-12am
Sun 9am-9pm

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What time is it? Time to wander

Thursday 5th August 2010
Oxford Art Factory
Who: Step-Panther, Jinja Safari, Gypsy & the Cat
Plus: The Honey Pies

One would speculate that the week following Splendour would be a massive comedown, with the music scene and goers in a somewhat sleepy hiatus after all the camping, drinking, dancing and sideshows from and after the epic weekend. But no, music lovers who had splendour bendered and those who hadn’t, packed out the oxford art factory last Thursday for an evening of up & coming indie goodness.

Arriving a little past nine to that underground music haven, we’d managed to miss out on Step-Panther’s surfy guitar-pop set. With a half hour gap til Jinja Safari we stumbled next door into the Gallery Bar and struck gold. The Honey Pies, a kooky guitar pop band of shaggy, haired flanno-wearing blokes in alternative glasses treated us to their strumming. Echoing the likes of the Artic Monkeys with their dancey hooks in ‘Sex wax’, and then delighting our ears with melifluous numbers such as sixties Beatle-esque song, ‘Fool in love’, the band were a sweet surprise. Sipping on ‘purple rain’, one of Oxford Art Factory’s staple cocktails (chambord, blue curaco, apple juice and lemonade), it was hard not to be swept up in the glorious toe tapping melodies. 

As the Honey Pies were wrapping up, Jinja Safari were heating up the main stage. We strolled in to find the stage transformed into a jumpin’ jungle. With vine leaf wrapped microphone stands, bongo drums, a jangly sitar and cooing vocals, the Sydney boys delivered with their charming performance of ‘peter pan’. One of the singers bore a striking resemblance to Lance, the ‘pretty long-haired one’, of Mighty Boosh fame, whilst the drummer echoed a monkey-like character with his cute hoo hooing into the microphone. After the radio favourite was done, the boys impressed with more jumping and jingling. Cute track ‘hiccups’, actually had a nervousness in the floaty, yet rapid synthesizer and percussion.

Following a short break the black curtains re-opened revealing Melbourne’s Gypsy & the Cat in all their wonder. The very cool cat band warmed the crowd with their dreamy indie electronic track ‘Time to Wander’. There was an air of eighties power ballad in ‘Breakaway’, reminiscent of Hall & Oates and Spandau Ballet, but with higher tenor vocals, whilst ‘Pipers song’ generated a sweet nostalgia for Fleetwood Mac in it’s guitar loops and beautiful harmonies. Much to the delight of the audience the boys closed with the soaring vocals and reverberating keyboard of cleverly named ‘Jona Vark’. The live performance and stage presence of both bands certainly trumps their recordings, which tend to sound a little washed out. Gypsy and the Cat have this indie electronic sound that’s just a little trippy like Pink Floyd, a little airy like Cut Copy, but they bring a stronger beat and I think a bigger heart and sense of hope. These recently unearthed bands deserve all the hype and radio play, as their live performances showcased their mesmerizing, infectious talent. The Australian music scene certainly has a lot of emerging talent to fall for.

PS. You can download a free digital copy of the Honey Pies delightful EP here  and you can check out the cute as a button looney tunes clip for 'Fool in Love' there.

Some Step Panther for your listening pleasure

Check out Jinja Safari if you haven't already

Hope you dig Gypsy and the Cat's groovy 'Piper's song' as much as me