Sunday, January 31, 2010

Antony and the Johnsons and a little bit of vintage Givenchy

Tonight I went to see Antony and the Johnsons play at the Opera house.

I was first introduced to the extreme talent that is Antony Hegarty in 2003 at Lou Reed's concert at the State theatre.

He was a backup singer for Reed and was given a solo to sing. He sang Sweet Jane (from memory) and it completely blew the audience's mind.

January 2005 was the Leonard Cohen Tribute show 'Came so far for beauty' at the Opera House. Artists such as Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Beth Orton, Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker sang their interpretations of famous Cohen songs in what was truly an unbelievable event. To have all those people, and more, in the same room is all kinds of miraculous. Antony was easily the best though, that night and for him to standout amongst that crowd really says something.

Again in 2007, Lou Reed toured with his 'Berlin' tour. Once again Antony came along, with a much larger role this time.
He sang on his own a few times and the audience actually let out a collective sigh when he came off the end of one particular falsetto crescendo. I die.

I found a great description of his voice from a review by The Guardian -

"Fluttering between a keening falsetto and a lower register with all the richness of a mature black female voice, it's one of those unique instruments that channel emotion with such purity you can't quite believe you are in the same room."

And it's all so true. You cannot actually understand how the noises coming from his mouth could be that of a human. He is surely part angel or something. I mean, I'm a freak for the likes of Mariah, Whitney, Barbra, Celine- the greats- and even their voices sound average by comparison.
Anyway, all the while he was doing these tours with other people he had been to Sydney at least twice with the Johnsons on their own tours.
Sadly, everytime I tried to buy tickets they had already sold out. It's completely understandable but I was always outrageously upset.

LUCKILY this year- I finally managed to nab some seats. I was so delighted.

-Antony sang Beyonce's Crazy In Love and it's one of the greatest covers I've ever heard. It was so, so beautiful. I'm quite sure my heart stopped.
-He is surprisingly funny. I mean, not in a stand up comedian kind of way, but his conversation with the audience was both witty and captivating and I would have been quite happy for him to keep talking for a while.
-Well, lowlight. The support act was horrendous. It was like a golden Na'vi ranga. This tall, elvish thing wearing a gold bustier like Beyonce in her sweet dreams clip and it had a long, red plait down its back. It basically took 15 minutes to walk across the stage one time wearing a white robe and a beak, then another 15 back the other way wearing a black tulle veil. Seriously. What. The. Fuck. It was up there with the most offensively boring things I've ever seen and I really want that half hour of my life back.

As for my outfit, I was trying to channel Ashley Olsen in these pics. She is wearing head to toe Chanel, of course, but I was going for a little bit of the big shoulder, Balmain inspired, loud print look, too.

I've never worn this Vintage Givenchy suit before. And with the skirt AND the jacket AND the belt it was all a bit OTT and kind of swallowed me. I think the Jacket with this skirt was just enough.

Truth be told, I'm not even really into vintage. I mean, in the form of what it has become. ie- any old girl/guy buying an old nightie, pair of shorts or a tshirt and thinking they look fantastic because it came from an op shop.

To me, real vintage is only fashionable when it's perfectly tailored, has no stains and/or rips and is an individual show piece. Think Rachel Zoe and some of the absolute show stoppers she has obtained.
So that is why I have limited number of vintage pieces and they're all really special and in perfect condition.

LOL at how white the lights made my legs! eep!

Jacket- Givenchy
Shirt- Cue
Ruffle bib- Vintage (part of a marching band uniform)
Skirt- Wheels and Dollbaby
Belt- Givenchy
Shoes- Mollini
Bag- Chanel Jumbo Classic in Caviar
nails- OPI 'tangerine scene'

(P.S- Sorry for the lack of outfit posts lately [because I know you're all sitting at home waiting desperately to see what I'm wearing *cough*] but since the weather has been so bizarre I've just been wearing shorts and singlets for the heat and popping a hoody when it gets cold. Neither inspiring or indicative of my personal, signature style so pointless to post. I promise I'll try and put them up more frequently now my dance card is fuller. x)

So did anyone else see the concert? What did you think of the lovely support act? *cough*

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Etch Bar

Any time a new bar opens in Sydney it's a good thing. Particularly when that bar is associated with one of my favourite restaurants- Etch.
When I was given the opportunity to try it out before it was open to the public I jumped at the chance; because anything with the 'North' name, must be good.

The bar itself is actually the brainchild of Justin North's wife, Georgia, so instantly we know it will be done well. She has good taste- she married Justin, after all. (Obviously her talents go beyond this, but it's certainly worth noting.)

The bar itself is at the front of the restaurant. For those of you who have been there before, it's near the counter and is separated from the rest of the space with some white screens which allow a sense of intimacy in the bar without feeling cut off from the restaurant and also make the whole room seem larger.
The decor is divine. Etch already had a lovely, homely feel which adds to it's appeal as it always feels like you're at a friend's dinner party and the bar makes you feel even more at home with it's plush grey and silver toned chairs and couches, cosy, separate seating areas perfect for 4-5 people and assorted candles ornaments adorn the window sill.

We were served a number of cocktails, most of them new creations for the bar addition, but some which are already served at the restaurant. The current cocktail menu can be found on the Etch website.

Each cocktail we tried was light and (dangerously) easy to drink. A floral theme was evident with hibiscus popping up more than once.

The drinks we tried were:
  • Bells of St Clementine- (Aperol, Absolut Vanilla, Absolut Citron, Lemon Juice) this was stunning. The creaminess of the Vanilla vodka mixed with the tang of the lemon juice made it taste like one of those sherbie lollies (but not as sickly sweet as a lolly, of course.) I could live on this drink. (new)

  • Garden Party- (Gin, Hibiscus, Cointreau) Tastes as pretty and airy as it looks. Normally I'm not a fan of gin-based cocktails (despite Gin being the best cocktail base) because I don't like the dryness and the bitey after taste, but the cointreau and hibiscus in this drink cancel it out making it a delight to drink. (new)

  • Pink Ginger- (Radish, Gin, Lemon, Ginger Liqueur) This sounds as though it would be strong and bitter, and admittedly I am a big fan of ginger, but it was surprisingly alot sweeter than it's ingredients would suggest. My friends and I decided that this one tasted most like an Amaretto Sour, but ginger- duh. Definitely refreshing, but not something to order if you don't like ginger.

  • Peachy Keen- (Peach liqueur, Bombay Sapphire, Earl Grey Syrup, Rose) You can tell from the name how delicious this one is. Any tannins the tea might posses cut through the sweetness of the Peach liqueur making them the perfect combination for this cocktail.

  • Full Monty- (Montenegro, Sauterne, Vanilla, Soda) This was a nice, long drink to end the night on. Rich in flavour and comfortable on the palette, it accompanied all our food very well. A good choice for the undecided mind or for those with neutral tastes.

Although I'm sure there will be many more to add to that list once the bar is open.

Current menu favourite- Flower Fizz (Rose, Hibiscus, Sparkling Wine)

As for food, we were treated with a number of different goodies. The great thing about coming to this bar is you know you can get a decent feed as well as a good drink, not just one or the other.

With our first drinks we enjoyed garlic marinated olives and spiced nuts. This was followed by a smokey confit duck liver pate topped with a Madeira Jelly served with herbed toasts.

Confit Duck liver pate with Madeira Jelly

This was followed by Hummus with toasted flat bread. I don't recall eating much of this so it must have been delicious and was gobbled up quickly by my friends! That's always a good sign.

The flat bread had a certain sweetness to it and was a nice consistency.

Hummus with toasted flat bread

Sauteed Squid & Chorizo and Confit Trout with a Beetroot Mousseline came next, but unfortunately I am allergic to seafood so I couldn't try these. Well, I did sneak a bit of chorizo and some of the Mousseline off the top of the trout and beetroot dish as I just couldn't resist that incredible red colour.

Sauteed Squid and Chorizo

Confit Trout and Beetroot Mousseline

My absolute faves came out last. Pork Belly and mini Wagyu burgers. Do I even need to explain? Yes.

OK, let me tell a story about pork. I don't like it as a general rule. Nothing in particular about it, I just decided when I was little I wouldn't eat it. (In sausages, hot dogs, sausage rolls, other kinds of mystery meat are the exception. I don't like eating it in 'solid' form) However, a few years ago, while dining at Becasse (Another of Justin North's fabulous, multi-award winning restaurants) Crispy skinned Pork Belly was served as part of a set menu. I didn't want to be a brat, so I just decided to eat it. I'm SO glad I did. It's evident to me that Pork cooked in a Justin North restaurant is far superior to any other pork in the entire world. Yep. It's science, don't fight it.

So I was thrilled to get to have some again last night as the last time I had it was on Melbourne Cup day.

It's so very delicious, I'm not sure what herbs are used, but initially it's very salty and then as you chew, further flavours are released and...I can't even type, my mouth is watering so much.

Pork Belly

Mini Wagyu burgers are fairly self explanatory, except for the fact that these were- and you know I don't use this word ever so that it doesn't lose it's meaning- AMAZING.

The best way I can think to describe these is going to sound odd. But you know when you're drunk, like, 4am-been-drinking-for-10-hours-drunk and you buy a burger/kebab/slice/hotdog and at the time you feel like it might be the greatest thing you've ever consumed?

These burgers invoke the exact same feeling! The best part though, is that you're not drunk and you're not standing outside Kings Cross Maccas with your stilettos in your hand.

I could have eaten one million of these burgers. They were perfection.

Mini Wagyu burgers

So that completes my rundown of some of the food and drink at the new bar. The official launch is next week so after that it will be open ready for you to go nuts and eat heavenly food and drink beautiful cocktails.

Make sure you check it out, I don't just harp on about these things for the hell of it. I really do want you to eat well and enjoy life like I do!

Etch Restaurant and Bar
62 Bridge Street, Sydney
(02) 9247 4777

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tarina Tarantino's Tuxedo Lingerie collection

Baby pink and black is such a champion combo. It reminds me of luxe French boudoirs, 60s bombshells, powder puffs and those perfume bottles with the puffy spritzer and tassel on the end.

That's why Tarina Tarantino's new Tuxedo Lingerie collection is simply to die for.

It features skulls, bows, flowers and hearts on a range of earrings, wrist adornments, rings and necklaces in hues of pink and black all in TT's signature lucite with accents of velvet.

The range has come in perfect time for Valentine's day and I'm sure any lady who loves pretty things (which is ALL of us- duh) would be happy to have any piece from the collection.

My picks of the bunch:
Puff Heart Stretch Ring (US$45.00)

Puff Heart Pendant Necklace (US$115.00)

Satin bow cuff bracelet (US$125.00)

As always, you can pick the pieces up from Tarina Tarantino's online store here.

Will you be popping these on your Valentine's day wish list or just treating yourself?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I did it, I did it, I did it, yeah!

I'm guessing I'm the only one who got my semi- Dora the Explorer reference in the title. Unless there's any 5 year olds who read my blog?

WELL. I stated in my last post that I was going to attempt to make the Beef with Pickled Orange salad and Parsnip Puree which I had modified from a recipe in Luke Mangan's 'At home and in the mood' cookbook and tonight I did it.

I must admit that I started off really well and got a bit flustered when it came to the beef part. Normally I'm fine with cooking beef. I get a good cut, flour it, pan sear it very briefly and then roast it until it's cooked to my liking. For me, I find this gives the nicest texture and right amount of moisture.

But tonight, my fry pan mustn't have been hot enough and the searing didn't go so well. I made sure my oven was super hot (185 degrees celcius) so it evened out and the steak ended up being lovely, but it might have something to do with the fact I bought my meat from Victor Churchill's and the quality is so superb I think it would be hard to make it taste bad.

I also used peas, although the recipe called for Soy Beans. I had a really tough time trying to find soy bean- fresh or dried, and only ended up finding dried ones at Wholefoods in Woollahra, so peas were the next best thing.

The parsnip puree was very sweet and creamy, although I could have pureed it more (mine was still quite firm and could 'stand' on it's own) and it was the perfect offset for the bitterness of the poached orange peel.

All in all it was a great meal and I will certainly give it another shot knowing what I know now. I will also use Wagyu beef next time. I didn't want to spend the extra minimum $30.00 a kilo for Wagyu so thought I'd test it out on the cheaper stuff first.
(PS- I made the custard tarts and the butter chicken last night and they were both fantastic, too. There was alot of leftover batter and dough mixture for the custard tarts so maybe half the recipe if you don't want heaps/are cooking for one or two. Noone could believe I made the butter chicken from scratch, it tastes beautifully authentic and has really subtle but lasting flavours. Will DEFINITELY be doing that one again!)

Has anyone else gone out and got Luke's cookbook yet? I know I've been raving about it alot, but it's simply marvellous!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting fat and supporting Borders at the same time. A how to guide...

On Sunday I treated myself to five new cookbooks:
  • She's leaving home- Monica Trapaga
  • At home and in the mood- Luke Mangan
  • Seasons- Donna Hay
  • Kitchen Garden Companion- Stephanie Alexander
  • Masterchef cookbook

A few of these had been on my wishlist for months so now that I have them it's a total overload of goodness.

Last night I set out to make dinner, dessert and accompanying drink all from 'At home and in the mood' but got sidetracked with the most scrumptious Chocolate Truffle puddings in the dessert section.

I think the major selling point was the Ferrero Rocher pushed into the centre of each pudding. Once cooked, these come out more like a souffle and are so light and fluffy it's like you're not eating anything at all. Which leads me to my next point...

When I say 'getting fat' I don't mean getting fat off the recommended serving size. I mean making oh, I don't know, TWELVE of said puddings from Luke Mangan's book and then eating all of them in a space of 12 hours.

The thing is, they're just too good NOT to eat. If any of you have been lucky enough (as I have on many occasions) to try the Toffee Souffle at Luke's Sydney restaurant, Glass, you will have an understanding of how good these are. These truffle puddings are fairly similar in taste, but obviously being a home cook and not a chef they're not up to the same's definitely something I will work on.

The drinks section of the book features a number of teas including Cranberry, Cinnamon and Pomegranate but I made the Ginger and lemongrass tea last night.
It is perfectly refreshing for a hot summer night watching Lleyton Hewitt get the shit smashed out of him by Roger Federer. But if you wish, you may also drink it on other occasions.

I'm a huge fan of ginger so I loved it, but if you're not too big on the kind of flavours Lemon grass and ginger provide, then perhaps serve with fresh lime juice/lime cordial or even a bit teaspoon of dissolved sugar (1tsp per glass). I found this worked well for a different, lighter taste.

My next mission is to attempt a modification of the BEST. MEAL. I'VE. EVER. TASTED.

13th August 2009. Tokyo, Japan. Me, alone in Salt (another Luke Mangan venture) eating Poached and pan fried beef on Celeriac puree with pickled orange. I wanted to order another one, but it's kind of socially unacceptable to order 2 main meals and I didn't want to look like a pig in front of myself, so I didn't. Lifelong regret.

But now, on page 187 of At home and in the mood there lies the recipe for Fillet of Wagyu, Parsnip Puree & Pickled Radish salad. Almost the same, yes?

I will let you all know how it goes if I don't die from happiness.

In the meantime I knocked up an Australia day feast of Barbecued Moroccan beef and cous cous from At home and in the mood and Lemon asparagus pasta from She's leaving home.

What's the Aussie day link? Well, the Lemon pasta turned out to be a delightfully green and gold patriotic dish (The green from the asparagus and parsley and the gold from the buttery, creamy onions and potato). I served it on some naff kangaroo-shaped pasta for a truly Aussie meal.

The Moroccan beef was Australianised due to the fact it was barbecued. 'Nuff said.

Some pics of the meal below:

The pasta looked the complete opposite of how it tasted. ie- it looked really gross. You work out the rest.

The beef was incredible. No seriously. I actually clapped when I finished eating. I just felt like I deserved a round of applause. I was missing a few ingredients from the cous cous (red onion and chilli) but I think I liked it with just the dates, dried apricots, almonds and coriander.

The sweetness of the dried fruit worked so well against the spiced marinade the beef had been soaking in all day. Such a perfect summer dish and huge results given the minimal output and preparation time.

So who else owns these books? Any favourite dishes so far? Any that you would recommend me to try immediately? Do you enjoy Monica Trapaga's Beatles reference?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If you like Pina Coladas...

...You'll love Joico's K-PAK sun therapy line.
As you've probably seen in my photos I have very long, waist length hair. People often ask me how I keep it looking healthy considering that I'm a bandit for a bit of GHD action and I'm in a heavily chlorinated pool at least 5 days a week.

Well. There's no real trick apart from a thorough trim every 6 weeks and a good quality yet extremely simple moisturising hair regime to protect against the nasties that are sun, chemical (like that of chlorine or hair colouring) and heat damage.

You're probably wondering what's the dealio with the title of this post? Well, the best part (apart from great looking hair...duh) is the smell of the sun therapy products. MY GOD. It smells like coconut tanning oil with an added sweetness which makes me feel and smell like I've been bathing in cocktails....mmmm cocktails.

The secret of the sun therapy products is that it helps to re-build the damage caused by the sun while also protecting it from future damage.

This is done with the use of aloe vera, covabsorb EW (a strong UV protectant) and Quadramine complex which features the hair's naturally forming Keratin to increase strength and overall health. (You've probably heard of Keratin for the recent breakthrough Global Keratin treatment which adds a tonne of life back to dry hair as well as straightening it)

For anyone who does any kind of the things we're told NOT to but just HAVE to do to our hair; like colouring and straightening, you can never have too many Keratin or moisture replenishing products.

The Joico K-PAK sun therapy collection features three gorgeous products:
  • K-PAK sun therapy nourishing shampoo

  • K-PAK sun therapy treatment masque

  • K-PAK sun therapy Protective sun milk

While I use the shampoo and masque religiously, my fave of the three would have to be the sun milk which works as a handy detangler, pretty smelling hair mist and makes my hair feel protected (just as my face or body would with sunblock) against UV rays- while also doing it's job of moisturising and conditioning.

For those of you who know how important it is to use sunblock daily, then this range is definitely for you.

And while we're on the topic of Joico- anyone who just needs a fantastic treatment for dry, brittle hair should try the Moisture Recovery Treatment Lotion from the moisture recovery line. Used even once a week you will notice an immense difference in the condition and overall look of your hair, especially for those of you who colour and/or heat style it.

Does anyone else swear by Joico products? What are your faves?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Heads up on a great giveaway...

Over at the gorgeous Friend in fashion blog, they have teamed up with up-and-coming designer Hayley Kate to give away this super cute and sexy frou frou number.

Featuring two of my favourite adornments- Pearls and ruffles, this backless piece is sure to turn heads!

For your chance to win:

-Click here and visit Friend in Fashion blog

-Follow Friend in Fashion

-Comment on the competition post

-Tweet, facebook and/or blog the comp for more entries!

-Add Hayley Kate on facebook here for another entry

Good luck!

Mariah Carey for Angel Champagne?

I posted here a few months ago about the sublimely decadent Angel Champagne that would be gracing the lips of lucky people the world over very soon.

Well that soon has been and gone, with the online store now open for business.

We now have a mysterious tweet from the houses biggest fan, Mariah Carey, that she will be launching Mariah Carey for Angel Champagne in the form of a Rose (eerr I don't know how to do those accents on the top of the e, soz).

Here's what she said:

Didn't realize they put the champagne on the tables, so we WOULDN'T drink it! LoL. No, seriously ANGEL CHAMPAGNE (ROSE) by MC coming soon!

The table Champagne she is referring to, of course, is that which was served at the recent Palm Springs international film festival where Mariah won the award for breakthrough Actress for her portrayal of a dowdy, tough love social worker in the film Precious (which is finally coming to cinemas in Australia in February!).

For those of you who don't watch the news, entertain celebrity gossip and antics or go online, Mariah proceeded to accept her award while she was drunk.

In a display of typical Mariah cuteness she slurred the few words she got out and giggled a bit.
Meh. People went on and on about it, but she's 39, she's allowed a drink.

She didn't hurt anyone, didn't drive home afterward and isn't pregnant. What did she do wrong?
In any case, the few 'splashes of champagne' as she later descrbied it, raised the profile of the Palm Springs international film festival, apparently giving them around $40 million of free advertising due to the extensive news and internet coverage it received globally.
So, is this just a little Mariah humour or do you she will be releasing her own line of Champagnes?
In my opinion, It couldn't hurt. Mariah's perfumes are some of the highest selling celebrity perfumes (aside from Britney Spears) with her first fragrance 'M' being the top seller at Myer stores when it was released in 2008.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Never work with animals or children...

Just work with BOTH of them.

Today was the photo shoot for the Harper's Bazaar Disney themed editorial in which Romance was born are featured as one of Australia's top 10 designers.
101 dalmatians were summoned via a press release on Wednesday to dress in black and white (spots preferable) in their own interpretation of a dalmatian for the shoot at Sydney's State Theatre.

I'm not particularly into spots so I was a little flustered as to what I should wear! In the end I settled on something that is very much my style, but had the playful look of a puppy.

Shirt- Black Peace Now (Japanese men's brand)
Top- Lounge Apparel
Hot pants- Patricia Field
Stockings- Leg Avenue
Boots- Robert Clergerie
Headband- Forever 21 Japan
Scarf- Lounge Apparel
Cuff- Alannah Hill

So I was trying to get the idea of ears through the bow, the tail through the ties at the back of the sheer black top and the longer side of the shirt and the sleekness of the dog's physique with the boots. Do you get it? Good!

I apparently also channeled Cher Horowitz...

Once there, we were taken into the main theatre to have our faces and bodies painted and wait until everyone was ready.

Here's me with my nose and face spots!

By 3pm we were ready to start and were positioned in the main foyer of the state theatre on and around the beautiful stair case.

There were naked women body painted to look like Dalmatians, three actual dalmatians, loads of cute kids decked out from head to toe in black and white, Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales (of Romance was born) in a stunning puffed sleeve number and printed leggings and tshirt respectively and the piece de resistance- actress Rachel Taylor as Cruella de ville in a simply outrageous design by the pair from RWB. (I don't want to spoil the surprise so you will have to buy the issue when it comes out!). This also explained why Matthew Newton was lurking around...

One particular outfit in the crowd which stood out was a vintage sequin dress which had been cut into a shift and the excess fabric made into a hat. The girl wearing it was very Lady Gaga with fierce style and long, false lashes.

Confetti dropped from the sky as we posed like dogs on blocks while others were draped over stairs.

After three different angles, the pic was done. I'm not entirely sure I was even in the picture! I'm quite certain my outfit didn't and there were so many people at all different heights blocking me (oh how ruuuuude!) I'll be happy if my face even made it in!

All in all it was very enjoyable. I've assisted on a number of shoots before (behind the camera) for various publications and I always enjoy it. While they're long, sometimes tedious and always draining and hunger inducing- it's really interesting to watch other people's creativity and vision come into fruition and I'm such a sucker for group feats such as this.

Last year, in a sort-of-similar situation a world record attempt was held by new idea magazine.

We were trying to break the record for most people knitting simultaneously for 20 minutes, and we did it! It was also for a good cause as we were knitting pink squares to make blankies to Breast Cancer sufferers.

Here's a picture of mum and I with world record certificate and the representative from Guinness World Records

So, tell me. Did anyone else attend today? Do you wish you could have? Who is going to buy the April issue of HB?
PS- I'm still trying to source the Romance was Born octopus bonnet; so if anyone knows where to find it, please let me know!