Disposable entertainment – revelling at the wonderous invention called ‘magazines’

They come periodically in a themed package, which makes you feel less guilty throwing them out than bad crime novels that sit on the bookshelf one spring clean after another. Mind you, magazines probably contributed to a huge chunk of global warming, not to mention seat warming at the doctor’s. What you do with them are entirely up to you. It may be pretending to look smart in an airport lounge with The Economist, or cutting out pictures from RUSSH to put up around your desk at work, or playfully slapping your significant other on the rear with a rolled up Grazia (if he’s behaving) or the 40th anniversary issue of Vogue Living (if he’s not).

I couldn’t get more of them (magazines, not the slapping) until my monthly must-read list was chewing away at my eating-out budget. Between food and knowledge, I chose the former – whoever said knowledge is food obviously never tasted a seafood paella. I stopped buying the ridiculously expensive US glossies from Borders (Vanity Fair, The New Yorker etc), and managed to stick to a quota of two magazines (Frankie and Madison) each month (or every two months in the case of Frankie). Why? Well, Frankie for its twist on the internet blogging phenomenon and all things cute; and Madison because I happen to fall within its cliched reader group and the occasional free gift with purchase. Besides, it helps when your better half delves into Frankie and reads all the stories even before you do – better value for money I say!

Magazines, like the suburb you live in, tend to define your age and status quo. In the early teenage years, I experimented with Girlfriend and Cosmopolitan, where I discovered useful hints on ‘how to stop that zit on your first date’ and why dating the boy next door is more me than the bad boy whose middle name is trouble. When the money started rolling in, I progressed on to Shop til You Drop and pretended for a while with the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar which advertised garments with price tags many times more than what I could afford. There was also the intellectual outburst when I dabbled in periodicals such as TIME, The Economist, and National Geographic, only to realise that I was happily content with newspapers and Wikipedia when it comes to current affairs and all things ‘smart’. I knew that I had truly ‘grown up’ when my choice of magazines evolved around what I found interesting (even if it’s Better Homes and Gardens and the occasional guilty indulgence of NW), and not the latest rant on the internet (I still rush out to buy the latest issue of X magazine when someone raves about it on Vogue Forums, just to check).

So next time, please pay a little respect to the lady in a suit reading the latest issue of Famous; or the 13 year old boy on the bus reading GQ, because, hey, it takes courage.

Löwenbräu Keller

Cnr Playfair and Argyle Streets
The Rocks, Sydney

I used to hear Ben rant about Löwenbräu, and have read about numerous food bloggers’ obsession with the Bavarian beer hall. Since I was in Sydney, I decided to give it a go!

The bare stone walls, the long wooden tables and the waiters clad in traditional attire transformed the restaurant into a semi-authentic German setting. The place was loud and lively, and there was a band playing silly old songs on a raised platform at the back of the restaurant.

For some reason, everyone in the photo was wearing black.

Cabinet full of what I assumed to be beer cans/mugs?

Since I already knew what I wanted (the famous pork knuckle), it was a matter of choosing the beer. I picked the mango weizen (mango wheat beer), which tasted like mango juice combined with beer – it was heavenly.

Mango weizen

My pork knuckle finally came, and man, was it a sight! The giant knucke balanced dangerously on a bed of sauerkraut and mashed potato. It was encrusted in a ring of heart-attack-inducing crackling, but oh-so-delicious.

My special steak knife dug into the meat, which fell off the bone! The meat was cooked well, kept moist, with only some bits that were a bit dry. I teared off the crackling in one swift motion and polished it off.

Enormous pork knuckle 🙂

The aforementioned pork knuckle after I was done with it.
The dessert plate (which a colleague ordered) also looked amazing. I tasted some apple strudel, which was ok, but probably not the best I have had.

Dessert platter

I would definitely recommend this place for any meat and beer lover (vegetarians beware)!

Lion’s Head Meatballs


The dish is aptly named after the shape of the meatballs. Lion’s head meatball is an enormously popular and famous Shanghai’nese dish, consisting of pork mince, shallots and stewed buckoy. There is another version of the meatballs, where the meatballs are not cooked in soy sauce but simply steamed and finished off in a soupy brew. My version has been cooked in soy sauce and sugar.

The star quality of the meatballs is that the meat is soft, moist, and never dry. This is achieved by using cornflour, egg and some fat from the meat. The buckoy is stewed together with the meatballs so that it soaks up all the delicious juices.

The dish is winter comfort food at its best!

Star, or should I say Chef spotting?

The highlight of my business trip was tonight. It turned out that my decision to stay out of the rain and not succumb to Thursday night shopping was an absolutely brilliant stroke of genius.

After having dinner with a friend, I bumped into…….
……….
……….

Julia and Lucas from MasterChef Australia, at…….

……………..
……………..
……………..
……………..

the hotel I’m staying at!!!!

And what’s more, is that apparently, all the eliminated contestants are staying in this particular hotel!!!!

hmmmm….but wait….

Julia and Lucas are two of the finalists….so does that mean…..

ALL the finalists are staying in my hotel?

And what is Channel TEN planning for the finale?

Classic quote from hotel reception guy to me: “hmm you are not a stalker are you?” LOL…

Thai Pothong

294 King Street
Newtown, Sydney

I was meeting Camille at Newtown for dinner on Tuesday night, and I had my mind set on Thai. When Camille suggested Thai Pothong, I was a bit skeptical at first, as it was unusually spacious and decadently decorated – somewhat out of place amongst the rest of the haunts in Newtown.

Camille and the decadent backdrop
Statutes that were on sale


Stepping inside, we were immediately greeted by the friendly waiter, and the rich, almost majestic deco. The menu wasn’t an extensive one, but we still took our time in settling on an entree and two mains. We finally decided on papaya salad, massaman lamb and barramundi with chilli and basil.

Drinks!


The papaya salad was fresh, crisp, and gutsy. Distinct flavours of fish sauce, peanut, shrimp and coriander were topped off with the hotness of birdseye chilli. A very satisfying entree that definitely stimulated our appetite!

The lamb and fish came out together, and we were served rice by the waiter eventhough the rice bowl was left for us. I am a big fan of massaman lamb, and have tasted various versions of this creamy coconut concoction full of wonderful spices. This one was by far the best massaman curry I have ever had – it had the right amount of creaminess which wasn’t over powering. We had spoonfuls of the sauce again and again. Too good.

Massaman lamb – was delish!
The barramundi was good, but not great. What I thought would be a whole fish came out in broken pieces of fish fillet. The fish was obviously deep fried, then cooked again with chilli, basil and sweet soy sauce. A bit disappointing given that it was one of the chef’s recommendations.

Barramundi

We were both so full after such a satisfying meal. And the bill? Well, let’s just say that it was much less than what I would have paid in any ordinary restaurant in Canberra. Sigh, I love Sydney.

bills Surry Hills

Crown St
Surry Hills, Sydney

I’m in Sydney for work, so decided to pop down the road to bills for some of his world-famous scrambled eggs. This was my inspiration.

It was a beautiful morning in Sydney, and I worked up an appetite walking up the hill to bills on Crown Street. Although it was only 7:40 in the morning, the restaurant was already filled with customers busy sipping coffee. I divert my eyes away from the corner of the room, where a young couple were all over each other. Not something I wanted to see in the morning. But I digress.

The waiter brought me menus, and asked if I knew what I wanted. Hell yeah. After some quick internet research last night, I knew exactly what I was going to have. “A scrambled eggs on toast and a small sunrise drink thanks”!

The sunrise drink (a mixture of orange juice, banana, yogurt and berries) was quite ordinary at $5, and in desperate need of a dash of sugar. The organic scrambled eggs on organic sourdough toast was extraordinary ($12.80). The eggs were just the right amount of fluffiness and creaminess. A slice of butter wedged between the two pieces of sourdough that were toasted to perfection. Nothing like some organic creamy goodness.

I was charged $18.50 for the meal, and if you do the maths, the meal should have came to $17.80 according to the online menu. I was in a hurry, so didn’t even look at the bill, I wonder if they put up the price?

In any event, I would definitely recommend a trip to bills for the awesome eggs 🙂

"Today Alannah heads her own booming and lucrative empire, the idiosyncratic and intensely feminine Alannah Hill label." Vogue Australia


Nothing else even comes close to those gorgeous hues, the delicate fabrics and the feminine embellishments.

Over the years, I have accumulated, or rather, painstakingly collected, a number of signature Alannah Hill pieces. Many highly impractical that have hung in my wardrobe forever and a day, but extremely gratifying to touch and admire.

A girl friend once remarked that you can’t have a single AH garment because it simply will not go together with anything else in your dress entourage. But I rarely had to find an excuse to splurge on an AH cardigan decorated in tiny gross grain bows, that little silk cami with a lavish waist tie, or the intricately beaded skirt layered with french lace.