Sunday, 20 July 2014

Prettiest in Pink

I used to own so many articles of pink clothing. I don't know when I started shedding the pink. It's not that I don't like the colour. Indeed I do. It's still a colour that I favour when it comes to many things other than my clothes which was why I had to rummage through everything I owned to find something that I could wear which would satisfy a "pretty in pink" dress code. 



On Friday night I was delighted to attend the Pretty In Pink Girls Night hosted by Love Thread at Hello Parry HQ in Northbridge. Hello Parry HQ is located in a supreme location and I think it would make for a perfect inner city crib. I just wouldn't want to be the poor soul navigating the wooden stairs after a night out. As it was I found myself walking out while holding onto the wall. 


Styled by Love is Party and Shelan Creatives, the room was decked out with pink balloons and decor plus a scrumptious sweets and drinks buffets in many hues of pink. Amy Davis and Emer Rose were on hand if you wanted to get your make up or nails did. I left that night with some super sparkly nail art, in pink of course. 

Kelly from Beauty Bites WA gets her nails did



The finished product on Kelly from Beauty Bites WA!

While an opportunity to meet other Perth bloggers, the proceeds from the night were in support of the Esther Foundation which is an organization that I am familiar with having attended their past fundraising events and so I knew very well of the essential and great work they do. 




In which I am sure was a highlight for many, Michelle from A Minute Away From Snowing came along and chatted about her own experience as a blogger and shared some great advice for all. As someone who was an old school member of Vogue Forums from way, way back it was lovely to see Michelle given that she too has been around the VF traps for as long as I had been. Voguettes for life. 


Given the special discount available Hello Parry made available to us on the night I couldn't resist taking home a small purchase. 


It was well over an hour after the official finish time that I carefully made my way down the stairs. A sure indicator of a great night in with the girls. 



Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Giving me Sass

Oh my goodness. I have been holed up for the last few days with what my doctor diagnosed as being bronchitis. I like to say "I got the bronchitis" as an homage to Sweet Brown, and as she stated, ain't nobody got time for that. Who has time to be sick? Sure, it means I get to laze about and sleep during the day without anyone likening me to a sloth but the incessant coughing is not cool. Sick days mess up my gym schedule and they certainly are not conducive to being a social creature.

Fortunately, the bronchitis had not yet clamped its grip around me on the weekend which meant I was able to enjoy one of my favoured past times on Saturday, that being the partaking of high tea. Even better when it's for a special occasion, and in this case, a friend's birthday.  

Tea that afternoon was being poured at The Sassy Cookie in Victoria Park. This was my second time there to have high tea. They also serve lunch meals but I've not had the pleasure of enjoying one of their lunches. 



Set on the corner along Duncan Street behind a beautiful wall of orange honeysuckle (I think) flowers you'll find the charming and quaint tea rooms of The Sassy Cookie. Welcomed by the owner Sue (great name there), she takes our tea order and brings out the first course. The courses are served sequentially as they are ready to come out, unlike other high teas where everything is brought out in one hit on the tiered stands. The teas come from the T Bar range and plunger coffee is also offered if you prefer. The best thing is that the price includes two pots of tea, so you can enjoy two varieties of tea if you wish. 



We started with finger sandwiches, two varieties. One was filled with smoked salmon and caper aoili on one layer and the second layer had creamy egg and dill. The second sandwich was chicken with walnuts, spinach and a sweet onion jam spread onto herbed butter. Both sandwiches were very good but I liked the salmon and egg combination the best. They had been made fresh as the bread did not have the tell tale dryness of stale bread or sandwiches that have been left out. The serving allows for one finger sandwich of each filling. Being a fan of the savouries when it comes to high tea I would have liked another finger each. I find without an adequate amount of savoury it can be difficult to get through all the sweet components. There's only so much sugar my body can handle. 


The baked savouries that followed were a mini Cornish pastry, a filo pastry money bag filled with mushroom and pate (yum yum!) and a Parmesan cheese round topped with a blend of beetroot, cashew and feta cheese. 


Onto the sweets. Here we go. By now I had finished my first pot of chai and had requested my second pot, this time a Ceylon orange pekoe. First up were the scones. You've just gotta have scones with tea. Soft, well baked and a nice smaller size (a good thing when there's much to be eaten), they are not your run of the mill scones. One is baked with cranberries and served with a rose petal butter and cranberry Cointreau conserve and the other is a date, orange and walnut scone that is accompanied with orange blossom butter and an apricot and macadamia conserve. There is an ample amount of Chantilly cream to top both of your scones with.



After the remnants of the scones are whisked away, we are served a palate cleansing mango sorbert in cute mini champagne saucers. It's a nice touch and was not part of the high tea the first time I went to The Sassy Cookie. The climax of the sweet course is reached with the next serving; a plate of individual apricot cheesecakes set in chocolate tulip cups, mini lemon meringue pies and Toblerone mousse cups garnished with chilli chocolate popcorn.  The little cheesecake cups reminded me of that scene in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory when Mr Wonka sits down in his garden, sips from a tea cup and then promptly takes a bite out of it. That's exactly how I felt eating from this chocolate tulip cup, which I do think is made from a good chocolate as it does not have any of that nasty taste that comes from using cheap compound chocolate. The filling of the lemon meringue pie is sweet enough and also tart enough - a good balance is struck between both. What I loved what the Toblerone mousse. The mousse is so light and fluffy, not overly rich in chocolate flavour as some chocolate mousses can be and it was very easy to eat, which was a good thing given it came at the end of the tea sitting. The pocorn is an interesting addition but I could not taste any chilli. 



To finish up are small macarons and chai infused chocolate truffles. Everyone is also given a cute little teapot shaped cookie to take home. The high tea service at The Sassy Cookie leans more toward the traditional, with just a slight twist. Some of the sweet offerings seem to be new additions, such as the cheesecake and mousse and they definitely put a little 'fancy' touch to the high tea, I guess this is where the sassy kicks in. In saying that, what I like about The Sassy Cookie is that it's not pretentious or fussy. It delivers delicious treats that are fresh and home made. With your two pots of tea, it all goes down well. 

The Sassy Cookie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Oh, the places you will go!



An airstrip somewhere in the middle of the Kimberleys

As I sit here tapping away, keeping warm thanks to the invention known as ducted heating and looking out of my window to a grey and gloomy day I can't help but think back to previous winters. You see, I generally go on holiday at this time of year. People ask me how I manage to swing that given what I do for work - I have a background in accounting and currently am in a tax advisor role. The start of the financial year happens to coincide with the northern hemisphere summer, and for many whose work lives revolve around the financial year that often puts the kibosh on being able to be that person who floods their Instagram feed with photos of their Greek Island hopping adventures. Certainly there was a time when it was impossible for me to request leave in the middle of the year but now it's not too much of an issue for me to traipse off so for the last couple of years I have always found myself on holiday for a few weeks between June and early August, timing my return so that I don't miss celebrating my birthday at home in mid August. 

Flying over Lake Argyle

Last year the destination was the Kimberley region of Western Australia and prior to that I embarked on my own Tour de France. I don't follow the actual Tour de France at all but somehow managed to be everywhere the bikes were. I like to get away from the cold and come back ridiculously brown. This year the plan was to ride bikes and eat street food in Vietnam but this had to be postponed due to conflicting schedules. This is why I'm now looking out the window to a grey day. 

With the vacations of the last two years, I split my time travelling with others and travelling solo. Although the idea of being a solo traveller can seem daunting, having done it a couple of times now I highly recommend it as being something everyone should do. If for no other reason than just to travel. To just go. There's a big, beautiful and interesting world out there ready for you to explore. There are adventures to be experienced. If you're ready to go, then just go. Sometimes you want to make holiday plans with your friends but they don't have the funds to travel or your partner isn't interested in what has always been your dream destination. So you wait. You put it off until someone is ready to go with you. Don't wait. Like the copyrighted slogan says - just do it. Until you do it you'll never know how much you can gain from travelling solo. To do it on your own terms, in your own time. You can't underestimate how much you learn, especially about yourself, when you find yourself in a place you don't know and realize that you actually can do it all on your own. It's a great learning experience and incredibly enriching and rewarding. 

I spent almost six weeks in France and clocked up a couple thousand kilometers driving around in my little Citroen beast. It was my first time driving in Europe, but with a GPS unit one can't go wrong, or get too lost. The experiences I had are now memories that I'll always remember fondly and there are a few very memorable experiences that I doubt I may have had if I was with someone else, such as the 33km 'fun ride' that I inadvertently entered when riding through the city of Geneva. Sure I ended up with a very sore butt and spent the evening soaking in the bathtub of my hotel room but I would never have seen the countryside of Geneva had I not accidentally rode my bike onto the route of the event.


The little beast out in the vineyards of Bordeaux

Part of the advantage in being a solo traveller is that everything you do is up to you. That's not to say that I don't enjoy travelling with others. Of course I do. It is an immensely fun and memorable experience to travel with your partner or friends, as it can also be heading out on your own. 

So of you want to travel, then travel. Make it happen. Sometimes you can't wait for others to be ready. 

...and now some photos. What would a travel post be without photos? 

I love the French markets!
Beautiful Geneva. I like to think of Geneva as the prettier and cleaner sister to Paris
The Aiguille du Midi - part of the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps
The lovely streets of Geneva
Kayaking the Dordogne River in the southwest of France
The beautiful lavenders of Provence.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Foggy head and scrambled eggs

I woke up on Saturday all out of sorts. To begin with, I slept through my alarm and missed my morning Pilates class. I tapped out an apologetic message to my instructor while still mostly asleep and fell back into my slumber. Even after waking up close to midday I was still ridiculously exhausted with a head so foggy it probably looked like pea soup if you peered inside.

I could put it down to physical tiredness, and no doubt I was. Despite my very long sleep in I still could not stop yawning that entire day and could barely keep myself awake over the course of the entire day and night. The cloudiness of my mind though was probably more a result of being preoccupied with a niggling little issue. One of those life dramas that you'd love to see played out in any other way than the manner which it did. I suppose it was good timing that I had plans to have Saturday lunch with my friend who spends her business hours working with people and their problems. She does a good job of probing me and my thoughts and is always all about "the resolution". A true professional, she is. In return I willingly hand over the tax advice. Quid pro quo.


Personal crises aside, one must eat. We found ourselves at The Imp which was unsurprisingly busy and although I was worried we would have to go somewhere else, the tables turned over quickly. Probably because we got there at the cusp of the breakfast menu making way for the lunch foods so everyone was finishing up. I was a bit disappointed because I do love a breakfast menu and am a strong supporter of the all day breakfast. Both of us were indecisive on what we wanted to have but we knew for sure we had to have the fries and ended up with a somewhat weird combination of the fries, beetroot salad and truffle scrambled eggs to share between us.


The fries were perfect. There is a reason why we had to order the fries and it's because we've munched on The Imp's fries before. There's nothing better than a bowl of crisp fries and an aioli sauce that has a real kick. With my pot of warm spicy chai tea, it was a source of comfort, in the gastronomic sense, for me.


The beetroot salad was sadly not giving me the same level of comfort. Chunks of pickled beetroot on a bed of mixed leaves with fetta crumbled over, it was one of those salads that was well, just a salad. Sometimes when the mood strikes me I like to have a good salad as my main meal but this salad wouldn't hit that mark for me.



The truffle eggs came served on a large piece of crusty toast and a mixed salad on the side. The salad were the same mixed greens used in the beetroot salad and it was undressed.  Plentiful in quantity and cooked silky and creamy, the egg had that instantly recognizable scent of truffle. Though giving off the delicious aroma of truffle, it couldn't be tasted in the eggs. The main flavour that came through with the eggs was that of the cream.


To be honest, this wasn't the best experience I've had at The Imp. The majority of the food wasn't as satisfying as I've had in the past. Perhaps they too were suffering from a bad day. Thank goodness for my chai, the fries and the open ear of a friend.

The Imp on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Party in the Park

It's always interesting to see how, with the passage of time, certain neighbourhoods change. It happens here in Perth, it happens throughout Australia, it happens all over the world. Call it gentrification. Or rejuvenation. Revitalization. Renewal. Whatever you and urban planners may choose to call it, with these changes come a shift in people's attitudes and opinions. Once upon a time, people would plan their trip to New York City and conveniently forget that NYC is in fact made up of five distinct boroughs and not just the island in the middle known as Manhattan. These days your life is apparently not complete if you've not sat on a miniature chair in the middle of a bar in Williamsburg drinking out of a picnic cup, and the tour groups just can't get enough of Harlem. How times change.

In a similar way, we've seen these changes happen in Perth. The areas which were once the mainstay of the working class or suburbs which were favoured for being family friendly are now the places where all the cool kids hang. A great example of this is Mount Lawley, and all the suburbs in the vicinity of the 6050 hood, which not only have an abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars and pop-ups but is also home to Perth's biggest street party in the form of the Beaufort Street Festival. While Mount Lawley is a great example of what can come out of having the involvement of local residents and businesses and a forward thinking council there are plenty of other Perth neighbhourhoods which are also ready to shine.


Being local to the Victoria Park area I've seen many great new businesses opening up along the strip. Awesome places to eat or grab a coffee and fantastic stores and boutiques. It would seem Vic Park is not short of fans and has its own fan club in the form of the Vic Park Collective. A group with the aim of facilitating business and community collaborations to make the Town of Victoria Park uniquely awesome, last Friday night they held their Laneway Launch street party in the lane which is the address of a mural painted by artists The Yok and Sheryo during their recent stay in Perth as part of Form's PUBLIC Perth project. 


As well as celebrating the mural, the Launch provided an excuse to have a street party complete with a bar courtesy of the cool orange Bar Pop truck and food cooked up by Jumplings and Little Caesar's Pizzeria. The abundant crowd was kept entertained by DJs from the Systematic Crew. Perhaps one of the thrills of the night was watching local Perth artist RLSM (with a little help from his pal Potion X) transform bare wood panels into a very awesome mural over the course of the night. Appreciated by all in attendance, particularly the little kiddies who sat at his feet watching in awe for most of the night.



It was definitely a great night with a fantastic turnout, and given that the days leading up had been nothing but rain the weather gods were definitely also in approval. Speaking with people I met on the night, some local residents and others who just happened to wander into the party, all were very impressed with not only the event but with the current and future planned work of the Vic Park Collective.



The hallmark of a successful event can be seen in the faces of all those who are enjoying themselves without any idea of all that has gone on behind the scenes to bring the whole thing together. It would however be remiss of me to not acknowledge the the very hard work of all the volunteer members of the Vic Park Collective and the local businesses, sponsors and town council who provided their support in making the night happen.


More information about the Vic Park Collective can be found on their website and Facebook page.  Many thanks to Shu Daniels of SOUL of SHU for the use of her images.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

100 Women

There are a great many things I am passionate about. Some lean to the superficial, others are more of the serious variety. The one thing I can guarantee though is that anything I am passionate about I approach with great fervour. I can sometimes be quite excessively enthusiastic, perhaps to the extent that you may be worried to bring your children and elderly around me. What's life without passion, right?

When it comes to the more serious topics which I am passionate about, there is nothing that I feel so strongly about than the continued advancement and empowerment of women. All women, wherever they live, whatever they do, whoever they are. I once had someone say to me that continuing to speak about women and what they do, their issues and their rights in isolation to men did nothing other than to create and encourage division. I would disagree. If you want change in anything, rarely does that come about by remaining silent or through a lack of action. Unfortunately the world does not work that way. Continuing to accept the status quo or foolishly thinking that all will work itself out in time, is about as likely to create positive change as I am likely to grow a couple more inches in height. It would be great if both could happen, but something tells me that's not the way it's going to go.

Image taken from 100women.com.au

Over the weekend I attended an event held by a Perth based organization known as 100 Women. They are a giving circle with the aim to support various causes for women through the pooling of funds which will be used to provide substantial grants. They want to raise $120,000 to get the first round of grants going out the door to help others achieve great things but they need one hundred foundation members (yes, they do welcome men into the giving circle!) to donate $1200 each. Understandably that is a significant amount of money so it can be paid in installments. They don't want to stop at just one hundred members but that's how many they need to kick off the giving.

There are many issues that affect all people, whether they be man, woman or child. War, poverty, lack of access to the essentials in life and so on. I have a number of charities that I am committed to that I hope can alleviate some of these issues. There are undoubtedly people in need whether they are male or female but part of the reason why an organization such as 100 Women appeals to me is because I find it disheartening to know that in 2014 we still live in a world where half of the population are treated differently, less included in society or have fewer rights and privileges based on their gender. As a woman living in Australia I have received a quality education. I can access healthcare. I can hold a drivers licence. I can make my own decisions regarding my life. This cannot be said for women in every part of the world. Even with all the freedoms and privileges that come with living in this country, I'm still underrepresented. Women are in the pitiful minority when it comes to roles of leadership in business and politics. So when someone says to me that to continue to speak about the rights and issues of men and women in isolation does nothing but perpetuate a division, my response is that I do hope one day we don't have to have this discussion. I hope that one day we don't have to precede the words 'president', 'prime minister' or 'CEO' with anything that should identify that person by their gender and even their sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. I hope that any children I have will one day live in a world where it's not a big deal that a women, or an Asian, or a gay person should ascend to a role of leadership. This type of world can't be achieved by remaining silent about the things that matter.

Photo taken from Pinterest
 
If you'd like to know more about 100 Women or would like to join their cause, and if you're a business that would be interested in getting on board as sponsor to help with their minimal administration costs (all committee members are volunteers and all funds donated go to the grants so sponsorship is vital), please visit their website.

Photo taken from robinhoodtax.org.uk

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Discovering a Gem

I am, as most of us probably are, guilty at times of having preconceived ideas of what I believe something to be, without the experience or history to be able to make that assessment. We think we know what something is without knowing anything about it at all. We base our opinions without any real basis for the quantification. The great harm in doing that, other than potentially showing yourself to be a twit, is that you can miss out on the good things that you never gave a chance to because you thought you already knew. Preconceptions can often be misconceptions. When it comes to taking chances, there's always the possibility that you can end up with something not so good but sometimes you end up with something even better than good. Such is the crap shoot that is life. Sometimes when you leap and take a chance you may find yourself at the receiving end of something wonderful.

Taking a chance on something completely unknown can also lead to great discoveries. Discoveries so freaking good that you wish you weren't so slow on the uptake. Jezebelle is one example of a freaking good discovery. To make a confession, I had never spent any time in Guildford until recently and all I knew about food choices in the area was limited to the burgers at Alfred's, which I really don't think are all that. However, Jezebelle is definitely all that.


The first time I visited Jezebelle for a late lunch. I had been at a couple of home opens prior and I originally thought to grab a bite to eat in Mount Lawley but decided to drive a few minutes in the other direction on Guildford Road and check out Jezebelle after a quick look on my Urbanspoon app. As much as I love all the places in Mount Lawley, I didn't want to head anywhere busy and we all know parking can be a nightmare. I was so glad that I did. Not only did I have eat some great food but I had a chance to check out all the vintage and antique stores along James Street. I enjoyed my little side trip so much that I returned a couple of weeks later. The recent news is that the Guildford Hotel may be in the near future reopened. I'm told that the progressing state of decay of the building is a source of some consternation amongst locals. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it. For now, there's some awesome art inside on the walls, not that I'm telling you all to head on inside to take a look, I'm just saying, you know?

So, a couple of weeks later I returned to Jezebelle with a friend and my cousin to whom I had absolutely raved to about the food. When we were done they agreed that my high praise was most warranted. It was a Saturday afternoon and the rain was bucketing down like crazy. I could have spent the rest of the day in the chill surrounds of Jezebelle. On Sunday afternoons they put their own twist on the Sunday session and invite local Perth jazz artists to entertain their patrons. I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Smooth sounds, a well made drink in your hand and some great dishes to share with good company. I need to get on that ASAP.

Even without the draw of live jazz music to go with my drinks, a dish of their perfect churros is more than enough reason to be there. Their churros, served with an addictive dulce de leche sauce, are the best churros I have ever had in Perth. The best. Not even going to argue with you about it, just accept that they are the best. Soft and fluffy, not heavy or doughy but crispy on the outside. And that dulce de leche. You don't even know.


Or the tender beef cheeks served on creamy soft polenta. A brilliant winter dish, brilliantly flavoured by the pickled wild mushrooms with polenta so creamy and smooth that even nonna would be proud. 


The only dish I could have passed on were the goose sliders. On paper it was intriguing and sounded like it could be a nice twist on those lovely little mini burgers but the goose meet was very dry and lacking flavour. I think it was also constructed a bit poorly and you couldn't take a bite without it practically falling apart.
 

Everything else was perfect though. The prawns were beautifully plump and fresh served with daikon and slices of coconut.

 
The duck liver parfait was creamy and rich as as parfaits should be. The cubes of Pedro Ximenez jelly were a touch difficult to maneuver onto the sourdough. A couple more cubes would have been ideal to balance out the parfait. The sourdough comes from Jean Pierre Sancho and one cannot fault the JP Sancho baked goods. 


My friend and cousin kept themselves hydrated with caipiroskas while I had their Apple Amazing which is a refreshing mix of Pomme Verte, vodka, apple juice, mint and lime. I was told the caipiroskas were superbly made. I also very much enjoyed my beverage choice. 


The pork belly was a different pork belly dish to what I was served my first go round. This is the winter pork belly choice which is served with quince pieces and a crackle salt on the crisp skin. The quince provides that tart flavour that is usually supplied by apple; it was nice to see quince being used for something a little different. 


I think I'm going to stop ordering chorizo. I have eaten it so often that I'm chorizo'd out. I say that now though. Wait until I see it on a menu and I probably won't be able to resist. 

 
Jezebelle is definitely one of those chances that I was glad to have taken..
Jezebelle on Urbanspoon