Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday, 26th November

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Late afternoon, Tuesday, 25 November

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Aren't these photographs amazing? In summer, when the water flow is comparatively low, people are allowed to swim in a natural swimming hole called the 'Devil's Pool' that forms at the very edge of these magnificent falls. One of the largest in the world, the African name for the falls, 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' means the Smoke that Thunders...
I've just added this to my list of things to do in a lifetime..

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mid-morning, Sunday 23rd November

The weather is strange this morning, it seems it can't make up its mind. One minute brights shafts of light are falling from the sky, intensely warm and piercing, the next minute I'm convinced the afternoon will bring thunder, lightning and rain. Only time will tell.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ski chalet at Whistler, BC

Currently for sale for around CAD $830,000...

The New York times has a piece on the chalet here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I am planning an adventure

Photo via dankse

It's been two years since I returned from Japan - almost a lifetime for me - am I am restless to see more of the world.

This adventure will begin one brisk March afternoon, in the wintery islands of Japan from where I will drift downwards and across the ocean to Korea, Vietnam and India, then further westwards across the great deserts to Turkey, Greece, Italy and France, finally coming to a rest in the gentle Parisian summer of 2009. While autumn turns slowly to winter, I will sharpen my fading French skills at a language school in the 5th, read books under the old oaks in the Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise, and take walks along the Promenade Plantee.

How I will support myself is a small detail I have yet to work out - I'm hoping the vibrant Parisian market scene will support me in the establishment of a little vintage store, failing that I may have to fall back on some rather rusty English-teaching skills and a credit card.

I'm excited to go - my eyes crave fresh colours, my tongue, new flavours and my skin the cool tingle of a fresh Northern wind.

Twin bear mugs by Taylor & Ng

Shall I buy these?

$22.00 for two from sweetshorn vintage.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter woolies

It's the wrong time of year here, but I'm still seduced by the gorgeous wooliness of hats, scarves and gloves.
Top image: Echo, boiled wool wavy stripes scarf - $48.00
Bottom image: Mina Perhonen, wool/angora grass field mitten - $195.00
both available from Bird, NYC

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wagashi birthday cake

For my birthday, Matt made me a cake based on his favourite wagashi from the book I recently bought. Considering he has never baked or iced a cake before I'm super impressed with the end result, which I think is really very cute, and without a doubt, quite delicious.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today I turned 28

and this is my birthday cake - a chewy apricot and almond concoction from Blakes.

Friday, November 14, 2008


In a stoic, stone building along the Esplanade, lies one of Perth's most inconspicuous fine dining establishments. With its closed wooden shutters, dim lighting and lack of exterior signage, Balthazar has a somewhat subterranean ambiance - hauling open the monumental wooden door one could almost be striding into the den of some ancient nobility - and the name of the restaurant itself brings to mind kings, queens and empires long past. Balthazar is one of the three wise men.

In fact, the interiors are more contemporary Euro bistro than medieval wizard's parlour,
with white, minimal table settings, a tiled black and white floor, and polished wood furnishings highlighted by rows of glinting wine glasses and wine racks. In the more informal front space, high, wooden tables are serviced by bent-wood bar stools, and the drinks list, bar menu and cheese specials are scrawled in white chalk on wooden blackboards that line the old stone walls.

We were settled briskly into our 'booth' by our waiter for the evening. Despite its tiny interior and fine dining reputation, Balthazar maintains a charming ,bustling atmosphere, that is much more akin to a busy train station cafe or fish market than a Perth restaurant in - approaching 8.30pm on a Friday night - a rather deserted end of town. This is reinforced
by the establishment's young, trendy and somewhat aloof team of waitstaff who constantly, and rather theatrically, call instructions to each other across the room (" That is negative, I repeat, negative on the soft shell crab" was one such line that boomed conspicuously across the room - luckily we had already placed our order for the night). Over the eclectic soundtrack of 30's jazz, and Feist, I could almost discern the bellow of departing trains.

We slipped gently into the evening with fresh oysters drizzled with a rose and cucumber dressing, and a tasting plate comprising miniature versions of the remaining entree selections - a swirl of polenta, a roulade of rabbit (far too salty for my liking), a spoonful of seasoned beef, and a plump white disc of herbed fish cake.

The highlight of the mains was an aged beef fillet with smoked potato, candied aubergine and celeriac - a creation I had previously read was their signature dish. Thick and perfectly seared to a medium rare, the beef was unbelieveably tender and smoky with flavour, like velvet melting on the tongue.

The remaining mains comprised a lamb scotch fillet paired with crumbed globe artichokes and broad bean tortellini, a rich duck and pistachio sausage with cream sauce and green beans and a more simple pasta puttanesca with crispy soft shell crab. Of note were the rather hefty portions, which following the initial offering of fresh bread and butter, trailed closely by the oysters and miniatures, proved a struggle to clear.

Nevertheless, after the last mouthfuls were savored, and plates ferried away, dessert menus were passed around. After brief discussions, we settled on the dessert tasting plate for two, presented ala tasting plate style as a miniature diorama of the chef's sweetest specials. A chai tea pannacotta wobbled atop a gingerbread base, fanned by slices of fresh pear and mint; a tangy lime roulade and coconut sorbet nestled under flakes of shaved coconut; a dense, sour cream doughnut enclosed a frozen dome of vanilla bean icecream. The final element was a dark chocolate mousse, lightened by a side of cream that pouted under its beret of pistachio meringue. Even split amongst the four of us, finishing, was a true exercise in stomach contortions.

Throughout the duration of the meal, groups of diners seemed to be continually arriving and leaving, the result of which was that the room was at almost times, completely full. The upshot of this was that the usual diminuendo that occurs as the evening wears on, diners swallow their last drops of wine and leave and the atmosphere peters out, never actually occured. Even approaching 10pm, while we were licking the last lashings of lime from our spoons, animated tides of couples were still being ushered to their tables and the parade of dishes marching from the kitchen showed no signs of letting up.

By half ten, as we were departing, sleepy, our bellies full and round, merry groups
of twenty-somethings were just arriving to drink cocktails at the bar. While no one dish had left an indelible mark in our minds, the evening as a whole had been a pleasure - the service quick, the dishes well-executed, the ambiance one of relaxtion. Warm, happy and content, we sighed deeply with satisfaction and parted ways, stumbling dreamily homewards in the gathering dark.

6 The Esplanade

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wagashi - The graphics of Japanese confection

Last week I ordered a copy of Wagashi - The graphics of Japanese confection, a book that I have been eyeing for literally, years. I first came across in a bookstore in Shinsaibashi (Osaka) in 2006 and have regretted not buying it ever since.

Although it has been available on for sometime, I was unable to find it on English sites or in bookstores in Australia until a week ago.

It arrived in the post this afternoon, direct from fishpond, an online bookstore based in New Zealand. The cover is minimal, matte, smooth and clean, typically Japanese. I love Japanese design.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Dinner at Balthazar

Friday, November 07, 2008

Artichokes for supper

Last weekend I bought two artichokes for $1.99 each from the green grocer on Beaufort Street, but didn't get around to cooking them during the week. Tonight I prepared them for a late supper.

The tops of the artichokes were sawn off and the bulbs boiled and steamed in water flavoured with a slice of lemon, a clove of garlic and a couple of bay leaves. Once tender and while still warm, we peeled off the leaves and dipped them in whole egg mayonnaise seasoned with lemon zest.

Twenty minutes later our plates were a mountain of discarded leaves but our bellies were full.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lavender mochi?

Normally I'm a big advocate of using lavender as a flavouring - lavender shortbread, lavender icecream, lavender custard slices, lavender syrup, even savoury dishes, the possibilities abound. But when it came to these lavender-flavoured mochi that I picked up from an Asian supermarket on William Street this afternoon I started thinking that at times its best to stick with tradition.

I think the main problem was that these mochi simply weren't sweet enough to balance out the pungent herbal taste taste of the lavender, and the result was that the whole chewy morsel was quite bitter with a strong and flowery aftertaste that I had to brush my teeth vigorously to eliminate.

The mochi also came in 'camomile' flavour, however after after the lavender this is something I won't be rushing to try anytime soon.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Nosy Velvet, Meet Your Beautiful Lover

The title of this post is from the 2008 edition of Finnish designer, Noa Bembibre's, calendar Cats Let Nothing Darken Their Roar. Released annually, each edition of the calendar features a fresh collection of surreal and quirky phrases for you to ponder ad infinitum, or at the very least until the beginning of the next month. Nosy Velvet, Meet Your Beautiful Lover is the composition for this November.

Despite the fact that the 2008 edition was listed as 'sold out' on both Noa's website and on a number of other online design shops, Noa was able to find me one last copy among her private stores. Once each month has passed (and if I don't decide to keep them), I use the tear-off sheets as gift-wrapping for books.

Printed in a limited edition of 500, the 2009 edition is currently available for order on her website

Photo: Panther (or Nosy Velvet), sunning himself sleepily on the warm floorboards this lazy Sunday morning.