Wednesday, July 28, 2010

actually, home is on the gold coast

My lovely, old grandfather passed away on Saturday so I've been at home with my family on the not so sunny Gold Coast. I've lived away from home for quite some time but to me it will always mean my family, food and walking the dog.

the garden: it is our very own rainforest on 2 blocks of land.

my dad: he likes to wear fedoras and other ganster wear.

the girls: we are at one of our favourite lunch places, Omeros Brothers at Marina Mirage drinking Pinot Gris and eating seafood.

tamagodon: this is from our very favourite lunch place, Amimoto in the Lido Arcade.

our walks: this is down at the park where we have walked our dogs for a million years.

the dog: his name is Sparticus but he also goes by Sparty, Spotty Dog, Cafe Latticus, Pull-apart-ticus, Little Dog and Golden Child. He is a dalmation cross with a blue heeler.

Friday, July 23, 2010

home is where the bacon is

Yesterday’s breakfast at Leroy Espresso had all the makings of being brilliant but it just didn’t stack up. I ordered the gluten free breaky of corn bread, homemade baked beans, bacon, avocado and ordered a poached egg at the suggestion of the waiter. I don’t think I’m a convert to cornbread and is it just me or do homemade baked beans not compare to Heinz beans in a can? I will go back to Leroy’s though as I love the orange couches and the staff really friendly.

Sometimes, it is just more fun to stay at home in your trackies. Behold my bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, mayo on toasted ciabatta.

The secret ingredient is my tomato sauce. It reminds me of my Nana for some reason.

It was the perfect breakfast after a night on the tiles. I went to Maeve Fox in Richmond for a friend’s birthday. I love the fit out, especially the birds nest light. It's hard to believe it's owned by the same people as Katuk in South Yarra.

Anyway, I’m spending the day at home cuddling with Harry. Did you know that when a cat head butts you it means he is saying “You are mine”.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

i love roma

Today Chris woke up and all he wanted to do was go buy a coffee machine, I didn't stop him. He came home with Sergio (the Nespresso machine) who makes very yummy coffee – so far I like the Roma pod, which is quite fitting as my favourite place in Italy is Roma.

We were going to celebrate and go to Cicciolina but then we lit a fire and didn’t want to leave it. So I cooked Conchiglioni Rigati with a braseola and a vodka, tomato, cream sauce.

It was delicious. I wish we’d had some bread to mop up the sauce. Harry the cat is very picky with what he eats but he really liked the braseola which makes me think he might be Italian.

I wore this outfit today – Marilyn Seyb dress, General Pants jacket, sequin runners – it isn’t Italian but I did wear this exact outfit to the Spanish Steps where I was bitten by a horse selling roses.

I love Rome. I could definitely live there. I love walking down the street and all of a sudden coming across an ancient ruin. This is me, my mother and my sister outside the Colosseum. We liked the Colosseum but we much preferred The Forum. The cats in Rome are very lucky having such amazing ruins for a home.

Monday, July 19, 2010

urban crops

I love fresh flowers and having them in my house just makes me so happy it's a bit ridiculous. I usually pick up a few bunches from Prahran Markets or Rocky’s on Chapel Street but recently Chris brought home these tulips from Urban Crop. These flowers come with their root system still attached and living in their own soil inside a brown paper bag – this means they live longer and also give you clean air.

At $25 I think they make a great birthday present or housewarming gift. They also come in lots of colours, we had some purple tulips which were very pretty too but I much prefer white flowers.

These are my succulents which I guess is my own version of an urban crop. I like succulents as they don’t need much water to make them happy. When I do give them water I like to say “Suck on this succulents”. As you can see Melbourne isn’t giving them the sun they need at the moment.

And lastly, my little chilli bush. Something is eating the leaves but the chillis are still thriving. It would have to be a pretty hardcore bug to eat chilli. From my last big haul I made a sambal but I think next time I will try making chilli oil.

Friday, July 16, 2010

sing ho for the life of a bear

I really love military green. I bought this Woodford & Co shirt last week to replace my army disposal store one that for some reason was covered in red paint.

This is a close up of my shoes. I've had them for around 3 years and they have been to Europe and India. Poor little mites are falling apart but I don't want to say good bye just yet.

I almost wasn’t going share with you the location of the best noodles in Melbourne. But then I thought that I would just point you in the right direction – the restaurant is on High Street in Prahran and the sign is red. I always order the Singapore noodles which are cooked right in front of you by a husband and wife team.

That was Ace of Cakes on the TV. There is nothing better than hibernating with a mound of noodles and some crap television. At the moment I love Toddlers & Tiaras, Millionaire Matchmaker and 16 & Pregnant. Don’t be worried for me though, because I also watch Q&

Thursday, July 15, 2010

love like a sunset

I walk along the bay from Elwood to Middle Park most days. I much prefer the walk in winter as the sunsets are amazing and the dogs are allowed to roam along most of the beach. I love watching the dogs but I find it hard not to fall to my knees and throw my arms around them. Tonight (for the second time) I witnessed a proposal. I'm not sure about public proposals but here is the aftermath of rose petals.

Tonight's sunset was beautiful but this one a few weeks ago was even better.

I sent this photo to my father and he sent back this photo of his Chirashi Sushi from our favourite Gold Coast restaurant, Amimoto. I'm not sure which picture is prettier.

Amimoto is a little hole in the wall restaurant in Surfers Paradise which my family has been going to for around 25 years. I always order the Tamagodon which is the vegetarian version of Oyakadon. It costs $6.80 and comes with pickles, miso and because we're regulars a bowl of green tea or sesame ice cream. I haven't found a Japanese resturant in Melbourne that comes close to Amimoto.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

la fĂȘte nationale

Today my outfit is to celebrate Bastille Day. You can just see the way my hair is falling all over my eyes, this is a nod to one of my favourite Parisiens, Carine Roitfeld.

What I love about France: pistachio macarons, Cafe de Flore, Champagne, oeufs mayonnaise, French Vogue, window shutters, Phoenix, baguettes with butter, Isabel Marant, Mon Dieu! I even love le Metro. Another of my favourite French things is jewellery by Serge Thoraval. My grandfather gave me this necklace and it translates roughly into “sit up and look at the sky”.

I also cooked a quiche. This is the before.

And bought macarons from Laurent. They’re not very good so this is me eating a Laduree macaron while shopping in the Marais. Bonsoir!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

can you say salsa?

I went back to Las Chicas in Balaclava today for the the SLAB (salsa, lettuce, avocado, bacon sandwich) and the awesome service. I love that the BLT family is growing and you can find a variation or two at most breakfast places. I'm especially fond of a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato) with a side of chutney.

Chris helped me out and ordered a bloody mary in the name of research. It got full marks for taste and price but we were a little saddened by a droopy head of celery poking out the top. The back courtyard is great spot for breakfast or lunch in winter. Actually, the last time I was here I was a little under the weather and vaguely remarked how nice it was to have the sun on my back. On further inspection it was a heater.

The Las Chicas china cabinet

I checked out the Melbourne Design Markets for the first time on Sunday and found it mostly to be a bit disappointing. I hoped to find some great new art for my bedroom but all I seemed to find was stall upon stall of people selling gift cards. I did manage to find myself a few presents. I bought this paper crane mobile which Harry (the cat) seems fixated on. I woke up to him this morning staring at it, what a creep. I also bought a ring but more on that later.

My favourite crane

Thursday, July 8, 2010

interview: samantha strauss from dance academy

Samantha Strauss is the writer and creator of ABC's hit new children's drama, Dance Academy. Dance Academy follows Tara Webster (Xenia Goodman) and her friends through their first year at the National Academy of Dance. Sam lives in Melbourne, collects four leaf clovers, loves steak sandwiches from Yellow Bird and is my sister. I recently had the chance (she's so busy) to interview her for work. And here it is...

What gave you the idea for Dance Academy?

I danced from the age of two until I was eighteen, with the goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer. When I was training full-time, I got injured (breaking a vertebrae in my back) and had to find another career path. I went to Bond University and studied Film & Television. Dance Academy actually began as my graduating short film in the year 2000 with a budget of $1000 (very different to the $10.7M for the series!). It was called Learning to Fly which is the now name of the first episode!

It was a pretty wonky short film, mostly because of the script, so over the next few years I worked on my writing while being employed as a casting director. When I was casting kids series in 2003, I was inspired by what you could do in twenty six episodes of story. I
decided to create my own children’s/young adult series and as ballet was the thing I knew best it made sense that I set my world there.

Where do you find inspiration?

From life, books, songs and other series.

I watch a lot of television and can’t bear it when writers are snobby about it. Some people want to write for television but don’t actually watch it! I actually think the Shakespeares of our time are working in this medium (Aaron Sorkin, David E Kelly, David Simon). They’re masters of storytelling.

Growing up, I was completely addicted to young adult books by Australian authors like Melina Marchetta and John Marsden, and Tessa Dudder in New Zealand. I would read these books over and over until they were literally falling apart. Those sorts of books made me want to write for children and teens... and now the challenge is to come close to being as truthful.

But mostly I’m inspired by life. I put a lot of the detail of myself and my friends into the show. Now the episodes are on television my friends and family keep calling me and saying “I can’t believe you used that story!” They’re right; I have pinched an awful lot. In fact I almost feel like I need to have another life now just so I have enough material to write Series 2.

What excites you about writing, especially for children and young teens?

It’s the time in your life when you’re experiencing things for the first time – first kiss, first love, first time you get drunk, first time get your heart broken – and you don’t have all skills to deal with it, no life experience to draw on, and because it’s the first time everything hurts that more. It’s when you’re trying to work out who you want to be and I think that makes for good drama.

I love working with young actors as well because they are so hopeful, fearless really. And sometimes you can watch them evolve literally before your eyes.

What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced with your work?

My scripts always come in way too long and it’s a process of paring back. Sometimes that works well because it means the episodes are jam packed. Other times I probably should have given scripts more room to breathe and it becomes are nightmare in the cutting room.

Does your lifestyle influence your work?

I try to be disciplined and treat writing like a job. It’s easier when I’m working out of a script office, meeting tight deadlines, because then I know I have to write RIGHT NOW. There can be no procrastinating. And it’s great to be able to bounce off the other people in the office.

When I’m writing from home it’s a bit more difficult to get motivated first thing in the morning and I end up feeling guilty for not being productive enough so I keep writing into the night and don’t set proper boundaries for myself. On the upside I can wear pyjamas all day.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?

Trying to work out how I can get paid to watch DVD Box Sets.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been writing a film for someone and we’ve gotten Screen Australia funding to do the next draft. I’m working on developing a romantic comedy and another couple of teen series. And I’ve just heard that Dance Academy has been picked up for another series so I’m soon going to be very busy doing that!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

melbourne winter survival kit

Pie. This little one here is a chicken, leek and vegetable pie and it was my dinner. Next I want to try this lamb shank, red wine and rosemary pie.

This Weight Watchers chocolate upside down pudding is so tasty. I’ve tried their Lemon Sponge and Sticky Date and they don’t really compare.

I live up the road from a brilliant bottle shop called Acland Cellars. They have 600 types of beer but then they also have a great spirits collection. The good folk there recommended I try Snow Queen which is from Kazakhstan and is mined from frozen underground vodka lakes by Cossacks and is shipped to us on the backs of reindeer. All you need to mix it with is some soda water, lime and mint if you have it.

Wool. Wool clothing is a must and it keeps you 10 times warmer. Wool scarves, cardigans, mittens - this scarf is from American Vintage.

Monday, July 5, 2010

ichi ni pleased me

You know those old ladies you see who seem to be wearing all their jewellery at once? That's what the inside of Ichi Ni Izakaya reminds me of. My friend Lulu and I had dinner there last night and I thought the decor was amazing. It was also perfect Lulu was there as she would never, ever under accessorise. The food wasn't amazing but sometimes that just doesn't matter.

(Can you see the roof is crying stars?)

In bloody mary news, I tried the one at the Stokehouse on Sunday. It was full of Tabasco Sauce and reminded me of a bloody mary my sister once had that was brown. She's never felt quite the same way about them since.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

lattes and ramekins

If I’m going to cheat on a bloody mary with anything it is going to be a latte from Market Lane Coffee. It is by far my favourite in all of Melbourne and it is just outside Prahran Markets so I can have one before shopping and then again afterwards. I think the milk they use really does it for me – the blackboard says it’s Schulz Milk.

I wish this flow chart was on a huge piece of butcher’s paper.

I’m looking forward to taking off on their Coffee Tasting Flight which is 3 single estate coffees back to back for $12.

Other than drinking coffee I bought a new skirt on sale from Fat and 6 lime green ramekins. I thought they’d look lovely stuffed with chicken and leek pie filling. Once I got them home I realised they also went awesomely with both my front door and chandelier which are also lime green.

(that's Harry)