Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Phillipine Food Festival: For the love of pork

I used to really love pork. Whenever I was heading home to visit, I'd ask my Mum for two things: a pork roast and a home made chocolate pudding. Not anymore. The chocolate pudding stays but if pork comes anywhere near me, my stomach starts to flip and I  wince.

Strange isn't it? I can't really remember why it started but I do recall when.

The Chief and I were in Rhineland in Germany and I was really looking forward to having a German classic, the famous pork knuckle- we ordered it, I even put my bib on in anticipation.

When it arrived, The Chief got stuck into his, being a big strapping Fijian boy, there is nothing better to him than a whopping hunk of pig on a plate- yep you guessed it, he was as  happy as a pig in mud (boom tish) with his knuckle.

Meanwhile, I could barely look at mine, initially, I thought it was the size that was putting me off. (It did appear to be as big as a three month old baby) Chief told me to eat as much as I could and he'd happily chow down the rest. I just couldn't and said I'd have to just eat the veggies around it, I'd lost my appetite anyway.

And there began my pork phobia, no more bacon, ham, pork chops, UK sausages the list goes on- I even almost vomited watching Master Chef once when there was a pork challenge- It's that extreme. If I don't think about it, I can eat chorizo and sometimes salami- it's a travesty.

So when Ms Mash, Bob Bob Bobbin and I make a reservation for the Philippine Food Festival, Ms Mash warns me, "Babe, you know us Fillos love our pork right?" Oh crap! I didn't even think about my pork issues when making the reservation.

I'd never had Filipino cuisine before, I was excited to try it and I really wanted to go with Ms Mash because her Mum's from the Philippines (her dad's English  and she's from London for the record) and she hadn't had "mum" food for ages.


I sometimes call Ms Mash, Mutya- in honour of my other favourite English Filipino-please note, Ms Mash does not wear extensions like Mutya  

The Philippine Food Festival at the Grace Hotel in the Sydney CBD is back by huge demand apparently- Ms Mash quips "There's a lot of hungry Fillo Mammas in Sydney Ames."

As we wait to be seated, I spot people drinking fresh coconut juice and I get excited- I definitely want one.
I lived in Fiji for a while where I kind of got sick of the sight of coconuts, but now back in Sydney, I take every opportunity I can to have fresh coconut.

Philippine chefs: Rodito Dimatera and Benjamin Zabala from the famous Via Mare in Manilla are in Sydney especially for the festival, which is a large buffet of traditional Philippine fare.

As I do a lap of the buffet, I need Ms Mash to tell me what everything is, I don't really recognise anything, its a bright mix of colours and unlucky for me (lucky for normal pig loving people) there is pork everywhere.

There's pork in the soup, cold buffet, hot buffet and a little piglet in the live cooking station.  Ms Mash is thrilled to bits, but being a good friend tries to skip past all the pork for me and and points out authentic dishes such as Laing at Hipon ‐ taro leaves with shrimps in coconut cream, Escabeche Maya Maya – red snapper in garlic turmeric sauce.

I just pile my plate up with all the non pork dishes and get ready to tuck in- I can say Philippines food is nothing like Fijian food. I've never had anything like it and a lot of the dishes are a bit too sweet for savoury dishes for my liking and it isn't very spicy- I'm a girl who loves heat. The prawn dishes are of course my favourite.

My plate of non pork goodness- a hot mess no?

There is desserts such as Leche Flan – caramel custard and Brazo de Mercedez which rolled meringue with creamy filling.

There is also a Halo Halo station. Ms Mash explains that this is her favourite dessert, it's a mixture of shaved ice and milk. Then you add as much  boiled sweet beans and fruit as you like, Its served cold in a tall glass or bowl.

I excitedly stuff my glass with ice and coconut milk and as many different colours and textures that fits. It looks pretty, but my Halo Halo isn't that yummy. Ms Mash makes me another one and it is a lot better.

"Phew I'm stuffed!" after eating enough Pork for a life time, Ms Mash and Bob Bobbin claim buffet defeat and although there was indeed a lot of pork, I did find the buffet interesting. I was excited that I got to try some Philippine fare finally and the desserts were delicious.
As we leave, Ms Mash jokes, "I guess you won't be over for breakfast Ames- we're having bacon and eggs."
Philippine Food Festival
23rd August – 5th September
The Grace Hotel: 77 York St Sydney

*Food images, my own and supplied by Philippine Food Festival, rest of pics from google

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Kookai show at Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival

I don't  do fashion, do you want these tickets? I think there's free drinks or something," says my boss. I have a closer look and realise she's offering me top seats and VIP bar access to the Kookai run way show at the Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival.  Do I want the tickets?,ha, hello, I love free drinks!

I get pretty excited to be honest, I've never been to an actual runway show (shopping centre fashion parades, bad lighting, dodgy MC and embarrassed looking models-I've seen plenty of those)

Miss Carrie S, my super cute work mate and I snap up the invitation from the boss and embark on what turned out to be a great girly night.

Before heading to the show (bar) I'd heard that Mecca Cosmetica was doing mini makeovers, so Carrie and I poped into Myer for a quick touch up. (in my case a massive rehaul)

The mini makeovers were great, we got to choose what kind of eyes we'd like, smokey, bright, or colourful. I just tell the mecca ladies not to make me look like a drag queen and I'd be happy. 10 minutes later after a bit of mascara, eyeshadow and gloss- I look half decent (Carrie looked beautiful) and we we're ready to go.
The Make up artist working her magic

A part of the week long festivities of the Rosemount Fashion Festival, the Kookai show, a long with the other designers showing during the week, staged their show in the Town Hall. The venue was decidedly unglamourous I thought as Town Hall in Sydney is usually where EMO kids hang looking depressed and where people who've chatted on Internet dating sites meet in real life for the first time.

There was a not an EMO or blind dater in sight. It was a real buzz when we arrived, big burly security guards greeted us at the door, they gave way to fashion pr types who busied themselves with their clip boards and square glasses. We didn't have much time for people spotting anymore before the show, we got to our seats (which had cute little gift bags on them with redken hair products in them-score!) just in time before the Kookai show began.

Photographer's ready!

All I really knew about Kookai before the show was that they often did really feminine and colourful collections. And the show certainly delivered sweet, girly, simple clothes-all you really want for Summer and Spring.
There was lots of denim, tie dye, shorts and pretty maxi dresses and skirts- and I was surprised that I liked it so much.

The dress I want

It was a very "floaty" and pretty collection and I've got my eye on that beautiful red maxi dress- perfect for Spring.

After the show we headed to the bar and to my surprise there was food actual proper food-carbs and all and even better I spotted some models eating it! Hooray.

To be fair to both me and the models, the food happened to be my favourite-CUPCAKES- hooray. Pretty face check, cute clothes, check, fashion cliches, check, unfashionable mouthful of cuter cupcakes, check!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pastizzi Cafe and N Love's new do

"I've completely changed," N Love texts me. I am used to these kind of grand sweeping statements from her. 

I immediately think she's going to tell me that she's giving up men for the pursuit of  higher enlightenment (she's a wonderful artist and as she says: "I am more drama than the hills darling.")

We've got a date later at our favourite little place in our hood, the Pasitizzi cafe in Newtown, so I tell her that I can't wait to hear all about it.

Trying to be all arty with the specials board

Pastizzis are little golden parcels of goodness in my opinion.
These little Maltese pastries are so very delicious and the Pastizzi Cafe has become a weekly occurrence for N Love and I.

Not only are Patizzis delicious they're cheap cheap cheap. I swear it'll be the best $1.80 you spend- yes I said $1.80!

I think I've had every single Patizzi on offer at the cafe and I really don't have a favourite. Sweet or savoury I can gobble down a load of these babies.

Particular savoury favourites of ours are the chilli con carne, cheese, spinach and ricotta and the empanada. YUM

Pastizzis: $1.80

Favourite sweet pastizzis are the apple and the cherry and cheese- that one is N Love's absolute favourite. Pattizzis can be a little dry sometimes, so make sure to get the tomato dipping sauce for the savoury ones and of course ice cream with the sweet ones.

The Pastizzi Cafe also serves a variety of pasta, as well as other Mediterranean type mains.

You are always guaranteed a generous serving of pasta and its cheap too at around $13.50. I went with a ravioli last night and ordered the chicken and mushroom and N ordered a special, the spaghetti and meatballs-which was huge.

It was a tad dry apparently and needed a little bit more sauce, but N said the meatballs (which were bigger than golf balls btw) were delicious.

You couldn't get two more different girls then N Love and I, to see us together (which is often) is to see polar opposites. N Love mostly calls me Ghetto Fresh, she once called me a chola (which caused me to freak out-she later apologised and said it was only my big hoops that kind of slightly reminded her ) and if we meet after I've been at work, she calls me ALO. (Because according to her, JLO can rock a corporate look too)

N Love you see is tattooed, into hardcore music (and sometimes Jay Z) surfs and usually rocks a bandanna and mini bee hive. So when I saw her last night, I really did a cartoon like double take. "See I told you, I completely changed," she said.

The N Love I'm used to

Gone was my rockabilly N Love and in her place was a bang on trend super hottie!

Not that N Love isn't always a hottie, but wowzers she looked different. 

N Love's hair-spirations Christina Hendricks and Lauren Conrad

Her black hair was striped, coloured, foiled, treated to get this hot new colour. (It took more than five hours!)

I love it and I can only describe it as a beautiful mix of Christina Hendricks and L.C (N Love's girl crush.) I think I'll try it next.

Pastizzi Cafe
523 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
02 95191063

CH and LC images from google

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

House of Dereon-Beyonce's hot new (and controversial) look

I am obsessed with Beyonce. I can't help it, I just love her. My relationship/obsession with her started when I was in high school. Back in the 'No No No' days (let hear me say: Yeah Yeah Yeah...)

Suffice to say that over the past 12 years (I feel so old) I have watched her every move and have loved every one of her choices and yes! I even loved her in the The Fighting Temptations- (when you love someone you really support them)

So when I saw the latest pic of Queen B (as I affectionately call her) from her clothing line The House of Dereon I almost swiveled right off my chair at work!!!

Don't worry I didn't sustain any injuries, but wowzers doesn't she look AMAZING- even more so then she usually does. This pic makes me want to chop off all my hair, bleach it, get a massive tattoo on my back and walk around topless pronto!

And I know that everyone is saying that she copied the leggings from another designer- but hey, fashion is like that. It starts on the run ways in Paris and ends up in a target in Brisbane! I think both Queen B and the leggings look fantastic!

pic from the dailymail

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friends, memories and cornrows on canvas

I spent my last year of university on exchange in London. It was such a crazy time in my life, I was studying drama, (my acting career started and ended with my degree)  I was young, overwhelmed and had fallen hard for the delights and struggles of London town. (dancing all night at the uni bars, hot chips and curry sauce and the first ever season of pop idol)

Photo by Simon Howden

I can say that most of my entire year at university was a blur, I can barely remember doing any study at all. But all of my strongest and fondest memories revolve around three of my mates, Nai Nai, Sass Birmingham and Sars.

We were an odd bunch, a real United Colours of Benetton. Nai Nai, a no nonsense Caribbean diva from South London, Sass Birmingham, a high street fashionista with a fondness for extensions and coloured contacts and Sars, a super sweet and good christian girl from Pennsylvania.

If Nai Nai, Ms Birmingham, Sars and me were boys-this is what we'd look like (ish)

These girls were my best mates and we pretty much did everything together. Nai Nai and Sass Birmingham were tough English birds, while Sars and I were the awkward foreign exchange students.(good for an "in" with boys)

Nai Nai was really popular on campus, not only because of her "no you did-ent, mmhhhmm snap" straight up attitude, but for her incredible hair skills. When we would go out, Nai Nai would always be running late because she would be hooking boys with names like "black trick" up with a super fresh do.

I always insisted that she charge them for her time, but she'd always say, "don't worry girl, I'm not doing anything I don't like to do" with a wink.

Beckham should have got Nai Nai to do his hair- it would of looked tighter

Watching both Nai Nai and Sass Birmingham started my fascination with hair. Sars and I would sit idly on their beds and watch them fuss over packets of hair, hair glue, dyes... We'd have just brushed ours and felt mildly jealous when Nai Nai and Sass Birmingham emerged with miles and miles of new extensions piled up on their heads in some sort of intricate and funky style that Nai Nai had come up with.

One of my favourite things to do in London back then (actually even now) is to visit Brixton. The girls introduced me to the joys of getting your hair did there and riffling around in the many Afro Caribbean hair shops ( Me: "I think I need 'fro sheen" Them: "Ames you don't have a fro- we'll buy you a scrunchy.")

image by : luigi diamanti

I ended up getting a full head of braids when I went to Paris with Sass. The attractions of Paris took a back seat when I met an incredible looking French woman with braids half way down her back. I said to Sass that I wanted hair just like hers and so instead of visiting the Eiffel tower I sat in a salon for eight hours. 

Almost half a day later, I left the salon with a full head of braids, which included three packets of hair. I had really long hair already and my hair is really thick, so it felt like I was giving birth on my head. (I've never had a baby, but it was pretty damn painful) To make it even more heavy, I had shells stuck on the end of most of my braids, I was convinced I looked like Alicia Keys.

I did not look like Alicia

I kept the braids for around four months, when I got home to Brisbane it was pretty hard to maintain. (I did enjoy flicking randoms with my shells in clubs if they annoyed me) There wasn't many hairdressers at the time that offered extensions and braiding and the ones that did were really expensive.

When I eventually did have a friend undo my braids I rocked a crimped style kind of fro for a few days and got to finally use 'fro sheen.( I felt amazing- I now know I must have looked like a giant tool)

Since then, I've always had a soft spot for braiding and cornrows. And now I live in area in Sydney with an amazing salon that does my hair when I fancy rocking cornrows for cheap. It's pretty normal for me to get my hair did after work on Friday and pull it out on Sunday ready to be uber corporate on Monday.

Side cornrows is pretty much my regular weekend style and it takes my hair dresser all of 10 minutes to do now.

N Love's Amazing portrait of me (I wish I looked this good in full colour)

My beautiful friend N Love is a crazy talented artist who had her very first exhibition this year. I was incredibly blessed to have her paint a picture of me to feature in it. 

She finally gave it to me this weekend. It's an amazing painting and I was completely overwhelmed to see it for the first time. She calls me and the painting ghetto fresh and each time I look at it now it reminds me of my great mates Nai Nai, Sass Birmingham and Sars.

*uncredited photos sourced from google

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Balayage and brunch at Bourke St Bakery

Ms Mash says she's never met anyone like me- apparently out of all of her mates, I am the only one that's consistently cutting/colouring/braiding or doing something to her hair and the only one that leaves a salon with her hair all did- complaining.

It is true, I moan constantly about my hair, I annoy myself but it's a compulsion. If I'm not talking about food or Beyonce, I'm talking about my hair/your hair/her hair/hair I want.

So this morning before Ms Mash and Bob Bob Bobbin arrive to pick me up for Sunday brunch at Bourke St Bakery in Marrickville, I reminded myself not to talk about hair today (Bob Bob Bobbin is a boy- he doesn't get it and I cut my hair last week, so Ms Mash is still recovering from hearing about/living through that)

Today's weather was stunning, exactly the kind of day tourists expect from Sydney and  we suspect that everyone who lives in a 5 km radius to the Bakery will be there there getting their fill of pork and fennel sausage rolls.

So when we arrive, we are thrilled to find a spare table outside and I claim it like a pushy stage mother. This is my first time at the Marrickville Bourke St and no one is denying me a seat in the sun while I stuff my face with delicious Bourke st goodness.

Ms Mash and I head inside and its so much more roomier and brighter than its Surry Hills sister bakery and I instantly eye the delicious bread. I love my carbs, if I could (and if no one was there to judge me) I'd eat an entire loaf of freshly baked bread with butter, bread is definitely something I would take on my desert island (a long with my Ipod, bed and Rodrigo Santoro)

hello lover

I decide against eating an entire french stick once I spot the delicious looking pastries, there's tarts, brulees, croissants, cakes, sandwiches, slices....

Ms Mash had had the ginger brulee tart and suggests I try that, I go to order and quickly change my mind once I see the strawberry and vanilla brulee tart.

I know that the pork and fennel sausage roll is a Bourke st favorite, but as I've recently acquired a strange pork phobia I opt for the the lamb harrissa sausage roll.

Ms Mash orders the beef brisket, red wine and mushroom pie and the pear and rhubarb tart and Bob Bob Bobbin goes for the pork and fennel sausage roll. (x2)

our delicious brunch
Pork and fennel sausage roll $4.50 and Beef Brisket, red wine and mushroom pie $5.30

We take our food outside and our coffees arrive quickly, out of my two dishes, my favourite by far is the brulee tart. Although I don't taste the vanilla much, the strawberries in the brulee are delicious and I secretly want another.

Strawberry and vanilla brulee tart $5.50
Ms Mash on the other hand thinks her brisket pie is a winner, the meat is tender and delicate she says.

Beef Brisket, red wine, mushroom pie $5.30 (Ms Mash was hungry)
We order more coffees as we pretend we can't see the hungry folks trying to stare us out of our sunny table- we're not ready to leave just yet.

I've been quite good all morning, I guess I've been too busy basking in the yumminess of Bourke st and haven't mentioned any one's hair all morning.

As we do the rounds of all the weekend papers and Ms Mash's fashion mags, I see that the lovely Drew Barrymore is in one of the magazines and remember to tell Ms Mash that I had seen pictures of her latest do and I love it/want it.

Both Bob Bob Bobbin and Ms Mash simultaneously roll their eyes with the "not again Ames" look they do so well.

"It's different don't worry, I haven't ever done it before and I just want to try it" I plead.

I explain that I think Drew's hair is balayage and it looks really good and because I've never done it before I should at least try it.

Hair I want now

"Balayage! It's a bit 2009 babe, you'll probably complain if you get it you know," Ms Mash says. Bob Bob Bobbin thinks we're talking another language and goes back to his paper.

I concede that the likeliness of me complaining if I dye my hair like beautiful Drew is high (The truth is I'll be sorely disappointed that the stylist won't be able to make me an exact replica of Drew in this picture, I'll be devastated that I still in fact look like me)

"ok ok, you're right. Can you guys wait here? I just want to buy a french stick before we go home."

Bourke St Bakery Marrickville
2 Mitchell Street
Marrickville NSW

*image of Drew from google
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