Happy Chinese New Year!

1broome6For me, I’ve decided that this year is going to be the year of the Hermit Crab. Yes, not one of the traditional twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac but that kind of sums up how this year is looking for me – less than “traditional”. My usual Chinese New Year festivities kick off with much greeting of everyone with loud and enthusiastic cries of “Gong hee fat chaiiiiii”, followed by eating superhuman amounts of steamboat, lo han tsai (one of my fave vegetarian dishes – ever!) and yee sang, then giving out ang pao (red packets) to all the little kids!

This year, a Broome local took me and a bunch of others fishing. Now, for those of you who don’t know me well, this really is quite a dramatic and momentous occasion as fishing and me don’t generally ever get mentioned in the same sentence. I’m admittedly a city-girl and the last memory I have of going fishing was around the age of five when my dad took us fishing off a dark smelly jetty in Mandurah. I managed to get a fish hook stuck in my knee, and the whole experience was so traumatic that I’d never been fishing since!…But! Just as a hermit crab has to expose its soft and vulnerable bum to find itself a bigger and better home, I’ve resolved to say yes to anyone and anything, throw myself out there to make new friends, and firmly ignore that safe, comfortable, boring and shy girl that sometimes takes hold of me in these situations.

So off we went! After some nifty four-wheel driving over the gorgeous but bumpy red dirt roads, we finally arrived at our fishing spot for the day. The spectacular view just about took my breath away – I can barely describe it and the photos don’t do it justice. The place is so untouched and just teeming with life. Hermit crabs of all sizes scuttle around your feet (some tinier than a pea!), silvery fish flit blithely through the clear aqua waters, and turtles surf the gentle waves, occasionally poking their heads above the surface. The water itself was so deliciously warm that all fear of jellyfish and other such scary things was forgotten as we took refuge from the heat of the relentless sun. No fish were caught, but I couldn’t have cared less!

The day was suitably capped off with an evening by Cable Beach enjoying the sunset, drinks in one hand and fish and chips in the other. Gong hee fat chai indeed!

They say you should spend Chinese New Year doing the things you really like because it predicts what you’ll be doing for the rest of the year. Let’s hope this old saying holds true for me – because that means my year is going to be a cracker!

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So – I’m in Broome!

plane1I’ll have to admit – leaving home was a bittersweet experience. I’m really pumped and excited about my upcoming opportunities to explore the Kimberley region, fly to tiny Aboriginal communities that barely anyone even knows about, and see those parts of Australia that always somehow show up on those “See Australia” ads. You know the ones. Cascading waterfalls, secluded swimming holes, and of course those unforgettable pictures of the intensely rusty red dirt against the even more intense blue expanse of ocean. I can’t wait!

But there is of course the tiny matter of leaving everyone behind, particularly my one and only Jinn with whom I pretty much do everything, so much so it’s like almost having a shared consciousness. Who’s going to laugh at my non-funny jokes? Who’s going to sing my backing harmonies for “We Built This City” when I yell it out really loudly in the car? Who’s going to tell me I look nice today?

Anyhoo, I think I’ve just succeeded in making myself cry! So I’m gonna stop there. In short, I am so uber excited about what’s in store for me up here in this gorgeous land, the people who I’ve met so far have been exceptionally kind and smiley, and I’m looking forward to hanging out and forging new friendships up here too. Yes, it’s initially going to be hard not seeing everyone’s lovely faces, but I’ll make friends and of course have visitors from Perth as well! Soon I’ll get some pictures up of this beautiful town, and you’ll be wanting to visit me too!

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First glimpse of the coast from the plane!

Meet Sue Lewis – artisan chocolatier extraordinaire!

sue-lewis-9Meet Sue Lewis – artisan chocolatier. Her fine craftsmanship and deep respect for the ingredients she uses is tasted in every piece of chocolate her hands make. Forget Bruges. Forget Lucerne. Here in Perth is where you’ll find the freshest, most delicious handmade chocolates you’ll ever taste.

As you enter Sue’s store at 44 Derby Rd Subiaco, you’re instantly welcomed by stands upon stands of freshly made treats and (if you visit during an afternoon) you may be lucky to meet the incredibly talented and passionate lady herself. Upon saying hello I was offered a fresh-off-the-press creme-brulee inspired chocolate that she was making there and then! The incredibly crisp chocolate shell delicately breaks in your mouth to release an amazingly rich yet not overpowering caramelly centre, perfectly balanced by the bittersweet chocolate. (If only I was greeted that way more often!) I got the amazing opportunity to speak to Sue, and got an insight into the creative mind behind the chocolatier-ing process and what drives her.

Sue has had a long relationship with food, starting off in the kitchens back home in England as a youngster, working hard in the good old-fashioned way and progressing up the ranks. She’s had an illustrious and enjoyable career which has resulted in her working for more than twenty years in a number of reputable restaurants in London, including the eponymous Alastair Little in Soho and Anna Hansen’s The Modern Pantry. Despite not formally training as a patissiere, with a little bit of right-place-right-time luck (and I’m sure a lot of good reputation preceding her), Sue got the chance to work with Paul Young, who is not only a groundbreaking chocolatier currently leading the way in London’s gustatory sphere but who has also previously worked as one of Marco Pierre White‘s head pastry chefs for ten years. That’s some seriously big names there. (Have you been watching your MasterChef? If you’re not sure who I’m talking about, you’ve heard of Gordon Ramsay right? Well, let’s just say he was trained by Marco Pierre White who is rumoured to have made the aforementioned stony-faced potty mouth cry.)

This is a place I would definitely go out of my way to discover. Sue Lewis is not only a purveyor of beautiful chocolates but she also freshly produces the most irresistible ice creams and sorbets (think 70% Valrhona chocolate rippled with Calypso mangos or a luxuriously smooth sea salt caramel) that are an absolute God-send this summer. Trust me, you will not leave Sue’s empty-handed nor empty-stomached.

Here is a snippet of the fascinating and delicious afternoon I spent with Sue.sue-lewis-7 sue-lewis-3 sue-lewis-2 sue-lewis-1

Let’s start with a little about yourself. You’re a long way from home and have worked with some of the greatest names in food, so what brings you to Perth?

I suppose you could say I had a midlife crisis! I wanted to be somewhere less dreary and hectic than London, somewhere sunny and near the beach. I’d been to Perth a couple of times before visiting friends, it’s a beautiful city that ticked all the boxes – and so I thought, why not! I arrived and made Perth my home in October 2011 and finally got my store up and running in December 2012. It’s only a tiny shop, just enough for my marble slab to work my chocolate, my ice cream machine and the cashier, but I actually live upstairs! I have a lovely kitchen there where I do more baking and experimenting, and I also love relaxing out in my wee garden up there.

So what motivates and inspires you?

First and foremost is the quality and the source of the chocolate I work with. It’s very important to me that it comes from organic and ethical sources. One of the sources I use a great deal of are Bahen & Co who happen to be based in a family operated farm in Margaret River. All their chocolate is made with vintage equipment in the purest and most traditional of ways, and out of only two ingredients – cacao and cane sugar. No nasty or cheap additives, so it’s absolutely fresh and jam-packed with flavour.

Secondly, I’m influenced by the seasonal and local produce and try to incorporate it in creative and clever ways into my chocolate. For example, the mango season has been fantastic and so they’ve featured heavily over the summer. One of my latest creations specifically for Australia Day was made with Western Australian honey and wattle seed – so good!

I’m also a supporter of the Slow Food Movement, which was started in the 1980s to counteract the effect fast food was having on society. Essentially, good food should be linked with an awareness of your community and environment. I think it’s really important to be knowledgeable about where your food comes from and the wide-reaching effect your choices can have on the rest of the world.

I’m very passionate about getting the freshest and purest ingredients for my work, never adding any hidden preservatives or shortcut additives, so that what I create is injected with the best flavours and of the highest quality, and I hope others can see and taste that too.sue-lewis-4

So what is the next step for your store?

I’m currently holding chocolate tasting and tempering classes every Thursday night. Each student is greeted with a glass of bubbly and taken through the basics of chocolate tasting, and I share with them the fascinating process by which a tiny cocoa bean is harvested and ultimately makes its way into the form of the delicious chocolate we universally love. We then go through a lesson in chocolate tempering where I show everyone once and for all that it really isn’t impossible to get right! Like I say, if you haven’t poured kilos of beautiful melted chocolate out onto a cool marble slab at least once – you haven’t lived! At the end of the evening, everyone gets a box of Sue Lewis chocolates to go home with. Whether you actually arrive home with the chocolates uneaten – well, that’s up to you. Either pop in or email me at info@suelewischocolate.com for bookings and more details!

I’m also looking to collaborate with other like-minded foodies around Western Australia to drive this push to promote ethical, organic and local produce. It’s not just important for the food we eat ourselves today, but also for the future.

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Come visit Sue. If you want to taste a bit of heaven in a chocolate truffle that explodes in your mouth, the pleasure of ten degustation courses compacted into a morsel  that fits in your palm, and made from the finest and freshest of ingredients by hands and a heart so passionate about their trade – this is the place to be.

Sue Lewis Artisan Chocolatier / 44 Derby Rd Subiaco

0452 423 323 / info@suelewischocolate.com / Facebook / Website
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Loving the Laneway Night Markets

laneway-market3Just when we thought there couldn’t be anymore markets or festivals, On William and Fringe World decide to outdo everyone! I was meant to be packing for Broome (which still hasn’t yet been done) but once again I abandoned common sense and gave in to the irresistible draw of the Laneway Night Markets. The On William team have done it again, transforming Hook and Lock Lanes in Northbridge into an amazing hub of activity, food, art and general market-y goodness. We ended up doing a couple of laps of the stalls as we kept bumping into people we knew and chatting. It’s kind of only lately dawned on me that I won’t be seeing a lot of these people for a while so I think I’m subconsciously squeezing in all the future missed conversations and catch-ups into this one tiny concentrated week. I of course did not leave empty-handed, one of my favourite purchases being this awesome handmade oversized felt badge delicately stitched by oh, hello. Check out her Etsy store, it’s pretty amaze!

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***For those interested… 

1. Fringe World on the big screen!

2. Hand painting prints that are fresh off the press – Shiritori Press

3. Brenton See finishing off a work that will be finding its home at Captain of the Ship on William St

4. Cute goodness from Enid Twiglet

7. Retro chic from Pixel Closet

8. My new badge from Oh Hello

Australians all let us rejoice!

aus-day-9I trust we all had a happy Australia Day and are still enjoying the long weekend? We decided to relive our high school/university days and spread our picnic rugs out on the soft green grass of Kings Park under the gum trees, drinking in the gorgeous view over Perth City and the Swan River, whilst chilling out to the tunes of Triple J’s Hottest 100 (did you get what you voted for?). It’s been a while since I’d done a good picnic and this day really satisfied that little hole in my life – perfect weather (okay, a wee bit hot), captivating company, great catch-ups with lots of long-time-no-sees, wicked sandwiches (yeah I made them myself!) and my Karen Walker sunnies (hah, so vain!).

So there was one tiny little downer. We’d gotten to Kings Park nice and early (around 2pm) to stake out our prime piece of grass and view over the river where the fireworks are usually shot. From memory, the fireworks are usually blasted off somewhere very near to Kings Park so that they’re almost exploding directly above you! Unbeknownst to me, their location had changed. So much so that when the fireworks began I (and the other hundreds of people gathered in excitement) realised that we were very very far away. And behind a TREE! A BIG TREE! Haha, it was actually kinda funny. So we amused ourselves with all the crazy kids running around frenetically with their glow sticks and light sabres instead!

Don’t get me wrong. This was one of my best Australia Days ever! The fireworks were really only a tiny half hour portion of an amazing day, doing one of my all-time favourite things (picnicking!) in the company of a lot of my favourite people. A huge ups to all who managed to make it – it helped make this girl a little happier about being exiled from the lovely lot of you for six months!sa-bygwenaus-day-7sandwichaus-day-2aus-day-6aaus-day-1 planes-gwenaus-day-19aus-day-10 aus-day-11aus-day-23aus-day-12aus-day-28 aus-day-8aus-day-13aus-day-24sa-by-gwen2 aus-day-16 aus-day-17 aus-day-15aus-day-35

See what I mean about the tree?

***Thanks to Gwen for some of the pics!

Night markets at Illuminites!

illuminites-11Tis the season for street festivals it seems! We decided to ditch the usual fine dining dinner for our anniversary (plus we’d already blown a fair bit of money on some Michelin stars in NYC so we’ve been good to our wallets and gallbladders lately) to check out Illuminites Night Market at the Perth Cultural Centre. There were over 50 stalls – only three of them appeared to be food so I did impatiently have to wait about 45 minutes for some takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls – taste better than they sound). But I was finally let loose amongst the stalls, blood sugar and happy mood restored, and they did not disappoint. I have to say my favourites were The Bunny Shoppe and The White Square. There are a couple of pictures of my swag below – can’t wait to bust them out! Go here to find out more details about Illuminites and the stalls!illuminites-6 illuminites-1 illuminites-2 illuminites-3 illuminites-8illuminites-9illuminites-10illuminites-7illuminites-5illuminites-13illuminites-12illuminites-14 illuminites-loot-2

The swag – 1. neon yellow spike necklace from The Bunny, 2. wee black dinosaur brooch from The White Square, 3. cat ears ring also from The Bunny

The antidote to night shifts…a carnival!

leederville-bubblesI’ve been on night shifts this whole weekend (working 10pm to 8:30am) and I don’t know why but I tend to get really sad and moochy when I’m on nights…This weighty, sticky inertia just sets in and I need to muster up huge amounts of effort and enthusiasm to do anything – my hair remains unbrushed (why hello Helena Bonham Carter!), food that requires anything more than a one minute pirouette in the microwave is way too difficult, socialising is totally out of the question (unless you like to see my sad sad face and don’t mind receiving grunts to all your questions), and even my toothbrush feels heavier (don’t worry, I can assure you I somehow do find the will to brush my teeth!). I’m a pitiful sight to behold really.

I knew that the Leederville Carnival was coming up on Saturday but knew that I’d be in my catatonic, PJs-or-scrubs-all-day mode, so I’d pretty much written off going. I woke up in the afternoon around 3pm and proceeded to do my usual energy-conserving shuffle around the house, coffee in hand, when Jinn burst into the house so full of verve and zest for life that it almost hurt my bleary eyes, and demanded that I must take photos of him while planting some daisies (I tell you, this blog has made us even weirder than we were before). After much sighing, grimacing, and declaring that every part of my body was sore in a cephalocaudal order (read head to toe) I dragged my sorry pyjama-clad butt outside and very begrudgingly started taking photos of said daisies.

Bit by bit the warm afternoon sun, the quiet cheery calm of our garden, and the sight of Schnooks lolling about the grass showing off his contorting abilities started to work on me. Heck, even Jinn’s initially annoying enthusiasm started to rub off on me. And then (despite my greatest efforts to cling to my inner Grinch) – I was smiling. The Red Sea parted. Berlin Wall fell. We found life on another planet.

So with that we took ourselves off to the inaugural Leederville Carnival which was held along Oxford St, one of my favourite parts of the world, having spent many an afternoon or evening here enjoying a snag, checking out the new cafe (Foam!), or shopping at my favourite stores (Harry & Gretel, Urban Depot AND Atlas Divine – wallet beware!). Aside from the usual shops, there were stalls run by Bluebird Vintage, Miss Brown Vintage, and foodies plying Mexican food, doughnuts, and Japanese dumplings just to name a few! Go here for a closer look at the festival. I only intended to stay a couple of hours but the stalls upon stalls of vintage goodies and locally made craft wouldn’t let me leave and so we remained until the close of the festival around 8pm. But that’s when it got better…

There’d been a party bus parked in the middle of the carnival, DJ perched atop, that had been pumping out funk/reggae/soul tunes to the happy crowd all day. We were wandering past it when a mob of high-vis clad (read fluoro yellow vests) men started clearing people and pushing around bins to collect rubbish, signalling that the festival was over. Then suddenly, in a massive haha-fooled-you move, brass instruments and drums appeared in their hands from their bins, and even a sexy bass-playing girl spectacularly materialised out of a giant wheelie bin! Spontaneous crazy dancing from the crowd ensued, Santa paid a quick visit and caused the kids to go into a lolly-catching frenzy, and a soul-mama sang some fine tunes closing out a fantastic fun-filled day in the perfect fashion!

And then I went to work. But with a smile rather than a scowl, a swag containing my newly acquired vintage tooled leather handbag, and a belly full of burritos, popcorn and good coffee. 🙂leederville-road leederville-breakdancerleederville-pottery leederville-polaroids leederville-donutsleederville-crowd leederville-audience leederville-chalk-2 leederville-chalk-santa leederville-chalk-1This girl was aMAzing – her dad is an artist who focuses on abstract art and you can see she definitely inherited the talent! She was drawing and colouring with such confidence and what looked like practised ease, I felt I was in the presence of an established artist.leederville-dj leederville-fake garbos-junkadelic leederville-lion dance flame throwerleederville-lights and streamers

Bits and bobs + Happy Wedding Weekend!

The week just gone has been hectic! When my shifts don’t match up with Jinn’s, we hardly see each other. Luckily, the last weekend was fantastic.

1. We had a great time catching up with friends on Saturday at a barbeque at South Perth foreshore. Not only was the company excellent, but the view of Perth from over the river is spectacular. (Happy birthday Manal!)

2. Our nephew Nathanael gave Jinn some of his highly treasured Kung Fu Panda sticky plasters as a present for his birthday. And Jinn needed them – heartfelt and practical!

3. Some behind-the-scenes pics from the photoshoot with Steven.

4. Schnooks was intrigued.

5. We had a one month ‘birthday’ party for our new niece Gabrielle. Proud Grandmumsy + bub.

6. Jinn and Nathanael up to the usual guff. They’re roughly the same mental age.

7. The beautiful one month old Gabrielle!

8. Happy Weekend! We have a huge wedding bonanza of a weekend coming up with Jinn’s sister getting hitched. There are almost 30 people descending upon the Teh family home from Malaysia – lots of celebrations, ceremonies, shenanigans and bad dancing in store for us. (Did I just hear you say “Oppa Gangnam style!”?)

Roll over Ruck Rover…(+ Little Willy’s)

Perth City has undergone somewhat of an overhaul over the past two years, and in no place is it more evident than William Street, Northbridge. It once used to be a road lined with strip joints and bad restaurants, and I would certainly never have wandered down it alone after 8pm or so (and even if accompanied, at a very brisk pace!). Now the gorgeous old buildings have been restored to reveal their gorgeous late 1800s faces and are attracting more and more lovely new occupants! Tiny shops filled with racks of pretty vintage clothing, hole-in-the-wall coffee bars, and hip new restaurants are now filling up the spaces.

A more than welcome newcomer, Ruck Rover, has moved from its old home in Mount Lawley to join the now trendy crowd along this street. They stock a cute collection of clothing for guys, girls and children, as well as a wide range of gifts that would have nearly everyone on your Christmas list covered. Funky and brightly coloured beaded necklaces for your sister or BFF (I caved and bought one for myself!), polaroid cameras and film for any hipster in your life, sweet diaries that would impress any obsessive compulsive mum, and even homewares for the newly moved out.

I personally left with the aforementioned necklace, some earrings, a bunch of gorgeous greeting cards and the 50th issue of Frankie (yay for Frankie!). The place is dangerous I tells ya. Wandering further north up William Street we somehow also managed to acquire a new print from Outre Gallery by Matte Stephens, and an old Nina Simone record (an original pressing!) from Noise Pollution.

We may have travelled onwards but I hadn’t worn sensible shoes (now there’s a money-saving tactic!) so we stopped by Little Willy’s to enjoy their fine coffee and homemade pink lemonade. Now there’s a perfect ending to a perfect afternoon.


***What I’m wearing – ivory scallop lace top by Madewell, fuchsia petal skirt by Leifsdottir, black and tan wedges by Country Road (similar here and here), earrings by Kate Spade (similar), lip tint by Tarte in Spirited

***What he’s wearing – chambray shirt with dog embroidery by Pigeonhole (they don’t have the dog one anymore but they do have the duck one – here!

Get your festival on…Beaufort Street style!

Wall art by Robert Jenkins

Hope some of you made it to the Beaufort Street Festival! It was a fun day with plenty of different sorts of activities – food, wine, music, art, fashion – seriously you’d have to be some kind of grouch not to have had a good time. Here’s a pick of a few things we did.

It was initially a rather sweltering 34 degrees but it was not long before a sweet breeze picked up and made the heat more tolerable. We ducked into the area hosted by the Ellington Jazz Club to hear Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics play a feisty set – mama’s got one hell of a voice! They just looked like they were having way too much fun on that stage, even with the boys dressed in full suits in the heat!

After thirstily downing a delicious and heat-defying raspberry and apple icy pole (Jinn had lime and mint – jealous…), we wandered further down the street, resisting the temptation of the stalls full of multicultural treats – paella, tacos, goslemme, murtabak, okonomiyaki – yes, we had to be very strong! Someone was blaring Justin Timberlake’s Senorita song…no wait, someone totally aMAzing was singing JT, and completely blowing our minds! He sounded just like him (if not a bit better, i.e. less whiny) and he had a sweet band backing him consisting of a keyboardist and drummer. And they’re all music teachers…whaaat? Yeah, they were advertising a teaching company – sign me up boys! If anyone can make me sound/play like that, I’m in. You can find them here.

Sadly I couldn’t stay any longer as I had a hen’s party to go to, but that didn’t stop me having fun! These festivals/street parties are becoming more common here in Perth in the warmer months and I for one am all for it!

Photo art by Keith Clements

See you there next year!

***What I’m wearing – navy blue playsuit by Gorman, tan embroidered belt also by Gorman, tiny yellow flower earrings by someone that escapes my memory (similar), brown leather sandals by Jeffrey Campbell via Urban Outfitters (similar), tortoiseshell sunglasses by Robert Marc

***What he’s wearing – yellow printed t-shirt by T-bar (similar), Brooklyn Nets cap by Adidas, sunglasses by Cheap Monday via Kaeho

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