Monday, October 31, 2005

The news from Bondi

It was a blog-free weekend, folks, and kind of nice to stay off a computer for a couple of days. Shortly after my post on Friday, Haydn and I nixed going to the Ray/Ben/Missy concert, we just lost gumption and parking looked to be a hassle. I got home and procured some Chili Basil stir-fry from up the hill at Thai Terrific and then fell asleep about 20 minutes into Napoleon Dynamite -- bummer! I wanted to catch the little nuances that I didn't when I saw it last year for the first time.

Saturday was a gorgeous day here and I pretty much hung out in the 'hood. I felt a bit homesick that night, when it was time to make dinner and I really wanted to flip on the radio and listen to Prairie Home Companion. I always like when Saturday ends, it gets dark out, and you can listen to the News from Lake Wobegone and make some tacos. I think I'll have to start listening to shows online. Thank goodness for interweb.

Totally rainy Sunday was an outing for Yum Cha at Bondi Junction, or as those back in the states call it, Dim Sum. Haydn and I met up with Dan and Anthea and waited about an hour for a table. Also waiting was one of the hot ranch hands from McLeod's Daughters. My first celeb spotting in Oz, and I'm tempted to put it on Gawker, but I think it would need to be, like, to be relevant. So, Anthea was our Yum Cha expert and knew exactly what dumplings and whatnot that we should have. Some lovely fried dumplings and delicious mango pancakes. And, yes, I still for the life of me cannot figure out how to use chopsticks.

After that, H and I felt the spirit of the Orient and went to Mao and More to look around at furniture and Mao-inspired art and communist propaganda. Good times, and of course in a wierd way made me nostalgic for Russia/China class in high school. This is a great resource if you're looking for that Mao bust to put on the mantle.

Dinner was over at Jimmy Pops and Michelle's and I really drank too much wine and ate kebabs. But it was quite the international gathering with me, Morgan (England), Pops (Ireland), and Michelle and Haydn representing Australia. Seems like we were missing a Canadian or something. And that pretty much wraps up the weekend.

Halloween is pretty much a non-event here and I was only really reminded of it when I saw the date on the newspaper today. I think I did see a woman on her way to some kind of pagan celebration, but I don't expect any trick-or-treaters. I hope some of you are keeping it real and donning costumes for some pagan revelry tonight...


Friday, October 28, 2005

Taking in the culture

Sort of a sleepy day here today, as last night was a bit of a late night. The You Am I show was pretty good, they reminded me a bit of The Replacements, as in very straightforward, powerful music. And you can tell people just love them, a very rapt audience, even with all that beer. Oh and the Australian Dancing with the Stars champ was in the house, talk about rubbing elbows! The show was at the Gaelic Club, a bit smaller version of the Bowery Ballroom perhaps and much more Irish.

So, today the House of Pi beckoned and, yes, that is me hoisting the big bowl of yumminess down at Bondi. Somewhere in there is a beef and mushroom pie, but really it is just a conduit for the mashed potatoes, mashed peas and gravy. So good. They should be selling those on 49th and 6th Ave to save everyone from the $10 tossed salad.

Tonight is another show. Ray LaMontagne is opening for Aussie uber-stars Ben Lee and Missy Higgins, at Centennial Park -- the big, major park of Sydney, like a Central Park. It's a lovely day again, should be a lovely evening as well.

I think my new assignment for the blog is to add in a little fashion commentary with pics of What are they wearing in Sydney? I have had my own wardrobe challnges as going from beach to indie rock concert can really leave a girl just staring at her closet. Thankfully, there is no Gap, Old Navy, or H & M, so even tho everyone in the US has the same clothes as me, perhaps here it is a big more novel. There's lots of Boho Chic going on and lots of vintage, however I think the main thing with trying the boho chic thang, is that one should strive to be more of a Sienna Miller than an Olsen Twin. It's a fine line. So, I'll try to take some pics without being too obvious. But, yes, big sunglasses from 1983 seem to be in all around the world.

Not sure what is on the docket for the weekend, I'm hoping for continued sunshine. Looks promising.


Today I went to the beach

The title pretty much sums it up. I woke up late, it was absolutely beautiful out, nary a cloud in the sky, so I watched Little House on the Prairie and then headed down to Bondi Beach. Stopped at Baristas on the way for a flat white, and the guy asked me where I was from and I said "New York," altho I usually want to say Wisconsin for the sheer exotic-ness of it, but NY requires less explanation. "Oh, I thought you were Scandy," he said. I'm thinking that's Scandinavian, nope, I'm 'Sconie.

Just laid about and read the Daily Telegraph and did venture into the water a couple times, not much past my ankles. The water is cold, yet lots of people swimming in the waves. Brought back nice memories of playing in the waves at the Whalley Beach Party 2005 at the Jersey shore.

As far as culinary updates, it's been all about the home cooking. Last night Haydn made his pasta with tomato sauce and tuna with a major dose of chili -- I think it could be worthy of a spot on the Lil Frankies menu. Gregg and Lucy would remember this dish from the pre-half marathon carbo-loading fest this spring. Haydn remarked that he never saw me eat so fast before, must have been all that scholarly action at the library. Anyway, I revisited the leftovers this afternoon post-beach. And interesting to note, canned tuna comes in flavors here -- like pesto, chili, and a couple of others. Maybe I didn't recently visit the tuna section in my grocer's back in the US, but I don't recall any Chicken-of-the-Sea flavas.

And, tonight, friends, is the You Am I show. Besides Jazzy Josh -- I gave him a CD after my visit here -- most of you in the US probably aren't familiar with one of Australia's greatest indie rock bands EVER. Truthfully, I'm not all the familiar either, but I've heard the lore and I'm on the guest list. Hurrah for guest lists!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Quest for knowledge, wifi, and the food court

Today my search for wi-fi brought me to the State Library of New South Wales, specifically The Mitchell Library and its beautiful Reading Room, you can take a little online tour of it and imagine me at one of the two-person tables with my Mac, catching on up on emails and reading Trent's blog. The guy at the next table was up to his chin in Environmental Studies reports on the Homebay Bush and at my table sits a copy of Australian Economic History Review, Vol. 10-11, 1970-71. Light reading, if you will.

The Reading Room is just as it should be all grand and quiet and well-lit, with big wood tables, stained glass windows and three stories of built-in bookshelves. Haydn has a friend who comes here for the wi-fi and the air of scholarly productivity, and the librarians were very nice to give me a library card despite not having anything with a local address on it. The library is downtown in the area known as the domain. The Sydney Hospital is next door, the Parliament house is on the street, and the Australian Mint, too. Though, I think the mint is more of a landmark than a place printing the Australian dollar. Hyde Park is nearby, a long lovely stretch of green in the middle of the city, and on the other side of the park and the historic buildings are the skyscrapers and such.

Before I found the library, I found the big mall area and was happy to stumble upon the Body Shop. Then I found myself incredibly starving and ended up at...the mall food court. I was going to opt for good ol' Subway -- afterall, I was at the mall! But the meal deals there include a soda and a cookie. Um, hello, it isn't a meal deal without potato chips, right? So then the Chinese place next to Subway lured me away.

Haydn is picking me up in a bit and I believe we're checking out the band The Cops tonight. Hmm, but I bet I will be able to watch McLeod's Daughters before that.

And with that, a bit more web cruising and more to come tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The origin of

The sun was out in full force this morning in Bondi, I headed over to Tamarama for a wonderful yoga class -- even without sitting at a computer full-time, yoga still feels so good to stretch everything out. After class, I headed on the path back over to Bondi. Loads of people were out sunbathing and I was reminded that the girls here like to go topless. I think my Midwestern modesty will keep me topped when I head to the beach. I haven't gone swimming or sunbathing yet, it's been hot enough a couple of days (especially Sunday which was absolutely perfect and glorious), but I remember the water being very cold at the end of summer last year, so I think it will take me a bit to take a dip. Sunbathing, is probably not far off in the future, tho.

Now, I have received a few comments/questions from you, dear readers, and as I walked along the path, I felt that today was a good day to introduce y'all to the actual chunkytoast. Because, yes, it does exist! When I first came to Oz last winter, I went to Baristas and on the menu was something called chunkytoast, and I was intrigued. Upon my return to work in NY, I regaled my breakfast/lunch pal-for-all-times, Sam, with the wonder of chunkytoast. We were in the midst of a Bread Market morning toast phase, and chunkytoast was something to daydream about --with its super-duper thickness and choice of spreads.

So, as you can see from above, chunkytoast is sort of like two pieces of bread as one. I'm sure you can get vegemite as a spread, but jam and butter were fine for me, thanks. It was a lovely late morning flat white, chunkytoast, view of ocean respite...til a surprise shower came upon Bondi. Oh my, those poor topless girls on the beach.

Next up, a loyal reader in Boston, MA wrote in requesting pictures of any exotic produce. I happen to live a few blocks away from the Fruitologist, a vibrant market of all sorts of produce. I stopped in there this afternoon to do some reconnaissance, and I can't say I found anything completely foreign. There is actual passion fruit, very strange looking squashes (they call everything in the squash family "pumpkin" of some kind), and something called Paw-Paws. I might not be terribly well-versed in my knowledge of topical-esque fruit, but this at least might not be something we see everyday at Gristedes.

And, on a final and very important note -- Saturday night, Haydn introduced me to the wonder of Clem's Chicken. Comfort food at its best, most filling, and swimming in butter. We went to Newtown and got a roasted chicken, pumpkin, coleslaw, and these amazing little potatoes. The potatoes were melon-ball sized, and smothered in buttery, creamy, goodness. I'm not really sure what to call them except amazing. I know one girl from Brooklyn who would probably stop there every night if it was at her F train stop...

Other news and notes from Oz: the ARIAs were on Sunday (Aus version of Grammys) and Haydn went as my correspondent, but didn't seem to stay at the actual ceremony very long. He was, however, at the after-party early enough to hear the speech to the event staff about food and health standards, heh heh. Sounds like everyone had a great time, and Missy Higgins was the big, big winner, as was young Ben Lee whose single Catch the Disease is really, really, ah, catch-y.

And, with that novella of a post...til next time.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The (nearly) summer version

Saturday afternoon here, but moreso feels like an extension of morning. That sort of laziness contrasted with bursts of industriousness -- like coffee and newspaper and then inspiration to mop. It started sunny and blue skies here, but seems to be heading back to overcast and chilly.

Friday night took Haydn and I over to the Annandale to watch part II of New Zealand v. Aus in Rugby league. Australia won this time, despite my lofty declaration that they lacked the look of desire and determination. I say that, and they score like 4 unanswered touchdowns(?)/goals. However at the back of the Annandale is the awesome Wok n Roll, delicious Thai. You can create a dish or order something off the menu. I opted for the Pad See Ew with beef, so good. So filling. The Thai food here in Aus, is just...fresher, more flavorful. Haydn's refried rice had a nice little kick to it, too. Washed down with Cooper's Creek pale ale, which reminds me a bit of the goodness of a New Glarus Spotted Cow or Blue Moon.

After that we headed to the Metro to see a band called Decoder Ring. Really cool. Kind of arty, cinematic, rock/electronica what have you, with the science and nature filmstrips of our youth as backdrop to it all. At one point 4 members of the band were clamored around the Mac and the keyboards and it kind of looked like the IT department was having a meeting or that someone had been called from the Help Desk.

Today was a big, beautiful breakfast, created by Haydn. Bacon (of course), toast, mushrooms, avocado and a delightful little salsa alongside. I told Haydn, it was the best breakfast yet and he said it was his summer version. You can see the goodness for yourself...


Friday, October 21, 2005

Blinking lights, Rainy nights

Hey friends,

first of all, thanks so much for reading the blog and posting the comments. lurve it! so good to hear all your written voices. speaking of voices, Haydn picked up my cell phone today and i'm feeling quite international.

So, I'm in his office now and meant to post a couple of pics, but forgot the cord to upload from the camera. doh. I thought pics of rainy Sydney might be of interest to those of you who thought it never rained here (I was one of those people until recently). A quick post, anyway, as we're about to head out to Luna Park to see an Eels show tonight. I love the album Blinking Lights and Other Revelations -- tho I really only listen to disc 1 for some reason -- so should be interesting to see him live with Mr. Eels chomping that big ol' ever-present cigar.

Last night was bolognese night and Haydn pretty much took over and did his usual bang-up job of creating the sauce. I think I can fly solo next time, but there are a few steps to remember. It was all so good I had it again today for lunch, after a huge flat white and some time staring at the ocean. I also went to a great second-hand bookshop, Gertrude and Alice, in Bondi today. There is contemporary fiction, classic fiction, and Australian fiction. Hmm, not sure if that means Aussie fiction is better, worse or just needs a category of its own. Then I stopped at St. Vinny's and bought a lamp to put atop the new dresser.

Time to head out--

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mixed Bizness

Ever since Haydn and I drove up this street last week, I have wanted to take a picture of Eli's Mixed Business, in honor of my favorite Oracle friend, Eli. For some reason, Eli and Mixed Business do seem to go together. Hee hee. Mixed Business establishments are like convenience stores, bodegas, what have you.

Wednesday is a bit of a dreary day, there was some rain earlier and I need to remember to take clothes off the line in case percipation should happen again. Having a clothesline in the back is good living.

Last night, we headed out for a friend's birthday celebration of tapas at Captain Torres, an old Spanish place (complete with German waiters!) with big, heavy, dark wood and little, delicate pitchers of sangria. Delicious chorizo, mushrooms in a thick cream sauce, shrimp in a chunky tomato and oil with a bit of spice. After the Captain's, we stopped at a pub across the steet for a bit.

Today was minimal activity, just stuck around Bondi. Worked out getting pics up on the blog, went up to Three Steps Cafe for a bacon and avocado roll with BBQ sauce. So good and simple. Then wandered around the neighborhood and stopped at the neighborhood IGA. Will be a quiet night around here, Haydn is going to show me the ropes on making his bolognese sauce and then I have a feeling there will be some McLeod's Daughters on tv and couch time.

Oh and lest I forget to send some Aussie news back to the states, Our Mary (aka Princess Mary of Denmark, an Australian civilian who married a Danish prince) had a baby over the weekend. I love reading the papers here, The Daily Telegraph is a bit more tabloid-esque and the Sydney Morning Herald is pretty middlebrow and covers a nice range of stories and arts, and The Australian is just a bit too serious for my afternoon read.

Below is a pic of the mailboxes at an apartment building just around the corner...


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Everything in its right place

Pretty nice day, this Tuesday is. Got up early, as is my new habit and decided to take a yoga class at a place I've been running by in the mornings. A pretty mellow class at Tamarama SLSC (Surf Live Saving Club), an old timey neighborhood surf/ocean safety place with old surf boards mounted on the walls, there were even a couple of surf dudes in the class. How great to take a small morning class and to literally hear the ocean outside the window. I'm not talking about taking a class in a basement -- bc seemingly that is where all yoga class are that I have taken in Madison and NYC -- with a sound effects CD and some incense burning, no, this was literally the Pacific Ocean. It is really a wonderful way to clear the mind. Then I strolled over to Bronte Beach and had a flat white and a muffin there.

Almost finished with The Time Traveller's Wife, a book that Sam gave me. It is one of those that kind of sucks you in and you care about the characters even if they are a bit precious, and it is set in Chicago and I love to hear those familiar street names like Dearborne, Monroe, Randolph, Ashland.

Now I'm sitting in Haydn's office, and we're heading out in a bit for tapas for a friend's birthday. I have officially unpacked my suitcase now and put things away. No bike yet, as there's been an edict issued that I'm not quite ready to take on the roads what with the opposite lanes of traffic and all that. I did catch a bit of The View this afternoon, and my god those women are annoying, well, except Meredith Veira. Why is that program on here when there could be Regis & Kelly spreading their goodwill around the world?!

Til tomorrow,

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Things that are important

I'm talking about potato chip flavors and the whole new variety to be found in the snack chip aisle of a new country! Today, I ran over to Bondi Junction to pick up a charger for Haydn's digital camera (really, I swear, photos will be coming soon, just taking a little while). And then was dying of hunger post-flat white and picked up a bag of Red Rock Deli Deli-Style Potato Chips, Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream flavor. Delicious!!! The nice, crisp fancy type of chips -- kettle-esque --, and the flavor was sort of in the BBQ chip family, but without the wierd mesquite that sometimes gets in the way. I think this flava would be a big hit on ye olde slab at Nonesuch. I'll get a bit more adventurous and get to the Thai flavors and Bacon flavors soon...

Besides adventures in potato chip-land, things are well and good in Bondi. I had a lovely afternoon tea down the road at Di's yesterday afternoon (Sunday), complete with scones and jam and all that. Was nice to catch up, talk a little shop, and truly know another neighbo(u)r around here.

Gosh, in other eating news...had a rather sophisticated (re: grown-up) dinner on Saturday night in Balmain at 3 Weeds. What a cool place, a recently renovated neighborhood hotel complete with pub room (we watched part of the Aus v. New Zealand rugby league game), casual dining area, and then more upscale dining. That's right, I enjoyed the upscale and had a delicious plate of scallops and an amazing dish of creamy, flavorful risotto, all washed down with a very nice New Zealand Sauvigon Blanc. The wine choice must have been a sign that NZ was going to beat Aus for the first time in like 50 years in rugby.

Cultural note: "hotels" are like the neighborhood pub in Australia. Big, corner buildings, that historically had rooms to rent and some still do, but mostly now are just large, centrally located pubs of varying degree of style. They can be very casual with tvs and the omnipresent poker machines or a bit more lounge-y and trnedy etc. The one right near us in Bondi is the Royal Hotel, more of the causal variety, and it is up the steep hill a block and a half. Reminds me a wee bit of Main St in Madison and my proverbial "rolling home" from Genna's and the 'Dise. Paush knows what I'm talkin' about.

In further weekend culinary news, Sunday night was down to the Beach Road Hotel for a little Italian red sauce lovin'. Very basic -- you could get either fettucine or spaghetti with meat/meatless sauce and then there were some meat dish options. I went for fettucine with bolognese and Haydn and Joeley both opted for a schnitzel, which I think in the US would be considered veal parmesan (Haydn) or chicken parmesan (Joeley). Big, filling and simple. And big glasses of red wine. No further details to that other than, red wine. Love that.

Wow, I'm really into food. I run in the mornings here over to Clovelly (C-town, as I call it), but that's not quite as interesting as the food, now is it? Oh and Haydn and I went to Ikea and bought a chest of drawers. It is nearly finished and then I'll really, truly unpack my suitcase and further establish myself. Next up: I gotta get me a library card.

Chunkytoast for all!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Sometimes we need a little overcast

Kind of a gloomy day here, but that's ok as it was a late night at the Annandale ( I was reunited with Lovell's Lager and the Rule brothers et al) and a bit rough waking up this morning -- at least for people like Haydn who go to work and whatnot. I'm quite enjoying Australian TV and its very minimal amount of commercials. Shows don't start on the :00 and :30 but all over the clock, and I think it must have something to do with lack of commercials. It all makes for my Little House on the Prairie and Sex in the City re-run watching that much more pleasurable.

Went around the corner to Campbell Parade to The House of Pi (not sure if there a pi sign on the keyboard, hmm) and had a delicious, comforting meat pie -- a little beef and mushroom pie in a very hearty crust topped with the mashed potatoes, mashed peas, and brown gravy. One can order the pie sans mashed and gravy toppings, but as the guy at the counter said "it is much more filling this way." Would make for great street cart food, Sam and Eli.

It is nearly dark outside and I'm watching some Law & Order circa Mr. Big as Jerry Orbach's partner and Crossing Jordan woman as the lady DA. I think there is a birthday party tonight for a friend of Haydn's. Tomorrow for sure is dinner near the Harbor and then some sort of "sport" viewing -- there is no "s" on sports here -- I think Rugby League. It is just so cool to have a normal weekend with Haydn, maybe we'll check out some dresser drawers and bikes, too.

Hurrah for the sangria toast, it sounded like a great time, Gregg! Is there a Nano in your future?

In the name of Chunkytoast --

Friday, October 14, 2005

The world is the world

Ahhhh, at last, I'm living up to the blogging hype that I was spreading before I left the U.S. and scribing my first post from Australia. It's a lovely Thursday afternoon and I'm at a....Starbucks on Oxford Street. And the clock is ticking. I'm using a wifi connection here that I have to pay for in blocks of 15 minutes. In life there are tradeoffs, right? And I find one of my major tradeoffs here is the ridiculously accessible wifi I enjoyed back in NYC (with the original Night Owl Lucy) in exchange for the blue, blue Pacific Ocean 5 minutes from my door. Is this a question of Man v. Nature and all that? Gosh, I hope not.

As I hit little potholes, I've learned one very important thing from Our Haydn, and that is "the world is the world." When I hit a minor meltdown over the price of nail polish remover (A$4.65 fyi), Haydn reminded me that I'm in a different place with different things and that I'm living in another country. Hence, it is the price of nail polish and all those little and big differences that make the world the world.

And it's a pretty nice little corner I'm inhabiting on Francis St in Bondi, with Haydn and the lovely Joeley Brown. Last night, I made Rachel Ray's Chicken Enchiladas (um, NOT a 30-minute meal, mind you, try 60!) and we all watched McLeod's Daughters. And, wow, the WE channel in the US is way behind on McLeod's. Ann -- I'm not even going to start with what's happened and I think Joeley has to catch me up quite a bit.

If the clock wasn't ticking I'd put up some links (like to the enchilada recipe, it was way good, just slightly deceiving in prep time), but that will all come in time. Haydn and I might be checking out a band tonight, The Further, I believe. So, here are to more posts and to the great Sam who set this blog up for me. I miss having lunch with Sam and soon I'll start posting thoughts and feelings on my culinary endeavors here. It is important to note, that the BLT at Barista off Campbell Parade was so delicious on this big toasted english muffin. Enjoyed with a flat white, and a view of the ocean just across the street. And, thus, we come full circle to our tradeoffs.

And a big ol happy birthday to the dear Greggums. Wish I was there, dude...have a blast!

Til next time,