April 15, 2015

Home

Eventually, home will always beckon us to return. It sends out the message lifted by the winds and carried across oceans that the time has come to make the journey home. Begrudgingly suitcases are packed and then unpacked, and the longing for the next adventure soon begins. Slowly as life settles back into its known routine, the familiar sights and faces that welcome you back, that know you almost as well as you know yourself, make being home exactly what it is. Home. The comfort in that familiarity reminds you exactly why you love this place called home. This place that has helped to raise and nurture you and shaped you like soft putty into the person you stand to be today.

Hayley Welsh for FORM and PUBLIC 2015. Located at Neighborhood Pizza, Mount Hawthorn.

Sometimes it takes the time away from home to appreciate everything it is and fuels the desire to make home everything that it should be. A place of belonging and inclusion. Of creativity and imagination. Fun times and pleasure with good food thrown into the mix. You want a home that supports the artists, the thinkers and the movers and the shakers. A home that looks forever forward but doesn't ever forget its roots and who it is.

The burning question that you then ask yourself is, how do you make home into this place? Who strikes forward on that path and how do you even take those first steps when the scary part is, there may be no tracks for you to follow? 

Hayley Welsh for FORM and PUBLIC 2015. Located at Neighborhood Pizza, Mount Hawthorn.

The focal point of FORM's PUBLIC 2015 program is their Symposium event, taking place over two days and featuring an impressive cast of talented, creative and progressive minds. With Australian and international speakers, the Symposium is a rare opportunity to learn from and with people who are leaders and innovators in fields such as the arts, urban development and planning and technology.


This past week, not only was I able to enjoy the official opening of FORM's PUBLIC Salon, which in itself is an amazingly curated space showcasing the artwork of one hundred all Western Australian artists - proof of the talent that is steadfastly bubbling under the surface of this city and state - but also was invited to attend a special session facilitated by Timo Santala. Part of the Symposium line up, Timo is someone who saw the potential for great things in his home city of Helsinki, and he made them happen. As co-founder of the hugely popular carnival known as Restaurant Day, Timo offered up with enthusiasm and passion the wisdom of his experiences.


It was difficult to not be inspired and energized by Timo and the love he has for his home is something we could all relate to. Amongst his many pearls of wisdom was the very simple message that if you want to do something, you should just do what you need to in order to make it happen. He reminded us that while not every venture will result in success, it will undoubtedly always lead to something else and that something else is the seed from which the place you want to live in will grow.

February 26, 2015

Of Superstars and Stripes

As I flew away to a foreign land, I went with the best of intentions. In regard to everything including blogging. My intentions were to regularly blog while I've been in New York City but that hasn't quite happened. In this city overflowing with energy and life, there's always something to do. There's always an event or a party, particularly so these last couple of weeks with the city playing host to both the NBA All Star Weekend and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. The parties can be hectic. The drinks are seemingly never ending and it has been a week or so of late nights that turn into early mornings and me navigating my way home with sore feet and a soon-to-be sore head.


I take full advantage of NYC being a pedestrian friendly city and walk as much as possible. If I'm not on my feet you'll find me on the subway, sitting in one of the carriages as they rock their way back and forth through the labyrinthine tunnels. These last few nights have been bitterly cold. I say this without any exaggeration. With temperatures dipping to minus fifteen degrees celcius, once the wind chill factor is considered this falls to an even more dramatic minus twenty four degrees! On these nights a warm cab is difficult to resist, even though traffic usually draws out the journey home. 


An event I attended only days after arriving was one for Adidas Originals. The Wooster Street store in Soho was the venue for the launch of the new Superstar collection - that classic shelltoe shoe much loved by Run DMC and which to this day remains one of the most simplistically stylish casual shoes. In the coming months this iconic shoe is being released in various colour ways and designs. Possibly the most appropriate way to mark this release was to celebrate the influence this shoe and Adidas has had on pop and music culture.


Famed photographer Ricky Powell, whose images have captured for perpetuity a special time in the music scene, had some of his photography exhibited along with fellow photographer Jamel Shabazz. 


One such photograph of Powell's was of Run DMC posing in front of the Eiffel Tower rocking  "My Adidas" on their feet, of course. You couldn't get a more classic shot of superstars who left an indelible footprint on music history wearing their superstar of a shoe.

Ricky Powell posing in front of his photograph of Run DMC.

February 06, 2015

Sky Miles and Snowflakes

In all my travels, I've never been struck down by the dreaded ailment known as "delays", or the even more serious condition of "cancellations". I've been fortunate. I've known people stranded at airports or struggling to make their way home. On one of her trips, my mother found herself the on first night in the middle of a cyclone. I was at home seeing all the news coverage of this cyclone and of course unable to reach her via telephone for days. Given the flooding caused by the cyclone she was unable to cut her holiday short and leave immediately as no flights were going in or out of the airport. Despite the inconveniences, she was safe and unaffected and unlike those who had to repair their lives, was very easily able to make her way home once flights recommenced. 


I write this sitting in my apartment in Brooklyn, having now been in New York City for a week. My original plans would have seen me arrive on January 27 but the weather had other plans and decided to schedule Blizzard Juno to visit the city that day which resulted in my flight being cancelled. I spent most of Australia Day attempting to clarify my travel plans as the airline changed their flight schedules throughout the day as they received weather updates. My flight was at first delayed by three hours and then later in the afternoon I received a phone call from Cathay Pacific advising that it had been cancelled altogether and provided me with the option of departing Perth the next day so as to save me waiting an entire day in Hong Kong for my connecting flight. For that I was grateful as my own bed is certainly much more comfortable than any seat in an airport lounge. 


Once I breezed through the gates of JFK and out into the icy air, the delay was nothing more than a minor glitch. It certainly is cliche to say, but New York City and I certainly have quite the love affair. As my cab made its way to my apartment, the snow covered streets welcomed me back like I had never left.


Ironically, I fell in love with this city at the same time that I was falling out of love with a past relationship that had spanned a number of years. Rather than the end of this relationship resulting in me developing some sort of bittersweet connection to the city, I actually feel I saw it through the eyes of a person embarking on a new journey and adventure in life and made me realize that the change wouldn't be as difficult as I thought it might be. To this day I still remember walking off after an argument on a tree lined street in the West Village with the poor fella trailing after me, and an older man sitting on his stoop laughing to himself and shaking his head in sympathy at my then-partner.


Don't get me wrong though. New York City isn't entirely a fairy tale land. Granted it is a vastly different place to only just a few years ago with more and more neighbourhoods undergoing gentrification, resulting in both positive and negative change, yet it can still be a gritty place. Life here can be tough and that comes through in the people, especially if you spend enough time in the outer boroughs. Even something as simple as the weather makes me notice how resilient the people are. With temperatures remaining on the minus side of the thermometer since I have been here, not to mention a small snow storm by the name of Linus hitting earlier this week, I am shivering even with my thermals and down filled jacket, which was in fact purchased on a previous trip here and has only ever been worn here. It's just doesn't get cold enough in Perth! I'm standing on the subway platforms shivering away while I see people walking by without gloves covering their hands and women with sheer hosiery. I just don't know how they do it.


But do it they do. In all aspects. Undoubtedly it's the people that make up the fabric up any city. A favourite aspect of travelling is meeting new people and learning just a little bit more about my global neighbours. And in the week I've been here and all who I have met and interacted with, from the Dominican ladies in the hair salon who gave me the best blow dry of my life to the older gentlemen pausing in their task of shovelling snow off the sidewalks to let me pass by to the sweet Jamaican woman at the laundromat who helped to locate my clothes which had gone home with someone else, it couldn't be more apparent that a place is nothing without its people.

January 26, 2015

She Eats by The Seashore

Swoosh! That's the onomatopoeic representation of how rapidly the last couple of weeks have passed and I now come to the day where I finally board that flight to New York City. When I, on the spur of the moment, booked my ticket way back in May 2014 I knew I had many months ahead of me before I would revisit one of my favourite cities in the world and now my bags are packed and my online check-in is complete. Just before midnight on this Australia Day my plane will make its way off the tarmac and into the skies and a lengthy twenty eight or so hours later, I'll have gone from a blistering summer to streets covered in snow. I can only hope that the 'New York Edit' I have put together from my wardrobe is enough to sustain me through the days of minus-something temperatures.

So herewith is my last post before I leave. I have a number of fun little projects planned while I am away and of course, you can armchair travel with me via Instagram and Facebook. I'll be posting here on the blog as often I can, but please do forgive me if I'm tardy on the blogging as The City is quite intoxicating and when presented with the option of getting lost in its draw or sitting in front of my laptop, it will win out every time.


For now, I'm still here and bringing you my review of Rustico Tapas in Rockingham. Meeting my friend for dinner on a Friday night we wanted a location in between both of our homes. She now lives in Mandurah with Rockingham being the midway point and Urbanspoon came to the rescue as I knew nothing of the foodie options in Rockingham. Having not been to Rockingham since I was a child (I know! How embarrassing for me!) other than visiting the hospital for a business meeting, dinner at Rustico was a pleasant surprise. It was a stunning evening and with a location set just off the foreshore, I was glad to have arrived slightly early so that I could take in the sunset over the water. The upcoming six course Long Table Lunch on the Beach is sponsored in part by Rustico and the setting on the beautiful beach couldn't be a nicer place to enjoy a lazy summer lunch.


As for dinner that Friday night. The menu at Rustico offers a six course degustation option which is an ideal way to sample a number of their tapas dishes. With so many yummy sounding dishes this was the only way for us to approach dinner. After much deliberation we settled on starting with the chicken liver pate (y'all know I loves da liver) followed by the scallops. We had the obligatory vegetable serve with the wild mushrooms before heading back into carnivore land with the free range pork belly and braised beef cheeks. Dessert was a choice between the chocolate fondant or the baked delice (for a $8 surcharge), and for us that was a no brainer. Chocolate trumps cheese all day, everyday.


My friend is not the liver connoisseur I am and hadn't eaten much pate and approached it with some caution. I assured her that the rich and creamy paste was absolutely delightful smeared on one of the crispy megasize croutons with a schmear of port jelly for good measure. When it comes to food I never lie and this became apparent after she took her first helping of the pate. The serving size of the pate is so very generous and indulgent to share between two people and the only thing that made me stop was the knowledge of five further courses to come.


The scallops were served on pear puree with specks of candied jamon. Jamon, along with prosciutto, is such a delightful partner to scallops. Almost like a fancy canape version of surf 'n' turf. The soft and tender texture of the scallops were contrasted with the crispness of the candied jamon and that combination of sweet and salty worked, as it often does.


Our mushrooms came smothered in a cream based sauce flavoured with sherry, which imparted a very sweet flavour. Though at first taste it seemed a little too sweet, it ended up being very moreish and difficult to resist smothering a little bit more of the saucy mushrooms onto the toasted sour dough.


Cubes of free range pork belly came up next. Sitting on apple puree, the glossy tops of the pork belly had a trickle of a sticky Pedro Ximenez reduction. The fat to meat ratio was excellent, with the right amounts of both to make for a satisfying mouthful. The only let down was that the skin was not at crispy as it could have been. It toed the uncomfortably chewy line of being somewhat crisped up but just not enough to make eating the skin the complete pleasure that it should be.


It was a difficult decision deciding between the petit mignons or braised beef cheeks for the fifth course but we decided to follow up the pork with a more slow cooked meat. Of course, the meat flaked away beautifully and with the red wine jus and mushrooms, it was like a tapas version of beef bourguignon.


Sharing dessert would normally be a problem for me, but at this stage our bellies were reaching their maximum capacity. The warm chocolate fondant came with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and it was with bated breath that I broke through the exterior of the fondant. A river of chocolate came flowing out and was hastily scooped up with our spoons. Though small in size, this dessert was just enough to finish off the meal on a high note. It was enough to satisfy our sweet tooth and was more than just a little taste but not so much that we stuffed to breaking point.


Although it took a little longer than we expected for our first course, the remaining courses came out with good timing. We were not rushed at all and the intervals between each course was enough to allow the previous dish sufficient time to settle without being too lengthy a delay.

There is an option to pair the degustation menu with wines and if your party is made up of four people, you get to order each dish rather than having to choose between the options. Sometimes the most delightful experiences come from the unexpected and this is certainly true of Rustico. Not knowing much of the dining options in Rockingham, I thoroughly enjoyed dinner that night and would certainly make the almost ninety minute round trip again.

Rústico Tapas & Bar on Urbanspoon

January 15, 2015

The Nu Nu

Holidays are a time of glory. Summer holidays especially so. If only time could be spun back to the days of being in school and the delight of enjoying an almost complete summer free of schedules and all obligations on your time other than long days spent at the beach, in the pool or running under sprinklers. A diet of frozen ice blocks, flavoured and vividly coloured, that paint your tongue and make fingers sticky. Flaky skin that seems to take up residence right on the tip of your nose and the centre of your forehead. Nights with the scent of smokey charcoal and sometimes burnt meat hanging heavy in the still warm air. 


Those two-and-a-bit months worth of carefree days may not be a fixture in this adult life but during the one or two weeks surrounding Christmas and the new year, life adopts a gentler pace. For me that means no work, no meetings, no deadlines. I'm woken up by the sun that streams in through the small slit between my window sill and blinds, or when the morning gets too unbearably hot to continue lying in my bed without getting up to turn on the air conditioning. My days are mostly empty pages, my only commitments being the beach and leisurely catch ups with friends. It's during these days I get to enjoy weekday brunches and lunches at cafés and restaurants I've been longing to tick off my never ending list. And for one particular restaurant, my visit has been a long time coming. 


There once was on Bulwer Street, a restaurant by the name of Nahm Thai. I'd heard people speak highly of the menu and the food. The breakfast was amazing, I was told. I simply had to try it for myself. Then away Nahm Thai went and in its place was Nunam. Like a chrysalis to a butterfly, all that was good about Nahm Thai evolved into making something great in Nunam. The same love and same passion combined with new tastes.


For the final weekday of my holidays I knew I had to make that tick against Nunam and it had to be for its famed breakfast. I knew already of some of their breakfast dishes and came intending to order their sticky black rice. The description of the dish made my taste buds tingle. That morning my taste buds had other ideas and told me savoury was the order of the day. Breaking the fast with my friend Kelly from Beauty Bites, we took in the impressive fit out and styling of the venue. Exposed brick and gleaming bare wood floors. Funky light fittings and pops of bright colour. This is how you do industrial chic. 


If you're coming to Nunam you have to do it right and order one of their Asian flavoured dishes. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't. With such a unique breakfast menu, don't come here wanting to eat your standard poached eggs with buttered toast. Son-in-law eggs. Congee. Sticky black rice. Lap cheong. Roam to a place slightly beyond the Perth inner city and let the food take you away.


Though dismayed that my senses had disobeyed me and taken me off my planned route of sticky black rice, I found contentment in ordering the son-in-law eggs. Kelly went for the traditional Asian comfort food dish of congee, though I had a feeling it would be quite unlike the congee of any traditions.


The curiously named son-in-law eggs is a very simple dish but made so much better by the caramelization and crunch to the outside of the eggs which comes from deep frying the egg quickly. It's absolutely perfect when you combine that crunchy exterior with a soft gooey yolk. Usually made with a boiled egg, Nunam serves theirs up as two poached eggs, still receiving the deep fry treatment, atop a crispy coconut rice cake. Wedges of grilled watermelon and some plump seared scallops add to the party, garnished with sliced chilli, fried onion and coriander leaves.


Yes, the yolks oozed soft and gooey. Yes, the egg was crunchy the outside. The sweetness of the watermelon matched with the sweetness of the scallops, and a little bit of everything together was the way to do it. I had only a minor dislike of this dish and that was the underside of my rice cake seemed to  have spent just a little too long cooking as it was quite hard rather than being happily crunchy and I thought the sauce dressing of the dish was a little on the salty side. It tasted to me as though it was made using fish sauce and fish sauce can be quite salty and for me, the sauce was slightly unbalanced with the saltiness being the overriding flavour. 


Kelly's congee came out and was finished at the table with a dollop of hollandaise sauce and crispy bacon pieces. Floating in the congee were very silky looking 63 degree eggs. The colour of the dish was a gorgeous sunshine yellow. Congee is not something I particularly enjoy and for me, this would never have been a choice. I did try a spoon of it though as I was curious how their congee would taste and how it may deviate from the often bland congees that follow a more traditional recipe. To look at, it's definitely a more soupy variety of congee than I am used to seeing in addition to the sunny hue that it's wearing. Taste wise, the soup is flavourful though not overly rich which I think is ideal for a breakfast congee. I'm sure the yolks of the 63 degree eggs and the creamy hollandaise sauce added a further dimension to the soup however I tried it prior to it all being mixed together.


If I was disappointed to see the end of my holidays, this breakfast at Nunam certainly lifted my spirits. The menu is creative and imaginative and is actually executed well. It's not just a mixture of different ingredients and techniques just for the sake of doing so, but done to deliver a dish that is attractive to your mind, your eyes and your stomach. I will be returning to stake my claim on the sticky black rice.


Nunam (Nahm Thai) on Urbanspoon
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