October 21, 2014

Cut It Out

I think my artistic talents were at their peak in primary school. The comments in my report cards praised my "beautiful, flowing lines" but I don't believe I progressed much beyond that. My high school art project of  an Arcimboldo-esque self portrait was comical and the best grade I achieved in that class was for a coffee table book cover I designed in Photoshop. Layers on layers on layers. Suffice to say, an artist I am not. I rate my artistic ability to be extremely low but though I may not be talented with the paintbrush I am a devotee of the arts and appreciate most artistic pursuits and offerings. 

An invitation was extended to me late last week to flex these limited artistic talents of mine at a clay workshop. Run by local ceramic artist Patricia Fernandes, the Art of Stencilling was the opportunity to get my hands covered in some clay and hopefully have something worth showing at the end of it.

Patricia started conducting workshops this year in response to many of her customers wanting to get a hands on experience in making ceramics and clay pieces. These stencilling workshops are the newest offered by her and puts a twist on her traditional means of decorating and embellishing her creations. 

Photo credit: SOUL of SHU

My exposure to stencilling is limited to that of the graffiti and street art world so I was curious to see how it could be applied to what Patricia does. Armed with my three designs I headed to her studio on Saturday to get my stencil on. I won't even regale you with the very smutty joke I made during the workshop but those in attendance will tell you it was pure gold. 

Photo credit: SOUL of SHU

I initially had planned to make one clay piece and stencil one design on top of another but when I found out that we could make up to four items, I decided to scrap that idea and use two of them for separate pieces. I was restricted with time to use my third stencil as I took a very long time cutting out my first one. 

In addition to her ceramicist talents, Patricia is also something of a whiz in the kitchen. Lunch is included with her workshop and it's far from the usual bland and boring offerings of sandwiches and juice boxes. To begin with, Patricia had baked some delicious chocolate shortbread biscuits that I nibbled on with my cups of tea earlier in the morning and then for lunch she had a roast lamb and bacon garnished potatoes waiting for us in the oven. Helllooooo. Her homemade gravy and mint sauce set the meat and potatoes off just right. 
Oh, and if you're wondering about all those gorgeous colourful dishes on the table. She made them.

After a hugely satisfying lunch we proceeded to the next stage of the workshop; applying our stencil designs to the clay. Having decided on making a platter and two small bowls, I got to working and kneading my clay to shape. Unfortunately my stencil design was not conducive to being applied to a bowl so I made the executive decision to reshape one bowl into a flat plate and apply one of the pre-cut diamond stencils to it and for the other to cut my stencil to shape, hopefully allowing it to fit inside the bowl. 

Although I was disheartened with how my stencil design turned out for the bowl, I was very happy with my large platter. I didn't cut the cleanest lines on my smaller stencils which caused some bleed of the paint but hey, you learn. A stencil artist is not created overnight! 

Photo credit: SOUL of SHU
All our creations were left in the care of Patricia who will be firing them in her kiln. I should receive them in the next couple of weeks. I was quite fastidious in checking my pieces for air bubbles to ensure that there'd be no explosions from my end once they got all toasty in the kiln. 

If you'd like to attend your own ceramic and clay workshop get in touch with Patricia. She also has her Christmas range coming out soon and in addition to that, her work has been featured in Sophie Zalokar's Food of the Southern Forests book! Ballin'!

Hugs and kisses to Patricia for having me at the workshop. 

October 16, 2014

Let them eat brioche

It's long been fabled that Marie-Antoinette once uttered the words "let them eat cake" and with that set the wheels of the French Revolution into motion. Or in French, qu'ils mangent de la brioche. Literally translated into English, it actually means "let them eat brioche" and while that perhaps doesn't have quite the same ring to it when said in English, the rich, buttery and decadent bread that is brioche is as good a stand in for cake as you can get. While there's no verifiable historical evidence that Marie-Antoinette ever said such a thing, in fact it's hotly contested, what is undeniable is quite simply how delicious brioche is.

I generally don't eat much bread, not at all due to any carb phobia (goodness no!) but just because bread isn't something I like that much. I don't regularly eat sandwiches or toast, however bread like products such as croissants get the big tick of approval from me. I ate croissants daily for breakfast when in France. Of course. That's what you do. Brioche is another delight I regularly enjoyed in France and it's been a disappointment to not have been able to find a decent brioche in Perth. However, if you're after a good croissant look no further than Jean Pierre Sancho.

When I received an invitation from V Burger Bar to the launch event for their brioche burger range, the little Franchophile in me was of course interested. Burger and brioche. It's genius, really. I've had the brioche burger at Rockpool Bar on a couple of occasions and using the brioche as the bun really does turn the humble burger into something of a masterpiece.

Starter #1: crumbed mushrooms with spicy mayo
Starter #2: Crumbed haloumi
The new range has been a couple of months in the making, according to their chef Anthon who told me that it took many back and forths with their baker to get the brioche just right. Offering up the Americana, your classic style beef burger; the Piggy Back which is a delicious tender boneless pork rib and the cheesy and crunchy meat free Space Mushroom, the brioche range is worth trying. The soft and squidgy brioche is like a buttery cushion for your meat, or mushroom if you're on your meat free grind. Often when I eat burgers, I leave about a quarter of the bun but with my brioche, I scoffed the lot.

Thank you again to all the staff of V Burger Bar for the invitation. The brioche range is available at their East Victoria Park and Floreat stores from Friday 17 October, and guess what? It's half price for Friday through to Sunday so that means we can all eat brioche.


All photography by Shu Daniels of SOUL of SHU.  

V Burger Bar on Urbanspoon V Burger Bar - Floreat on Urbanspoon

October 10, 2014

Get Lucky, homie.

It should come as no surprise, if you have read anything I've ever written in this little space of mine,  for me to say that I immensely enjoy a good meal. One which may or may not be accompanied by an equally satisfying alcoholic beverage. I'm not a food blogger. I just like to eat. Part of this includes checking out newly opened venues in Perth. I have my old favourites, but I'm always looking to add more to this list.

It's one thing to try out a new place within the first week or two of its opening but it's an entirely different thing to dine at a venue that is so new it hasn't even opened. In fact, so new that the construction of it isn't even complete, but that's what I did last night at Lucky Chan's Laundry + Noodle Bar in Northbridge.

Chefs waiting to feed us
Invited by Team Chan to be amongst the first to get a taste of what will be on offer, once construction is complete and the doors are officially flung open, the night was an opportunity to learn more about what Lucky Chan is planning to bring to the dining scene of Perth and of course, taste their culinary offerings.

Lucky Chan is the creation of the dynamos behind The Classroom and is a true labour of love for them. They've rolled up their sleeves to demolish the existing buildings and are working through the day in rebuilding the premises before they head off to their jobs at the bar.

Not just investing their physical resources into Lucky Chan, they are also busy working on ensuring that their recipes, techniques and ingredients are top notch. Just in perfecting their ramen recipe the chefs toiled for months to make sure that it was not only delicious but also authentically honoured the Asian roots of the dish.

We were treated to this ramen, the comforting broth filled with sliced pork and a slow poached 62-degree egg. The noodles themselves were superbly made. Washed down with a choya umeshu cocktail, it was a great introduction to Lucky Chan. Along with ramen and other noodle dishes, they also plan to include dumplings on the menu.

Before all this can happen though, the restaurant needs to be finished. They need a roof over their heads. Literally. One portion of the restaurant is still without a roof and there's still much work to be done. It's this part where they are looking for the ramen loving folk of Perth to get involved.

Lucky Chan is currently crowd funding to get its doors open and the ramen and dumplings (plus other dishes which I will keep a secret) into your bellies. If you want to be part of what is possibly the first ever crowdfunded restaurant, visit their site and get to pledging. Not only will you get the warm and fuzzies but there's plenty of different rewards to choose from. Get Lucky!

October 05, 2014

Snap 'n' Share

During Telstra Perth Fashion Festival I was provided with the Instax SP-1 Share and film by Fujifilm Australia for the purpose of this post, however opinions regarding the product are my own and without bias.

I can remember my utter excitement and delight the first time I saw an instant camera in use. Of course I had seen them on TV and in movies but at that time so few people had them and the idea of this camera that instantly printed your photo was quite the novelty. 

One day while out shopping with my mother a rep spruiking these cameras offered to take our photo. I think I was around seven years of age. Seeing it develop before my eyes was indeed some kind of sorcery. We didn't ever own one of these cameras and as the years passed I saw them being used less and less but their cool factor remained. 

There is something about instant photography that continues to draw us likes flies to honey. We climb into instant photo booths and wait around eagerly to see our photos drop down the chute. We love the candidness it offers; the ability to freeze that moment in time with just one click. 

It's been many decades since the first instant camera was introduced to the market and we are now living in the social media world. Dominated by Facebook and Instagram, it's never been easier to share our photos. Instagram, and other photo editing apps, have also never made it easier for us to look like we are on our A-game each and every day. That was the one thing you couldn't control with an instant camera; what you saw through the viewfinder is what you got and sometimes what you saw through the viewfinder wasn't even what developed on the film with a head or limb getting lost in the process.

But Fujifilm has changed all of that. Imagine pairing the fun of instant photography with the ability to edit your photo and know exactly what it looked like before it printed? Your mind is blown, right? No more wasted film packs because you looked a hot mess or half your friend's head was missing from the shot. 

The Instax SP-1 Share is the newest product to the Fujifilm range of instant photography products. Almost like a cousin to the Instax Mini camera, the Instax SP-1 Share is a portable printer which connects wirelessly to your smart phone and works in conjunction with a downloaded app, available for iPhone and Android handsets. What this means is that you can personally select the images you like, edit them to your heart's content, even add a cute little template and when you're entirely happy with how it looks, you send it to your Instax SP-1 Share printer. Hey presto, out it comes! Printed on the same credit card size as that used for the Instax Mini it captures all the fun and immediate gratification of instant photography but gives you that user control to make your photos exactly as you want them to be. 

Using the Instax SP-1 Share during Telstra Perth Fashion Festival, it was a breeze to snap the street style of many of Perth's bloggers and stylistas with my iPhone and then send it to print. It takes only 16 seconds for the image to print, and then it's just a matter of watching it as it develops right in front of you. Just as the name implies, it's all about snapping and sharing and the kid in all of us makes an appearance when you get your very own instant photo of yourself.

Connecting wirelessly was no problem at all. It is powered by batteries and as an energy saving feature it will turn itself off after a couple of minutes of no use, although this does get a little annoying as it doesn't have to be inactive for that long before shutting off. If you're at home you can also use it while plugged into a power outlet but unfortunately this does not charge the unit, so when on the go it will draw its power from the batteries.

The Instax SP-1 Share has the ability to access your phone's own camera roll and it can also select photos from your social media accounts. The reprint feature within the app allows you to print additional copies of any photo even if you've deleted them from your phone which is definitely handy! 

I have loved using the Instax SP-1 Share. As well as just being a whole lotta fun to use I really dig the idea of being able to print any photo I want in the instant format which gives it a definite advantage over other products in the instant camera category. Perfect for birthdays and other special occasions as well as being handy for those days you had great hair and want to show it off, it's undeniable that we are all attracted to these little photos. The Instax SP-1 Share is definitely the bomb.

Available at most major retailers with a RRP of $309 for the bundle pack with contains the Instax SP-1 Printer and film packs.

Harvey Norman Osborne Park have got the hook up for all the readers of Oyster & Pearl! Until October 31 2014, they are offering $20 off their price of the bundle pack. To take advantage of this offer all you need to do is show the image below when making your purchase. Should they be out of stock you may place an order prior to the end of October and the discounted price will be honoured once your order arrives. For all other terms and conditions please refer to the image. Fujifilm Australia has no involvement in this promotion. 

September 29, 2014

Old is the New...New?

Given enough time, everything comes back around. Style, fashion, food trends. Almost everything we see now has had its time once, sometimes even twice, before. This is sometimes a great thing but sometimes there are certain remnants of the past you'd prefer stayed in the past. I don't particularly wish to see the return of Hypercolor fabric or dark brown matte lipstick. I was a child when Hypercolor was all the rage and I recall walking through Kmart with my mother and rubbing my hands and body all over the clothing, probably much to her horror. As for the matte brown lipstick, my first lippy as a twelve year old girl was Australis Smooth Suede. How very suede it was. A very deep brown shade in a super matte formulation, I felt like Drew Barrymore sans the daisies in my not quite blonde hair.

Then there are the things I would warmly welcome should they ever return. Nestle once made a family size chocolate block which contained cherries and coconut. It was called Cherry Slice. I know this because I emailed Nestle in 2011 describing this chocolate to them and asking if it would ever be reintroduced to the market. In their response they advised it was their Cherry Slice variety but it was no longer produced. I think we all need to send an email to Nestle and urge them to rethink their stance on this.

I think the reason why we have a fondness for things of a time past is due to the nostalgic memories that they often bring with them, and we all know you never really miss things until they are well and truly gone. For myself, it's a combination of this and also the history attached to a particular item. Whether it's a vintage piece of clothing or a tattered old book with handwritten notes in the margins, it makes me wonder who used to own this and what could it tell me if it could speak? I've always had an attraction to older character homes and I love them because I imagine the people and families who have lived there throughout the many years and all the life experiences that occurred within those walls. They may not all be of a positive nature, but life is a journey that has its peaks and its valleys. Additionally, I find so many older products to be extremely well made and produced in a fashion that you just do not see anymore whether it be because that skill is no longer taught and learnt or because modern manufacturing processes have seen it discarded due to being too time consuming or costly.

One person who I know understands where I am coming from is Claire Bissett, owner of In Retrospect. Having opened in July 2014, In Retrospect occupies the old Crystal Waters Irrigation building on 239 Albany Highway in Victoria Park and offers a large range of antique, retro and vintage homewares and decor along with the odd piece of memorabilia and quirky knick knacks.

All the pieces sold here are hand selected by Claire, so it is fitting that she refers to herself as a hunter and gatherer. Claire is personally responsible for seeking out all the unique pieces sold in her store and given the nature of her business all her stock is either one-off or very limited in quantity. Claire devotes two days each week to source new stock and as such the store is closed on Monday and Tuesday.

A special feature of Claire's business is that she can custom make cushions and wall art from the reams of vintage and retro fabric she has on hand, however I have to stress again that the quantities of each fabric type are limited so when it's gone, it's gone. The cushions are locally made while the wall art is produced by Claire herself.

This wall art is made by Claire and is her favourite item in the store.
I came to know In Retrospect after receiving a birthday present from a friend which she had purchased for me from the store. It was a gorgeous china tea set and I came to learn from Claire that tea sets are one of the items she is specializing in. Offering packaged and wrapped three piece sets of a tea cup, saucer and bread plate, these are the perfect ready-to-go gift idea. Although I have a full china tea set I also have a number of different pieces as I find that serving high tea with mismatched pieces to be just that little bit more interesting and fun. For the high tea lovers, Claire can definitely cater to you as she not only stocks many different tea sets but also cake stands, serving dishes and tea pots.

Being situated right at the end of Albany Highway just prior to crossing over onto the Causeway, this little store is a conveniently located treasure cave. If you love your antiques and all things vintage and retro, you must visit. Just be warned that you very likely will not leave empty handed.

The units that the glasses and pitcher is displayed on were repurposed by Claire from a set of drawers she found during verge collection!
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