Pages

April 29, 2014

Pedal Power. Comes in Plum.

In my earlier post Happiness is the Truth I wrote about my plans to get a bike. At that time in January I said I was going to get it in a couple of weeks. Fast forward to now, the end of April and it's finally happened!

It's not completely a story of procrastination. You see, I went to buy my bike many weeks ago. I did a test ride and was completely happy. We tried to see if it would fit into my car boot but alas it would not. My car also does not have rear seats that fold down. Sad times indeed. It left the sales person a little bewildered. I don't think she ever came across a car before that didn't have rear seats which folded down. Don't blame me, blame Lexus. 

I was able to borrow my mum's car which does have fold down rear seats and finally over the Easter weekend, I got my bike! Even better, they were having a sale!

Check her out...


There was the option of getting a similar coloured bell but I opted against being too matchy matchy.

I bought this baby from Reid Cycles, which has store locations around Australia and also operates an online store. Their prices are quite reasonable in comparison to other bike stores and it was their pricing that made me choose to buy from them. I know that build and quality wise there are similar bikes which are probably better and come with a much higher price tag however I am not planning on entering Le Tour de France so for the amount of riding I expect to do, I believe this will be sufficient. If you're a mad keen cycler and expect to spend mucho time on two wheels then of course by all means perhaps spend more if that's what you need to do.



I bought my bike in their plum colour but they have many more great colours to choose from. Here it is in white. Looks pretty fresh. 

So fresh and so clean.


If you see me on the roads, honk and please don't run me over! 

April 26, 2014

Easter at Brika

It's been a week now since Easter and that feeling of overindulgence has almost completely subsided. I still haven't returned to work, having started leave from Good Friday and I'll be back in the office on Tuesday. It feels like such a long time. 

I'm not madly into eating Easter eggs. In fact, I still have a bowl of Easter eggs sitting on my table. It's not the Easter eggs I overindulge in but all the other foods that are dished up throughout the day.

See Exhibit A below. See all those foods? That was my lunch. Just my lunch. Nothing like a four course meal to start your Easter day on the right foot and full belly.

Nonna cooks a feast.

By the time I finished up at Easter lunch and rode my bike home (first outing of the bike by the way) I barely had enough time to start to feel hungry again by the time dinner rolled around. Of course, I had to have the traditional post Easter lunch nap which is as steeped in tradition as the post Christmas lunch nap. I napped, woke up and got ready for dinner and I still was not hungry. But as we all must, I soldiered on.

Easter dinner was at Brika. It was not my first time to Brika. I ate there I believe in its second or third week of opening and really enjoyed, which is why I went back and what better time than Easter? It saves all the fuss of cooking and it's almost like a double celebration with it being Western Easter and Orthodox Easter on the same day. It's like Easter Easter.

I didn't make a booking but I think they only take bookings for groups of 6 or more however I was told that they had no bookings for Sunday night so it should not be a problem to show up at any time and get a table, which turned out to be correct. Initially we were sat along the window but when a group of four left I asked if we could sit at their table rather than along the window and they were happy to fulfill my request.

I ordered for the two of us and although there was much more that I wanted to eat, my stomach really did not wish to accommodate this desire of mine. I ordered the pita bread, zucchini fritters, village salad (which is what most of you will know as a Greek salad), the slow cooked lamb and calamari. Initially I also ordered their sausages, which I have had before and are so yummy, but thought better of it and took it off the order. Smart move.

EPSA - Greek lemonade

I apologize in advance for the dodginess of these photos. It was dark and it was the best I could do without faffing around with my camera in the restaurant. I am still somewhat self conscious about pulling my DSLR out especially when the people at the table next to you are looking at you either with intrigue or interest or thinking "oh, here's another person that has to take a photo of everything they eat." So the photos are as good as I could get. I quite like Brika and I'd return just as an excuse to get better photos of the food. Probably during the day so I could show you how wonderfully they have fit the restaurant out. It's like you've stepped off of Stirling Street in Perth and right into a taverna nestled on some rocky cliff on a Greek Island (pick one, any one) with its lovely whitewashed floors and colourful wooden shutters.

The food came out pretty quickly. It wasn't too long a wait at all. Brika was quite busy too with most tables inside occupied. They have an outdoor alfresco section on the sidewalk but I didn't see anyone occupying those tables.

Pita bread...duh

First to arrive was the warm and fluffy pita. Perfect accompaniment to their dips or mopping up the sauces of some of the dishes. I had neither, I just wanted to nibble on some pita.

Dodgy out of focus shot of the zucchini fritters

Zucchini fritters came next. These were crispy on the outside but soft, warm and gooey on the inside. The mixture of zucchini with the herbs and cheese is a hit. The fritters are football shaped, rather than the pancake style fritter a la corn fritters. I like them this way. The only thing is having three on a plate is kinda like who eats the last Rolo, you know? I would think, perhaps assume, that it's more common to have people dining in pairs or even numbers (two couples, four friends, three friends and the tag along, whatever...) so when you're served a dish that has an odd number of pieces it's either a decision of portioning it up or someone insisting that the other one eat it. The sausage dish which we didn't order but had the first time I was at Brika was also served as three pieces and it was so yummy that we did break that into half.

The Village Salad

The Village Salad is your traditional Greek salad of cucumber, tomato, capsicum, red onion, olives and feta. The slab of feta comes on top for you to break up and combined throughout. It's a good feta. Very strong in taste and the slab is a generous amount, which was more than enough considering the strength of its flavour.


The slow roasted lamb came served that day with the special Easter dressing which tasted like a spiced rice. The lamb was just falling off the bone. It is slow cooked over charcoals and it is just beautiful. It comes apart with such ease and tastes so good, especially when you use some of your pita and wrap it all up like a DIY gyro.


The calamari is another dish I had on my first go-round at Brika and it was so good I ordered it again. I love how simply prepared this calamari is yet it is so flavoursome. The slightly charred calamari mixed with the olive oil, herbs and a squeeze of fresh lemon makes for a winner. So simple, but so good. The best things often are. That char taste to the calamari is everything. Oh, so good.


Being so full, dessert was never going to happen. No amount of my love for baklava or loukoumades would be enough to make me even attempt to force another spoonful of food in my mouth. It's a shame because I really do love both and having had the loukoumades at Brika before, I knew they would be good if I ordered them. Instead, I settled for nibbling on a braided koulourakia (Greek Easter cookie) as I fixed up the bill. A perfect end to a wonderful Easter.

Brika on Urbanspoon

April 21, 2014

Breaking Birthday Bread at The Precinct

I have a friend. Her name is Patricia. Patricia makes ceramics; take a look. Patricia celebrated her birthday very recently. We celebrated in the best way we know how - by eating. 

There was a time when I concentrated my pursuit of eating along the Victoria Park cafe and restaurant strip. It was easy enough, I live locally and there was more than enough choice. I haven't spent as much time on the strip these days but when I do return to the local hood I am reminded of the quality that can be found close to home. 

That night we ate at The Precinct. I've been to The Precinct a couple of times but never for dinner. Our other friend Shu (she takes my photos sometimes) was already there when I arrived holding Patricia's gift in both hands as the gift bag was threatening to break apart due to the weight of everything I had shoved in. Patricia is quite the home cook so we got her Gwynnie Paltrow's cook book (because I think Patricia is a fan of Gwyneth...) and a set of mini cocottes by Le Creuset. Okay, let me say what a fail that was on my part. Patricia makes her own line of ceramic homewares that can be used in the oven. I know that. I had the smart idea of buying her Le Creuset because every kitchen needs some good ol' cast iron Le Creuset, right? Well, the mini cocottes are ceramic. I gifted ceramic to a ceramicist. Sheesh. 

The birthday present faux pas

Once my horror dissipated, we got to ordering. No alcohol for me, I went with the ice tea. It's brewed strong and could use a little sugar syrup on the side, but at the same time I enjoyed the strong tea flavours and it's always good to cut down on the sugar intake. 

The Precinct works on a shared dining concept and the waitstaff are useful in advising how many dishes to order, which I appreciate as it's not always easy to know how many dishes to order when sharing as restaurants serve up so many different dish sizes. 

On our order was the truffle mac 'n' cheese at $13 (of course, who doesn't get mac 'n' cheese when it's on a menu?), the pork belly with lemon and mustard dressing ($26), the tomato medley with buffalo mozrella and basil ($16) and the meatballs with zucchini pasta ($16.50). This was one of my choices as I have seen a lot about zucchini pasta online but not eaten it yet. 


The mac 'n' cheese is made with the teeny tiny mini macaroni. I prefer the larger ribbed macaroni because I like that  extra bite it gives and the bigger tubes means you get more sauce inside so when you bite down it just gushes out. Despite my preference for the big stuff, their mac 'n' cheese is delightful to eat. It is a very small serving size. Quite small. I really think at a stretch you could share this between two people. Given the price for this is $13 and the small serve of mac 'n' cheese at Rockpool (which is freakin awesome stuff) is $9 which is larger in size than that served at The Precinct, I'm a little 'things that make you go mmm' on that one. 


The pork belly was cooked perfectly and as I like it, super crisp skin and the meat was soft and tender. It may look dry from the photo, but it wasn't. Not at all. There wasn't too much fat on it either which was good. Overly fatty pork belly can be gross. The accompanying dressing was a bit too acidic for my taste buds but the pork belly tasted good enough on its own without it. While lovely to eat, there are only four small pieces of pork belly on the plate.


I was thinking the tomato medley, going by the description, was going to be like an insalata caprese, which I suppose it was, just served in a bowl. Quartered cherry tomatoes were combined with the mozzarella and basil. The tomatoes were really sweet and juicy but I think the salad could have used a bit more cheese. There was a lot of tomatoes to the cheese. 


My zucchini spaghetti curiosity was finally put to rest when the meatball dish came out. The good sized meatballs, of which there were four, were served on top of the zucchini which had been fashioned into the long ribbons of spaghetti. I liked this a lot. The meatballs were good, really tasty and had a good texture and the zucchini spaghetti also had a good texture to it. It wasn't soft and sloppy but had still had some crunch to it and it was just a nice dish. The sauce was well flavoured and it makes me want more zucchini spaghetti. I don't know how to make zucchini into spaghetti but I'm going to ask Google. 



We didn't stay for dessert because we wanted to take a stroll after dinner, with the weather that night being Indian summer perfection plus with Baskin and Robbins a couple metres away, a stroll is not complete without a waffle cone in the hand. 

The total bill came to $92.50 for the three of us sharing four dishes. Overall not bad in the money stakes, although I do think some of the serving sizes can be improved upon. There's also some inconsistency with serving sizes, with the mac 'n' cheese being quite small but the meatballs and zucchini spaghetti being much larger for the small price. The mac 'n' cheese is 'truffled' although my assumption is this refers to the inclusion of truffle oil and not the fungi itself.  

Flavour wise, the dishes were pretty much on point.  My biggest dislike was the very tart sauce that came with the pork belly of which I could not even manage a smear and the somewhat ordinariness of the tomato salad. Price wise, yes it's reasonable when you consider we split the bill between the three of us but I do think pricing is somewhat disproportionate in consideration to some of the serving sizes. I do very much believe in quality of quantity and I'd rather have a smaller dish of higher quality than a big bowl of slop. I think where pricing is concerned it's just become more common, and as a result accepted (even though that doesn't necessarily make it right), that it can be on the higher side especially in Perth. That's not necessarily a good thing and I think some other establishments really do take some ridiculous liberties when it comes to menu pricing. I don't think the prices at The Precinct are overly unreasonable but serving sizes could be improved upon. I would like just a little bit more mac 'n' cheese, please.

The Precinct on Urbanspoon

April 15, 2014

Streets of Colour and Life


Those of you who follow O&P on Facebook and Instagram will have noticed an influx over the past week of photos posted that appeared to show Perth undergoing some form of transformation; its blank walls turned to canvases which came to life with the stroke of a brush or roller or steady handed stream of aerosol. 

The artists of Last Chance Studios

Maybe you even saw for yourself in person the larger than life creations on these walls, in the alleyways and tucked away lanes. In the most unexpected of places. 

From left to right: Last Chance Studios, ROA, Phlegm, Last Chance Studios

Hyuro

So, what's it all about right? 

Form, a not-for-profit Western Australian based organization put together a program by the name of PUBLIC, which included both Perth and the Pilbara. Can't forget those living above the 26th parallel after all. Reminiscent of street art initiatives and festivals seen in other countries, Form pulled together some of the most talented and recognized digital, street and visual artists to descend onto the streets of Perth to create their magic. Over a period of nine days, 45 artists were to turn 30 ordinary spaces into public works of arts. Accessible to all people. Not tucked behind Plexiglas or secured within the walls of museums or galleries but for all to see, appreciate and enjoy. 

ROA
ROA

Local Perth and West Aussie artists were joined by those who came from around Australia and the world. It is impossible for me to provide you with a complete roll call but it included artists such as Phlegm (UK), Stormie Mills (Perthie), Alexis Diaz (Puerto Rico), Maya Hayuk (USA), Phibs (Syd-en-ay) and so many, many more.  For many it was their first time to Perth and Australia and from those that I spoke to, they were most impressed with our city. The weather also put on its best, showing off that we can still have perfect beach weather in the middle of autumn.  Regardless of where they hail from, these are all respected figures in the art world. 

Phlegm
Pixel Pancho

It was a chance for people to see art being created live, right in front of them. To witness the undeniable skill and talent that one requires to do what they do. 

Stormie Mills and puppy
Pixel Pancho

Over the nine days Form put together a number of events, of which I tried to attend as many as I was humanly able to. I spent a day as a volunteer for Form and had the privilege of 'helping' (I use that term very loosely...I sat in the shade, he painted) one of the artists, Jaz, who had come straight off of many hours flying from Argentina and went right into it painting one of the walls at Turner Galleries. A total trooper, especially working the entire day under the sun. Must I say again, I sat in the shade.

Alexis Diaz
Maya Hayuk

Friday night was the Public Salon event held at Form. It was bursting at the seams with a licorice all sorts of people, a testament that this art is appreciated by many and not just a select niche group of people who like 'that sort' of art. The great part about Salon is that they've included work by many more local artists that are available for purchase, in addition to pieces by those who are formally part of the Public program. Don't sleep on the talent we have in Perth. We have a lot of it. 

E.L.K and Anya Brock
The Yok & Sheryo
The Yok & Sheryo, Phlegm in the background

Although many of the artists have now finished up and left, some headed to the Pilbara and others wherever else the next departure out of Perth Airport takes them, their work will remain. In my opinion, one of the best aspects of what Form has put together is the extent to which it has been embraced by the public as well as the city councils and corporates. If you like what Form has done, you can support them by becoming a member.  It's pretty cheap, it's easy and being a not-for-profit organization, membership is vital to them; trust me, state government funding is stingy.

Phibs

Perth is now home to works of art created by some of the biggest and best. The artists who've put their stamp on Perth have done the same in cities all around the world - New York, Miami, Sao Paolo, Paris and on and on. You can't stepchild Perth any longer. Word.  


Beastman and Vans the Omega

April 03, 2014

Art in the City. Art in the Streets.

If you're unaware or if I haven't made it clear enough, I live in Perth.  Perth, Western Australia.  I grew up here, I've lived my entire life here.  For those of a certain age (what I'm trying to say is, my age) we know too well the feeling of our city never being good enough.  Never as cool as the cities out east.  It used to be that you'd want to leave Perth as soon as you could but it was definitely worth coming back as a "good place to raise a family."  What is that supposed to mean exactly? A good place to raise a family - in comparison to where?

Slowly things change. Progress can be a slow process. Over the last couple of years much has changed - and much has not.  I'm no fool. This is a lovely city, this is my city, but it's definitely not the uh, "easy, breezy, green and pristine...hipster heaven" that The New York Times recently labelled it to be. It is getting better though. It has become better. It continues getting better. Once upon a time artists wouldn't even bring their tours here, and now we have got one of the best entertainment venues in the world. Things definitely change.

Small bars, new restaurants, great cafes, designers taking up residence in our malls - it's kinda happening here in little ol' Perth. People would bemoan that Perth is boring, that there is nothing to do. Keep your ears clean, open your peepers really wide - there's a lot going on.

Something that I'm personally quite excited about are the numerous art events that are scheduled to take place over the next few weeks.  If you follow Oyster & Pearl on Instagram you may have seen a couple of my recent postings.  A couple of weeks ago was the opening of the Nasty Goreng exhibition by artists The Yok and Sheryo. 

Photo taken from www.turnergalleries.com.au

 Right next to where I work there is a great piece painted by The Yok (which is comfortably neighboured near to a Stormie Mills creation), I'm sure you would have seen it perhaps while hopping around to Andaluz or Helvetica.  Just two of the many good small bars we have. You can still check out that exhibition at Turner Galleries until April 19.  By the way, don't you love the chandeliers hanging in Howard Lane? I love them.

One of my dodgy Instagram pics of Howard Lane.

Saturday night, that's April 5 if you're unsure, is the opening night of the APEX Group Exhibition at the Little Wing Corner Gallery.  This is something special with so many good artists and businesses getting behind this one, with proceeds from the art sales going to Conservation Council of Western Australia to help protect our shark friends. You know how I said Perth is getting better? Well, if you want me to put a dent in the Perth love fest, this dreadful shark culling will do it. Not to get political but it doesn't make much sense to me. We do have wonderful beaches that we like to enjoy for much of the year but it is somewhat logical to me that those waters are the natural home and habitat of various creatures, some of which include sharks and none of which include humans. I think the care and caution we need to take when deciding to swim in the ocean is not at all dissimilar to me choosing to travel to a country that I know may be dangerous or may require me to adhere to certain customs.

Photo taken from Little Wing Corner Gallery's Facebook page

APEX will run until April 12, and while I will no longer be able to attend on Saturday night as I had planned I do hope to get down there at some point especially as I have two friends who have their works being exhibited. 

I won't be able to get down there on Saturday because...I'm spending all day Saturday volunteering for the very awesome PUBLIC: Art in the City program that is running over nine days all over Perth.  The laneways and walls of the city are going to get some serious loving with murals, installations and projections from a number of local and international artists.  Over the course of these nine days will be so many different events you can be apart of and the good folk at Form have also put together a handy dandy map for you to also go exploring on your own.

Photo taken from www.form.net.au
Photo taken from Form's Facebook page

And if that's not enough, the Fremantle Street Arts Festival is running over the Easter long weekend. I hear there's going to be dinosaurs. Dinosaurs, come on.  Plus music, street theatre, cabaret and circus. How could you miss it?

Photo taken from Fremantle Street Arts Festival Facebook page

So there's nothing to do in Perth, right? All of these sort of events really excite me, and it's so good that we have people and organizations pushing to bring them to life. Just as important is that we all go out and support, participate and enjoy. When you have artists of the calibre as those involved in these various exhibitions and the PUBLIC program, that's a pretty big deal. Summer is now over, but don't festivals such as Fringe World and Perth International Arts Festival bring so much goodness to the city during that time of year? Don't you love seeing the city abuzz and having the opportunity to see some amazing talent live? There's a huge amount of work that goes into making all of that happen and it's so important that we don't let that work go unappreciated and to waste.