May 24, 2014

That Old Soul

Currently, it's pretty wet and windy around these parts. I actually had to start using my umbrella. I resisted for as long as I could (I'm obviously still in winter denial) but twice I was caught out on my way home from work and the very short run to my car was enough to have me drenched. The thing about wet and windy days and umbrellas is this; I hate to be the one that's walking down the street and the next second find my umbrella forced inside out. I work on what is probably the windiest street in Perth city and have seen my fair share of umbrellas that just gave up, tossed aside in the bins or on the side of the road. There was a time I was in New York during March and April and there were a few days of heavy rain. I was squelching around in Soho, when the wind knocked my umbrella dead. It didn't even turn inside out. The actual canopy of the umbrella just broke off. I squealed at my misfortune as a nearby doorman didn't even attempt to contain his laughter. 

Although I prefer the warmer and less wet weather, one thing I do welcome is that change that it brings to menus across the city. Let's be real. In winter weather (or as winter as Perth can get), a green smoothie ain't gonna cut it. 

Perfect then that I found myself at The Old Crow last night sitting in a cozy little nook next to a fireplace, non-functioning but still cozy nonetheless, while the rain beat down outside. I was having dinner with Sharon from Sass and Spice and Heidy from lovethymuse, and with it being the three of us it meant that we could order lots of food and that always makes me happy. The dishes are intended to be shared and I think the quote atop the menu makes this obvious, even though I'm pretty sure Snoop wasn't referring to the breaking of bread with friends. 

The staff member looking after us was super friendly. I think her name may be Penny. She recommended to us to try their special which was a curry style beef served with beans. We took her up on this recommendation and in addition ordered the buttermilk fried chicken with thousand island sauce, the corn fritters, crispy Brussels sprouts and fried shrimp. The sound of the Ginger Snaps pitcher was also too yummy to pass up. Although I had been to The Old Crow for brunch not long after it had opened this was my first time for dinner and I was keen to try more as my first time had been a good time. Innuendo alert.

Yep, it ain't no fun if the homies can't have none

Free bread!

The dishes are served as they are cooked which meant we had an almost constant stream of food coming to the table. The food at The Old Crow is of a Southern theme, inspired by Cajun and Creole soul food, and when it comes to comfort food I think the South has it locked down pretty good. I have spent some time in the Southern states of the US and many of my fondest memories involve the food. 

The buttermilk fried chicken was delivered first. The little wings and drumsticks were coated in a crunchy batter and served alongside the thousand island sauce. There is definitely enough in a portion to serve three people, beyond that I would suggest a second serve just to ensure you all get enough fried chicken goodness. The batter on the chicken was perfectly crunchy and I honestly think that their fried chicken is some of the best I've had in Perth. If anything I think the chicken could have used just a slight amount more of seasoning but that is minor when considering that it was crunchy, piping hot and not at all greasy or oily. 

We didn't expect the fried shrimp to look as it did, I think we were expecting something along the lines of popcorn shrimp but after popping the first little shrimp in my mouth I had no regrets. Although the shrimp is served fully intact with all the shell and bits and pieces, the whole thing can be eaten. This isn't a foreign concept to me as I have grown up eating prawns cooked that way but I wonder if for some it may be a bit confronting at first. If it does I implore you, don't be scared! Try them because you'll probably love them.  The aioli was good but the shrimp were tasty enough without needing even a smear of the stuff.

The corn fritters were light and full of corn. Not overly doughy or cakey which is nice. The bell pepper and chipotle chutney served with it was a very nice flavour compliment to the sweetness of the corn. 

Heidy was unsure about the Brussels sprouts. I'm a fan of them and I don't have the aversion to them that a lot of people have, possibly because I wasn't served them as a child so I have no bad memories of eating them. Cooked well I think the little tackers are great to eat and at The Old Crow being prepared in a crispy manner imparts a lot of smokey and charred flavour to them. They are definitely not the Brussels sprouts of your childhood. 

Far out Brussels sprouts!

The beef special was my least enjoyed dish. The meat was very tender and had been slow cooked, I presume based on how tender and soft it was. I just wasn't feeling the flavour of it. As a curry style beef I expected more punch, spice and pizzazz which I felt it lacked. The beans were an interesting side and I think was a nod to the dhal and lentil dishes that often accompany more traditional curries. If it were on the regular menu it's not something I would order again. 

Luckily we had room for dessert and decided to share the bourbon and cola sticky pudding. It was huge! We couldn't believe it. We kept saying that it was fortunate we didn't order one each. I think we'd still have been eating it for breakfast, however I'm sure our super lovely waitperson would have advised us better than to order one each. Even at the table next to us we saw two men sharing a pudding, and only just prior we saw one of them finishing an entire pork hock on his own. I'm usually not a dessert fan. I do like sweets but don't often find myself satisfied with the desserts at restaurants however this was sensational. I think because it's not at all pretentious or fancy. It's just like a rich, warm and saucy pudding I would make at home and sit eating in front of the TV. The pudding was delicious with the thick sauce that bubbled its way to the surface and the crunch provided by the scattering of oats made for a perfect finale. Although I didn't get much of a bourbon and cola taste, it definitely made for a delightfully sweet ending. 

The bill came to a total of $130, extremely good value for all the food we had. If we had not ordered the pitcher of Ginger Snaps the total bill would have been $98, which for three people wouldn't even buy you a main course each at some places. Good food and company, lively banter and a very inviting and cozy place of respite from the wind outside - makes for a pretty good Friday night to me.

As I headed back to my car, this rendition of Troy Buswell was getting put up on a door across the road. He's one that I'm sure knows all about a good Friday night. 

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May 06, 2014

On The Grid

One way or another, wherever we are, we are always connected. We are always 'On The Grid'.

And with these two sentences a long held dream came to life. A decade of memories. A decade of creating the images that spoke to the memory behind each moment captured. Collected and curated to become 'On The Grid'; the first photographic exhibition presented by my wonderfully talented friend Shu Daniels of SOUL of SHU

Last night was the opening of her exhibition and it was a privilege and delight to share in this special occasion with her. The many months spent pulling thousands of images to select the final few that would make the cut all came to fruition when seeing them larger than life upon the walls of The Bird in Northbridge.

The official start time of the exhibition was 6:30pm but just a few minutes after six the first framed print had been sold. The ball well and truly had started rolling and kept rolling long after the exhibition closed at 8:30pm. If you didn't make it last night you may be disappointed to find sold stickers adorning the walls alongside many images. 

Photo by Travis Hayto Photography

In her own words, On The Grid is a showcase of a selection of Shu's favourite images of her travels through Japan and New York City. The images were cleverly and cutely denoted with a stylized flag of Japan or the US to let you know the origin of each photo. 

Photo by Travis Hayto Photography
Photo by Travis Hayto Photography

For most of the night, The Bird was filled with people enjoying a drink and munching down on a mini hot dog (there was also chicken yakitori but I missed out!) as they checked out the images, with the backing soundtrack provided by DJ Aslan.

Photo by Travis Hayto Photography
Photo by Travis Hayto Photography

The purchases came in thick and fast, so much so that the whiz behind the sales table (that whiz would being me heehee) could barely keep up. As such I don't think it's at all presumptuous to say it was a successful night. 

Photo by Travis Hayto Photography

Given the friend privileges that are in place, I was able to ask her a few questions about her work to put together a small artist feature for you, my awesome readers.

When and why did you take up photography? 
Easy. 2004. I bought a "big black Fuji" that didn't have interchangeable lenses. It looked fancy, so I saved up for ages and finally copped it. 2004 was also the year that I first traveled around the world. I thought I needed to capture as much of it as I could! I wish I could say I started in high school, but I actually failed photography. Got an F. (Note: my maths class was in the room adjoining the school's darkroom. Maths classes always smelt like vinegar.) 

My mum was a graphic designer back in Singapore in the 80s, so she has always been a super massive influence to me creatively. She designed booklets for Versace and even Sammy Davis Jr. I used to go through her portfolio constantly when I was younger and was super inspired by her designs. Also, one of my good friends studied photography at uni and I always used to be in awe of all her gear and work. She is actually a huge reason as to why I started to pick up my camera more often. She always had faith in my eye. Now I've picked my camera up, I haven't put it down. 

How would you describe your style? 
Diverse and candid. I love candid photographs. Especially when it comes to portraits of people. People are more at ease when they aren't being posed. I find that my best photos are of the moments where people don't even know I am in the room. That's also why I don't really like to shoot in a studio. It's hard for people to be their true self when they are put in unfamiliar environments. In terms of style, I really like my images to be dark, but vibrant at the same time. I'm all for really high contrast pictures that are striking to the eye but in saying that, I'd say diverse because I find it quite easy to transition from style to style depending on the subject matter. I'm happy to try all different looks to match what I'm shooting. 

Do you have any particular influences in regard to photography, or any photographer's whose work you admire?
I have so many! One of my favourite photographers is Tim McGurr AKA 13th Witness. His street photography is so smooth and clean, yet so grimy at the same time. He is the son of Futura (graffiti artist) and was born and raised in NYC. He then lived in Tokyo for a few years. I was instantly attracted to his work because I felt like I could relate to everything that he loved and was shooting. I'm also a super massive fan of SO many photographers on Instagram! One of my faves right now is @1stinstinct. It doesnt matter if your photos are taken on a $4000 full frame body  camera or your phone, as long as you are taking photos with heart, it really shows. Some people on the 'gram are churning out some really sick stuff! 

On The Grid is a selection of photographs from your time in New York and Tokyo.  Why New York and Tokyo? 
Two of my favourite places in the world. I've been to NYC nine times now and I will keep going back. It's those damn honey wings I tell you!  Both cities are just so rich and full of goodness. Culturally and aesthetically. 

Any parting words?
 ゴールドステイ (I am told that translates to "stay gold")

On The Grid will be exhibited at The Bird until May 25. If you have any queries or would like to purchase any of the work send an email to

Keep an eye on the Facebook and Instagram pages for Oyster & Pearl (@oysterandpearlblog) and SOUL of SHU (@shushudip) as we will be announcing a special giveaway in the next day or two!