Friday, November 28, 2014

Wabi-sabi

I had an early Christmas dinner last night at Kappo - a newly opened Japanese restaurant underneath Hihou Bar in Flinders Lane (which is also part-owned by Simon Denton who ran the previous incarnation Verge).
Photography: Simon Shiff via Broadsheet
It was an interesting dining experience, in a good way, but quite different.  It's not the place to go for a loud and raucous evening (try Izakaya Den for that, which is also hard to find!) but somewhere a lot more refined and elegant - even a bit muted.  What I did like about it, is that it's great for smaller groups and couples and conversation flows because you can actually hear each other.
Hihou Bar image via Izakaya Den Facebook on The Urban List Melbourne's Best Sake Bars
It's also an experience just finding the place!  It's situated smack bang on the corner of Flinders Lane and Spring Street but the recessed doorway is off Flinders Lane.  There is no external sign and you need to push the doorbell for the wait staff to let you in to both Kappo or Hihou Bar.  Hihou is one of those great hidden bars that make you feel like you're in Tokyo (and one for sake lovers) but sadly I didn't get a chance to go upstairs while I was there last night.
We opted to sit in the main dining area perched on stools and the attentive waiting staff proceeded to explain how the menu works - they show you a list of all ingredients used and you decide if you're happy to eat them all or not, or want more of something in particular.  There's an emphasis on vegetables and seafood rather than red meat, so it's not somewhere you'll walk away feeling super full as is the case with most Japanese food.  But given the basic menu starts at 5 courses for $80 you may not want more than that.
The staff also present a box of chopsticks for you to pick your own pair and there's other elements of surprise like mixing your own ingredients into a bowl.  The food is beautifully presented - almost like works of art - but the atmosphere is quite relaxed and low key.  It's a good place to unwind with friends.
Japanese Film Festival image via Consulate-General of Japan, Melbourne
Also a tip if you are heading into the city in the lead up to Christmas and driving in.  Wilson Parking offer an online casual Book a Bay system at a reduced rate which is quick and simple.  When you actually arrive at your selected car park, all you need to do is insert your credit card into the ticket machine when you enter and leave the car park rather than having to have a ticket printed and pay for it before you leave - there's a lot less hassle.  The Japanese Film Festival is currently on until December 7 in Melbourne so you may even want to check out a film at ACMI or Hoyts Melbourne Central.
Image via QAGOMA
Finally, if you're lucky enough to be heading to Queensland at all between now and February, I've heard great things about Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion currently showing at QAGOMA.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bags of style

There is a huge amount happening in the lead up to Christmas.  I just wanted to firstly post about a few date-specific events.
Textile designer Nicola Cerini is having a last ever bag sale tomorrow and Friday at the Antique Bookstore at Abbotsford Convent - she'll also be selling other wares but this is the last chance to nab one of her bags as she is stopping production.
Image via Heide website
The Arthur Boyd: Brides exhibition opens at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen this Saturday and I'm thrilled they've appointed a female Director, Kirsty Grant, who starts in the new year to replace Jason Smith who has gone to GOMA.  The Brides work by Arthur Boyd is one of the most poignant artworks I know depicting Australia's racial divide with indigenous people using an invented love story.  Also on Saturday is the Arden Street Strawberry Fair from 9.30am - 2.30pm at the Rosanna Uniting Church in Arden Crescent although this year it will be competing with election day sausage sizzles (don't forget to vote!).
Image via MUP website
The Robin Boyd Foundation Open Day is on Sunday - the design discussion is sold out but one of leading architect Sean Godsell's Favourite Houses will be open - the Snelleman House in Ivanhoe. Architecture was recently explained to me as science meeting art and many of the modernist houses on show are exactly that.  Also on Sunday is the Strictly Vintage market at Northcote Town Hall with a talk at 12pm on 1930s ladies fashion by Nicole Jenkins from Circa Vintage who incidentally has just released her book 'Style is Eternal'.
Image via www.fullnoise.com.au
Finally, if you love antiques as I do it's nice to know Amanda Addams in Kew is holding their last auction for the year on Monday 1 December at 6.30pm with a viewing on Saturday from 11am - 4pm.   Mr Rosanna and I were hoping to make it to her auction house before it moved from Bulleen but never quite made it.  And while I'm on the topic of antiques if you like Art Deco as I do then Online Antiques in Daylesford, Deco Heaven in Tyabb, Fabrile in Armadale (next to the fabulous Armadale Antique Centre) and Prism Lighting are also fantastic.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sew and sew

Like Cookie in the city, Seamstress is another place in town which has been around for ages yet somewhere I've not made it to until this weekend.  A 120 year old former textile factory, warehouse and one-time Buddhist monastery in Melbourne's Chinatown district, Seamstress was fabulous!  I went with a gang from school for a farewell dinner and we were greeted by the man at the door complete with headset who directed us downstairs to the Sweatshop Bar (you need to be careful negotiating the rather rickety original staircase) where we had a few drinks before heading back upstairs to the Seamstress dining room, which is a lovely space - I loved the floral arrangements hanging from the ceiling - it was all a bit novel.  Above the dining room is the Seamstress Cocktail Bar.
Image via Seamstress website
Like many places now, the emphasis is on shared plates, all pan-Asian, although you can still order a la carte if you wish but meals come out simply when they're ready.  We asked the waiter for recommendations and ended up selecting five dishes and an accompaniment (or 'accessories' as they like to call it) ranging from duck, pork belly, seafood and vegetarian plus rice and roti bread.  I have to say that the side dish of caramelised brussel sprouts was probably the best version of this vegetable I've ever had - not surprisingly it wasn't steamed, but fried and absolutely delicious.
Seamstress Cocktail Bar image via Seamstress website
After dinner, the gang and I headed to a bar and rather than queuing at Madame Brussels or walking to Siglo Bar at The European in heels, we opted to just head into Tuscan Bar a couple of doors down as it  also had a rooftop bar.  And while it didn't quite have the same style as Siglo (I felt like I was in an Irish pub given the amount of Irish staff serving drinks!), it was still great to go somewhere to have a drink and shoot the breeze with some of my friends - we had a great time!
Me and Lauren
If you're in town and wanting to go somewhere even more sophisticated, Longrain is also pretty amazing if you like Thai food.  Interestingly, Chinatown was once run by mostly Hong Kong Cantonese migrants but with the surge in mainland Chinese now moving to Melbourne, only a few of the big restaurants in Chinatown are still Cantonese.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Take your pick

It's been a beautiful day and there are so many things on this coming weekend I'm not sure where to begin.  For something a bit different, check out The Bally on High 2014 mini festival in Northcote, which includes a silent disco every Friday night - it starts today and runs  until 7 December.  I was at Barry for a family lunch yesterday (try the Californian super salad if you go!) in High Street and it's long been a happening street.
Image via The Bally
If you're a design lover then check out the Sisters Market in Brunswick on Saturday or Markit@Fed Square on Sunday.  I also wanted to mention the RMIT Design market at Melbourne Central featuring the best from RMIT design alumni and current students, which is being held on 26 November.  I will always have a soft spot for RMIT after transferring there from Melbourne University many years ago, after a first year spent in the wrong course for me.
Image via Markit Fedsquare
Clifton Hill Primary School Fair 2014 is also being held on Saturday and believe it or not, these events are huge money spinners for a lot of inner city schools who even have full time event staff that manage and coordinate these.
Image via Queen Victoria Market
There is also a plethora of farmers markets on including the Monty Farmers Market, the Slow Food Market at Abbotsford, Coburg Farmers Market and Eltham Farmers Market.  And don't forget if you're in the city during the week that the Night Market on Wednesdays at Queen Victoria Market has already started and runs until 25 March.

As for me, I've got a dinner out in the city somewhere I've never been to this weekend (and a couple more planned over the next few weeks at interesting places) so I'll be back with more next week.  Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Art and Food

I went to the opening of Pinpoint last night at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe and had a great (albeit hot!) time - there were so many people there, it got very warm very quickly but it was great to see the usual suspects (you know who you are) as well as a younger crowd of contemporary art lovers.  I managed to have a chat to two of the participating artists Penelope Aitken and her partner Michael Mark as well as got to meet Blaise van Hecke from Busybird Publishing based in Montmorency who is also a Pinpoint Ambassador and running a free 'Unlock the Writer in you' workshop at Ivanhoe Library on 26 November.  Check the Banyule Arts and Culture Facebook page and Pinpoint Satellite Events on Banyule Council's website for more details - I reckon the local artist studio bus tour in particular would be a lot of fun!
Moya Dyring 'Sunday' image via Heide website
Speaking of art, there is an Art & Food event 'A Heide Summer BBQ' at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen this Friday as part of The Age Good Food Month 2014 celebrating the art of Australian painter Moya Dyring who lived in France in the 1930s.  Tickets are $140 and reservations are essential.  Mercers Restaurant in Eltham is also holding a Kitchen Garden lunch on November 30 as an accompanying event.  Tickets are $84.
60 Lavender Park Road image via www.realestate.com.au
And while we're in Eltham, this beautiful house has caught my eye at 60 Lavender Park Street in Eltham.  'Landscape' was built in 1925 for renowned artist Percy Leason and includes a library, music room, studio and 1920s summer house and pony paddock.  I can just imagine people enjoying some Pimms around the tennis court in the summertime.

Finally, the former G&G Deli at 48 Burgundy Street in Heidelberg was reincarnated as Little Black Pig late last year.  I've not yet been but my fellow Banyule Arts and Culture Advisory Committee member Kate Hansen was raving about it at the opening last night so I might be heading there for a meal sometime soon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The fun list

It's probably a reflection of our busy lives but Mr Rosanna has actually created a 'fun list' as opposed to a 'to do' list where we are actually scheduling some fun activities to do as a couple and as a family instead of getting caught up in the chores of daily life, where everything starts to feel like work whether you are at home or in the office.
La Breizoz - interior
So with that in mind, we went out for crepes for lunch on Sunday at La Breizoz on the corner of Gertrude and Brunswick Streets after the big rain in Melbourne.  I'd never been there but love a good crepe (check out La Petite Creperie in the city if you're in town) and after having been to Bar Sur Loup a few times recently, it was good to go somewhere different and more traditional including being served apple cider in special cafe au lait mugs.  La Breizoz is owned by a Frenchman and during the time we were there, a French family came in to eat as well as an older French couple so it is the real deal.  Mr R reckons they're the best crepes he's ever eaten which is a big statement!
Mango and blueberry sorbet dessert crepe at La Breizoz
We went for a wander down Gertrude Street which is one of my all time favourite streets in Melbourne - a bit more low key than bustling Brunswick Street - walking past social enterprise Charcoal Lane and The Gertrude Hotel where I have previously been for a meal.  I love some of the quirky shops in the street including the Design Dispensary and the aptly named Sunday Morning Designs not to mention Obus, Leonard Street and Aesop.  I loved the art deco styling at gentleman's outfitter and barber shop Pickings & Parry with the motorcycles out the front and the antiques and industrial chic at Tarlo & Graham.  The Everleigh Bar with its marquee lights also makes a cool statement on that side of Gertrude Street where you can also find an indoor skate rink and Ladro pizza.
Barber shop inside Pickings & Parry
The other side of the street also has the original Crumpler store and more cool foodie places like Gertrude Street Enoteca, Cutler & Co, De Clieu and Anada not to mention the Builders Arms Hotel where I spent a good part of my twenties dancing the night away.  If you're into more modern design, Spacecraft Studio and Shop is also located on that side of the street.  There are a heap more places to see in the street if you're there and I also think Smith Street has some fabulous places to eat and shop - in some ways they both have more street appeal than Brunswick Street being less crowded.
There is a huge amount of things on this coming weekend and I'll be posting more about these later this week.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Local Profile - Gabby White

Well Christmas is coming and the lovely Gabby has opened her store just in time for the rush with future plans to sell online as well.  I've already bought a number of gifts from Romulus and the Gypsy and I'm thrilled that a store like hers has opened in the local area.  I also love that Gabby loves colour, as I do, and her beautiful shop is a wonderful reflection of her own personal style and eclectic taste.  You must go in!  Read on for more about Gabby...
Name: Gabby White
Occupation: Owner of Romulus and the Gypsy
Lives/Works: I have lived in Fairfield for 15 years and opened the shop in Ivanhoe in mid August.
Describe what you do:
I recently opened a shop in Ivanhoe called Romulus and the Gypsy which houses an eclectic mix of homewares, jewellery and accessories from all corners of the world.  I source products from local designers as well as from remote places such as villages in Africa and Asia. I like to stock fair trade products where possible and have some fabulous and really unusual products like paper mache bowls from Swaziland, seagrass baskets from Vietnam and felted fairy houses from Nepal.

I previously worked in an office job and last year completed a Diploma of Interior Design and then took the plunge to open the store.  I love to travel and I seem to have a knack of finding unusual objects. I really enjoy experimenting with mixing an exotic palette of colours, patterns, textures and origins to create a really individual look.

Best thing about working and living in Melbourne's north east:
The best thing about working and living in Melbourne's north east is that there is a bit of a funky vibe and a lot of cool cafes and markets.  It's been great that by living and working on the same side of town there is such a strong community feel and many friends and people I know wander into the shop even just to say hi.  It's really nice how over the years you continue to cross paths with so many of the same families from kinder, primary school and the kids sport.

For more information:
romulusandthegypsy.com.au
gabby@romulusandthegypsy.com.au
Ph: 9497 4544
facebook.com/romulusandthegypsy
instagram.com/romulusandthegypsy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A love hate relationship

One of my favourite shops Love Hate is having a studio sale with up to 80% off on Friday and Saturday if you are able to get yourself to Rear 7 Gilbert Road, Thornbury/Preston.
Image via Love Hate
And while I'm on the topic of design, Frankie Magazine has also released a new book called A little bit crafty just in time for Christmas - 39 creatives from Australia and New Zealand were asked to submit their favourite ideas using cheap or recycled materials.  Speaking of which, I love this idea for Japanese flying carp made from toilet rolls - beautiful, colourful and fun!  If you have any big or little people in your household that love DIY then this is the present for them.
Image via Frankie Press website
The Malahang Community Festival is on this Sunday 16 November from 10 am - 4 pm (subject to weather) and includes the Olympic Village Makers Market.  Other markets on this weekend include the Carlton Farmers Market and Boroondara Farmers Market - both of which are accredited farmers markets.
Image via Squirrelly Minds

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the road

I was out on the road visiting my client Avant Card in Brunswick this morning and there are things I miss about the inner city with its vibrant culture, fashion and happening things.  While I don't miss the traffic, the pollution, the crime or all the concrete - I'm lucky enough to have the best of both worlds living in leafy suburbia but still visiting some of the latest places in the north-east (or at least seeing them!).
Image via Hellenic Republic website
On the way there, I noticed a new cafe called Benjamin's Kitchen is about to open on Heidelberg Road in Alphington, just before the Heidelberg Road Vintage Bazaar if you are in the area.  If you're into wholefoods, George Colombaris is also about to open his new cafe later this month called Mastic on Cotham Road in Kew just next door to Hellenic Republic Kew.


Images above via The Yoga Lab website
While I was in Brunswick I went to visit our friend Marsden Williams at his second hand record shop Muscle Shoals (named after the famous music studio) forgetting his shop is closed on Tuesdays but while I was there I picked up a brochure from The Yoga Lab - a creative, community-centric hub also located in that shopping strip.  Given I used to live walking distance from that Brunswick East group of shops near Hellenic Republic Brunswick, it did make me a little wistful.  But life changes with children and Mr Rosanna and I have no regrets about moving to Rosanna.  In many ways, I think I've got closer to my creative side than what I would have had we remained in Brunswick, because I've been forced to seek out arts and culture around here rather than have it coming to me.
Muscle Shoals Second Hand Records image via Yelp
Finally, I am on the look out for a new client to replace The Light Factory Gallery if you work in the arts, culture or lifestyle industries and need a freelance marketing consultant/copywriter who also dabbles in presenting and styling (or know someone who does).  I am also open to collaborating with local creative people if you ever need someone like me to work with you on joint projects/pitches where we both may benefit by offering our services/products as a duo or collective - I always think two heads are better than one!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Belonging

While I was out and about last week, I did buy some gifts at both Andrews Books and Romulus and the Gypsy in Ivanhoe.  I have started buying Christmas presents as it seems to sneak up on you every year and I am still celebrating birthdays in my household.
Image via Pan MacMillan website
I managed to finish reading the epic novel Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts this year and so picked up another book by social researcher Hugh Mackay 'The Art of Belonging' after reading his previous bestseller 'The Good Life'.  The Art of Belonging's premise is that it's not where you live but how you live, and that we can only reach our potential when we engage with our communities in the local neighbourhood, at work, and even online.  He also argues that a good community is one that sustains and nurtures the many, not just the fortunate few and it's definitely been interesting reading so far.
Teapot set at Romulus and the Gypsy
I fell in love with this teapot set at Romulus and the Gypsy and Gabby, the owner, has quite the eye for beautiful and exotic things.  You'll be hearing more about her on my blog later this week.

I also wanted to mention that Papa Bear cafe in Eltham got a mention in last week's Age Good Food section.  I've not yet been there but it's now on my radar!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pinpoint

I caught up with Banyule Arts and Culture curator and artist Claire Watson for a coffee yesterday and got a sneak peak of Pinpoint - the Banyule Contemporary Art Fair currently being installed at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space showing the work of nine local artists including friends of mine Penelope Aitken and Michael Mark, who have previously shown at The Light Factory Gallery.  It will be officially opened on Tuesday 18 November by the Mayor of Banyule Council and Lisa Fehily - the Director of Fehily Contemporary from 6 - 8 pm and you will see me there if you are going!
Image via Banyule Council website
The exhibition runs from 11 November until 13 December from Tuesday to Saturday 10 am - 5 pm with Free Entry.  There will be an associated Public Forum - Pricing your Art for Profit on Sunday 23 November at 2.30pm with James Makin, Director of James Makin Gallery, local artist Rona Green And Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, Senior Collection Manager from Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA).  As well as this, there is a series of related satellite events, an Artist in Residence Kym Maxwell and Writer in Residence Kevin Burgemeestre.
Breastplate: ‘Rebirth’ For a collaboration with The Social Studio, L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival 2010
Model: Ribka Tahir
Photograph: Andrew Wuttke 2010.
While I'm on the subject of art, the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios is on the weekend of 22 and 23 November (and the following weekend) showcasing the work of 35 artists in the region.  And if you're interested in learning how to weave baskets, Sustainable Macleod is holding a workshop on Saturday 22 November for $10.  Bookings here.  I've always loved the work of master weaver Maryann Talia Pau (photos above and below) responsible for the 1 Million Stars project in Jill Meagher's memory.
1 Million Stars to End Violence. First Installation, The Big Design Market Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton. Dec 6, 7 & 8. 
Next installation, The Big Design Market December 5, 6 & 7 2014
Photo: John Englezos 2013
Finally - a few things on this weekend including the Eltham Town Festival, the Take 2 Pop Up vintage clothing market at Queen Victoria Market and the Watsonia Motor Show - enjoy the warm weather!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A room with a view

Image above via www.realestate.com.au
This house in Maltravers Road, Eaglemont has just come onto the market - it's called Viewmont and I love all those curves! It's a lucky person who buys this place - I can just imagine some rooftop cocktails on the balcony...

Images above via www.realestateview.com.au
I also wanted to post about a few design inspirations that have recently caught my eye.  I fell in love with these Morrocan-inspired earrings by Samah Designs a little while ago and this same pair in turquoise are now gracing my ears - they also come in orange.  You can buy them on Etsy for $25.

Images via Etsy
Local retailer Estelle Michaelides has her own label Micky in the Van and I absolutely love her Mon Colette dress in white lace - it was a hit when she was recently overseas at Paris Fashion Week and has also been just as popular for the races on this week.  Estelle has a very ladylike, feminine design aesthetic which really appeals to me and I'm obviously not the only one, given the online coverage I've seen.
Micky in the Van Mon Colette Coat-Dress by Estelle Michaelides
I've had a bit going on but it looks like we are staying in Melbourne (after Mr Rosanna went overseas for work earlier this year and we were toying with the idea of re-locating to Asia and doing the ex-pat thing), hence the need for passports which we hope to still use at some future stage!  Given we live in such a great local community, I can't say I'm too disappointed as much as travel is a fantastic life experience.

There's a huge amount of stuff going on over the next six weeks leading up to Christmas so I hope to be posting more often than of late.