Month: July 2013

Mesmerized by… Daisy Balloon’s Rie Hosokai Pattern Dresses

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Pattern Dress 1. Rie Hosokai. 2013.
Pattern Dress 1. Rie Hosokai. 2013.

Think Dior’s New Look on latex.
Introducing balloon artist Rie Hosokai’s creations.

Pattern Dress 2. Rie Hosokai. 2013.
Pattern Dress 2. Rie Hosokai. 2013.



On being a Magnolia.

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Toorak Magnolia
Toorak Magnolia

In a stately garden in Toorak there grows a Magnolia. Huddled in my cape, ears ensconced in chocolate brown rabbit fur ear muffs, fingers clad in red  gloves that never quite fit their length, I walk past her. As I push the gloves down at the crevice between each finger, trying to match their length with that of my digits, I look up. And there she is. A blooming magnolia framed by a wrought iron fence.

Magnolias bloom at their fullest in the bitterest hyperborean weeks of the long Melbourne winter. On naked branches they exhibit their folds and hues so affably it’s hard to understand how they do it given that their branches look so sparse, gnarled and stark.

My external environment of late, is pretty sparse, gnarled and stark at times starting with my 4:30am alarm. As I get up, my body aches with cold not to mention my mind. How do Magnolias do it? You really have to admire them for more than their beauty.


Cider and Crêpes

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In my teenage years the cooking escapades escalated. I’d outgrown my recipe misreading days and had started to actually get some things right. I was blessed with the good fortune of a little sister, in fact a toddling and later preschool aged sister which among other benefits granted me with stronger rationales to make decadent breakfasts. At age fifteen I developed quite the penchant for lemon and sugar filled crêpes. Those who knew me as a teenager would not be surprised that I often referred to them as craps, finding myself to be incredibly witty and naughty at the same time, I’d giggle uncontrollably when declaring to my degustation buddy, “Craps are served” to the chagrin of my proper mother and her tenacity for keeping our language clean and our grammar pure.
The first attempts were impatiently undertaken – clotted mixture and unchilled batter a poignant reminder to my parents of my early epicurean days where gluten flour was once mistaken for plain and orange syrup donuts which met their unfortuitous and rubbery end in the scrap bucket under our kitchen sink top while I cried salt tears over a disappointed dessert.
House Cider at Breizoz
House Cider at Breizoz
 A few nights ago I rekindled my love for buttery crêpes, rice paper fine at Breizoz on Gertrude Street. In the balmy light we sat with decorum, sipped cider from Breton mugs, chatted and became more Francophilic by the minute. We were all very well behaved and grown up and  let me say, not one of us said “crap” at the dinner table, including yours truly.
Poached pear with chocolate Crêpe at Breizoz
Poached pear with chocolate Crêpe at Breizoz

Introducing a new feature: Elixir of Melbourne

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Here you can find reviews and post-espresso musings on the cafes of Melbourne.

These feature articles are posted spontaneously according to impressions of a swell daily grind.

Elixir of Melbourne- Carlton’s Market Lane Coffee

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The trio strolls down the streets of Carlton. Sunday flats, draped knits, gloves, leather and wool- we are dressed for the wintery Melbourne Sunday air. I’m carrying a little paper bag that emits its delicate citrus and yeast aroma. We are saving this brioche to dip in paper coffee cups, once we retrieve the golden brew.



We lean into the coffee window at Market Lane, Carlton. A cheery barista greets us. Latte. Latte. Cappuccino.

Under what name?


Cue eruption of guffaws from Barista.


The brioche meets our lips before the coffee. It tastes like clouds- yeasty, citrus infused clouds. The chewy and waxy orange rind buffs my teeth, fragrant and sharp.

We play with the camera. The take out window slot  enthralls us. The black and white checker square tiles frame our background like a grand chessboard. Are we the pawns? Where coffee is concerned, I’m afraid so.

Blocking the window we chat and exclaim and one of us blends in with the cafe’s typography.


We declare the bricks are smashing. We smile smugly at the cup etiquette and more so at the brew.


The crema glows on the surface of our cups and leaves a gilded slick on the inner lining as the last sips of Melbourne elixir are drained.  This is our elixir.

A customer with dashing manners and spectacles to boot, swans by, long legged and articulate.

– Want a photo of the 3 of you?

– Oh, please!

He directs the little intercontinental menagerie:  Colombian, Australian, Singaporean.

Our trio

I’m a director

he declares.

It seems he directs the Singaporean more.

Cue the opera singer.

Can I be directed too? I feel left out of all this directing business. 

He frames the shot, camera in hand. Then, jerkily, he interrupts his directorial posturing. With one quick sweep, he pounces on a tissue littering the pathway.


Smiles widen.

The trio is a quartet. Even a lane way can be rendered and beautified. Ahem. The Aesthetic Universals are in his ken. As I admire my cup and ponder the litter removal gesture I am reminded of these universals identified by philosopher Denis Dutton and I conclude this little cafe perfectly exists as a fulfillment of the aesthetic universals. And so do we. It’s Sunday after all. Why not chase beauty or even just simply the elixir of life?

Market Lane Coffee, Carlton. Melbourne
Market Lane Coffee, Carlton. Melbourne

Six Universal Signatures of human aesthetics;

  1. Expertise or virtuosity. Humans cultivate, recognize, and admire technical artistic skills.
  2. Non-utilitarian pleasure. People enjoy art [sic coffee] for art’s sake, and don’t demand that it keep them warm or put food on the table.
  3. Style. Artistic objects and performances satisfy rules of composition that place them in a recognizable style.
  4. Criticism. People make a point of judging, appreciating, and interpreting works of art.
  5. Imitation. With a few important exceptions like abstract painting, works of art simulate experiences of the world.
  6. Special focus. Art is set aside from ordinary life and made a dramatic focus of experience

( Denis Dutton’s  Aesthetic Universals summarized by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate)

A Radiant Southern Cross: The National Costume for Miss World Australia 2013 Unveiled

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Miss World Australia 2013, Erin Holland in the National Costume by Julie Sufi of Belluccio
Miss World Australia 2013, Erin Holland in the National Costume by Julie Sufi of Belluccio

Every year the fashion set critics snarl and scathe over the National Costume entry for Miss World.

It’s no mean feat to summarize the Australian nation and culture in a dress destined to share the stage with bejeweled saris and sombreros, vivid kaftans and grass skirts, gilded headpieces and intricate ethnic embroidery. Even Colombian contingents have been known to strut on stage with Amazonian parrots and a dress that almost upstages the bird life. It’s a pageant after all.

Unveiled today at the Caulfield Racecourse, home of the Melbourne Cup,  Julie Sufi’s (chief designer at Belluccio) creation for this year reminds us of our anthem and the flag which unites. But is this the dress that can stop a nation or even better Advance Australia Fair in one of the World’s most prestigious pageants?


In my travels friends all over the world have asked me to summarize my homeland. I’m always puzzled by how to summarize a Nation so colourful and diverse.

We’ve boundless planes to share [well at least we did in the past]…

Our all inclusive immigration policies of the past shape who we are. And so we have streets crammed with Greek patisseries, steamy restaurants in our China Towns with whirling Peking Ducks glistening in their windows, vast Cattle stations that seem to extend beyond the horizon, Edwardian cottages with white picket fences and manicured rose topiaries, suburban sprawl and lounge rooms filled with the sound of reality shows or Australian rules football, ivy league schools filled with giggling girls in sailor shirts and surrounded by green grounds despite water restrictions, tradies with plumbers cracks, utes and a “bluey”, dinner tables loaded with pungent curry and rice, nonna’s lasagne, a rack of lamb and potatoes, fish and chips, Yaya’s moussaka, Baka’s fat sarma and goulash or the filled bowl of an international student’s ramen with Kim chi on the side.

So how does the expat summarize Australia as homeland in their diaspora musings?


Beneath our radiant Southern Cross…

I start by describing the Australian sky, so blue, so expansive, so flashy (think sunsets, summer days, mid summer days). Living here, it’s easy to think the sky, like your own opportunities, is endless. We are a full skirted country, bright and expansive.

Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare…

I also find myself in awe on return to my homeland by how much we shine, literally. The cobbled pavements of Europe, the traces of coal grime on ancient buildings, the curving and sagging rooftops of village homes impoverished by governments and time are hard to find here. We are a bejeweled country, so sparkly that the less privileged crave our shores and sail to us in leaky boats.

The radiant tea length gown is completely embellished
The radiant tea length gown is completely embellished

We are girt by blue oceans and swathed in the radiance of the bright star hung nights’ sky.

And if such visual and tangible suggestions of our landscape and cultural climate are not summoned when glancing at this year’s National Costume then let me conclude- the gown unites us under its flag and evokes also the  iconic motifs of our past. The billowing full skirt of this gregarious tea dress is just the garb I’d choose to spoon creamy summer day pavlova between my parted lips, snatch a lamington off a paper doily while inside a white picket fenced house, smile and twirl like I’m a happy little Vegemite who loves aeroplane jelly because I am. And fortunately, the majority of us are. We are a lucky country. May we not forget that.

Advance Australia Fair!

Erin Holland at the Caulfield Race Track
Erin Holland at the Caulfield Race Track

Casket of Jewels… Oscar De la Renta Fall Collection 2013

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I am completely gasping at Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 2013 collection- the styling, jewel tones, textures. SIGH!


Is there anything more civilized than a kid gloved hand clasping a clutch?


You can always count on Oscar de la Renta for a voluminous gown. Best diva frock designer.


Capes always make my heart stop. I’m acquiring a small collection- duck egg blue, black and bottle green. It’s like a modern Wuthering Heights. Ready to dash across the urban Moors?


Cinched waist, brow skimming hats…



Gowns perfect for Gounod’s Juliette’s aria-Je veux vivre dans ce rêve!