Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Baker

So much is said, so often, of Melbourne and its love of food. Before I came here, it was one of the few qualities about Melbourne that those who had visited and loved the city could put their finger on. But it wasn't until I arrived and got to know the city and its citizens that I could claim to understand this relationship. I assumed that Melbourne could be no more 'foodie' than my hometown: London. After all, London is home to scores of highly-acclaimed, fantastic restaurants and showcases the servings of some of the world's most renown Chefs. However, as I discovered, this deeply entrenched relationship with food is more than just a proliferation of high-quality restaurants.

Next door to the fabulous Moss on Fitzroy Street is the equally (if not more so!?) fabulous Baker D.Chirico. This proximity to my place of work arguably makes me slightly biased but I feel this place truly epitomizes Melbourne's infatuation with good food. Everyday, but especially Saturday, Melburnians travel across the city for a loaf of bread. On Christmas Eve I bore witness to early-morning hoards of people queuing up out the door, down the steps and along the street, to claim pre-ordered (!) loaves, cakes and pastries. I hear it is even worse at Easter. This is some place!

Image courtesy of Broadsheet Melbourne
 And it isn't just bread, a whole host of delicious tarts, pastries, cakes, pies, quiches fill their counter, arranged on vintage plates and stands. Weekend brunch with friends is an infamous Melbourne tradition and 'Baker' (as known amongst its customer community) is a popular location, particularly as the accompanying coffee is so good. Baker also supplies a whole host of Melbourne's top eating establishments; their Wholesale list could act as a go-to guide for top eats in Melbourne.

I have a bit of a love affair with the mere thought of this place. Unlike great European patisseries, there is nothing about Baker D. Chiciro that is pretentious or ostentatious. Huge sacks of flour are piled up in the corner and food is arranged and piled and never knowingly styled into place. Whilst everything tastes phenomenal; my boyfriend proclaimed upon his first tart that one cannot claimed to have lived until trying French pattisserie chef Louis' pastry, nothing looks the same and there is not an assembly-line in sight. The staff and customers are on first name-basis and the girls who work the counter are a truly beautiful bunch, blue eyed and fresh-faced, despite the early starts a bakery workers' life naturally entails.

But there are fantastic bakeries everywhere, and all over the world surely? Indeed. And perhaps I am biased. I'm privileged to work in such proximity that I know the staff by name, I can gain insider recommendations and trading secrets. But there is no bias in the way that Baker's popularity speaks for itself. Returning to an earlier comparison with London's culinary scene: Londoners queue for tables at top restaurants and checkouts in Waitrose, they don't queue along the street or cross cities for bread in bakeries or a few tarts, however good. A real dedication and a commitment to good food exisits in Melbourne, on every layer. No-one is quite sure where this attention to and appreciation of food came from originally, but I know one thing, I'm certainly taking its ethos home with me.

losing my dragonfruit virginity

I have no idea what came over me.

Despite watching every cent in order to save for our travels in a few months, I couldn't resist these Queensland-grown, excitingly-exotic looking fruits in the Supermarket.

I am embarassed to admit that so lost was I in the rapture of my new purchase, I completely failed to notice myself spending $10 on a piece of fruit.

After a relatively cheap and meagre dinner, I ceremoniously embarked upon the beast, slicking through its leafy thorns from top to bottom, perfectly halving it.

And what a sight to behold:

I feel this image doesn't even do justice to what we found inside. 'Glorious' was the word decided upon by my Boyfriend, and he is absolutely right. I've never seen a better looking fruit. It tasted pretty good too. Not unlike kiwi-fruit, the fruit's flesh had a texture of sorbet and the little black seeds added a pleasing crunch. A fruit success and highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

suzie stanford

I won't start by going into how I came across this marvellous designer as it goes something like, 'a friend of a son of a friend of a son of a friend.....'. Besides, once you lay your eyes on Suzie's pieces, you definitely won't care how I found her, if, indeed you ever did. As Suzie Stanford's work is testimony to, it isn't how you find, it's what you do with what you've found.

Suzie admits in her own bio her fascination for the discarded. It is this that took her into her primary occupation: jewellery making. She still supplies annual collections to Paul Smith. However, it is her more recent forray into one-off pieces that has really captured my attention. Collecting, combining and upholstering vintage tea towels and tapestries, she has created extraordinary pieces. These pieces are certainly not cheap owing to the hours of work involved, and are highly sought after.

Squint London
The work is not unlike that of Squint in London yet I feel it adds something more to the genre of eclectic upholstery. Suzie's work seems to really say something and tell a story, just as she intends. Her pieces have a real personality, a personality that makes me smile.

English Themed Tea-Towel Upholstery

I just can't get over this Flamingo Tapestry Chair.

stoked for sunday

On Sunday, to celebrate our anniversary, I am being taken to The Stokehouse in St Kilda. When we went there last month, I must have been in such raptures over the place that a repeat reservation was immediately made.

Not only was the food fantastic, it just seemed to me, one of the most perfect looking and feeling restaurant. An old refurbished weather-board house, right on the beach, the upstairs restaurants boasts a deep and long balcony that overlooks the sands and sea at St Kilda. I see from wider research, the lovely decor is relatively new and didn't they do a great job! I love the juxtaposition of the old boards and the contemporary furniture. All of the different textures in play: timber, mirrors, tweed fabric, cream leather give the space great depth and variety. 

To me, Stokehouse represents my favourite things about Melbourne. It is classic and stylish with not a hint of stuffiness, casual but still classy. Plus, it has great coffee!

Roll on Sunday...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

pretty funny

We value a sense of humour in those we surround ourselves with so why not in the products (particularly the mundane ones) that we constantly use and see?

The January edition of the Australian Magazine 'Home Beautiful' has done a great little piece on Nick, the self-taught designer and founder of Two Ruffians and a 'pom' to warm my british heart. His designs are whimsical, colourful and confidently done despite being a relative novice artist. Within this novice approach however, his products carry a certain childlike innocence of wit that I so admire.

party plates

I am so excited for these plates that I ordered before Christmas, having seen them featured in The Age from Zuster, a store that all this time has been opposite my work! The set has been a sell-out success, and I'm not surprised. They are charming to both Australian Natives and visiting tourists like myself. Plus, with summer having finally arrived, these charming melamine plates at only $7 each (!) really are a winner.

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