Fashion Week Sydney – Dreaming Of A Summer Wardrobe

Spring/Summer Fashion, Sydney, Australia

Autumn is a confusing time of year. The weather starts to cool, the sun lights the sky for fewer hours and the ever-increasing rainfall reminds us that the formidable, dreary days of winter are palpably upon us.

For all intents and purposes, we should be miserable about this tedious cyclical change of circumstance, and yet, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) gives us something to look forward to with the unveiling of lively Spring/Summer 2014 collections due to hit stores from August this year.

Despite the impending onslaught of grey, menacing skies, and our growing desire for oversized coats, fitted boots and printed scarves to protect our delicate skins from the autumn chills, MBFWA turns our eyes towards more vibrant, and decidedly skimpier, wardrobe ideas for the warmer months to come.

To mark the beginnings of our winter denial last week was MBFWA in Sydney; fresh off the jet from Istanbul, with a myriad more reasons why we should welcome the end of the rainy days and how to do it in style.

The forthcoming Spring/Summer 2014 trends saw leading fashion designers urge us to leave the greys of winter in our wake with an attack of colour and sharp angular hemlines.

Creative 3D geometric designs ran rampant on the catwalk with models flaunting the latest innovations from Australian designer, Bei Na Wei, and Saudi Arabian, Yousef Akbar.

Yousef Akbar

Yousef Akbar

 

Bei Na Wei

Bei Na Wei

Ciara Nolan brought together a series of eclectic, fluorescent retro prints, while Logvan Code designer Julia Logvan, presented a decidedly alternative-feminine collection with soft lines, metallic tones and fringed skirts, dresses and shawls.

Ciara Nolan

Ciara Nolan

Ciara Nolan

Ciara Nolan

Logvan Code

Logvan Code

Logvan Code, MBFWA

Sharp lines in soft pastel shades were the look of the moment for Australian designer Hayley Dawson whose collection presented a masculine twist on classic women’s dress. Standing out amongst the crowd was her cutout, open gown with a sharp-collared neckline.

Hayley Dawson

Hayley Dawson

 

Presenting an overall abundance of colour, metallics, a-line skirts and clashing patterns with busy prints, MBFWA has us eagerly (and impatiently) awaiting the warmer months for an optimum time to try out some of the latest trends to hit the catwalk.

So as we while away the cooler months in lovely but heavy layers, keep your eyes peeled for the sunshiny days ahead and have your metallic blouses and angular skirts at the ready.

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*A special thanks to Ms Zara Abernathy for the provision of our fashion savvy photos :)

 

It’s that time of year again…Tulip season at Keukenhof, of course

Tulips, Keukenhof

People travel for all sorts of reasons. Some people travel to experience another culture, to indulge in foreign cuisines, to witness awe-inspiring architecture, to travel down historically significant, well-trodden roads, to set their eyes on timelessness artworks revered the globe over. And some travel for flowers.

While flora might not top the typical list of travel inducing triggers for the average explorer, I would personally consider this a terrible oversight.

Tulips, Keukenhof

Floral sightseeing is the elusive, snubbed beauty of the travel world. Often only blooming for a short cycle during the year, these delicate wonders are ever so irritatingly unattainable unless especially planned for and sought after.

While writing quite so bitterly and earnestly about the grandness of flowers might seem a touch farcical, the joke is evidently on the non-believer, for clearly they have yet to experience the majestic beauty that is a field of blooming tulips, as only Keukenhof Park can present.

Tulips, Keukenhof

Located in Lisse, a half an hour out of Amsterdam, you would be forgiven for not knowing of its existence. Every year approximately 15,749,000, visitors arrive in Amsterdam presumably lured by a range of attractions (read. prostitution and weed). Large as that figure is, it is not altogether surprising given that Amsterdam ranks 7th in the scheme of most visited European cities. Perhaps what it is less widely known is that around 800,000 tourists make a trip to the Keukenhof gardens during the short two months that it’s open, bursting with floral life.

Tulips, Keukenhof

For many the Tulip is the true identifying of the Netherlands, which makes Keukenhof its vibrant center.

Historically rich, Keukenhof is situated on 15th century hunting grounds, which were also part of the Teylingen Castle estate for many centuries. Keukenhof literally translates to ‘Garden Kitchen’, a name attributed to the game hunted on its premises as food for the castle’s occupants.

Since those early days the gardens have remained largely the same until a redesign conducted by landscape architects Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher (who also designed Amsterdam’s Vondelpark) made the changes that still form the foundation of modern day Keukenhof.

If Tulips are the name of the game, then the Dutch are the world champions. With Keukenhof’s first bulb flower showcase taking place in 1949, the unsurpassable original version of the slender flower was undoubtedly the star of the show. Today this classic beauty can be spotted in all the colours of the rainbow as well as in unique variations ranging from the remarkable, to the strange and bizarre.

Tulips, Keukenhof

Creative landscape design and glorious indoor galleries see Keukenhof mould the tulip into living and breathing works of art. Covering an area of 32 hectares, these gardens represent the rich and vibrant Dutch growing history all while providing the perfect backdrop for picnics and a flawless setting for simply getting lost.

Offering tasty morsels like pomme frittes, herring, burgers, bitterballen and waffles, a visit to the gardens is never complete until a sample of classic Dutch fast foods have been consumed amongst the flowers. Lay down on the patches of tulip-free grass and watch as the artfully grown flowers create hysteria in small children and adults alike.

Tulips, Keukenhof

Sadly, as with all good things, this enchanting attraction doesn’t last forever and can only be experienced during a few short weeks as the elusive tulip season only spans between the months of March and May.

Tulips, Keukenhof

Keukenhof gives travellers a unique experience rich in history, local cuisine, art and, of course, flowers. Lots of flowers. A cultural experience tied up in millions of pretty flowers, take a trip to Keukenhof and experience the majesty of 7 million blooming tulips and so much more.

Wooden alcove, Flipboard Cafe, Melbourne

Flipboard Cafe – Melbourne

Wooden alcove, Flipboard Cafe, Melbourne

There is something deeply appealing about a place that can draw out your child-like appreciation for climbable wooden structures, even more so if it simultaneously satisfies your desire for great coffee.

While such a majestic place might sound too good to be true, Flipboard Café has made the impossible possible with its quirky take on traditional Café design and décor. Renovations inline with a Brolly Designs creative concept, have seen this previously unused shop-front converted into a multi-level, adult-sized cubby-house café; a haven where your inner child can delight while sipping on some quality coffee.

Flipboard Cafe, Melbourne

Complete with cut-out seats, a narrow wooden staircase, lookout points and a façade of cosy outdoor alcoves, this creative new hotspot on the café circuit encapsulates everything that Melbourne represents. With an array of tasty nibbles on offer (including crisp and buttery bacon and eggs pies and soft and supple blueberry muffins), you’ll be delighted to nestle yourself in to one of the outdoor wooden niches and enjoy your breakfast with a side of people watching.

Flipboard Cafe, Melbourne

 

 

Bacon and Egg Pie - $5

Bacon and Egg Pie – $5

With many nooks and crannies in which to hide away, as well as creative recycled tables to hold your latte, Flipboard Café is an innovative and creative adaptation of the classic café and sets itself aside from just about any other Melburnian café.

While still just a new kid on the block, Flipboard Café is quickly garnering a following of loyal patrons which is sure to keep on growing.

141-149 La Trobe St CBD, Melbourne: Opened Monday - Friday 7am to 4.30pm

141-149 La Trobe St CBD, Melbourne: Opened Monday – Friday 7am to 4.30pm

 

Offering more than just quality sustenance, Flipboard Café gives patrons the opportunity to revel in their childlike love of hideouts and cubbies. Try out this quirky haunt and let your inner child run rampant.

Pad Seuw of Six Hour Braised Wagyu With Gai Laan, Rolled Rice Noodles & Crispy Shallots

Chin Chin – Melbourne

 

Pad Seuw of Six Hour Braised Wagyu With Gai Laan, Rolled Rice Noodles & Crispy Shallots

Pad Seuw of Six Hour Braised Wagyu With Gai Laan, Rolled Rice Noodles & Crispy Shallots


In the culinary circuit of any city there’s always one place being talked about in fervent, hysteric tones. In Melbourne, that restaurant is Chin Chin. When rumours mill around of a three-hour wait for a prime dinner spot, or the impossibility of securing a table start to spread, that’s when you know you’ve made it as a culinary establishment.

Chin Chin Reception, Melbourne

 

With a walk-in only policy – except for one table of 10-12 – the allure of Chin Chin begins with its reputation for exquisite cuisine and peaks with its exclusivity. There’s nothing more a foodie loves than great tasting food, unless its great tasting food they can’t have.

The best way to secure yourself immediate seating is to get there early. Proper early. Go at 5pm and you’ll be seated and eating within the half hour. Around 6pm the wait is already at the hour mark and the line is going out the door. Arrive early or wait for hours, either way, get to Chin Chin.

DIY Fresh Spring Rolls With Raw Vegetables and Peanut Relish

DIY Fresh Spring Rolls With Raw Vegetables and Peanut Relish

Every torturous moment waiting is made up for a thousand times over when you sample each tasty morsel on the menu. Executive Chef Benjamin Cooper’s menu offers a fusion of South East Asian cuisines (including all your favourites: Salt and Pepper Calamari, Pad Thai, Rendang and Massaman Curry) with some elaborate adaptations. They’re made to share and you can choose from a selection of entrees (including DIY spring rolls and chili-salt chicken wings), a variety of enticing salads, rich curries, barbeque mains, and a tempting dessert range.

 

Chilli Salt Chicken Wings With Coriander & Fresh Lemon

Chilli Salt Chicken Wings With Coriander & Fresh Lemon

All sauces, pastes and relishes are made in-house and the dishes are created with the freshest ingredients – it’s not hard to understand how Chin Chin has carved itself a plum position on the culinary to-do-list of most Melburnians. The sauces are rich, the meat tender and the fresh vegetables are crisp and bursting with flavour. For all the hype, you might imagine hefty price tags to accompany the flavour filled menu, but that’s where you’d be wrong.

Massaman Curry of Coconut, Braised Hopkins River Beef With Pink Fir Apple Potatoes and Crispy Shallots.

Massaman Curry of Coconut, Braised Hopkins River Beef With Pink Fir Apple Potatoes and Crispy Shallots.

 

With entrees averaging at $14, and mains anywhere from $16 – $34, you can easily walk away satisfied and slightly tipsy, your wallet only $40 lighter. With rave reviews from patrons filing out of this elusive gem and a vibrant atmosphere to pair, the waiting times do not seem likely to shorten any time soon. Opened 11am – late, taste and see how Melbourne’s Chin Chin lives up to the hype and then some.

125 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

125 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

Kluska Restaurant – Heaven in a Pierogi

 

IMG_0312

When it comes to hearty, home-cooked polish food, there’s always one place that comes to mind: U Babci Maliny. Sitting in a basement below an obscure staircase, you’ll have to tread along a quaint cobbled street in Krakow’s old town, pass through tall and imposing university doors and make a left sidestep into a courtyard crawling with greenery to find it. This hidden treasure is a traditional Polish restaurant whose literal translation is ‘Grandma Raspberry’, and appropriately, it offers food just as grandma makes it. Everything about this place lends itself to the title, even down to the actual grandma; quietly knitting in the corridor, covered from shoulders to toes in a floor length puffy dress, complete with a shawl and tea-cozy hat. The interior decorations, wooden tables, chairs, walls, floors, low ceilings and warm lighting, all perfectly relay the concept at hand: the conceit of dining at your grandma’s cosy, isolated winter cabin. These architectural quirks paint a pretty picture and set the perfect mood, but it is the food that completes the idyllic familial setting. U Babci Maliny is everything you ever wanted in Polish food (including the price), with traditional dishes (think pierogi and the meatiest meat dishes you ever saw), in huge servings, loaded with flavour.

Pierogi

(CC by Piotrus)

I’ve been to Krakow twice. I have been to U Babci Maliny twice. I can’t visit Krakow without making a trip to this moreish culinary gem. For all the activities there are to do and all the sights there are to see in Krakow (and of those there are many), U Babci Maliny consistently makes it on my to-do list. If that isn’t a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.

Living on the other side of the world (in the land down-under) has its benefits, of course. Being one of the most multicultural countries in the world, Aussies are not short on varied fare. But while Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Greek and a wealth of other cuisines are all well represented, there is a notable lack of eastern European food in the restaurant circuit. Given my love of Polish specialties, this is an absolute crying shame.

You could imagine my intense joy when I discovered that there was a Polish restaurant sneakily hidden (as they tend to be) in an old converted home, in the suburbs, not more than 10kms from my home. It didn’t take long before I’d called to make a reservation with the fervent fever of somebody harbouring the paranoid fear that the place would spontaneously close and forever deny me the pleasure of its sustenance. My enthusiasm taken into account, it seemed almost impossible that this restaurant could possibly live up to my dreadfully high hopes. But it did. Authenticity is all I ask, if it’s authentic then it cannot fail. And it certainly did not.

If U Babci Maliny represents the highly idealized version of grandma’s house, then Kluska
gives us the faithful reality. Its hallways are lined with photos of family in eastern Europe. On your left you’ll find the kitchen, where all the magic happens right there on the premises. On your right you’ll spot the small and unassuming dining hall scattered with a handful of charming tables and chairs lined with pillows. And then there’s the menu.

While not extensive by any means, Kluska’s menu offers an assortment of pierogi, soups and nalesniki (Polish pancakes) for entrées, a varied 13 mains, including Golabki (cabbage leaf filled with pork and beef mince, topped with homemade tomato sauce and mashed potatoes), Bigos (traditional stew, slow cooked over five hours) and Kopytka (polish style gnocchi, served with mushroom sauce or beef/pork goulash). For dessert, a selection of classic sweet pierogi, cakes, homemade ice cream, donuts and for some fancier fare, poached pear with sweet coffee sauce. The refreshments on offer reflect some of Eastern Europe’s classic beer institutions, including the Czech Republic’s Pilsner Urquell and Polish brands, Zywiec and Tyskie. While on the topic of institutions, Kluska offers no less than 17 varieties of Vodka, even touching on some of the famed flavoured assortments, like cherry and walnut.

Quiet, hidden, homely and full of flavour, you don’t even need to close your eyes to feel as though you’ve snuck inside the home of the Polish grandmother you’ve always wanted, and tucked into one of her finest Sunday lunches. Hidden away in a suburban home in southeast Victoria, Kluska plates up a hefty bite of grandma’s hearty, home-cooked Polish delights that keeps you coming back for more.

(For opening hours and additional information click here)

Bali – in less than 8 hours

Ubud Rice Fields

Ubud Rice Fields

“If you can tear yourself away from a hot stone massage long enough to take a trip down to Ubud you’ll be doing yourself a tremendous favor with the incredible sights that await you”

When in Bali on a relaxing holiday even just considering donning more
IMG_1005 than a two-piece bikini and leaving the tranquil
surrounding of your private villa can seem a daunting task. Believe me, I know, I tried, and thankfully succeeded. Be assured, taking time to explore the wonders that await you beyond the boundaries of your new luxurious five star 
neighbourhood and heading down to the rice fields of Ubud is well worth the minuscule effort it requires.

There is no trekking involved and you need not pull out the hiking shoes you packed with no intention of using. In fact, it’s as simple as leaving the aroma of essential oils in your wake and asking reception to organise a driver to take you on a tour of the rice fields. Before long, the journey begins and the beauty of all things non-spa related are thrust upon you.

During my holiday in Bali with my girlfriends our driver picked us straight up from the front of the resort and we took off immediately for the rice fields, but with the option of a few pit stops scheduled along the way.

IMG_0701If you need more motivation than the simple beauty that is the spectacular rice fields in order to leave the sanctuary of your sunbed, consider the drive itself. With wild speeds, sharp turns, this drive is not your average guided tour service. It’s sure to get your heart racing and your mind scurrying over all the things you wanted to do with your life before it’s due to swiftly end. But much like at an amusement park, all you need to remember is to sit yourself down, strap your safety belt on, and fear for your life while knowing deep down that all is well and this is simply how the ride goes.

 

After marveling at the roads, the driving style and how exactly it is that anyone manages to survive this fascinating death trap, make your way to your first stop at the silver markets. Walk into the building that houses a large jewellery store filled with locally produced sparkling beauties and receive a short lesson in the Balinese jewellery making process. Men and women line the walkway demonstrating the different elements and processes (yes, there is live welding for enthusiasts) that combine together to create just one single piece of locally produced silver jewellery in Bali.

Wander through the seemingly endless gallery of goods for sale (being sure to bargain before you buy) and take in your fill of pretty shiny things before retiring back to the entirely safe (probably) roads that lead you to what can only be described as sarong heaven.

The textiles factory becomes the next stop and consists of a large indoors store where you’ll find sarongs in all of the colours of the rainbow. But before making your way through the enormous doors separating you from your one true sarong, take a walk through the terrace where you’ll have yourself a small sarong education with live production on show.

Sitting underneath the broad terrace women sit weaving and painting fabric, creating the very sarongs sold inside. Request your own personalised items if you feel so inclined or else make your way indoors where the options are unending. The large doors open up to the grand shop filled with all the prints and sizes of sarong you could ask for and sales assistants ready and willing (no seriously, be vocal if you’re opposed) to give demonstrations on how to wear them. If sarongs aren’t your favourite, fear not, as you’ll find many other locally produced goods, including purses, towels, and bowls to squeeze into your already overloaded luggage.

If you feel you’ve satisfied your shopping quota for the day then make your way to the final destination, the star attraction, the magnificent rice fields. It’s the kind of site your eyes can hardly take in all at once, try as they might. The kind of scene that the panoramic photo was designed to capture. With vibrant greens plantations littered with tall imposing palm trees reaching as far as the eye can see and minuscule workers in the distance tending the fields, this is a sight best taken in with a beer overlooking the view.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If after indulging your eyes in the beauty of this natural scenery, you feel your belly aching for some sustenance, request a stop at a beachside restaurant for a fabulous seafood banquet. Take your pick of freshly caught seaside goodies and choose your favourite cooking style then tucker in to some seriously tasty, and incredibly affordable, prawns, fish, crays and calamari, with a view to boot.

Seafood lunch, Bali

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With tummies guiltily full, bags loaded with treasured souvenirs and eyes already revisiting the rice fields in your pictures make your way back to your luxurious haven at the resort. It only takes a few brave steps to leave that blissful sanctuary, (and some serious willpower), but make your way out to the place where nature overcomes you and you’ll be sure to leave Bali with more than just relaxed muscle tissue. Besides, leave for your tour early enough and there’ll be just enough time to get in one more massage before the days end. Or maybe a cocktail as the sun comes down. Luxuriating, Bali style.

Sunset, Bali

WHERE TO EAT -

http://www.kudeta.net

WHERE TO SLEEP -

http://www.thesanyasbali.com/sanyas-suite/index.php

WHERE TO DRINK -

http://www.ptthead.com

WHERE TO RECEIVE ULTIMATE RELAXATION -

http://www.bodyworksbali.com