Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

09
Oct
2008

Destination London

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Posted in Travel

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Heathrow is like a seething mass of frustration the size of football field concentrated in an area the size of grapefruit. We are the last in a long line of planes to be given permission to land, joining the end of what at first glance is an impossibly long queue. I text my friend Amanda, making sure she’s aware that even though I said I’d be arriving at around 7, there is no way I’ll be out of this room til 9. She is… She’s been there and done that, and so I wait. Sure enough 1 and half hours later, with a determined look of enjoyment to be here still desperately clinging to my face, I emerge.

Amanda finds me a Tesco’s muesli bar in the bottom of her handbag and I devour it in 3 bites. Welcome to London she says.

Don’t worry, it gets better :)

02
Oct
2008

Home

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Posted in Admin

So yes… I’m back. Three weeks, three countries, and three thousand odd photos to process… Photos will soon start to arrive and posts I guess will come along with it. Funny that in such a short time so much can happen.

I feel a little light headed at the moment, which could either be because of jet lag, or the cold I picked up the day before I left, or the cold and flu drugs I’ve been taking to get rid of it. But rest assured as that soon as the world starts making sense again I’ll be pouring my meagre thoughts out and hope you’re all around to read it.

Apologies in advance if I ramble, and flood the screen with lots of boring photos… but this is my catharsis for readjusting to life in the real world that is Perth.

11
Sep
2008

Tropical Delights in Airport Departure Lounges

Mauritius as seen from a departure lounge

Mauritius, a cultural melting pot of intrigue and language and designer clothing stores. Well, at least thats the impression I got from being in the airport departure lounge for 3 hours during the 20 hour dual leg journey from Perth to London.

My first tastes of Mauritian food was a curried egg sandwich and a chicken omlette. Which tasted surprising like a regular curried egg sandwich. Although considering it was most likely made in Perth by Qantas catering, who handles the outgoing meals for a lot of other airlines, should not be too surprising.

Sadly I didn’t get to venture out into the day, which looked very mysterious and intriguing from inside the airport. Small birds flew throughout the terminal without anyone thinking it was weird, and although they say English is the main language, why the hell would you want to speak it, when you know French ?? Big points for French speaking Indian Mauritians, who seem to be one of the few Indian populations around to throw off the impossibly uncool accent.

Second leg of the journey out of Mauritius saw me eating a chicken chop suey and some form of little coconut sweet tart thing, as well as a cream cheese sandwich which was about as disgusting as it sounds.

The wine was good though… a couple of bottles of low grade Bordeaux (a white Chateau du Pin, and a red), kept me well plied and dehydrated, and the ‘tropical punch’ was much less punch and much more ‘straight rum in a glass with ice’.

Never fear though, this will not become a plane food blog. I’m safe and sound in London now, and have much exploring to do. Will update as i can, otherwise I hope you’re all well.

10
Jul
2008

The Bars of Melbourne

There are many. We made it to a few.

Yes, this is a lazy post because I’m too slack to write anything at the moment. But I figure that whole picture is worth a thousand words thing must make up for something. Cheers to Ed for fuelling much of this exploration with the careful eye that only a bad uncle can :)

List of places in these photos, chronologically :

Seamstress
Supper Club
Misty
Croft Institute
Comme
Gin Palace

17
Jun
2008

Europe Bound

London skyline
Photo used courtesy of Vemma

The adventures of Matt & Sharon continue. This time internationally.

So my lovely eldest sister recently announced that she was getting married. She’s been living in the UK for the past 6 years now, and despite the fact that she’s developed a terrible generic Southern pommy accent, we still love her dearly and were very excited when the news came through.

What that means of course, is that it necessitates us flying over there. Something that has long been on the agenda, but has perhaps needed a kick up the bum like this to initiate. I am of course, the king of procrastination.

So the date is set for the 20th of September. We’ll be flying over a little beforehand and are going to dip our toes in the cultural sea that is Europe (specifically France and a little of my ancestral homeland Ireland), before livin it large in London for as long as our money holds out (not long).

I’m also charged with the job of being the wedding photographer on the day, and helping to coordinate the reception dinner menu (and I’m thinking of taking a marriage celebrants short course in case I need to step in for the priest on the day).

This henceforth is the post for anyone with knowledge of London, Paris, Dublin, and the greater European / British land mass, to share and inform me of the absolutely must go to places, restaurants, markets, pubs, bistros, schlocky tourist spots, and ridiculously overpriced celebrity filled cocktail bars.

Also if anyone on the other side of planet can give me an idea of what is fresh and seasonal in the UK in September, I’d greatly appreciate it.

11
Jun
2008

Melbourne: Liar Liar – Hawthorn

Clover coffee's @ Liar Liar

I really didn’t get very far with these Melbourne posts did I ? Well now that things are settling down a little I’ll at least try and catch up with the photos I’ve already uploaded.

Liar, Liar in Hawthorn in the latest venture of former Perth coffee dignitary and 2007 WA barista champion Nolan Hirte. Nolan and his partners have set up an excellent space in Hawthorn, funky, relaxed, but focused on quality and totally befitting of the owners.

I can’t say I know Hawthorn very well as an area, but I’m led to believe it’s vaguely similar to Claremont in terms of style and clientele. An old and well established area with a fair amount of old money around the place, but not completely wrapped up in the establishment to realise the value of people trying to do something fresh and different.

Fresh and different would sum up Liar, Liar pretty well. From the decks on the bar where Nolan spins tunes when he isn’t pulling shots, to the very chic Clover Coffee brewing machine, and seriously tasty breakfast choices. It’s quite the compelling package.

We stopped by for breakfast on day 2 of the trip and a caught up with Nolan while talking coffee. This was first introduction to the Clover, which takes an innovative approach to single serve brewed coffee. From the Clover website:

After dosing it and grinding it to your specifications, you will add the coffee to the Clover brew chamber. You will choose the cup size and the steep time on the user interface, and then press the brew button. Clover delivers the exact dose of water at the temperature youíve chosen. Stir and wait while the coffee steeps. At the end of the set time, Cloverís piston rises, creating a vacuum that draws the coffee through the grounds. The piston will then descend and deliver the coffee into your customerís cup.

The flavours are very clean and there mouthfeel is entirely different to regular french press style coffee, which still retains a lot of sediment. We tried an Ethiopian and a Guatemalan through the clover and were pleasantly surprised by the delicate flavours and finish.

The regular coffee was of course fantastic. Nolan takes his espresso seriously even managed to swap records in amongst pulling some fantastic shots.

The food was on song too. My poached eggs (the test of any cafe) were perfectly presented, and Sharon’s coconut bread with fresh berries and yoghurt was more art piece than breakfast.

If I had to live in Melbourne, I think a trip out to Liar, Liar would be a weekly necessity.

Liar, Liar
90 Kinkora Road, Hawthorn
Phone (03) 9818 8864

04
Jun
2008

Australian Barista Competition Finals

The post that needed to be written, and the actual reason I went to Melbourne in the first place (because unfortunately noone will pay me to eat for a living yet). The finals of the Australian Barista Championships.

There has been much said about the competition this year, and the overall standard of the competitors. I was fortunate enough to be able to judge the competitors in the Open Heats, which were run before the Australian Barista Competition finals. The Open Heats are basically the last chance for any barista who hadn’t made it through the state heats to get into the final.

The competitors were all very strong, with Con Haralambopolous coming out on top despite running over time and having to redo the shots for his cappucinos. Which was an outstanding performance.

During the finals I basically tried to keep out of everyone elses way, whilst doing a bit of running, table setup, and then taking photos of competitors from as close a vantage point as I could. It was a day of very tough competition. I personally could not pick who was going to win, even after having observed each person from up close. The level of technical competence and slick performance from each barista was quite overwhelming.

Of course my personal favourite and all round local hero was Jen Murray of W.A. Jen Put in perhaps one of the best performances I’ve seen her give (and I’ve seen this routine many times), pulling out some fantastic looking shots, as well as a stellar signature drink, which was good enough for her to take out third place ! She also got my vote for most awesome soundtrack, which was the Somersault soundtrack by Decoder Ring…very cool.

Second place in the finals was the ever consistent Con Haralambopolous from the Open Heats. Con is what I’d call the quiet achiever in the scene. He’s a down to earth guy who just does his thing in a truly honest way. His routine was much smoother than the heats, and he was always going to be a contender with an interesting molecular gastronomy take with a coffee soil in his signature drink.

The winner this year, was David Makin. David’s routine was slick and polished, and although I couldn’t see a lot of difference performance-wise between him and the other competitors, the results in the cup clearly indicated there was a big one, with an over 100 point difference between him and the rest of the field. He also finished in 14 minutes, a full one minute under the allotted competition time, which is normally unheard of. He’ll go on to Copenhagen later this year to compete in the world finals.

The other big event of the finals was Australian Coffee Cupping Championships, which I had another crack at, after a promising result in the Perth heats, getting 6 out of 8 cups and being pipped by one.
The finals were another story altogether though, with some seriously tough triangle tests to deal with.
One competitor in the early rounds scored 0 out of 8, which made me feel a little sick.

I managed to hit 4 out of 8 in my heat though, finishing in a mostly respectable 3 and a half minutes. The winner of the heats though, was the lovely Emily Oak, who hit 6 out of 8 to take them out.

So on to the finals and Perth girl Catherine Ferrari, taking on local fave Toshi from St Ali, and Emily Oak. It was a fierce comp and Catherine was on fire. Taking out 6 out of 8 cups to win the day, and become the Australian Coffee Cupping Champion. A fantastic result for Catherine and her very proud mum who had come over to watch the competition with her.

And so after some sustained partying and a few too many drinks, the greater coffee loving community of Australia slinked back to their respective cities to rest their weary heads after a weekend where too much coffee was barely enough.

Cheers to all the great people I met over the course of the weekend. Nim, Luca, Emily, Emma, Aaron, Syd (and your awesome photos), Mel, Bruno, and all the other judges and helpers who did such a fine job.