I’ve just started a new job. Massive 16% pay cut, 50 hour work week in theory where I pretty much run the food side of a takeaway cafe with one other chef helping me and my head chef on occasion. Why? Well, I guess because I’ve always loved the cafe in question. They’ve always had amazing coffee, arguably one of the best in the world, certainly Sydney and probably Australia. The food was also typically pretty good at the same time and my gut said go for it. Turns out, I was fucking right.

The vibe is great. The team is small, just 5 people in the cafe at all times, 5 days a week from 6-4 and they’re all great people with energy, enthusiasm and a lot of nasty humour. I got along really well with my head chef, who used to work at all these places that I liked to eat at so we had a lot of stuff we liked in common. It seemed easy to get along with him and him with me. Likewise, with the front of house, with 2 dudes who are awesome pulling shots and getting crazy and a fine young lady with an exceptional posterior who’s also really into her job. It’s great when you work with people who seem to want to get stuff done and are serious but ridiculous at the same time. It’s only been a week but I feel like we’re best mates and all that already. My other chef is a bit of a downer but hey, everything can’t be perfect and I’m not the Marco type. We probably make the same money haha.

But more than just the central team, the company at large is also great, from the boss, who’s got a real matey attitude to the coffee buyer who managed to drop the terms “what do you think about rosewater” and “sabre a bottle of champagne” in 30 minutes.

Then there’s the positivity from outside as well. Not only are the customers really into the brand, so are the fucking competition and this is what gets me. We have got visited by two other excellent cafe places in Sydney that I rank world class and whilst some of it is sussing the competition, most of it is just good vibes. The reality is that the market for coffee and cafes in Sydney is insanely massive and there’s room for everyone. But basically, the CBD used to be a sort of twilight zone for crest of the third wave stuff in Sydney. Now, there’s at least 3 awesome places to get your caffeine on nevermind the countless other brilliant little places here and there that have popped up in the last 3 years.

I haven’t felt more alive? More into living and doing shit than I’ve ever been my entire life. Blink and I might just be able to do it, chase my dreams and maybe make something happen, change the world in my tiny little way regardless of the insignificance in the grand scheme of existence. I suppose this affirmation of “purpose” was something I’d wanted for the last 20+ years when, as a ten year old, I posed myself the question, “Why?”. Back then, I’d already intimated at the idea that the answer would be, “Because.” but I dreaded the thought that it would be something so simple, futile and stupid. I imagined some grander reason, some dude in the sky concept. Today, I finally and readily admit that “Because.” was the right answer all along.

On my last day in Singapore, my mom drove to this fruit store called Durian Lingers somewhere along Bukit Timah road. It’s not particularly famous but I wanted to eat durians and it was open. She handed me $100 and I promptly went over and grabbed this bigass Green Bamboo for $50 at $18/kg. I figured one expensive, indulgent treat would be enough. Regrets make you determined to revisit good experiences.

It was a pretty dope one. I was about a week off from durian season proper, which is generally June to July as the primetime in Singapore and even into August and September probably, with an second season round November til January or February. I always seem to be home sometime around March or April so I must be a fucking idiot. Despite the fact that it wasn’t primetime, I had a really nice, bittersweet durian that had all the attributes of fine wine. Bouquet, texture, length and also a slight peacock’s tail people find in excellent Pinot Noir. It wasn’t the best durian I’ve ever eaten but it was pretty damn good anyway.

There’s only so many things that do it for me and have that crazy interesting impact on my palette. Durians are about the only fruit. Chempedak, jackfruit and some of the more pungent mangoes can be pretty good but tend to have mostly initial impact but little in length. On the other hand, creamy fruits like custard apples or avocadoes have got great texture and some length but the flavours don’t shift and play a jazz piece on the palette. It’s the only naturally occurring fruit/vegetable that is so stupid flavourful, albeit divisive without requiring much intervention from people.

You have to catch, kill and butcher a near extinct tuna before aging it to get delicious chutoro or the same with a cow and a great steak. With caviar, you need to catch, kill and butcher a near extinct sturgeon before brining the roe to produce shit in cans that cost 100 times it’s weight in gold. There’s cheese, fine wine, coffee, tea, Jamon Iberico de Bellota, fermented foods… These all require much in the way of human intervention. Uni is close but you still have to dive into a body of water and hope for little pollution, not to mention cutting it open. So what I’m saying is that not only does a fine durian compare favourably with a Romanee Conti or a Cinco Jotas, it’s also completely ethical and sustainable.

The only real problem with durians lies in it’s divisiveness. True, it’s smell can be like asafoetida to some people. It’s got that sulfuric stench of overcooked egg yolks and raw or rotting onions and garlic. Not everyone can look past it to find the nuances. I wish I had a tasting note for every durian I’d eaten and come up with this extensive comparison based on other flavours.

“Colour is creamy yellow, tinge of gray, flesh appears firm and taut, aroma of blackcurrant buds, Spanish onions,  and black garlic, bit of whisky zabaglione. Skin is thin. Texture is overripe avocado. Fibrousness is low. Acidity is medium. Sweetness is medium high. Bitterness is medium high. Flavour of creme brulee, banana, custard apple followed by Cognac, Cointreau and asphalt. Finish is long, slight raspberry and asparagus. This durian is a Mao Shan Wang. No this durian is Wang Zhong Wang. This durian is from Kelantan, Gua Musang from a high quality producer. A fantastic durian.”

Consider this. Good durian considers farming practices, terroir, seasonality, the producer’s hand, the ripening process, the geography, the language, the culture and the purveyor prying it open gracefully for the eater to inspect. Maybe one day, I’ll finally be that durian tasting negociant of my dreams where like minded durianophiles can discuss if this year’s vendage compares favourably with the great ’83 or ’87 or the percentage of new bamboo tonneaus in the D24 from Johor or the pros and cons of slash and burn versus modernist organic.

Somehow I just don’t think it’s going to take off. Something to do with the lack of alcohol I think. Hang on. Maybe I ought to ferment that stuff huh? (It’s called tempoyak btw)

It really sunk in only when I got out the subway exit onto Nathan Road. This was Hong Kong, where Chow Yun Fatt and Tony Leung reined. It was where WKW freeze framed Aniki Jin and made him eat pineapples. Where girls looked like Maggie Cheung, Lin Ching Hsia or Cecilia Cheung. In some ways, it felt strangely familiar, as I half expected, my childhood and teenage years having spent some time immersed in the cultural export of this former British colony. This was where one grandad and 2 grandmas came from so in some sense, it’s the OG motherland. Random fact: I’ve even got this nephew who lives in Hong Kong who I don’t know who’s 15 years my senior somehow.

I loved the grittiness of the place. The density and the immediacy of life struck me but let’s be honest I’m way too chilled to wanna be a hustler in the fragrant harbour. I suppose that side of HK, the materialistic side I didn’t enjoy quite as much. But the chaos was enthralling. I was mesmerised by the crazy multi level highways and pedestrian crossings and mish mash of tunnels throughout the sland side. Then on Kowloon it’s still madhouse with tight streets and neon and signs sticking out way over the street and mad throngs of people, relentlessly moving, writhing.

Every which way I looked I saw humanity trying its best to eke out a living. Everywhere I went I felt the hustle. It’s either mad cheap or ridiculously expensive. Case in point is possibly over expanding Tim Ho Wan which just swung the doors open at its Sydney outpost. I’ll say that in Hong Kong we spent 136HKD or 23AUD for two people. Not stuffed but enough. Yet despite that paltry figure, I completely agree with the Michelin inspectors that it deserves a star. It may be hyped to death and all that but I loved it and it is fantastic value. The money we spent is like 1 dish at Mr. Wong in Sydney. And yet I reckon THW is way better. You can argue about different countries costs etc but you can’t fight good flavour. Spare ribs > perfect rendition. Shumai > brilliant. Hargow > superlative. Because you’ve eaten all these classics it’s easy to miss the perfect textures or delicate seasoning. They’re really good. For the record I think the charsiu bao are overhyped.

Onto Yung Kee. Awesome awesome roast goose drenched in drippings. Charsiu > nonevent. But $50ish for a goose drumstick even if its massive is pretty damn steep. I think Joy Hing quoted my mom $60 for a whole goose. Aud. It is good, no doubt about that but my moms surprise at the gold clad three storey building of today compared to the humble store of yore that she remembers is testament for sure.

I also had a mini egg tart hunt, mostly around Wan Chai. I liked Kum Kee the best. Just don’t get Tai Cheong, which has branches everywhere. The main difference with egg tarts in HK and everywhere else is they’re served piping hot and there’s less sugar. So you basically get this balance between unctuous hot custard and crispy rough puff and it’s quite delightful.

I’m sure there’s loads more food in HK than the little I’ve discovered but I’m also relatively certain that I’m more into the Tim Ho Wans and Sun Kee cheese pork neck noodles or Australia Dairy Co scrambled eggs or Sing Kee congee with awesome pork liver. I wanna delve more into stuff like that and less into restaurants that swop my plates out when they’re full of bones and shit.

Also my Chungking Express dream was mostly a wash. I did however discover a lovely walk from the top of the mid level escalators down to the peak tram station.

All in all I gained much insight as to just what makes HK HK and how it produces people like John Woo or Alvin Leung or Li Ka Shing.

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3 days ago, I boarded a plane and flew from Sydney to Singapore. It was that most pleasant of flights, the ones that come with people who light up your life with their elbows, knocking into your reading lamp button every half an hour and also the kids who run around the entire plane like it’s the playground at Maccas, only their about 55. When we touched down, my mother conspired to leave me alone at the airport with a false message.

I made no mention to friends that I would be travelling home. Tonight, I would fly again, to Hong Kong. So I filled my days eating at the usuals. Whilst I have little doubt that standards at most places have dipped slightly, I felt hollow despite the fact that I was eating with my mother and brother for the first time in 2 years. It felt like they’d never been away, except my brother’s no longer a child and my mother’s beginning to become one.

But Hong Kong. After 21 years, I’ll finally satisfy my Wong Kar Wai fanboyism with a visit to the much vaunted Chungking Mansions and possibly the California Bar which might still stand. Or more likely than not, I’ll just waltz into places that have no relation to me at all and have moved on with the passing of time, oblivious to the context that I attempt to bestow. Or even more likely, I stuff my face with roast goose and wafer thin dumpling skins filled with treasures of the sea. The latter prospect provides some small measure of comfort but I hesitate because I fear that same hollowness that resonated so fleetingly will make a reprise. I kinda feel like Tony Leung whispering in the tree in Angkor Wat. Except, I hope I get to talk to the best steamed spare ribs with black bean I will ever taste or some next level goose fat.

But not everything is just this painful slog through delicious food. There are already some things that I feel have finally reached some sense of conclusion. The name of my future restaurant, if I were to ever be so stupid as to actually open one, has been decided. In that most hipster of ways, naming it after a movie you like. Just to quell the curious, no it isn’t going to be Epidode 6: Return of the Jedi or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

So maybe I’m getting somewhere. I mean, not everyone figures shit out until they’re past it right? I’m sure some famous dude only “made it” when he/she hit 80 or died before they ever did, like fucking van Gogh. But of course, I realize “making it” doesn’t really matter any more. I’ve found my place and that’s a lot more than I could have said 8 years ago when I told my dad I wanted to learn to be a chef. So yes, I am a chef, I think. Not a great one but one nonetheless.

My final itinerary, which, like almost everything in life, is subject to change, is as follows:

  1. 3 days in Hong Kong
  2. 3 days in Taiwan
  3. 12 days in Japan
  4. 1 day in Singapore
  5. 1 day in Liverpool
  6. 20 days in Peru
  7. 20 days in Europe
  8. 8 days in Singapore

Who knows, I might even have some fun or heaven forbid, eat something tasty.

To celebrate my unemployment and singlehood, I’ve decided to further disadvantage my financial position irreparably by going on a round the world trip. Well, not exactly. See round the world tickets vary in price. Some places will give you really good deals on tickets if you let them decide where you’re going. But for the most part, a good proper RTW ticket will run you around 5k and lasts up to a year total. So you split the flights over a year. I can’t afford to travel for a year, well I can but I’m AZN so I can’t. So I just bought my own tickets and all things considered, I’m alright. I got quoted 6k for my suggested itinerary but doing it myself, I made it under 5 including trains around Europe and shit.

Here’s my plan.

  1. Singapore. Stop off at home. Chillout.
  2. Hongkong. With mum. One of my bucket list things was to visit Chungking Mansions, the California Bar and Midnight Express. The latter is now no longer but I’ll also get to checkout my heritage and the most authentic version of the food of my own culture.
  3. Taipei. 3 days to hit up night markets and reminisce about my army days.
  4. Japan. Regardless of how often I’ve been there, I still wanna go back again and again. Also, I really miss eating real Japanese food after 2.5 years of making pseudo Japanese food. This is a mainly Honshu trip involving Ryugin and Saito for starters, possibly some sickass beef, a sake tour, a whiskey distillery, knives and kitchen shit, a bowl of plastic ramen, Visvim, Neighborhood, Wtaps…
  5. Liverpool. I booked myself a hotel and a ticket for Liverpool v Newcastle. Let’s hope for some goals. The pilgrimage is happening at last.
  6. Peru. In 2014, I obsessed a lot about Peruvian food. Nikkei. Chifa. Central. Maido. Chushuro. I had to go. Macchu Picchu, Cuzco and alpaca and pisco and altitude sickness.
  7. Paris. Le Chateaubriand and Septime stand out to me as less expensive restaurants with creative menus and food. Also, Poilane, Pierre Herme, Du Pain et des Idees…
  8. Barcelona. Whilst I’ll never tick off El Bulli, I’ll be able to experience Tickets. Also, FC Barcelona.
  9. San Sebastian. Mugaritz, Martin Berasetagui, Arzak. Pintxos. Txakoli. C’mon son.
  10. Singapore. Back home. Maybe a massive cookout. I missed last year.

So basically, spend a lot of money and eat of lot of fucking good food and reeducate myself. Properly this time.

2014 didn’t seem to exist for me. For some reason I ploughed on at work despite wanting to quit for an eternity. I made plans to leave in April this year and go to Europe with my now ex-girlfriend. I guess that was one bloody reason. Hanging on for some vague promise of a future life. I felt like I was waiting for life to happen to me.

Work was horrible. All of 2014 was just long hours and constant bitching and moaning. It just seemed to get busier and busier despite the food getting worse. I know because I’m there and the new guys we’re hiring are worse than before and a few good people can only do so much. We used to have just the one culinary director but he left, presumably after an unsuccessful attempt to reinvigorate the company’s main pub. I don’t have a clue but he was ok, a decent guy with reasonably forward ideas. At one point, I even sorta wanted to jump ship and just do the AZN food thing he was trying to make happen. I tried it, it was fucking shit but you could see the effort and for fuck’s sake, it’s cheapass food.

What went wrong was the existing staff weren’t all AZN and the guys they hired just weren’t good enough. Quite frankly, if I ever have some weird penchant to open a dumpling shop, I’d hire Chinese guys. I’d even fucking sponsor them and give them a window so people can see them pleat a har gow. Din Tai Fung style. People lap that shit up.

Anyway, after that guy left, the head honcho hires 2 guys instead. 2 guys to do one job. Incidentally, after a bad review, the executive chef for the French restaurant got sacked. A dude with 2 hats on his previous restaurant sacked for one review. So the 2 dudes are busy sorting that shit out. All I hear is mofos doing 7 doubles and shit. Crazy. They even open for fucking supper at one point. Who the fuck gets French food in Sydney after 10pm?

But then it started creeping in, the inevitable touch of the new peeps in charge. It started with the soy sauce. I really don’t give a fuck about making 90% of my menu suitable for 5% of the customers. It doesn’t make a lotta sense honestly. The sorta people who come to our place just have way too much money and are just way too coked up to give a shit about the food but they’re sure as fuck not typically vegans or coeliacs or dietaries. They’re after quality Japanese and whilst I don’t think we’re worth the money, we did ok by the quality.

They had this epiphany to swop out to gluten free soy sauce, which is stupid salty and tastes like shit. We did it straight up at first and had a “tasting”. All the guys in the kitchen agreed it was shit. The two mofos though, decided it was even better and thusly, we became more gluten friendly than ever before. Well, except for the fact that we’re not really all that gluten friendly despite the swop to soy sauce. The reality is, Kikkoman’s made in Singapore gluten free soy (quite honestly, one of the worst thing’s my home country has ever put out) is just cheaper. We saved money that way. The kitchen’s retort was to adjust recipes wherever possible and “correct” the flavour after switching out. In some instances, we ended up using a higher proportion of a more expensive ingredient to try and compensate so that didn’t go so well.

That was just the beginning. Step 2 was a big leap. We were going to open a new restaurant in Sydney. We’re already fucking understaffed so how the fuck they were going to staff an entire new restaurant was beyond me. My exec made my then sous the new head chef. Except when the two bozos on top started coming into the kitchen and making us come up with specials everyday, they decided that he wasn’t up to the task. Whilst I didn’t think he was up to the task, you don’t just fucking give someone a job and then take it back like that. It leaves him in a shit sitch. So we were going to lose 4 guys total and these two guys started messing around in the kitchen. The next bright idea was to get us to contribute to the new menu creation process by making us put up 2 specials every day.

These things would mostly never sell and we’d just be left with prep that we didn’t need tomorrow. It was stupid. Worse still, the mofos would come in everyday to try shit out but there was no process of recording what was done, what was good, what was bad, it just felt pointless and empty. Ultimately, whilst we did come up some good ideas, none of them ended up on the new restaurant’s menu. So my response was to not actually make any new dishes but to use existing shit and recompose it so that way, we wouldn’t waste time and prep. So enter my grilled eel (just defrost) and grilled cod (different method) or multitude of lettuce cups and salads that were simply recompositions. Some were just pretty normal but probably delicious things anyway.

I love making new dishes but here I was getting out of doing what I liked. Why? Well I wasn’t going to give any new ideas to people who clearly wouldn’t give a shit anyway. So I kept my own shit to myself. I asked myself what the hell was I doing and I couldn’t really answer. I felt like I was betraying myself making shit up everyday that just seemed a fucking waste of time. Still, they never caught onto my methodology and came and went. My other sous chef made stuff up and tried hard at times. Didn’t fucking matter. None of it came to pass.

So eventually, the new restaurant opens. My former sous leaves to just become the new sous, except he now works 6 doubles a week. At the time of writing, I think he’s close to leaving if I’m not wrong. That leaves a spot open and finally, I get the promotion I’d been yearning for for so long. Sous chef at a one hat restaurant. Vindication that I was an important player in the team and for an instant, there was a hint of optimism seeping into me. I made dishes again. I garnered the congratulations of my former peers and the respect of the team. For a brief instant, I felt like I could contribute and make something happen.

Then I fucking woke up is what. We went to eat at the new restaurant. 6 people including my head chef, all guys from the kitchen and we had to pay full price, which included being raped on some prawn skewers that cost $21 for a pair of fucking prawns served with some shichimi coated wedge of lime. You could also have the pleasure of picking from 3 different cuts of beef that ranged in price based on quality/marbling/etc. That shit came to us on these stupid hot stones that only worked for the first slices and even then, poorly. It was $100 for 200 grams of beef and cooked by you and poorly. We then got some shit called a frosty fried rice that was a really bad bibimbap that had frozen beef mixed into warm rice. Because? We didn’t even get spoons to eat that shit with. Pretty much everything we had was pretty fucking bad but the beef shortrib skewer took the crown. Slow cooked and then dried out over charcoal, it was slathered over with a weird tasting miso glaze that completely overpowered the now tasteless and dry beef and apparently had truffle microplaned onto it as well. I wondered what the hell I’d gotten into and who the fuck were these people running the show?

Then the full force of the nightmare came to pass when they decided to stick it to my exec and head chefs and put their fucking skewer program onto our menu. So from making decent, simple but tasty skewers of beef, pork and chicken where you could pick from two sauces, we had stupid complicated skewers that involved different cooking methods prior to grilling and each had their own sauce. We also had to install a charcoal grill into the kitchen in a really poorly organised fashion that involved first smoking out the restaurant and then stopping the skewers for 2 weeks whilst they reinstalled a new extractor. The new head bozo also declared the new grill was shit and “colder than his mother”. You can just tell he’s a lovable person.

But the beef skewers. Cubed, then braised with a mirepoix and truffle, they would then be dried out over charcoal. The braising liquid came with a ridiculous recipe that involved heating together with some miso for 20 minutes, enough time for the miso to maybe diffuse throughout perhaps. When my head chef presented the miso soup esque sauce, he got yelled at that it wasn’t thick enough. It should be thick. It took 2 hours to reduce. You’d then slather 50ml of a thickass miso glaze that was according to the recipe, a miso soup consistency, onto each skewer. Then you’d microplane truffle over it. So I get that this is the head honcho’s thing. It’s his dish that’s followed him since that time he got a Michelin star 5 years ago doing another cuisine. Still, I don’t get why you cook it well one time and then fuck it all up after that. Just throwing miso doesn’t make it remotely Japanese. I felt like I was sampling American BBQ by way of someone who has no fucking clue about Japanese or American food or cooking in general. Why the fuck you’d put $2 worth of garnish everytime you sent a plate of shit like that out was beyond me. The only selling point for that crap was the fact that the word truffle was on the menu. You think beef shortrib and you think karubi/galbi and yea that’s fucking good chargrilled but not if it’s been braised and shit first and then slathered in more shit. Then dessert came and for some inexplicable reason, we got a massive chocolate ostrich egg with a thickass shell that you smashed after they poured “liquid nitrogen” at the table. Health hazards notwithstanding, the theatre seemed really gimmicky and completely stupid. I guess if you’ve never seen dry ice or liquid nitrogen before, it’s ok or maybe if you use it in context, like to keep something chilled etc. This just made no sense at all and seem like a really stupid and mildly dangerous stunt. It also looked like a freshly shat turd with fart fumes still lingering.

It was clear. The fuckers in charge had no clue and didn’t give a shit. They did their part coming up with the new menu and recipes that had no instructions and multiple different measurements like ounces and grams and liters and pounds all in one scrappy little page and it was our shit to deal with.They also came uncosted and tasted like shit for the most part. They were also mad impractical. Corn was cut into three pieces but each plate had 4! The plating style made them roll around as the waitstaff brought em out. The asparagus had a glaze that used chicken bones. The eggplant had a miso glaze that was overly sweet and undercooked and chicken mince running through it. Stuffed got topped with “dancing bonito” even though we used itogaki, shaved tuna. Travesty doesn’t begin to describe the way they mangled the menu. Customers weren’t particularly happy either. We got frequent “the shortrib’s really dry” or “the eggplant’s really small”. Oh yeah. You got 50 grams of eggplant with a chicken stupidly sweet miso glaze for $10. 5 skinny asparagus sold as “jumbo” on the menu for $12.

My distaste was also exemplified in my speech with the waitstaff when I told them I hated this shit as I plated up in front of them or when customers complained and my response was, “well, they’re right.”. I also grimaced every single time I had to serve thess stupid ass lamb cutlets that came on a mini hibachi that was useless. It came with a piece of charcoal per serve. I had to drizzle this horribly minty sauce they called a wasabi chimichurri where you’d never be able to pick out the wasabi. This made it smoke and my eyes water. 4-20 times a night. Lamb cutlets will sell because they’re lamb cutlets but a shitty emulsified mint sauce that we had to make every 2 days seemed stupid impractical. Then the waitstaff had to struggle to carry them to tables and when the tables got cleared, the KPs had to deal with still warm and sometimes glowing charcoal.

I got fed up with complaining and moaning and being unhappy and promptly handed in that white envelope. With 2 weeks to go, I’d only been promoted for 5 months. I questioned if I was being weak and taking the easy way out but that’s probably just that dogged AZN work hard mentality that’s been fucking my life over. Screw this shit. I’m out.

This is the best ice cream in Sydney. In no particular order.

Supermarket

  • Maggie Beer – Burnt Fig Jam, Honeycomb and Caramel
    It’s popular with everyone, it’s available everyfuckingwhere and it’s fucking sick. This should be more famous than her obsession for verjus or horribly sweet Pheasant Farm Pate. This is the BOMB.
  • Streets – Golden Gaytime
    A classic. This is what you eat if you’re visiting Australia. It’s more than just the name too.
  • Weis – Fruito
    Banana, Pineapple and Passionfruit. What a combo.
  • Pat and Sticks – Vanilla Lace
    Allow a little time for the biscuit to ease up and you’re good to go.
  • Coles Smart Buy – Neapolitan
    Actually, only the “strawberry” with it’s incredible un-strawberry like nuances is good. The choc and vanilla are unfortunately, taints.

Gelato Shops

  • Gelato Messina
    Queues are now insane. The Darlinghurst spot was my first date spot. That was how much more civil it used to be. Nowadays, it’s just absurd and they’ve got multiple stores, even one in Melbourne. Still, prices haven’t changed and at ~$7 for 3 scoops, it’s just straight up the best dessert deal in Sydney. Quality and flavours are just as good as ever. My faves include but are not limited to: Salted Caramel & White Choc, Blood Orange, Chocolate Sorbet, Hazelnut, Pistachio
  • Cow & The Moon
    Pretty damn popular but not on the Messina scale. This Enmore shop has a constant stream of people in it from opening to closing. It’s also priced well and the servers scoop awesome gelato scoop quenelles onto cones and cups alike. My faves are: Chocolate Sorbet, Honey, Popcorn
  • Pompei’s
    This Bondi pizzeria has got some awesome Amedei 65% chocolate sorbet (see a trend yet?) plus Fior di Latte, White Peach, 70% dark Amedei gelato, 40% Milk Amedei gelato and solid hazelnut and pistachio too. Pricey but the choc sorbet is unbeatable. Clearly, if you don’t like luscious and insanely rich stuff that melts away with unbearably so inside your mouth, you ought to reconsider life.
  • N2 Extreme Gelato
    Truth be told, I only like the texture. I find the flavours pissweak and different for the sake of and a lot of it’s just pure gimmickry. However, despite the fact that this is one of the best examples of not getting the point about modernist cooking, it’s also a great example of what’s good about modernist cooking. You can’t beat using liquid N2 to quickly freeze ice cream such that bigger ice crystals don’t have to chance to form. The texture is just spectacular but if you had access to a stand mixer and a license for renting liquid nitrogen dewars, you could do this at home too son.
  • Antica Gelateria
    Tucked away in one corner of Crows Nest, this is a little under the radar store that isn’t quite as good as some of the more popular shops in the city but it’s still pretty damn good. When I lived around the area, they had this sick black sesame chocolate chip and also an amazing banana split plus a really good choc sorbet, nut flavours etc. I just kinda wish it had a better location/concept. The product is just really good.

Now I know there’s more than this. There’s plenty of places in Sydney that do great Gelato/Ice Cream that I haven’t had the chance to try. This is my list and yes there are some cliches but we all fucking scream for ice cream. So, in summary:

Hands down, my favourite thing to put on my bottom half has to be my Voronoi pant. When I put em on, I can’t stop stroking my thighs and putting my hands on my ass pockets in brazen displays of public self-love. It’s simply because the fabric feels so fucking good. It’s like the smoothest twill evar! In the light, the charcoal colour takes on a slight greencast or yellowcast depending on the angle, iridescent like mother of pearl. The weight is fucking nonexistent and yet, it stands up to abuse. The roomy top block means I can stuff more food in my face whilst the trimmed down legs and silhouette ensure I am forever sexy. You fucking wish you were stroking the inside of my ass pocket. I’ve had various other favourite pants/shorts in the course of my life but these are simply the best. Time worn denim jeans, $10 camo print shorts, tailored performance, high fashunz… whatever.

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And then we have the Blazer LT, which is so BAWSE LEVEL. I rook rike Bae Yong Joon is what it’s like. It’s the perfect blazer for me. Informal, with a slightly crinkly fabric that still manages to look crispy and sharp. It’s like my Raf blazer, except better. It’s lightweight, breathable, water (at least until the next reproof) and wind resistant. There’s also no visible external shit. No buttons, no noticeable pockets. Nothing. You don’t notice my wallet or my phone hanging there. There’s not even snap buttons. For stealth purposes, Veilance prefers to use these slide buttons that make little noise. The collar pops beautiful too. Worn open, it’s like fashunz. Worn closed, it’s like I’m so seriouz.

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Next up, we be gettin’ da Insulated Field Jacket and probably a Graph Sweater plus Component Shirt.

Get da grease. This is my realistic dream list of cars. If I find one in excellent condition for real money. I’m down. I’ve set myself a budget but it’s pretty broad at the moment. If I wanna save some money but have some fun, I’d risk a R33/34. If I wanted brand spankin’ new with all the shizzle, I’d stump up for a Golf. When I fall into money, I’m getting a Hakosuka.

90s Coupes

  1. R33/34 Skyline
  2. MR2
  3. 180SX/240SX
  4. Supra
  5. E30

Newer Cars

  1. Golf 6/7
  2. Polo GTI
  3. A1
  4. A3 Cabriolet
  5. 86

In My Dreams

  1. 2000GT
  2. 510/1600
  3. Hakosuka
  4. 240Z
  5. Corolla SR5

So what’s keeping me up at night right now? Fuckin’ ads on J-Spec and videos from Petrolicious in particular.

That last one should be me. He’s even stolen my fuckin’ name ffs.

When I think vegetable, Kailan or “Chinese Broccoli” is what comes to mind. It’s what I imagine mothers pointing at when they yell at their kids. It’s a sweet and slightly bitter big green leafy vegetable with strong crunchy stems that can be fibrous if too old. For me it’s kinda like a cross between kale and broccoli and better than either. Kailan has got 4 significant parts to it. There’s the leaves, the thin stems, the thicker base and sometimes there’s also yellow or white flowers. It’s a plant that’s common year round because it’s a hardy plant but it’s actually a cool season crop.

When I was young, all I ate were the leaves, which were sweet and easy to down. I wasn’t the biggest vegetable fan but I would go to town on kailan leaves. I’d pick the stems out and not eat them. As time passed and I got a little bit older, I started to enjoy the thin stems and then later the thicker base stems too. By the time I was rocking out to Oasis and Radiohead, I was a full fledged kailan lover. I had to have it like 2 or 3 times a week and my grandmother knew I preferred the younger, sweeter baby version of the vegetable as opposed to the big thick woody stuff that’s almost asparagus like at the stem. You can always just trim or peel the base away but it’s got nothing on the beautiful flavour and texture of perfectly cooked baby kailan.

More recently, I had some pickled kailan stem at Chairman Mao’s in Sydney and it was one of those things that blew my mind. I guess I didn’t think about it before but if you take the big thick stems that you’d normally chuck, slice them reasonably thinly and pickle them, you get a bit of magic from what would be compost. The pickling process evens out the texture of the stems and definitely improves the hard, woodiness it can have. It’s not going to take away the fibrous outer bits and ends so you’re going to waste something but a lot less.

You can have it so many ways too. Stir fried is generally the classic. With a simple bit of garlic, stock, salt and oil, you get a very natural flavour. With oyster sauce, the sweetness is amplified and the bitterness removed because it’s so salty. Stir fried with beef or pork and wilted through noodles, you get a variety of crunch and sweetness.

Kailan’s something that most Chinese people take for granted. It’s just a common vegetable and you’ll find it everywhere. But it’s fucking magic. The leaves wilt but retain a slight leatheriness that really goes well when you get a slick of oil on it. The stems stay crunchy for days unlike a lot of other similar leafy greens. You have a kale craze that I can somewhat understand but for me, kailan’s just got more things in it’s locker than kale. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe kailan is too ubiquitous and known but I’m pretty damn sure if it had a less Chinese name, it’d deserve a global craze too.

I saw a video of Rene Redzepi praising this Aussie stagier putting kale into a dessert and sorta making it work or at least being extremely brave but she would have knocked his socks off if she used kailan. I don’t recommend blending it into smoothies with a vitamix, you lose all the wonderful textures of the vegetable and you really need a little light cooking to temper the rawness in my opinion. Still, I like to toss it in my pastas, noodles, stir fries and everything really. Buerre noisette and some almonds? Thai Basil and chilli? It can probably go a lot more ways than the usual garlic / oyster etc. My dream is for chefs who’re not Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese/Malay to use kailan more. Apparently it was actually imported to China by the Portuguese so maybe there’s a start.

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