The recipe for world peace? Choux pastry and mangoes

“Hip Brisbane?” said a friend who’d grown up in Brissy in the 60s. “Visit first, then try to convince me.”

If she’d spend just a couple of hours with me this morning, she may have started to relent. The hotel, Spicer’s Balfour, is a nine-room Queenslander (painted weatherboard with wide verandas, a rooftop bar and open-air reception) in New Farm with views across to the Story Bridge and into the back yards of the neighbours, which I love. To paraphrase George Negus, I’m a suburban perv.

Yesterday, I ate lunch at a nearby cafe, the Little Larder, then found I’d left my wallet behind. “No worries,” said the sparky girl serving me. “Just pop in tomorrow!” So I did, and at 8am, the cafe, on a relatively quiet street, was full with a happy buzz of Wednesday morning breakfasters. Who breakfasts out on a Wednesday morning? Brisbanites, it would appear.

And then I swung past Chouquette, which has been turning out the butteriest, Frenchest pastries since before it opened at 6.30 this morning. The smell, people, is a scent to inspire you to write poetry, solve cryptics and create world peace.

Just $1.50 bought me a little bag of chouquettes, sweet little balls of cream puff, rolled in pearl sugar, for a crunch in the mouth. My snack bag of dried fruits has been slung into the dark recesses of my suitcase. Again, this cafe had a scattering of regular patrons sipping milky coffee and buying fresh olive batons – so lucky to have such a gem in their neighbourhood.

The mood in these little streets is relaxed, the scent is of gardenias, jasmine and freshly baked bread, the spring temps are perfect. If ‘hip’ meant feeling angst, wearing black and not eating fresh mango for breakfast, then give hip the heave. I’ll take New Farm (not New York).

Hot to shop: Kuala Lumpur

Photo: the bewilderingly fabulous mall, Suria KLCC.
Photo: AFP &
Sun Herald

Malaysians have two great loves: eating and shopping. Sometimes you could flip that around to shopping and eating.

Either way, the capital, KL, is truly fabulous for a shopover, especially if you’re a mall fiend.

Smell the fakes, snap up the bargains then advance to genuine designer talent. Click here to read the full story…

Madly Hatted, Richard does Melbourne

Where did you get that hat? Why, it’s a Richard Nylon, of course. Undeniably, marvelously kooky, the milliner Mr Nylon is hot property right now.

Of course, it’s Cup season. That’s the Melbourne Cup to those not in the know.

When I was a schoolkid in Queensland, our teachers would nick off to the staffroom to have a glass of cheap sparkling wine and a fag and throw a few bets on the horses, or we’d even have a sweep in the classroom. The state of Victoria was on holiday.

Now, it’s just the city of Melbourne that gets a holiday so it can drink champagne and bet on the horses.

Mostly, we watch the race on TV, but one year I went down to Flemington racecourse to mingle with the rest of the great unwashed. I remember the statistic: 80,000 people drank 100,000 litres of champagne and sparkling wine. Not a bad effort, people.

The reason for this post is that some of Richard’s wildest hats are on display in Melbourne’s Langham Hotel during the racing season, so I popped in to check them out and to meet the man himself. The hotel was, incidentally, also celebrating the opening of its Seafood Altar. All worship the humble lobster? My kinda bash.

If you were craving hat tips for the season, I can share a few of Richard’s gems:

  • Asymmetrical hats work best because asymmetry is dynamic and, let’s face it, our faces are asymmetrical. And if you’re going to tilt the hat, tilt over the right eye.
  • Never wear a hat that’s wider than your shoulders, ESPECIALLY if you’re short! You’re going to end up buffeted by other people all day. If you’re an Amazon standing over six feet six, do whatever you like, with your head up in those clouds.
  • Hats need stronger make-up, so don’t be afraid to lash on the slap, or be washed out by a hat with more personality than your face.

And hats aren’t just for the ladies. “Women talk to a man wearing a hat,” says Richard, encouragingly. “Hats should be whimsical, a talking point, and fabulous from all angles. Hats are meant to be seen in 3D.”

So ditch that skanky fascinator made from chook feathers, slap on a hat and let’s smash the piggy bank and make for the TAB!

(Translation: get real, get a decent hat, throw away your feathered headpiece, and let’s bet all our savings on a horse that has a snowflake’s chance in hell of winning.)

Bromance in the park

Photo: Eddie Jim, Sun Herald

So I’ve taken time out from making rhubarb and apple crumble with neon-red rhubarb from someone else’s garden to do some work. Yes, really. Finally, a review of the fabulous Middle Park Hotel has appeared in the Sun Herald – if you’re looking for Melbourne digs without effete pretention.

Bon Scott is on the walls and sausage sarnies on the menu at this paean to blokedom in inner Melbourne. Does that give you an idea of what it’s like?

Click here to read the full review… you know you want to.

http://www.smh.com.au/travel/accommodation-reviews/bromance-in-the-park-20101007-169cq.html

The great outdoors

An escarpment in the Kimberley.
Photo: Belle Jackson

Is it, like, circuitous meeja navel-gazing when media commentators start blogging on other media, only for other bloggers then to blog them? Praps, but if you’re not in the loop re: all things glossy magazinesque, we’re talking about the fact the buffest little gardener, our own Jamie Durie, has finally launched his own magazine.

Yes, the man muscle who made the Chippendales (not to be confused with the Chipmunks) a household name, who is Friend of Oprah and Australia’s authority on paving and water-free gardens, now comes to you via The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie, the magazine, which hit newsstands last week.

Publish Post


Ok, so I’m going to ‘fess up to having a vested interest, having written for the which is why I’m going to post you a review of the mag that appeared on the funkiest little blog around, Girl with a Satchel. The only bit you need to know is the super-slim reference to Kimberley escarpment photographs (Here’s one). Thank you, GWAS 🙂