Friday, May 15, 2015

Who is Lucky Chan?

To be honest, I have no idea but I know that we are lucky to have such a cool restaurant in Perth.

Lucky Chan’s Laundry and Noodle Bar is a relatively new outfit in Perth and one that I had been meaning to visit for months. So after seeing a mid day French movie at Cinema Paradiso with a friend my wish came true. Aren’t I lucky?

Lucky Chan’s occupies a tall and narrow building. Its laundry concept is random, how many places choose to put ironing boards as decoration on the side of the wall? There are about three washing machines at the front desk…..Interesting!

Because the weather wasn’t too bad today, my friend and I choose to enjoy our Raman on the Roof Top. As we climbed up the steep stairs we saw where they made the noodles and see where else we could enjoy our dinner/drinks.

Danny Ramen
Once we had settled in our spot, we were quickly handed menus and decided on some Ramen – a big bowel of Shio for me and a bowl of Danny Ramen for friend. They were beautifully presented and tasted great.

Lucky Chan’s also has a super cool drinks menu (including an extensive mocktails)and more great food. I look forward to going back and trying more of their great food.  

This place is quirky and fun. It is well worth a visit if you want a fun night out in a joint that is less than traditional.

Shio Raman

Lucky Chan's Laundry + Noodlebar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Admitting to imperfection

If you are a believer it is often hard to discuss the negative aspects of your values. It is hard to do so because you don’t want to be seen as a doubter to others or to cancel out the many positive aspects to a political, social or religious movement.

In many ways, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist is a discussion of Feminism and in a way that acknowledges the flaws as well as the complexities of this social movement. But in doing so she separates the concept of feminism with the people who believe in it.

Like with any other movement, Gay struggles to reconcile the good that feminism can do with the flawed people that promote it. It is not to say that flawed individuals can only be found in the feminist movement but people are complex and it is hard to live up to any ideological standards 100% of the time.

Gay writes ‘when feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement’. Like most people, Roxane Gay knows too well that she is flawed which inspired her to write this book of essays.

She conceders herself a bad feminist because she isn’t familiar with feminism’s seminal works, she confesses to liking pink and sometimes likes to play dumb with the tradie.

But really, although I may not like pink (is purple close enough?), I must confess that I am also guilty of such misdemeanours. I haven’t read all of feminism’s seminal works and I like the odd show that the feminist movement would class as objectifying women as well as being a fan of chivalry.

Roxane Gay’s book is more than just about feminism but also about race and diversity offers as well as how we consume culture. As I read the book you can’t help being reminded that personal is political. I also was reminded that while the political has such a strong influence on people, individuals are able to promote societal change.                  

Gay on Professional Feminists

As with any interest group, there are people who take it so seriously that it becomes part of their personal brand. Everywhere in society we can spot the professional young person, disabled person, refugee and migrant – all with their success story that they like to always tell us about. As a result, society associates them with the group that they represent and their stories and views become the only ones we hear about.

Gay views on this are ‘Feminism, as of late, has suffered from a curtain guilt by association because we conflate feminism with women who advocate feminism as their personal brand’. As professions are fully human like the rest of us, anything bad that happens to these people reflects badly reflects badly on their community and vice versa.  
When issues arise in regards to a particular community/interest groups, these people are often, and sometimes unfairly, knocked down. This is what Gay has a problem with. She argues that ‘when these figureheads say what we want to hear, we put them up on a feminist pedestal, and when they do something we don’t like, we knock them right off and then say that there is something wrong with feminism because our feminist leaders have failed us. We forget the difference between feminism and Professional Feminists’.

The separation of the ideology and the people that represent it is an important one to remember. It is essential not to give up on what is important to us when people (including ourselves) don’t always live up to expectations.        

Roxane Gay on race in film and literature

Since Roxane’s parents were from Haiti, she has strong opinions about how people of colour are represented in film and literature.

I get the feeling that she is slightly conflicted in this regard. On one hand she wants to be able to write from the perfective of people whose reality is different to hers but at the same time she criticises those depict African Americans in film and literature. She argues that ‘I write across race, gender and sexuality all the time. I would never want to be told that I can’t write a story where a protagonist is a white man or a Latina lesbian or anyone who resembles me.’

She uses the hit book/movie The Help as an example of how the creators of this franchise gets it all wrong. Gay spends several pages writing about the movie’s racial inaccuracies and how she feels that the author ‘doesn’t write black women. She caricatures black women, finding pieces of truth and genuine experience and distorting them to repulsive effect’. While she argues that it was poorly researched, I think that it is almost impossible to write from someone else’s perspective without reverting to caricatures unless we’ve walked in their shoes.  
Why read Bad Feminism

Read this book if you want more than a book on feminism. Bad feminism is a clever and funny book that puts contemporary society under a microscope. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sparrow’s Nest is a true gem

I love this place!!!

The Sparrow’s Nest is the kind of café that I fell in love when I was in my teens. It’s funky vibe and cool décor (including a piano in the corner) that includes a combination of tables and chairs as well as sofas which makes it a perfect spot to enjoy a Saturday lunch with friends.

My friends and I scored a spot on the sofa at the back. I went for the Chicken (with a bit of bacon and I think cheese) wrap which warmed to perfection. My fiends shared a plate of nachos which was plenty for two. They chose to add Pulled Pork to their Mexican which complimented the cheese and sauce.

The coffee was nice. While it didn’t have the power kick that coffee from other cafés give but it was still well made and tasted great.

The Sparrow’s Nest staff are friendly, efficient and they did well during a busy Saturday rush.

The Sparrow's Nest on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 1, 2015

Breakfast out is a perfect start to the day

I love the Australian tradition of going out for breakfast. It is such a nice way of spending time with friends while enjoying great food and coffee.

Today I caught up with a friend and we decided to visit one of the many cafés near my house.

Zucchero Espresso Bar is a Victoria Park institution and while I had been to it before, it had been a while. On weekends it is often it is packed both inside and out but because we went on a Friday morning it was less busy.

My friend chose the Brioche French Toast with berry compote which came highly recommended and was nicely presented. It was well complimented by her cappuccino.

I ordered the Bacon Stack which was very memorable. The serving was generous and the scrambled eggs were rich, creamy and perfectly done. The mushrooms were also perfect while the bacon was very crispy.

The only negative was that the whole dish was a little too salty. I know that bacon is normally salty and I don’t know if eggs and mushrooms had any extra but it was a little overpowering. Don’t get me wrong, I did love it and it kept me full all day.        

The coffee was OK.

Zucchero Espresso is pretty good but is probably at risk of being outshone but its upstart cousins down the road such as Harvest and The Imp but this shouldn’t be a reason not to visit. This is especially true because it has more space and is more family friendly.         

Zucchero Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 27, 2015

Six books of Summer and Autumn

Ok, ok, Autumn isn’t technically over yet but here are some books that I‘ve enjoyed over the past few months.  
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweere   
This is an inter-generational, transnational, multiethnic story about Sri Lanka during their civil war. It is a sensitive and beautifully written story that shows the horrors of war and the beauty of Sri Lanka.

I couldn't put it down and was originally going to ration myself to a few pages a day so that it would last longer but I couldn't. STARS *****

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Kline
You’ve got to love economics and, while being a little disturbing, Kline’s book is very interesting.

She describes an approach to economic called the ‘Chicago School’ which, in uber simple terms, exploits large scale economic, political, social and natural disasters to bring in extreme economic change. The logic is that after the earthquake, for example, the citizens are usually too shocked and preoccupied with survival to worry about the government is doing. She uses several South American examples as well as Russian, Poland, South Africa, US and Iraq.

I am no expert on economics but I learnt a lot and it made me angry how governments are pressured by international institutions to implement such harsh economic reforms. STARS ****

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
Joseph Anton is Salman Rushdie’s long awaited autobiography. Don’t get confused, Joseph Anton was his code name while he was in protection.

It was pretty dark reading about his life under the Fatwa (issued by Ayatollah Khomeini) following the publication of the ‘Satanic Verses’. It describes to toll that living in hiding on his psyche and his relationships but it was inspiring the lengths he went to for his art.  

Don't let his name dropping bother you.
I always to read Rushdie but I always found him too dense but after reading Joseph Anton I am ready to attack his other work. STARS ****

The Client by John Grisham
The Client is a tale of a kid and his younger brother who sees an underworld related suicide.  If knowledge is power then Grisham’s young protagonist missed out. He gets hounded by the underworld crime bosses as he struggles to protect his traumatised brother and his single mum.

This is a gritty story with tough characters who aren’t afraid to fight for justice.  STARS ***

Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
I always thought cities had personality and in many ways were a bit like people. This is why I loved Five Star Billionaire so much because of the story revolves around the city of Shanghai and how alluring it is for so many people. This story follows the lives of several people and tells of how they came to Shanghai with dreams of making it and how they were high up in her favour one minute and next minute in the depth of despair because she had thrown them out. STARS *****

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
Ahhhh, I love historical fiction and An Officer and a Spy is right up there with the best.

It is based on the 'Dreyfus Affair' that occurred in the 1890s. It is written from the prospective of Picquart who is a career Army Officer and who ends up uncovering discrepancies in the trial of Alfred Dreyfus. We follow him as he becomes a 'whistle blower'.

It was great to read a spy novel that occurred without any sophisticated technological gadgets. STARS ***

Friday, April 24, 2015

Not your usual Indian

The first thing that I think of Indian food is big generous portions of spicy curries and dhal with sides of rice and naan – all to be shared of course.

But while Sauma does do all of the usual Indian food, they take it another level.

We tried dishes from their ‘Smaller’ menu but in reality they seemed perfect in size plus they were beautifully presented. They were full of the spices commonly used in Indian cooking but they didn’t feel overly heavy and laden with oil.   

I arrived slightly early so while I waited I enjoyed a beer at the bar with a Waygu Beef Samousa. The Samousa was perfect and worked well with the beetroot sauce.

To sit at the bar was nice as it didn’t make waiting alone until my posse arrived too awkward. I loved their drinks menu and their collection of beer from all around the world; there is something to suit everyone’s taste and compliment every dish.  

I also loved the décor as it was trendy but not obnoxious and the long tables are conducive to sharing a meal with friends.

The staff are friendly and efficient. One of the first things she asked was if I was going to see a show at the nearby Perth Theatre Centre as this would influence what we ordered and when.  

The space that Sauma occupies was once a café with links to Perth’s criminal underworld but those days are long gone. Now Sauma is great addition to Perth’s foodie scene and I would recommend it to anyone to wants to try a different approach to Indian food.

Sauma on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You can’t complain

Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle is a local favourite for many people.

It’s traditional and straightforward menu, location and space make it perfect for simple dinner with friends.  Dinner at Clancy’s is especially cool if you’re meeting with a small to medium size group or want somewhere where the kids can run around and play.   

They have the usual pub food such as Fish and Chips, Pizzas and the odd Thai Curry as well as a lot of other food. Nothing particularly fancy or uber flash but good if you just want something nice to go with one of their many beers or wine.

Friends, beer and something to eat - you can’t complain, right?

The staff are cool and the guy who served me my beer knew a lot and helped me to choose one that I liked.

I ended up having a Nail Red Ale to go along with my pizza and fries. Both pizza and fries weren’t bad and complimented my beer well and it was perfect for a dinner with my choir posse before practice.

Clancy's Fish Pub Fremantle on Urbanspoon

From Badass to #Girlboss

I’ve just finished Sophia Amoroso’s book #Girlboss and unexpectedly I really enjoyed it.

I don’t really know what I was expecting. I hadn’t heard of her clothing website Nastygirl ( before, how successful it has become or even the story behind it.  I thought it might be a story of a Generation Y prattling on about how she made it big and how it was really straight forward.

But I was mistaken!

Amoroso is truly an individual who made it big under her own steam and using her own talent. She had obstacles and difficulties but she overcame them.          

She is the first to admit that was a Badass when she was younger. She dropped out of school, got fired from several jobs, resorted from getting food from rubbish bins and going through a shoplifting phase. But because of her talent and hard work she made it.

This book is not what you expect: It is not a self-help book nor is it is a how-to-make-it-in-ebusiness manual. It isn’t a feminist manifesto, girl power book or chic lit. It is not a book about an over entitled gen Y/millennial who wanted to work in the fashion industry because it’s ‘cool factor’ regardless of whether they had any talent.    
Somehow, this book is relatable.

This book freely describes the mistakes that Amoroso makes and she encourages people to learn from them. She reminds people that the ‘normal’ (school, university, work, family) isn’t the only road to success.   

She started up Nasty Girl from her home which included doing everything herself. To begin with she used ebay to sell the vintage garments she picked up from second hand shops and she was responsible for choosing and dressing models (which she paid by buying them hand burgers after the shoot) as well as writing the description of items and then shipping them off once they had been sold.

Amoroso goes into her early ‘business plan’ (although she wouldn’t call it that)and it was her focus on the details and the customers that made her business so successful. She also added value to her business by showing how to pair items and which accessories would look good with a particular outfit. She also used MySpace (they were the days) to attract customers.  There was an element of doing things unconventionally and I guess that allowed her to be more responsive to the desires of her customers.   

Now she is a CEO of a multimillion dollar internet company that has a world-wide market that was created without any debt which is a story in itself but you’ll have to read the book.
But also, it is her drive to make things happen that is what made her so successful. “Call it stubborn, it’s the only way I can make something mine – to invite into my world rather than have it fall into my lap”.

If you want to be inspired and read about someone who doesn’t fit the mould who still goes one to be wildly successful try #girlboss!    
What I’ve learnt from this book

These are some of the things that I learnt from Sophia Amoroso:
  • Don’t grow up. Don’t be a bore. Don’t ever let the man get to you;
  • Life is short. Don’t be lazy;
  • A #girlboss is someone who’s in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it. As a #girlboss, you take control and accept responsibility. You’re a fighter – you know when to throw punches and when to roll with them. Sometimes you break the rules, sometimes you follow them but always on your own terms;
  • The energy you’ll expand focusing on someone else’s life is better spent working on your own. Just be your own idol;       
  • Abandon everything about your life and habits that might hold you back;
  • Learn to create your own opportunities;
  • Fortune favours action;
  • The best way to honour the past and future of women’s rights is by getting shit done.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Public Art gives colour to Perth’s built environment

Over the past couple of days several of Perth’s suburbs (including parts of the CBD) have come alive thanks to a Public Art project called Form 15. This project has given a pop of colour to an otherwise sterile and uninspired built environment.

On a perfect autumn day, I went to see some on the art that has appeared on many of the city’s buildings as well as in my own suburb of Victoria Park.

So after a quick bite to eat at Le Vietnamese, I grabbed a map and went on a mission to find some of the art. I soon got to China Town and while many of the walls were still being worked on, I still loved seeing Perth’s lane ways being opened up. The staff were really helpful making sure I had a map and knew what was going on.

It is a little late now but China Town was gearing up for a street party of sorts later that day (Friday night) which was designed to be a family friendly event.

I thought it was a great idea and I am so glad that they’ve decided to focus on that area of the city as up til recently is part has been a little dead. But since there are a few new bars and restaurants that have opened up and, not to mention changes to the layout of the city, this area is slowly changing for the better.    

I also loved how they’ve included the suburbs so where ever you live you won’t have to go far to admire the art.

The only problem I had with Form 15 was that I thought the art was a little hard to find as the PDF map that you could download from the website was a little hard to read on an iphone. If there is a next time they could think about developing an app that could guide people to the art as well as provide info about the artists and their work.

So below are a few photos of the work and if you have a chance I would encourage you to check it out. FYI, the Perth weather is looking super fine for the next week.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

I went in wanting Pho but I ended up having a Benh Mi

I’ve been past this Le Vietnamese several times and I always thought it looked really cool as well as the whole colonial thing always fascinates me. Apparently it is now ok to include colonial influences.

Anyway, I arrive slightly ahead of the lunch rush and was recommended the Premium Banh Mi (naturally with Chilli) and a Flat White.

They both came out quickly and Benh was wonderful. It was super fresh and had plenty of filling while being easy to eat. Since it tasted so good, I consider it a steal at $8. It is available as a take away option and perfect to buy on the way to work to eat at your desk.

The coffee wasn’t bad but I wish I had ordered the coffee Vietnamese style just for something different. They have other smaller things which looked really nice.

The décor is super cool and the food is well presented. The staff are great and work well under pressure.

My tip is to try and come before or after the lunch rush so you can eat in peace because this place gets busy.

Le Vietnam on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

When life throws you lemons

Life often has a habit of throwing you lemons.

When life does send you a lemon (whose juice gets in your eye) you have a choice to either feel it burn and move on or to wallow in the pain.

Recently my life has been very lemony.  

While I won’t bore you with the details, I just wanted to share what I have learnt.

During my time in the dog house, I have spent a lot of time with my family and good friends. These people are the people that actually matter and that are helping me through this tough time in my life. For this I am eternally grateful and I hope that I can do the same for them too one day.

Other people were too busy doing their own thing (which is ok, no hard feelings) and not really prepared to backup their talk of women supporting each other. Now I know that my company is better than yours.

I was also able to attend a whole heap of festivals: French Film Festival, PerthFestival, Fringe Festival and Perth Writers’ Festival. I also got to go to rock concerts, classical music concerts, Opera in the Park, exhibitions at the WA Art Gallery and a hawkers’ market. I had such a good time!

Another thing that I was eternally grateful for is the time I can spend on my music. Usually it is a bit of a logical nightmare to juggle my choir commitments (plus a music lesson)with work and normally I am exhausted by the time I get to rehearsal but not this time. But over the past few months I could make all of my commitments while enjoying every minute and I wasn’t too tired. Yay!!

I also got to enjoy going out for lunch. I went to Parliament House for a truly civilised lunch as well as Edosei and Palsaik Namboo which I found to be both great places to eat.

Cooking at home was another thing I really enjoyed. It was especially cool not to have to eat out of a Tupperware container in some windowless room.    

I also loved hanging out at home as usually I am barely there, which seems a bit pointless considering the amount of time needed to work to pay the mortgage. I loved pottering around and taking time over coffees while pondering the meaning (or lack of it) of life. I also got to do the many chores that needed dong such as cleaning the windows and the bathroom as well as catching up with doing the ironing which was usually done while watching Gossip Girl. 

I am glad of the tough times, they are the moments that give you strength, puts things into perspective, develop your character and show you who your real friends. It is showing me that I am tough and won’t be slapped down. It is helping me to understand that I could either stay at home and feel sorry for myself or go out and have a good time, which I did.

So here is to the future. Who know what will happen next but this period of my life will go down as the time I beat the lemons and had a ball.   
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