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Do You Like Glass?

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I got invited (thanks, imstillhungry!) to an event organised by blurb, an awesome publishing startup based in San Francisco. The event was a Glassware Masterclass hosted by Riedel Australia/NZ and held at the Sydney Wine Centre in Pyrmont. Full. On! I love wine, and I have to admit, I like drinking wine from a nice wine glass. You know, not from those thick-rimmed wine glasses you get at pubs and sports bars. But boy, once the night was over, my wine knowledge was taken up a notch and mind was blown. Disclaimer: Please bear with me if/when at times I sound like a complete wine douche, I by all means don’t want to be/am not that person. But, I am all about knowledge sharing, so think of this post as a bit of wine education and you’ll thank me later when you’ve had your next wine experience and it’s been that touch more interesting and exciting. Enough of the introductions, lets go…

Upon arrival, I was handed a delicious French sparkling and helped myself to some taleggio (one of my favourite cheeses at the moment). The night was off to a good start. Then, Jess (of blurb) provided a brief overview of what the night entailed consisting of two parts: the Riedel Glassware Masterclass; and a little lesson on food and wine pairing. Beaming, I thought, could this night get any better? But wait, Jess then says, “oh and don’t discard the Riedel box sitting on your seat, you’ll need it for later when you take your glasses home with you tonight”. I diiieed, and bashfully walked over to my seat trying to conceal how happy I was inside.

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Check out this decanter, sits very nicely on the table and can roll around without spilling any wine

After all the introductions from our hosts, it was time for the magic show, i.e. the Glassware Masterclass. The Riedel rep began his show with the following tidbits:

  • Drinking wine is a sensory experience through: 1. Sight: ‘drink with your eyes’ – look for colour, density, viscosity; 2. Aroma/smell: 70-80% wine experience is through smell, unlocks the secret of what the wine has to offer; and 3. Taste: your palate.
  • Swirling wine, why? Swirling increases the evaporative surface of the wine, and releases the wine’s aroma.
  • Legs, or tears of wine (when you swirl the wine and there are streams of wine flowing down the sides of your glass) means nothing when it comes to the quality of wine. It merely denotes the amount of alcohol and sugar in the wine – more legs more alcohol content.
  • Fruit is the backbone of the wine experience, if you lose fruit in wine it becomes unappealing.
  • Winemaker’s objective is to produce wine that is ‘balanced’.
  • Three components of white wine: fruit (or sweetness), acidity and alcohol. Add another component for red wine: tannins.
  • Two types of acid: lactic (or malolactic) which is soft, creamy, oaky, buttery like a Chardonnay; and tartaric acid which is sharp.

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Now for the magic tricks. We had four different types of wine to taste (see below), a Sauvignon Blanc (2), Chardonnay (3), Pinot Noir (4) and a Cabernet Merlot (5), served in glasses specifically made for that type of wine. Don’t mind the joker glass there, or the XL5 tasting glass, just another glass to test the wines in.

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Mmm, oyster

While explaining why different kinds of wines needed a particular glass (e.g. for more aeration or whatever) we put these theories to the test, and tasted the wine in its rightful glass then in different glasses. Admittedly, I was super sceptical to begin with, but my god, it truly did make a difference. And now I am ruined for life. One wine in three different glasses, three different perceptions. Here is an example, the Pinot Noir (2014 Tolpuddle from Tasmania, which was delicious btw) in its rightful glass tasted peppery, herbacious, silky, and had beautiful aromatics (earthy, smelling like crushed ants) where you could dig through the layers. Digging through the layers means going from the front to the back of your palate. The Pinot at the front of the palate tasted of cherries, rasberries, in the middle it had spice tannins, while the back had a long tail which meant the wine had harmony and is balanced. However, when the Pinot was poured into the Chardonnay glass, the fruit aromas were missing, the wine was thinner, grainier and the after taste was flat and short. We did the same kind of thing with the other wines we tasted, and I kid you not, the wines tasted different in each glass. If you don’t believe me, go try it out for yourself.

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To end this post, here are some tasting notes I wrote down from the class if you ever want to sound like a snoot in front of your friends, OR something you could genuinely look out for to enhance your next wine experience and test your palate.

  • Sauvignon Blanc (Shaw and Smith, Adelaide Hills, 2015): taste fruit, acidity, then fruit again. Green, herbacious notes, capsicum, tropical, alcohol is not prominent.
  • Chardonnay (Vasse Felix, Margaret River, 2015): tropical, vanilla, and hints of pineapple at the front of the palate. Acidity, creamy with a buttery after taste at the back. Soft, elegant, and long.
  • Pinot Noir (Tolpuddle, Tasmania, 2014): great wine, especially with a piece of Lindt white chocolate. Cherries, rasberries, spice. Silky, peppery with beautiful aromatics, structured and balanced.
  • Cabernet Merlot (Moss Wood Ribbon Vale, Margaret River, 2012): Blackcurrents, pepper notes, mint on the nose. Still a young wine, has lots of life ahead.

I had an absolute blast at this event, thank you blurb, Riedel and Sydney Wine Centre, you guys were excellent hosts!

The Fall, Metro Theatre

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The Fall (the band, not the TV show) played at the Metro last Wednesday night, and boy, was this an experience.

The Fall is a seminal post-punk band that were pretty big in the 70s. The band’s lead singer, Mark E. Smith, is renowned for being a bit of a drunkard on stage, slurring his words and causing havoc. The Fall were playing at the Metro and a friend of mine had a spare ticket. Not really knowing much of The Fall’s music, I was in two minds. I had more of a listen and liked what I heard, this along with Mark E. Smith’s reputation and the free ticket proposition, I thought, why the hell not?

Orion and Gold Class were the two support bands (also in the post-punk genre). Gold Class were great and I highly recommend giving them a listen if you’re an Ian Curtis or Joy Division fan. They had a very different style and stage presence, quite different to the bands you see these days. I thoroughly enjoyed them, have a listen here.

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Back to The Fall. My friends and I got a pretty sweet spot at the front, highly anticipating Mark E. Smith and his band to appear in front of our faces. The Fall came on stage sans Mark E. Smith, but then his voice filled the room speaking words I could not understand (it was a drunken slur). Smith’s fragile 58 year old body finally appeared on stage and the crowd went nuts. And yes he was drunk. They played their set and two encores while Smith was stumbling around the stage, knocking things over (the poor roadies constantly had to pick things up after him), changing instrument settings, singing with multiple mics, and being a pest to the other band members (one being his wife on the keys). This was something I have never seen before in my life. I couldn’t help but giggle a few times during the show because it was beyond me how Smith got away with some of the things he did on that stage. Anyway, I had an absolute blast seeing The Fall, it was one of a kind. I got a sense of why The Fall had such an influence on bands in the 70s and why they’ve got such a cult following, and I also got to experience the craziness that is Mark E. Smith. Props to him though because he is still making music despite being drunk all the time, and he’s still able to function.

[Photo cred: themetrotheatre]

Mykonos, Greek Islands

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Little Venice, Mykonos

Seeing pictures when I was younger of the Greek Islands’ white cubed houses with blue doors and its turquoise waters, I promised myself I would see it in rl one day. And this year I did, and went to three of the islands – Mykonos, Ios and Santorini. I’ll start this three part series with the island I visited first, the beautiful Mykonos.

Flying into Mykonos from Athens was theeeeee most ridiculous plane trip I have ever been on. We literally took off and was in the air for a minute, before the captain says this over the intercom: “oh hey guys, hope you are enjoying the flight, we will be landing in approximately 20 minutes”. I was like wtf that I asked the girl next to me if I heard him correctly, she said yes, and an embarrassed Jen was like wow that was the shortest flight in history!

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Upon landing, I looked out the window and there it was – the white cubed houses with the blue, nested on hill tops by the water’s edge. It was so beautiful. Pinch me.

My good friend Julie (another avid traveler) was waiting for me at our hotel, Hotel Rochari. This hotel was perfect – great location, an awesome breakfast spread (I was in greek yoghurt heaven), unbelievably friendly staff, and highly entertaining clientele. We hit the town for dinner and did some exploring, and I can’t emphasise enough how much I fell in love with the town centre, or Chora, as the Greek like to call it. Check it out:

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It was like being on a movie set, the white buildings and walls, blue window sills and doors, everything looked so pretty it didn’t feel real at all. And despite the crisis that was going on at the time, all the locals were very friendly and helpful. I asked someone why all the houses and buildings were white and blue. A man explained that there was a time when they were expected by law to build houses like this, and the colours symbolise the Greek sea and sky, just like the colours on the Greek flag. White also reflects the harsh sun to keep the inside of the houses cool when it gets really hot in the Greek summer.

We did a day trip to Rineia island, and got a little Greek mythology lesson along the way. All of which has escaped me now but something about the Greek god Apollo (the god of light). I think Apollo and his twin Artemis were born there, or something. There are ten billion gods/goddesses in Greek mythology, something I learned while over there.

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Rineia island

We anchored our yacht at a small secluded beach on Rineia island and this little piece of heaven was definitely another highlight of my trip. The water was stunning, it was actually that turquoise colour that you see in postcards. We also had this little spot to ourselves and here we spent a few hours absorbing the sun, jumping off the boat, eating delicious fruits, drinking wine, and snorkeling in the clear, warm Mediterranean waters. It was heaven.

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Finally, besides eating our way through Mykonos (eating gyros, meat skewers, yoghurt, fried cheese and lots and lots of greek salad) we spent our last day on a quad bike riding around Mykonos. We came across a number of beaches, chilled at a few, got a bit lost, and tried to navigate our way around the island from just the road signs. It was a load of fun.

It was sad leaving Mykonos, only because we loved it so much. There is a lot more for me to explore when I return to Mykonos someday soon. I know I’ll be back fo sho!

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Sahara Desert, Merzouga, Morocco

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Since being back, the first question people ask me is “What was the highlight of your trip?”. I have a bit of a think, and almost every time without fail, the burnt orange dunes of the Sahara Desert in Morocco appear so vividly in my mind. Climbing these dunes is undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve experienced in my life. Getting up high enough to see the sunset, the beautiful colours in the sky, surrounded by mountains of orange sand was truly something magical.

camels_sahara_desert_merzouga_imstillhungoverYes all that black stuff on the sand is camel poop

After a long drive from Marrakech, we arrived at a Riad situated at the border of the desert. Shortly thereafter, it was time to head inside the desert! My friends and I joined a convoy of about seven friendly camels that took us to our little camp deep in the desert where we spent the night.

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Camp

The beauty of being surrounded by nothing but desert and sky, words cannot describe. I felt a sense of freedom and awe, and the need to be pinched every couple of minutes. We were welcomed at camp but couldn’t wait to get up on those dunes.

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Nick and Anthony on the orange

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Camp from up high

It was dinner time, so we made our way back to camp. At camp we met other travelers from around the world, devoured uber delicious moroccan food and wine, then danced and sang around the campfire.

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A little birdie suggested after dinner we walk a little further out from the camp to see the stars, so a group of us did just that. We laid out a big blanket and gazed out at the Big Dipper and the Orion’s Belt, and other constellations. It was amazing.

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The next morning, we got a 4am wake up call (which killed me) to get up and see the sunrise. It was another hefty climb up the dunes, but seeing the colours of the landscape and how it changed over time was worth every minute of my deprived sleep in.

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Sunrise

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It was a very painful 90 minute camel ride back to our Riad. Restless and hungover, I couldn’t wait to get off my uncomfortable (albeit cute) camel.

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Moroccan beats

Our final night in the desert consisted of an incredible amount of booze, moroccan drumming, lots of silly dancing, and a fun night with amazing new friends. The night ended with us drunkenly singing tunes while a small sandstorm was happening outside. The small sandstorm made the night that extra bit special and we were thankful that we weren’t still camping out in the desert.

My time in the Sahara Desert in Merzouga was indeed a highlight, one that I’ll remember forever and ever.

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Honey, I’m home!

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Coachella vibes 2015 <3

I’m back, tanned and thirty!

But I’m back from the most incredible four months of my life. It was filled with new experiences, seeing some of the most beautiful places in the world, meeting exciting new people, all of which I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. I’ve been back for three weeks now crazily enough, but as corny as it sounds, I do feel like I have changed. Even just the little things, like not caring about how late the train is, not caring how my hair looks in the morning, and omg, really appreciating the ever so underrated ‘alone time’. This trip has also given me so much perspective! Perspective in respects to what is (and isn’t) important in my life and the world generally. Taking a break and stepping back a bit from your life as you live it really does give you this perspective, and things become so much clearer.

I am glad for the most part to be back home. Sydney will always be the place I call home. I am, however, so happy (and lucky) to have seen places in this world that other people call home, and places that I never had dreamed existed. There is a big, bad world out there (literally) and I couldn’t encourage you all enough to get out there and explore it!

So, each week I’m going to post and share with you one of my favourite places on my travels. So put the kettle on, make yourself a cup of tea, and enjoy revisiting and reminiscing parts of my travel journey with me. 

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

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Manhattan skyline from East River State Park (the view from here is stunning)

If I ever moved to the US, I would live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I love this area so much. When I arrived here on Wednesday I was a bit weirded out by all the Polish bakeries, but after exploring the neighbourhood, it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this place. There is so much going on here, surprises at every corner, a warm community feel from the Polish expats, there is art everywhere, artsy/creative people everywhere, it has some of the most spectacular views of Manhattan, and more importantly the people here are super nice, laid back and friendly. Kickstarter HQ is also just down the road in this big warehouse (how awesome would it be to work there!).

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Five Leaves cafe, Greenpoint (this guy totally photo-bombed, but it adds to the photo I reckon)

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Being a tourist with Phoebe in WNYC Transmitter Park

I hung out with my airbnb host’s housemate, Phoebe, the other night. She showed me some really cool bars and restaurants housed in these derelict building/warehouses. Walking past these buildings you wouldn’t think to look in because they look dead from the outside, but in actual fact there are warehouse partays, art shows and bars hidden all over the place. It is so so cool. We had dinner at a pizza place called Paulie Gee’s where you enter through a big wooden door (that again I would have completely missed walking past it on the street) and inside is a dimly-lit hipster hangout with a big wood-fire oven out back. Pizza was uber good. Phoebe got the Hellboy which is a pepperoni pizza drizzled with spicy honey (or Mike’s hot honey as they like to call it), the combination of sweet and spicy was pretty damn fantastic. The root beer also hit the spot (which is like sarsaparilla if you know what that is).

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The Hellboy and King Harry Classic at Paulie Gee’s

Another cool place that’s worth a mention is River Styx where the head chef is Bill Murray’s son, Homer Murray. My friends and I went there for dinner last night and he was there, but I was too shy to say hello. He is quite a large guy too so it was a bit intimidating. Could totally see the resemblance to his father, but Homer has a much bigger build and a beard.

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Manhattan skyline by night (I couldn’t help myself, it’s too pretty)

I am still waking up at 4am every morning and can’t get back to sleep which is annoying, but gives me time to blog I guess. Although, yesterday I went for an early morning jog around McCarren Park (which was really nice and chill) as an attempt to beat the jetlag but I was still crashing by about 3pm, like most afternoons. It’s off to Manhattan today which I am somewhat bittersweet about. Hanging out there will undoubtedly be a change of pace, and the people will be different too. Good thing is, Brooklyn is only a 15 minute subway ride away.

The adventure begins…

I’m here! Made it to NYC in one piece after a grueling 24 hours on a plane (it was death). By the time I got to JFK airport, I had a very sore bottom and I was completely done with being around planes and airports. BUT, once I got in a cab out of the freezing cold (and omg, I was stupidly wearing thongs) you should have seen my face light up when the cab driver turned a corner last night and there it was, the bright lights of the New York City skyline that goes on and on as far as the eye can see. Nothing could wipe the gargantuan smile off my face, I couldn’t get rid of it myself.

View of Downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park

View of Downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park

Did a bit of a stroll around Downtown Brooklyn today and found Brooklyn Bridge Park after walking the wrong way for an hour. Day 1 has already tested my limits. However, walking the wrong way led me to Absolute Coffee, a quaint little cafe that made a decent almond milk f-dub (flat white), on par if not better than some Sydney cafes. I was so happy that I didn’t have to resort to Starbucks for decent coffee (like my last US trip) that I emphatically said “yesss!” to myself out loud on the street.

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Brooklyn Heights

Exploring Downtown Brooklyn today kind of made me realise something that only felt real to me today. I have a whole four months ahead of me at my disposal. Don’t mean to boast by all means, but this feeling of being free to do whatever the hell I want and not being chained to a desk feels absolutely incredible. This feeling does not come by very often and I am so so happy that I am doing this. I took risks to get here and I was pretty scared leading up to this point, but life is about pushing yourself, taking risks and facing challenges, right? Lets come back to this question in four months time to see if this trip was worth it. I have a sneaking suspicion that my answer will be an emphatic “yesss!” with it being one of the best and most challenging experiences of my life.

Photo cred: my Sony RX100. About time I started using my own photos (that aren’t from instagram or stolen from the internets).

 

Mister Gee Burger Truck

I like burgers, and burger joints seem to popping up here, there and everywhere in Sydney at the moment. Word on the street is that a new burger truck parked in the outer inner west suburbs of Sydney are serving burgers that are a melt-in-your-mouth love at first bite. Mister Gee is the name of the food truck and last Thursday a few of my friends and I decided to get on the Mister Gee bandwagon and check these burgers out. The setup was pretty impressive with the truck lodged in a car wash on Parramatta Rd in Haberfield. We arrived a bit after opening time to find a queue (of course) of eager Mister Gee fans or people like us checkin out the latest craze.

So did the burgers live up to its hype? For me, no. I had The Truffe burger, single patty with a truffle-based secret sauce, and sorry for being quite frank but I wasn’t a fan. But what I have learned from all this is that I like a certain kind of burger. Don’t get me wrong there is a reason why people love Mister Gee, and it’s because they like the kind of burger that Mister Gee is all about – sloppy and dirty. For me personally, I don’t like the American-style sloppy burgers, I like a good meat to salad ratio, a meat patty that isn’t too melt-in-your-mouth (that some of my friends had to eat it with a fork), not a huge fan of the brioche sweet (albeit subtle) bun either, and I can definitely say I didn’t like the ‘I feel ill, comatose’ sensation post-eating, and the meat sweats. And hence, the Brodburger in Kingston, Canberra still wins as the best burger in my books. Having said all this, the chilli cheese fries were delish, and what I liked the most about the whole experience is hanging out with a group of friends in the middle of nowhere, sitting on milk crates, talking shit, eating junk and feeling sick together, with a Coopers 6-pack chilling the f-ck out on a nice night. The occasional headlights on our faces (that felt like they were on high beams) from cars trying to find a park was not enjoyable but I guess that’s all part of the deal.

I still think Mister Gee is definitely worth checking out putting aside my burger bias. They do a different burger and side each week which is cool and mixes it up a bit. One of my friends is a huge fan and has been a few times in the last month. He has even had the triple cheese boogie, oh yes, three whole patties worth of burger [insert vomit face emoticon here]. So just because I ain’t a fan, Mister Gee might be for you and may very well satisfy your burger palate.

[Photo cred: imstillhungry]. imstillhungry is the friend of mine that has had the triple cheese boogie burger. He is a pretty amazing food blogger that takes some damn good food snaps. He’s also getting prettay big in the insta/blogger space. I get some of my eating tips from him. Totes check out his blog.

28 days

It’s been a whirlwind of a month. A month of realisations, new perspectives, patience, work and too much play, doing improv in front of people I don’t know (yes, I’ve taken up acting classes! more on this later, I promise) and a heap of life admin. Shit’s about to get real, and there is so much I need to do before I say siyonara to this beautiful city. And to be brutally honest, I’m freaking out a little bit.

The next 4 weeks will be another whirlwind I know it. And I’ll be on that plane ready for my next adventure in no time.

[Photo source: WSJ]. One of my favourite artists, Brett Whiteley, had one of his pieces (The American Dream) featured at the Pop to Popism exhibition at the AGNSW. Totally unrelated to this post, but it had so much going on in it, I really liked it, and spent half an hour staring at it.

Source: fbiradio

FKA twigs

Gah! This woman is something else. I am literally obsessed. I’ve not seen or heard an rnb artist worth listening to in a long while. Although I don’t think her music can be categorised as just rnb – it’s so much more than that. It’s a weird mix of rnb, clangy/industrial sounds, reverberating drum beats and a voice so sensual it gives you the chills. The kind of rnb that you’d expect from the 90s back when it was still good, but taken up a notch.

Lets start with Laneway. Twigs was probably one of the reasons I got a ticket to Laneway. I love her record and was ecstatic knowing I was going to see her play in rl. All she had to do was step out on stage and the next 45 minutes you were in a mesmerised blur. Her dance moves were a-mazing, she was badass and had such an incredible stage presence it made you detest the fact that the set was inevitably going to end. When it did end, I swore to myself I was going to find a way to nab a ticket to one of her sold out sideshows. I hilariously did (from a socially awkward guy on Gumtree) and saw her again the following Tuesday night at The Metro.

Ok, maybe I had high expectations from the Laneway performance, but there was something missing at her sideshow. Don’t get me wrong, it was still an incredible show, but it lacked the badass attitude and outlandish dance moves at Laneway, and the sound was (surprisingly) better at the festival. I don’t know. I am sure others would beg to differ. And besides, this comparison is irrelevant. Twigs created a wow moment in my life, and I like it when I have one of those moments. If you haven’t already listened to her music, go on and listen to ‘Two Weeks’ or ‘Give Up’ and reread this blog post so you know what imma talkin about.

[Photo source: fbiradio]