All posts filed under “musings

What I’m Reading – Blogs

I’ve always been a prolific online blog reader, so much so that my gigantic Feedly list regularly throws me daily targets of 500+ articles to get through. This is daunting to say the least but luckily my speed reading skills acquired through my lacklustre law degree has come in handy.

I follow over 50 food blogs alone, and sometimes the visuals do meld together into a sea of indistinguishable food porn, especially with the larger compilation sites like Serious Eats, Eater and Food52. This is why sometimes it’s really enjoyable to read individual sites which have a unique and individual tone.

The following are of many which inspire me, fill me with awe, and occasionally impart a generous dose of envy. And often it’s all three emotions at once.

Manger

Reading Manger late at night you often wonder where the hell you went wrong in your own life. I mean…Mimi Thorisson just paints the perfect life in blog form. She’s beautiful, her kids are beautiful and they all live a seemingly wistful & charming life in provincial France with amazing produce, food and gorgeous neighbours. Did I mention everything (including the photography) is so fucking beautiful it hurts?  If I were to grow up again, Thorisson would be my hero-woman. Gwyneth Paltrow can only wish she had so much style.

Manger

Lady and Pups

If reading Manger has got you all bitter and jaded about your own life then this blog is the antidote. Get angry, get even and get cooking. Often food and lifestyle blogs nowadays get lost in a sea of ethereal hipsterdom (which moi is guilty of also) so it’s refreshing when you encounter something which isn’t afraid to go bold or go home. The Lady of this site punches you in the face with her food, photography and writing. The sass is as biting as is the generous use of spices and after every recipe I’m craving a post-coital cigarette (and I don’t even smoke). It’s definitely a FUCK JEAH! blog.

pups

Two Red Bowls

Considering TRB started their blog a month before I did last year, Bowl #1 is testament to that hard work and perseverance equal the makings of a successful blog. Unlike yours truly who generally just fluffs about on this blog, TRB updates regularly, involves herself in the community and has a keen sense of direction for TRB. What’s also inspiring to see is the evolution of her styling and photography skills.  Every time I need a kick up the bum to post something, it usually comes after reading TRB latest post.

Clinton St Baking Company Pancakes, for Verily Magazine

Alana Bread

A fellow Australian, Alana covers both dining out in Sydney and her own recipes. She has such a keen eye on capturing the mood and tone when covering eating establishments and I love the variety on her blog. She also shoots for Broadsheet which is fast becoming the go to online hipster foodie hangout for Sydneysiders and Melbournians. I’d love to pick her photography brain whilst simultaneously hanging out at some hip new opening in Surry hills (Sydney lyfe YO!)

Alana Bread

A Clarification of Sorts

I’ve always said to myself and to others that I don’t know how long this project will last. The answer was usually when the food dries up, when I get bored or when it stops been fun. In the last few months it’s been harder and harder to get off my butt and write for this site. The photography is not an issue, but I’ve discovered that writing up recipes is just really not my thing…in fact it’s one of the things which hinders me, resulting in a backlog of recipes dating back the past year or so.

This has started me thinking… has it stopped been fun? Then I realised maybe I was doing this for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps in seeking more hits, more recognition and more wanton creative-ego gratification I’ve lost track of what I was doing, or rather wanted to do.

To be honest I never really thought that this space was to be a food blog only. I’d always wanted to explore various creative intersts but then I was afriad it’ll just be another personal/lifestyle blog, a billion of those populate the internet and I wanted to be different, to have a goal and a plan. Well how big of my ego to say… “Your photography deserves a platform…a serious one, not just another lifestyle blog.” So therefore I pigeonholed myself into a corner which I resented and I’ve realised, you know what? I’m really not that special.

It was never really about the food. It was always about the photography, the style, the design, the creativity, the visuals. Food was just a bonus and an excuse to do it from the house in a controllable environment. It was an easy way into experimenting, playing, exploring and learning. But soon it become a chore. I put pressure on myself to perform, to do better, to get overly ambitious, to maybe one day get that book deal, or get published in a magazine, or to get a professional gig… Which is all complete bullshit and not what I wanted to do in the first place.

Sometimes in chasing the fortune and glory you tend to lose sight of what was fun and special in the first place. There was no situation more demonstrable of this fact then when I was taking photos at the Australian Open this year. It was my 5th year at the even and I’d been pining for a photographer media pass since my 2nd year. But I realised (this is a post of realisations I gather) that maybe running around in 40 degree heat with 2 cameras, monopods, multiple lenses and a turnaround times of 2 hours was perhaps not how I wanted to experience something that I was deeply passionate about.

I frankly have the utmost respect for anyone who is singularly passionate about something to do produce something cohesive out of it, but I certainly have not reached that point. I still have so much exploring, learning, creating and having fun to do.

So what’s next then? Well I can shut down this site, call it a day and say the project has come to a natural end. But then I still have a shiteload of creative pursuits to explore and a backlog of food posts which would loiter in absolute limbo for the rest of eternity on my computer. So as you can see I’ve revamped the site a bit, really stripped it down and you know what, it is a personal blog, no sense in denying it and no sense in being ashamed of the “lifestyle” tag.  But don’t fear, it won’t become an early noughties livejournal stream of consciousness either.

I will however be delving into some more short term projects, mostly photography whilst trying to find as much time as possible to publish the rest of the food stuff. So Not So Lazy Sundays will essentially be my online creative space. Like a Chris Doyle scrapbook but better organised.

I will still keep up the food stuff but possibly not as a central factor for the site, so it really will start to live up to the tagline of food, style & other cultural pursuits. Not just the food.

Apologies if you read the site only for the food, but I hope you will continue to stick around in the future for some other interesting creative stuff as well.

PS. Some other changes

  • I will also be posting different photographic content on instagram regularly so please join me on that
  • I’ll be shutting down the Not So Lazy Sundays twitter, instead updates and other stuff will be on my personal twitter (unfortunately you’ll have to suffer through the regular tennis spam), but 2 twitter accounts is a bitch to work with. If you just want site only updates, then please subscribe to the feed, or like on facebook.

It’s Summer! Things I’m loving right now!

There’s something wonderfully pure about summer, the incessant sunshine (at least in Australia) and copious amounts of daylight really tends to lift the spirits in the most morose of people. The combination of Summer and the festive season means an extra extra relaxed December down under. I’ve jetsetted overseas the past couple of summers but this year I’ve decided to spend it at home, chilling out, catching up on everything I’ve missed during the year and finally…working my way through my much-ignored bookshelf. Often I feel on one hand overwhelmed by holidays and yet complacent about them as well. I always feel like I need to accomplish things but then the other side of my brain goes, “Whatchyoo talking about? It’s summer, kick back and CHILLAX”. Well here’s a bit of both.

# SUMMER BERRIES

A bowl of sweet fresh summer berries is something that’s hard to culinarily top. I’ve been dealing with a foot injury recently so I’ve limited myself to swimming these couple of weeks for exercise (the no running rule is killing me though!). Swimming always makes me ravenous but the heat means I don’t really look forward to coming home to a steak or something heavy. I found chopped strawberries, handful of blueberries, some mango and other additions really do the trick. The following is Strawberries & Blueberries, macerated in vanilla sugar, mint & butterscotch schnapps. It’s insanely good!!!

Summer Berries

# GORDON RAMSAY

Gordon is the sole reason why I have killer knife skills. I remember been back at uni and getting into cooking seriously for the first time and his F-word series for Channel 4 was really what taught me the basics. No matter his business failures or his somewhat embarrassing mugging for the American market (See Hell’s Kitchen & Kitchen Nightmares US), this guy is still one of my heroes. He’s the classic working class lad made good through hard work and the dude can freaking cook. So I was delighted to find a new series he’s done for Channel 4  recently (Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking) which includes cooking with his 4 awesome kids. I mean I’m already a sucker for well shot and produced food shows (Anthony Bourdain & Co, I’m looking at you). But the additional upside to this show is you get to see Gordon being a funny and goofy dad. Awwwww, something to keep in mind the next time he calls someone a donkey for using a non-stick pan. I’ve watched all 20 episodes in the last few days, that’s how good this show is!!!, WATCH IIIIIIIIIT!!!


# BOOKS

My book shelf these days is fast running out of room, the good thing is that I’ve got a pretty awesome food and photography collection at the moment, bad thing is there are always more awesome books I want to purchase. I probably approach buying food/cook books a little differently to a lot of people. For me, photography comes first and foremost. If I flip through a bookstore and the pictures strike an arrow through my heart then that’s it.

The photography of Donna Hay’s New Classics, struck me well and truly in the solar plexus as I was browsing in the bookstore. Hay is an ubiquitous name in the international as well as Australian food scene, but what strikes me most is that the photography which accompanies her many publications is just FREAKING TECHNICALLY PERFECT. The styling, the photography, you just can’t fault any of it. Usually when I see really commercial food photography there’s a insipid blandness that comes across with the perfection but not here.  Her new book, New Classics, actually also contains some brilliant easy and timeless recipes amongst the gorgeous photography. It’s a dense, thick, heavy and beautifully bound book highlighting multiple photographers and stylists, so it’s a great tool for picking different looks. This is actually my first Donna Hay publication, and I fear it might not be my last.

Nathan Mhyrvold is a freak. There’s really no better way to put it.  He’s 5 volume Magnus opus, Modernist Cuisine weighs in at a hefty 24kg and costs around $500 and although tempting at first, I really couldn’t justify purchasing it (I gather my poor bookshelf was thankful for that decision). But when The Photography of Modernist Cuisine was announced I put it on my Amazon wish list immediately and waited for the right price to pull the trigger. Although at first I was a little disappointed in the actual photography and styling compared to Donna Hay’s book, this book is nothing short of a nerdy achievement in the best of ways. Firstly it’s big, like bigger than a Britannica Atlas, big (yeah remember those?). I have trouble carrying it between the bedroom and living room, that’s how big and heavy and cumbersome it is. When pictures are blown up that big…well most photos would look impressive. The book is mostly a collection of studio shots of food, a combo of microscopic, macro, cutaways (where they literally cut food vessels in half) and minimalist styled shots. Although minimalist styling can still work wonders (See Ditte Isager’s work from NOMA book), the photography here however feels a little commercial and outdated, due to studio only lighting. It’s not a style that I’ve always liked or wanted to emulate but I see myself trying it out as a challenge. Luckily diagrams are included…nerdy awesome!

I do like how different both publications are, it’s always good to get a variety of photographic inspirations. Both will have coveted places on my very full bookshelf (although Modernist Cuisine unfortunately doesn’t fit).

A Really Lazy Sunday

Alright, so no recipe this week because I went and saw The Counselor today. Ridley Scott’s new thriller, penned by Cormac McCarthy and starring man of the moment Michael Fassbender. For all intents and purposes it was a messy film not really worthy of much afterthought…except it was. 10 hours later and I still can’t really shake the film. I’m reading reviews, commentary, analysis and I just can’t get enough. I’m hoping to even read the original McCarthy screenplay later on. I guess maybe it’s not as bad a film after all, and my film school student core just can’t NOT delve into why the film turned out the way it did. Anyway, I do recommend it, even if you do come out hating it, you’ll have a lot to say on why you hated it. Anyway, whilst my brain is utterly preoccupied with analytically tearing this film apart , it is in no way in the right space to type out a recipe and be witty about it.

Anyway, back onto this film… the one undeniable thing about The Counselor is that even under all its cinematic failings, it’s still amazing in terms of design, both production and costume. Everything was the right tone of deliberate. From the clean modernist lines of the architecture, the rich yet not gaudy props to the understated coutureness of Giorgio Armani, who supplied most of the costumes. This film looked AMAZINGLY good, and good design made the cinematography look good too. I feel that the older I get the more observant I am of these design details and after really diving into photography seriously the past 3-4 years, I’ve really started to pick up more things on the cinematography side as well. (That and I guess working with amazing cinematographers day in day out helps too).

I’ve spent a lot of the weekend watching Youtube videos of photography strobe setups so I went in to The Counselor with particular focus on catchlights and lighting setups and in turn I probably had more fun watching that side of the film than the actual film. And it’s great to be able to analyse real cinematography, as opposed to setups on a greenscreen which is VFXed to the max in post.

Anyway whilst we ponder the controversial question of whether greenscreen cinematography is legit… I recently upgraded to the Canon 5D MKIII from my Canon 60D. Going full frame was something that I wanted to do for ages, ever since I got my first DSLR, the Canon 40D back in April 2009 but it was always a question of money and whether I really needed one. I mean is it actually worth 4 times the price of a 60D? Probably not but at least my subconscious will now stop nagging my brain for full frame now. And I won’t be able to blame any photography mishaps on an inferior body.

So still, fresh thoughts of cinema in mind, I had a little time to experiment with my new camera today. Sadly there’s not much fresh food around the house this week (yup it’s been that lazy), so I ventured into the backyard and picked out a few odds and ends. I used the Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro, Canon 85mm F1.8 & the Sigma 50mm F1.4 to see how each worked with the new camera. It’s interesting getting used to that extra 0.625 sensor area. And the low noise on the 5D is amazing. It was an incredibly cloudy, rainy day in Sydney today, and I took these photos at about 5pm, so not a lot of light, but even at ISO 3200, you can see there’s very little noise in my setup of The Counselor inspired nihilistic bouquet…

Still Life Bouquet Vase
Still Life Bouquet Vase
Still Life Bouquet Vase
Still Life Bouquet Vase