How do you successfully post a collection of images which are essentially B-Sides? Do I have the audacity to upload a wall, an assault, of decent photos which were never good enough for a book?

I never raved about it too much here, but I once or twice mentioned my Kickstarter project to print a self-published book Holiday Notes – a travel book and purely personal exercise. It reached its goal, it was printed, 98% of the books have been sold, and Broadsheet even wrote a nice thing. That’s first world success.

The opportunity to print was terrifying phenomenal, however my arrogant large-photos-are-essential! book design allowed space for very little photos per venue. What to do with all the off cuts, that aren’t even that terrible, they just didn’t suit this particular format? Throw them here. This disregards the entire purpose of the book, a tangible collection, but today I am a hypocrite and I just bloody love sharing content.

The below is linear, with omissions – basically these are the photos that made me upset to cut from the book. I hope they still make sense as some sort of photo essay around Hong Kong, Europe and Tokyo. And if you’re after more food photos and recommendations… buy the book.

Hong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongHong KongLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonLondonBrusselsBrusselsBrusselsBrusselsBrusselsBrusselsBrusselsBrusselsBrusselsAmsterdamAmsterdamAmsterdamAmsterdamAmsterdamAmsterdamAmsterdamAmsterdamManarolaManarolaManarolaManarolaManarolaManarolaManarolaManarolaManarolaManarolaMadridMadridMadridMadridMadridMadridMadridMadridMadridCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenCopenhagenTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyoTokyo

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Somewhat wiser and much less self-conscious I’m returning to my earnest roots by posting about something I made today. These are Nigella’s Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies, sans chocolate chips simply because I didn’t have any, baked with Pepe Saya butter, spread with Mike McEnearney’s Kitchen by Mike blackberry jam I’ve had stashed away and served on this stunning hand thrown Chuchu bowl.

They’re comically large – with all my self-restraint and modesty I’ve sandwiched the jam by breaking one cookie in half. If you happen to accidentally overcook them a retro Plan B of a side of milk will be your saving grace.

Without the generous chocolate chips in Nigella’s original recipe these cookies won’t save the world (they require an accompaniment, hence the tart jam, and I am not the sort of blogger to advertise anything as “the best cookies you’ll ever bake!!!“) but they’re a simple pleasure amongst this #EastCoastLow Sydney storm. I haven’t left the house all day.

Cookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and JamCookies and Jam

Part soda factory, part bar, PS40 is one of Sydney’s most remarkable bar openings – a beautiful space punctuated with so much colour. Very #grateful for the opportunity to shoot it! Thank you Livia Lima, Thor Bergquist and Michael Chiem for having me.

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Cadbury Creme Egg and avocado toast

Hey guys! Just a quick little update here. With every blogger publishing their utterly original Easter recipes clamouring for Buzzfeed list fame, and after missing out on World Nutella Day earlier last month, I couldn’t stand not posting something of my own! Here’s a wonderful Easter themed brunch recipe to entertain both friends and family on a leisurely Easter Monday morning – Cadbury Creme Egg™ and avocado toast. The internet lives for yolkporn! And the internet lives for recipes involving the Cadbury Creme Egg™. Everybody posts them. Everybody loves Cadbury Creme Eggs™. Cadbury Creme Egg™ brownies, Cadbury Creme Egg™ cupcakes, Cadbury Creme Egg™ cookies, Cadbury Creme Egg™ ice cream, Cadbury Creme Egg™ martinis, Cadbury Creme Egg™ dip, Cadbury Creme Egg™ brioche soldiers. Put the egg on anything, everything. All hail the Mighty Egg. Like a soft yolk moments before oozing and cascading down the brittle crust of artisan bread, I wanna feel the warm embrace of Egg. It’s smashed avo with a holiday twist!!

Cadbury Creme Egg and avocado toastCadbury Creme Egg and avocado toastCadbury Creme Egg and avocado toastCadbury Creme Egg and avocado toastCadbury Creme Egg and avocado toastCadbury Creme Egg and avocado toast

Cadbury Creme Egg™ and Avocado Toast
Rye bread
2 avocados
8 Cadbury Creme Eggs™
Handful of chives, chopped
2 lemons
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

1. Slice four thick slices of rye bread and pop them in the toaster.
2. Cut avocados in half, peel the skin, remove their seeds and slice thinly on the diagonal. Fan them out and divide amongst the bread.
3. Slice Cadbury Creme Eggs™ in half lengthways and nestle four halves per piece of bread in the avocado. To generate #yolkporn, pop them in the microwave for a few seconds!
4. Squeeze over quarter of a lemon lemon, sprinkle over chives, grind course salt and pepper as the final adornment and enjoy!

Cadbury Creme Egg and avocado toast


I’ve spent a long time attempting to write about my experience at Noma – paragraphs of anecdotes and waffling about complex cooking of foraged leaves, essays concerning unruly restaurant expectations of people with TripAdvisor accounts – but I’m struggling. I need to be more succinct lest I sound like a drooling fan.

I could tell you about the new friends I made from Singapore out the front as we aided each other in selfie-by-proxies at the famous restaurant’s front door, I could wax lyrical of its unexpected location, an area undergoing intensive redevelopment, or perhaps mention the intimidation which poured over me as I approached the façade I had seen in so many photos before.

We were the first to walk into the restaurant, and – “hello! Welcome to Noma!”, greeted 30 or so waitstaff and chefs in waves of humility. I was stunned. The bants of the waitstaff are so strong, as are the chefs’ as they introduced the food after introducing themselves, asking how long we were staying in Copenhagen for and about our hometown (“did you pick we were Australian from our horrible accents?”, “well yes, but I also saw the country code of your phone number of your booking”).

The dishes continued to arrive – immaculate, curated nature – they graced the table, not with any flourish, but with a casual cool composure, and I gazed toward this mysterious food, then gazed out the window to a half-constructed bridge toward Nyhavn, then gazed back to my transcendent bowl, and sighed, not a resigned sigh, but an expression of appreciation and wonderment – sedated by an unescorted grilled onion served with a single wooden spoon, and like Kanye West feeling on a typeface, I’d never felt emotions like this.

Black garlic was pressed and shaped into gorgeous flowers, an entire wild duck, shot only the day before, is served whole, then trimmed and returned to the table beside berries and greens soaked in vinegar for one year. An amalgam of esteem, humility, and flavours as stunning as new colours don’t exist anywhere else but here. Bold and kind: that’s Noma.

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Dishes pictured: Apples and lemon thyme, Øland wheat and rapeseed oil, cabbage leaves and white currants, grilled onion, grilled baby corn with cured egg yolk, new Danish potatoes and artichoke, sliced raw squid and kelp, monkfish liver, pumpkin, beechnuts and barley, vegetables flower, roasted wild duck, a dessert of Gammel Dansk and hazelnut oil, forest flavours with chocolate and egg liqueur.

The above is an excerpt (with additional photos) from my book Holiday Notes which is available to purchase here.

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Taking photos is more than pressing a button on a machine. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I disagree with this sentiment, however there’s certainly an element of problem solving that goes hand in hand with the responsibility of making things look nice. For example: providing images of a restaurant when the restaurant doesn’t exist yet. Aside from the obvious interiors, all of the food, drink, ingredient and people photos below were taken along a wharf on a sunny Sydney day while Salaryman was still under construction. “We want them to look dark and gritty”. “Sure, no problem *tugs collar*“. Not pictured: obnoxious seagull knocking over one of the delicate ramen bowls.

Warning for the sensitive: pig carcass below.

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The time has finally come this year to pack away the smarminess and speak with a thread of earnestness.

Throughout September and October I embarked on a little holiday across Hong Kong, Europe and Japan. Naturally my camera accompanied me and as a result I treated the trip somewhat as work, for better or for worse. I took a lot of photos in eight different cities (Sheung Wan, London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cinque Terre, Madrid, Copenhagen, Tokyo).

Instead of posting them on Facebook, or making a 10-part blog post, I designed a 290 page book – and in true Gen Y-ish style I’m turning to Kickstarter for help!

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Holiday Notes: Notes From a Holiday is a chronological book: part photo album, part eclectic travel guide, part blog post, part journal. It’s 290 pages of big photography with notes, captions, and the odd essay – a fun one-off publication for those who enjoy food and travel which doesn’t take itself too seriously. These are concise “reviews” (spoiler: I liked everything (almost)) and photo essays of over 70 things I ate and places I visited, with writing ranging from a couple of sentences to a few paragraphs. It’s for people who prefer photo after photo rather than walls and walls of text. From drunk food to fine food, from coffee bars to beer bars, I believe a nice cross-section has been covered. You won’t find the meaning of life here, it won’t provide enlightenment or eternal wisdom, but you will be able to track down the best panna cotta in Manarola. Yes, these are some cities from only one person’s perspective, but this is my point of difference. It’s the personal touch of exalting a neighbourhood restaurant on the other side of the world for offering traditional street food I’d never seen anywhere outside of family meals, how some rotisserie chicken made me feel complete again, or how I lost my shit at the famed Noma in Copenhagen. Needless to say it’s food heavy.

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If you’d like to pledge/pre-order a copy of this book, please visit the Kickstarter page where you’ll find far more information concerning this big fat vanity project. I shoot for restaurants and city guides, I write smarmy things here, so making something of my own seemed like a natural progression – self-publishing as a challenging personal project. If I don’t make my goal it will be a shame, but I’m proud of myself nonetheless for seeing a project through from start to finish.

Regardless, I would be really thankful if you had a spare minute to take a look. Thank you so much!!

holidaynotes-kickstarter

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“Here’s something a little bit Cheesy for Father’s Day”, quoth the internet. Pizza Hut, I’m so tired of taking photos of you.

It’s Fathers Day in Australia and I’ve just returned after a lovely breakfast at my family home. My dad is a good man, his work ethic and hobbyist camera wielding probably have something to do with where I am today (admittedly lying on the floor beside a half chewed pizza), so I cannot help but take offence when comparisons are drawn between him and these Chillidog and Cheesydog Hotdog Stuffed Crust Pizza creations via Pizza Hut’s Facebook page via a Sponsored Post. It’s another postmodern copycat wank, this time taking inspiration from KFC’s Aussies like it HOT!! mentality.

I’d post sentiments accompanied by a retro 80s photo of my dad on instagram which I know he’ll never see over ordering some more first-world slop anyday; but as usual The Blog Life wins and I reluctantly supply my credit card number for home delivery by way of beating my head against the keyboard as I contemplate which emojis represent my father best (camera, soccer ball, dog, smiley face).

When I open the pizza box I am not greeted with luscious waves of gaudy mustard and ketchup as advertised, instead lies a dank pizza with a couple of sauce sachets on the side. Nothing particularly offensive to look at, no vortex to hell, no means to perform a seance around later on. I prise each bloated crust open like a blooming meaty flower and behold the putrid symmetry before me. I’ll sum up the flavour in three words: needs more dog. I’ve never experienced mystery meat quite as mysterious as this. Please don’t try this at home. Or anywhere.

I take photos of this pizza on the very wrapping paper I nestled my gift for my dad in today: my caring, thoughtful, gift, now tainted with the most manchildish of all food. You know when people fall to their knees and weep? In this case you would fall to your knees and shit your pants. Like a baby. A big, stupid baby. This pizza is the equivalent of a mancave. This pizza is the pizza equivalent of shopping for undies on Target’s online store with the search option set to Sort by: Price Low-High. This pizza is the equivalent of a restaurant argument about splitting the bill because somebody in your party ordered an extra Coke. No, not a Coke, something more juvenile; like Mountain Dew, a Pepsi, or creaming soda. In some form of sick metamorphosis the addition of this grotesque pizza has instantly mutated my home into the fabled mancave. The collection of craft beers that hang from the shelves are transformed into tinnies and Crownies and all sense of responsibility for my family dissipates as I enter an hotdog-induced utopia of fake wood, topless waitresses and poorly prepared nachos. Warney is a deadset legend. I’m commissioning a mural with a topless Angelina Jolie. I… I… I’m purchasing a pool table from eBay, a bar fridge, and a neon sign which reads “It’s 5:00 somewhere“. No chickflicks allowed. The toilet seat stays up. MY CAVE, MY RULES.

The Pizza Hut Chilldog Hotdog Stuffed Crust Pizza is 35 years old and still wears Homer Simpson boxer shorts to bed. How coincidental I seem to be left with a pile of limp dicks sprawled on the floor.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

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Extreme milkshakes. The well-garnished milky beverage game of Sydney has reached peaked virality. Donuts perched upon mason jars, Kit-Kats wedged like an unholy crucifix: doused in chocolate sauce knotted with lashings of whipped cream, a striped straw puncturing everything in its path, impaling every adornment. Heavy handled jars of flavoured milk are spewing from so many cafes in pure copycat style, each establishment attempting to outdo the last, to outplay the originals who rightly hold the claim to fame. Freddo Frogs drowning in salted caramel milk, achingly slow, their faces submerged with that deranged smile like something out of a horror film, ganache is oozing from its enormous lip, pretzels, M&Ms and 100′s and 1000′s tacked on just for show. And the Oreos, my god the Oreos, they’re everywhere, and everyone’s got one, and everyone’s holding one of these extreme milkshakes, gnashing at food for the sake of social media, exchanging calories for notifications, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning and everybody’s drinking them to avoid the hour long lines from the brunching hour onwards to attain the Thing. The cult. The cult of Extreme Milkshakes. It’s here and we’re all trapped in a vortex of milk and Nutella and garnishes the moment we open Instagram.

But, if you can’t beat them, join them. Here are three flavours of my own: S’Mores Chicken, Bacon Burger and Coles Baked Fresh Today Bakery Aisle. Be inspired. Eat marshmallows and chicken. Milkshake flavours are irrelevant now, the duty falls upon whatever lies on top. May God have mercy on us all.

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#tbt to 2009. I was sprawled before the television on the share house futon, my housemate’s Minneapolas-born girlfriend sprawled on the share house floor, when an Old El Paso commercial aired. “Por que no los dos?” the little girl announced, and everybody cheered, and I stared blankly into the abyss of repetitive advertising, yet my housemate’s American girlfriend stiffened, slack jawed, lost for words, and after a few moments finally uttered “that’s… so racist”.

Like Eve to the tree of knowledge I lunged for the proverbial leaf to hide my shame. “I, uhh… oh yeah. Wow. Jeez.”

Fast forward to last night: an obnoxious version of myself was particularly pleased after an evening of indulgent $23 ironically named cocktails, designer soft serve ice cream and one of Sydney’s Best Burgers. Not one for existing with wind in the sails a deep part of me insisted I detour past a local belt of popular fast-food chains to return to the hideous grease trap from which I was so tragically spawned. My ego required deflating after the holy trinity of white people delights and I was lured into KFC for one final Saturday Night indignity.

From limited research I understand the KFC Zinger™ Taco was “created” to cater to those Aussies who enjoy their food a little spicier“we’ve taken a classic taco and given it a KFC twist for Zinger™-loving Aussies”. A Zinger™ chicken fillet is bestowed atop “salsa sauce”, tomato and lettuce, encased in a hard shell taco and a layer of “super-charged sauce” to glue a soft tortilla on the outer. Tsk tsk tsk, no no no. And this has nothing to do with my pet-hate regarding the redundant “sauce” suffix, i.e. “tzatziki sauce” a la Pete Evans circa My Kitchen Rules 2014.

Please allow me to dissect the beast as frankly as possible:
The soft outer tortilla is brittle in a number of places.
The super-charged sauce glue is a vinegar bomb.
The taco shell, a Stand ‘n Stuff Old El Paso taco (hahahah A STAND ‘N STUFF TACO), is chewy and stale.
The salsa sauce is taken straight from the Doritos jar (to their credit it’s at least a little spicy).
The Zinger™ fillet has no chilli.
The salad is minimal.
In a soggy nutshell: many mouthfuls of mediocrity.

Do you think the indigenous civilisations of Mexico, one of the first cultures in history to develop an independent writing system, carved KFC ZINGER™ TACO in eternal stone for all to behold for centuries to come? Emblazoned with the comical flames spouting from Zinger™ and all?? It isn’t advertised however there is conclusive evidence to suggest Old El Paso has a grubby hand in this. The double. That Stand ‘N Stuff Taco. I simply cannot get over it.

The entire concoction reeks of KFC desperately clawing for relevance (again), carting out a mediocre product, leaping for that junk-food-fusion-mash-up bandwagon but instead of soaring like the majestic corporate pigs of do-no-wrong McDonald’s or everything-is-fucked Pizza Hut they miss by as many meters as there are calories in a Zinger™ Tower Burger and fall face first into the dirt with no theatre, no majesty, no lols. Old El Paso is synonymous with families who gloat about having home cinemas installed in their unnecessarily massive homes who ride their high horse of modern sensibilities anyway, literally the worst of the worst street food offerings to date. “Isn’t it so wonderful we can eat ethnic foods in this country?” they coo, chomping on chewy Zinger™ Tacos. But you already knew that. Toss the moist towelette wrapper into the ring like a used condom and call it a day.

Empty out its contents and hold this taco to your ear like a seashell: I guarantee you can hear the sweet Old El Paso girl sobbing all the way from cardboard-stage-Mexico. Stop the boats. Stop the godamn Soft Taco Tortilla Boats before KFC get their hands on them as well.

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