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Flaounes Day

Assembly line like old times, construction like ravioli, kinda. Cheese, sultanas and two types of dough by experienced hands, the sort of hands who’ve seen more than I ever will in this lifetime, a crown of sesame seeds. These are flaounes, a traditional Cypriot bread prepared every Easter. A tablecloth is drawn over a temporary trundle where the accumulation begins.

Lunch follows: barbecued things over coals, haloumi, olives pickled by papou, melitzanes glyko steeped by yiayia. These are the things you won’t find in any restaurant, only the homes of incredible immigrants. These small acts of tradition flown and sailed over seas are what make Australia so good.

You can’t undo years of taking your culture for granted, but there’s no time like the present to show appreciation.

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It seems every 1.5 years I visit Melbourne and write about Melbourne – it’s so great, I’m so sad, life is pain. My life is garbage, Melbourne is good. My emotions are incorrect, my skills are subpar, and Melbourne is good. I’m trapped in a cage and Melbourne is good. Here’s Exhibit A and Exhibit B. But 1.5 years is a significant amount of time to grow and has evaporated most of those feelings of Melbourne existing as a hypothetical space of what I could have been.

So my guide to enjoying Melbourne in 2016 is simple: Melbourne is so nice, but this time the grass is greener on my side.

Good places to eat and be: QT Hotel Melbourne, Higher Ground, Biggie Smalls, Bad Frankie, Top Paddock, Tivoli Road Bakery, Stagger Lee’s, Brighton Beach, Marion Wine, Lune Croissanterie, Four Pillars Distillery, Beechworth Bakery, Yarra Valley Dairy, Manchester Press.

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Some new poised work on marble (!!) for the excellent Bouche on Bridge and The Cellar here in Sydney.

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Today: two good meringues, rose-scented creme anglaise made with the remaining pair of yolks, a flourish of leftover pomegranate and some garden mint. Thank you, eggs, for the rando afternoon pavlova.

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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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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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I met Elise and Scott through Kate, a uni friend, on the internet. Facebook-chat heavy story short I learned of their emerging food business, Grumpy Donuts, and a few weeks later they visited to meet IRL to take some photos of their enormously spectacular donut range. My modest dwelling was heaving with good stuff that day – boxes and boxes of the freshest donuts adorned by relevant and perfectly executed toppings created with fine, thoughtfully sourced ingredients. Even their dough recipe is enough to make a grown adult weep.

Straight up these are the greatest donuts that have ever been bestowed upon me and the good news is they are now taking orders for deliveries to select Sydney areas! Please visit their website grumpydonuts.com to view their perfect, perfect flavour list and to order, alternatively visit them on instagram at @grumpydonuts for instant visual stimulus worthy of popping many a food boner. Grumpy Donuts are destined to be huge so you’ll be glad you got on these guys early – I hear they’ll be stocked in cafes across the city shortly.

Small business is where it’s at. Support local! Am I gushing too much? Just buy the donuts. Especially the maple bacon bar.

Thank you Kate for retouching the bacon in the below images.

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In an attempt to lift and salvage this “blog” from its near parody state here is some recent work from Flying Fish and Little Fish in Pyrmont, Sydney – a few offerings from their Summer gin bar and new Autumn menu by the incredible team. If you can’t tell I’m also attempting to reduce the file size of my images for the sake of website health, so gross, but here we are. Transeasonal and optimised for web without a hint of irony.

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