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.
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.
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.
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.
I often wonder what life would be like if I moved to Melbourne. I suppose it would be the same business as in Sydney: instead of burgers bespoke doughnuts are the trend de jour and instead of Sydney Festival’s Higher Ground a plethora of locals are taking selfies on Carsten Höller’s Golden Mirror Carousel at the NGV. “Why won’t these people just live in the moment?!” I scream interally, as I snapchat every single friend the specifics of my hotel room and instagram the magnificent pool, a smattering of self-indulgence and hypocrisy spilling out of me.
Only an hour after arriving, a proposed detox from my usual routine, I exploded into stress personified at a South Melbourne cafe – shaking hands, unfathomably restless legs, all the trimmings – and why? Because I was seated at the bar, facing a wall, beneath an orange light, which we all know to be instagram suicide. Since when did life get so hard? And why did I find a bone in this sea bream sashimi? Why won’t that restaurant I like take reservations for dinner and where the hell is my lobster roll? I can’t download Tram Tracker because my iPhone storage is full. Oh My God.
Every morning it’s the same mild existential crisis, but today I’m alive in a different state, the promised land for the creative, yet somehow my mind isn’t soothed.
I’m not working yet I’ll take a camera and point it at literally everything out of habit, expecting each frame to appear in the viewfinder as a Frankie-worthy piece of art, instead it’s all meaningless symmetry, just like at home, a weird reminder of my first-world job I can’t seem to switch off from. The white sky mirrors my blandness, I’m taking photos of some nice looking succulents on the street for some reason.
I often wonder what life would be like if I moved to Melbourne, I’ll open a successful pop-up exploiting the street food of my ancestors, my photography and copywriting skills will be put to excellent use, online press will talk about me until I’m the latest trend and my UrbanSpoon percentage will plummet due to everyone’s unfairly high expectations. But it’s ok, because the streets are wide and the taxis are comically yellow. Haha, so cute. But realistically, instead of visiting neat small bars and wholesome eateries with kind friends I’d most likely mimic my Sydney self, at my worst falling into a comfortable and unfortunate routine of staring into the eternal splash screen of Menulog.com.au, wondering how I came to reach my lowest common denominator self once again, but at least this time there will be a different view outside of my window.
Places of (food) interest: The Kettle Black, Supernormal, New Gold Mountain, Kokoro, Om Nom, Pop Up Scroll, Grand Trailer Park Taverna, Two Row
A great job involving a road trip down the coast of Australia fell through last minute this week so instead of sitting at home disappointed I decided to embark on the first leg I had planned out anyway. Although bovine dense topography is abundant there are plenty of gems to be uncovered in NSW’s small coastal towns – however things close early and don’t always trade everyday (which I learnt the hard way), google might be your best friend when planning a drive a few hours south. This post only skims the surface.
The first stop, excluding a perverse intermission at a Gerringong lookout, is to Berry to visit the relentlessly instagrammed Famous Berry Doughnut Van. Entering venues with zero expectations is my default setting yet somehow this van in shining armour was everything I had hoped for and more. The warm pillowy fried-to-order donuts laced with cinnamon sugar were the epitome of what I loved about growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, the alluring scent of Donut King in a local Westfield is one of my earliest and fondest memories – except these were tremendously better with no Quake Shake in sight. The humble cinnamon donut has finally been elevated to what it should be. Mangos, cherries and plums being were sold by the box across the short fence next door.
Back into the car and after fields and paddocks of cows and corn I arrive at Greenwell Point, home of possibly Australia’s most awesome mate, Jim of Jim Wild’s Oyster Service, discovered via Sophie. I could dedicate an entire post to his operation: loud shirt, huge mo’ and shucking oysters to order by the dozen from his teal shack, insisting I take a photo with him, not of him. Order a plate and take a seat by the Crookhaven River with a view of the serene oyster farms. The area is incredible, the bone dry ruins of shellfish of the past lying in shackling buckets amongst faded machinery and creaky palettes. Turn left at the Greens Road fork to find him.
After some more cow spotting my next destination is HopDog Beerworks. At their brewery and cellar door you can enjoy a chalice of their latest and freshest offerings amongst fermenters and barrel-ageing brews. The brewers are more than happy to provide live tasting notes, their paddle a very reasonable $9.
I drive toward Sydney via Berry again and visit Milkwood Bakery, the busiest cafe on the street, their shelves dotted with sourdough and quaint cakes. I grab a watermelon juice after feeling particularly, ah, “dehydrated” from my HopDog experience and head to The Berry Bottle Shop / Justin Lill Wines, a store heaving with tipples and highly rated rare beers, both international and local. Another purchase, another Queen Street stroll and sadly things are closing shop – a nearby deli denies the privilege of a sandwich for the day but Milkwood is on the way to the car and I find solace in a lamington to share, soft and generous with chocolate. I spy a traditional takeaway flaunting “GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS” amongst the usual Coca-Cola paraphernalia – a sad sign of the times. The drive home turns wet and I park at Bombo Beach for a break, watching surfers amongst a bleak horizon, my shoes becoming matted with damp sand as I awkwardly clomp by the water.
Getting peckish I detour to Bulli for a beachside burger but unfortunately, again, the “grills have been switched off” at only 5:30, another early closer in the area. Undeterred and by the power of the internet I lay internet eyes upon Bergie’s Fish Cafe in Thirroul (who knew UrbanSpoon would be useful for something?), a venue divided: a casual restaurant and takeaway, the former being closed for Valentines Day only reservations. Two burgers and some fantastic chips are ordered instead and are enjoyed amongst the facade of the takeaway area, barely avoiding the rain. The “gourmet” flour dusted bun reminds me of a simpler time before the Great Sydney Burger Wars of 2014-present.
Driving across the Sea Cliff Bridge is an undeniably breathtaking route back to Sydney, boasting one of the widest views of the edge of the country in NSW, but good luck trying to take photos from a fast moving car. In fact ditch the camera entirely and enjoy the day, embracing it with your eyes and everything, not through a lousy lens. Do as I say, not as I do.
Good things happen when @australia invites the world’s biggest chefs and food influencers to a behemoth of a party.
An elaborate pop-up market graces a Tasmanian pier to showcase anything and everything Australia does so well – butter, venison, barra, raw milk cheese, mangos and wine. Salami is paraded and wattleseed crackers are celebrated. The MasterChef crew make a fashionably late appearance and some people beside me are losing their minds for a photo op with the holy trinity of judges.
Later that evening a coast-to-coast progressive evening begins with guests being ferried across the island. There’s lobster with kombu butter, green lipped abalone and enormous whole marron making the rounds as the sun sets amongst a dizzying smokey haze. The oysters are so good they taste exactly like the sea, if the sea was in heaven, and the wind is so chilly but nobody seems to mind because blankets and music and fire are abundant and plentiful. People are tumbling over one another at the pass of the make-shift outdoor kitchen for a glance of what’s to come, skewers and big cameras at the ready.
A stunning venue is sought out for the main meal, a culinary inappropriate one at that, but who cares – a custom dining table has been commissioned, a work of art in itself, to seat hundreds within the walls of MONA to enjoy a three-dish menu curated by Neil Perry, Peter Gilmore and Ben Shewry.
Afterwards dessert is served downstairs in nests in the trees and there’s cheese flowing and whisky flowing and really everybody is having the best time. There’s a lady dressed up as fairy floss singing opera in a bathtub of fairy floss. And I’ll agree my descriptive prose sounds like nothing more than a huge wank, but trying explain this sensory overload in words is like desperately trying to eat ice cream that’s melting through my fingers… it’s difficult and awkward, and makes me look stupid regardless of determination and real feels™.
But before all of this even happened, the nice people organising this mammoth occasion go and choose me – to report from the ground with my camera, a nobody being surrounded by the biggest somebodies in the business. Thanks a million, Australia, for the tremendous experience I’ll forever be grateful for – and while it’s usually uncouth to post event photos here I’m sure you’ll agree this is an experience worth plastering all over my corner of the internet. No words, just pictures. If you’re into gratuitous photos of lobsters, please keep scrolling.
Every once and again I like to throw up a slew of images taken for my favourite publication, just like a big old image dump. But instead of simply uploading many JPGs I maticulously scroll through Lightroom catalogues and endure the 5 stage process of “I suck! This is good! Why am I doing this! Gosh I’m hungry. No wait, these photos are alright!“.
It’s been a year since I’ve posted Broadsheet images here and of course in an 80s sitcom coda of a life lesson, I’ve realised that, like many, I’ve found myself more interested in the people (and processes) that make the food than the food itself (I acquired a wider lens and ended up with a wider scope on my brain). If you take a look at Lately on Broadsheet and Lately on Broadsheet II you might see what I mean. Less plates, more faces. All venues pictured are listed at the end! Let’s get retrospective.
With thanks to these guys for letting me shoot your lovely venues: Efendy, Love Dem Apples, Bonarche Burgers, Single Origin Roasters, Alfio’s, Breadfern Redfern, Studio Neon, John Montagu, Batch Brewing, Rising Sun Workshop, Stanley Street Merchants, Lucky Pickle, Black Star Pastry, Lentil as Anything, Pre-Loved Roots, Brewtown Newtown, Sadhana Kitchen, Zeus, China Diner, Local Harvest Collective, Real Food Market, Short Black Panther, Moon Park, Ms. G’s, Hartsyard, Cornersmith Picklery, Da Orazio, Flying Fish, Cafe 86, Brighton the Corner, Pepe Saya, The Grumpy Barista, The Potting Shed, Indian Groceries, Spices and Sweets, Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, The Wild Rover, Chip Off the Old Block, Sweet Belem, Bill’s, Pasticceria Papa, Oxford Tavern, Bloodwood, Mary’s, Ruby’s Diner, Kingston Public, Bistro Papillon, Kurtosh, Cookies + Milk, Scout’s Honour, Sticky Chai, Patchett’s Pies, Yellow, Oldtown Hong Kong, Daisy’s Milkbar, Handcraft Specialty Coffee, 212 Blu, Ill Hill, Dear Delicious, Kitchen by Mike, House of Crabs, Ko and Co.
An inherently bad thing about the posting of #clientwork on this #sydneyfoodblog is that I have no means to ride in on my humble-high-horse spraying snarky and/or self-loathing anecdotes, lest I seem unprofessional. “This minestrone soup was inspired by a voyage of self discovery”, or, “be sure to add a pinch of cinnamon to this ice cream recipe; a little hint of spice alludes to all of my sadness, oh my.”
Instead, all I can offer is my repetitive notion of progress, and all that. A few months ago I was asked to take some photos for The Rocks as part of their new branding surrounding Aroma Festival (a celebration of everything coffee and chocolate) and a few other events. A select few ended up on a billboard and flying on flags across Sydney’s CBD, an obnoxious yet temporary reminder that hard work always, always pays off. Looks like all of those coffee pour photos were good for something. Living the IRL life is the IRL dream.
Anyway, started form the bloggosphere now we here. Art direction by Ed Hall at Interbrand – I’m very grateful to be part of this amazing project.