31 January 2013

Eat Me. Dishes Midtown East, NYC

On a particularly chilly day in NYC I was bustling around Midtown East and after hitting up the 5th avenue departments stores I had worked up quite an appetite. I shuffled over to a corner and secretly whipped out my Lonely Planet guide (after all no one wants to be caught looking like a tourist) to see what was around the area to eat. First thing I see: Dishes, 4 stars, an upmarket cafeteria offering salads, soups, sandwiches and hot dishes; sounded pretty good to me.

Catering to the work-hard, eat-fast midtown crowd, this bustling lunch spot was as slick and polished as you’d expect. Quirky lime accents brighten a sleek white and stainless steel interior and aside from the high ceilings the place was packed. A few tables surround the entrance, and there’s a small dining area in back, but most of the space is given over to a vast state-of-the-art steam table and stations for every lunch staple imaginable. Apparently Condé Nast workers frequent the place so I felt I was in good, if not extremely fashionable, company for lunch.

As I roamed around the mountainous offerings of food I saw at least 20 different types of salad, noodles dishes, soups, sandwiches and even some comfort food like crispy chicken and mac n’ cheese. Who knew magazine waifs could even stand to be in the same room as this calorie loaded food; my guess is they were there for the salads. I picked up a takeaway container and started to fill up. I had some sesame tahini noodles, organic devilled egg salad, Chinese noodles, grilled salmon and quinoa salad. It all looked so amazing I just had a try a bit of everything and here was my rookie mistake… There were two takeaway container sizes which I figured had set prices so I filled mine to the brim thinking I could snack on the leftovers later, after all, pounding the Manhattan pavements does work up quite an appetite. It wasn’t until I reached the counter I saw the set of scales – you pay by weight. Whoops, by then it was too late to turn back so $15 later I had an amazing lunch which considering the prices here in Australia I still thought it was a bargain and so delicious!

I would definitely recommend stopping here if you ever find your feet weary and you’re your stomach growling after spending a few too many $$’s in Henri Bendel. You can browse Dishes' full menu here. 4/5.

Where: 6 E 45th Street, Midtown East, NYC
Bookings: not necessary
Phone: (212) 687-5511

Dishes on Urbanspoon

29 January 2013

One Day. Damn Oswald.

We’ve been through all kinds of weather here in Queensland over the last week all thanks to a cranky fella named Oswald; Cyclone Oswald. Things went awry up north earlier in the week and Mr Oswald made his presence known here over the weekend, the Australia Day long weekend mind you. Saturday was a washout with plenty of sad faces as picnics, BBQs and backyard cricket matches were cancelled across the state. I figured I could eat my snags and swing a bat on Sunday until I discovered things were about to get a lot worse…

Sunday rolled around with wind and rain which steadily grew worse. I was busy getting ready for Mum’s birthday afternoon (delicious cake recipe up soon) so was not all that concerned with the weather but when I looked up from my icing I figured the Mayans must have got the date wrong: wild winds beyond anything I’ve ever heard before, black skies and pouring rain, surely this must be what the end of the world looks like?

It only got worse from there. Once the party was over, as the sun set it was time to get to work, protecting rescuing the outdoor furniture which was much harder than it first seemed… After much tugging and wrestling, finally our furniture-cover was battened down over the outdoor lounge suite, everything was tucked into corners and little items were brought inside so as they didn’t grow jet-packs and turn into speeding missiles courtesy of the cyclonic winds. Time for a cuppa and curl up and watch the weather right? Wrong. For the rest of the evening, 15minutes of every hour was spent crash-tackling the furniture to stop it from running away along the deck, whilst being thrashed by 150km/h winds and drenched by Oswald’s never ending rain. If it wasn’t so frustrating it would have been hilarious.

At 1am it was time for an uneasy sleep with every gush of wind promising to shatter the windows. By 1.30am I was just closing my eyes when ‘whoosh’ – sounds like the furniture cover is making a break for it. So, up again, out the back for more wrestling only this time the power goes out.
Note: furniture-wrestling in the dark is even trickier, they should consider this for a new Olympic sport.

I finally fell asleep sometime around 4am and woke to much the same weather but the power was on thank goodness.

You think the story ends here don’t you? Just you wait…

At lunchtime I was just settling down to pass the time with some MarioKart when the power went off again. It did not return for nearly 10hours. In that time there was panic over the things in the fridge, manual garage door heaving, scrabble by candlelight, many stubbed toes and a couch nearly set alight (how ironic to have your house burn down during a cyclone). Hurray for 10pm when the power returned, but not so quick, the excitement isn’t over yet… 10minutes later there were several large groans, a pop and a ominous sounding thunk from the kitchen, followed by some foul smelling smoke – the fridge had finally given up the ghost (it was nearing it’s 30th birthday). This delightful little event caused the power to short-circuit (I know, I’ve got to be kidding right?).

Sometime in the early hours of the morning, after several trips to the electricity box and the spare fridge was wrestled from the garage to the kitchen by two weaklings, I fell into bed. Ironically this morning I woke up to blue skies and 30-degree heat, of course the lovely weather appears just as we all head back to work.

So thanks for a great weekend Oswald – I missed the nation’s celebrations, my toes hurt, my backyard is a swimming pool, I’m severely sleep-deprived and my arms feel like I’ve been in training to be a professional weightlifter.

Photos by Krissie. 

25 January 2013

Must Have. Bounkit Earrings

This Moroccan designer draws his inspiration from his Mediterranean birthplace whilst blending in his strong art-deco taste. The collection features a range of stunning jewels, but these three pairs of earrings are my favs. All are set in 24-carat gold, featuring green amethyst ($550), moonstone ($620) and purple amethyst ($430). And, in a testament to the era of days gone by, all the earrings are clip-ons, just as my darling grandma used to wear. The epitome of style.

Photos by Bounkit.

23 January 2013

Plate Up. Date Loaf

This date loaf is truly a must-have in your cooking repertoire. Not only is it the perfect dish for morning or afternoon tea, it’s so easy to make and tastes absolutely delicious. It is also a great little thing to have to take as a gift when invited to someone’s home, because just like my mum always says, you should never arrive empty-handed. Perfect served with tea or coffee, toasted for breakfast or even as a midnight snack. Enjoy!

What you’ll need
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
60g butter, sliced
1 cup boiling water
1¾ cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
¼ cup walnuts, chopped

What to do
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a loaf tin. Place chopped dates, sugar and sliced butter in a bowl. Pour bowling water over mixture, stirring until butter has melted completely. Add sifted flour and bicarb soda, mixing well. Add vanilla and walnuts and stir until combined. Pour into loaf tin and bake for 45 – 50 minutes.

Photos by Krissie.

21 January 2013

Eat Me. P.J. Clarkes, NYC

As a huge Gossip Girl fan, one of the things I HAD to do whilst in New York in November was visit Chuck Bass’s hotel, The Empire. I arrived at the impressive building on a Sunday night with some friends after we had been ice-skating in Central Park. We checked out the building and visited the rooftop deck under the red neon sign before stumbling into P.J Clarkes on the ground floor to warm our numb fingers and curb our huge appetites.

We were greeted by a lovely waitress who encouraged our tourist enthusiasm by telling us about Gossip Girl sightings and seating us by the window. This P.J Clarks (of which there are several around the USofA) sits on the Upper West Side by the striking Lincoln Centre (home of New York Fashion Week), drawing a vibrant mix of creative culture and locals. The fit out is classic [upper-class] pub, with red and white chequered table clothes, dark wooden floors and panelled walls, complete with pane-glass windows.

The menu provides you with a choice of pub food with a bit of a classy twist. You can choose from their raw bar, appetisers, soups, salads, hearty casseroles and pies, steaks and, of course, hamburgers. I ordered the mini cheeseburgers and fries and was not disappointed. Out came three petit-ly scrumptious burgers with a generous serving of thin (just the way I like them) fries. The buns were warm and the patties were tender and juicy, plus the burgers weren’t overflowing like so many often are, which meant you could eat it without creating a right mess.

The mini burgers were popular on my table and there were no complaints, others had the chicken pot pie and the Caesar salad. They also do sweet potato fries which were delish!

I hear their macaroni and cheese can’t be beaten so I’d love to go back and try that one next! A great place to eat, great location, yummy food and I got to pretend I was in a filming of Gossip Girl for the evening, what more could you want? 4.5/5.

Where: 44 W 63rd Street, Lincoln Square
Bookings: recommended
Phone: (212) 957-9700

P.J. Clarke's on Urbanspoon

18 January 2013

Must Have. Stella McCartney Knickers of the Week


We all used to love these when we were little; I know I had my own set of pairs complete in matching colours! So why not invest in the grown-up designer version? These light pink briefs feature floral embroidery and will make a playful addition to your underwear drawer. Plus they’ll help you keep track of your working playing week. Pretty and useful! $179.

Photo by Stella McCartney.

16 January 2013

Plate Up. Chicken Blini

Over the Christmas/New Year period I hosted and attended a lot of cocktail parties and by the end of the festive season, horror of horrors, I was running out of recipes! One particular afternoon I needed to whip something up ASAP and was wondering what I could make using ingredients already in my cupboard. Ta-da! Chicken blini to the rescue. These little morsels are so delish and once you get on a roll with cooking the blinis you’ll be a master. A perfect hors d’oeuvres for any cocktail party.

What you’ll need
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
½ cup butter milk (if you don’t have this, use regular milk with a drop of vinegar)
20g butter, melted
100g shredded chicken
1 green apple, chopped finely
1 green onion, sliced finely
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon chives

What to do
Sift flours and baking powder into a small bowl, gradually whisk in combined egg and buttermilk until mixture is smooth; stir in butter.

Cook blini in batches by dropping 2 teaspoons of batter into a heated large non-stick frying pan. Do not use oil, you shouldn’t have to since your pan is non-stick. Cook blini, flipping when bubbles rise to surface and burst on one side. Cool.

Combine chicken ingredients in a medium bowl. Place blini on a serving platter and divide chicken salad among blini.

Enjoy with your favourite cocktail.

Photos by Krissie.

14 January 2013

Style It. Golden Globes 2013 Red Carpet Best Dressed

I love awards nights, particularly for their red carpets, and this year’s Golden Globes was no exception.

As of late, many celebrities have been a little dull safe with their choices so I was so excited to see so many taking a little style-risk, which made for an exciting red carpet!

There was plenty of tomato red; worn by Hunger Games’ Jennifer Laurence, new mum Claire Danes, and frenchie chic Marion Cotilliard. There was also a lot of black, which can sometimes be a little boring, but thanks to striking silhouettes and cheeky cut-outs the gowns electrifying.

Here are my top four picks…

I’m not much of a Glee fan, but I will say Lea Michele looked stunning in her white lace gown by Elie Saab. The dress had silver sequin embellishments and a thigh-high split. Teamed with her flowing locks and deep tan, she looked stunning.

Footloose’s Julianne Hough was stunning in a bejewelled Monique Lhuillier gown. The gold studs and layers of tulle reminded me a Ferrero Rocher, dainty and decadent.

Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco went with goth glamour in her Zuhair Murad gown teamed with a dark lip. The nude dress featured soft layers of tulle with sequin embellishment and a satin waist tie. Very edgy-princess. Kaley’s inspiration was “ethereal vamp”, love it.

Sally Field looked incredible (especially for her age) in metallic slate Badgley Mischka gown. I’ve loved this design house for as long as I can remember, their style is always feminine, floaty and chic, exactly as it is here.

What do you think of these four? And who were your favourites?

(Here at pearls I'm all about the love, so I’ll leave the worst dressed up to you...)

Photos by TMZ.

One Day. Time waits for no one

I’m beginning to think there just really aren’t enough hours in the day. Even when I’m relaxing I seem to run out of time (I know, how is that even possible?).

Work days are filled with work: mornings are spent getting ready, then work work work, then home to get un-ready (if you know what I mean), cook dinner, maybe watch some tv or a movie then off to bed. Not really much time left over in there to exercise, sun-bake, clean, sort or just chill-out.

Then on the other hand, a day of holiday is never long enough either! Firstly, half the morning is gone after you wake up from an [obligatory] leisurely sleep in, by the time you’ve dressed and had breakfast it’s virtually lunchtime (or maybe’s that just me). Throw in a sunbake, some relaxing reading, a beach walk and somehow it seems to be dinner time already.

I’m not sure what can be done about my dilemma, either I need to speak to the creator of the earth about his time-tabling issues, or I need to figure out how to successfully function on less than 8 hours sleep. Don’t think the latter is going to happen so I’ll get to work on my first option and get back to you.

Photo by Reema Moudgil.

12 January 2013

Must Have. Givenchy Rouge Interdit – Liv’s Lips

Don’t be fooled by the inky colour of this lipstick. This magic lippie works with the body’s pH level to conjure a custom berry hue suited to the natural colour of your lips. The result – a transparent ‘bitten’ effect in your perfect shade.

Givenchy icon Liv Tyler was originally going to be the only recipient of this custom made lipstick, but after using it she insisted it must go into production. I’m so glad she did. It’s my next purchase at $49. Shop here or here.

Photos by Givenchy.

11 January 2013

Plate Up. Chocolate Crunch Slice

No more study means more cooking time for me! Here’s a delicious alternative to everyone’s favourite: the chocolate brownie. Same yummy taste but at least you can call this one mildly healthy because of the Vita-Brits – hello fibre content! Who am I kidding? It’s totally devilish with a small side of healthy. Enjoy!

What you’ll need
3 crushed Vita-Brits
1 cup self-raising flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup dessicated coconut
125g melted butter

1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons milk (approx)

What to do
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Combine all slice ingredients in a bowl. It should be a very dry mixture. Grease a slice tin and press mixture down firmly. Best to do this in two layers so there are no air pockets, otherwise you’re slice will crumble when cut. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make icing by combining all icing ingredients to make a spreading consistency.

Remove slice from oven and ice while hot. Leave in tin to cool before slicing.

Serves 8.

Photos by Krissie.

9 January 2013

One Day. Chat me up

He doesn't mind chatting in the pool... Long distance call to Antarctica?

After 3 years of studying in Brisbane and living on the Gold Coast I guess you could say I’m a bit of a public transport aficionado. Over my degree I have spent an estimated 690 hours on public transport - that’s 28 days of my life I won’t get back! During this time I’ve had plenty of opportunity to ponder the transport system, the people on it and their (and my own) behaviour. Needless to say, several hours each week sitting on a rock hard seat, being squished by the person next to you does not work wonders for the psyche. Which got me to thinking, why is it so awkward to have a conversation on your cell phone whilst you are on public transport? (Or am I the only one who thinks like this?)

Whenever my phone rings whilst I’m on the train I inwardly cringe and I can’t figure out why! I like talking on the phone, I enjoy chatting to family and friends but when it happens on the train I feel like I would rather stick a fork in my eyeball then to have a 5minute chat with my nearest and dearest. I’m sure that if I were actually sitting next to the person on the other end of the line I would be more than happy to discuss my weekend aloud, but on the phone, oh no, I sit there speaking in hushed, whispered tones as though I’m divulging a particularly personal secret instead of simply saying that I went to the movies Saturday night. Perhaps I’m worried my conversation will get lost in translation with any eaves-droppers. I guess I think if they heard two people talking they would follow the story but because they can only hear me, what I’m actually saying could transform into all manner of things.

For example, I say – Saturday was great, we were at it all night, my body is so sore today. Eaves-dropper translation = something sexual. Actual meaning = It was a great night spent dancing.

It seems not everyone suffers from my phone-train paranoia because there is always someone (usually with a particularly nasally voice) who loves to chat on their mobile at the top of their lungs for the entire hour trip. I have a love-hate relationship with these people: if their conversation is interesting I love the distraction, but most of the time the droning of their voice just gets damn annoying somewhere around Loganlea.

Whatever it is, I guess I don’t need to worry anymore because my degree is officially finished and I’m sworn off public transport for life. You are now free to call me [maybe].

Photo by Ucumari.

7 January 2013

Must Have. MAC Marilyn Monroe Collection

MAC brings out new beauty collections at dizzying rates. Mid 2012 there was Disney venomous villains, the latest is a collection honoring the 1950’s bombshell, Ms Monroe. The range channels the screen siren’s sexual appeal, think red lipsticks, crimson nails and false lashes. The collection also features eye shadows, blushes, eye liners and brow sets.

A great gift idea - Happy Birthday Mr President me! Prices range from $15 to $40 (USD)

4 January 2013

Suitcase. Travel

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. Saint Augustine

Well Saint Augustine, if that’s the case, I want to read the entire library.

I recently devised a list of all the places in the world I want to travel to. It’s currently 4 pages long and I’m not finished yet! Thus far, on my list, I’ve got virtually all of Europe, several stops across America, the Caribbean and Canada, a couple of stops in Asia and some places I’m yet to visit here on Aussie turf.

I’ve always loved to travel and whilst my experience is a little limited, it has only spurred my desire. There are so many wonderful places in the world that all have something different to offer. I love to explore new cultures, learn about others’ history and take snapshots of the world. I’ll post my completed list as soon as it’s finished. I have a feeling it will be a work in progress for the rest of my life!

Photo by making life pretty.

2 January 2013

Plate Up. Empoli Rigatoni

I’m a real carb fiend and I absolutely love pasta dishes. I think it’s the quarter Italian in me, and even though I never met my grandpa I think he rubbed off on me quite a bit. Here’s a delicious little Italian dish that is easy to whip-up and packed full of flavour. (Serves 4)

What you’ll need
500g rigatoni
40g parmesan cheese
100g whole blanched almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 fresh chilli
2 bunches fresh basil
2 tablespoons oil
500g mushrooms, sliced
400g shaved ham, thinly sliced

What to do
Cook the pasta in boiling water according to packet instructions.

Put the parmesan, almonds, garlic and chillies in a food processor and blend until fine. Add in basil, oil and two thirds of the cherry tomatoes. Blend until it forms a paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly pan fry mushrooms.

Drain pasta, reserving a little of the starchy water. Return pasta to pot and add cooked mushrooms, reserved cherry tomatoes, ham, paste and a splash of the starchy water. Toss together and serve. Bellismo!

Photos by Krissie.