Hola amigos! If I had to name one food or cuisine that has been trending this year, it would definitely have to be Mexican. It seems that we're all getting a little loco over hot and spicy Mexican cuisine, teamed up with mojitos and my all-time favourite spirit - tequila. When Chilliwow first opened in the Valley several months ago, I had heard mixed reviews. Mostly, people were a little underwhelmed at the limited menu when they turned up and realised it was a bar (I suppose not everyone appreciates tequila shots as much as I do). Well it turns out the team behind the bar were listening as Chilliwow has now launched its summer menu and it will have you going back there for the tastes of Mexico faster than you can say Speedy Gonzales.
Don't get me wrong, Chilliwow is first and foremost still a bar. But it will be a great starting point for groups grabbing a bite to eat and having rounds of tequila-related cocktails. If you don't like tequila, you will find it hard to order a cocktail because all of them are based on tequila. As they say - go hard, or go home. I had the pleasure of drinking and dining on the house (because haven't you heard, I'm VIP these days) so I was lucky enough to try absolutely every food and drink item on the menu. I went a bit overboard with the photos this time, so this post is more like a photo diary of what I ate during the evening. We started the night off with meatballs and jalapeño poppers, then moved on to soft taco wraps and nacho bowls. Then, if that wasn't enough already, we topped it off with pulled carnitas pork in a toasted bun and a spicy Mexican-styled hot dog. I barely had time to sip through my watermelon crush mojito. All I can say is, chilli … WOW.
There is always room for dessert, right? The churros are not to be missed though I would beware of the espresso martinis - I love my tequila, but not with my coffee.
Finally, I should note the crowd is a little younger as the night gets darker (it's owned by the same guys as Oh Hello!) but I know some of you won't mind that at all.
One of my all-time pet peeves is when people fail to follow dress codes. When an event dress code is black tie, why would a man with any sense turn up without … a black tie?! When a woman goes to the races, then she knows that she must wear a hat or fascinator - not a fluff of feather, not an Indian headpiece and not a bare head. It's not that hard people! I appreciate that for some events, the guidelines on how to dress are not as well defined. With the Paspaley Polo In The City on again this Saturday 23 November at Doomben Racecourse, I will do a favour to society and reiterate the dress code for polo.
As a general guide, dress as if you were going to an elegant English garden party. Polo fashion is about casual glamour.
Wills and Kate show us how to rock it at the polo. I did say English garden party, right?!
What to wear (the age old problem…)
Most of the women wear day dresses like a maxi or a shift dress. But you can definitely wear pants as an alternative - wide leg pants and tailored shorts will be big this season. The polo fields tend to be a bit windy, so also keep this in mind.
Men can choose from jeans, chinos or tailored shorts paired with a crisp button-down dress shirt or a polo shirt. Blazers are boss but are not essential given the warm weather. Last year, there were two male models who turned up to the Sydney polo event wearing a singlet, shorts and thongs as if they were going to Big Day Out. Just remember that you are (most likely) not a male model and will most likely be refused entry if you turn up like this.
As for colours, you can play it safe by wearing whites, lights or brights.
Ladies - forget about wearing any shoes with a pointy heel because sinking in the grass while you stomp the divots is not sexy. Opt for block heels, wedges, espadrilles or a pretty pair of flats or sandals.
Gentlemen - go for brogues, loafers, driving shoes or polish up those RM Williams boots.
Hats are not essential but if you wear one, it must actually serve a purpose in terms of sun protection (i.e. no fascinators or decorative headpieces). You will at least want to bring your sunglasses. This is the Sunshine State, after all.
Take Rachel Zoe's advice when it comes to hats.
If you want a brief overview on the rules of the game, then you can read my brief post on last year's Paspaley Polo event.
Oh and one final thing, Paspaley is pronounced 'pas-pay-lee' (not 'pas-pah-lee') - another pet peeve of mine is mispronounced words. See you all on Saturday at the Pas-pay-lee Polo. Ex oh ex oh.
Last week, I caught up with Bombshell Graduate for high tea at Stone
in South Bank. Stone doesn't have sweeping river views like the Stamford Plaza
, but they offer a delectable selection of finger sandwiches, scones and cakes that is arguably one of the finest I have tasted in town. Bombshell Graduate and I have been friends for years and in the midst of tippling champagne, I asked her how her first year of working full time was going. Her response:
"*Sigh* … I just want to be a socialite." - Bombshell Graduate
Don't try to deny it - we have all faked a sick day at some time or another. And so you should too - when you finally quit your job to move on to bigger and better things, you won't be able to claim back your sick days so it's best that you take them as you accrue them. But be careful with how you go about it. Taking a sick day requires a lot of thought and preparation. Here are a few pointers for you to keep in mind for your next 'mental health day':
- Start pretending to be unwell a day or two before you actually want to be away from the office. Walk around sniffling or coughing or even with a limp to show everyone that you are still in the office despite your condition. This is good to pre-empt that you might not be able to come to the office the next day.
- Say really random things like "It's soooo hot in here" when its obviously freezing inside the office air-conditioning. That will make it sound like you have a fever or something.
- Make sure you get all your work done the day beforehand so that there is nothing urgent that you physically have to be around for or contactable for.
- When you call in sick the next day, make sure your condition matches the length of time you intend on being away from the office. For example, a migraine could easily come and go within a day. Food poisoning could also be a '24 hour bug' which will do the trick for a one day sickie.
- You could mention having 'the runs' … nobody will question you further about that. Eww.
- If you want to be away from the office a little bit longer, then conjunctivitis is a great excuse. Nobody will want you near the office because it is highly contagious and it takes a full week of recovery.
- Don't come into the city on your fake sick day. Somebody might see you. Secretaries are like spies around town - they are always watching.
- By all means, go on some other adventure further from the city on your day off. But don't get too much sunshine - it will look really suspicious if you turn up looking remarkably tan or sunburnt the following day after being 'sick'. I suppose you could get away with this if you take your sick day on a Monday and say that your tan/sunburn was from the weekend before you contracted a '24 hour bug'.
- Keep the social media posts on lock down on your day off. So obvious, and yet people have been fired over this.
- Don't go into negative sick leave. You need to save a few up your sleeve for the days when you may genuinely be sick!
As you know, I don't approve of eating in food courts
but the other night I had to make an exception (damn peer pressure). Actually, it was a pretty good experience - so good that I insist on recommending it on the blog. New Shanghai is a charming Chinese restaurant downstairs in Queens Plaza
. It has its own enclosed restaurant that feels like a world away from the food court next door (thank God). After my stint in Shanghai this year, I like to think I'm pretty qualified to give you the 411 on this place and I only have favourable things to report.
For anyone else who is familiar with Shanghai, the dark paved floors and walls in this place remind me of Xintiandi
. There are also kitsch red lanterns, bunting, bamboo decor and old Chinese artwork that takes you back to Shanghai as it would have been like in the 1930s. It's all very cute and charming. For some reason they don't like to take bookings so you may have to wait for a table. Luckily the turnover was pretty quick and we only waited for about 10 minutes to be seated for a group of eight. One of the best perks is that the restaurant has a BYO licence. Having excellent manners when it comes to dinner etiquette, everybody showed up with their own bottle of wine to share. You can imagine the look on the waitress' face when we asked for eight ice buckets.
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What were our picks from menu? Obviously xiaolongbao is a must order. These are a local speciality that Shanghai is famous for - they are little dumplings filled with a pork mince mixture and soup inside. You should dip them in soy sauce and vinegar and eat out of your soup spoon otherwise things can get pretty messy. You can also watch the cooks making the dumplings through the glass wall at the front.
The other things on the menu are more general Chinese cuisine. We ordered pork and cabbage dumplings, rainbow beef, shepherds purse dumplings (wow they were unexpectedly spicy), some kind of pork mix that you roll into fluffy buns, vegetarian dumplings and fried rice.
All up, the bill came to a little less than $20 each including corkage. In my opinion, that is amazing value and a great way to start to the night before kicking on for karaoke
. I should note we didn't have dessert though. The dessert options were a bit too exotic for us...
I was just notified of a new comment received last night on my recent Weird Office Trends
post. For obvious reasons it had to be edited but I thought this comment was so good that I had to share it. Nobody appreciates firm hierarchy better than an Eagle Street lawyer.
"[*************] is not really top tier… " - Actually Top Tier
Last year, we all went giddy with excitement over the opening of Alfred and Constance. It is still very much a favourite haunt in the Valley but there is one extra addition that has made it even better - a really awesome pizzeria next door. The trendy ones amongst you will have already heard a bit of hype about Alfredo's Pizzeria. It is owned by the same guy who owns Alfred & Constance (and for that matter, Limes Hotel
and Chester Street Bakery and Bar
) so we can expect for all the cool cats to be seen at Alfredo's too. And yes, the reality exceeded these expectations.
They like to keep it retro cool at Alfredo's Pizzeria. The place looks like an old Italian warehouse with neon signs, exposed brick walls, hanging factory lights, tomato cans as cutlery holders and for dramatic effect, there is a wall-sized picture of an old Italian man devouring a pizza. It's a bit in your face but it works. The music is a little loud, but it helps to fill the silence for those tables of hipsters who like to sit there and just look cool rather than socialise with each other.
There were six of us but two weren't really eating so three pizzas (plus several jugs of sangria) were more than enough for the table. There are eleven sexy pizzas to choose from and I can confidently say that we picked three of the best - Chuck Berry (tomato, oregano, mozzarella and basil), Pizza Formerly Known As Prince (proscuitto, tomato, oregano, mozzarella and rocket) and Wild Things (wild mushrooms, truffle tapenade, thyme and pecorino). They say that Australian pizzas tend to use too many toppings but I think any Italian nonna would be pretty pleased with the ones served at Alfredo's - carefully selected gourmet toppings with a crispy base that has been wood fired to perfection. My only regret is not ordering that extra garlic bread.
Finally, I am happy to report that Alfredo's also do take away. Say goodbye to dirty deep pan delivery pizzas forever (sorry Domino's…) and hello to fresh authentic wood fired pizzas delivered to your door. They deliver on a cute little red vespa too - who could resist? And what is more, they also deliver alcohol. Beer, wine, spirits, ice - you name it, as long as you order some food with your delivery (gotta keep it legal). Lazy nights at home have now been revolutionised.
39 Alfred Street, Fortitude Valley
Phone: 07 3251 6555
Oh Sydney, it's been too long since I last blogged about my other favourite city (Brisbane being the favourite, duh) and I still need to post up all my fun photos from the Circus Ball
. But first, let me introduce The Grounds of Alexandria
which is the
place to be for brunch in Sydney at the moment. For those of you who aren't familiar with Sydney, Alexandria is a stumble down from Redfern so it's not too far from the heart of Sydney city. The site originally was an old pie factory that has now been converted to an inner city sanctuary complete with a café, a coffee research and testing facility and a luscious garden of heirloom vegetables and fragrant herbs. This venue is so hot right now that we even scheduled brunch at the ridiculously early hour of 9am, just so that we could get a table within a reasonable time frame.
By chance, they were hosting The Ground's Markets on the Sunday we happened to be there, which gave us something to do for the one hour that we waited for a table. The markets are held on the first weekend of the month where you can walk around the grounds and shop for fresh produce and wholesome goods sold direct from the source. There is everything from Italian cured meats, fresh lemonade, charcoal roast rolls, beautiful flowers and handmade sweet treats. There was even a little petting zoo where kids could go and pet the farm animals (including a little four-legged rock star called 'Kevin Bacon'). I didn't wander near there … I don't like touching animals. It is all made to feel very rustic and provincial, with the comfort of knowing that you are safely in inner city civilisation.
Finally, it was time for brunch. I can't remember exactly what everyone else had but I do remember that the menu was a bit different from your classic breakfast options. I had the most exotic meal: soft-boiled free range eggs rolled in crispy quinoa with asparagus and truffle oil - very adventurous. It was all going pretty well until I discovered that my poached eggs were slightly over poached. Noooooo. Apart from the over poached egg disaster, I still really like this place. The coffee was rich and smooth, the markets were quaint, the service was good and the large parcel of cakes and other goodies that I took home were totally worth the afternoon food coma. I'll be back here again.
The Grounds of Alexandria
Address: Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria, Sydney
Phone: 02 9699 2225 Website: http://groundsroasters.com/
"I don't eat in food courts. Eww." - Food Snob
It has been a long time since Food Snob made her debut on As Heard on Eagle Street
, and it's about time she made a comeback. This time it's about food courts. They're not cool. Sure, there are a few passable dining options downstairs at Queens Plaza but having to carry your food on a tray and seeing mixed cuisines at the same dining table are just too much to handle. I understand the need for fast food on the go when you have to get back to the office for something urgent, but that's why they offer takeaway from Nagomi
and Sparrow and Finch
I recently read this article about how highly successful women can 'have it all' - an awesome full-time career, a killer body, a husband with a likewise successful career and children whom they actually raise (as opposed to being raised by a nanny or childcare). Apparently the secret is to outsource everything other than your job, your health and your family time. That means all the administrative stuff and domestic chores get pushed to somebody else's to-do list. I have already started applying this outsourcing strategy to my own life situation. No, I am not married and no, I most definitely do not have kids. But I have a somewhat important career, a fabulous social life, a blog and an enviable authentic tan that I need to maintain at the beach for four hours each week. Those are the things I need to prioritise at this point in my life. And that is how I justified hiring a cleaner.
As we would all agree, good help is hard to find so I thought I would share my carefully curated list of service providers who make my life a lot easier. Just in case any of you are thinking about outsourcing too. Cleaner
Kaseina (0426 922 552) is like a fairy godmother in our house. She only uses natural products like bicarb and vinegar - very environmentally conscious. If you prefer to go with an organised company, then Absolute Domestics (1300 364 646) is also highly recommended at $66 for two hours or $94 for three hours. You can chance cleaners pretty easily until you find one that you are happy with.Car washHoppy's Handwash Cafe
will wash and shampoo your car to perfection while you sip a latte in the cafe and do far more important things like catch up on phone calls and organise social appointments. There are a variety of locations, the closest one to the city being corner of Sylvan and Milton Roads in Toowong.Dry cleaning Leon's Fine Dry Cleaning
in East Brisbane are the lifesavers of the dry cleaning world. I don't trust anyone else with my designer garments.Alterations and mending
I struggle to sew a button let alone take up a hem, so I outsource all of my clothes alterations to PQ Fashions
. Based in the city (Level 3, 141 Queen Street), it is super convenient to pop in over lunch and they can do simple alterations for you within the same day.
I will come back and add more to the list as time goes on (e.g. gardener - coming soon). Sadly I don't have an ironing lady yet. This has to change soon - please send in any recommendations.
Recently I found a great gardener to deal with the overgrown wilderness in my backyard. Matthew (0433 910 645) services north and central Brisbane and is a pleasure to work with. You would think that our household could deal with maintaining a garden patch on land that is only 200 square metres and an astroturf lawn (don't knock it, it looks good!) but we need to outsource that too.