Month: March 2015

Banana Blossom Salads, Bondi

Tucked away just off Bondi’s main street lies Banana Blossom salads, a lunchtime salad bar. The casual dining restaurant has quite a laid back, relaxed atmosphere, yet there’s a buzz from the staff, a hospitality and care for the job that comes across and adds great warmth. While the  seating; al fresco, inside or in the back courtyard is intimate, the restaurant feels quite open and spacious with mirrors and light surfaces.

Banana Blossom Salads is the brainchild of duo,  Nat and Ben, who felt inspired by authentic Asian tastes to design fresh, fast and filling meals at reasonable prices. They’ve been a real success across the Northern Beaches and now they’ve expanded their horizons to the great blue of Bondi.

Beyond the fairy bread beach and the bustle of the promenade, Banana  Blossoms Salads is a hidden gem. Open lunchtimes, they offer a full and varied menu, boasting flavours for everyone’s taste, in portion sizes that’ll leave you satisfied. They pride themselves in sourcing fresh organic produce and this commitment to health and well-being actually comes through in the salads themselves. While the dressings are an excellent lift, the  flavour of each ingredient is wholesome and fresh, which is really satisfying.

My partner and I tried the Coconut Chicken Crispy Egg Noodle and the Tokyo Classic Chicken. What we both experienced was a  fusion of flavours with an Asian twist. Their salads are very light and well balanced; sweet and savoury, fruit and greens, carbs and protein. A variety of textures to tantalise, like the slippery soba noodles in the Tokyo Classic, or the fried crunchy noodles in the Coconut Chicken. Temperature-wise, there’s the warm chicken with sticky sweet tamarind dressing and the cool crunch of salad greens. There’s such a variety of salad greens. Plenty of times I’ve had a salad that bulked up on mixed lettuce, but these guys slip in tastes for the whole palette, like green papaya, avocado and a hint of mint. I would go so far as to say that the dressing was the best part, because it doesn’t overpower, it compliments and lifts the ingredients in the bowl.

Banana Blossom Salads only offer salads and rice paper rolls on their menu. They aren’t “design your own” and I think that’s alright because there’s such a variety on their menu and their salad combinations are well considered anyway. After pairing my meal with cold pressed juice, I felt energized and virtuous. I’d like to come back to try something different.

Balsamic Vignettes #3

#3
Sits,
Teeters on the edge of her bench
oblivion
In a room where the curtains billow into the hallway while the tea light candle
sits.                                               Still.
In a station where the train passes on through express to somewhere
[or nowhere in particular].
Counting the minutes until the sun rises
Being well aware of the hours left before the dawn chorus of
rosellaskookaburraswarblerswrenshoneyeaters
Before the city pulse beats again.

She breathes
not as deeply as she should
and waits
only moving to scratch at a mosquito or bite [perhaps]
closes her eyes to see only the same darkness as that which settles around her
~like a midnight persian, settling by the fire
~like the clouds on a moonless night over a field.
Begins to dream of a walk towards the horizon [only to find another].

Yet the lunar cycle pushes away the moonless night to reveal a full moon
And a breeze from a change in season rushes ahead of an approaching train
Causing the candle to flicker briefly.
Not a phoenix from the ashes
Nor a butterfly from a chrysalis
Her metamorphosis congress from when she burrows deep in hiding, underground, safe from civilization, sauntering into the darkness to
Shed
Her
Skin
Upon returning to the surface,
A new skin
A new beast.

Short and Sweet Voices

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This year was the first time Short and Sweet ran Short and Sweet Voices, an a Capella competition for vocal groups ranging from quartets to full choirs. As this year was a great success,  the competition will look further afield next year to running the a cappella section in the Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and Auckland competitions of Short and Sweet.

I attended the grand final of Short and Sweet Voices at the Concourse, Chatswood. What an excellent venue!  The acoustics in the concert hall made for a very majestic performance from all involved.

Each entrant (except one,) performed three songs in an effort to impress the judges and the audience, who select the People’s Choice Award.

ISINGONTHECAKE– this choir opened the night and set the standard high performing original arrangements of Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ and Wuthering Heights. With torches, they put on a dynamic light show, which was visually effective. They had great energy and clever harmonies to lift their playful song choices.

SISTA!- this barber shop quartet graced the stage in bathrobes and hair curlers, entertaining the crowd with a couple of novelty tunes. They brought a lightness and sense of humour to the stage, then changed tact by taking on a sombre Doris Day song, which displayed beautiful four-part harmonies.

JOUBERT SINGERS– this choir were well deserving of their two awards; Most Original Performance and Best Original Vocal Arrangement. This group created a rainforest soundscape on stage, and they really captured the atmosphere of a rainforest, water, frogs, birds and all. Through the dim blue glow, I was transported on threads of poetry and I was delighted by their creativity and imagination.

TREBLE MAKERS QUARTET– these four women in glittering evening gowns performed sweet harmonies in seamless medleys, singing in perfect unison and working together to show restraint and control. Their sounds flowed in effortless beauty and they held the audience in the palm of their hands.

SOULFOOD A CAPPELLA– this band took out two awards for the evening, Most Innovative Staging and People’s Choice. Short and Sweet runs a People’s Choice Award in each competition, helping promote involvement and audience engagement. This choir was definitely a crowd pleaser as they were fun to watch, visually dynamic and brought great energy to the stage. With Gospel roots, this group pitched perfect layered harmonies, which really textured their sound.

UNACCOMPANIED BAGGAGE- with renditions of ‘On My Way’, this choir was very entertaining. Their creativity and innovation were a great start to the second part of the show after interval. As a group, they gave a solid performance, working as one.

JUBILETTES– took the first ever Short and Sweet Second Prize, and deservedly so. This gospel choir not only split into layered harmonies, but also showcased everyone’s talent, giving all the choristers a chance to sing solo. When in unison, however, their sound was powerful and they engaged the audience with call and response.

ALCHEMY A CAPPELLA– this gospel choir showed excellent restraint and control as a unified group, with elements of novelty and times of passion. One chorister in particular stood out the front as raw power in her solo work and vocal runs.

COASTAL A CAPPELLA– finishing the night on a high note, Coastal A Cappella took competition by storm. This all-woman choir has both a variety of harmony and a depth of sound that they flawlessly carried their arrangements. The brought energy and passion to the stage, working as a tight team both visually and soundwise. Through synchronization, they showed control and restraint, then let loose flaunting their strength in numbers. They sparkled on stage and won Best Interpretation, as well as being crowned Short and Sweet Voices’ first Winner.

Image credit: http://www.theconcourse.com.au/events

Riverrun

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“The river leads the way, a sound-dance of revolutionary energy that is impossible to surf like an expert.” -Olwen Fouéré

Riverrun” is the voice of the river in James Joyce‘s “Finnegan’s Wake“, adapted, directed and performed by Olwen Fouéré. Showing at the Sydney Theatre Company, this play is unlike any other. Fouéré embarks on the difficult task of making Joyce comprehensible and through her performance, she does.

Don’t expect to come away with a newfound understanding of this literary giant. If anything, this play creates a new way of accessing Joyce, giving life to the sound play of his words. Performed, Joyce’s wordplay seems more digestible, with sounds devices like assonance, alliteration and spoonerisms brought to the forefront. His relentless folly at the nature of language really translates through this one-woman performance.

In her adaptation of “Finnegan’s Wake“, Fouéré creates an electric space that plays with the natural dynamics in Joyce’s language. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what was going on for most of the time, because Joyce’s language is that difficult. Yet her performance was so effective that the words began to have meaning. Fouéré is a very expressive actress, she embodies the language and creates the atmosphere, thus helping us to understand the spoken words through her actions.

The production team did a fantastic job in supporting Fouéré. The lighting was excellent in complimenting her gesture and monologue, while the sound mimicked the rise and fall of tension, creating mood when I wasn’t even sure if there was any. All these elements added to a very meaningful performance, supporting the monologue which, by itself, would’ve been very difficult to sit through.

I’m very glad I saw this performance, I really appreciated the mastery of Fouéré’s adaptation. Witnessing Joyce’s writing not only spoken, but performed, helped me relish the wordplay and experimental nature of some of the hardest literature in the western world.

Image credit: http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/theatre/events/40466/riverrun

Balsamic Vignettes #2

#2
“People come into my shop looking for a miracle and, lucky for them, I’m a tattoo God. They come with this here, horrendous tattoo on some place like their, uh, upper back or on their shoulder. Saw a nasty flaming phoenix just above this young chick’s lady parts.
“Why do they do it? Oh, well some don’t even remember doing it. Yeah, saying they was drunk at the time, or it was a bet, or they lost an arm wrestle or whatever.
“Had a guy come in last week actually, yeah. Had the numbers ‘187’ tattooed on the back of his lower neck. That’s the US code for murderer. Poor man. Came in saying didn’t even remember getting it, kept saying over and over how embarrassing, how can’t be out with his kids or his missus without people assuming, you know what I’m sayin? Real nice bloke, I felt for him. Imagine everyone staring at you cuz you got a target on your back.
” Well, of course I got rid of it for him. Tattooed a pit bull over the top. Seemed like a nice guy.”

Cracking his knuckles and slipping on a cheap ring (won at Coney Island for Amber last summer, rest her soul), Dave pushed into the tattoo parlour. He was prepared this time, cut out smiling children from the catalogues and stuck them in  the photo pouch in his wallet, for when he paid the tattoo artist.

Already, the air smelt sweeter.