Sunday, May 25, 2014

Adelaide's Steven ter Horst Chocolatier delivers Australia wide

I live in Sydney. Steven ter Horst Chocolatier is in Adelaide. I’ve never been to Adelaide before. How on earth did I hear about or end up trying a box of chocolates from Steven ter Horst Chocolatier?

A work colleague from Melbourne caught up with me in Sydney and mentioned he went to the Adelaide Food and Wine Festival, noting that Steven ter Horst Chocolatier were some of the finest chocolates he’s tried. Originally I thought too bad they’re in Adelaide - I guess I won’t be trying them anytime soon. However, I had my usual surge of curiosity, acted upon it, googled them and found Steven ter Horst Chocolatier’s website. The website said “Australia Wide Delivery Coming Soon!”. I sent them an email and I was in luck. New Australia wide delivery of Steven ter Horst Chocolatier was launched and I probably am one of the first Sydneysiders to have Steven ter Horst Chocolatier chocolates delivered to me in the post.

How did the chocolates arrive? In a padded Australia Post bag. The chocolates were securely sealed in a beautiful dark brown box.

What did they taste like? These are no Cadbury chocolates. Velvet and smooth, and you can taste the quality and excellence in each piece. These are probably some of the finest chocolates I can remember tasting.

My favourite: White chocolate vanilla bean ganache rolled in flaked coconut.

Opening up my box of chocolates delivered from Adelaide by Australia Post

Steven ter Horst Chocolatier chocolates have been designed with maximum flavour in mind, the chocolates are made with only the finest ingredients – pure fruits, Tahitian vanilla pods, premium nuts, exotic spices and no preservatives or additives used to extend shelf life.

These would definitely make great gifts for friends or family anywhere in Australia. They can certainly do bonbonnieres and post them out to people too. The chocolates come in a 4 pack gift box and they could send many multiples of those. The gift boxes come in sizes of 9, 16, 24 and 36 to.

You can now taste the finest chocolates in this country no matter which State or Territory you live in. Order some today. They arrive in good condition and melt awesomeness in your mouth.

You can order online from Steven ter Horst Chocolatier website.

Steven ter Horst Chocolatier on Urbanspoon

3 interesting aspects about food from 'Chef', the film

I watched the film Chef over the weekend which is now showing in cinemas around Australia and it’s more than just a story about a chef, Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) who quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Dustin Hoffman). It shows how much dining out and eating has changed from my younger days and my parents’ earlier days. The run of the mill fine dining restaurant is old school and expensive and if I can put it bluntly, pretty boring. People crave something different, crossing cultures, borders for that different taste, texture, presentation, new ways to deliver food to consumers for the time poor and spreading the good word (or bad) through social media.

Here are 3 interesting aspects about food I gleaned from this film:

#1 Social media is powerful in spreading the good word or the bad. The film shows how a chef or a restaurant's reputation can be tarnished or lifted through the use of social media like Twitter.

#2 Heard of a Cuban sandwich? You don’t hear a lot about this in Australia, in fact I just googled it and it’s pretty non-existent here. The first time I tried a delicious Cuban sandwich was in Miami, Florida, which is a sizable sandwich that is a variation of the typical ham and cheese sandwich.  The history of the Cuban sandwich is that it was catered for Cuban workers in early Cuban immigrant communities of Florida. Cuban exiles and expatriates brought it to Miami where it is still very popular. The sandwich is made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, sometimes salami on Cuban bread. Too much? Yep. I could not eat a whole one by myself and shared it amongst two others. Found a quick recipe on
Taste if you would like to try to make a Cuban sandwich. Miami, Florida does have some of the best Cuban and Spanish food. If you are there, head to a suburb in Miami called Little Havana. The locals told us the best Spanish food can be found in a charming restaurant in Southern Florida called Casa Juancho. Always trust the locals with restaurant recommendations!

Photo I took when I was in Miami's South Beach

Best Spanish paella I've tasted in Casa Juancho in Little Havana, Miami, Florida

#3 Beignets from New Orleans. What are they? In one scene Chef Carl strolls through the French Market in New Orleans whilst his son gobbles down his very first beignet. Carl says to his son, "Eat it slow. You're never going to taste your first beignet again." I've never been to New Orleans but a beignet is like a doughnut or deep fried bread covered in powdered sugar. If you are interested in bringing the beignet to Australia, here is a recipe.

Beignet from New Orleans

Chef, the film blends a delectable feast of drama and laughs with an all-star cast, including Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Favreau. Thumbs up from me! Go and see it.

You can watch the CHEF Trailer link.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Film: The Trip to Italy | Around Australia

I enjoy road trip films as I always seem to have a good chuckle. If you have ever been away on a road trip with friends or family, there will always be at least one story that generates much laughter, that is retold again and again at the dinner table for years to come.

I went away with friends and family recently and the one story that I am sure I will never hear the end of is when I left the balcony door open on 17th level of my apartment block on Hamilton Island. Razor sharp eyes of resident cockatoos spotted my absent mindedness, and seized their opportunity to flock together for a big party in our living room. It would be fair to say our mini bar was cleaned out completely by 30 cockatoos. The next morning I scrambled for a response when the reception lady asked, “Anything from the mini bar last night?” Thirty cockatoos in your living room wasn’t a pretty sight and for a split second I thought I was in the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds.

Anyway, there’s unlikely to be any cockatoos in the new film, The Trip to Italy, showing in selected cinemas around Australia from May 29, but with a name like that, it promises a travelling experience around Italy in the comfort of your arm chair, with comedy and drama.

The film is about Rob Brydon who has been commissioned by a newspaper to go on a driving tour of Italy from Liguria to Capri, partly following in the footsteps of the great Romantic poets. He asks his old friend Steve Coogan to go with him. As they journey through the beautiful Italian countryside they talk about life, relationships and their careers whilst stopping at wonderful restaurants and hotels along the way.

The Trip to Italy is the follow up to The Trip, the critically acclaimed and successful film of 2010.

The Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne is having an advanced screening on Monday, 26 May at 6.30pm if you want to beat the crowd before the film's official opening day. You can buy tickets to The Trip to Italy online for $12 for adults.

Hayden Orpheum, Cremorne
380 Military Road, opposite Spofforth Street and the Cremorne Town Centre (Shopping Complex). Only minutes from the CBD in Cremorne.

Advanced screening, Monday 26 May at 6.30pm
Official opening across Australia, Thursday 29 May

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Interview with TEDxSydney speaker Stella Young, comedian and disability advocate

Having a disability does not make you inspirational. This is the key message from Stella Young’s TED talk on Inspiration Porn and the Objectification of Disability at the Sydney Opera House held a couple of weeks ago.

Stella Young is a comedian, disability advocate and Editor of ABC’s Ramp Up website, the online space for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia.

Stella's TED talk was very engaging. She really wants to live in a world where: having a disability is not the exception but the norm; a girl watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not referred as achieving anything because she is doing it sitting down; there is not such low expectations of disabled people; disabled people are valued for genuine achievement; and a Year 11 kid is not a bit surprised his teacher is a wheelchair user.

I was fortunate to interview Stella Young after her TED talk.

#1 Tell me how comedy started for you and who/what inspired you?

I think that as a disabled person who has a very visible difference, there's an element of my whole life that has been quite performative. Whenever I'm in public, people will want to engage with me and ask me questions and there's a feeling of having to be ‘on’ all the time. When I was in my early 20s I kind of started to get annoyed about that, so I decided that if people were going to stare at me all the time, I was going to spend at least some of that time on a stage with a microphone in my hand. They can stare, but they also have to listen.

I entered Raw Comedy, which is an amateur comedy competition run through Melbourne International Comedy Festival, about 5 years ago. I was initially inspired by my friend George, who is also a wheelchair user and had previously competed in the competition. He was pretty convinced I'd do well and so I eventually gave in and entered. I ended up getting to the state finals that year.

#2 When did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I don't think there was one moment when I knew it was what I wanted to do. I have those moments often and they come at odd times. What I really love doing in my comedy is changing people's minds about what they think they know about disability. As a society, we have some strange behaviours when it comes to difference and they're so entrenched that people don't really question them. One of my favourite parts of performing is coming out on stage and telling the able-bodied people in the audience how brave and inspirational they are for being out and about. That's something us disabled people hear all the time, but no-one thinks it's ridiculous until you turn the tables and patronise non-disabled people for no reason at all. It's really effective.

#3 What would you be doing if you weren't a comedian?

I'd probably spend a lot more time knitting. And yelling at strangers in the street. Comedy is a good way for me to vent my frustrations about inequality.

#4 Who are your top picks to see at the Sydney Comedy Festival?

Anne Edmonds, Felicity Ward, Joel Creasy, Lady Sings it Better, Ronny Chieng and Nath Valvo.

#5 What are you most passionate about?

Well, there's a lot of things, but I think my top passion is achieving social change through media representation. In particular, I want to see disabled people on television, in magazines, on the radio. There are voices that need to be heard and stories that need to be told. We've been locked out for far too long.

 #6 What do you think the 3 most pressing issues that need to be addressed in Australia?

Our appalling treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, astronomical rates of violence against women with disabilities and the low standards of education for young disabled people.

Thank you, Stella for opening our minds and questioning what we think about people with disabilities.

Watch Stella Young' TEDxSydney Talk

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

8 Films to Watch at the Sydney Film Festival 2014 | 4 to 15 June 2014

How do you choose from 183 films from the Sydney Film Festival 2014 to be shown in the space of 11 days? Simply work out what genre interests you (go the ‘Films’ drop down box on the Festival’s website, select ‘interests’ and then see which film best fits in your diary.

The 61st Sydney Film Festival 2014 will be held from 4 to 15 June 2014 and boasts an impressive 183 titles from 47 countries and includes 15 World Premieres (including 6 World Premiere short films), 122 Australian Premieres (including 14 Australian Premiere short films) and 6 International Premieres (including 1 International Premiere short film). The Festival is a major event on the New South Wales cultural calendar and is one of the world’s longest-running film festivals.

The Festival screens feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films across the city at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, the Art Gallery of NSW, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, the Apple Store, SFFTV at Martin Place, Skyline Drive-In Blacktown, and the Festival Hub at Town Hall.

Sydney Film Festival also presents 12 films that vie for the Official Competition, a highly respected international honour that awards a $60,000 cash prize based on the decision of a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals. Previous Sydney Film Prize winners include: Only God Forgives (2013), Alps (2012), A Separation (2011) – which went on to win an Academy Award, Heartbeats (2010), Bronson (2009) and Hunger (2008).

I generally like feel good flicks, humour, action, documentaries and politics (not necessarily all in the one film). These are the 8 films I will be seeing at the Festival next month. Hurry and get your tickets as seats to popular films can fill up fast.

#1 Words and Pictures

Director: Fred Schepisi
Country: USA
Runtime: 115 mins
Language: English
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

The great Australian director Fred Schepisi (The Devil's Playground, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Roxanne) returns with a delightful romantic drama. Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche square off, and sparks fly. He plays Jack Marcus, a wordsmith who drinks too much and suffers from writers' block; while she plays Dina Delsanto, an artist with arthritis who is physically unable to paint. At the elite school where they teach, the two begin a war over which is more powerful: the word or the picture. The school and their students are invigorated by this fun intellectual exercise, enthusiastically taking sides. But there is more at stake, and the two damaged artists must overcome their demons before things can truly be settled. With lovely performances by Owen and Binoche, this is a charming treat.

Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture
Director Fred Schepisi will give this year's Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture on Monday 9 June, 4:45pm at Event Cinemas 3. Tickets are FREE, but must be pre-booked.

When and Where?

Mon 9 June | 2.20pm | State Theatre

Tue 10 Jun | 6.30pm | Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

#2 The Lunchbox: Gourmet Cinema Film & Dinner

Director: Ritesh Batra
Country: India, Germany, France, USA
Runtime: 105 mins
Language: Hindi, English
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

This Indian indie hit is a delicious celebration of romance and food featuring Bollywood/Hollywood crossover star Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire). The story is inspired by Mumbai's remarkable dabba (lunchbox) delivery system, in which only one in four million home-cooked meals is ever incorrectly delivered. That one wayward lunch links a housewife with an office worker in the dusk of his life. Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is an eager young wife trying to impress her distant husband through her outstanding cooking. Saajan (Khan) is a disillusioned office worker who is about to retire, further emphasising his solitary existence. A correspondence between the two is triggered by the lunchbox, leading them into a rich fantasy. With perfect performances and deft direction by Ritesh Bhatra, The Lunchbox is a sweet love story that has charmed audiences around the world.

Gourmet Cinema: Luke Mangan's glass brasserie and The Lunchbox

Work up a serious appetite while you enjoy the screening of The Lunchbox at Event Cinemas George Street. The film, a delicious celebration of romance and food set in Mumbai, is followed by an Indian-inspired menu especially created by top Australian celebrity chef Luke Mangan. This multi-course meal at glass brasserie will include bubbles, Little Creatures beer and Eden Road wine. This is a one-off film and food event at one of Sydney’s iconic restaurants, awarded a chef’s hat again in 2014, where every single sense will be truly satisfied.

You can also see The Lunchbox without the dinner.

Where (with dinner)?

Tue 10 June | 6pm | Event Cinemas George Street (sold out)

Where (without dinner)?

Fri 6 Jun | 6pm | State Theatre

Sun 8 Jun | 6pm | Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

#3 Casa Grande

Director: Fellipe Barbosa
Country: Brazil
Runtime: 112 mins
Language: Portuguese
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

An impressive and personal debut feature, Casa Grande, is a vibrant and layered coming-of-age tale set within Rio de Janeiro's social elite. Jean is a teenager who has grown up in a life of privilege in a large mansion, cushioned from hardship by his over-protective parents. He has deep relationships with the staff: a driver and two housekeepers, one of whom he constantly tries to bed. Preoccupied with girls and clubbing, Jean is unaware that his father has lost virtually all his money, making the status quo unsustainable. As the staff gradually leave, Jean is left adrift, and a new relationship with a mixed-race girl from a different social strata forces Jean to contemplate race, class and the very foundations of his society. Gentle and insightful, Casa Grande establishes Fellipe Barbosa as a very promising talent.

Where and When?

Wed 11 Jun | 8.15pm | Dendy Opera Quays Cinema

Sat 14 Jun | 5.30pm | Dendy Opera Quays Cinema
#4 Babylon

Director: Danny Boyle, Jon S. Baird
Country: UK
Runtime: 74 mins
Language: English
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) and scripted by Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong (Four Lions, SFF 2010; Peep Show), Babylon is a witty, fast-paced feature-length TV pilot for a new UK comedy-drama. After giving an impressive TED talk, American PR guru Liz Garvey (indie star Brit Marling) is lured away from her old job at Instagram to move to London and serve as director of communications for the Metropolitan Police. But her first day on the job is a tricky one. She has a resentful number two, Finn (Bertie Carvel), who thinks he should have her job; she has to deal with a TV crew filming the force; and more importantly, there's a sniper on the loose in the city, picking victims off at random – including a police officer. When it's discovered that the suspect is live-tweeting his moves, Liz faces tough decisions about transparency and public safety as she struggles to control the narrative.

Where and When?

Sat 7 Jun | 7pm | Event Cinemas George Street

Wed 11 Jun | 8.15pm | Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

#5 Dior and I

Director: Frédéric Tcheng
Country: France
Runtime: 90 mins
Language: French, English
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

Designer Raf Simons arrived at the House of Christian Dior in 2012 with a reputation for minimalism, a charmingly dedicated right-hand man, and just eight weeks to create his first Dior Haute Couture collection. This highly entertaining and unexpectedly emotional documentary follows his progress from concept to catwalk. It's not just Simons who's feeling the heat; behind the scenes it's a pressure cooker of deadlines and detail. Florence and Monique lead the extremely talented teams of seamstresses, struggling to meet the demands of both the newcomer and their elite clients. The Belgian designer's day-to-day struggles are interwoven with readings from Christian Dior's autobiography, revealing that the New Look designer's 20th century experiences were little different. The director Frédéric Tcheng previously worked on Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel and Valentino: The Last Emperor (SFF 2009), demonstrating that he has a winning way with fashion on film. In Dior and I he's crafted a fittingly splendid homage to the rarefied world of haute couture.

Where and When?

Fri 13 Jun | 8pm | Dendy Opera Quays Cinema

Sat 14 Jun | 7pm | Event Cinemas George Street

Sun 15 Jun | 4pm | Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

#6 Rock the Casbah

Director: Laïla Marrakchi
Country: France, Morocco
Runtime: 99 mins
Language: French, Arabic
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

The latest from writer/director Laïla Marrakchi (Marock) is a lovingly crafted family drama with a warm sense of humour. The film's ensemble cast includes some of the Middle East's finest actors including Morjana Alaoui, Nadine Labaki (Where Do We Go Now, SFF 2012), Lubna Azabal and Hiam Abbass (both from Paradise Now, SFF 2005), and the legendary Omar Sharif. The death of her father, a successful Moroccan entrepreneur, sees the fiercely independent New Yorker Sofia returning to Tangiers. There she is reunited with her grieving mother and two sisters, the beautiful but naïve Miriam and the uptight Kenza. Over the course of the traditional three-day mourning ritual, the four resilient women are forced to confront a host of long-buried family secrets that threaten to tear them apart again.

Also screens at the Travelling Film Festival Newcastle on Saturday 21 June, 6pm

Where and When?

Thu 12 Jun | 8.50pm | State Theatre

Fri 13 Jun | 2.15pm | Event Cinemas George Street

Sat 14 Jun | 4pm | Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

#7 The Rover

Director: David Michôd
Country: Australia
Runtime: 103 mins
Language: English
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

In 2010 David Michôd's Animal Kingdom won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, created a stir at festivals around the world, and firmly established Michôd as one of the most promising new filmmakers in international cinema. His much-anticipated second feature, a Cannes Official Selection, is an uncompromising and dark thriller with elements of a western, fulfilling all the promise of his debut. Set in a dangerous near-future, 10 years after the collapse of the western economic system, The Rover depicts an Australia without law or order. The country's natural resources have attracted a range of dangerous opportunists, and life is cheap. When Eric (Guy Pearce) has his car stolen, he embarks on a ruthless mission to track down the thieves. He soon forms an unlikely partnership with Rey (Robert Pattinson), the naïve younger brother of gang member Henry (Scoot McNairy) who has left Rey behind in the bloody aftermath of the gang's most recent robbery. Both gripping and terrifying, The Rover's power lies in its strong relation to reality. Says Michôd: "Unlike many films set in a dystopian future, I don't want the devastation of The Rover to be seen as the consequence of a single unforeseen cataclysmic or apocalyptic event… I want The Rover to feel like an entirely conceivable world of the very near future, a world despoiled by very real forces and systems at work all around us today."

Where and When?

Fri 13 June | 8pm | Dendy Opera Quays Cinema

Sat 14 Jun | 7pm | Event Cinemas George Street

Sun 15 Jun | 4pm | Hayden Orpheum Cremorne

#8 Nelson Mandela: The Myth & Me

Director: Khalo Matabane
Country: Germany, South Africa
Runtime: 86 mins
Language: English, isiXhosa
Premiere Status: Australian Premiere

The late Nelson Mandela's message of freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation continues to inspire people worldwide. In his personal letter to Mandela - augmented by interviews with the Dalai Lama, Ariel Dorfman, Tariq Ali, Henry Kissinger and others - director Khalo Matabane confronts his childhood hero with difficult questions. As Matabane says: "There is a perception that South Africa is a miracle country, but there were no miracles. People fought for freedom and people paid a huge price." Did Nelson Mandela go too far in his policy of forgiveness and reconciliation? Did he make decisions enhancing today's inequality and poverty in South Africa? In this, South Africa's 20th year of democracy, these questions are all the more pressing and Matabane, whose vital, searching films have screened at major festivals all over the world, has made a film relevant far beyond its country's borders.

Where and When?

Thu 5 Jun | 8.15pm | Dendy Opera Quays Cinema

Sat 7 Jun | 1.45pm | Dendy Opera Quays Cinema

The 61st Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Screen NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia, and the City of Sydney. The Festival’s Strategic partner is the NSW Government through Destination NSW.

Purchase Tickets Online