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Showing posts from March, 2008

An arresting Salome at the Royal Opera

It has been over 10 years since the Royal Opera staged Salome (the last time I saw it in 1997, it was Bryn Terfel as John the Baptist and Catherine Malfitano singing the title role). One forgets how hard it is to stage this work - no overture, run time of just over 90 minutes, with not a lot of action on stage except the dance.

I needn't to have worried - this new production by David McVicar , design by Es Devlin and conducted by Phillippe Jordan was arresting from start to finish. The two-level stage with a posh upstairs and a lavatorial downstairs gave much visual interest. The cast had lots of exciting new blood who gave a fantastic performance: Michael Volle sang John the Baptist and Nadja Michael sang the title role viscerally, with Duncan Meadows as the naked adonis-executioner. David McVicar's production let the inter-character dynamic and underlying psychological tension unfold along with the music. Phillippe Jordan kept the pace and excitement going through out in the…

A cosmopolitan crowd at Azure, LKF Hotel in Hong Kong

"Let's meet at the lobby of LKF Hotel" was what my friend told me. OK, I turned up promptly in white Nike trainers, Diesel jeans, white t-shirt and a Prada top (i.e. desperately looking casual) not sure what to expect. We got into the lift. The lift attendant (why are there lift attendants in Hong Kong?) pressed "29". And up we went.

The lift doors opened - swish - and I was at the lower level of this chic yet somewhat bohemian joint Azure. The decor had that Soho House look - complete with a pool table in the middle. A generous curvy staircase led us to the upper floor with a double height ceiling offering a roof-top vista of Central and the Lan Kwai Fong area. The music was an eclectic mix - though we were all pretending not having heard any of those 80's tunes in order not to give our age away!

Chanel Mobile Art - is it art?

One never misses the chance to admire Zaha Hadid's architecture. So when I landed in Hong Kong in mid February for the Arts Festival, I was pleasantly surprised to find a piece of Hadid architecture being constructed on top of an old car park (see picture below). Well, the exhibition opened in early March and I took the opportunity to check out  Chanel Mobile Art.

Each visitor is given his / her own headset which plays for 30 minutes - the time that will complete a tour. This approach ensured all visitors had a multi-sensual experience of the show - with a gentle voice drawing you into one work after the other. So it's a nice way to spend 30 minutes looking at contemporary art. But then again, was it art? The entire show poked fun at the iconic Chanel quilted handbag. Some of the works were provocative (handbags made with tattooed pigs skin, with the said stuffed pigs nearby ...) It's a tough balancing act when a show like this is sponsored by a big fashion house. I think …

A no-nonsense bakery churning out yummy goodies at Brouke Street

TimeOut Sydney rates it as the best bakery in town. Monocle speaks well of it. So when a contact suggested brunch at Bourke Street Bakery, I was most intrigued to check the place out. Well, you could definitely smell it from a block away (I walked down from Crown Street to Bourke Street). And the 5-8 person deep queue outside the bakery was a good sign.

The praline danish was very tasty, mixed fruit muffin was moist and my Australian chicken pie  had a balanced mixture of chicken, vegetables and gravy. Yum. The place was no-nonsense - with three tiny tables inside and a few metallic low chairs outside - so nobody could ever be pretentious coming here! There was this unmissable sense that everyone was enjoying the goodies coming out of the oven.

Unexpectedly good brunch at Fratelli Paradiso in Sydney

Having met up with a few friends and discussed all things lifestyle related, there is evidence to suggest that Sydneysiders don't cook! Not even breakfast!!! Although allegedly Australia has the highest number of recipes printed per capita per annum in the world,  everyone I have talked to really enjoys their food all hours of the day away from home.

Part of the reason, I think, is that eating out is relatively inexpensive, sometimes the food can be of surprisingly good quality and eateries are conveniently located. I ate brunch with a couple of friends at Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point. The name suggested a certain Italian heritage, but I don't think I will ever find anything like this in the whole of Italy - fried egg on organic sweet cure bacon on top of a brioche like bun complete with slices of Swiss Emmental

The sweetness of the brioche bun (probably of North Italian heritage?) brought out the saltiness of the bacon, and the cheese added complexity. Probably just too …

Wholesome Aussie nosh at Bill's

It was a weekday afternoon (3-ish) and I was starving. Having wondered around the Darlinghurst and Surry Hills areas, I was in need of something nourishing and wholesome. I remember Bills on Crown Street adjacent to the famous Aussie Chinese restaurant Billy Kwong - so I thought I'd pop along for a quick bite.

The staff was friendly, my Wagyu beef burger with Swiss cheese and diced beetroot just hit the spot. I am not a Wagyu beef fan - too fatty and lacking in flavour - but somehow the beetroot really made the whole burger really tast. It came with fries (fresh out of the fryer) with homemade barbecue-ketchup. Really scrumptious.

What's the fuss about IvyBar in Sydney?

It seems Syneysiders get excited about any new opening in town. A local friend took me to IvyBar (on George Street near Martin Place) on Friday. The sign "No hard hat required" next to a building site did not fill me with confidence ...

We duly climbed the stair case to the venue - essentially a large bar counter attached to an ex-office atrium. Was it stylish? It was hard to tell. Was the crowd fabulous? Hardly - everyone tried to look so cool it was painful. And the music and noise boomed right up and down the atrium which made it loud rather than atmospheric.

What's the fuss? I couldn't work it out. The drinks were of box standard selection and quality. The bar staff didn't really care - no smile. Yet when we left, the queue (see below) went round the block! The only deduction I could make was NEW = HIP.