Friday, September 30, 2011

Food Art - thomas C. Chung

I absolutely love food and absolutely love all kinds of art so I jumped at the chance to interview Australian artist Thomas C. Chung for the Sydney Fringe Festival Blog.Thomas  who so cleverly combines the two gives us an insight into his quirky and fun world and chats about his shows at this year's Sydney Fringe titled:
 'Some Things Just Feel The Same...'

Look Out for the fairy floss stand!

* Original interview published on the Sydney Fringe Festival Official Blog* Check it out here

Super cute! 

Hi Thomas!, Tell us a little about your background, what path led you to what you are doing now?
Hi Erin! I'm an Australian artist, originally born in Hong Kong, and in 2004 I graduated from COFA (College of Fine Arts) in Paddington.To pinpoint which exact moment led me to be doing what I am today, is almost too tricky to do. But my fondest memory of it was on my first day of Kindergarten, when I first met a girl I liked. I was walking across the classroom to say hi to her, when I bumped into a book by the name of "The Little Prince". I didn't know how to read it at first, but over the years when I eventually did (instead of just staring at the pictures all day long), that book changed my life and how I lived.

Tell us about your involvement in this year's Fringe, what can audiences expect?
To tell an audience to unexpect the unexpected, can sometimes be misleading (people can have super-dooper imaginations sometimes), so I'll not say that.I can tell them, however, to just come by and enjoy themselves. Being honest with how they feel would also be a good start. My performance piece is a food-based one, and I'll be at 3 different locations for 3 separate dates; on September 9, September 11 and lastly on October 2.

What influences your work?
The Little Prince, as you know was a very big one. But books and films by people such as Dr. Suess (Green Eggs & Ham), Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), Hayao Miyazaki (Laputa), Oliver Jeffers (The Way Back Home) & Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) - their ideas of quirkiness, tinged with philosophy & wonderment, never fail to inspire me whenever I see their creations.

Do you tend to work on multiple pieces at a time?
I work thematically, and most definitely with many pieces at a time. My artistic practice is slowly unfolding, almost like that of a storybook. I started out as a painter and some of my favourite pieces are these, sculpted using toothpicks, making cake-icing like paintings. When these are still drying though, that's when I make drawings. And when it's snowy cold, that's when I begin knitting & crocheting.

What inspires you?
Anything really. It could be reading the back of a cereal box, the sound of a lady's heels clicking by, or the smell of the clear winter air. If it fits into the story that I'm doing my best to tell, I'll think about it. And if it's very good, then you'll see a part of it in an upcoming exhibition.

Which is your favourite part of this exhibition/performance and why?
The exhibition will be a performance, so in that sense, none of it is actually made until the people begin to see it. When it does happen though, I'll be keen to see if people understand what it is I'm trying to do - to see if it'll work. If not, I'll still be glad, knowing they'll have enjoyed themselves with a bit of sweetness in their tummy.

We've noticed that food features in much of your recent work, why food?
When I was a kid, food was kind of a friend to me. As I grew older however, it was also an enemy, relying on it as I did for comfort whenever I felt lonely.These feelings of wanting to feel loved, of knowing you are you good, are hard to come by when you're a growing child. Kids also tend to hide a lot of what it is they actually feel, and the thoughts they're thinking about are as deep (if not deeper than) as those of us who have grown older. Food in this sense, says a lot about how a person is feeling. And by making work about food (something people can relate to, as well being a constant in everyone's lives), I'm doing my best to challenge what it is people actually see - is it really just a source of nourishment, or is it someone asking wanting to know if the world is going to be okay?

Tell us about the fairy floss stand?
It's going to be myself, a handy helper, and fresh fairy floss being made from the fairy floss stand. I'll be in costume, you'll come visit, we'll have a nice chat and the kid inside of you will be happy you paid attention, and left the grown up to be grumpy by themselves.

Describe this exhibition in 3 words...
Very good stuff.
WHEN:You can still catch Thomas at his 3rd and final show this coming weekend
Sunday 2nd October
@ Addison Road Centre, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville, Sydney 
TIME: Between 1-5pm
 180 Minutes

To find out more about Thomas visit his website Thomas C. Chung
Photos supplied by Thomas C. Chung

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

*New* Queen's Decorating Icing Kit

I really enjoy decorating cupcakes and so I was really excited when I was sent Queen's new Decorating Icing Kit to try by the lovely Jessica on behalf of Queen Fine Foods.

Receiving the kit provided me with the perfect excuse to whip up a batch of fluffy vanilla cupcakes.

The all-in-one kit provides the perfect choice for creating a range of designs using 4 interchangeable nozzles and 3 delicious icing flavours - chocolate, strawberry & vanilla. You are only limited by your imagination and if you get stuck for ideas the kit includes a handy decorating tips and tricks guide.

I was really impressed by the kit and found it easy and fun to use. I also enjoyed the flavour of the icing, particularly the chocolate!

Using the different nozzles you can create a range of unique designs including but not limited to ribbons, stars, and leaves.

Tell me, what designs would you try with Queen's Decorating Icing Kit?

The kits are available at supermarkets nationwide and they retail for about $5.99.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Sydney Bucket List

Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House - Royal Botanical Gardens
The Bucket List starring Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson is a brilliant movie. If you haven't seen it watch the trailer here . Part drama, part comedy with some adventure thrown in for good measure, it explores the friendship of two men who meet whilst in hospital and endeavour to fulfill a their 'to-do' list before they pass.

The term 'bucket list' has since become a populist term symbolising any list of things or experiences you really want to tick off.

Spider - Royal Botanical Gardens
Sydney's Eastern Suburbs
Inspired by fellow Inner West Live blogger Plane Spotter of blog Stanmore & The City, I decided to write my own Sydney Bucket List.  As a prelude to their 'bucket list' Plane Spotter juxtaposes the energy and diversity of Sydney with the feeling that life here often feels 'out of balance'. I understand as sometimes this city can be crazy! But I guess that feeling is just 'part and parcel' of living in any major city. The traffic, the crowds, the pollution, the craziness! I think we all share this sentiment at times.

Sydney Light Rail
That said, I still believe it's the best city in the world and I absolutely love living here.

During the warmer months Sydney displays such a vibrancy and infectious energy. There are SO many festivals, markets, shows and the restaurant scene provides ample variety, it's virtually impossible to work your way through all the amazing establishments. Still, I am trying!

Centrepoint Tower 
So here is my ultimate Sydney Bucket List - some of which I have already completed. I'm sure I have forgotten to add some vital elements - so please feel free to make suggestions and tell me about your list.

A large majority of my list does centre around food - but of course!

Our first casual dining experience in Sydney together - Georges @ King St Wharf  2008

Here it is...

In no particular order.

1. Camping at Cockatoo Island
2. Dine at Tetsuyas
3. Bondi to Bronte walk
4. Ride a segway
5. Complete the Harbour Bridge climb
6. Stay & dine at Jonah's at Palm Beach
7. Spend a full day walking around all the little back streets in Balmain
8. Dine at Marque
9. Walk across the Anzac Bridge
10. Try the best ice cream or gelato Sydney has to offer ( suggestions please?)
11. Experience NYE on a boat on Sydney Harbour
12. Picnic in the Botanical Gardens with Pete
13.See a concert or show at Taronga Zoo
14. Attend a chocolate making class
15. Watch the sun rise over Bondi beach
16. Afternoon Tea at Gunners Barracks
17. Dine at Quay
18. Bike ride around Bicentennial Park and Newington Armory
19. Try the dumplings at Din Tai Fung
20. Visit every cheese shop in Sydney
21. Do a guided historical walking tour of The Rocks

Inside Sydney's Queen Victoria Building - QVB
Sunrise over Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Sydney's Luna Park

Tell me about your bucket list...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gnudi - Spinach & Ricotta Dumplings

Gnudi!? What a strange name for a food.

Pronounced "nu-dee" Gnudi is a type of gnocchi made from ricotta cheese and a little flour. This results in a light and fluffy dumpling that is like the filling of ravioli. A 'nude' ravioli if you like.

This recipe comes from the Light of Lucia cookbook written by the gorgeous Luciana Sampogna who runs Sydney's Cucina Italiana cooking school in Annandale. I attended one of her cooking classes last year and loved it so much I signed Pete up for one for his birthday. If you get a chance book in for one of her classes - great food & fun.

This recipe is for the 'European' cookbook challenge for July/August. Yes I am a little behind in my cookbook challenges, but I will get there.

The recipe prelude reads:

" A classic Tuscan dish, these delicate little gnudi or dumplings require a watchful eye - too little flour and they may fall apart, too much flour and you'll get dumplings heavy enough to incur the wrath of your mother-in-law"

I can actually hear Luciana saying this!

Pete actually picked out this recipe for me to make...go figure!

Gnudi - Spinach & Ricotta Dumplings 
from Light of Lucia : A celebration of Italian life, love & food

500g (1 lb 2 oz) cooked spinach
( about 1kg/2lb 4 oz uncooked),
squeezed to remove water
300g (10 1/2oz) ricotta
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 tbs plain ( all purpose) flour, plus a little extra
Freshly grated nutmeg ( I used powdered nutmeg)
125g (4 1/2oz) unsalted butter ( I used Pepe Saya salted butter instead)
1 handful of sage leaves
Freshly grated parmesan, to serve

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. place the squeezed spinach in a food processor and finely chop. Transfer to a large bowl with the ricotta and combine well. Mix in the eggs and flour, season and drop into boiling water to see if it holds its shape when cooked. If not, add a little of the extra flour to the mixture.

Gnudi Goo :)
I found that my first attempt needed the extra flour to be added.

When you are ready to serve, return the water to the boil, adding plenty of salt. Shape the mixture into dumplings as before and drop, in batches, in boiling water. As soon as dumplings float to the surface, cook for 1 minute, then remove with slotted spoon and place in a shallow serving bowl.

Place butter and sage in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until butter is melted and bubbling and sage is crisp. Pour over the gnudi and serve sprinkled with parmesan.

Serves 6

I actually halved the ingredients as I only made this for the 2 of us.

We both really loved this dish, the photos don't do it justice either. With the addition of butter it's not something you would have everyday but it is a nice treat. We both really enjoyed the texture of the gnudi and overall, thoroughly enjoyed it.

I hope you do too.

Tell me, have you ever made or eaten Gnudi?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sydney Fringe Festival 2011

Hey Guys,
This year I will be blogging about and reviewing a few of the fantastic acts at this year's Sydney Fringe Festival which starts this month. 

For those of you who don't already know, The Fringe is Sydney's independent festival for the performing and visual arts. Centered around Sydney's Newtown Entertainment Precinct, the Fringe offers a platform to artists from a wide range of genres including theatre, dance, music, visual arts, film, musical theatre & cabaret, circus & burlesque and comedy. There's even Fringekids offering several events for the kids. 

So grab some friends, enjoy a few drinks and a great meal in Newtown and check out the Sydney Fringe!
To check out the Festival program and purchase tickets to the many different events, click here

To kick things off here's a little excerpt of what to expect from BABY WITH THE BATHWATER...

Image Source: Sydney Fringe 
"Some people are ready for parenthood. Some stay behind the refrigerator.
Producer and actress Claudia Barrie chats to us about Baby with the Bathwater – a fast-paced, witty, noisy and colourful comedy satirizing the anxieties that come with the responsibilities of parenthood.Written by Christopher Durang, one of theatre’s most beloved comedic playwrights, this production combines farce, satire and maybe a little bit of hope."

Check out my interview with the fabulous Claudia Barrie, on the Sydney Fringe Festival official blog, here
Image Source: Sydney Fringe

I can't wait to see this show, it's going to be hilarious!