Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Camberwell Market, Your Bargain Best Friend

Whether you're a soccer mum who drives an Audi in Toorak, or eat Two Minute Noodles every night in a tiny college dorm, everybody loves a good market bargain. I myself have strolled many a market aisles, rummaged through countless racks of second hand clothes and perused a ridiculous number of vintage stalls in search of the best bargains Melbourne has to offer. One of my personal faves remains trusty old Camberwell Market, filled to the brim with more bargains than your local Salvos store.

Every Sunday, rain or shine, crowds flock to Camberwell Market, which sits unsuspectingly in a carpark at the rear of Burke and Riversdale roads. This popular trash and treasure flea market is positively brimming with second-hand and hand-crafted goods, including everything from vintage fashion finds and quirky jewellery to silverware and Hello Kitty backpacks...that's right, I said Hello Kitty backpacks.

You never know what you'll unearth at this bustling bargain hotspot, but chances are you'll walk away with your arms loaded with piles of clothes (you never knew you needed but definitely couldn't do without) that cost less than a coffee! It might  take a bit of dedication to work your way through the somewhat staggering amount of stalls, but vans supplying hot jam donuts and coffee should provide you with ample energy to see you through the treck. 
If you're in need of a wardrobe re-vamp (and you should be as Spring's just around the corner), look no further then bagging a bargain at the Camberwell Market. Turn up early to avoid being crushed by the enormous crowds and bring plenty of empy bags for all your market goodies. Excuse me, I have to go  pour boiling water over my dehydrated noodles now...

Friday, 11 July 2014

Tall Timber Cafe Comes Out on Top

Looking for somewhere a bit different to tuck into your poached eggs this weekend? Fancy a little jaunt away from your trusty local? Though the prospect of catching a train, then a tram and then another tram just for some poached eggs may seem a bit ludicrous to some - particularly in Winter when the wind is so cold you feel as though the flesh is melting off your face - there are always cafes that make the extra effort worth it. Prahran cafe, Tall Timber, is one such cafe that certainly proves it pays to stray from your usual stomping ground.

Residing off bustling Chapel Street and nestled in a corner spot on Commercial Road (don't worry, I didn't know where that was either), lies this unassuming little cafe from the boys behind Station Street Trading Co and Coin Laundry. Don't be fooled by the rustic, minimalist interior, because everything here, from the food to the coffee, is done boldly. The whitewashed brick interior paired with pale wooden tables offers an open, airy space that's flooded with light from the two large shop-front windows. Grab a stool up at the window and watch the macho-men fight it out at the Brazilian Boxing shop across the street, or pull up a chair at the (possibly less entertaining) communal table, garnished with native fauna. 
The food here is a highlight, with a menu so filled with sumptuous sounding things it's almost mean to make customers choose. Putting a fresh spin on the traditional (and now somewhat boringly monotonous) smashed avo, is the pumpkin loaf with pickled beetroot salad, smashed avocado, hummus and a poached egg. There's also pumpkin bruschetta; a soft mountain of smashed pumpkin and feta on quinoa toast, topped with perfectly poached eggs and littered with micro herbs and seeds. If all this sounds a little too healthy, don't worry, because Tall Timbers got a decadent house made banana and pistachio bread with espresso marscapone and an open breakfast sanga, for those who are more heart-attack inclined.

On my visit I couldn't go past the sautéed kale, green beans and asparagus with poached eggs, dukkah and goats curd. Let me just say, this was a dish worth crossing town for. Presented beautifully, the veggies were cooked perfectly, the eggs oozed impeccably and the soft goats curd added little bursts of creamy saltiness. Absolute deliciousness. My Tall Timber teammate opted for something more lunchy and had the bastilla filled with slow-cooked lamb shoulder and caramalised onions, accompanied by a fresh and zingy cucumber and radish salad. This dish also nailed it, with flaky pastry and flavoursome, fall-apart meat. 
Don't miss the coffee here either. The Niccolo beans are roasted on site and the toasty house blend with notes of caramel works wonderfully with milk. For those who like it black, there are rotating guest blends from boutique roasters, including Market Lane and Dukes. 

Tall Timber does its very best to please with fantastic food, great coffee and attentive staff. I'd say it's definitely worth the fact, it might even become my new home away from home.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Fashion Rules Were Made to be Broken

Despite fashion's tendency to be continually merging and morphing, there always seem to be certain rules that govern what we should and shouldn't wear. You know the ones I mean: your shoes, bag and belt must always match, never wear white after Labor Day (don't even ask me where that one came from), and, perhaps most commonly, black and navy should never be worn together. Now, I don't know who made these so-called 'rules', but I feel it's high time to take a stand against such fashion fun-killers.

So, to really stick it to the haters, I came up with an ensemble that broke every single one of the above rules. Black and navy happens to be one of my very favourite combinations, especially during the colder months. It's a chic, modern combination that adds a touch of colour to an otherwise drab wintertime wardrobe...because lets face it, no matter how stylish black is no one wants to look like an emo for three months of the year. My other fashion cardinal sin is teaming a pale brown belt with my knee-high black boots - shock horror! And finally, the appearance of white, which apparently brings shame upon my outfit. Despite all these fashion 'faux pars' however, Iv'e created quite a wonderfully and effortlessly chic outfit...I do believe they call that a style hat-trick.

So break a few rules, ignore the haters and have fun with your fashion!

What I Wore
Tunic: op-shop
Skirt: Myer
Cardigan: Dotti
Boots: Lipstick
Rings: Samantha Wills, Topshop


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Knee-Highs for Winter? Absobootly!

I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of Winter. I hate the cold, I resent being cooped up inside when there's a whole city to explore and I detest feeling like the Michelin Man when I'm layered up in jackets. As far as I can tell, some of the only benefits of Winter are toasted sandwiches, hot cider and, on the more sartorial side of things, knee-high boots. Each year, when the wind picks up and clouds have the nerve to cover my sun, the only thing that keeps me going through the chill is the knowledge that it's time to purchase another pair of trusty knee-highs. And this year was no exception.

I relish the task of finding the perfect pair of boots to see me through the season and have a firm list of criteria to which they must adhere. They must be a) comfortable b) sturdy c) not gape around my thighs (lets be honest, no one likes gape) and d) are a price that means I don't have to sell my liver on the black market...because I'm rather attached to my liver, thank you very much.

Much to my delight I stumbled upon this perfect pair from Lipstick, which just so happen to tick all my boxes. They're super comfy, a little bit roomy (so there's space for geeky thermal socks), the perfect hight and perhaps best of all, they were on sale! I always love me some sale.

So you know what, as long as I have my new knee-high friends, then this Winter might not be so bad after all. Add a cheese toasty and warm cider and it could even be good!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Samson Girl in Sydney: The Grounds of Alexandria

Ok ok, one more post about Melbourne's rival city and then I promise I'll return to my normal Sydney-snubbing self. This Sydney cafe I feel hardly needs any fact, I'm more inclined to call it more a Caffe 'Community' or 'Hub' of sorts, because to deem The Grounds of Alexandria a mere cafe hardly seems to do it justice.
I bravely attempted a weekend visit to my favourite Sydney hangout and, despite the huge lines and crowds of people, I was not disappointed. A friendly little farmers market greeted us, with cute stalls selling everything from delectable pastries and jewellery to caramel ice-cream sandwiches (oh yeah, you heard me right) and chocolate covered popcorn. Rather than a table in the cafe section, we wound our way through the outdoor crowds braving the cold to gorge themselves on burgers, chips and grilled meats from cheery stall vendors, and grabbed a table at the newly established Potting Shed. This section of the growing Grounds Community boasts breakfast, lunch and dinner and, though offering a different menu to its cafe-relation, the food can most definitely hold its own. With dishes of wagyu burgers, salt and pepper calamari, fresh and delicate salads and a cocktail menu that could kill, there is most definitely something to be enjoyed by everyone. And once you've eaten and drunk your fill, take a stroll through the ever-expanding space, purchase flowers from the Instagram-worthy florist, take a look at the amazing deli and do not, I repeat, do not simply walk past those ice-cream sandwiches. A trip to The Grounds of Alexandria really is my favourite way to say goodbye to Sydney.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Samson Girl in Sydney: The Rocking Rocks Market

A mere stone's throw away from Sydney's hustling and bustling CBD and nestled amongst cobblestone streets, cute cafes and bespoke craft shops, lies The Rocks Markets. Now Iv'e been to more markets in my life than Iv'e been to designer sales - and that's truly saying something - but there's something so pleasantly charming about these little markets set amid convict-carved sandstone (remind me to thank them later) that I find particularly appealing.
The Rocks Markets are open every Saturday and Sunday from 10-5 all year round, whether in rain or shine...and in my case it was unfortunately in rain. Lots of rain. But I didn't let that dampen my spirits as I wound my way through the one hundred or so eclectic stalls, offering everything from locally produced art, photography, hand-crafted furniture, fashion and accessories by aspiring designers. Despite the large crowds, there was a lovely feeling of community exuding from passionate stallholders, some of whom have been selling their wares at the market for more than 20 years. They're more than happy to offer information about their product's creation and even give you some sneaky samples...I may have taken the term 'sample' loosley when it came to the organic salted caramel chocolate. I also got a wonderful surprise when I discovered one of my favourite musicians, Patrick James, heroically busking in the rain in order to bring a little musical joy to The Rocks. I tried to be cool (something that doesn't come naturally to me), but ended up blushing like a huge loser when I got a photo with him and shook his hand. Needless to say I haven't washed my own since. Kidding...kind of.

If you're around Sydney and looking for a fun way to spend your weekend then I would highly recommend a little saunter through The Rocks Market. You'll find yourself delightfully surprised by the beautiful bits and bobs you stumble upon, might even be lucky enough to be serenaded by a Sydney musician and hopefully leave with a belly full of chocolate. Quite frankly The Rockd Market, well, rocks.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Samson Girl in Sydney: Caramel Milkshakes and Damn Fine Coffee at Reuben Hills

Some call it a gift and others call it a caffeinated curse, but somehow, no matter where I am, I always happen to stumble across the best cafes in a city - not that it's particularly difficult to find yourself a good brew of black stuff when wandering around Sydney's Surrey Hills. In this suburb coffee reins supreme, cafes seem to outnumber residence and the hipster beard is almost a prerequisite uniform. While wandering through this beautifully leafy suburb on my first day in Sydney, I felt my caffeine senses tingling (this usually only happens closer to a full moon) as I approached Reuben Hills, a Sydney cafe that's like the barista equivalent of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Except on Steroids.
Reuben Hills' long and narrow interior, with a roller door out back and an unassuming shopfront, is full to bursting with extraordinary apparatuses that envelope you in a world of brew ratios, filtration methods and specialty coffee. Sitting proudly atop the long stone counter is the customised three group mistral, behind which dedicated apron-clad baristas work their magic on the specially sourced coffee. Owners Nathan Borg and Russell Beard are committed to making specialty coffee as appealing and accessible as possible, and by providing customers with a wonderfully balanced cup of coffee, they do just that. Make sure you try out the rotating espresso of the day as well as the deliciously drinkable house blend, which has proven to be a keen crowd pleaser. Borg and Beard now roast their beans on site, which are carefully sourced from their travels to countries such as Honduras, Colombia and Panama.

The menu also draws inspiration from their culinary exploits throughout Honduras and El Salvador, resulting in super-chilled food with a mexicano vibe. Think baleada honduran tortilla with egg, queso fresco and black beans, or a Charquican chillean beef stew with soft fried egg, tomato rice and fermented pebre. For something a little more lunchy than brunchy when you've got the munchies, go for 'the NOT reuben sandwich': two thick slices of rye filled with wagyu brisket, manchego, pickled slaw and horseradish cream. If you can handle it, follow up your meal with the salted caramel milkshake. Trust me, you won't regret it.
I know I'm supposed to turn my nose up Sydney coffee, but when it tastes this good how could I possibly resist the urge to congratulate this extremely awesome cafe on being, well, extremely awesome! With its unpretentious coffee-geekery, wonderfully modern space and a menu that induces unconscious drooling, I think Iv'e found the Sydney cafe that would make even the most smug Melbourne coffee lover swoon.