Saturday, October 15, 2011

Restaurant Reviews - Good Life Pizza and Chocolatree

Last night we had a bit of a treat... we went to Good Life (Modern Organic) Pizza's, in North Adelaide's O'Connell Street (which also has a cafe in Hutt Street in the city and in Glenelg. Actually, we've been meaning to come here for quite some time, and just hadn't got of our backsides until now. And whilst we didn't have our good camera with us, or our wits, we enjoyed the evening... which we'll share with you now.

If it had escaped you, the whole thing about this place can be broken into two main components: Pizza + organic ingredients. A simple recipe... and one that should be extra divine. Have I mentioned that T-chan, L-kun and I are Pizza freaks. Well, strictly speaking, L-kun is a garlic bread freak. So we ordered a two garlic breads and an olive bread.
I have to admit, our first impression was a little bit of disappointment. The garlic bread was decidedly un-garlicy, and the olive bread was even more disappointing (at $4.5 per slice it should have been divine). The olive bread consisted of a thick slice of Turkish bread with an organic olive tapenade. Now T-chan doesn't like olives, but I love them - and my mouth was watering expecting a luscious flavour. I was disappointed. The flavour was muted to the point that even T-chan could eat. So things got off to a rocky start. And don't get me started on the waitress... at every opportunity she would ask us if we wanted a drink - despite the fact that we told her that we wanted to read the menu first. Please listen!

So we then ordered our pizzas: organic free-range chicken with baby potatoes, garlic, rosemary and paremesan. Sounds simple... but I can honestly say it was the best chicken pizza that we've ever tasted. Not only that it was some of the best chicken that we've tasted. We could have eaten more and more of it. Big thumbs up! Oh by the way - we forgot to take the camera out until we'd almost finished, hence the sort of unsophisticated 'half eaten' look. It may not look like much, but it was extremely delicious.

The other pizza we had was the Smoked Salmon, with a combination of preserved lemon, caper mayonnaise and mizuna (or Japanese greens). This was also quite yummy - though not as amazing as the chicken - and the caper mayonnaise really set it off. Both of these were very simple in construction, but it just goes to show the value of good ingredients.

I should also give a shout out to the Mountain Goat Steam Ale which I had... once again a beautifully organic brew that was +1's all around from me. Our overall experience was good, but the downside of the garlic/olive bread, plus that there was a very large (noisy) booking that evening detracted a bit. The pizzas were about $15-25 per 9" pizza... so not cheap, but I think worth it for the quality ingredients.

Good Life's details are:
5/11 O'Connell Street, North Adelaide
Phone: 8267 3431 (note - they didn't reply to the phone messages until after 4:30 pm, so book evening before).

Any way - we had decided to go elsewhere for desserts and drink... as we don't often go out these days, we wanted to try a new-ish place in North Adelaide called the Chocolatree - Fine Chocolate and Dessert Cafe. This was a bit of a surprise for us, as it perhaps didn't quite attract enough attention from the foot-path... but once in, we realised that there was quite a bit of room, especially in terms of outdoor seating at the back.

As it was a chocolate cafe - there was plenty of delicious looking boutique chocolates to be had... 

Though there was plenty of variety beyond the simple delights of quality chocolate. 

Given that it as a chocolate cafe however, we decided to share a Chocolate Mousse... and it was a good thing that we had ordered to share, because believe me this little baby (which is served with an extra helping of rich Belgian melted chocolate) is divinely rich. Superbly - but too-much-to-be-good-for-you rich. We loved it however. 

I rather foolishly... I admit... ordered the Chocolate Indulgence to drink. It was incredibly chocolatey... and I just about melted into it's rich brown depths. However... when combined with the Mousse, I almost - and I really mean almost - reached my limit. I don't want to imagine what would have happened if I had crossed that line. Best not to think about it. 

T-chan ordered the Chai Latte...  which was delicious as well, and thankfully not laden with chocolate. 

We gave L-kun the choice of any delectable... he went with the bling of 100's and 1000's and ordered the Chocolate Freckle Round. He's a boy of simple tastes and drives.

As T-chan sat blissfully unaware (in a cocoa induced stupor) this cheeky shot some how summed up our experience. Caution: Mind your step! There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and we had only just escaped the evening with our dignity intact. But - if given the chance again, we most probably would have indulged just as much next time again. I have to say that I'd also try some of their signature dishes like the truffles and the chocolate fondue.... yummy.

Chocolatrees Details:
25 O'Connell Street, North Adelaide
8367 0443

In closing - it was a great night out, and we all had a good feed and lots of good memories. I would recommend it to anyone... though don't expect the _perfect_ experience and you'll have a great time.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Plus Two at 19 Weeks... Getting A Wee Bit Cramped For Room

 Well yesterday we had our 19 week morphology scan and everything came back well ... it was an amazing experience that was good to share with our son, L-kun... soon to be big brother L-kun. The one thing that I was a little disappointed in however is that the ultrasound specialists had a policy against allowing video or photos to be taken, so unfortunately we've only got the print-outs to show.

Our baby, +2, was a little less cooperative this time around... not quite so much room to manoeuvre in the womb (compared to the 12 week scan), and that meant mummy had to perform a few rather interesting position changes on the ultrasound bed. All made the more interesting because she had a very full bladder (something that's required for the ultrasound, and involves drinking 500ml of water without going to the toilet). Very uncomfortable. Still, there are some sights that are worth a little suffering for (says the comfortable daddy). A high five from your baby in the womb is one of them.

So the 19 week mark is the last major (medically) important ultrasound that you get here... in a normal pregnancy, though you might have plenty of obstetrician-based ones. As the baby gets bigger, it becomes harder to get good images anyhow (from what I remember). So, these may be the best images we can expect for a while.

And so did we find out the sex of the baby... well, the sonographer put it this way, it's a 50:50 bet, but in her opinion it was going to be a... oh well... we can all wait, can't we? 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Walking Through Adelaide - Photo Fun Part 2

 One of the things that I was trying to do when I went for my "big day out" with the camera, was to practice taking some people shots. Now, this is something that I don't have a lot of experience at, except for my family. And I have to say, I'm still not sure what's the correct protocol when it comes to taking photos of people in a public environment. Anyhow, I've tried to put only photos up that I thought were interesting, but not too interesting. I guess I'm a shy kinda guy, and I'm happier to be the fly on the wall observing than asking people if they mind their photo being taken.

One of the more interesting characters was this 'Guitar Zamurai'... for those familiar with near contemporary Japanese characters, he was a famous talent of a few years back. This isn't him, but clearly he's got an eye for some historical/cultural references all of his own. I'm sorry I didn't wait around long enough between his set to ask his name... but he certainly enjoyed himself, and the life of a busker is not an easy one.

Adelaide's not exactly Protest Central - although that may not be exactly true (as it always seems there's protest marches heading off to parliament house). Still, I was a bit surprised to see some global politics being given an outing in the centre of Adelaide - which generally has a much more local set of interest groups. In the space of 100m you can find a kimono-clad novo-punk guitarist and a very serious protest about middle-eastern politics. That's Adelaide for you.

Sometimes, you don't need to make a portrait all about the person - although that sounds strange even to me as I type it. I kinda like this shot below, as the maneki neko (lucky cat) was the focus, but the interest is really the woman concentrating hard on making crepes in the background. BTW - I'll post up my post on a really good Japanese crepe place in Rundle Mall. Not quite the real thing, but pretty damn close.

Of course - there's many in life that have lived through many more years than I. And I guess we tend to block them out from our vision. They just don't quite fit into our view of the modern youth-centric world. They move to a different drum, yet it's a tune that we keep time to.

Of course - my natural inclination is not to take photos of people at all... it's all too messy really. I prefer things I can stare at for moments on end, without them getting nervous, and/or calling the Police. Inanimate's the way to go. And so, I couldn't resist throwing in a couple more of my shots from around town. This time I've been even more dramatic with the treatment on them.

 Adelaide can be a little disturbing at times - it's what comes of having a lively Arts community. Sometimes you wonder however if we really do notice the things around us though. Or if those things are noticing us...

Indeed it used to be having two large metallic balls (the Mall's Balls) was considered cutting edge - that was a product of the 70's (1977 to be exact). Clearly stainless steel was the new black back then.

Nowadays ART has a slightly more rural urbanity about it. Mixing in the (Orwellian-influenced?) pigs and their insatiable desire to scavenge through rubbish. The Mall's pigs have become a new icon of Adelaide. It's a different scale, and perhaps a slightly different self-image. Street sculpture is definitely a thing of the last decade, where inanimate life is meant somehow to make a place feel more lively...

And speaking of lively - Adelaide's not known for it's development. We'd prefer to evolve rather than change. Still, for all that, change is inevitable. But it makes you realise just how long it's been since the face of Rundle Mall changed appreciably when a building lot becomes the focus of a photographer hobbyist. 

 Good ol' Adelaide. Traditional to the end however. It doesn't take you long to realise that the more things change, the more it stays Adelaide.

Time indeed flows differently here... and it's not measured in hours or minutes. 

It is often said that Adelaide's like a large country town. By some this is said in the way of nostalgic warmth (that Adelaide hasn't lost it's small city feel), whereas for others it's said in slightly more disparaging tones. It does feel however like a city built on the back of a country town, and you don't have to look far (for example down the main "adult precinct" of Hindley Street to get a sense of the slow moving town ambience (if you ignore all the sex shops that is).

And I guess, after all, not every city has to be big and bold as brass. Adelaide is a small city, where the pace of life is generally a few steps behind the rest of the world. It is our home, and where our family lives. It's our place, and that always gives it just that little more well-lived in feel. Home has such a significant meaning. To all of us - no matter where we are from.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Walking Through Adelaide - Photo Fun Pt 1

Well today I'm stuck at home getting over a cold, and feeling like taking it easy in front of the computer for a little while. I've just realised how little I've been posting of late - mostly due to some pretty insatiable work demands that have been consuming most of my time. And what time I've had left has been pretty well devoted to family time. As it should be.

Still, I'd like to push out a few more of my photos from the other month... a trip into the heart of Adelaide... where I just had one thing on my mind. Experiment taking photos. Well - these photos aren't exactly experimental, but they were fun for me to do. And the one thing I've been experimenting more with is B&W photography (care of some simple filtering in Picasa).

One of the more interesting sights in the city centre - and quite at the other end of the historical spectrum - is the Rundle Lantern. This was a light-sculptural feature that was built to hide one of the ugly car parks in the city and has now become a very the canvas for a quite interesting light show that plays every night (one evening I'll have to come down and take some video of it... but in the meantime have a look at this video by Martin Whipp).

Statue to Sir Ross Smith, who along with his brother Keith and Jim Bennett and Wally Shiers, were the first people to fly from England to Australia in 1919 (took 28 days and 135 flying hours!). He actually was one of the original Anzac's that landed in Galipoli back in 1915, and was also a WWI fighter ace... and was even the pilot for Lawrence of Arabia (of all people). These days we often forget the people that have forged such remarkable places in our history. Now you can find his statue, almost secluded alongside the Adelaide Oval.

Adelaide has some great architecture that dates from the late 19th century and early 20th century. And some of the best examples can be found along North Terrace with the Museum, Art Gallery, and Adelaide University in particular. Today I was more interested in the details rather than the buildings - plus I already had my 50-250mm lens on... The somewhat unusual tone work was just achieved using a very simple colour B&W filter which can really add some nice subtle textures especially against the sky blue tones.

I'm a sucker for some good old neo-gothic architecture, and Adelaide's architects were apparently too... And Adelaide University's Mitchell Building (built around 1880) is a classic Gothic Revival style that you can see spotted throughout the city.

With just a little tweaking of the filter, you can add some very nice tones to the B&W images... or at least they please my eye.

An almost B&W photo... I'm sorry I couldn't resist my tribute to Shindler's List symbolism... ok.... it wasn't that good a tribute. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to frame the shot, or wait for the cars to take off from the traffic lights... and it was hard to get the focus right to get the reflection in the water feature. Did it work... not quite, but it was worth a try.

And a couple of near-monochromatic photos for good measure. North Terrace has a number of Plane Trees  along it's wide boulevard, which make for a beautifully green walk in summer. Coming out of winter however, they also have these amazing seeds that look almost like dried Christmas decorations. Adelaide has a strange relationship with it's native and introduced flora. These Oriental Plane Trees were originally planted in Adelaide in 1910.... that's over a century of historical significance.

A little bit of a boost from the saturation on this photo brings a very different look and feel to the masonry on this tower detail from the Mitchell Building (see above).

Anyway - that's one more off my list of posts in a steadily growing backlog.