CANTEEN National Bandanna Day

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world"
Anne Frank

28 October 2011 is Canteen's National Bandanna Day.  Sydney's Martin Place was awash with street art, bright bandannas, and smiley teens cheerily raising awareness of a serious cause.

More info can be found at

More pics are on the Lifeafterfive* facebook page.

Breakfast on Bondi

Didgeridoos break the silence of Bondi’s early waves, welcoming the dawn as the light grey clouds allow the sun to gingerly peek through.  The majestic music of a 55 piece orchestra floats over the beach. Waves crash and tumble during each timely pause, a heady reminder of the outdoor elements.  Surfers catch the rolling swell as the crescendos of Beethoven’s fifth symphony mesmerise the crowd.

It’s a warm, overcast morning as approximately 5000 people set up their towels, picnics and line up for much needed coffees in anticipation of a spectacular sunrise experience – all before 6am.  A new initiative of the Crave Festival, the Breakfast at Bondi creatively combined Sydney’s love of beaches and brekky in an unusual blend of boardies and bowties.  Sydneysiders were able to embrace the natural beauty of our town while appreciating inspiring musical talent and organic muesli, coffees and muffins.

The Strathfield Symphony Orchestra took us on an arousing journey from Mozart to Beethoven, enjoying the novelty feeling of sand between our toes while listening to the majestic classics.  Between boardies and havaiianas, skateboards and picnic baskets, the atmosphere was festive as Crave director Joanna Savill welcomed the crowd.  While celebrity chef Bill Granger described Sydney as a cross between a city and a resort, Masterchef’s Northern Beaches boy Hayden Quinn roved the beach to spot the best picnic brekkies on offer.
Gabrielle Upton, Bill Granger and Hayden Quinn

Bill Granger signs copies of his new book

Local Bondi institutions such as Katipo, the Fruitologist and Ariel Bookshop catered to early bird demands of fruit salad, coffees and Bill’s latest recipe book.  The moving Pachelbel’s canon – described by the conductor as “the one-hit wonder of the classical world” – had the audience spellbound as the gentle sun started to win over the clouds.

The Breakfast on Bondi was a pertinent reminder of Sydney’s uniquely sensational surrounds, even in the heart of the city.  Forcing one back to the present through artfully executed music, the wafting aroma of coffee and the relaxed beach location, the brekky was a reminder to pause; smell the coffee beans and listen to the waves.

Check out more photos on the Lifeafterfive* facebook page.


15 Year Anniversary of Certified Australian Angus Beef

Chef Paul “Mick” Micklewright
VEGETARIANS - cover your eyes.

The 15 year anniversary of Certified Australian Angus Beef (affectionately known as CAAB) on 20 October 2011 was a carnivore's dream.  Part of the Crave Sydney Food Festival, the six course dinner at Kingsley's Australian Steakhouse was a culinary celebration of all things cattle, embracing over a decade of awards, medals and prestige.

Read my review of the event on Eat Drink Play.
Lunatiq wine named after Jane Tyrell
Hard at work creating mini yorkshire puds


Kokomo Coconut Water

Food, like fashion, has a tendency to go through fads – often subliminally, super foods, cuisine and health kicks follow trends set by early adopters and savvy marketers. Just as Summer 2011/12 is all about bold block colours, low hemlines and lacy layers, our palates are set to be buzzing with apple cider (Batlow gets my vote), tacos and anything acai-flavoured – from yoghurt to ice cream to potato chips. 

The latest “super food” to reach a well-hyped tipping point is coconut water – sneakily popping up on menus, supermarket shelves and in gym cabinets all over town.

I was lucky enough to receive a pack of 12 x Kokomo Coconut Waters to taste. Made in Mango and Natural flavours, they are packaged in poppas that hark back to school lunches and weekend sport. Watery (not milky, as is a popular misconception), the flavour is an acquired taste that improves when imagining the magical health benefits simultaneously imbibed.

Some random facts about coconut water:

  • It is identical to human blood plasma. It was used by both sides during the Pacific War (1941-1945) to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers 
  • Contains more potassium than a banana & a high source of electrolytes 
  • Coconut water is found in young green coconuts that are approximately 7 months old 
My Kokomo poppas were refreshing and tasty – ideal for after a workout. Whether a super food or a passing fad, coconut water seems to be emerging as the latest must-have fitness accessory. Don your block colours, hop on your fixie and pop one in your basket (just don’t crush your prescription-less glasses).

Lifeafterfive* was sent Kokomo Coconut Waters by Soup.  Kokomo is Fairtrade Certified and will be stocked in Coles supermarkets.


Annual High Tea Party, Shangri La

"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice very earnestly."I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more"
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland 

Bursting at the seams with ladies, couture and goodie bags, we discover a wonderland of girliness at the annual High Tea Party at the Shangri La Hotel. Billed as a gorgeous excuse to catch up with the girls, we delve into the fray to discover stalls touting every possible requirement for a girls' day in (or night out). Girls rest stilletoed feet in deck chairs while served free coffees, pose for polaroid photos with pearls and feather boas, and ascend the staircase while rifling through racks of vintage clothing. Fabulous fascinators, flouncy frocks and frilly accessories are all on hand for feminine dress ups as we navigate the various floors.

For those feeling under-groomed, solutions abound (provided one has time to wait in line). Queue for a manicure after indulging in a hand massage, have a spray tan on the spot before having your make up done professionally. Get your bra properly fitted before picking a summer bikini... and even sign up for a month of free online fitness training. Overwhelmed by choice and with an aversion to queuing, we opt to relax in the Galliano Lounge pop up bar and enjoy generous servings of Galliano Mocha Martinis – a decadent combination of Galliano Ristretto, Russian Standard Vodka, Lavazza Espresso topped with Bols Crème De Cacoa White. 

Our High Tea sitting is at 2.30pm, and we leave the female frenzy for an oasis of calm in the Shangri La ballroom. A gentleman croons Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a wonderful world’ as we sip bubbly and admire models parading elegant fashion between tables. A selection of finger sandwiches include smoked salmon, minted cucumber and York ham, followed by Sara Lee mini desserts and buttery scones fresh from the hotel kitchen. 

A ladies’ only event full of fun, indulgence and pampering, the High Tea Party was a novel opportunity to embrace quality girl time in an otherwise hectic schedule. High tea sittings were at 10.30am, 12:30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm and took place on October 8 and 9, 2011. Tickets were sold through OurDeal, and included cocktails at the Galliano Lounge. Every guest received a gift bag with products and special offers.

Lifeafterfive* and friend attended the High Tea Party as a guest of OurDeal.


Italians just want to welcome people, however simple, in abundance


Decantered wine is poured, fresh bread ready for olive oil dunking as a group of old friends find seats at the long table. A live guitarist provides ambiance as we share abundant, wholesome, grandmother-worthy food, swap seats as the evening progresses and make ourselves at home.

Recreating the dining experience of any large Italian family, Table for 20 provides a home away from home where the food is hearty, the owners and staff are friendly and the wine is plentiful. For those who have been living under a rock for the past few years, Table for 20 was one of Sydney’s first concept dining experiences. Despite its popularity (large group bookings must be made months in advance), it thrives on the personal touch and passion of its owner – Michael Fantuz.
He personally welcomes us to dinner and stays for a chat, describing a childhood of large European households where food was shared, people were everywhere and memories were created. The love of the job is evident in the attention to detail, the genuine warmth of the staff as they take your coat and invite you to Sticky Bar upstairs while waiting for a table – as if they are inviting you into their home. 
Michael Fantuz welcomes us to dinner
The three set courses change daily, and ten percent of the proceeds go to the Hope Street Mission, a local charity that provides services to homeless people. Hidden in a Surry Hills alley, passion for family and community, personality and originality characterise this well known but hard to find gem. 

Michael tells us of his plan to open a Buffalo Mozzarella bar in Darlinghurst, a trend that has taken off in New York, Tokyo and Milan. Despite the niche appeal of the concept, if the new venue has the energy, character and authenticity of Table for 20, it may be worth getting your booking in now – before the rest of Sydney catches on.

3C Set menu
+ Mum's Limoncello
BYO wine only - no corkage
Or drink mine
Live music every night
$70 Wed,Thurs,Fri&Sat
Functions available for Sat
Legs under the table for dinner by 8pm
182 Campbell St, Surry Hills
Sticky Bar open from 5.30pm
Table For 20 on Urbanspoon


Westfield Doncaster Styling Suite, Melbourne

Sydney versus Melbourne. A friendly rivalry that most likely began with Captain Cook sending telegrams to his Victorian counterpart boasting about grazing land and rum quality, the Sydney v Melbourne contest has persisted to the modern day.   As Sydneysiders point to sandy beaches while Victorians claim the cultural crown, there are certain unarguable elements acknowledged as distinctively superior in both cities.  In Melbourne, this is the races – The Spring Racing Carnival, to be precise.
Taking place over 50 days in Spring, the world’s greatest thoroughbreds, most respected trainers and thousands of spectators turn Victoria into the horse racing capital of the world.  While some are focused on horses and racing, the Carnival is a key event on the social calendar of locals – an excuse for glamorous dress ups, drinking champagne and enjoying a fun day with friends.
On a whirlwind trip to Melbourne, a girlfriend and I were invited to the Westfield Doncaster Styling Suite on the Melbourne Cup Carnival Preview Day.   A flock of brightly dressed fashionistas in the latest styles matched with colourful, artistic hats greet us as we entered the tent.  

For your chance to win a VIP trip to Melbourne Emirates Stakes Day, read my review of A Day at the Races  as the NSW Blogger for and enter here.


Lifestyles of the rich and famous - Sydney style

The scene opens with ten girls relaxing on a luxury yacht, enjoying an endless supply of champagne as the sun starts to set over the harbour. Hair blowing in the wind, they glide under the majestic Harbour Bridge towards the Opera House, the sky a luminescent hue of orange, pink and blue. They laugh as ‘Lifestyles of the rich and the famous’ features on the iPod playlist, and make a toast “to life” – it doesn’t get much better than this.

A champagne sunset sail with the Australian Spirit Sailing Company has given me and my gorgeous gaggle of girlfriends the chance to create our own ‘movie moment’ while experiencing the crème de la crème of Sydney. We are greeted by friendly skipper Tony Smith as we board our private yacht ‘Katrina’ at King Street Wharf, and are invited to make ourselves comfortable as we prepare for our discovery of Sydney Harbours’ star attractions.

To read the full article, check out my review of Sunset Sailing VIP Party Style as the NSW Blogger for


Cooking with the love goddess; Flavours of Malaysia

‘I just looooove food, and I have happily sacrificed my body to my love!” says the voluptuous chef welcoming us to the Grace Hotel. To award winning Malaysian chef Wanitha Tanasingam (or love goddess, as she calls herself), cooking is not just an activity. It is a way to express her love of people and philosophy of life.

Tips from Chef Wanitha

“Feel the heat like a lover’s kiss on a cold wintery night – always leave the pot on and ready to cook”

“Pretend you are a ballerina when pouring a liquid into the pot – move your hand away quickly and gracefully”

"Cooking is like falling in love – wait until the other person is committed before turning up the heat or booking the holiday (ie wait until the vegies are ready before increasing the temperature)”

“Smell is the first experience of food – it caresses your cheek to let you know it’s there”

"Food has personalities – you need to use spices to bring out the different personalities. Bring delight to the main ingredient”

“You are the master of your teaspoon – make sure you taste the dish throughout the journey”


Flavours of Malaysia cooking class was part of the Passport to Malaysia program run by Malaysia Kitchen.

Check out Sara from BellyRumbles' review of the cooking class here