Guest Post: Big (city) love

Guest post by Julia Grundy
London in Summer
I’ve had more spare time recently. The kind of time that lets me watch a French cooking show on TV, consider actually baking madeleines, and from there googling the show’s host, then drifting from one website to another, following links, reading blogs, until I found myself looking at photos of some woman’s favorite caesar salad in San Francisco - from every angle. 

At this point I stopped. Photos of lettuce leaves covered in cheese are sad.

But along this meandering online journey I did find several pretty websites and blogs dedicated to “loving Paris”, and similar fan sites for London, and of course, for New York. Do you know anyone who doesn’t LOVE New York? Expressing dislike for New York is like saying you don’t drink, people accept it but mentally mark you as a fun-hating weirdo.

I do like New York. A week there last summer left me tanned, happy, well-fed and slightly better dressed. But I don’t LOVE New York. I’m sure I’d be perfectly happy living there, but I’m not hell-bent on making it happen.

As for Paris, it totally defeated me as a cold, tired and broke 21- year-old backpacker. Anyway, my point is all these fawning blogs and websites made me think about the hole in my life that is a beloved city.

How many colorful books have been written by people who fled to a foreign city, fell in love with the people, the food, the culture, the architecture, whatever, and in the process found love, found themselves, blah blah blah? Heaps. Then why haven’t I experienced this?

I've been places, I get inspired, I’ve made the effort to fly everywhere from Istanbul to Berlin to LA…but no one city has really and truly grabbed me. 

I like cities; I like big galleries, big bridges, big parks, good coffee, noise, local food markets and overpriced restaurants. I like being anonymous in a city, I like the variety of people, houses and character that a walk through any city brings.  But I haven’t found MY city.

It took me over 20 years to figure out Sydney isn’t it. I totally get its appeal, and parts of it I love – like North Bondi, Bronte baths, and cheap, delicious Thai food anywhere- but there are too many things I dislike about Sydney. Given the nature of this blog I won’t bang on about them.

I really like my new city home. London is wonderfully low-key when you need it to be, but also open for any kind of fun, at any time, in all costumes and price ranges. And anyone who’s been here in summer gets it. The mood of the city completely lifts, the sidewalks outside pubs fill with happy drinkers, and every park turns into an unofficial music and cider festival. It’s so great. 

So, London has a lot going for it, but I’m not gaga enough to write a blog about it.  Is it me? Am I not open or daring enough to fully launch myself into a city? Is there a language barrier? Or, like a lot of relationships, is it more a case of being at the right place at the right time?

I recently married a lovely Englishman, so I can happily tick that relationship box. But after years of travelling, I’d love to find that “special” city too. There are still plenty I’m yet to see – Amsterdam, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Tokyo…. maybe it’s a numbers game, like that 100 cities thing people are doing on facebook. In the meantime, I’m giving Paris another shot this summer, hoping a better budget and serious interest in French food (thanks to that cooking show) will make all the difference.

Julia Grundy is a writer who is searching for her one true (city) love.


A Taste of Greece with Lyndey Milan

“When in Greece you cook with a Greek heart” declared celebrity chef Lyndey Milan as diners were tantalised with the wafting aromas of Peloponnese cuisine. As jovial chords of live bouzouki music bounce over the twinkling lights of the harbour, it is not a far stretch to imagine ourselves seated in a traditional restaurant on a Mediterranean island.

To celebrate the launch of the Taste of Greece cookbook on the back of her successful SBS series, Lyndey Milan teamed with the George’s Mediterranean Bar & Grill to host a feast drawn from the recipes in the book. Showcasing the highlights of a mother and son food-focused road trip around the Peloponnese, the evening was a heart (and stomach) warming tribute to both the region and Lyndey's late son, Blair.
Lyndey Milan regales diners with tales of the Peloponnese
We begin our culinary journey with a traditional eggplant dip (similar to baba ganoush) and a freshly grilled pita, a tasty portent of the flavoursome delights to come. An exotic collection of mezedes follow, a range of chickpea fritters, BBQ squid filled with fetta and spinach, and zucchini dill and mint fritters.
BBQ Squid with fetta and spinach

Village salad

The main course consists of slow roasted lamb, lemon potatos and village salad. Lyndey introduces each dish with a story, describing how she and Blair stumbled across each. She says that the Hercules Blood cocktail, a concoction of pomegranate seed and tequila, was created by Blair after extensive sampling of cocktails with locals throughout their trip. 
Slow roasted lamb
Matching wines are a carefully chosen selection also hailing from the Peloponnese region, and complement the hearty cuisine. The sweet Kourtakis Muscat of Samos is a memorable finale and dessert is an indulgent cinnamon cheesecake with Samos-soaked muscatels, topping off a mouth watering testament to George’s Executive Chef, Keith Higginson. 
Hercules Blood cocktails
Lyndey reminds us that Greek hospitality is focused on ensuring guests are happy, no matter what it takes. Enjoying a night under the stars with atmospheric music, traditional dishes prepared by a renowned chef and a welcoming host, the mission is well accomplished.  We raise our glasses and toast: Yamas!
Bouzouki player entertains the crowd
George's Mediterranean Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Lifeafterfive* was a guest of the event.


Guest Post: Why I’d rather give to Leisure Suit Larry than to charity

Guest post by Prashan Paramanathan

It was the mid-90s and personal computers were starting to find their way into every home. Dial up modems were still screeching and the Y2K bug lay on our doorstep, ready to destroy all that was good. Our family had just got its first PC (with its top-of-the-class 128MB hard drive) and I, the typical 13 year old boy, was just discovering computer games.

Adventure games were the hot genre of the time and alongside Police Quest, Hugo's House of Horrors and Bubble Bobble, stood - I'm a little embarrassed to say - Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of Lounge Lizzards. Larry was a dodgy, balding 40-something lovable-loser type in Las Vegas and you were trying to help him pick up. It was more comical than raunchy.

Larry has lain dormant for well over a decade now, so I was more than a little surprised when he re-emerged a few weeks ago on Kickstarter, a US-based crowd funding site. The creator of the Larry series, Al Lowe, was looking to raise $500k to remake the Larry game, and strangely, well, disturbingly, I felt myself compelled to give to the ‘cause’.

Now, despite working in the non-profit world for over 4 years now, I’m not very good with giving money in general. And so, as I was clicking the donate button for Larry, it suddenly dawned on me what I was doing. Did I really feel more compelled to give to Larry than I did to, say, World Vision?

Disturbingly, the answer to that question felt like a yes.

It made me ask around my friends – did they give to charity and how did they decide whom to give to?

The response I got was oddly contradictory: they wanted to connect, interact and contribute to the non-profit world but also had a healthy dose of distrust, distance and disillusionment with “charities”. I heard a lot of “I don’t really know how they spend their money” and “I don’t know if they’re any good”.

As I pondered this some more, I realised that what I was really hearing was this: “If I’m a young, 20- or 30- something professional, the traditional benevolent ‘charity’-model doesn’t really speak to me”.

So, what should you do if you’re a socially-conscience young professional wanting to connect to the non-profit world?

Here are two really simple things:
  • Be trendy, eat social enterprise-style: Social enterprises are essentially businesses run for a social purpose. For some reason, the most common types seem to be food-related. Two of my favourites for the Melbournians are STREAT (coffee/food carts run by homeless youth and Scarf (borrows restaurants to train marginalised young people in hospitality). 
  • Find your tribe: There are plenty more people like you out there. In Sydney, they hang out at many places, but three of my favourites are Emerging Leaders for Social Change (ELSC), Think Act Change and Young Social Entrepreneurs. It’s pretty simple, just turn up and see if you like it.
To make it even easier for you, I’m working with a mate (that I met at ELSC) to create Chip In Australia, a site that profiles some of the best Australian non-profits and social enterprises to make it even easier for you to connect to them.  You can check us out here.
STREAT's Stop Homelessness the Delicious Way campaign
And, if it all goes well, who knows, I might even be able to find something better to give to on there than Larry.

During the day, Prashan Paramanathan dons his non-profit consultant outfit but after five he spends his time writing for The Education Report and tinkering at Chip In Australia.

Like Lifeafterfive on Facebook at



“This is where the journey starts” begins the dapper sommelier, referring to the meticulously scattered design in the vast warehouse. Channelling Willy Wonka on a tour of mind-boggling creations, our enthusiastic guide leads us through the sensory wonderland of scented sculptures and mysterious art at THE BLOCKS
Catering to Gen Y’s notoriously short attention span and penchant for the new, pop ups venues continue to address our insatiable quest for novelty, quality and entertainment. From the long-standing Bucket List that still draws a crowd, to Bizarre Bazaar’s laneway markets, each seems to be more innovative then the last. The allure of limited time, perceived exclusivity and reliance on word of mouth combine to create a recipe for success that challenges the long-held dominance of permanent venues. 

Open in Sydney for only three weeks before embarking on a world tour, the collaboration between Penfolds and London’s Studio Toogood is an inspired example of a creative installation. Imploring us to disregard the snobbery associated with wine and follow our intuition, the team has invited Australian artists, perfumers and sculptures to create wine inspired experiences for visitors. 
Starting with a virtual number 1 that is a fragment of light projected onto the wooden floor, we smell a sculpture, enjoy the art works and assess our instinctive reaction to both. Each category of art and smell has been derived from the words usually associated with particular brackets of wine, and are intended to help us disregard preconceived notions of wine. 
Our journey through the senses is educational and fun, stretching our minds laterally to fuse art, wine and food (not too much of a struggle really). Once we’ve picked our favourites, the sommelier reveals the corresponding Penfolds Bin and Luxury wines that sit behind them. We choose 1. Aromatic Whites and 4. Regional Reds, and sit down for a tasting. At $35 for 4 x 75ml glasses, we’ve discovered the grape version of Wonka’s chocolate river paradise, and start to appreciate the subtle differences between the blends. 

Despite the transient nature of the venue, no detail has been overlooked. From Riedel crystal wine glasses to Mud Australia porcelain plates, we sit under canopies of illuminated glass grapes on chairs hand cast from raw aluminium specifically for the event. While Sydney’s last undeveloped historic wharf building will feel empty when THE BLOCKS departs for Melbourne on 4 May, Penfolds and Studio Toogood have further raised the bar (literally) for pop up innovation. 

Lifeafterfive* was a guest of THE BLOCKS and enjoyed a free tasting bracket worth $35.

The Blocks
16th March-5th April
Pier 2/3 13 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Wed-Fri 4pm-11pm and Sat-Sun 1pm-11pm