Friday
May102013

Miss Bunting talks perfect party flowers

So you’ve worked out your menu and figured out your tipple of choice. Now—how to take your table from midweek mundane to a whimsical weekend special? Quite simply, flowers.

And you don’t need a large budget either – save all those glass jars you’ve been throwing out, wrap them with our doilies and twine (below), and fill with flowers from the garden, or even bunches of woody herbs like Rosemary. This will instantly transform your table, and the low height lends an added bonus of still being able to see your guests across the table. Unless you really don’t like them of course, in which case a large arrangement of hydrangea should do the trick. Candles are also a sure-fire winner for ambient lighting (simply pop a few tea-lights in those glass jars you’ve been hoarding), but perhaps save the Diptyque scented candles for the entry way or bathroom. Considering we ‘eat’ with all our other senses first, the heady aroma of jasmine mixing with the slow-roast pork might not be the best start to your fine dining experience.

Thursday
May092013

Winona Forever

We are FFFing loving the return of the darkly diminutive Winona Ryder. Once Gwyneth Paltrow’s BFF (read about their Frenemy Feud here), she is the polar opposite of the tall, blonde and waspish Paltrow. Ryder is a pocket sized Elizabeth Taylor—all raven tresses, magnetic eyes and ample bossom, with a complicated past to boot.

But she’s back, and all her troubles are forgotten. Her new movie, The Iceman, is a period piece set mostly in the 1960s and ’70s that stars Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski, a real-life contract killer for the mob in New York and New Jersey who is said to have murdered more than 100 people. Early talk is that Ryder, portraying Kuklinski’s wife, is not just good—she’s brilliant. Check out the trailer here.

Maybe she and her true love Johnny Depp will come full circle, he’ll re-ink his ‘Winona Forever’ tat and they’ll waltz off into that Hollywood sunset together. We can hope… in the meantime, check out these stunning shots from Interview magazine. You can read the full story here.

Wednesday
May082013

The Best of Carey Mulligan

We are nibbling our nails-down in anticipation for the upcoming release of The Great Gatsby!

Stepping into Mia Farrow’s shoes as the new Daisy Buchanan is the chic and gamine, Carey Mulligan. Her personal style is flawless and quietly elegant, favouring frocks with simple lines and minimal embellishment. Her go-to designers are Lanvin, Bottega Veneta, Prada and more recently, Victoria Beckham. We think these looks personify her star style to a T!  

pics via imnotobsessed.com, graziadaily.com, redcarpet-fashionawards.com, marieclaire.com, instyle.com, zimbio.com 

Monday
May062013

Clean up your fruit and veg act!

We’d all love to eat organic produce all the time — or better yet, food picked from our own lush vegie patch a la Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated. But a lot of the time you have to make do and slum it with the standard supermarket offerings. Either way, it’s essential to give your fruit and vegies a thorough clean before you eat them … even those packets of spinach that are ‘washed and ready to use’!

So why not clean up your act with this wash for squeaky clean vegies…

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
Put all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake. Dump your fresh produce in a big bowl (or clean sink) and spray with solution. Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
Sunday
May052013

Guest Blogger Nadia Bellis: Sexy mood enhancing food

Hi FFFers! Our resident sexoligist Nadia Bellis has red penned our weekly shopping list! These two added and recommended mood enhancers are super delicious when teamed together and guaranteed to give every dinner a happy ending.  

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate—the ultimate mood enhancer—contains phenylethlyamine (PEA) also known as the ‘love chemical’, released when you are in love and strangely enough when you eat chocolate [duh cause we’re all in love with chocolate!]. This love chemical stimulates the release of hormones dopamine and in turn oxytocin; the former creates feelings of sexual euphoria and desire and the latter is released upon orgasm and promotes trust and bonds couples and mothers to their babies.

Chocolate comes from the Theobroma Cacao tree which literally translates to ‘fruit of the Gods’, the magic that is cacao is transformed into the smooth, velvety texture of chocolate that we obsess and feel guilty for consuming. As long as you eat over 70% cold pressed organic cocoa with no added sweeteners or dairy, you can quash the choccy-guilt, especially since it contains tryptophan the building block of serotonin, which makes us feel happy and is linked to desire and arousal. To top of the long list of benefits dark chocolate provides is arginine responsible for increased blood flow to the genitals resulting in stronger erections and enhanced genital sensations. Researchers have also found that chocolate contains cannabinoids (think THC), a little bit of caffeine for an energy kick and may regulate women’s sexual functioning – Fruits of the Gods indeed!

Red Wine

We all need a little lowering of our inhibitions and a confidence boost now and then to help us engage in intimate acts of the sexual variety with a long-term partner or a new date…and hey – a little alcohol content never hurt anyone! In fact research has found that one to two glasses of red wine a day improves a women’s sexual desire. Packed with antioxidants specifically resveratrol, sexual arousal is enhanced as increased blood flow and sensitivity to erogenous zones, sends our naughty parts singing- red wine, feeling fine! Add some clove or spices to your wine for added aphrodisiac effect.

Image via topnews

Friday
May032013

Miss Bunting on the perfect party tipple

Now that you’ve planned your menu or have dusted off all your fancy cookbooks (it’s a start, well done you), it’s time to talk drinks. So pour yourself a single-malt and consider this: checking to see if you still have wine in the cupboard really isn’t enough. Especially if your ‘cellar’ consists solely of corporate-gift cleanskin bottles from last Christmas. Cellar forever. In a bin. Or use in a recipe, but try it first—remember, if it’s not good enough to drink, it ain’t mysteriously going to transform into something good enough to cook with. Fact.

So take the time to think a little longer about what you are serving and whether it’s complementary. A heavy, peppery, full-bodied Shiraz with say, your sashimi & tempura starter isn’t really going to work all that well. You don’t need to be an expert, but do apply the general rules for food matching, and do cater for at least a beer and one or two spirits. If you’re feeling brave, pop on over to matchingfoodandwine.com for inspiration. They’ve even got a story on pairing whisky with Indian food. I know, right?

Even better, have a little fun creating a signature cocktail—the type you can serve in a jug and create a mini bar station prepped and ready to go so guests can help themselves. This will work even better in a garden party scenario when you can experiment with some punchy summer flavours. Think Rosewater and Watermelon martinis. A jug of Pimms crammed with mint & cucumber = heaven. Have some of our vintage striped straws ready and use our mini chalkboards to label your drinks. Hey presto—you have yourself an instantly fabulous mini-bar!

xMiriam


PS… if you are doing a sashimi & tempura starter—you’re officially fabulous.

Wednesday
May012013

Onion remedy for cold & flu season

 

There’s a cold and flu cure remedy that’s been doing the rounds on the internet for a while, and it’s all about the humble onion. You can read the full story here, but in a nutshell: if you slice both ends off an onion, and place in an open jar next to your bed (and head), the onion will absorb all your nasty bacteria and germs … and possibly be black by the morning! Yeuck!!

We think there’s a bigger question here. How can you possibly get to sleep with a smelly ol’ onion keeping you company through the night? Still, when you’re in the throes of a nasty lurgy you’d try just about anything.

However, we think a much better option for our onions is to whack them all in a pot and make a sweet, caramelised French onion soup to slurp on while we battle the sniffles. This version is one of our favourites. Enjoy!

Delia Smith’s French Onion Soup

  • 700 g onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ level teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1.2 litres good beef stock
  • 275 ml dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the croutons:

  • French baguette, cut into 2.5 cm diagonal slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

To serve:

  • 6 large or 12 small croutons
  • 225 g Gruyère, grated

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

First make the croutons: begin by drizzling the olive oil on to a large, solid baking-sheet, add the crushed garlic and then, using your hands, spread the oil and garlic all over the baking sheet. Now place the bread slices on top of the oil, then turn over each one so that both sides have been lightly coated with the oil. Bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes till crispy and crunchy.

Next: place the saucepan or casserole on a high heat and melt the oil and butter together. When this is very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, and keep turning them from time to time until the edges of the onions have turned dark – this will take about 6 minutes. Then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and leave the onions to carry on cooking very slowly for about 30 minutes, by which time the base of the pan will be covered with a rich, nut brown, caramelised film. After that, pour in the stock and white wine, season, then stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the base of the pan well.

As soon as it all comes up to simmering point, turn down the heat to its lowest setting, then go away and leave it to cook very gently, without a lid, for about 1 hour. All this can be done in advance but, when you’re ready to serve the soup, bring it back up to simmering point, taste to check for seasoning – and if it’s extra-cold outside, add a couple of tablespoons of Cognac! Warm the tureen or soup bowls in a low oven and pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Then ladle in the hot soup and top with the croutons, allowing them to float on the top of the soup. Now sprinkle the grated Gruyère thickly over the croutons and place the whole lot under the grill until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve immediately – and don’t forget to warn your guests that everything is super hot!

Recipe via deliaonline

Wednesday
May012013

FFF says: DO DOUBLE DENIM

dou·ble den·im (n.)  (dbl)  (dnm)

—the art of teaming two or more denims, identical or different, together in one single outfit, sometimes successfully but most of the time not.

Since Charles and Di defined double denim back in the 80s, it has been one of our favourite hot (but mostly not) fashion trends of all time. Like a cold sore, it keeps coming back and often in painful ways (we’re looking at your Britney and Justin). 

Here are our top tips for doing double denim right…

  • Wear mismatched coloured washes and if in doubt, only two of them.
  • Add a third item of clothing, say a navy or white blazer, to cut through all that twill.
  • Wear in an undone fashion. Meaning, keep it loose and artfully disheveled. Pull it together with too much polish and aplomb and you are veering into Kath Day-Knight territory.
  • Add tan accessories for guaranteed spot-on embellishment.
  • Never opt for marble wash. Ever.

Check out the shots below for sheer sartorial inspiration and GO FOR IT!

Images via the sartorialist; thecoveteur; vanessajackman; jakandjil

Monday
Apr292013

Tight-arse Tuesday

If money’s too tight to mention, make like Kate and hit the highstreet. Stock up on cool, cheap and cheerful seasonal wonders and buy guilt-free whilst giving your wardrobe instant chutzpah. 

Grey jeans, $60, Top Shop, T-strap sandals, $118, JCrew, Clean Clip knapsack, $120, Top Shop, Stackable enamel ring, $38, JCrewWaistcoat, $100, Zara, Crystal and neon chevon bracelet, $78, JCrew, Faux leather and mesh top, $38, Zara (prices approx)

Wednesday
Apr242013

Wordless Wednesday: Airport Runway

Monday
Apr222013

RIP Chrissy Amphlett (1959 – 2013)

The original bad girl of Australian Rock is gone. As the front woman of The Divinyls, Chrissy Amphlett made us want to swagger and smoke in our uniforms while sporting shaggy fringes and scowls. She was one of the boys, but her tough girl femininity was hard to ignore. In a word, Amphlett was cool. And her voice? As original and strong as its owner. In recent years, she had battled MS and breast cancer — sadly, at 53, she lost that battle today. But we bet she fought both those adversaries with the same fierce attitude that made her a legend long before her untimely death.

God Bless Chrissy Amphlett … you rock! xx

Monday
Apr222013

Guest Blogger: Nadia Bellis on SEXY FOOD

FFF recently shared a delicious rabbit ragu at Sydney’s Hugos with gorgeous Sexoligist Nadia Bellis. Her ideas on sex and the busy modern women were so riveting, we thought FFFers might like her tips and tricks on how to get their sexy back too.

Today, Nadia talks sexual desire and where the hell to find it - in the kitchen apparently. How apt! Thank you Nadia. Enjoy FFFers! xx

Sexual desire, also known as libido or sex drive, is the need, want or desire to engage in sexual activity. The most frequently reported sexual complaint among women is low sexual desire. In order to boost your libido, hit the kitchen and indulge in scrumptious aphrodisiacs that contain hormones, vitamins and minerals that will help improve your sex drive. Why not take all three and create an aphrodisiac-themed dinner for two? Sexy!

Asparagus, phallic in design and delicious when cooked al dente, are considered a libido-boosting food due to their high folate and vitamin E content. Folate maintains reproductive health but more interestingly regulates the production of histamine – the chemical released during an orgasm. Vitamin E, often referred to as the ‘ultimate sex vitamin’, stimulates hormone production including testosterone, which has been found to influence sex drive in both men and women. It also contains phosphorus and calcium, nutrients needed for healthy hormone function.

TIP: Lightly grill asparagus with chili and seasame seeds, freshly sliced garlic and lemon juice for a delicious and sexually invigorating starter! 

Oysters, especially when served fresh and raw, are a delight to our senses, sexual health and libido.  They contain the neurotransmitter dopamine as well as rare amino acids and high quantities of zinc often referred to as the ‘ultimate sexual mineral’ which increase sex hormones.  Historically, oyster eaters and their pearly offspring have aided the rich and famous in their sexual conquests. Cassanova consumed 50 oysters for breakfast each day and Cleopatra snared Mark Anthony with her erotic dinner-time ‘melt-a-pearl-and-drink-it’ routine. As well as sex drive, oysters are important for a man’s reproductive health, sperm production and fertility. The yonic shaped shell and clean, salty taste when slipped seductively into your mouth can evoke sexual undertones to your night - unless you’re too busy locking eyes with your lover to realise the slippery suckers fallen into your lap!

Eggs, rich in protein and dopamine, are surprisingly perfect for enhancing pleasure. High levels of vitamin B5 and B6 help balance hormone levels and have been found to heighten the intensity of an orgasm.  In addition zinc and amino acids have beneficial effects on luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone production. Eat a couple in the morning to boost your libido for a sexy day ahead!

image via thegourmand

Friday
Apr192013

Miss Bunting on how to fashion the perfect feast

So we’re across this playlist business now, but the one thing that is constantly on your mind is probably the food, right? Look, it’s really important. But not so important that you need to lose sleep over designing a menu or sign up to do a cake-decorating night course. Your friends should (hopefully) be the types that are there because they want to see you, irrespective of what you serve them. If they’re not – ditch em’!

First and foremost, I really, really recommend that, unless you’re a chef, as much sharing plates, platters and prep that you can do, do it. I’m talking about a menu that is as considered for its flavour as it is for it’s minimal requirement for you to actually be in the kitchen making it. As I mentioned earlier, if you are in the kitchen panicking and smoke starts billowing into the dining room, it’s not that great for customer satisfaction levels. No one wants to feel like they’re a burden or the cause of a stressful situation, unless you are a contestant on My Kitchen Rules. Things like Panna Cotta made the night before are perfect, when all you need to do is plate up and serve. If you do feel like going all out however, try avoiding new, particularly challenging recipes for the very first time. If you’ve never filleted and pin-boned a whole side of Atlantic salmon before, I’d say attempting this just before guests are due would be foolhardy at best.  

Also, if you have any new guests, or partners of guests you may not have met, do find out if they have any allergy or food requirements. There’s nothing worse than proudly bringing your slow roast pork belly to a table full of vegetarians. If you are the guest, it’s always polite to let your host know well ahead of schedule also – and we’re talking allergies here, not simply aversions to foods by fussy eaters. Again, we’ll cover that on another post.

x Miriam

Thursday
Apr182013

Throwback Thursday: CALL ME!

Wednesday
Apr172013

FFF is reading: Aussie Body Diet & Detox Plan

WHAT: Aussie Body Diet & Detox Plan by Saimaa Miller

WHERE: Visit Penguin online or all good bookstores

WHY WE’RE FFFing LOVING IT: We love a good detox, so this book had us at ‘Hello’. With vibrant sun-drenched  photography, and a simple yet comprehensive approach to detoxing — this may just be the last book we’ll ever need on the subject. Saimaa Miller, one of Australia’s most respected naturopaths, has written this guide to getting the ultimate Aussie body. You’ll discover the seven secrets to optimum health, learn which type of detoxer you are, and be able to devise the program that’s right for you, with tips for good health from Saimaa’s celebrity clients to inspire you.

Find out more about Saimaa Miller at aussiebodydiet.com

Tuesday
Apr092013

Wordless Wednesday: RIP Margaret Thatcher

Anya Hindmarch’s ‘Iron Lady’ store window (circa 2012)

image via wwd, January 2012

Tuesday
Apr092013

Let's Go: Melbourne!

Hi FFFers

Three days in Melbourne is not long enough to pack in everything you want to see, snap-up and eat, but I think I did a pretty thorough job. Check out my list of must-visits next time you check into this fantastic city.

Ex 

EAT

MOVIDA - My new fave place to tuck into tapas with friends. The menu is insane and we ate A LOT! My must-eat: the signature tapas—hand-filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on 
crouton with smoked tomato sorbet. The duck liver parfait with Pedro Ximenez foam and toasted brioche is right up there too. An OMG moment for sure.

CUMULUS INC - Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The breakfast menu is limited but precise. Be sure to try the house made crumpets, whipped ricotta & rooftop honey or a healthier option, shakshouka – baked eggs with roasted peppers and shanklish.

LONGRAIN - Let me put this out there. Melbourne Longrain just may have it all over its Sydney sister. Naturally we ordered the betel leaf, pomelo, mint, green papaya and toasted coconut then feasted on some lovely new additions. The duck, banana blossom, roasted eschalot relish and Changmai sausage and the very addictive caramelised pork hock, chilli vinegar and crisp garlic were stand-outs. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, or perhaps it was all those cocktails, but Longrain Melbourne is THE JAM!

DUKES - Best coffee hands-down. The breakfast menu is sublime too. Be sure try the poached eggs and spinach on hummus and avocado with rye toast. Amazing.

HARDWARE SOCIETE, 120 Hardware Street - Great laneway, chic fit-out and great menu. I had the fried eggs, jamon, aged manchego on quince schmered toast with fresh figs. And about 20 coffees. Brill!

SHOP

CHRISTINE - A Melbourne fashion institution, this little cave of stylish treasures is expensive and delicious. Loved the Robert Clergerie brogues, Celine shoppers and fab selection of Lanvin bijoux.

TORSA - Super-cool French collectibles including a great edit of Isabel Marant and Mad et Len.  

GRACE - Directly across the road from Hawsburn Village’s Belinda boutique (yum) is Grace, a fab and eclectic boutique offering labels like Marant, Rag & Bone and Steven Alan as well as a good selection of Phaidon publications.

INCU - Fantastic service and incredible labels like Rag & Bone, Rag & Bone Knit, A.P.C and Acne. Wish I had one on my block… 

Sunday
Apr072013

Gok and his wok

Gok Wan is well known as a stylist, but before fashion Gok’s life was all about food. Chinese food to be precise. He honed his skills in his father’s restaurant, learning the art of Asian cuisine the traditional way. Now he brings his sense of style to the kitchen, and teaches the masses how to master Chinese cooking. A true FFF after our own hearts! His book—Gok Cooks Chinese—is the next one on our shelves. In the meantime, we’ll be trying these…

Gok’s Chicken & Leek Magic Pot Stickers

Serves 2-4

  • 200g minced chicken
  • 2 tbsp leek, very finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • A 1-2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sesame oil, or to taste
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Cornflour, for dusting
  • 12 round white wonton wrappers
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil

For the dipping sauce:

  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 150ml water

1. Put the chicken, leek, spring onion and ginger into a bowl or on to a board and mix together well, adding the sesame oil, Shaoxing rice wine and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a little egg white if the mixture needs binding together.

2. Dust a work surface with corn flour and lay out the wonton wrappers. Place a small spoonful of the chicken mixture in the middle of a wrapper and brush the outside rim lightly with egg yolk.

3. Fold over the wrapper to make a half moon shape, enclosing the filling inside. Press out any air bubbles and seal the join, pinching the ends shut at the rim. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers and chicken mixture.



4. Heat a non-stick frying pan with deep sides, or a wok, over a medium to high heat. Add a glug of oil and place the dumplings in the pan. If using a wok, arrange them around the bottom and lower sides. Cook for 30-60 seconds over a medium hear until crisp and dark golden on the case. Then pour in enough water to create steam around the dumplings (about 220 ml) at the base of the wok or pan.

5. Cover the pan and steam the dumplings for 5-8 minutes (topping up the water if the pan is drying out), or until the filling is cooked through

6. To make the dipping sauce, mix together the runny honey and soy sauce in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chives to garnish



7. Remove the potstickers from the pan and server coloured side up, with the dipping sauce on the side.

Recipe from Gok Cooks Chinese

Friday
Apr052013

Miss Bunting on the perfect playlist

Okay FFF’ers, now we hit play on a really important component of your night of nights—music. 

I know it’s tempting to just chuck your iPod on ‘shuffle’ but believe me, that drum and bass as guests arrive is as appropriate as your Learn German in 3 Weeks audio book for bringing the mood down a notch. Music is often an afterthought – don’t le it be, because it’s influence on the ambience is huge. Remember that wedding you went too with no band or no DJ? Yep, and probably for all the wrong reasons.  

This is a long-term project, but I recommend creating a playlist folder so that when you’re listening to your music and think ‘I love that track!’ you can quickly move it over into that playlist. Using this method, by the time my 30th rolled around, I had created over 6 hours of my favourite tunes that I then shuffled around so that we could start with some upbeat tunes as guests arrived, moving into some chill-out lounge and classics as first course was served and getting slightly louder, and just a bit funkier as the night wore on before moving into a complete self-indulgent mega-mix of 80’s soft rock and dodgy 90’s dance classics. I figured that by that time of morning, only the people who truly appreciated the magic of those musical genres would still be in my living room.

x Miriam

The Perfect Playlist: let the Good Times roll!
It’s about here we were into the main course: once you start hitting the Talking Heads point of your playlist, that’s precisely what your guests will be doing while simultaneously cleaning out your bar. Good Times!

Wednesday
Apr032013

Guest Blogger Emma Fogarty: Suspended Acts of Kindness

A wonderful tale shared with us by one of our most avid followers. Be sure to read over your morning coffee FFFs. Emma’s story is short and sweet… just like an espresso with lots of sugar. E & J x

Acts of real kindness towards others always restore my faith in human nature. I read this story the other day that demonstrates how the even the smallest gesture can make such a big difference to someone’s elses day.

A tourist visiting Naples in Italy ventured into a little coffeehouse with her Italian friend. While sitting at their table they watched people go up to the bar and order their coffees. “Four coffees, please. Two for me and two suspended.”

The tourist asked her friend, “What are suspended coffees?”

“Wait and you will see” said her friend.

As they watched, more and more regulars, from all walks of life, bought copius suspended coffees, including three well-dressed Itailan men (is there any other kind in Italy?) who ordered seven coffees - three for them and four suspended.  

Soon, an old homeless man entered the café and kindly asked, “Do you have any suspended coffee?”

The tourist suddenly understood. Kind hearted people simply paid in advance for coffees for others in need of a caffeine fix but could not afford it.  

The tradition originated in Naples, but has now spread all over the world, with some extending a suspended coffee to a suspended dinner also.  

I’m not too sure how many homeless people you may have in your neck of the woods, but next time you see one, maybe remind yourself of this story and think of something, no matter how small, that could change someone’s day. Because sometimes, all it takes is a really good cup of coffee.