Melbourne Laneways and Alleys: Best Worst Kept Secret

Hidden amongst the Melbourne central business district’s highrises and giant modern department stores are cafes filled with old world charm. One such establishment is Cafe Segovia located in Block Place.

Paul Mihailidis, whose son nows runs the cafe, still comes in everyday before 6 am to read his paper and have his coffee. He’s 80. Cafe Segovia and others like it, tucked in the series of alleys which run from Little Collins Street to Flinders Street, as the title implies, are certainly no secret to Melbourne’s locals or indeed savvy visitors.

Now unlike others genre of photography, early morning is not always best for street photography, particularly in Melbourne as I found. My wife is used to me occasionally waking early and on impulse going for a drive or walk with my camera. I expected Melbourne to be bustling with people between 5.30 and 6 am. My assessment was completely incorrect. After through the CBD and seeing a grand total of four people, my mind turned to the Queen Victoria Market, surely butchers and bakers and fishmongers would be about preparing their wares for a busy day of sales. In that I was partly correct and I got to see the butchers doing their thing. Of course, that just goes to show that if you only have a day in a city you need to make the most of it.

One of the attractions I’d been anticipating visiting in Melbourne for some time (maybe 6 months) is a coffee and donut shop, Short Stop Melbourne. Sadly, my visit coincided with their Christmas, so for this time round I would have to console myself with their instagram feed. Serendipitously, I would be returning a couple of weeks later to photograph the first match of the Asian Football Cup, Australia (Socceroos) v Kuwait.

Of course, that meant that I would make my way to Short Stop. Anthony Ivey, the owner and an engineer by trade got into the coffee and donut game through his love of coffee, which led him to leave an engineering job to become a barista in a Melbourne cafe. Along the way, he was the coffee manager for Vue de Monde (no biggie) and then at Market Lane Coffee, whose coffee Short Stop stocks. Short Stop is dedicated to coffee and donuts, but donuts unlike any you’ve seen the like of in Australia. The origin of these donuts is the reason I’ve been following them online for so long and looked forward to finally tasting their wares. Anthony was developing the project basing their donuts on what was available in Melbourne. A donut research tour covering six US cities; San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, New York and LA (and one Canadian; Vancouver) changed all of this for the better. After eating donuts in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, I refused Krispy Kremes when offered them by a friend in Sydney. Once you try Short Stop, you’ll refuse Krispy Kreme as well.

Short Stop uses natural ingredients such as the Australian Honey and Sea Salt Cruller, donut mixes made fresh each day (yeast donuts are only made in the morning and once they sell out, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow). Flavours are experimented with and paired based on rigorous testing I’m sure. My favourite was the Macadamia and Orange Blossom, the orange blossom cream had a delightful light orange flavour. I was also fortunate enough to hang around to try a freshly glazed blueberry donut. The verdict; the only donut better than a Short Stop donut, is a fresh Short Stop donut.

More Townsville Photos

This photo was a happy accident, I pulled my camera up mid exposure to save it from a rogue wave (2ft rather than 1ft given it’s Townsville and we actually don’t get any surf). I’m pretty happy with the result, thoughts?

Airlie Beach for the Weekend

A little experiment with a black and white pool shot loosely inspired by a favourite shot of mine.

Photograph Poolside by David Cooling on 500px Poolside by David Cooling on 500px

The view from our hotel balcony, thankfully stayed out of Airlie Beach because we inadvertently booked our weekend for the start of schoolies.

We were walking through a car park when we noticed this cockatoo, he was kind enough to let me take a couple of shots, before disappearing.

Please let me know what you think of this, I liked the mix of colours with the glisten of sun on the water, a little more abstract than I usually do.
My lovely wife.

Seattle Part II: Why it’s called Mt Rainier

Seattle doesn’t seem to make a big deal out the rivalry with Portland, perhaps because they already have all the well paying jobs etc. Portlandians seemed to play it up a bit and one apparent advantage Portland had over Seattle was its lower average rainfall, hence why it’s called Mt Rainier. To steal a joke from one of our tour guides if 50 shades of grey were set in Seattle it would be called 100 shades of grey. (Disclaimer: I have not and never will read 50 Shades of Grey not even ironically or for the purposes of criticism, if you must read something with Shades of Grey in the title read Jasper Fforde’s distopian future/dark comedy; Shades of Grey

As a city which was previously the last vestige of civilisation where explorers and prospectors would buy their stores before heading sailing North to Alaska, Seattle still has a very maritime feel to it in parts. From the chowder on the waterfront to the seafaring scandinavians who used to make up a majority of the Ballard population, Seattle has a love of the sea. Not hard to see why when it is located on the beautiful Puget Sound, which is, apparently, a great diving spot. It would be far too cold for me I’m afraid. We enjoyed the food which came with this love of the sea. In Ballard we tried fresh local oysters at the Walrus and the Carpenter, this place is award winning and it isn’t hard to see why. I’m not usually a fan of oysters but they have 12 different varieties which range in flavour and their mains were also delicious. Try their fried oysters. The owners clearly understood the visual beauty of food when they designed the oyster bar, you are able to see the chefs as they create the food and the aesthetic of the restaurant has been developed from the ground up. I would recommend eating at the bar so you can appreciate it all.  

Photograph The Walrus and the Carpenter by David Cooling on 500px The Walrus and the Carpenter by David Cooling on 500px Ballard’s scandinavian population is dwindling and it is being replaced with Seattle’s young trendy crowd, you can still see glimpses of its heritage though, from the vintage Volvos around the area. Ballard now feels more like Portland and San Francisco than the rest of Seattle. Just a short walk from the centre of Ballard is the Ballard locks, this spot has some great opportunities for wildlife photography with cormorants, herons and kingfishers flying around and seals and salmon swimming in the locks.

 

More Seattle photos here.

Seattle or Sealth: Home of the original, more anatomically correct Starbucks mermaid (if you can say that about a mermaid)

Seattle has a different feel to the other cities we’ve visited so far on the West Coast, not vastly different but enough that it’s noticeable. Perhaps we spent a bit more time in the city. Seattle is the home of Microsoft and in contrast to Portland, the people who come to Seattle generally get jobs. Seattle more of a white collar city but it has its gems. Gems like the newer suburbs and the Pike Place Market.

We booked in for another free walking tour which turned out to be excellent, Jake from Seattle Free Walking Tours does 2 tours and we did both. Seattle 101 covers the downtown area and the waterfront and Jake covers the Pike Place Market in the Market Experience. You’re probably beginning to pick up a theme here with the walking tours, I really can’t recommend them enough.

Jake showed us some of the more interesting parts of the Pike Place Market (the ones you’d take hours to find on your own). Apart from plentiful free samples and discounts on future purchases, Jake showed us one of the most disgusting tourist destination in the world (not just opinion, apparently second to the Blarney Stone). The wall started when people entering the adjacent cinema had to get rid of their gum, now, the ground underneath the wall has a few centimetres of compressed gum, sticky underfoot.

Jake was great for finding us great deals, deals like getting into the Seattle Art Museum for 25c each. The admission price listed in the museum is actually around $20 but museum policy says that no one can be refused entry so you can effectively give them any price you want. We gave them about $1 of change and the older gentlemen at the museum gave us change, he just seemed incredibly cheerful to have us visiting.

Some more bits of money saving advice from Jake was cheaper places to get a view, rather than paying $25 to get into the Seattle Space Needle, you can go to Starbucks on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower to get free views which are actually higher than the Space Needle. The other warning was about the ‘underground’ tours. Whatever you do, don’t go on these tours expecting an underground city, apparently it’s akin to a series of basements instead, fair warning.

If you’re after some other great views of the city, head to Kerry Park (where I took the first photo) or take a ferry to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton around dusk. Why pay for a cruise on the Puget Sound when you can pay $8 for a return ticket to Bainbridge or Bremerton?

Apart some generally delicious free samples including smoked salmon with jelly, salmon jerky which has the consistency of gummy bears, delicious dried fruit and fresh Rainier cherries we also had some more eccentric food. This next option is apparently becoming popular with professional athletes because ‘it’s got electrolytes’ or it’s good for hydrating etc. I honestly think that people who pickle pickles just wanted to squeeze a little more profit from their product, so now they’re also marketing the brine they use to pickle the pickles. To be fair, it didn’t taste half bad and if you must shot dubious liquids, why not shot dubious liquids that are good for you.

Photograph The Cherry Picker by David Cooling on 500px

The Cherry Picker by David Cooling on 500px

I can’t write about Pike Place Market without mentioning the main attraction, the Pike Place Fish guys. These guys are famous in Seattle for their fish throwing antics. It turns out it wasn’t actually a marketing gimmick, what started out as a quick way of getting fish around their stall soon caught people’s attention and now they’re regularly featured on the TV and have even authored a recipe book.

Photograph Pike Place Fish Guy by David Cooling on 500px

Pike Place Fish Guy by David Cooling on 500px

Well, Jake’s tour wasn’t all free samples and good deals (I forgot to mention most of the places we went offered deals to tour members) he taught us some interesting Seattle history. Although they didn’t quite get the name or the spelling right, Seattle was named after a local Indian chief, who was instrumental in making peace between the settlers and the local Indians. The city honours his memory by bearing his name. Of course, back then it wasn’t all roses. The City of Seattle stole a totem pole from one of the local tribes and erected it in the city. When the totem pole burned down a few years later and the tribe it was originally stolen from actually gave a replacement to the city as a gift you may be right in thinking it was very generous of them after everything. Turns out the totem pole they gave the city, currently standing in Pioneer Park may actually be a shame pole, the Indian equivalent of giving the city of Seattle the bird, in the form of a totem pole with prominent animal genitalia. Probably fair enough after your tribal pride gets stolen. Another bit of Seattle history trivia involves a coffee chain which you can see on most american street corners (it was a running joke in Portland). Starbucks originated in Seattle in the Pike Place Market in 1971. Don’t be fooled the cafe deemed the original Starbucks in the market now, the 1911 on the door is the street number and the original Starbucks was actually located a few doors down with a warehouse (until it burned down). The Original logo that you can see on that Starbucks is legitimate. It’s the only place you can see the original logo in all its anatomically correct glory (as far as a fish woman hybrid can be anatomically correct).

Photos With Depth

The Dish

by Dish Staff

tautochronos series

Leslie Tane features the delightful work of Michel Lamoller, who “takes multiple photographs of the same place at different times, then prints and layers them, physically carving them into one image, sculpting two-dimensional space into three-dimensions”:

By then photographing the transformed image Lamoller returns the work to two-dimensions, playing with space and volume, echoing the compression of time and place in his work. The deconstructed figures in the resulting photographs are a visual reminder that people are always changing and never fully revealed.

Margaret Rhodes connects the series to Lamoller’s previous projects:

Tautochronos evolved from an earlier series of Lamoller’s, called Layerscapes, that applies the same technique to landscapes and cityscapes. It’s not nearly as personal as Tautochronos, which is dotted with Lamoller’s personal acquaintances (and sometimes shot in their own homes or bedrooms), but both “come from a more personal wish to describe this happening of two things at…

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Portland: Part II

On our way to Powell’s bookstore we stopped in at some of the shops in Union Way, I was struck by the continuity of the architecture and decor of the arcade. Union had a cool obviously thought out design aesthetic and the stores had a collective manliness to them, maybe assisted by the Danner Store, you could definitely deck out your man cave or your hipster lumberjack cabin. On the other side of the arcade was The Buffalo Exchange, not really an op shop or thrift shop but more of a dedicated vintage store.

Powell’s Bookstore deserves a paragraph of its own just as it occupies a whole city block. The block and the 5 stories are full of wonders from the huge range (which didn’t cover some more modern psychology techniques unfortunately for Laura) to the rare books section which had original editions some of which were worth up to $5000 (possibly more but they were probably hidden further away).
Portland’s food was amazing, (I’ve already mentioned the donuts so I’ll leave those but I will revisit the food carts). Throughout the city there are over 700 and on one city block there were 56 food carts. You could get Eqgyptian, Georgian, German, Indonesian, and everything in between. Some food carts are more famous than others, including Grilled Cheese Grill which featured the mega cheeses, a redevelopment of the traditional hamburger-replacing buns with grilled cheese sandwiches (it also comes in a double…or if you want to be healthy, the baby cheeses). The pinnacle of success for a food cart is opening a brick and mortar restaurant and so far, only 5 food carts have done this.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai is one such food cart success story. The story goes, Nong moved to the U.S. with very little money and a recipe. Her recipe was chicken and rice-turns out to be some of the best chicken and rice you’ll taste. We were able to visit her restaurant in East Burnside and the chicken and rice certainly lived up to expectations. When your chicken and rice is that good you don’t need anything else on the menu except a larger size. Another food cart which has made it big is Lardo Sandwiches, they also started out life as a food cart. We visited their restaurant on SW Washington St, West Portland and Laura is still trying-so far unsuccessfully-to recreate their pulled pork salad. I had to try one of the burgers they were known for; the double burger and man, it was amazing.
On our way back from Nong’s Khao Man Gai we stopped in at Sizzle Pie Pizza for happy hour drinks. After eating our chicken and rice-and seeing the size of Sizzle Pies pizzas we decided to just stick with drinks because there was no way we’d get through a small serve. Our bar tender was pretty cool and he agreed to let me take a few photos as he was working (he also gave us a free drink), being Australian we hoped we’d tipped well enough when we left. Sizzle Pie had pizza paddles (if anyone knows the technical term please let me know) illustrated by well known artists for sale hanging on their walls.

More evidence of Portland’s excellent culture is its music, and sadly we felt like we were lacking. We don’t own a record player and it was clear that real music connoisseurs don’t buy CDs, oh well. The best thing about music in Portland was getting tickets to see Wye Oak play in the Doug Fir Lounge for $16 each. Astounding and certainly not something you’d find in Australia. Wye Oak’s support act Pattern is Movement were quite good, (think a white Barry White, a lot of the ladies in the room certainly seemed to). We were so impressed by the ingenuity of their merchandise that we took pillow cases with their faces with us.

Not only does Portland have all of that, but it also has a huge park in the city. You could spend 3 days hiking from one end to the other without seeing the city (alternatively you could come back out of the park to grab coffee if you want). Outside the city we drove to Multnomah Falls, although Multnomah Falls was lovely it was not as cool as Oneonta Gorge but that will have to be another post involving wading through glacial waters with a camera bag above my head.

Portland aka Stumptown aka Bridgetown…and almost Boston: Part I

We stumbled upon Saraveza on our first night in Portland. It was perfect after the drive from Eureka, I tried one of their pasties (pronounced pass-tea as the menu explains), pasties are pretty common in Australia, although I’m guessing not so common in the U.S. from the above explanation, Laura had the mac and cheese, both our meals were amazing and we washed them down with grapefruit cider. Picking our meals was definitely easier than choosing drinks because they had a huge range of amazing drinks, IPAs and craft beers and ciders (seriously have a look at the beer section on their website, it tells you what they’ve just tapped).

I forgot to mention that yes, our first night in Portland was Independence Day, we ended up in a local park for the fireworks. The photo above was my attempt at getting a photo of the city’s fireworks (I didn’t quite get the geographical scale of Portland by the way). You can just see fireworks though.

We made our way into the city for a free walking tour, with Secrets of Portlandia‘s founder and creator Eric. Interestingly, creating this was one of the first things Eric explained about Portland and it continued as a theme throughout the tour. Eric had to create the tour as a job for himself and initially he used to stand in Pioneer square waiting for people to come before the tours really took off. Although Portland has a lot of people moving to the city, there just aren’t the jobs to match, hence why Portland’s unemployment rate is higher than Detroit’s, not only were unemployment rates high but Portland like a lot of the U.S. cities we experienced had a large homeless population (more on that when we get to Canada).
We would definitely recommend Eric’s tour, he had great knowledge of the city and the personality to pull it off, what would you expect from an American guy who worked for 2 years doing tours in Spanish, in Spain. He also branches out to a Spanish language cooking show which he films in Mexico, getting cooking secrets from grandmothers. Eric’s knowledge of the city even extended to the location of the Portlandia statue, made famous by Portlandia, the location of this statue is unknown to the general Portland population. We were hoping that we would just bump into Fred and Carrie while we were in Portland, alas, it was not to be and we will not be featured in the next Portlandia series (at least not wittingly).

Keep Portland Weird is the city’s motto, kindly borrowed from Austin, TX, and we certainly saw evidence of this weirdness. I’m not exactly sure that weirdness is exactly the right word but Keep Portland Forward Thinking doesn’t have the same ring to it. The city was full of cyclists, zero emission buses and a great train/light rail system and it also had solar powered bins which crush waste and reduce the number of trips needed by garbage trucks. All of these environmental initiatives stemmed from Portland becoming the first local government in the U.S. to adopt a plan to address global warming in 1993. By contrast, in 2014 Australia’s Prime Minister calls himself an intelligent skeptic when it comes to climate change. I will say no more on the issue.
Portland’s food culture was awesome, we started with some great coffee from Stumptown Coffee. Stumptown derives its name from a bit of Portland’s history which we learned about on Eric’s tour. When Portland’s original settlers; William Overton and Asa Lovejoy (possibly related) founded the city and cleared the forest to start selling it to settlers, they decided to leave the stumps because they were obviously pretty hard to get out and there were 2 of them. That, and they didn’t think anyone would notice. Turns out they were wrong and thus began the continuing battle between Seattle and Portland, 1 point to Seattle, which initially had more settlers. This was also when Portland was almost named Boston, Oregon. After Overton sold his share to another settler, Francis Pettygrove, the decision was made to name the city, Pettygrove and Lovejoy both wished to name the city after their hometowns, Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts. The matter was eventually decided with a coin toss.
It seems a universal rule for the standard of good coffee stores is how many cyclists a cafe attracts and the Division Street store was no exception. It had its share of cyclists, they probably all knew Spike. The coffee was great and although most people got takeaway cups, the shop had a very cool vibe, well lit with exposed brick walls and sturdy timber trim. I think it made for some pretty good photos (let me know what you think in comments).

The city is known for its food carts, and its donuts. One store in particular is quite famous; Voodoo Doughnuts started out making bad tasting donuts in novelty shapes (which I won’t outline here) eventually they realised that they actually needed to learn how to make donuts and the rest is history. The Voodoo Doughnut store had a 2 hour wait and a line which zig zagged out onto the street. Unbeknownst to those waiting there is another Voodoo Doughnut store which they could walk to, buy donuts and return before they could even order at this one (that was where we went when we finally got Voodoo Doughnuts). We had done our research, and we knew that although Voodoo Doughnuts is the popular tourists’ choice for donuts, there was another store, the one the locals go to; Blue Star Donuts. Their donuts added a certain touch of class to those you could get at Voodoo Doughnuts. Their flavours included the basil, bourbon, and blueberry, the jelly (jam) and powdered peanut butter donut (see below for these 2) as well as some other amazing flavours, unfortunately we didn’t have the time or the appetites to try them all, needless to say when we got back to Australia, we flat out refused an offer of Krispy Kreme donuts at Sydney Airport but these weren’t even the best donuts we had (more to follow on amazing donuts).

Another of Portland’s monikers is Bridgetown, and of course the city had some lovely bridges. While it didn’t have the scale of the Golden Gate Bridge, St John’s had these beautiful architectural features reminiscent of the arches of a cathedral, both in the concrete under structure and the metal pylons.

We found this piece of street art very close to the Blue Star Donut store, the portrait reminded Laura of Piper, of Orange is the New Black fame, and we learned later that the artist; Rone is actually Australian.

Among Portland’s many parks was the Japanese Gardens, unfortunately we visited it at the wrong time of year, the lack of fall/autumn colours combined with the $5 charge for taking a tripod in conspired to disappoint us. Overall the garden was quite beautiful though I’m not sure I can recommend it with its exorbitant entry fees.

There will be further adventures from Portland, meanwhile more of my photos are here

Society Tried To Keep Up With Pop Culture. What Happened Next Will Melt Your Brain.

Once you start reading this you will not be able to stop a la Pringles.

Ashish Shakya

(Note: This was part of the HT Brunch cover story for 3rd August 2014. You can read the shorter print version here.)

“I cried because my 3G was down, until I met a man who had no smartphone.” – Rumi

The internet is arguably the greatest invention of the 21st century, second only to the polio vaccine and the cyborg that assumed the form of Mick Jagger many years ago. Like the best drugs in the world, it offers escape in enslavement and we’re only too happy to roll up our sleeves for the friendly neighbourhood wi-fi dealer. The sensory overload it offers is eclectic, to say the least. On the one hand, it allows us to obsess over a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who joins an ad agency in the ‘60s so that he can drink Scotch all day and bide his time, before marching through an expanse of undulating…

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