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Popping tags in Sydney’s Inner-West

December 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Anglicare Summer Hill

Sydney’s Inner West is an area known for its quirky vibe and unique fashion culture. There’s the popular, cool hubs like the vintage stores in Newtown (Cream or Holy Kitsch spring to mind), but there are awesome finds in other, lesser explored suburbs that only the locals seem privy to. Words by Larissa Shearman

The cool thing about thrift shopping is the excitement you get from rummaging through good quality clothes until you find the perfect piece. I’ve popped some tags in the area’s star thrift shops and they’re ready for your 99 cents. Oh and, we encourage you to play this in the background as you read – it sets the mood.

Leichhardt Vinnies

This bright, cosy shop has such a great selection of dresses – there is a particular wall that’s like a holy grail, dedicated to every variety imaginable. I also like the jackets here – you can find classic leather ones for a steal or go nuts with some funky styles. I was surprised to see luggage in really good condition – something that certainly isn’t easy to get for a great price. I stood in front of the book wall for ages, astounded by the amount and variety to choose from.

This is the type of place you hope to stumble into, and when you do, you don’t want to leave. I also like how organised the clothes are, it makes it easily shoppable and super inviting for everyone. Key take-away: If a novice like me can do it, anyone can find something here.

Summer Hill Anglican Shop

This is the real place (pictured above) I’ve been bragging about since I first visited. It’s the kind of venture where some experience in thrift shopping is necessary, or you’ll be completely overwhelmed. That, or a strong will to unearth something truly spectacular.

If you’re up for the challenge, the sheer amount of clothes in this place will get you excited. There are large tubs filled to the brim of mixed clothes – children’s, women’s and men’s. You really don’t know what you’re going to pull out. It’s because of this that you pay by the kilo – so get ready to rummage.

This kind of shopping is really appealing and it lends itself to the traditional idea of thrift shopping. You could find nothing, or anything. It’s super rewarding when you find something you really want.

For those who are looking for something more selective, there’s the ‘Marketplace’, a room attached to the main warehouse where clothes have been hand picked to impress. I scored a great (and as it turns out, designer) jacket from this special room, which didn’t cost a pretty penny as if it were still in mint condition. This is the place where your keen designer label senses will tingle, and you should enjoy everything it has to offer.

Something else I found interesting about this store is that they have a brilliant selection of kid’s toys and gift packs ready to go. This is worth a look if you have the need for something for children, considering how expensive children’s toys can be at retail price – and knowing what time of year we’re now in, it’s certainly a smart idea for some cheap and easy present shopping.

Salvos Tempe

Op shop salvation – sitting directly off the Princes Highway, the Tempe Salvos store is conveniently located and even has its own car park, so there’s no excuse not to swing by. It reminds me more of a department store, with so many other things on offer than just clothes – there’s furniture, home décor, electronics and other household staples.

If you do come for clothes you won’t be disappointed at all, with rows and rows of funky wear for all ages. The one thing I loved about this place is how ridiculously cheap some of the clothes are – there are different sales on particular days, so I was lucky enough to go when the cute shorts I wanted were one dollar! It really was like a fantasy turned reality. There’s a certain thrill about checking to see if the clothes you love have the sale tag on them, the sign of a discount on already crazy cheap clothes.

They also have my favourite policy in the world – No eftpos minimum. Those three magic words mean you could not have a more relaxed thrift shopping experience.

If you’re a long-time thrifter, you’ll love the choice and variety when you hit up these places. But to be fair – there’s nothing greater than the thrill you feel as a newbie on the scene. No place is like the other, and when it comes to the inner-west op shop scene, there’s few parts of Sydney that can boast the greatest collection of grandad-like garments.

Where else have you found a solid bargain? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter (see below)!

 

 

The grandest Christmas shopping of all…

December 19, 2014 at 2:23 pm

KaDeWe - Weiße Weihnacht - Halle EG

You need to see Berlin’s Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) if it’s the last thing you do before Christmas Day – quite literally. As the largest department store in mainland Europe, you’d struggle to wander the glamorously decorated halls without impulse purchasing.

Anyone who enters from street level underneath the tremendously large glass arch looming above will notice a shift from a bustling urban thoroughfare into a more opulent retail world – where perfume penetrates the nostrils and the unnaturally lit corridors highlight thousand-euro price tags.

From the ground floor up you’re taken on a journey through continental Europe and abroad. Beauty and nail salons are first on the list, mixed in-between the ‘Luxury Boulevard’, home to top tier fashion houses from Gucci and Miu Miu to Tod’s and Yves Saint Laurent. If you’ve heard it mentioned on a Celebrity red carpet, assume you’d probably find it here.

One tier up is men’s apparel and another is women’s fashion. Level three is nicknamed ‘the Loft’ – Germany’s largest selection of shoes, as well as women’s leather goods and lingerie, children’s clothes and a hairdresser.

KaDeWe - Weiße Weihnacht - Halle EG

In-store Christmas display – shopping doesn’t get more beautiful than this. Images supplied.

Level four is an interior designers dream and is the kind of plush cushion superstore you’d imagine Catherine Martin would piece together much of her Oscar-winning inspiration. Lamps to linen, porcelain to pottery, if IKEA had a wealthy older aunt this is what she’d look like.

Another escalator skyward is where you’ll locate enough stunning stationary to put Smiggle to shame. And then there’s electronics, entertainment and toys too – a wonderful opportunity to exhaust yourself with any youngins strapped at the hip before heading upstairs to the Kaufhaus pride and joy…

kadewe-24_05_2011_0016

“Please sir, may I have some more?” – a response to a taste test.

The food hall – commonly known as ‘Delicatessen’ has over 30 gourmet counters, with more than 110 cooks, 40 bakers and confectioners spread across them. For Berliners and Europeans afar it’s one of the grandest reasons this monolithic mall has stood the test of time, having even been rebuilt after the Second World War for future fashion and culinary connoisseurs. In the early 1990s the top level was converted into a winter garden and restaurant, with room for over 1000 diners – a suitably lush indoor hangout to avoid the frosty north German winds.

With a grand total 60,000m2 shop floor– the equivalent size of an Olympic Stadium and then some, this magnificent department store puts a number of global contenders to shame for its symbolic strength, quality and product choice. But the best reason to shop here over Christmas is quite simple… It’s just so darn pretty!

kadewe-24_05_2011_0017

How many department stores can boast permanently flowing bubbly?

 

Tiny packs a large, hazelnut punch

December 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm
Bombs away - The Nutella Bomb's a taste explosion. Source

Bombs away – The Nutella Bomb’s a taste explosion. Source

After first visit to Piccolo Me, it’s difficult to determine whether they take their name from a translation of the Italian word for small – their adorable hole-in-the-wall setup and a pint-sized coffee hit both coming to mind – or that of the lesser-known woodwind instrument. 

Much alike the Pied Piper leading a trail of tiny beings behind him, the growing café chain’s specialties seem to wield a similar power, beckoning foodies near and far. Success for them is in the menu; their unique creations not found anywhere else in Sydney.

One key item reappears several times as you scan the menu for the most weather-appropriate sweet treat: Nutella. Deliciously rich and creamy hazelnut goodness whipped together in a family-run factory found in the hilly region of northwest Italy.

Every creature on this planet – I once saw a squirrel nibbling on some from a tossed-aside jar in Germany – is a fan of the good stuff. Its mother company Ferrero would probably win the title of ‘Best chocolate factory of all time’, runners up Lindt, Cadbury and the completely real Willy Wonka all kicking themselves in jealousy.

But down here in Sydney, titles don’t really matter – it’s all about the flavoursome qualities of a product, and this is where Piccolo Me have found a business winner, now operating seven citywide cafés that stretch from their latest shopfront on the CBD’s King St to Bella Vista in Norwest Business Park.

For the caffeine savvy, there’s the Esprookie – a store-baked choc chip and Nutella cookie cup sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts and accompanied by a hot espresso syringe. It’s ideal for those who mightn’t wish to fill their ‘mug’ to the brim.

Chocolate chip + nutella + espresso = happiness a.k.a The Esprookie. Source

Chocolate chip + nutella + espresso = happiness a.k.a The Esprookie. Source

Then there’s the equally delectable Nutella Bomb – a thick block of hazelnut chocolate on a stick plated beside a glass of hot milk, which can be made into a hot chocolate or mocha. Slurp this down with their latest creation, the Crotop (Nutella-stuffed mini croissant bite topped with peanut M&Ms or hazelnuts), which is bound to infuriate the most conservative Frenchman alive.

And for the affogato lovers? They’ve got you covered with two menu regulars – the Nutellagato or The Cookiegato (with that delicious choc chip and Nutella cookie base), both complemented with vanilla ice cream, double ristretto and chocolate flakes.

Is your mouth ready to give a few of these a go? You won’t even have to leave your office – a number of Piccolo Me stores do catering.

And then there’s the most important question for any brides-to-be – have you got your wedding catered yet?

High Tea, Bali Style

December 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm

biku outside

If you are a hungry traveller, you are spoilt for choice once you step into the heart of Seminyak. The streets are filled with bars and restaurants which all boast delectable dishes from around the world. If you wander a little further however, past the Crab Shack and newly renovated restaurants, you will discover Biku.

Tucked away under a leafy canopy and away from the busy streets is this cafe which aims to reinvigorate their patron’s love for high tea. You could choose to order from their breakfast menu (trust me, it’s good) but to really experience what Biku does best, grab a friend to share the Asian High Tea for Two. This $19 feast will see you work your way through a fusion of Eastern and Western flavours, starting with your choice of Biku’s house made tea, ice cold to cool you down or as hot as you like it.

high-tea-biku-21Choose from the traditional high tea (pictured) or the Asian High Tea for Two

The bottom layer of this impressive spread offers Samosas, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, curried egg sandwiches and an interesting flavour companion in the form of Ayam sisit (shredded Balinese chicken) with Sambal Matah Tart. The top layer gets a little sweeter with everything from free standing pineapple jelly to date scones with homemade Biku jam. The flavours seem so different that they shouldn’t work, yet the beauty of Biku is that everything is thrown together to make a fusion that keeps you longing for more.

It’s becoming one of Seminyak’s worst kept secrets, so if you want a table it’s best to book in advance. For something a little different you could throw in a tarot card reading on top of that reservation because that’s just another part of the Biku experience.

Marlowe’s Way the right way

December 16, 2014 at 3:23 pm
Beat the rush in this laneway setup. Image supplied.

Beat the rush in this laneway setup. Image supplied.

A soul-filled slice of Sydney CBD takes the form of Marlowe’s Way, writes Ryan Auberson-Walsh.

For a slick little city café with vinyl plastered across the walls and over doorframes, you’d certainly expect a bit of noise to be blasted from the in-house sound system – an old-school record player. But a mini construction zone set up in front of the laneway coffee stop is temporarily hogging a visitor’s first impression.

Walk past the grey concrete and bouncing jackhammers however, and Marlowe’s Way sits, proudly as ever, tucked in the side of a beautifully ageing Bridge St building. As you creep closer to the robust caffeine aroma wafting from the gleaming countertop appliance, the sounds of James Brown or Jimi Hendrix blare soul and rhythm into your eardrums – the cacophony of street sounds and blues slowly morphing into a symphony of urban noise.

Perhaps a reminder of a bygone era when outdoor festivals and record bars peaked in popularity across the world, the friendly décor and quality croissants (among other amazing nibblies) cement this record bar as a colourful addition to Sydney CBD’s eclectic café scene.

Construction ruckus aside, one would be a fool not to swing by, let the barista whip up a stupendously smooth latte and munch on one of the menu’s numerous delectables. From the simple flavours of the avocado toast with lemon and seasoned olive oil to your choice of three breakfast boards (think boiled egg and mayo with prosciutto, salmon or provolone on rye crispbread), brekkie is a treat.

And lunch you ask? The tastiest salads in the city’s north, or a generous selection of heavier treats – but we think that if you’re sitting at a messy office desk and in need of a bite or coffee top up, we advise you to “get up offa that thing” and visit this groovy hole-in-the-wall for yourself.

A Day at the Circus

December 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm

seacirucs

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Sea Circus Seminyak is some kind of acrobatic based tourist attraction. It’s just so much better than that. Sea Circus answers the prayers of weary, hungover travellers who are in search of a good breakfast and a strong cup of coffee.

The team at Sea Circus offer up a lot things with their perfect coffee. Each pastel coloured cup comes with a fortune cookie-type-note giving words of wisdom for you to mull over while you peruse the menu.

If words of wisdom are not enough to sooth your throbbing head however, you could always opt for the ‘Sin City’ breakfast which provides you with the standard fare of eggs and all the sides, but also throws in a panadol and berocca shot to make the hangover pass a little quicker! If your neck is sore from a long flight, the ‘Liver Love’ breakfast can soothe you with a plate of poached eggs, tropical fruit salad and herbal tea, all to be enjoyed with a complimentary massage.

eggsThe hunt for the perfect yolk begins and ends at Sea Circus

This place might sound a little quirky, and it is, but it’s definitely unmissable. The walls are covered inside and out with pastel murals and the long tables are the perfect place to share a meal with friends. Top of the list in the beverage department has to be the two scoop vanilla milkshake which is served in a tall frosty glass, with flecks of black vanilla pod floating from top to bottom.

coffeeeeWise words delivered with each coffee

Certainly strange, certainly quirky but certainly wonderful in every way.

The Li’l Darlin of Darlinghurst

December 12, 2014 at 10:37 am
Prosciutto that literally makes the mouth water... Source: Li'l Darlin

Prosciutto that literally makes the mouth water… Source: Li’l Darlin

Located in the heart of Darlinghurst, and just a five minute walk from Kings Cross station, Kieran McKinn found Li’l  Darlin to be a welcome change, breaking the monotonous trend of usual joints that he and his mates usually end up in.

After jogging through the rain, I would be forgiven for having to do a double take to find this inconspicuous bar. Shaking my rain sodden hair, I was welcomed with a chorus of chatter as vintage lamps and lanterns bathed a series of stone tables in a golden glow. To my surprise, half of Sydney had braved the weather and the venue was bursting at the seams.

My visit to the cocktail bar was for a friend’s 21st and without wanting to waste the bar tab (as good friends do) we sampled some of the finest cocktails Sydney has to offer. Not only did they taste exceptional, but they were presented in a pleasantly unique manner. Step back into your childhood with the hundreds and thousands cocktail, a refreshing mix of homemade apple and strawberry juice, infused with lemon and vodka (and of course the topping that turns any slice of buttered bread into fairy goodness).

If you’re not too worried about your waistline, my drink of choice for the night was the pomegranate sour, a combination of white rum, apple juice, lemon and lime, with a crusty exterior coated in vanilla sugar.  After walking into Li’l Darlin, positively anti-rum, my taste buds were easily overwhelmed and were constantly thirsty for a follow-up jar.

Little Darlin_002

Pamper yourself with the fairy floss cocktail. Source: Li’l Darlin

The variety of food at Li’l Darlin compliments the extensive range of cocktails on offer. Whilst the kitchen provides pastries, pizzas, salads and sides, the tapas made for the perfect snack. The Bocconcini cheese platter filled with chargrilled vegetables and an assortment of dips were a huge hit and didn’t last long at our table. Whilst I didn’t get a chance to give the pizzas a crack, it appears the chefs really know their stuff.

For those with a sweeter tooth, give the desserts a shot, especially the vanilla & orange panna cotta with berries & mint compote. If you don’t want anything too heavy, then nibble on a li’l dried fruit, nuts, water biscuits and a selection of imported cheese (a perfect light meal for two).

How's the serenity - there's plenty of room to move around at Li'l Darlin

The open space bar facilitates for both food enthusiasts and those looking to sample a range of cocktails. Source Lil’ Darlin

The best part is that a night out at Li’l  Darlin isn’t going to hit your back pocket too hard. Offering all the luxuries of a quintessential bar, the cocktails are reasonably priced at around $17 each. The smaller sides and tapas are the best option and you can get away with bread, olive oil and balsamic for $5 or share a platter with friends for a bargain $28.

Li’l Darlin is ideal for those wanting to head out for a few quiet drinks with friends, date night or as I found out, a great opener for a hen’s or buck’s party. Open from 4pm till late, make sure you pencil it in for your next post-work drinks. I’ll see you there with a pomegranate rum in hand!