Monthly Archives: May 2016

Treasure Trove in the City!

By Aine Dowling

Trove banner

Last year we visited Trove when they were at Gold Creek and one of our comments was that if you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t find it … Well, it seems Trove thought that too because now they’ve relocated right into the city centre and are upstairs in Garema Place. The space is also about twice as big as they had in Gold Creek, and they’ve expanded their profile to include two well-known Canberra fashion designers—Sovata, and Dissonance.

Hats and headpieces by Sovata

Hats and headpieces by Sovata


Trove is a collective (or cooperative) of fashion, jewellery and accessories, aromatherapy candles, kids clothes and toys, homewares, and art. If you’re looking for something special, or a wee bit different, you’ll definitely find it a Trove!

Polished wood and aromatherapy by Wood and Wax

Polished wood and aromatherapy by Wood and Wax

The collective is currently made up of around 16 designers and artists each of whom take turns to ‘man’ the shop for a day and when we visited it was Michael from Wood and Wax. “It’s great to have a bigger space,” said Michael, “and it also means we can look for more designers and artists to join the collective. When we were at Gold Creek we only had about eight members, but now we’re able to expand to around 25 or so, and we’re definitely interested in seeing applications from more local artists and designers.”

Soft furnishings from Blue Radish

Soft furnishings from Blue Radish

The quality of the arts and crafts at Trove is exceptional. From the beautifully polished woodwork from Wood and Wax, through the jewellery and accessories, gorgeous homewares from Blue Radish, and the stunning glass art from Elena’s Canvas.

Stunning painted glass by Elena's Canvas

Stunning painted glass by Elena’s Canvas

“Our only criteria for membership is that it must be locally designed and made,” says Michael, “and members have to commit to working in the shop for a day (about once every three or four weeks), and join for a minimum of three months. But, joining the collective means the rent is shared, so the more members—the cheaper the rent! Plus, there is no commission on sales, so the designer gets 100 per cent of the sale.”

Fashion by Dissonance

Fashion by Dissonance

Next time you’re in the city take a trip to Trove.

Interested designers, artists, and crafters can apply for Trove membership via their website.

Photos by LFW.

Double good at Double Shot!

We’re on the hunt for the best Canberra breakfast! And Double Shot, with its GF, DF, and Paleo options, is certainly up there! by Aine Dowling

double shot wallDouble Shot is tucked away at Deakin Shops but on a sunny Saturday in May it was packed to the rafters with brunchers and lunchers both inside and out.

We managed to score a cosy corner booth for our family of four, and were left alone to peruse the menu. Monday – Friday the breakfast ends at 11.30am, but on the weekend it’s on all-day which makes for a very busy café from around 10am onwards. The menu is extensive and includes light breakfasts such as Bircher Muesli, toast with various spreads, Granola with coconut cream, and various egg dishes. The lunch menu is more substantial with fish ‘n’ chips, burgers, pasta dishes, risottos, and a great selection of healthy salads to which you can add your own protein, or not. All basic salads are vegan, gluten free, and dairy free—until you add the protein.

Paleo breakfast

Paleo breakfast

We ordered three Eggs Benny with bacon and spinach (one with GF toast), and one Paleo breakfast which included eggs, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, and avocado and also came with the option of GF toast. You could also have the Eggs Benny with smoked salmon or ham hock.

I’ll be honest. It was rather a wait, but that said the water was constantly topped up, the wait staff were friendly and attentive, and one member sipped on her second (free!) soy latte while we waited. And, when I say the café was busy, it was really, really busy! But not so noisy that you couldn’t have a conversation.

Eggs Benny

Eggs Benny

The eggs were cooked to perfection. The Hollandaise sauce was just right—not too light but not too creamy, and a generous serve, but if you like your bacon ultra-crisp (we don’t, but some do) you probably need to ask. We were left to linger. We weren’t rushed, and we could have taken our time and had more coffee … and the café was still packed.

One great feature of this place is that most dietary requirements can be met and the slices and cakes are mostly GF or DF, and some even sugar-free, and I can highly recommend the salted caramel slice. There is also a great range of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and organic teas.

Coffees, cakes, and smoothies

Coffees, cakes, and smoothies

Double Shot, Shop 7 Deakin Court, Deakin. Weekdays 7am – 5pm; weekends and public holidays 7am – 4pm


Images by LFW

No Waste—No Worries

When we’ve finished the last drop in a plastic milk carton, we don’t hesitate to chuck it in the trash. It is, after all, useless waste. Or is it? By Wendy Johnson

Niklavs Rubenis sees value in plastic milk cartons, and food tins and worn out clothing (sometimes ripped or torn), and he uses these existing materials to create new and meaningful objects. A local designer-maker, Niklavs gives milk cartons and tins a second lease on life by making them into functional lighting—like the ones showcasing in the Crafting Waste exhibition now on at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre.

While Niklavs lives and breathes design, he’s more interested in the broad impact it has on the world. “We need to work in new ways, think in new ways and interact with the world in new ways,” says Niklavs. “The world is consuming itself very quickly. As a designer, I have to ask if I need to buy new materials to create with, or if there’s another way.”

thumbnail_niklavs_rubenis_headshot_colour 3715(small)

This new body of work sees Niklavs, also a lecturer at the School of Art at the Australian National University, reverse the design process. “I’m trying to work in a more responsible and aware manner because there’s already too much ‘stuff’ in the world,” he says. “I start at the end and work in reverse to anew.”

This philosophical approach also sees Niklavs create anew from items he randomly stumbles across, like the rusted metal bench frame he picked up while driving his ute one day, which he has transformed into a new piece of furniture that will last for many more years. Niklavs used old floorboards and wood from a bookcase, warped and split from rain, to construct a new seat for the frame. This innovative piece is also featured in Crafting Waste.

LL Bench Seat, Niklavs Rubenis, Found objects and materials. Photographer: Halie Rubenis.

LL Bench Seat, Niklavs Rubenis, Found objects and materials. Photographer: Halie Rubenis.

It may come as a surprise, but waste is a growing issue right here in the capital. Our population is growing so we produce more waste. We love to have the latest and greatest and so discard items, including televisions and computers, without thinking of what this does to the environment, and we lead busy lives and so opt for wasteful purchasing, such as single-use containers. But is it the right way to go? Niklavs doesn’t believe it is.

Craft ACT’s new Chief Executive Officer, Rachael Coghlan, says Niklavs is part of a new wave of practitioners in Australia using craft to make strong statements on social issues. This is also reflected in another exhibition on now at Craft ACT. Aesthetics in the Time of Emergency, features new works by five Melbourne glass-based artists who share a common vision around environmental issues requiring our attention, such as climate change and nuclear disasters.

“Australia’s contemporary craft culture is transforming,” says Rachael, who brings more than 20 years’ experience working in national cultural institutions to her new role. “These artists have all created beautiful works, applying their skills and using materials to tell stories. It’s exciting, eye-opening and well worth exploring.”

Craft ACT, London Circuit

Craft ACT, London Circuit

Both Crafting Waste and Aesthetics in the Time of Emergency run from 27 May to 9 July at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. They’re free to the public.

FASHFEST Model Casting Smashes Record!

This year’s model casting has smashed a record for Canberra with more than 470 models already applying to strut their stuff on the catwalk at the capital’s largest red carpet fashion event. The number of registrants continues to grow, surpassing last year’s record of 300 by a long stretch.Mdel casting tile 2

Diversity has always been important to FASHFEST and this year is no different. FASHFEST is on the lookout for male and female models of different ages and ethnic backgrounds. At last year’s event, Red Corner Boxing was looking for athletic models, Karen Lee required a mature look and Prodigal Daughter and Hana Apparel Design selected models that helped them celebrate the ethnic diversity of their designs (Africa and the Middle East).

This year’s judging panel features:

  • Hayley O’Neill, a Sydney-based stylist and Fashion Office Coordinator at Marie Claire Australia, who originally hails from Canberra.
  • Robert Coppa, an internationally renowned fashion photographer who has been behind the lens for 12 years.
  • Victoria Schnable, owner of Victoria’s Models, Canberra’s longest running agency.
  • Tina Nikolovski, a photographer and now director of Canberra’s newest modelling agency, Devojka Models, established in 2015.
  • Andrea Hutchinson, Managing Director of HAUS Models, herself former model from Switzerland.

    2015 model hopefuls 'walking the walk' - image by

    2015 model hopefuls ‘walking the walk’ – image by

The casting is a relaxed day full of selfies and fun with music by DJ Hamish Lardi, who has built his profile playing iconic Canberra events and nightlife venues, NeonHoney, a Canberra-based singer-songwriter, and Ashley Feraude, FASHFEST’s official music director, a DJ and music producer who operates under the alias Magnifik.

“The music will give the models a taste of what they can expect at the live shows. It is also about keeping the energy up so the models can feel good and do their best,” says Ashley.

This open casting is available to all models 16 years of age and above. It will be held from 10am on Sunday 22 May at the National Convention Centre, a major FASHFEST partner.

FF Model casting 2016

It’s JAZZ time on the Sapphire Coast!

The Merimbula Jazz Festival celebrates 36 years of jazz this year. That’s right! Thirty-six years of swinging, singing, and stomping on the Sapphire Coast over the June long weekend, and it’s getting bigger every year! By Aine Dowling

MJF Ball

As well as some fantastic jazz from great performers from Canberra, Victoria, and New South Wales, there are two main features of the Festival this year. First up is the black tie event; the Jazz Festival Ball on Thursday 9 June at Club Sapphire where you can dance the night away to the Festival All Stars, enjoy a great cabaret show, and relax with a glass of bubbles and yummy three course meal; all included in the ticket price. Bookings for the ball are essential.

Another fantastic initiative is the Jazz Quest which has been running for the past four years and has been a huge success. The Quest is open to musicians aged 25 years and under, and its aim is to encourage young and up-coming musicians in the world of jazz, and to help their musical development along with competitive experience. Two of the previous winners include singer Liam Budge, and jazz pianist Kade Brown—both of whom have gone on to huge success and acclaim in their fields, with Kade selected for the Julliard Winter School as both student and mentor.

Jazz Quest 2015 Winners

Jazz Quest 2015 Winners

The Quest is held at the Lakeview Hotel at the end of the Saturday night program. Judges usually include five of the top musicians at the Festival who view the performances of each competitor. There are a number of categories including confidence in performance, technical ability, entertainment value, and the ability to perform different styles and instruments through two different performances to show their ability. Cash prizes are awarded to the winners, and second and third placements, and both the Quest (and the prize money) goes a long way to help the career of young jazz musicians around Australia.

The popular jam session follows the Quest and gives everyone the chance to get on stage and perform with all sorts of musos and singers. If you can keep the pace going until 2am you’re welcome to join in the fun!

The Jazz Festival runs from Friday night (10 June) until Sunday night at four main venues around the town, and local Canberra acts heading down for the weekend include smooth jazz duo In 2 Deep; check them out if you can.

In 2 Deep - photo by Hot Shots Photography

In 2 Deep – photo by Hot Shots Photography

Big bands include Connextion Big Band, In Full Swing, and the Royal Military College Big Band, plus some terrific school bands. Vocal ensembles include Rhythm Syndicate (who also perform at the ecumenical Gospel Church Service on the Sunday), and Shades of Monday, and you can check out some great swing dancing from Canberra Swing Katz.

If you like the south coast and you love jazz … what more could you want?

Get more info on the Merimbula Jazz Festival from their website or Facebook page.


So you want to be a Model …

By Wendy Johnson

FF Model casting 2016Keen to model at the largest and most stylish fashion event on the capital’s social calendar?

FASHFEST is gearing up for the 2016 model casting, to be held 22 May at the National Convention Centre. And already the number of model hopefuls applying has smashed last year’s record of 300.

The casting is ‘open’ which means models don’t have to belong to an agency. Indeed, since FASHFEST is big on training, applicants don’t even have to have previous modelling experience. If they have what it takes, they’ll cross the line and get to be in Canberra’s red-carpet fashion event. The only restriction is that models have to be 16 years of age on the day of the casting.

But what does it take to be a model? Internationally renowned photographer Robert Coppa—one of the five-member judging panel for the casting—says fluidity of motion is paramount as is the ability to exude confidence.

Robert Coppa

Robert Coppa

“You have to ‘own’ what you’re doing as a model. Coming in and out of poses confidently and smoothly, as though you’ve done it 100 times is the key,” says Robert. “With catwalk modelling you’re meant to look aloof and slightly disengaged because it’s all about showing off the designer fashion.”

The models are each assigned a number and have to glide up and down the makeshift catwalk before the judges. They’ll walk to music by Hamish Lardi, NeonHoney and FASHFEST’s official music director, Ashley Feraude. Keeping nerves calm is a challenge for some, even those with experience.

Other members of this year’s judging panel are Hayley O’Neill, Sydney-based fashion stylist and Fashion Office Coordinator at Marie Claire Australia, who originally hails from Canberra, and the owners of Canberra’s top modelling agencies Victoria Schnabl, Victoria’s Models, Andrea Hutchinson, HAUS Models, and Tina Nikolovski, Devojka Models.

FashFest Judging Panel 2015

FashFest Judging Panel 2015

As with previous years, FASHFEST is looking for diversity in its models, in part to meet the aesthetics of the different fashion designers who launch new collections on the catwalk. For example, with FASHFEST 2015, Red Corner Boxing required that ‘healthy, clean sports’ look. Other designers, like Karen Lee (who has launched a collection every year since FASHFEST began) require a mature, sophisticated look. Still others, like Hana Apparel Design and The Prodigal Daughter, require a look that celebrates their ethnicity.

While it’s serious stuff, Clint Hutchinson, co-founder of FASHFEST, says the model casting is a relaxed day and heaps of fun.

Nick Ellis (producer) directing operations at 2015 model casting

Nick Ellis (producer) directing operations at 2015 model casting

So if you think you’d like to give it a go, register for the 22 May model casting. If nothing else, you’ll have a great day and gain some great experience. Registration a must before the day of the casting, and you can register at

Sexy French and Drunken Fruit

at Les Bistronomes by Wendy Johnson

Photo by Sean Davey.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Don’t classic French dishes, like bouillabaisse and duck à l’orange, just make you want to worship to the food gods? They make me want to worship. These sophisticated dishes, that require megadoses of talent to create and plate, are being celebrated on the newly released seasonal menu at Les Bistronomes in Braddon.

Owners Abel Bariller and Clement Chauvin, with their sexy French accents, live and breathe wonderful wines and dishes that you may think have gone out of style but which, if truth be told, never, ever will—especially when served with such finesse.

Image LFW

Image LFW

Les Bistronomes can best be described as rustic French chic. It’s a casual, comfortable dining environment, with padded chairs that allow you to sit back and relax, and tables large enough to hold beautifully plated food and several wine glasses (at least that’s how many accumulate each time we visit).

Clement says they have added new dishes to the autumn menu but wouldn’t dare remove some that customers order time and time again. And currently that includes the chestnut and caramelised onion soup—silky smooth, earthy in texture and perfect for this time of year. And the ash encrusted duck à l’orange, a whole duck with red cabbage, orange and pine nuts (served for two).

Another dish Clement wouldn’t have the courage to remove is La Bouillabaisse, with its wonderfully complex flavours. This fish soup, traditionally associated with the Provence region, has been made for centuries. This one is created with love with Rouille sauce, which, as it name implies, is rust in colour, adding to the richness and depth of the soup. And let’s not forget the salmon, scallop, mussel and clams.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Photo by Sean Davey.

The menu at Les Bistronomes has a section of mains to share for two people, and pre-ordering is recommended. New on the menu is roasted piglet and Alsace sauerkraut served with potato, caramelised apple and truffle ($72 for two). This special section of the menu also features Cape Grim rib eye served with bone marrow, chips and béarnaise sauce ($96 for two). Each one takes 25 or 30 minutes to make, so rest easy and enjoy the wine and the ambience.

And now it’s time for the grand finale desserts, which Les Bistronomes is so famous for. There’s that classic vanilla bean crème caramel which you simply can’t beat (this one served with a drunken fig), a famous pear and almond Tarte Bourdaloue with vanilla yoghurt sorbet, a raspberry soufflé and a chocolate mosaic. If you please, the French cheese platter is a winner and Abel will help you select the best wines to match.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Photo by Sean Davey.

Abel is a professional French master sommelier and a ‘Knight of Cognac’. He has a nose for the best varieties and labels and is happy to chat away about what makes each wine on the menu a top pick.

Clement’s background in the kitchen started early. He was a young 18 years of age when he landed a position working in two-Michelin star restaurant Pic (Valence) and also received some heavy duty training in executing perfect flavours and perfect plating at Gordon Ramsay’s Claridges in London.

For a special occasion give yourself time to peruse and taste, or book a five-course chef’s degustation on Saturdays at lunch for an amazing $50 per person (this is worth every bite). Or just enjoy whatever you’d like for lunch or dinner off the a la carte menu or specials board.

Bon appétit.

Image LFW

Image LFW

Les Bistronomes is at the corner of Mort and Elouera Streets in Braddon. Open lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday. 6248 8119.

Images by Sean Davey – unless otherwide indicated