Friend of the Blog #5 – Sam Stern

Many aeons ago, before I left home, I had this boyfriend who decided that he would do all the necessary cooking in our relationship. He also let me wear the pants and choose the playlists so it was an all-round good deal (actually, why did I break up with him???).

Let’s just say, I wasn’t the most confident in the kitchen. I’d never had to be. An endless stream of after-school activities had meant that I’d never had to cook at home and my brother had enough culinary flair for the both of us if Mum and Dad decided to spontaneously delegate. I wasn’t hopeless, I just wasn’t interested in anything other than the eating bit.

In stepped Sam. If I had to take one physical possession from this life to the next, I’m pretty sure Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook would be it. Gifted to me the year I went flatting, it has got the smeared pages and watermarked words of a book that has seen so many flat dinners it has worked harder than Richie McCaw. If you have a recipe question, Sam will answer it, if you don’t have a certain ingredient, Sam will offer a substitute, if you’re cooking for someone with a special dietary requirement, Sam will give you modifications. Sam has a recipe for whatever you have in your pantry. Seriously. There is even recipes in here for mussels, bulgar wheat and all manner of healthy staples to get you through the year, budget in check.

This ode to Sam came after I made a cake this evening in our flat’s oven which is so terrible (so terrible in fact, it once took an hour and a half to bake a banana loaf). I am also impeded in the baking department by my lack of attention to detail which really doesn’t bode well for exact recipes. As my cake rose, I looked at the book and asked out loud (the neighbours already think I’m a weirdo so it’s no biggie) “Sam you god, do you perchance know the answer to the meaning of life?” I don’t know what I was expecting, he didn’t reply. But for someone as gastronomically obsessed as I am, maybe this cheeky Pom does.

Sam Stern, let’s be friends xx

Sam Stern


Friend of the Blog #4 Adele

I sometimes imagine that one day I’ll be well known enough to be interviewed in one of those newspaper weekend magazine columns where they ask you silly questions like “The book I can’t put down is…” “My last meal would be ….” etc. They sometimes ask something like “The concert I wish I’d seen is ….” and if I were ever to get asked that, I know exactly what I’d say. Ideally I would say something like “Kings of Leon in their garage before they got famous” or “Sinatra’s last hurrah” or something, but after having watched Adele – Live at the Royal Albert Hall on the plane home from Europe I have repeatedly wished really really hard that I was there.

Since Adele came onto my radar I’ve been doing my best renditions of her in the shower, in the kitchen, in the car, in my own head, so I am already a fan. But, what a show! Not just the singing, the stage, the theatre or the lighting design. But, the Adele that came across so cool and personable on The Graham Norton Show, who interviews like someone you could totally be friends with, was just like that on stage. She swore, she bemoaned not having a glass of wine in her hands, she cried a bit and even took her shoes off. She asked the lighting desk to put the house lights up so she could see everyone. She was just bloody cool. Not pretentiousness, no swanning about, no ‘trying to be witty’ banter, she just sang incredibly interspersed with funny yarns.

She is the sort of role model we could do with more of these days. Get rid of disgusting Gaga, trashy Pink and the skeptically talented Jessie J and let Adele’s reign continue.



Friend of the Blog #3 Sir Ian McKellan

Saturday night and the lights were turned down, the wild Wellington wind howled outside and I was disrupting the silence by shuffling along a few seats to sit on an empty end one in order to get a better view as Sir Ian McKellan, actor, gay-rights advocate, Gandalf himself, burst from the darkness of the stage (wearing some of the tightest pants I’ve ever seen on a guy over 25). He began by recounting the episode from the Lord of the Rings where Gandalf saves Frodo from some tentacled thingy (geeks correct me here please) and as Sir Ian yelled those immortal lines “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” a collective smile was cast over the audience and after he whispered, “Run, you fools” I knew we were truly in for a night of magic. What came next was a stunning two hours of perfection, it was candid, it was funny, heart-breaking and beautiful. You really did feel like you and old Ian were just having a chat, with most of the first half dedicated to audience questions. After taking one from the front row he looked right up the back (where all us students were sitting) and asked for a contribution. Noone said anything, so I just jumped up and yelled “I’ve got a question!” and so, mopping his brow he looked at me and I asked him about his performance in Waiting for Godot and was it really as easy for him as it looked? He gave the most perfect reply about his interpretation of the play and how, when you get to his age, even the most revered absurdist play in the world “makes sense because it’s about being old.”

And that’s how I got to be talking to Ian, and throughout the evening it felt like we were just having a coffee, and what an interesting date he was. We all heard about meeting Nelson Mandela, being gay in South Africa, being gay in England, hating on Maragret Thatcher (who then recommended him for a knighthood), about getting the knighthood, does he have a partner at the moment? someone wanted to know. It was a sea of stories punctuated by questions which lead us onto the next adveture in the life of a man with literature in his veins and a twinkle in his eyes. He had stagefright while with Judy Dench, he has been sunburnt in Mexico with Ava Gardiner and he has done Shakespeare with everyone from Maggie Smith to Albert Finney and back again.

The second half was Shakespeare but again interspersed with stories and facts and reasons for doing each selected piece. At the end, the cast of The Hobbit popped up onstage to help him with a last bit of fundraising for Christchurch’s Theatre Royal and there was (Bilbo) Martin Freeman! So, not only is Sir Ian McKellan a talented actor, stunning performer, personable and humble, but he’s friends with Dr Watson (therefore by about three degrees of separation the blog is friends with Sherlock).

Sir Ian, let’s be friends.


Friend of the Blog #2: Garance Doré

When I grow up, I want to be Garance Doré – illustrator, blogger and generally awesome French fashionista (who coincidentally dates the other person I want to be when I grow up, Scott “Sartorialist” Schuman).

She is not stick thin, she is has notoriously curly hair and she manages to style each outifit with that quintessentially French, je ne sais quoi of simplicity and sophistication. She is the champion of the man’s watch, the red lipstick, the top-knot and the denim shirt. Her photopgraphs ooze intensity and clarity of subject and her illustrations are light and fresh, the sort of things you’d want on a wall size scale in a café. She does yoga, drinks champagne and generally looks like she’s having a good time. From what I can tell, she lives this perfect life all without pretention and snobbery and with gratification for every trip she gets to make (think Cannes, Tokyo for Lady Dior, Miami for a shoot).

Do chicks come any god-damned cooler than this? I don’t think so.


Check out her blog:

Garance Doré, let’s be friends.

Happy Friday peeps, one more until semester’s over!

Friend of the Blog: Hamish and Andy

What better way to start the segment than with two guys who are the closest thing I have to an obsession. Some girls like the Beebs, others 1D and some are still hoping for a member of Westlife to marry them. For me, it’s Australian radio duo Hamish and Andy. They are cool in a dorky way, funny in a clever way and have survived radio for seven years with record numbers of listeners. They’ve had regular stints on the now-extinct interview show, Rove, and done their own TV things.

In the summer of 2010-2011 I listened to every. Single. Podcast. That’s a couple of hundred. I still listen to each podcast as it’s been released and have been seen power walking and laughing at the same time at their ongoing hilarity. Stunts such as ‘Put-pocketing’, Pants-off Friday and the invention of the sport of ‘ghosting’ have put these two lads on the map. Their radio shows feature regular guests, such as Horgs’ Inventions and Hamish’s grandma, Moosie.

Hamish and Andy are best friends, and I would say, the best thing to come out of Australia since, well, maybe the only good thing to come out of Australia?

Cheers to Hamish and Andy. Let’s be friends.