Thursday, June 30, 2011


PM24, also known as 'Philippe Mouchel at 24 Russell Street,' is a French bistro which came highly recommended by @deanyeh. We were very fortunate to have made a very last minute booking two hours before their 6pm evening opening time. Such is the popularity of this restaurant on a Sunday night, we were informed that we only had the table until 8pm! 

The moment we walked into the restaurant, we were highly impressed with the height of the ceiling, the warmth and great aroma from the open kitchen, the beautiful red rotisserie, and the salutations from an efficient and warm team of wait staff.

The ambience of this place is just fantastic, with a feeling of openess and a moderate noise level,. We were quickly greeted by Xavier, our French waiter. What to have was the hard question! From the chicken liver terrine to the seared scallops to snail in Burgundy style and French onion soup on offer just for entrées alone, I knew that it would not be easy to pick a single entrée. In the end, we settled on half a dozen of the escargot and the onion soup. Greedy, I know, but it is not often I visit Melbourne.

First up, the bread.

It was standard white, but presented warmed and inviting, in a bread 'basket'. The crust was crisp and innards super soft. The butter? Smooth and flavoursome. Better though, was the  accompanying amuse bouche spread, which was cream cheese with caper and pepper - this was really good, I had difficulty choosing between it and the butter.

Of the dishes we ordered, the escargot was the first to arrive. 

This was cooked in tomato fondue, garlic and parsley butter, and served with toasted bread. The snails were just divine, being both flavoursome and not overcooked, chewy and savoury. I could not wait to try it, only to have my tongue scorched by the super-hot temperature. But really, food this good should be enjoyed slowly, allowing time for the snails to cool. This was well-matched to a 1999 Maison LEROY Bourgogne blanc.

The Onion Soup came next – hot, comforting, mouth-watering delicious. Just the dish for that cool Melbourne Winter evening. The confit onion slowly cooked in beef stock and the gratin was almost a meal in itself with the richness of the savory butter and hearty broth. 

By this time, M and I were nearly full and yet, we had only had our entrée! 

For the main, we shared the organic Milawa chicken, cooked simply with rosemary and preserved lemon.

The skin was crispy, the flesh was juicy and succulent and despite the fact I was nearly full, I was still very impressed with this dish. The vegetables Rôtissoire were a mixture of potato, carrot, zucchini, pumpkin which had been basted with oil from the rotisserie. The chicken was matched well to our 2002 Domaine des Varoilles Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru La Romanée. This is a beautiful pinot from Cote de Nuits which exhibits great cherry taste and great balance and acidity. 

To our disappointment, we were just too full to try the desserts, as inviting as the menu was.

PM24 oozes style, sophistication, and efficiency and yet remains a warm and inviting place that I will return to, knowing there will always be a nice roast waiting to be tried.

24 Russell St.
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9207 7424

lunch Sunday to Friday 12pm -3pm; dinner 7 days 6pm – late


PM24 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2042 Cafe

A large casual cafe and deli (though more the former than the latter) situated a few minutes past the Newtown train station, I ended up here as a part of my "Reuben phase". I'd read about a sandwich here which wasn't exactly a Reuben, but which was apparently still worth heading to Newtown for. 

Especially for those used to the smaller cafes in Sydney, 2042 is a large establishment, with sofas at the front, facing King St. Their menu is available on their website, and consists of a standard mix of breakfast items, half a dozen main sized salads, sandwiches, a compact dinner menu, and a kids' menu consisting of four items.

First up, Roasted pumpkin and haloumi salad with rocket, pine nuts and balsamic dressing ($15). A meal unto itself, generously portioned, and no skimping on any of the listed components or overuse of rocket at the expense of everything else.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A look at a vintage Glycine Airman

Founded in Bienne in 1914 by Eugène Meylan, for a company whose modern history has been closely tied to functional and "tool" watches, it is interesting to note that Glycine’s early commitment was to create the smallest movements possible for women’s watches in gold and platinum cases, often highly jewelled, and to target the luxury market.

The company continued in this way, even presenting an automatic movement in 1931 (although it did not eventuate into long term production because of lack of capital) and launching a chronometer range in 1934, but it wasn’t until 1953 that their iconic model the Airman, was born.

During a Bangkok to Calcutta flight, Samuel W.Glur from Montres Altus S.A. (which merged with Glycine in 1960) somehow got into a dicussion about the usefulness of a 24-hour watch with the pilots operating on that flight. As a result, he wrote a letter to Charles Hertig Sr., then head of Glycine, outlining the criteria for a 24-hour watch that could be useful to pilots. This formed the genesis for the Airman.

It turned out to be a stroke of genius, and the Airman became popular with both military and commercial pilots, worn by so many USAF pilots during the Vietnam War that it was the number one selling pilot's watch in the US.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant

Now a restaurant group consisting of five restaurants in Haymarket (the Dixon St branch is one of two), Burwood, Chatswood and Glebe, the one on Dixon St is the original, opened in 2002. Although notionally on Dixon, the entrance is in fact on Little Hay St, up a flight of stairs. 

Covering several floors, the restaurant was already buzzing with early diners by the time of our arrival at 630pm. Space is a premium, and tables are situated fairly close together, though not closely enough to be of any discomfort.

Although dining with people with a tolerance for chilli, the dishes selected turn out to be probably the mildest dishes available there, and it certainly was quite a different experience to my previous visits to Red Chilli 2.

Shredded Jellyfish and Cucumber Salad ($8.80)

The jellyfish dish was my choice, selected because it is one of my favourite starters. (it's sometimes  includes shredded chicken, as well). I enjoy the coldness, the crunch and the texture. It was the others' first experience with jellyfish served in this manner, and for them, it was an interesting but successful experience. The cucumber was still crisp and the light dressing's sesame taste not too overwhelming. As the jellyfish has no inherent taste of its own, the dressing is the key.

Shredded tripe with Sichuan chilli and pepper sauce

Confession - I did not eat this dish, so all views expressed are those of the others. They are big tripe eaters, and had expected something different (as in a hot rather than a cold dish), an assumption which I had not realised until it came out. That all being said, it was one of their favourite dishes that night; they enjoyed the textures of the tripe, and did not find the chilli sauce too overwhelmingly chilli.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An evening with Bertrand Bourgeois of Manufacture Janvier

The village of St. Croix sits at an elevation of about 1,000 meters in the Jura region of
Switzerland, and it is here that in an unprepossessing building, Manufacture Janvier produces about ten Vianney Halter watches a year.

Known as the man who introduced steampunk to high end watches, his watches not only have a very distinctive aesthetic, but also a very strong ability to evoke a sense of that genre, bring whimsy to "haute hologerie". The style may not be to everyone's tastes, but they are to mine, as I grew up with Jules Verne influenced daydreams, and have a desire to one day own a steampunk watch by cult Japanese steampunk watchmaker Haruo Suekichi, whose watches are somewhat more elaborate than Vianney Halter's.

The opportunity to see some Vianney Halter watches in the flesh was not one that I had really envisaged happening, much less in Sydney, but so it was that after a few days of uncertainty due to a Chilean volcanic ash cloud's disruption of Australian airspace, fifteen of us found ourselves at Fix St James with Mr. Bertrand Bourgeois, Export Manager at Manufacture Janvier, and his travelling trio of watches.

The photos, alas, are not as good as they could have been due to the dim lighting, but I hope that they give some sense of the evening, which was filled with good food, good wine and some amazing watches. 

The food for the evening we left in the hands of Stuart Knox, owner of Fix. Although I did not take photos of all the (shared) dishes, they were as follows :

1. Fennel, Strzelecki & Grape Salad
2. Scallop w/ Cauliflower Sformato
3. Southern Fried Chicken Livers w/ ‘slaw
4. House Terrine w/ Pickles (on the night, it was chicken, hare and pork)
5. Fritto Misto (school prawns on the night)
6. Kingfish Carpaccio
7. Blue Eye
8. Pork Belly with pumpkin, Puy lentils
9. Choc "Yogo" with Raspberry and Honeycomb


Southern Fried Chicken Livers

Kingfish Carpaccio

Some randon photos from the evening.

Bertrand on the right

A Gerald Genta Gefica.

The Panerai PAM 341. A 60mm monster of a watch and not for most people's wrists, but it sits well on its owner's.

Two MIHs in the house. The one on the right is sporting an ABP strap.

This is the DeBethune DB15. Just a stunning elegant watch, and very popular on this evening.

As you can see, we had to use some supplementary lighting for better photos.

A very special Janvier that is spoken for. It was a privilege to be able to see this watch.

One thing which surprised not just me was that all of these watches are quite different in the flesh.  For example, I thought that the Antiqua would be quite a hefty clunky watch, but it is far more delicate than photos would lead you to believe, and far more light and thin. Very comfortable to wear as well, I might add. I had expected to like the Trio more than the Antiqua, but as soon as I saw this, my loyalties immediately switched.

An indication of the size of the Antiqua, next to this beast of a watch.

The Trio was thicker than I expected, but its clean sharp lines quite beautiful and minimalist. Less steampunk, perhaps.

A final shot of all three. I think I'd like the Antiqua in WG.

After Fix St James, it was one more for the road at Bambini Wine Room.

I'd like to thank the very engaging Bernard for coming all the way to Australia and to Sydney, and for giving us an opportunity to see Manufacture Janvier's stunning creations. Hopefully we will meet again, either here or in Switzerland.

Apart from the sheer pleasure of being able to handle these timepieces and to see the finishing and detailing close up, the evening confirmed two things for me. 

Firstly, that when it comes to the "Independents," one really has to see the watches in the flesh. You simply don't get an accurate enough representation of their watches in photos. Secondly, it made me realise that yes, there is something really quite special about watches from the Indies...


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sourdough Panini

If it weren’t for the stream of people queuing up to order their caffeine of choice and perhaps a sandwich and tart to go with it, Sourdough would be one of those blink-and-you-miss-it cafes. The shopfront counter is only wide enough to let two people stand side-by-side, and it is situated at the front of an unprepossessing office block on York St., just down from the Queen Victoria Building.

There is limited seating available inside the lobby area, with a fourteen stools partnering similarly sized tables, and a few stools at the bench behind the coffee making area. Although it’s not a café designed for long term comfort, customers seem happy to sit there for a while, and on each of my visits, I’ve noticed people with laptops and coffee, working.

With a blackboard proclaiming “our bread is certified organic sourdough” (the bread is Sonoma, the coffee Campos), the menu consists of six breakfast items and seven Panini, plus the day's "special", whose identity is revealed courtesy of a small piece of cardboard perched against the cash register. There is also a small selection of cakes and tarts at the counter.

First up is the “The Real Reuben” - Shaved corned beef, provolone cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Calibre de Cartier : Episode II

Cartier’s Calibre de Cartier range has become tremendously popular since it was launched. Powered by the automatic Calibre 1904 MC movement (named after the date on which Cartier’s watchmaking history commenced), it’s a decently sized 42mm but wears easily, and I’ve been quite taken with the white dialled steel version since I first saw it at the Calibre de Cartier launch in Sydney last year.

The use of short films and promotion videos by watch brands is increasing, whether it by an established brand such as Rolex with its often quite educational pieces, or even Stepan Sarpaneva with his magical short film offering a few months ago. Cartier has just launched the second instalment (they call it “Episode II”) of their Calibre de Cartier “story” on Facebook, Cartier’s channel on YouTube, and of course, you can see it at the Calibre de Cartier website. I’m hazarding a guess that there will be twelve episodes.

Just in case you missed out on the first one, here is Episode I :

The newly debuted Episode II :

If you want to take a look at the 1904 MC, they have a film for that as well :

I have to confess that I’m actually rather enamoured of Cartier’s White Gold Rotonde de Cartier Jumping Hours, but that’s a whole different price point alas...


Sunday, June 12, 2011

A wearable sundial from Nomos Glashütte

Nomos Glashütte is a German Manufacture that does not get much coverage compared to many other brands that one could argue are similar, but it is a brand with a lot of admirers amongst collectors and enthusiasts of both of the brand’s design and of the quality of its watches. One really interesting thing about them is that they don’t do different lines of watches for men and women, preferring the approach of having watches that are in a variety of sizes.

Unbeknownst to most, the entry point “calibre” from NOMOS is in fact not a timepiece, but a wearable sundial ring.

This gorgeous machined stainless steel ring can be worn as a pendant around your neck on the leather band on which it comes, or as a ring. The fact that it is able to be rotated makes it quite an addictive item to play with.

The outside diameter is 23 mm, inside diameter 19 mm, and leather band is 800 mm (around 30 inches).

It functions according to the principle of the so-called “farmers ring”. Farmers rings are a type of portable altitude sundial also called “ring sundials” or “simple ring dials”. The principle behind them are to suspend it in a vertical place such that the small aperture (the small hole that you can see in the photo) faces the Sun.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Schwarzenegger ‘Time to Give’ Piece Unique up for auction

Antiquorum’s next "Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces" auction on June 8, 2011 in New York includes an item which was most likely included in the sale before the rather public revelations of watch collector/ex-actor/ ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity, ten year old child, and the resulting marital breakup. No doubt the current situation will lead to greater interest in watch, though whether that will translate to a higher realised price is another question altogether.

Lot 351 is an Audemars Piguet Piece Unique made in 2000 for the company's 125th anniversary, its caseback engraved with Schwarzenegger's signature. Made for the inaugural 'Time to Give' charity auction co-hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muhammad Ali, the catalogue description is as follows :


Made for the 125th Anniversary of Audemars Piguet and offered as a unique piece for charity in 2000. Extremely fine and unique, large, minute-repeating, water-resistant, self-winding, titanium and 18K pink gold wristwatch with co-axial round button split-seconds chronograph, register, perpetual calendar with indication of the weeks, moon phases and an integrated titanium and 18K pink gold Audemars Piguet link bracelet with deployant clasp. Accompanied by the certificate of authenticity and instructions. Three-body, solid, polished and brushed, octagonal bezel with 8 hexagonal recessed polished stainless steel nuts screwed to 8 screws on the case back, transparent case back with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s laser engraved signature, co-axial button on the winding crown to operate the split-seconds function, sapphire crystals. Textured copper colour with luminous white gold baton indexes, outer 1/5th seconds track with 5-minute/seconds Arabic markers, subsidiary dials for the 30-minute register and days of the week at 3, the months and leap years at 6, the seconds and date at 9, the weeks of the year at 12 concentric with the aperture for the moon phases. Luminous white gold baton hands. M. Cal. 2885, rhodium-plated, oeil de perdrix decoration, 52 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance, shock absorber, self-compensating Breguet balance spring, hand-engraved gold rotor, repeating on gongs by activating slide on the band. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 45 mm. Thickness 15 mm. Approx. overall length 200 mm.”

Estimate: 250,000 USD - 350,000 USD/ 215,000 CHF - 300,000 CHF/ 170,000 EUR - 235,000 EUR

You can see (and hear) the watch here :

The rest of the catalogue can be viewed here.

Happy bidding!


9 June 2011 : The watch fetched a hammer price of USD310, 000. That's 374,500 USD with the buyer's premium.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Eva Leube : An Introduction

(Photo supplied by Eva Leube)

The discovery of a new independent watchmaker can come in many ways, but via twitter tends not to be one of them. And so I found myself, in late December 2010, looking at Eva Leube’s website with a great deal of curiosity.

The presence of an “Indie” in Sydney with a history of working with Thomas Prescher making watches such as a double-retrograde and flying multiple-axis tourbillon who had also spent time at Ulysse Nardin and worked at Rolex? The interest was far too great, the lack of any photos of her watches and information about them too much of a lure, so after a couple of months, I finally emailed her ito ask if I could visit her workshop.

Unfortunately for me, my curiosity would have to wait, as she was hard at work on her first piece, to be presented at Baselworld, and would not be back until May.

And so it was that one overcast day in mid May, I took the picturesque ferry trip to Manly. In the intervening time, Eva had been the talk of Baselworld, WorldTempus and watch fora such as PuristSPro and TimeZone for her first watch “Ari” (named after her son), and her candidature for AHCI had been formally announced.

On a sunny day this is a glorious half an hour ride, but even on this inclement day with its brisk wind, there was something of an adventure about taking the trip.

Very kindly, Eva had offered to pick me up from the ferry terminal and to drive me to her home, where I spent a fascinating and educational couple of hours with her.

Yes her home - her very intriguing curved watch was mostly created in a small workshop in her immaculately clean and tidy apartment.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bruschetteria 102

Ah bruschetta, you poor commonly misprounounced word. Its origins date back to approximately the 15th century in central Italy, its oldest version consisting of roasted (the name itself has its etymology in ‘bruscare’ meaning ‘to roast over coals’) bread rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. The most commonly version seen outside of Italy nowadays is probably be the one also involving tomatoes, but historically, seasonality would determine their presence (with some basil) atop the bread. There are a myriad of popular toppings such as beans, red peppers, cured meat or mozzarella.

Taking the bread base and turning it into an entire concept, Bruschetteria 102 has managed to stay as a relatively under-the-radar café in the increasingly manic Surry Hills, where eateries seem to be opening up every other week.

Situated diagonally opposite one of my long-time favourite Surry Hills places, Bruschetteria 102 consists of a small outdoor seating area at the front and two rooms, the first one dominated by the counter and small open kitchen. The second room is a wonderfully airy room, with a lot of natural light.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

The counter area has one of those large jars of Nutella which one is never sure  as to whether it is used, or remains a prop. Either way, it does appear on the menu, including Nutella coffee and a Nutella hot chocolate.

Even for those with a fairly sweet tooth, the first mouthful is a bit of an intense sugar hit. You become accustomed to it after the third mouthful, after which the richness of the hazelnut chocolate combination becomes increasingly appealing.