Showing posts from 2009

Wholesale fashion @ NY Garment District: Happening Fashions et al

This is one of the many rambling wholesale outlets in the Garment District with their questionable garish offerings in the window and racks of samples out on the pavement for $25.

But this one has great leather coats, jackets, dresses. And surprise, surprise, if the clearly non-commercial shopper walks in, the laid back dude patrolling the racks of fur leather etc will sell you the odd one-off wholesale. I suspect that if you've made the effort to come all the way to NYC he might as well.

Anti-fur people stop reading here...
I'm not really a fur person - I tend to wear the fake fluff. But I picked up an amazing Jean Harlow like rabbit fur stole for $40. It was made from the offcuts of fur I suspect, it has a kind of 'bobbly' texture.
Rabid vegans stop reading here...
I have to say, nothing warms like fur. I bought it for a friend's grandmother to sit around in her armchair while the snow rages outside, reading a book without having to don a giant sweater or a burd…

FREE: Kayaking on the Hudson (that's right, NYC)

Kayaking in NYC Photo Gallery

Now that it's too damn cold to do stuff like put on a life jacket and shorts and get get whipped by subzero Manhattan tradewinds ... here's a joyous post about what you can do sometime next year.

Free kayaking. On the world famous waterfront of NYC. You heard it right! It's all thanks to the rabid enthusiasm of the collective at who offer weekend and weekday paddles, all equipment supplied.

First, make sure you get to the right place.

To get to say, the Pier 96 location, subtract 40 from 92 and it's at 56th street.

I have no idea how one would find that out except I got it from one of the head honchos there, the Lord of Logos Michael Samuel. If you can undistract yourself from the big list of logos he's famously designed (list the History Channel Logo, Sears, Tasty Delight etc etc) you will find that he wields a paddle as impressively as his lightpen.

I'll be posting a movie here shortly of the acti…

Curry Rice: Japan's cheapest and choosiest family meal

What's the most eaten meal in Japan?

It's NOT sushi. It's not even ramen. Nope, it's this thing called curry rice.

Curry rice appears on practically every budget menu in Japan. You can buy it to go for around $3-4, when most simple noodle dishes or soups range from 600 yen or $US6.50. Curry rice is the staple of millions of ordinary Japanese families, and even more geeky bachelors, I bet.

It's even been immortalized by this miniature curry rice meal I found at Kid Robot in NYC.

So what is it?

It's basically made from a pre-packaged curry rice cube that comes in a packet - they call it a roux, and the competition to make the perfect roux is stiff.

Now of course, you can get this exact same kind of thing from India, China, Malaysia and so on.

But if you read Japan's S&B Foods site, they'll convince you that Japanese curry is the best, because the guy who made a fortune out of it sought to refine it, whereas other countries use it to "disgui…

ALOHA: Cheap (but not Cheesy) Cheesy Hawaii foods

Here's an Gal golden oldie - a short clip from my Hawaii 2005 trip where I sampled a number of cheap'n'choosy Hawaii treats like musubi, super hygienic nori rolls and even a Hawaiian McFeast.

This was pre-YouTube, and before I knew how to wield a digital camera like a steadycam, but you get the idea!

Hawaii Food Movie Clip (a Quicktime movie)

$10 (plus tax): Takashimaya Pressed Salmon and Cucumber Sandwich

This one barely scrapes in under the Cheap'n'Choosy banner, but I enjoyed it so much I'm going to include it.

Picture this: a rainy, drizzly day, I'm hobbling around having just returned from 5 weeks' customer evangelizing in Singapore (eating durian of all things) and Tokyo, having put my back out on the last day of the trip. Straight from the chiropractor, I need some neutral place to chill, neither restaurant nor bar nor noisy hard-chaired cafe to grab a bite where I won't be jostled or have to suffer loud music or a cooler-tha-thou 'tude, which has a bit of cushioning behind the lumbar region.

I know ... a department store cafe!

A hotel would be a close second, except they tend to be, well, a bit hotelish, and they don't stop pestering you with their pricey bar menu. A museum or art gallery cafe would be a close third, except you're talking hard floors, even harder chairs and uncosy cavernous dimensions. Oh yeah, and people pushing around di…

$10: Tebaya Fried Chicken Wings (from Nagoya with love)

UPDATE 4/22/13: According to a reviewer, this restaurant appears to have moved to 181 W. 4th Street (b/w 6th and 7th Ave)


I'm off to Japan, for the first time in my life.  (UPDATE: Here's what it was like).

It will be my first visit ever visit. I confess I've been getting stuck into these addictive fried chicken wings from a little hole in the wall around the corner called Tebaya. I've eaten them THRICE in the same week, I'm ashamed to say, because I supposedly don't eat MEAT and FAT and SALT in such quantities. What's happening to me? And how can they make the middle part of a chicken wing taste so amazing? This is how. The process, called teba, involves marination then double frying - once to remove the fat but leave the collagen, then once again to crisp what's left, then sprinkled with sesame seeds. The result is incredibly tasty, and not as greasy as you would imagine.

I end up sitting there, in the window where everyone can see me, gnawing t…

FREE: (helmet) haircut @ Bumble & Bumble NYC

Does it pass the test?


Bumble Razor Bob (4 min version, more hair action)
The above, shorter, 2-min version also appears on the tikit on Trial page

Inside Bumble & Bumble


WITH HAIRCUTS in NYC ranging anywhere in price from $5.50 (yes I did see a sign somewhere and it said men AND women) to $250, a free NY 'do is worth its weight in overgrown bangs.

Bumble Model Project is a hip salon in the hipper-than-thou Meatpacking district with a 'university' that teaches experienced hairdressers from all over the country their signature 'razor bob' - a groovy haircut done with a traditional razor instead of scissors. Rather than use mannequins and wigs, they solicit willing guinea piglets form the freebie-lovin' public to be models, who thus get done for free. Super cheap and choosy if you're willing to give up your beloved Mamas, Papas and failed hippie look!

Why a razor? It's supposed to 'take off the weight, give more moveme…

SNEAKY: How to approximate a bottomless Latte: courtesy of Locanda Verde

Continuing my tikit on Trial experiments, my folding friend and I ventured to Robert DeNiro's new eaterie, Locanda Verde. The place isn't cheap, but it's certainly choosy.

So how on earth does an upscale brunch qualify for this blog?

Justin, the Leo DeCaprio lookalike who served "il-latterate" yours truly told me why straight coffee drinkers get refills and latte drinkers don't ...

Fellow illatterates, you'll just have to watch the movie to find out.

MOVIE: The tikit on trial at Locanda Verde

More tikit on trial experiments

Left: A Brompton and a Bike Friday tikit parked just inside, the BMWs, Mercs and Aston Martins are languishing nearby in the gutter.

$5 nip and tuck: Express Tailor Service, Lower East Side, NYC

That's what they charged me to take the waistline of my jeans in - and in about 10 mins flat. Nicely taken apart, cut, and re-sewn like new. Most other stores a few blocks west in Chelsea charge $15.

$15 was the quote for tapering the delightfully garish florid Debra Rodman shift I got from my favorite consignment store, New and Almost New. But the job was done properly - armhole binding opened and restitched, not simply run up both sides like I would have done if my sewing machine was her instead of downunder.

While I waited a woman brought in some green pants to be shortened and the hems were cut and sewn before she had a chance to sit down.

"$5," said the cashier.

"$4?" she ventured.

"OK, $4."

"You bargain here?" I asked her, incredulously.

"I do," she said. Pensioners (or pensioner-apparents) can get away with anything!

At $5 there can't have been a lot of profit in it. I just hope the workers are treated well.

What's interes…

FREE MAP (if you can get your hands on one): NYC's best map

Doncha hate maps that ...
a) Tear along the creases, especially when flapping about on a windy street corner, and get soggy when wet

b) Omit streets. I'm sorry, a useful map has to have EVERY STREET marked, to be called a map

c) Are super detailed in some respects, but not the way you really need it

d) Fold stupidly, so you can never get it folded right again

I've discovered what I consider York's best map - all things considered being a freebie, assuming you can get your hands on one. It's by a company who call themselves NYTAB.COM - New York Travel Advisory Bureau, sounding as government-sanctioned as "Department of the Interior".

The map concertinas to a nice, standard envelope shape that slips nicely into a pocket. The subway lines crystal clear. It names every street. The best feature is you can fold to precisely the area you're traveling in "page" forward or back with a simple flip as you go up or downtown. No massive unfolding or refoldin…

<$5: Cool Laptop Sleeve

Latest C'n'C tip comes appears on my Gal blog, in conjunction with my Traffic Cone bag. Take a look!

FREE: Buddakan Dining Room in Chelsea, Manhattan

Looking like the mansion scene in "Eyes Wide Shut" with an orgy of socializing rather than shtupping, this cavernous restaurant/bar is total trip for the senses.

It features a massive, chandelier-feastooned central dining room harking from some Edwardian era (or a Hollywood set thereof), flanked by little dark nooks and crannies and passageways crammed with people drinking and schmoozing and shouting about the meaninglessness of life and 30 Rock. It's like being in one of the big ballrooms of the Titanic before it sprung a leak.

Best of all, unlike most nightspots in Chelsea, there's no velvet rope and unhappy attitude that goes with it - probably because it is a restaurant, not a nightclub, and restaurants always need all the chompers they can get.

A server said "We're in the business of hospitality." And he said it with a genuine smile. Whoa! They clearly have a great boss or they're on drugs. You can always spot a bad boss - it comes out in t…

$22 Haircut with da works @ Jun Salon (Chinatown, NY)

MULTIMEDIA: $22 'do with the works @ Jun Salon

"It's just hair."

This, from a card-carrying hairdressing salon owner. It's a statement that might freak some cashed-up coiffsters right out, and put others at ease - like me.

After umming and ahhing at spending $65-100+ on a trim in Manhattan I thought, there must be a cheaper, yet choosier, way.

I mean, look at our Asian hair - straight as the highway to hell and in any color you like as long as it's black - what's so hard about that?

I decided to try the well-reviewed-considering (see Jun Salon in Chinatown.

Jun is an unpretentious gal who reminds me of one of my favorite gal cousins. She says she use to do $105+ Uptown cuts before she went cheap'n'choosy - and many of her clients followed her, not minding having to pick their way along the cracked and cabbage-strewn sidewalks of Chinatown for their discount 'do.

There is something twee (we use the word 'daggy' downunder) about C…

Cheap'n'Chocolatey: Galfromdownunder 3+ minute Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake

This is my slightly healthier spin on the 5-minute Chocolate Mug Cake recipe circulating furiously around the internet.
I say 3+ minutes because abandoning it in the nuker for 5 minutes can lead to burned bits - better to coax it gently to doneness ... here's me doing the dishes in County Kerry back in 1999

Galfromdownunder 3+ minute Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
(with original, non-vegan substitutions indicated)

4 Tablespoons buckwheat pancake mix (or ordinary flour)

3-4 Tablespoons Splenda/Stevia (or sugar)

2 Tablespoons good cocoa (I used Fair Trade Organic unsweetened)

2 tbsp no-sugar fruit conserve (not in original recipe - I used Wholefoods grapejuice sweetened Raspberry spread)

1 glob of soy yoghurt (or 1 Egg)

3 Tablespoons almond milk (or regular milk/half&half)

3 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (or regular oil)

Few chocolate drops/chunks (optional - I used 70% chunks because I like it dark)

Few nuts (optional)

1 Mug


Mix dry ingredients in 1 mug.
Mix wet ingredients in another.
Make we…