April 27, 2017

The Sak is one of the USA’s largest handbag companies and has been around for the last 24 years. Their philosophy is simple – happy & free – and their customer is one that is free spirited, with a ‘relaxed Californian’ personality.

The company and their designers believe in peace and harmony and they interweave this into their handbags’ styles and designs.  With a mixture of hand-crocheted and casual leather bags, mini bags, fashion accessories and travel, The Sak bags are sold in more than 850 specialty stores across 24 countries, including Australia.

The Sak Australia has now launched their Autumn & Winter 2017 collection which is available in all major department stores nationally, plus online at Their large product range includes handbags, satchels, crossbody & shoulder bags, cosmetic cases, wallets and smartphone crossbody purses plus many more styles.

I have one of their stylish black leather shoulder bags, complete with zippered compartment at the back and a handy pouch at the front for my mobile. This versatile bag is great for either day or evening wear and there is plenty of space inside for all my paraphernalia.

Sandra Tiltman  Photos: John Pond


April 20, 2017

Manager Vittal with Sandra Tiltman

Like no other Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to, Masala Theory in Surry Hills is a funky spot where the music and the décor add to the vibe. When I dined there recently, the atmosphere was so inviting, even before trying their fabulous food. This totally sitar free zone, made it worth visiting just to listen to their eclectic music and to view the murals of sunglass wearing, sari clad Bollywood women on skateboards.

Vittal, the friendly manager, described Masala Theory as having a modern Bombay vibe.

The food journey began with a glass of Lavendar Lassi, a delicious yogurt drink that maybe was better than a glass of champagne.

Three Sisters Chat

The crisp poppadams with a mint sauce were quickly eaten, as once you start you can’t stop and another serving was ordered.

The Three Sisters Chat was a sculptural masterpiece consisting of crispy fried English spinach, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, sweetened yogurt and date tamarind chutney and mint chutney. This dish had to be seen to be believed, tasting as good as it looked.

Beetroot Poriyal

Beetroot Poriyal made beetroot the star with mustard seeds, coconut, chillis and lentils adding to the flavour. A definite must.

To my taste, the Smoked Eggplant was very hot, but I wanted to give it a try as the eggplant bharta blended with onion, tomato, chillies and spices sounded too good to miss.

Smoked Eggplant

A superb butter chicken, made completely from scratch with ground cashew nuts, gave new meaning to this traditional dish, which is often abused by cooks.

Accompanying the meal were two varieties of naan, one garlic and the other cheese, chilli and coriander.

Masala Chai Pannacotta & Cinnamon Ice Cream

There was no way I could leave Masala Theory without trying two of their spectacular desserts which Vittal recommended. I certainly enjoyed the Masala Chai Pannacotta and the cinnamon ice cream was full of flavour.

To experience a different twist on Indian food, Masala Theory is a must visit for either lunch or dinner.

Sandra Tiltman     Photos: John Pond


April 10, 2017

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Cake followed by a chamber orchestra concert, what an irresistible combination.

The first Musica Viva Coffee Concert of the year was held recently at North Sydney’s Independent Theatre, a superb venue for this delightful event. Morning tea began at 10am, followed by an hour of music from 11am, by The Goldner String Quartet, one of Australia’s greatest chamber ensembles, who thrilled the audience with Beethoven’s exquisite ‘Razumovsky’ Quartet op 59 no 2.

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Another treat was their playing of ‘Interwoven’, created by emerging Sydney composer Elizabeth Younan, who was recently named Young Composer of the Year by Fine Music FM. ‘Interwoven’ was created as part of the Sydney Conservatorium’s National Women Composers Development Program.

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The entire 2017 season will feature The Goldner String Quartet, who will be bringing a couple of guests to the concerts. Musica Viva’s Artistic Director, Carl Vine AO said “Only
once before, in 2012, did we devote an entire year of Coffee Concerts to these splendid musicians. It proved to be one of the most popular years since the series began.” Guest appearances by Australian pianist Piers Lane and virtuoso cellist Umberto Clerici will add to the appeal of the concerts.

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The music was wonderful and I especially enjoyed the selection of delicious cakes. I must confess that I did try a few as they looked so inviting. I would recommend booking for the second concert in the series on 24 May 2017.

What a clever idea to hold the concert series in the daytime, when many people prefer to go out and at a venue that is easy to get to, with street parking available near by. I am amazed that more concert promoters do not follow Musica Viva’s lead.

Sandra Tiltman  

Photos: John Pond


April 10, 2017


Paulini, one of Australia’s finest vocalists and performers, will play the leading role of Rachel Marron in the Australian premiere of the international award winning hit musical “The Bodyguard”. The Australian tour will open at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre on 21 April 2017, followed by seasons in Brisbane and Melbourne.

Based on the smash hit Warner Bros film which starred Whitney Houston as Rachel and Kevin Costner as Frank Farmer, the former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, who is hired to protect superstar singer Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge, but what they don’t expect is to fall in love.

Australia first fell in love with Paulini and her impressive five octave range during the inaugural series of Australian Idol. One of her childhood idols was Whitney Houston and Paulini won the National Star Search Competition in her teens with her rendition of Whitney’s timeless classic “When You Believe”. The Fijian born singer songwriter went on to release three highly acclaimed albums and has collaborated with some of the world’s best music producers. With her incredible voice, stunning looks and engaging personality, Paulini is one of Australia’s most uniquely talented performers.

Produced by John Frost, Michael Harrison and David Ian, “The Bodyguard” is written by the acclaimed, Oscar nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Big Chill, The Empire Strikes Back) and features a book by Oscar winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman).

Kip Gamblin and Paulini in THE BODYGUARD (c) Peter Brew Bevan.jpgKip Gamblin will be playing the role of bodyguard Frank Farmer, made famous by Kevin Costner. The principal cast also features Prinnie Stevens as Nicki Marron, alongside Andrew Hazzard as Sy Spector, Patrick Williams as Bill Devaney, Brendan Irving as the Stalker, Damien Bermingham as Tony and Glaston Toft as Ray Court.

Featuring many irresistible classics including One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Greatest Love Of All, I Wanna Dance With Somebody plus one of the greatest hit songs of all time, I Will Always Love You, the audience will probably be singing all the way home.

John Frost commented ““The Bodyguard” has been a huge hit everywhere it has played since its 2012 world premiere in London. I have no doubt Australia will fall in love with this iconic story and those soaring ballads all over again”.

Sydney: Lyric Theatre, The Star from 21 April 2017.Performance Times: Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday – Saturday 8pm, Sunday 6pm. Matinees: Tuesday & Wednesday 1pm, Saturday & Sunday 2pm.

Melbourne: Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street from 24 August 2017. Performance Times: Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday/Thursday 7.30pm, Friday/Saturday 8pm, Sunday 6pm. Matinees: Tuesday & Wednesday 1pm, Saturday & Sunday 2pm.

Sandra Tiltman