Friday, 31 July 2015

Masquerade - Every Face A Different Flavour

One of my big resolutions when I turned thirty was to look after my skin a little better. When I lived overseas, I used to have pretty amazing skin, largely due to my obsession with going to the jimjilbang (bath house) once a week and scrubbing, soaking, exfoliating, moisturising, etc. (not in that order) and occasionally getting a massage by the ajummas (ladies) working in the spa.

Yeah, we don't have that in Melbourne, and I MISS IT.

What I have recently discovered that we have that I also miss, is Face Shop! It also goes by the name Eco Skin, which is what they have at Glen Waverley where I went. I mainly went to see if I could get my old favourite toner and moisturiser (which was great for my skin which is oily across the cheeks, but dry around the nose and mouth). They didn't, but they do stock other things in Face Shop's range AND from Aritaum and Nature Republic, so I came home with these instead:


Face masks - three for $10! You put them on for ten to twenty minutes, smoothing them to the contours of your face, and then gently massaging the extra moisturiser in afterwards.

Like so...

I've been working my way through them slowly, and I can now say I have two favourites - the magnolia whitener, and the honey one. The Magnolia one is from Face Shop (I think) and the honey one is from Nature Republic.

The magnolia one didn't have a lot of extra residue when I removed the mask. The fragrance wasn't strong, and it felt like the moisturiser was a good weight for my skin. The honey one was mainly a favourite for the OPPOSITE reasons - there was plenty left to massage in, which left my cheeks feeling nice and smooth, and it smelt very slightly of honey - sweet and yummy.

I'm not sure which kind is best for my skin, so I'm thinking of seeing someone to get an analysis done so I know which one to go back and buy more of. In the meantime, if you have any advice for me in that vein (weird skin and which face mask is best for it) it'd be super if you could pop me a line or a comment!

And hit up Face Shop, or Ecoskin at Glen Waverley for pretty things to try with your skin too.

The Gastro Diet

I talk a bit about eating on here. Okay, a lot. I like food. It's fun to put together. It's yummy to eat. It's gratifying to share with others.

What ISN'T gratifying is when you have to not eat fun stuff for several days (five so far, and counting) because - yup, you guessed it - you get sick.

My doctor handed down the edict that I could eat toast, at first. After four days of toast, hydralyte, and Zooperdoopers, I was begging for an alternative. She broadened the scope and said savoury biscuits, plain sweet biscuits, plain noodles, and porridge were okay, too. No dairy, no fresh fruit or veggies, and no spicy food (AAAAGHHHHHH).

Plain... but still better than just toast!!

My personal favourite the last few days has been dry ginger ale. I've also steeped sliced ginger in hot water to drink to make me feel less blech. It's been easier to keep down than the thicker hydrolyte (and less sickly sweet than lemonade) and the bubbles make me feel better than flat water does. Totes recommended.

I am starting to compile a list of 'Yummy things I've seen people posting on Facebook that I'm going to eat when I'm allowed'. So far it includes this and this. There's a bit of a change in the wind for me with food from Wednesday so I'd better be able to eat it by then!

Wish me luck in recovering fast so I can bring you recounts of how to make fun things like that.

Swap-Bot - The Fairy Door ATC Swap #1

I've mentioned before that one of the items I swap for on Swap-Bot are ATCs, or Artist Trading Cards. If you're interested in learning more about them as an artform, you can read the basics here (thanks Wikipedia!), or you can have a look at my Pinterest board of ATCs I like by other artists.

Recently, I did a swap which was part one of a series on fairy doors. We were asked to decorate an ATC like the door of a gnome's home. Future swaps include Santa's workshop, the Tooth Fairy's door, etc. so it was fun to come up with something that was specifically earthy, woody, and gnomish!

What I sent, and what I received from the wonderful Pandd!

Isn't hers just beautiful? I love the way she's used one of my favourite ATC techniques - layering - to create a such a textured look around the edges. I was lucky to get a little packet of extra goodies - backgrounds and ATC cards - from her as well! Just the right kind of pick-me-up I needed after a week of being sick. Needless to say, a heart was well and truly earned by my swap partner for this swap!

Watch out for the other swaps in this series!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Coffee Exchange cos we're hipsters like that

Auntie Spanx and I were peckish before the High Tea Party, so we decided to hunt down brunch before we got gussied up for our high tea. We had a place in mind up near Parliament House, but after making it almost all the way there we found our way barricaded and guarded by half the police in Melbourne. What? It turned out to be where they expected the protest by Reclaim Australia and the counter-protest by general defenders of multiculturalism in Australia to meet. Thwarted!

Or were we?

As we started to trudge our disappointed selves back, we noticed a few establishments doing a brisk trade on Little Collins Street, and decided to take a look at their menus. Aha! Tucked a few shops down from the Spring Street intersection, we discovered Coffee Exchange. A cozy joint seating about thirty inside, they offered a small but enticing menu of not-your-average-brunch-fare, so we found ourselves a table and ordered a chai latte and a 'The Hipster' breakfast each.

Proper chai latte - in a pot!

You've seen me extol the virtues of a properly-made chai latte many a time. This one was one of THE CHOSEN ONES, where they brew the tea and milk in a pot and then you pour it yourself. And it was awesome. They served mine and Auntie Spanx's differently - she had no strainer, whereas I did, though we tasted each others' tea and decided there really wasn't much of a difference.

The Hipster

Then came our breakfast. The plates were huge! Two poached eggs on sourdough, with smoked salmon and haloumi, topped with a creamy sauce and a liberal serving of dukkah. Oh my. They were NOT stingy on any of the things brunch places are sometimes stingy with, and we actually stopped talking to eat, which is A PRETTY RARE OCCURRENCE when we get together (we both like to chat). The haloumi definitely remains the highlight in my memory, but all the flavours just melded together like a brunch-dream from somewhere in the middle east, and we loved every bite.

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Eau de Vie - Be Still My Dessert Loving Heart

So a little way back, I won a pretty awesome prize. I entered a competition run by the High Tea Society on Facebook, and won a double pass to the Melbourne High Tea Party, and a night at the Sofitel on Collins Street. Auntie Spanx came with me as my plus one, and we ended up having an impromptu - and very reviewable - night on the town instead of the quiet night in we had initially envisaged!

Our last stop for the evening was Eau de Vie. We were looking for somewhere to get a bite of dessert, but by this stage it was after 11pm and it was hard to find a place that was open. Eau de Vie is yet another venue that would be hard to find if you didn't know where it was. Down a seemingly silent alleyway, Auntie Spanx pulled open a heavy wooden panelled door, and VOILA NOISE ERUPTED!

Eau de Vie was PACKED but being only two of us, we waited less than ten minutes and were shown to a corner of a long table next to the bar. It was tight, but not uncomfortable, and I had an excellent vantage point to appraise the contents of the bar. It went all the way to the ceiling and I recognised a beautiful selection of whiskeys in the middle (some of them from the same distilleries as those the Khocolateman has collected).

Mmmm layers of sweet-upon-sweet!

I placed myself in the capable and knowledgeable hands of Auntie Spanx to choose a cocktail and a dessert - we ended up sharing a gorgeous confection of chocolate, raspberries and cream which was perfect in its proportions when split in two. Definitely worth the side trip for dessert on the way home - tartness and sweetness were balanced, and the creamy texture of the filling complemented the soft biscuity top. Yummo.

IMG_20150718_001837Sorry for the terrible photo... flash is not my friend

The cocktail Auntie Spanx suggested was an entirely different, but no less impressive, entity. Coffee, whiskey, and liqueur, topped with a conical mound of flavoured cream which was then solidified using liquid nitrogen. Wow. I ate the crispy top off the cream, and submerged the rest in the cocktail a la affogato - it added a sweetness and more creamy side to the drink.

I'd totally visit Eau de Vie again and order the same options - they complemented each other beautifully, and were the perfect sweet ending to a very indulgent evening!

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Friday, 24 July 2015

Would you like to go to East Berlin, or West Berlin?

So a little way back, I won a pretty awesome prize. I entered a competition run by the High Tea Society on Facebook, and won a double pass to the Melbourne High Tea Party, and a night at the Sofitel on Collins Street. Auntie Spanx came with me as my plus one, and we ended up having an impromptu - and very reviewable - night on the town instead of the quiet night in we had initially envisaged!

After Wagaya, but after our photo opportunity with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, Auntie Spanx and I went in search of Berlin Bar, a dive I'd been to some time back during a weekend away in Melbourne during my governessing year. I've said it several times about the places we visited that night - trust the GPS. It is a good and faithful companion. We found it after walking past it twice - it's up two flights of stairs in a building on an alleyway almost opposite the old Chinese Mission Church.

Now, when I arrived there last time I was asked, through a small sliding panel in the door, did I want to go to East Berlin or West Berlin? This is a bar where that choice makes the difference between sitting in a kitschy plush armchair with a chandelier above your head (a la West Berlin), or sitting on a wooden stool next to a (very artistic) table made from packing crates and ammo cases (as per East Berlin during the Cold War). This time, we were simply ushered to 'the bunker' and seated at the bar.

The cocktail menu was as impressive as on my last visit but given our other venues that night had served them for around $7-$10 per, paying $20 for each one seemed a bit steep, so we agreed to have just one before moving on to our next port of call.

Checkpoint Charlie

Auntie Spanx went for the Angela Merkel, a sweet mix in a sugar-rimmed martini glass. I went for the Checkpoint Charlie (nothing like a good name to make you want to try something new!), which was a bit more tart, and served in a glass dusted with pepper! It definitely made for an interesting and palate-cleansing experience.

The service was still as amazing as it was six years ago, and the ambience was pretty good. I'd definitely go back again for a super special occasion but I don't think I'd start hitting it up as a regular, unless I suddenly won Tattslotto. It's the kind of place you'd take people as a gimmicky visit - but to make the most of it I'd recommend going early in the evening so you might get a choice between east and west.


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Izakaya Yamato - Why Umeshu Is Awesome

So a little way back, I won a pretty awesome prize. I entered a competition run by the High Tea Society on Facebook, and won a double pass to the Melbourne High Tea Party, and a night at the Sofitel on Collins Street. Auntie Spanx came with me as my plus one, and we ended up having an impromptu - and very reviewable - night on the town instead of the quiet night in we had initially envisaged!

After hitting up Chinatown, eating frozen takoyaki, getting our photo taken with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee (awesome busking idea) and visiting communist era Germany, we crossed the great divide (Swanston Street) and hit up Izakaya Yamato for our last course of dinner (yes, Japanese pub food counts as dinner).

Izakaya Yamato is listed as being on Lonsdale Street, but its entrance is actually on Niagara Lane - and it's pretty unobtrusive, so you kind of have to know what you're looking for. After being ushered barefoot to a booth, we ordered cocktails and food, and watched them transform a few smaller booths into one big area for a twenty-person reservation. A) The space is fantastic as all the panels between booths slide in and out of the frames, so they can accommodate two or twenty people in a party really easily. B) They take reservations, even for big groups! Impressive work for a CBD joint on a Friday night!


The pick of the drinks was definitely the Geisha Slipper - an impressive mix of umeshu (plum liqueur), chuhai (clear spirit), a squeeze of lime, and a slosh of lemonade. It was refreshing and didn't taste at all alcoholic (the perfect mix for a cocktail late in the evening!).


We ordered a couple of different dishes. The skewer of fried bacon asparagus was nice, and split easily as it was good and soft. The salmon and avocado sushi was pretty standard. The tempura enoki (mushroom) was really good - the batter was light and fluffy, with fresh mushrooms inside. The gyoza were a little small, but very very tasty, and the texture was just about perfect - held its shape as I picked one up with chopsticks, but wasn't too tough. I was impressed! By far the pick of the bunch, though, were the skewers of bacon-wrapped enoki. They had amazing flavour and were cooked to squishy happy perfection. I'd totes get that again. In much larger quantities. Mixing-bowl-sized ones.

All up - definitely going to have to visit Izakaya Yamato again. I'd love to hang out there for longer and try a few more of their dishes - and their cocktails - and enjoy the good service, too!

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

Wagaya - Auntie Spanx And The Octopus Balls

So a little way back, I won a pretty awesome prize. I entered a competition run by the High Tea Society on Facebook, and won a double pass to the Melbourne High Tea Party, and a night at the Sofitel on Collins Street. Auntie Spanx came with me as my plus one, and we ended up having an impromptu - and very reviewable - night on the town instead of the quiet night in we had initially envisaged!

Our first stop of the night was Wagaya in Chinatown. A mutual friend had recommended it so we decided izakaya food (Japanese pub fare) was in order and hunted it down (it is hard to find - the third floor of a plaza off Little Bourke Street - trust your GPS and you'll get there eventually). We were shown to a booth with an iPad mounted to the wall to order from, and made our selections relatively quickly. I talked Auntie Spanx into trying takoyaki (octopus balls - or more accurately fried dough balls with diced octopus in it), and we ordered some edamame and sushi and tempura to go with it.


The cocktails were okay. They were sweet and didn't much taste like alcohol, so that was a win for us. The sushi was good, but relatively nondescript. The tempura cheese was pretty awesome - I'd never had that before - and the edamame were their usual good-for-chewing-while-having-a-yap selves. The takoyaki, however, narrowly missed out on being an unmitigated disaster. Takoyaki is fried. Fried means hot. Hot all the way through. The first ball we each ate was fried on the outside - but still almost frozen in the middle. We tossed up sending them back, but found the other four were fine, so decided to just chalk it up to experience and move on.

The place really did feel like an izakaya, and the food and drinks were generally pretty good (aside from the takoyaki - sad face), but nothing absolutely groundbreaking. I'd go again with a big group, as it's pretty cheap when you split the bill, and the servings are easy to split.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Dad's Wicked Fried Rice

Since I put up a recipe from Mum, I'm going to put up a recipe Dad used when I was staying over the holidays as well. His specialty, when we were growing up, was Malaysian and Chinese food - he spent a lot of time in Asia when he was younger and taught us to use chopsticks before we started school, as well as how to tolerate chilli. Valuable life skills.

IMG_20150705_200240Packed full of goodness

Dad threw together a wicked fried rice when I was over one night last trip. Cooked brown rice, fried egg (omelette style), chopped snake beans, snow peas, diced carrot, a packet of lap chung (pork sausage), a carton of sliced shrooms, a generous cup of frozen peas and corn, slivers of capsicum, and a drained can of water chestnuts all got thrown into a wok, expertly seasoned with fish sauce, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), and a splash of olive oil, and tossed together until everything was a glorious explosion of vegetable-laden colour.

His rule of thumb is, the more of everything other than rice or noodles, the better. As a result it's low-ish on the GI rating, and packed with vitamins aplenty thanks to the high concentration of veggies.

Also, it tastes AMAZING. I can tell you now, there wasn't anything left in our bowls when we declared ourselves done!

Definitely going to make this again at home.

Fancy Nance - Zumbo's Flamingo Thing


Over the holidays, a friend and I made the pilgrimage into the almost-city to visit Fancy Nance, the latest Zumbo creation to sweep the nation (well, Melbourne). I had done my research before we went, didn't eat lunch, and was very much looking forward to the 'I'm So Fancy' high tea. My friend decided on the vegetarian menu.

Before that, though, I thought I was lost, when I first got there. It's tucked away not just off the main drag, but off the side-street the signs point to as well. Have faith. Keep walking. Trust your GPS, and you'll find it. It's a very industrial space, decorated with purple plush booths and wooden tables, and the walls are sprayed with scenes of pink flamingos and Alice-In-Wonderlandesque iconography. When we went there, the part reserved for Little Frankies Pasticceria was still under construction, so some of the space looked a bit bare, but I think it will seem much more together and finished when it's all up and operating.

The tea itself was perfect - I had the raspberry, and it was the best fruit tea I've ever had. Nice and strong, a tiny bit of bite to it, and left to draw in a nice big teapot (I think I had about three cups out of the pot, which is pretty good value).

The food was a mixed bag. The passionfruit curd with accompaniments such as coconut espuma was definitely a highlight - it reminded me a little of a layered sago pudding in texture, but with the flavours of the fruits within in it really hitting the mark. The chouxmaca with the macaroon top, cream filling and red velvet flavoured choux pastry underneath was also pretty amazing (but you had to eat it carefully or it disgorged its insides everywhere!). We both enjoyed the capsicum jam that came with the scones, and the macaron, which is good cos it's kind of what Zumbo is known for.

The pastries of the day were not such a hit - they were pretty tough and the flavour wasn't anything to write home about. I wasn't such a fan of the savoury options, either. The osso bucco was a bit tough on the outside (it was crumbed with something), and the pork rillette on a pretzel bun left me a bit cold insofar as sliders go. The caramelized olives with smoked ricotta was pretty good, though.

All up, we had a fun afternoon catching up at Fancy Nance. I kind of feel like the concepts being presented on the menu are pretty awesome, but the execution is a bit slapdash for the price. I'd be curious to see whether it is there and thriving in twelve months - if so, I might consider trying it again, and seeing if they've upped the ante, but otherwise, at least I can say I've visited a Zumbo place now!

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Dandy Burek

I'm slowly working my way around Dandenong Market and have promised myself I won't visit the same place twice until I've reviewed all the eating joints!

Last weekend I was in a bit of a rush to get home after doing the shopping so I grabbed a burek from Dandy Burek in the main food court-y area before leaving. I had wanted the spinach one (we all know how much of a spinach nut I am!), but they were out of that and just had cheese, so I decided cheese burek was definitely better than no burek at all and grabbed a quarter.

Mmmm... cheesey goodness.

It was hot off the grill, so the cheese was still sort of melty inside. It had a similar consistency to ricotta, but the taste was unmistakably feta - perfect for the flaky pastry they cooked it in. If it had been a heavier, chunkier cheese or a doughy kind of pastry it would have gone all limp and soggy - but the two textures were perfect and the burek stayed pert and perky as it cooled.

To be fair it didn't get much of a chance to cool as I finished it before I hit home, so I think we can safely say they get my stamp of approval!

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Mum's Amazing Quiche

Quiche is one of those things that is hard to get right. Or at least, it is for me. I usually go for a filo pastry crust and an egg-and-stuff mixture bulked up with some ricotta cheese because otherwise it goes hard when I cook it, and the only thing the finished product is good for is to practise ultimate frisbee.

Mum, on the other hand, has converted to the puff pastry way of crust, and made an amazing quiche for dinner when I came to stay over the holidays. I want to share the recipe as it is packed full of good-for-you things, and most importantly, no ricotta cheese!

Quichey goodness...

Preheat your oven to about 180-200 Celsius. Grab two sheets of frozen puff pastry and line the quiche dish with it. Trim the edges so nothing's going to get burnt.

Drain a can of pink salmon, and mash it with a fork. Arrange in the quiche dish so it's evenly spread.

Drain a packet of frozen spinach (the Popeye brand one) and gently tease it all apart, then spread it among the salmon bits so it's all mixed together.

Clean and halve a leek. Slice it in half lengthways again, and then slice horizontally into half-rounds. Cook this in a frying pan with a dash of olive oil until just slightly softened, then add to the mixture in the quiche dish.

Whisk three eggs together, and pour over the salmon/spinach/leek mixture.

Pop the quiche in the oven and cook for about forty minutes - it will depend on your oven as to exactly how long, but usually electric is a little more and gas a little less.

One of my favourites, and a quintessential 'girls' night in' dish for us. We accompanied it with a viewing of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Best In Show, and a miniature gluten-free orange cake and Connoisseur vanilla ice cream for dessert. Perfect!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Swap-Bot: Digital Photo Email Scavenger Hunt - July

The Digital Photo Scavenger Hunt has rolled around for July! I really enjoyed these topics; some of them were lots of fun to think of out-of-the-box pictures for.

1 - Macro

Chinese Chilli Paste! Not to be confused with chilli sauce or chilli powder, Chinese Chilli Paste gets served with a lot of Sri Lankan dishes (I know, seems a strange mix of cultural elements, doesn't it?). It has a fantastic deep red colour, and an almost fishy taste underneath the chilli. It's particularly good when you mix it with lump rice and pork curry.

2 - A photo of one of your favorite beverage

Umeshu cocktail! I went out with a friend one night last week, and had a 'Geisha Slipper' cocktail containing umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur), chuhai (a clear Japanese spirit), lime juice and lemonade. I used to drink similar cocktails when I went out with friends when I lived there.

3 - A person younger than you are

I hope you'll excuse me being a little out-of-the-box with this one - it is a photo of a photo I found when I was visiting my family in Sydney recently. It's my father when he was younger than me! We went through a whole bunch of photos - mostly from his army days - and he told me stories about the people in them. This one, he explained, was taken during his training, and he had a broken collarbone but didn't realise (?!).

4 - Take a picture at one of your favorite restaurants, and tell us why you like to eat there

We love Steak Ministry! It's a steak restaurant in the suburb we first lived in as a couple, and my husband does the maintenance of their website. We like it very much as we are well-known and very well looked after there - we bring friends with us often and always enjoy the ambience of the room as well. On this particular visit it was just the two of us, but we had a fantastic rib eye to share, along with some yummy seasonal side dishes.

5 - Something you carry

A friend and I went to the Melbourne High Tea Party this weekend as I won a double pass (and a night at the Sofitel on Collins - best prize I've EVER won!). We got all dressed up in our afternoon tea best (tea dresses, lace, pearls, heels - really dressy!), and this was the bag I took with me. It's also the one I carried on my wedding day - I've gotten a lot of wear out of it as it matches a lot of my formal outfits (and sarees).

6 - Architecture you find interesting

This is the interior of a cafe I visited a few weeks back on Swanston Street, in Melbourne's CBD. It seems to mix industrial, functional architecture and pseudo modern oriental design with the deliberately exposed elements in the ceiling, but the lanterns and facade strategically decorating the walls and space above the tables. I thought it was a really interesting mix of styles in the way the architecture worked to accentuate the interior design!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Lil Cilantro in Cherrybrook Village

My recent trip to Sydney took me driving in and out of the far north-western suburbs a few times, and on one trip my father and I hit up Lil Cilantro in Cherrybrook Village for warm beverages en route home (you can't travel far without a caffeine hit in our family!).

Dad ordered a latte and I had my usual chai latte. He reports that his was okay, and I report mine was standard instachai. Warm, milky, no added sugar - can't ask much more than that when you're drinking the powdered variety.

Rice paper roll with chicken before consumption

We'd been going since 5:30am and I was feeling a bit peckish. Dad suggested we try a plate of rice paper rolls between us, so we ordered the chicken rolls. It was delivered with peanut sauce (which Dad had), and I poured myself some fish sauce, hot sauce, and soy sauce to dip them in. Side note: it is DAMN HARD to dip a rice paper roll without losing the innards! Tips for avoiding loss of contents? Post them below.


The rolls were really yummy - lots of flavour and a good, moist texture without being soggy (a hard balance to achieve with stuff wrapped in rice paper). They were stuffed full of marinaded chicken, soft vermicelli and coriander (cilantro). They were generous servings for the cost. Dad reports that the peanut sauce was great (he ate it by itself when the rice paper rolls were gone) and my mix of condiments definitely complimented them well.

I'd love to visit again and try one of the main meals - the bowls of pho (especially the beef ball ones) that were coming out of the kitchen looked and smelt amazing, and the portion sizes were HUGE. Fingers crossed I'm back again soon!

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Max Brenner Ku-Ring-Gai (St Ives)

Did you know that Max Brenner Chocolate Bar is celebrating 15 years in Australia this year? I know, me neither! Time goes very quickly when you're talking chocolate-based empires.

This Max Brenner opened after I left home, but I used to meet with friends there every holidays when I came home from university in Melbourne. I haven't made it home as often as I should the last few years, but a particular friend (hereby known as Dana E Scully) and I refer to our catch-ups as 'having a Max' or 'needing a Max' as we ALWAYS go here, and it's the best place we know to debrief and get on a sugar high at the same time!

You can kind of tell this one is getting on. The inside was fine, but the outside was looking a bit tired and grubby (at ten on a Saturday morning). The tiles needed a good scrub, and the tables and chairs needed a thorough wipe down. I'm not sure whether this was because it's the holidays and things have been busy? They were certainly doing brisk business while we were there.

I ordered my usual - a dark Italian hot chocolate - which comes in a hug mug, and is so thick I usually eat the first part with a spoon and then drink the rest. Interesting side note: the hug mug looks a little like a jug. Some people drink from the blunt end, cos your nose fits into the top bit when you tip it up, and some drink from the jug's spout cos it pours more neatly. Which do you do? Me, I'm a drink-from-the-spout kind of girl. The hot chocolate itself was lovely and warm, thick and sweet.

Love me a hug mug of chocolate

I also had the carrot cake (closest I could come to ordering something sort of breakfasty as I'd forgotten to eat before I left Dad's). It came warm and soft, with a drizzle of chocolate over the top. You could easily see the carrot in the cake - no wussy little midget bits of grated orange stuff, but proper long slivers. It really improved the texture, and the taste was exactly as Max Brenner carrot cake should be.

Carrot is a vegetable and chocolate is a fruit - this is a balanced meal, right??

It was great to catch up with DES again, and doubly great to catch up in an old familiar hangout, even if it wasn't looking so crash hot. I'll be back on my next trip to Sydney!

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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Swap-Bot: Music Scavenger Hunt #2

The Electronic Swap Group on Swap-Bot is hosting a second Music Scavenger Hunt and I had such fun with the last one I thought I'd do this one, too. Hope you enjoy my ten submissions for this month!

1) A song that lifts you up when you feel down

I taught my kindergarten class this when I was teaching in Seoul in 2009. It became known as 'the Friday song' as that was all they could pick out at the beginning (I am pleased to report I have DVD evidence of the fact that they knew all the words and performed it in front of an audience of several hundred at the end of the year!). Who couldn't feel happy seeing a cute pre-school class dancing and singing to The Cure? =)

2) A song about world peace

This was my introduction to Michael Jackson, when I heard a choir singing it when I was six, and decided I was going to learn all the words so I could move up to their choir the following year (at six you don't realise that the songs change year to year... can you tell I was disappointed). I still love the song, and it also features on my 'list of songs to teach my classes'.

3) Your favourite song from the Motown era of awesome soul music

I have to admit, I had to look up what consituted Motown era soul music - so I hope I've got this right, but I definitely love this one and can sing most of the words (thanks to the Sister Act II remake!).

4) An acapella song

IT WAS SO HARD TO PICK JUST ONE!! My favourite group are an acapella group from Indiana - Straight No Chaser. I've loved them since before they were famous, and this is my favourite of their songs as I am a terrible insomniac and this tends to speak to me in a big way!

5) A song in your native language, other than English.

I am sadly monolingual, but I have two favourite songs in other languages - this one is my favourite French song from Year 11, translating to 'It's Hard To Be a Baby' - Jordy Limone is just too cute for words at the age of two, isn't he?

This is my other favourite - I couldn't let a swap go by without an honourable mention of K-Pop! When I'm down I tend to listen to PSY - this is probably my favourite of his songs at the moment. The scene in the noraebang (karaoke) is pretty accurate - things are never as they seem when you sober up!

6) Popular song in the 90s

Ah yes, the Macarena. This came out when I was in Year 6 and they played it INCESSANTLY on the school radio (not that we minded, the whole playground would jump up and get dancing, so it was definitely a good thing!).

7) Popular song in the early Y2K 2000 years

I remember this being INCREDIBLY popular at Hanga parties when I was in my first year at uni. Very easy to dance to - just follow the instructions and jump around!

8) Share a song from a 90s boy band

Be still, my beating heart. Nick Carter was TOTALLY where it was at in 1998 when As Long As You Love Me was big here in Australia. I can still sing all the words to the first verse, most of the second, and could probably imitate the chair dance if I really tried as well. BSB were BIG.

9) Share a song from a 90s girl band

The Spice Girls brought this little gem out when I was going into Year 7, and then they brought out Spice Girls: The Movie as I was going into year eight. When dressing up as a middle schooler, I was always Posh Spice, even though in actual fact I have never and will never resemble Victoria Beckham in any way!

10) Share the song that is currently playing in your head now

Someone posted this to their Facebook wall and I saw it at a very opportune time, when I was contemplating how I felt like I didn't give back enough. It was a sufficient kick up the behind to get me moving on some little projects I'd marinaded for long enough. I've come back and listened to it often since the first time I heard it.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Swap-Bot: ESG - My Breakfast

So the Electronic Swap Group is hosting a My Breakfast swap. You may remember, if you've read a few of my entries, that I rather like breakfast, and breakfast food, regardless of the time of day, so this swap is right up my alley!

The swap called for us to send one photo to our partners of what our normal breakfast would be. My breakfast is different on weekends and on weekdays, so I hope no-one will mind if I post two pictures and two recipes.

Weekdays - The Art of the Green Smoothie

Take two spoonfuls of diced pineapple, a teaspoon of white chia seeds, two teaspoons of benefiber or psyllium husk or metamucil, a huge handful of baby spinach, and a cup of fresh orange juice with pulp. Shove the lot in the bullet blender, and blend on high speed for about a minute. Voila - that's breakfast.

Weekends - The Art of Cooking Eggs 10361972_10152981089011138_4585644367616241919_n

To poach, take a mug, and cover the top loosely with gladwrap (it's like stretchy saran wrap). Crack an egg into it. Carefully pick up the corners of the gladwrap, and twist them tightly together (like you're going to wring them out together). Tie the twist of gladwrap at the top of the egg. Put the gladwrapped egg/s in a saucepan of cold water. Heat the water slowly, and let the eggs cook until they are white and starting to make bubbles. Remove them, snip the knot off the gladwrap and peel the gladwrap off the egg. Invert onto toast or muffins.

Or fry them sunny side up. In either case, sautee two big handfuls of baby spinach, put the baby spinach on the toast and THEN the eggs, and add a side of bacon or shrooms and you're good to go. Season with salt and pepper.

If you try the gladwrap egg poaching method, let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Brady Road Pizza in Dandenong

When we lived in Dandenong, I loved getting takeaway from Brady Road as there were two Ingress portals I could hit multiple times while waiting for my food. In the one block, there's a deli, a bottle-o, a small Foodworks, a bakery, florist/cafe, and Brady Road Pizza.

Brady Road Pizza is awesome.

They have a great menu of regular pizzas and dessert pizzas, as well as gourment toppings and pasta. They do pretty good deals for delivery, from what I see, but being as it is we live very close I don't think we've ever needed to use that.

My favourite is the Volcano. I always order it with anchovies (extra salt and protein, anyone?) as they go brilliantly well with the chilli, jalapenos, and salami. Sometimes I also order it with pitted kalamata olives for some extra tang, as well. This time, the lovely Annie was staying with me, and she's not a big chilli fan so we got a half-n-half with my spicy concoction on one side, and a plain pepperoni on the other. They very generously made it a large instead of a medium, which left us with a few leftovers (even after Dalek got the plain crusts).

Half-n-half makes hungry girls happy!

The Khocolateman loves the nutella pizza there, which is a plain sweetened base with nutella and sprinkles, cut into slices. He isn't usually a pizza lover, so to get any kind of concession that a pizza is actually good is pretty amazing.

Sweet pizza for a sweet guy?

I will totally be back - Brady Road is my number one pizza pick for our area! Beats the big chains hands down any day.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Calcutta Sweets in Dandenong

Dandenong is home to a LOT of Sri Lankan and Indian restaurants, takeaway joints, and grocery shops, especially near the station, in an area known as Little India (very imaginative, I know).

I have a few favourites along the main strip on Foster Street. One of them is Calcutta Sweets - named for its range of confectionery in the cabinet to the side of the shop - which sells amazing Indian food. I have never had a bad dish from them - and over time we've probably tried more than a dozen different items from the menu they offer.

While Annie was in Melbourne we visited them for lunch. We ordered butter chicken, paneer makhani, garlic naan, and a mango lassi each. Nothing was made too hot as Annie is not a spicy fan, which was fine by me after the vindaloo fiasco a few weeks back.

Lassi, mango style

The lassi arrived first - sweet, smooth, and refreshing. I'd like to go back and try the other varieties they have on offer to see if they are as good - the salted ones are another favourite I like to have when I'm not in the mood for mango flavoured stuff.

Anti-Vampire Naan

Shortly after, the main dishes and the naan rocked up. The naan was REALLY REALLY garlicky - like, good garlicky, but garlicky enough that you kind of wonder (after your garlic-induced happy spell has worn off) whether other people can also sense your garlicky presence. I'd totally get it again. Naan with no flavour sucks. This had flavour to the max.

Yum - Chicken and Cheese

The butter chicken was good butter chicken. Strong flavour, not too oily, good cuts of chicken, and well-presented as a dish. The paneer makhani was good, too - lots of cheese, a balance of onion and other veggies, and a yummy tangy sauce with a tiny bit of kick.

The serving sizes were perfect for two people and we left feeling happy and full. Service was quick and efficient, and the place was clean and neat. I'll definitely be back!

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Monday, 13 July 2015

Bonjour de France and the Neenish Tart Quandry

I don't know if I ever mentioned this but I'm not a spoilt only (well, spoilt is debatable, but definitely not an only). I have a younger brother, hereby known as the Entrepreneur, who lives in France, 'five o'clock from Paris'. I went past the Bonjour de France cafe the other morning while waiting for Dalek to be finished at his grooming session, and with a pang of aw-that-makes-me-remember-I'm-missing-my-sibling, popped in for a coffee and a late breakfast.

Un petit mocha

It's true what the other reviews say - there isn't a whole lot quintessentially French about the cafe. To start with, the service is friendly, and quick (even if we have an Aussie accent!) but that said it has a lot of good to it. I ordered a mocha (no chai latte offered!), a small quiche Lorraine (which she referred to as a bacon quiche!) and a neenish tart (a nod to my dad, who likes them very much).

Quiche Lorraine pour mon petit dejeuner>

The quiche Lorraine was quite nice. Not too oily - just the right size not to be overwhelming. Not a really set inside - and not too runny. Good quality bacon bits, too. Overall, very tasty. The mocha was pretty good too - good balance of flavours, not too strong on either side. The coffee they used was full-bodied without being bitter - just as I like it.

Neenish Tart Top

Then came the dilemma mentioned in the title. The neenish tart. I bit in, expecting the smooshy mock cream, and jam typical to Australian neenish tarts. Not so. Instead, it was almost custard-like - but not quite - and the taste was different, almost citrusy. I sat there contemplating. Had I made a mistake all these years? Is this how a neenish SHOULD taste? Oh the confusion! But such good confusion... A few minutes and a trip to google later, I can indeed vouch for the fact that these are indeed the tradit neenish tarts. I'm a total convert. I have become a neenish purist, if you will.

All up, a lovely little joint to spend a half hour in relaxing between weekday madnesses!

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Swap-Bot: ESG My Country Fun Facts Swap

The Electronic Swap Group is holding a My Country Fun Facts swap so I thought I'd pitch my two cents' worth in about the wonderful country I call home - a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, rugged mountain ranges, droughts, and flooding rains. And sprawling metropolises like Sydney and Melbourne.

Meet My Country

Fun Fact About Australia #1 - We Have Crazy Animals
According to this website, we have 11 of the top 25 deadliest snakes in the world. Having never actually dealt with a snake before - aside from seeing one slithering across the road when I lived in the bush - I can only assume this is correct. Additionally, I know we had a poster of this information on the cupboard door growing up, and everyone I knew did too. I've seen most of these little darlings around at some point - they like warm crawl spaces like cupboards, bookshelves, and gumboots.

That said, we also have cute and cuddly little guys like koalas, possums (not the same as the North American and European ones, these guys are heaps cuter and a bunch less creepy), kangaroos, wallabies, and drop bears, so they're not all bad.

Fun Fact About Australia #2 - Sydney Is Not The Capital
Sydney, despite being (JUST) the biggest city in Australia, is not the capital of Australia. Australia's capital city is Canberra, in Australia's Capital Territory (ACT). It is known for being the home of both old and new Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial, Black Mountain Tower, the High Court of Australia, the National Art Gallery, the National Film and Sound Archives, the National Library, the Royal Australian Mint, and best of all - QUESTACON THE BEST SCIENCE MUSEUM IN AUSTRALIA!! It also features a disproportionate number of roundabouts, embassies, consulates, and cars with number (registration) plates containing the letter Y.

Fun Fact About Australia #3 - Melbourne Is The Coffee Capital
According to this article, Melbourne (where I live) is the coffee-and-cafe-culture capital of Australia. We are also the most sporting city, with the most activities on offer for our citizens, and we have the largest Greek population in the world outside Athens. Maybe these three things are related? We also host Australia's largest free festival each year (Moomba - March Labour Day Long Weekend), have been voted the world's most liveable city for several years, and in 1880 was the world's richest city. Wonder what happened?

Fun Fact About Australia #4 - We Were Nearly French
Captain James Cook arrived in Australia - then known as Terra Nullius - in 1770 and mapped part of the East Coast. In 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip and eleven ships of convicts, free settlers, and redcoat soldiers landed in Botany Bay, raised the flag on Sydney Cove and declared Australia to be a part of England, and went about setting up a penal colony in what is now known as The Rocks (just under the Sydney Harbour Bridge). Just a few days later, French explorers were sighted on the horizon, hoping to claim Australia for their country instead.

Fun Fact About Australia #5 - Can Haz Camels
Prior to the government spending AU$19 million on an eradication and containment solution, Australia had over a million feral camels living in the outback. Currently, Saudi Arabia imports its camel meat from Australia (though I doubt it comes from the feral camels; that could work to get rid of them though).

Hope you have enjoyed getting to know some offbeat facts about my weird and wacky world!

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Bulgogi in Chatswood aka Return of the Piping Hot Pot

Mum travelled to Korea to work in the summer of 2005/2006, and her voyage was the kick up the behind I needed to realise going overseas was a distinct possibility, and that this might be a good way to get started. She and I both love Korean food, so when we found ourselves needing lunch in Chatswood while I was visiting, she suggested we try The Bulgogi.

The menu seemed like a combination of Korean and Japanese, but to look at it's a typical BBQ restaurant, with the cooker in the middle of the table, and the pull-down range hood to prevent you from accidentally smoking our yourselves or your neighbours. We weren't there for the barbecue, though, or the udon on the menu - we wanted dolsot bibimbap.

Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish of rice, an egg, vegetables, and sometimes some meat (usually beef) that you mix with as much gochujang (red pepper paste) as you like. Dolsot bibimbap is the same, but instead of everything already being cooked, and you just doing the stirring, it comes in a BURNING HOT stone pot and you have to stir like crazy to mix a raw egg into the rest of the mixture to cook it (and to get crispy bits on the outside).

Beautiful bibimbap and banchan

The bulgogi (beef) bibimbap we had turned out to be somewhere in the middle. The beef was already cooked, but the egg wasn't. We mixed and stirred from our little dishes of banchan (accompaniments like kimchi), and waited for it to cook. I think OH&S kind of prevents us from having the bowls as hot in Australia as they have it in Korea, but these ones were pretty good, and I managed to get a few crispy egg-and-rice bits.

The vegetables were great and the gochujang was just the right amount of spicy. There was a LOT of garlic in it. The beef was marinaded in something yummy (slightly sweet, maybe kecap manis or its Korean equivalent?) and balanced out the tartness of the pickled vegetables and the saltiness of the kim (seaweed).

I'd love to come back and try their dalkgalbi (spicy chicken barbecue dish). Don't go anywhere, The Bulgogi - I will return!

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Dymocks Cafe, or the best place to 'lose' your bank card

Mum and I had a lovely morning in the city while I was visiting everyone in Sydney. It was a beautiful day so we walked to the station in the sun, took the train into the city, and went on a bookshop crawl to Kinokinuya, Dymocks, and Abbey's. I did not manage to find anything I was looking for (much to, I'm sure, the Khocolateman's delight - no new books to box and haul next time we move!), but Mum did buy me a set of magnetic poetry to play with on the kitchen fridge, so that was pretty cool as a souvenir!

About halfway through the morning, while searching for a book in Dymocks, it was suggested (by one or both of us, probably me) that we took a break and had a cup of tea upstairs in the cafe that surrounds the bottom floor of the bookshop in a sort of mezzanine arrangement. We ordered a pot of chai tea each, and the turkish bread toast with ricotta and honey.

The chai was delicious. Left to brew for a little, the loose leaf tea was strong and had a really pleasant flavour. With a splash of milk in it, it was transformed to being rich and nutty, and just about perfect to warm up on this cold winter morning!


The turkish bread toast was plenty for two people! Four pieces of lightly toasted and buttered turkish bread with a side dish of ricotta and two sachets of honey. Loved the bread, and there was plenty of smooth and creamy ricotta (can't stand lumps in my ricotta cheese) for all four pieces, but they could have done with a smidge more honey, maybe served in a dish instead of the plastic packets.

Toast and tea for Mum and meee

The ladies who served our table were lovely, our food and drinks arrived quickly, it was clean and neat, and IT WAS IN DYMOCKS NEED I SAY MORE?? Not since Borders has there been such a good pairing of two of my favourite things!

Hit them up next time you're in the CBD!

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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Nine Taiwanese Dessert House (without the dessert part)

I arrived in the city early for a meet-up with a friend one evening over the holidays and decided to pop into Nine Taiwanese Dessert House to kill a bit of time. I was having dinner, so I didn't want anything too filling, but I did want something that would tide me over and warrant a place to sit for a half hour or so.

I ended up asking the guy behind the counter what he recommended to drink from their bubble tea menu (only caveat being it needed to be cold) and he suggested the pearl milk tea. I went with it. I like the pearl thingies, I like tea - what could go wrong? The answer: nothing. It was good. Not OMG I NEED IT AGAIN NOW good, but it was good for a quick and refreshing pick-me-up with a hint of caffeine and a whole lot of sugar.


I also ordered the four-piece cuttlefish balls with original salt and pepper seasoning. It reminded me of salt-and-pepper calamari taste wise, with the texture being that of a well-done, very compacted meatball (made of fish). Each one was about the size of a takoyaki ball, fried and well-drained. I really liked that these weren't excessively oily, and that they were served in a basket with a serviette underneath to absorb any extra oil.


Next time I visit I think I'll be trying some of their fried chicken, which seems to be a bit of a thing in the city at the moment. And another pearl milk tea, of course!

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Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ambrosia Food For Gods - and mere mortals like me!

I have got to get into the habit of making lunch the night before, and putting my morning tea in my bag before I go to bed. It's a real hassle having to remember to stop after only remembering halfway to school that I forgot them. On the plus side, it does give me plenty of opportunities to review places near work, like Ambrosia Food For Gods!

Today was an 'I forgot my morning tea' day, so I stopped in at Ambrosia Food For Gods just to grab a chai and something to take for my snack. When I ordered my chai (a moist loose leaf brewed individually and topped with frothed soy milk - OMG AMAZING - Harriet's Chai brand I think) the lady behind the counter told me to come back after the holidays as they would have a second one they thought was even better than the one they were currently serving. Day One Term Three - I'm there. Hands down the best chai I've had in Mitcham - and with so many places open for the early morning rush that's a big call.

Baklava before and after spooning

I couldn't decide between baklava and banana bread, so I got both (!). Having a peanut allergy, I've had some dodgy experiences with places using those dreadful little things crushed up and added to pistachios or walnuts as their filling - I was assured theirs was all walnut, and I'm happy to report it was indeed all it was cracked up to be. Being a bit of a shorty, I only saw the front of the piece of baklava when I ordered, and was surprised to open my takeaway box to discover a piece about the size of the palm of my hand!! Incredibly generous sizes, moist and spoonable as opposed to needing a knife to cut it, and man was I buzzing on that sugar high for the rest of the morning!

Banana, bananana... banana breeeaaad

The banana bread was good. It had a kind of earthy, walnutty taste to it which was really nice - a lot of commercially produced banana breads are really sweet, but this one really hit the spot for substance and subtle flavour.

Another place I wish was open longer after school so I could go there to write in the afternoons! In the meantime, check it out when it is open during the day - and definitely get the baklava!

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Saturday, 4 July 2015

Camy Shanghai Dumpling House

Everyone has an opinion about this place. Me, I've been coming here on and off since 2005, so I can safely say I've given my opinion plenty of time to form, and plenty of visits to decide where I stand on this culinary institution of Melbourne's Chinatown district. The verdict: I love it. Dumplings are always good, but dumplings from this place are amazing.

The place in question was, of course, the Camy Shanghai Dumpling House on Tattersalls Lane in Chinatown, just off Little Bourke Street, north of Swanston Street. Easy to pass, but hard to forget once you've visited.

Admittedly, the service often leaves a lot to be desired (brusque maitre d', surly waitstaff, unceremonious shuffling out of you and your party when you're done and not a moment later), but the dumplings themselves are pretty much always spot on (though Mum and I did once have a plate of frozen pork dumplings land on our table, which we did send back). Fried, steamed, sweet, savoury - HUGE variety for a VERY reasonable price.

On this particular evening, we (we being myself and my high school friend Jespey) chose to order three different dishes to eat. We had the Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce (which I sadly did not get a photo of), fried pork dumplings, and the Shanghai Shao Long Bao which I'd never had before.

Mmmm warm porky goodness...

Fried pork dumplings are like a staple whenever I visit this place. They're just SO GOOD. Salty and crispy on the outside, soft and meaty on the inside, and easy to pick up with chopsticks. I always mix the vinegary stuff, soy, and hot sauce together and eat them with that. The broccoli with oyster sauce was great - the veggies still had crunch, and the oyster sauce was applied liberally enough that I could taste it but not so much that the taste of the green stuff was lost. Good balance. I'm not really sure what Shao Long Bao is meant to taste like, but it was good too - they were steamed well without becoming too breakable, and the inside pork ball was a good flavour without being overpowering. Again, I will reiterate - these all tasted great, but became REALLY great when accompanied with the soy-vinegar-hot-sauce. Do it. You know you want to.

We had Chinese beer to go with all of this, but being as it is that I'm not a big beer drinker (except for craft beers... some of those things are amazeballs), all I can really say is that it was better than Tooheys or Forex or VB. Sorry, beer drinking readers - you'll have to go try the beer for yourself and let me know what you think.

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Social Press, Macquarie Park

Holy cow.

I grew up in Sydney's north, so Macquarie Shopping Centre was pretty much a staple for the movies, ice skating, and TimeZone. Back then, it was about four storeys, didn't have much in the way of nouveau style, and the parking was free.

I revisited this North Shore icon while in Sydney recently and promptly got lost. It's like it metastasized since last time I was there. Places that used to be car parks are now shops, and places that were free to park in most decidedly are not any more.

I met a very good friend for lunch at this place. We decided on Social Press as it didn't have a wait for a table, and the food on offer in the cabinets looked pretty good. Interesting note: at no point did I see a menu on a board or a table while I was there - there were prices on the things in the cabinet, but no collective, definitive price lists to be seen. Very interesting.

We ordered two chais - I had a latte, and Frances had a pot of brewed chai. The latte wasn't anything massively spectac, but it was drinkable, and not OVERLY SUGARY (no more than any other instachai is). I hear the brewed chai was quite good - it definitely smelt lovely. We also got some lunch - I got a bacon and egg sandwich, which was on toasted turkish bread with rocket and a smidge of cheese and possibly mayo. It was a little oily, but satisfying without being too filling, with okay flavour and awesome bacon (really, when is bacon not awesome?!).

See my bacon awesomeness...

We were also a bit naughty and had dessert - I opted for the passionfruit and coconut slice which I'd been sizing up since we arrived. It looked to be a gooey consistency in the middle from the front of the cabinet, so I was surprised to find it was more like a gluten-free cake, with a more dense texture. Good flavour (very coconutty), topping was okay (a bit dry).

I go coconuts for passionfruit

The service was good behind the counter, and the ladies serving the tables were clean, neat, and courteous. I did get a little frustrated by the snatching of the table number off the table as they asked us if we were waiting for anything else - this happened three times and each time, yes, we were waiting for other items, and would have liked two seconds to answer before they reached across between us to grab it.

I'll be back to try their brewed chai and brownies another time.

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Friday, 3 July 2015

Peking Land Chinese Restaurant in Rowville

There are a few Chinese take away joints around Rowville, but this one is our closest and so far takes out the prize for most consistent and best value. We've had takeaway from Peking Land before, and really liked the duck rolls, but this night both of us were in the mood for something different - the Khocolateman wanted fried rice, and I wanted an omelette, so I hit them up on the way home. It was busy, but I only had to wait ten minutes and I was out - with prawn crackers and chicken and corn soup as freebies because I spent $25. The more you spend, the more freebies you land.


ANYWAY. The food. The fried rice was really good - packed with barbecue pork pieces, decent-sized shrimp, lots of fried egg, a good portion of peas, and bean shoots. The Khocolateman mixed it with Chinese chilli paste (a staple in our house) and declared it good.

Fried Rice and Combination Omelette

My combination omelette was a total winner. Big enough to split between dinner that night and lunch the next day, this was no egg-and-little-else deal - it had oodles of prawns, chicken, and bean shoots in it. The texture was good and cooked without being dry, and the flavour was perfect - not too salty but not bland either. A great balance.

We'll definitely be back again soon!

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McDonald's Boronia

We decided to try something different for dinner this week, and did the Maccas Create Your Taste thing as a take away. I dropped into the Boronia McDonald's on the way home armed with two recipes and a will to get home as fast as possible - it is COLD in Melbourne at the moment, and we're only just at the beginning of winter! Grrrr...

ANYWAY. I ordered from the touch screen as usual, and then waited at the counter. And waited. And the lovely girl behind the counter was very solicitous and asked if I had been served, or if there was anything she could get me - the service at McDonald's has definitely picked up! After my last experience I was looking to see if cleanliness was a go at this franchise and I was really impressed that despite it being the middle of the dinner rush the tables were clean, the rubbish was being picked up continually, and the floor was spotless.

Create Your Take Away?

The burgers came deconstructed in cardboard containers. This was a bit confusing. After some consideration and innards contemplation - the Khocolateman's verdict? Wouldn't do it again. Mine? I'd do it again if it came from Boronia Maccas. It was a little cool by the time I got home, but it still tasted great (much better than a regular McDonald's feed) and with a little time to gel and stick together, there was no guacamole leakage.

Boronia McDonald's - thumbs up.

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Swap-Bot: Christmas (In July) Music

Our Electronic Swap Group is doing a Christmas In July Music Swap so I thought I'd post and embed my favourites here for everyone else to have a listen to as well. I hope you catch a bit of the festive spirit while listening!

1. Merry Christmas to you - Peter Coombe

This was the first carol on my very first cassette tape, a Christmas album by an Australian children's singer, given to me by my parents when I was about six years old. I now own it on CD and MP3 so I can listen to it again and again!

2. The Christmas Can Can - Straight No Chaser

This is a very very funny original song by one of my favourite a capella group. It has been arranged by one of their original members, and I love the videos that have been made for it on Youtube.

3. When A Child Is Born - Michael Ball and Claire Moore

This was on one of the first tapes I remember listening to. Michael Ball is still a favourite singer of mine, and I find his voice in this to be just the perfect mix of mellow and passionate.

4. Ringing of the Bells - The Muppets

I play this every year for my class when Christmas rolls around and they LOVE it. Beaker is definitely a favourite, but who doesn't love Animal and his obsession with all things percussive and loud?

5. Little Drummer Boy - Pentatonix

One of the most pure a capella songs I've heard - impeccable sound quality in the recording of a beautiful song in its own right. Pentatonix was widely publicised for this arrangement a few years.

6. C'est Noel - Jordy Limone

I have a thing about French, and I love the movie 'Look Who's Talking Now' from the early 1990s (I think?). This features at the end. It's so poppy and upbeat!

7. Redneck Twelve Days of Christmas - Jeff Foxworthy

My brother introduced me to this just after I left school - it's crass and silly, but I find it pretty funny, too.

8. Orana to Christmas Day - Sara Manke, Grace Culbertson and Seth

This is a live recording of some co-workers performing my favourite Australian carol (also known as the Carol of the Birds) at a pub in South Korea on Christmas Day, 2007.

9. Who Spiked The Eggnog? - Straight No Chaser

Another favourite from Straight No Chaser, also an arrangement by one of the original members, and another rather cheeky set of lyrics!

10. One More Sleep Til Christmas - The Muppets

My favourite song from The Muppets' Christmas Carol (starring Michael Caine as Scrooge). This was one of the first Christmas movie I ever watched.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Sandwich Time

What's worse than forgetting your lunch? Losing part of the blender somewhere in the kitchen so you can't make your breakfast AND forgetting your lunch. It's the last-week-of-term blues, and I can't wait for them to be over.

I'd been to Jacqueline Coffee and Pastry before, and had an amazing sandwich of egg, ham, tomato, and cheese which, when toasted on the sandwich press at work, was just about perfect. I came in anticipating one of those - generous enough that I could have half for breakfast and half for lunch.

I was disappointed.

They had no egg. Strike one. I ordered a cheese, ham, tomato and pickle sandwich on multi-grain bread. It was okay, but didn't quite cut the mustard the same way previous sandwiches had in the way of substance, though the taste was good (good choice in pickle and good tomatoes, which are hard to find in Melbourne during winter).

I don't often fuss about service unless it's really good, or a bit average. The guy behind the counter was really friendly to the regulars who came in... but it seemed like he felt I (a mere interloper looking for a sandwich) was a bit of a nuisance. Sorry, dude. I know I'm quiet in the last week of term and I look a bit the worse for wear =( I'll try and be a bit more upbeat next time I come in... but throw me a bone here - at least try to seem like you don't want me to go somewhere else for my sammich fix.

I'll be back later in the year, I'm sure. Fingers crossed next time I can get me the sandwich of my brunch-obsessed dreams!

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