Monday, October 31, 2005

Sydney Food Part Trois (the final installment in this series...)

Hmm not much has happened here in the country since I got back from Sydney. The weekend passed as a blur of Pathology, and trying to fight the rising panic that I did not know enough! Anyway to finish off the trilogy of last weekend (because we know all good things come in threes) here are the pics and reviews of 2 other places we ate at.

The first was Bravo Tratorria in the suburb of Crows Nest. This was an oldie and a goodie to us as we had our second date here! It has 101 pasta dishes and about 16 different types of Gelato. We were all geared up for gelato so we shared a small pizza and a small salad. The pizza was fresh but it was nothing to write home about. It had tomato base, bocconcini, basil, cheese and salami on it. The salad was a chicken caesar. The chicken was crispy on the outside and tasty on the inside. The dressing was a little on the sweet side for my liking but nonetheless, it combined well as a whole.

Our friends the newlyweds, B and J joined us for coffee and dessert. So me (as usual can't make up my mind) ordered the coppa jumbo which was 16 mini-scoops, one of every flavour. I had the assurance of J that she would help me. Richard ordered two scoops naked,one cassata and the other raspberry.
I'll see if I can remember most of the flavours. There was of course the above-named two, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, chocolate hazelnut(bacci), mango, lemon, almond, apple-pie, coffee, rockmelon and the rest was a blur. The trick is to take a bit from every scoop as fast as you can before they melt into one pool at the bottom of the glass. J wimped out after eating the equivalent of 2 scoops and I braved on for a bit more but the guys managed to help finish it off. It was very satisfying as each flavour was distinct from the rest. They do a rotation of flavours so its not always the same each time you visit. All that food plus two coffees and two diet cokes set us back $57.

The next day, Sunday, we had lunch in before we left in the suburb of Hornsby, which was close to where Richard's parents live. I had always wanted to try the Japanese place in a food alley with different restaurants attached to the shopping mall. It was called Asagao and some reviewers on the web had given it quite high a rating. I ordered the Teriyaki Seafood Bento ($16) which turned out to be reasonable. The sashimi was fresh and the california roll was very tasty, as was the teriyaki sauce. It wasn't too sweet and all around it was ok value for money. The agadeshi tofu was a bit bland but the salad had a miso dressing which was quite tangy. Yum.

Richard decided to go for a new dish supposedly concocted by the chef there. It had a chicken katsu smothered with an eggy sweet sauce on top of a bowl of rice and topped with ginger, radish and spring onion garnish. The sauce was on the thin side apart from the egg in it and was reminescent of the sauce that agadeshi tofu sits in.
It blended well with the chicken and was refreshing and filling.

Oh well enough remembering. I will probably do a segment on restaurants and cafes in my town as I chance upon them. Sadly as they are but a handful, you get a bit tired of them after living here for four years so I mostly cook at home. Tonight ... a strange concoction of minced pork in little balls, spinach, garlic in a bearnaise sauce tossed in a linguine. Wierd huh?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sydney Food Part deux

Ok ok since I got the ball rolling last night, I should go on with our culinary adventures in Sydney. (Any excuse to get away from books?)

Richard the sweet guy that he is drove to Sydney on Friday night with the dogs so we wouldn't have to have the weekend apart. He arrived shortly after I completed Friday with a mind numbing Immunology lecture that I was lost in after the first five minutes. It was refreshing to take a walk down the main street of Glebe. Things always look different when you have someone with you I think.

After some hmm-ing, we picked on " The House of Kathmandu" Nepalese cuisine. It was one of two tibetan restaurants on the main street. The other, "The Yak and the Yeti" was empty albeit for one table of 2 which we took to be not a very good sign. Kathmandu was about 75 % capacity and most of the diners looked happy. We were seated quite quickly and presented with menus.

We ordered chicken momos to begin with which were dumplings not unlike chinese dumplings but the inside had the distinct taste of coriander and ginger. The dish came with a little dish of Golbera ko Achar which was a salsa type sauce made with cooked tomatoes with herbs, spices, garlic and lemon juice amongst other things.
The insides were juicy and exploded with interesting flavours which was a nice surprise from something that looked like an ordinary little dumpling.

Richard ordered a Piro Kukhura for his main and also ordered a bowl of rice to go with it. The picture also shows a cup of nepalese tea which was really comforting and soothing milk tea infused with flavours of cardamon and nutmeg.
The piro kukhura was a stir fried chicken dish with vegetables. It tasted overpoweringly of thick soya sauce. The result was ok but nothing too fantastic. Richard seemed to really like it though.

I, being a typical Libran can't realy make up my mind so I ordered a mixed sort of plate. I can't remember the name but it had 2 types of curries, kalo daal which was a black lentil soup, rice, a papadum (called papad in Nepal apparently), and yogurt and cucumber raita. The curry on the left is chicken and it didn't seem to have much flavour. The one on the right is known as Khasiko Masu or traditional goat fillet curry. THAT was something special. The curry sauce seemed to have a tomato base, yet it tasted of indian red curry. It was really yummy and the goat was tender. Richard didn't seem to think the Goat had much flavour but I was instantly reminded of the Hainanese goat herb soup I used to have in Singapore. Goat has a slightly sweet but strong and gamey type of flavour. If you don't mind strong tasting meats, its worth a try.

We got all that for $44.50 which wasn't too bad. I neglected to say though that we waited half an hour for the entree and it only came after we reminded them and thought something was wrong after the tables who came later than us were served their mains and we had not even recieved our drinks yet! Oh well, we were away and getting to try something new so that blip was grumbled about amongst each other but mostly forgotten at the end of the meal.

Hehe this isn't turning into a food blog! It just shows how much a country bumpkin I've become blogging about nondescript stuff ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Food in Sydney Part 1

Was away last Thursday night to Sunday as I had cram lectures all day Friday and Saturday in Sydney. It only served to highlight how much I did not know and reassured my fears that I am truly crazy to attempt these exams. Oh well, what is life without putting challenges to oneself (I keep trying to tell myself).

After work on Thursday night, I drove to Sydney by myself. It was a bit of a lonely drive but I had a new 2 CD pack of 80s music soundtracks and after singing on the top of my lungs to hits such as "The power of love", "Day-O" and "Kokomo", the kilometers were quickly eaten and I arrived at my motel in Sydney, opposite the hallowed halls of my alma mater, University of Sydney. (Not that we spent much time on campus anyway)

I checked into room 13, wondering if it was a bad omen. The room was simple and clean and had a 70 style small tiled bathroom and plastic basin and benchtop. It was very reminiscent of Travelodge type rooms in the US.

I didn't stop for dinner so I was starving after checking in. Around the corner was the small Sydney suburb of Glebe. Glebe used to have a shady inner-city reputation when I was living on campus. However, it seems to have cleaned up alot and is full of restaurants, cafes, second hand bookshops and new age shops. A real bohemian atmosphere. A cafe on the corner was still open and looked really inviting with open windows, little booths and magazines. However, I thought I should just grab something and headd back to my room.

I remembered an old favourite pide (turkish pizza) place of mine, Mersin's Pide and kebab near the corner of Glebe Point Road and Parramatta Road. I have tasted a few pides when living in Sydney and I have found this one is the most authentic. They were all around the $9 price but I guess food in Sydney is getting more expensive all around. I chose the "Mixed" which had slices of turkish sausage, diced lamb, marinated minced beef, fresh spinach, fetta cheese, mushrooms and a freshly cracked egg on the top. This type is a 'open' pide as some of them are closed over the top. You can watch it being made and the guy places it on a long paddle and puts it into the oven. 15 minutes later, my pide was ready...

Most places use processed cheese for pide which makes this place unique. The taste was really good and the even though I wanted to leave some of it for the next day, most of it was gone before I realised it. I love a squeeze of lemon over the top as it makes the fetta taste stand out. Stay tuned for the next day as I dined in another restaurant in Glebe.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In study mode...

Been having a bit of a blog mental block recently. Probably as been doing not much every evening after work and on the weekend except for studying. What!? You might ask. Well, I find myself asking that too. Why put myself through all that again? The 6 examinations in 3 days written and 6 vivas again the following week in 4 days really bring back memories of all my undergraduate years. And this is equivalent to about 2-3 years of undergraduate study too. All condensed into 6 subjects. Eek! The more I think about it the crazier it seems.

I had some patients look at me funnily when I tell them I will be away next month as I have to take exams. " Oh! Aren't you a dentist yet?" They ask. For the faint hearted, I explain it is an additional Fellowship diploma type thing which is by a College formed by dental professors across Australia and Asia. For patients who enjoy a wicked sense of humour I say "Oh no not yet, you have just been guinea pigs for me the last 4 years. How do you think I'm doing?" ;)

My cousin (also a dentist)is going to take 4 weeks off to study for this but I just couldn't bring myself to take 6 whole weeks off work for many reasons. It might mean going back to eating baked beans atop 3 minute noodles for meals again. It might mean no name brand toilet paper (scratch scratch). It might mean looking for the cheapest item on the menu instead of looking at descriptions to guide what I feel like for dinner. Or it might mean poor Juan my boss being extremely overworked for 6 weeks and having a month of patients waiting when I get back.

Oh well ... here is a picture to take me to my happy place (yes I have a thing for cows). Hopefully you wil like it too.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

When Country Girls Go Out

Note: Aussie Slang has been used liberally in this post.Idea borrowed from Kirk you can check meanings of words at the Aussie Slang Dictionary

My Cowra born and bred friend V turned 31 today so last night 4 of us sheilas went for a girls night out! We started out with dinner in one of the bistros (named Dek) also attached to the pub/motel. Most of the restaurants in country towns are of this style as I believe rent is a bit cheaper and it encourages people staying at the motel to eat there.

The tucker was a bit mediocre so I shan't really comment much on it except that the hokkien noodle chook stir fry (here in oz the modern thing is to have one or two asian style dishes in a cafe menu) looked like it could have been made better at home. This was ordered by Deb and G. and V and I ordered the "tempura" prawn salad. They were generous with the prawns but it was more of in a beer batter than fair dinkum tempura batter. The desserts were confessed Sara Lee frozen ones. Or as Deb commented "Aunty Sara visited and brought something

We had a few drinks while there and I had a banana colada (pina colada with banana liquer) as well as an old fave the screw driver. We stayed there until about 10 pm when most people had left just sitting on the lounges and chatting but V was champing at the bit to go somewhere else so we went to the Townhouse (known as the "Townie") G. decided to bail and go home as she is the ministers wife and the pub crawl thing wasn't her style. A band was in full swing when we stepped in as well as an eclectic mix of people ranging from the waitresses who had just served us at Dek, to the barely legal 18s, to a couple of farmers and grand-father types in their boots and flanelette shirts.

We sat in a booth and ordered a few more drinks and it wasn't long before a bloke who looked like he was 105 and obviously sloshed came over and drawled, "how yous girrrls doing tonight?" He rubbed debs back who was inching into me trying to get away from him and was almost sitting on my lap. "whould yous like me to shout you a round?" he slurred. We insisted we were fine and still had drinks in front of us. He then moved over to V and started rubbing her back so Deb decided to just tell him something so he would move away from us and in the direction of the bar. She asked for a baileys on ice and a cowboy shot for V. I still had a full glass of champagne so I said i was fine. He stumbled away and we were torn between running away and losing our comfortable seats and staying there and awaiting his grubby paws when he returned. He staggered back and put our drinks on the table but we were saved by the bell as his friend arrived and distracted him and he left us alone after that. I told Deb that I would've given her a pash if he had started to do anything anyway :P

We decided to check out the pub across the road (The Imperial) and went there at about 11:30 pm. There was also a live band there doing covers and people were dancing away. There were more older sheilas there in their 40s and 50s and I found it interesting that they were all wearing very low cut tops. I mused to myself that the blokes from the other pub didn't come across the road to pick up the women over here. I decided this must be where singles met in Cowra as there were a few people just hanging out and chatting. I recognised one of the nurses husbands as well as a few patients. We also had a few drinks here and by this time I was feeling pretty good :) Deb was a bit tired though so I called Richard (who took a million years to get down the main st, a cooee from our place) we walked down the street telling each other jokes that would only be funny after anyones had a few and of course singing on the top of our voices. A couple of other groups walked by but the only way to avoid attention by drunk people is to act *even more* pissed than them.

Well we had a ripper of a night and I guess when in the company of good friends, you can have fun even in the middle of woop woop. Camera was forgotten but I'll try and take pictures for 'ron (later on)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Weekend in the big smoke

We spent last weekend in Sydney as we had quite an important wedding to attend. It was the wedding of my oldest friend J, whom I have known since we both were 4. I was really happy to be able to share that with her. She is someone who has an infectious laughter and is easy to talk to. It was no surprise that friends and relatives came from all around the world, from as far as UK and Malaysia.

We left Cowra at about 6:30 pm after fluffing around a bit getting organised after work. We drove over the blue mountains where Richard stopped at Mc Donalds for a quarter pounder (yuk). I think I object most to the aftertaste that McDonalds burgers always seem to leave behind in my mouth for hours and if you happen to burp, you can definitely tell its still sitting in there.

We arrived just before 11 pm at the Stamford Plaza Airport which was where the wedding reception would be held the next day. I got it at a really great rate on the internet of $125 per night. The room was really comfortable and the bed was larger than a Queen but smaller than a King size.
"Ooh look a magazine-esque picture!"

As I was starving by now, I ordered room service. I really didn't want to get out of the room again after sitting in the car for 4.5 hours. I had a fresh soft chewy multigrain roll spread with olive tempanade and filled with grilled mediterranian vegetables, served with a side salad ($13) and a sticky date pudding served with cream and ice cream ($7.5) Richard merrily ordered (seeing I was ordering) a berry crumble served with cream and ice cream also ($7.5) It was pretty reasonable for room service !!! It wasn't much more than a usual cafe at all! I took a shower and the food arrived even before I was done. The picture shows my order.

The pudding was moist and not too sweet. Richard scoffed all his crumble before I could ask how it was hehe. The roll was very nice but way too large. I kept the other half for morning.We soon fell asleep in the comfortable bed which I am sure had a more than 225 thread count sheets.

I awoke to Richard frantically saying " Honey its 8:10 !!" I jumped out of bed and into my clothes, dabbed on some make up and off we went. I was amazed that we reached J's house by 8:40 !! It was about 5 suburbs away :) I think we did pretty well.

In Malaysian/ Singaporean Chinese customs, the bride has a few of her friends at home in the morning whose sole job is to keep the groom from coming in to see his lovely bride. I helped J a bit with dressing and I could hear B's voice wafting upstairs " Saaaaying I loooove youuuu is not the wooords I waaant to heeear from youuu" I stifled a giggle as I guessed her friends downstairs must have made him sing a song as well. He failed one of the questions they asked but they finally let him in as he produced the red packet of money (Hong bao) as a bribe to let him in. He and his groomsmen delivered the roast pig which was quite a monster. This is also a custom as a present on the day. The pig is later divided up amongst the relatives. Its kind of a chinese version of the wedding cake as J wisely commented.
" You go granny!! Don't let that pig get away!"

B finally got to see his bride whom I thought had never looked so beautiful :~)Its wierd remembering all these times when we were young trying to toast marshmallows over a candle and sleepovers, staying up to all hours of nights as teens gossiping on the phone. and now seeing her at that moment where her husband to-be came to get her. *sigh*

Anyway, they went off to church for a catholic wedding mass followed by a roast and salad buffet with a great chocolate fountain for dipping strawberries in for dessert, as well as some Pad Thai and other assorted asian desserts. We then came back to Js house for the tea ceremony. Which to the chinese *is* the wedding ceremony. Red dates are added to sweeten the tea and to comemorate the special-ness of the occasion as well as to "sweeten" the couple's new life together
"Teacups quivering in excitement of the workout to come"

Tea is served to your elder relatives as a couple, starting with the male serving the male first and saying "First/second/third etc. Uncle please drink this cup of tea" The tea is presented and accepted with both hands and drunk as a sign of acceptance of the couple into the family. The male then serves the elder female and the female then serves the elder male and female. The number is the order in terms of age and the "Uncle" or "Aunty" suffix differs depending on whether the elder is from your mother or fathers side. The new married partner now then addresses the elder by that same name. The elders then give the couple a red packet of money as a wedding gift.

B's family is Dutch but they also wanted to participate in it so it was my job to orientate them on the customs. Everyone was a bit confused at first but everyone had a good time. Richard's job was to video everything so after all the tea serving was over, we rushed back to the hotel room to start editing. The video was to later help in B's wedding speech.

Finally after 2.5 hours we got a rush job done.(Mostly Richard) The reception was great and we heaved a sigh of relief after the video was presented. Everyone had a wonderful dinner and lots of people danced the macarena, locomotion, nutbush etc. We then tottered upstairs and crashed.

We did manage to meet up with C &C in their new home and we had a nice yum cha lunch with them as well. All in all, it was a very busy but enjoyable weekend and now I am back in the country freezing my fingres off as I am typing.

Here is the view from our room which overlooked the airport and the Brighton Le Sands bay beyond.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Away for the weekend ....

I'm away at a friend's wedding this weekend and hoping to catch up with C & C at their new place. Heres a random picture for contemplation.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

One Year older ...

I turned a year older today. I can still tick the 25-29 bracket but only just ! The day went quite well. Work wasn't too stressful and the nice Singaporean woman who owns the "Hong Kong" chinese restaurant selling Aussie-fied Chinese meals, dropped over to my work some comforting home made soup and durian cakes. She didn't know it was my birthday but it was just a coincidence! We are kindred spirits I guess being one of 3 Singaporeans in this whole town. And she periodically brings food she has made over if she thinks I might like it. It was nice to have something special. My friend also made a sponge cake and dropped it over. Thats one of the really nice things about living in a country town. People drop stuff around and also drop over alot.

For dinner, Richard took me to a bistro attached to one of the motels in town. It had advertised a new chef so we decided to give it a go. We forgot the camera but were too lazy to drive the 5 minutes back to get it hehe. We had parmesan bread to start with which was good. I ordered a seafood risotto for a main and received a mountain of very rich, creamy and oily risotto with a single prawn, mussel and scallop. It did have a whole blue swimmer which was nicely barbequed I have to admit. The flavour of the risotto was nice and you could taste the hint of white wine. It was just very rich. The sad part was Richards main. He ordered Veal Parmigiana which was quite a small serve (only one small thin piece) smothered with cheese, and had some tomato sauce and a thin slice of eggplant on it. It was nice but small and the vegetables that came with it was defrosted frozen mixed veggies (the kind with peas and diced carrots that you use in fried rice mixtures) how scandalous !!! And it wasn't cheap either with his main being 21 dollars.

However, it was good that we got to try someplace new and for friends who care and the well wishes I had today from family and friends, far and near I am TRULY THANKFUL (to borrow from Jo's catch phrase)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Colour my world

What's the Color of Your Blog Personality? Quiz at About Web logs and...

My Blog Personality's True Color Is...
It's all about peace and serenity.
In everything that I do, I seek calmness. I do my best to stay away from stress and conflict. And, I try to reflect these things when I blog.

After some urging by Milly from some like it HOT. I did the blog colour personality quiz. Not sure if I quite agree with that but I did it TWICE and it still came up blue. What do you people think? Well I then took the blogging personality quiz. Well you know women and quizzes ... we love to analyze stuff and then discuss it. Why do you think we go to the toilet together so often? Womens magazines are full of them ! Quizzes and recipes and photos of other women. If you have all of the above, you've got a women's magazine. Anyway ...

I took the Blogging Personality Quiz at About Web logs and I am...

The Daily Grinder
I love blogging because it's like therapy. I can write about anything and everything that happens to me - from the food I ate to what I was doing when I heard the latest 'breaking news'. Being able to communicate with my friends (online and/or real life) through my blog is important to me.

I tend to agree more with the latter.The former makes me sound too much like a greenie or some placid pleb. *sulk* Well ! I might have to shake it up a bit ? Maybe grumble abit about people who don't brush their teeth or floss. Hmm...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Do you like mee?

A little story about 2 teenage girls growing up in Singapore. They devised a cunning plan to ask their respective crushes if they felt the same way about them. They could ask, "Do you like me?" If the answer was unfavourable, or the pause awkward, they could answer "I don't! I like kway teow better! ohhh you thought I was asking you if you *liked* me! No lah! don't be silly of course not .... ha ha" but if the answer was positive, they could all live happily ever after. Needless to say, because I ended up marrying an Aussie guy, the plan didn't work for one of them, which was myself. However, it was because I chickened out of asking in the first place :)

Anyway, here is the dish I prepared a few weeks ago.

Hokkien Mee
3 parts hokkien yellow noodles to one part thick rice noodles (serves 4)
250 gms sliced streaky pork
bean sprouts
1 tube calamari
handful of baby octopus (optional)
16 shelled large prawns- king prawns are best (tails can be left on)
sliced fish cake
3 spring onions cut into finger lengths
2 cups of prawn stock (Super dooper magic ingredient!) You can make the prawn stock by boiling the heads of the prawns in 3 cups of water until it reduces to 2 cups with a pinch of salt. If you have pork stock from pork bones you can use one cup pork and one cup prawn. But the recipe is just as yummy if you only have prawn stock.
chopped garlic

1. marinade the pork in salt, sugar and soy sauce overnight
2. slice the calamari into thin rings
3. Fry chopped garlic, sliced pork, prawns, calamari, squid and fish cake together. You can add about 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce if you like. Add noodles and stock. Keep stirring to encourage the noodles to absorb the stock. Add a bit of salt and soya sauce to taste (if needed)
4. When the stock all absorbed, stir in the bean sprouts and spring onion and turn off the flame. This ensures the sprouts stay crunchy.
5. put into your serving bowl. ( I used a claypot to keep it hot) and garnish with fried onions

Hope you all enjoy it ! When eating out, most hawkers fry the ingredients in lots of pork lard as this makes the taste more rich and flavourful and the noodles less sticky however, as we are trying to make our lifestyles healthier, I omitted the lard in the list.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Koorawatha Falls

The minor falls

We're crossing the weir !

The major falls

The 4 star amenities

And you asked for it folks ... picture of my gorgeous doggie, my baby Magic who I have had for 9 years. Taken today in our yard(the pic before was of the younger one, Raven)

Today we drove the 20 minutes to a town called Koorawatha population 300. Its main draw factor is the waterfalls. This part of Australia has been in drought for the last 6 years or so and recently we had a really great rainy season and had the most rain in years and years. We were told the falls were running again so we went to check them out today. We got to take the 4WD off road which was quite fun.