Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Seoul Ria review

As mentioned in my odds and ends post in December, my cousin and I went to Seoul Ria on the 8th of December. Now to fill my blog, with an otherwise mundane existence peppered with playing Command and Conquer on the PC, I shall recount the tasty delights of the night.

We arrived quite late at about 10:30pm but much feasting and merriment was still going on. There was a extensive menu with pictures (always good when you are unsure about the cuisine). Korean is a cuisine I had only recently gotten to know a bit more about. This is because when I was living in Singapore a little more than 10 years ago, the experience was limited to korean BBQ buffet places where you fill your plates with raw marinated meats and bbqed then over a charcoal hot plate at your table. I loved the taste of bulgolgi but unfortunately there was not many other varieties to choose from. My cousin who studied in Melbourne berated me last year for not having tried the other dishes which made up korean food. She said she loved it for its variety in side dishes. After reading many food blogs such as Mmm-Yoso, making new online friends such as Milly from Some like it HOT and hanging out with Casey and Clare, I have learned that these are known as panchan.

There was quite a variety here and forgive my ignorance at what the names of these dishes were. I can only say that variety is the spice of life! I enjoyed the texture of the clear blocks of agar like substance which had a texture similar to tofu and had a soy based sauce. The kimchee was very very good, a mixture of sour and salty and hot at the same time with good fresh crunch. Bean sprouts have always been a favourite of mine and these were tossed with some oil and chilli in a wok. The potatoes and green veggies were ok, a bit unmemorable but it made a great time filler snacking on before the dishes arrived. Rice was served in the traditional little stainless steel bowls. There was quite a variety of drinks of the alcoholic nature but we resisted having any, as June had to catch a 7 am flight the next day and guess who was driving her to the airport?

We filled in our time also chatting about what she had learnt about korean culture from watching the TV drama serials which have taken the asian market by storm. She told me that in korean culture, if one is drinking with ones boss or any other superior, you had to turn your head to the side to drink, as a sign of respect. That was really interesting. I love how the world is getting smaller and how we are able to learn about different practices and traditions that make countries and people groups unique. Soon, the entree she had suggested arrived.
This is whole marinated raw blueswimmer crab. I have no idea how long it is marinated for but the sauce it was marinated in sure packed a punch and would probably kill any bugs in it. It was extremely tasty and spicy, hinting of bean paste and hot pepper paste flavours. The texture of the crab was something I might take a while getting used to as the texture of raw crab is not as firm as my beloved raw fish. It is more flaky and in places mealy. The sauce was so good that I scooped up lots to have with my rice, forgetting that we still had a hotpot ordered as our main!

This was waaay more than two girls to eat, even two asian girls with hearty appetites. It was served on top of one of those portable gas stove things and we let it simmer for a while before tucking in. We ended up fishing the "good stuff" such as the prawns and fish out and having to leave a good half of it there. The soup was really tasty and had a kimchee base to it but with a tinge of sweetness from the vegetables. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves steamboat/hot pot stuff. There was a lot of ingredients and defintely more than enough for two. It was pretty reasonably priced too. The whole meal set us back AUD $55. I would defintely be back to Seoul Ria ... there are too many dishes I would love to try.

Seoul-Ria Level 2, 605-609 George St Sydney Chinatown, NSW 2000 Ph:(02) 92690222

I will end this post with a picture taken at the now defunct (yes they went bust, all you ex-Cowra people who might have grown up going to it annually) Marti's Balloon Fiesta. It used to be an annual weekend long festival held each March, the mornings starting with hot air balloon rides and every evening ending with a glow show co-ordinated in time to music and fireworks I went to it twice and the balloon glow was the best part. Unfortunately, rising cost of public liability coupled with dwindling numbers (mostly due to rising costs of tickets) got the better of it. Luckily I got some photos for memories. Love the nudie balloon ;)


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Early afternoon around town

LOL I didn't check my settings before using the handy FastStone photo resizer to resize and put a lil template on my photos, hence you will see Sample at the bottom corner instead of Rustic Fillings. That'll teach me! :)

We slept in 'till 11 am yesterday and headed for town as we had to run a few errands such as geting another fish to keep Comet company. As you can see even around noon the street is pretty deserted. This is due to the shops shutting at around this time. On a Sunday, its even worse ! You could roll a bowling ball down the street and not hit anybody.This is the main shopping street in Cowra. It is taken from a point halfway down the street, pointing to the east (top) side of the street.

This is a basic milk bar/ cafe place. It offers roast chicken, salads, and other short order stuff such as dagwood dogs, battered fish, burgers etc. It is very common in suburban Australia and definitely present in country towns.
It is also called a milk bar because most of them make old fashioned milk shakes (the kind you get in the tall metal shaker container - bit of ice cream, mostly milk and with your choice of flavouring). This is the biggest one in town- The Golden Key Cafe(the only one offering roast chicken and salads) and a town this size (10,000)has four of these. Just as a side note, this business has changed hands twice in four years and has been refurbished once to add a juice/smoothie bar. (Yes you get all the goss at the dental surgery)

Not having had breakfast, I felt like something naughty so I ordered a burger with the LOT (AUD $5.50). In Australia, this means cheese,pineapple, bacon, egg, pattie, lettuce, beetroot and tomato. What makes the Australian burger unique is the presence of beetroot. I noticed that egg also doesn't feature much in other countries. Take a look at mine.
As you can see the pattie is mostly obscured by the bacon, egg and pineapple. Eggs are fried flat here too, as opposed to in rings. The short order cooks here wield a spatula similar to a paint scraper as their weapon of choice. They flatten the ball of meat as soon as it hits the hot plate. The flavours meld well together, adopting the charred juices of the hundreds of burgers fried on the same hot plate before. Patties in aussie burgers (standard ones with no extras) are pretty flat and thin, hence in fast food tests done recently, it was found to have the lowest amount of fat compared to burgers bought at all the usual chains. As burgers go, this was a pretty good one! Nice bit of bacon, not fried to a crisp, just the way I like it!
Richard had his with cheese and pineapple (AUD $4.50) and he found that it hit the spot too!
Here is a photo of the outside of the Townhouse Hotel Motel from the review before. It is a variation of the typical pub hotel found here, most of them being part of a block. More pics to follow in later posts of country fare and aussie lifestyle :)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Country Fare - The Townhouse bistro

Since yesterday was Australia Day, I thought I'd do a post on good ol' country fare. Outside pictures to come later. This is a picture of a typical bistro attached to a motel. Yes thats Richard trying to hide and become part of the furniture. The menu is basically written on the blackboard in some of these establishments and there was a large selection at this one, the Townhouse.

As I mentioned previously, country business change hands a lot. This particular motel/pub has changed hands 3 times and been refurbished twice in the 4 years that I've lived here. So meals have ranged from good to pretty ordinary. Its extremely hard to pick if a place will be good or bad in this town (with the exception of Neila, a gourmet restaurant in a class of its own, which has consistently won many awards yearly and has put Cowra on the map in the dining scene. You need to keep your ear to the ground and hear what friends recommend is the 'in' bistro at the moment and you in turn give feedback to them. Most of the dining with the exception of 2 chinese restaurants and a roast chicken and salad shop is in the pub bistros. Motels here are called "hotels" when they have a license to sell liquor. (It only took me 11 years of living here and a bachelor's degree to find this out.) Don't expect the Ritz Carlton by any means, most of these are your average 2-3 star motels. The pub area ranges from seedy and 60s looking to the slightly modern.

We had these first two dishes for dinner 3 weeks ago. This is the "fillet mignon"($19.95) dish listed under the steaks section. It is a large eye fillet topped with bacon, musroom and onion suace, served with a choice of vegetables or chips and salad. It was a large steak, done medium rare quite nicely and quite tender. The sauce was a bit rich for my liking and the veggies were a bit overdone. We had come here before the change of ownership a few months ago and the food was a bit less tired looking.

Richard had this dish, the "tropicana chicken" ($17.95) which was a chicken schnitzel topped with pineapple, bacon and cheese. He chose the option of chips and salad. The pineapple was actually quite burnt and the taste carried through to the cheese and bacon. Again the salad is better than your average lettuce and tomato salad but also a bit tired and dry.

Wanting to give our old favourite place another chance, we came back for lunch a few days later. We both had caesar salads, Richard's was chicken ($11.95)
Mine was calamari ($12.95). It was interesting having something else with a caesar salad other than prawn or chicken. However, the sauce was quite sweet and rich and hence the fried calamari rings only added to the heavyness. Richard described the chicken as "like a whole chicken chopped up, cartilage, bones and all." Sadly, unless someone tells us otherwise, we probably won't be back again here (since we're moving and all).

So here in a nutshell is basic, everyday country fare, mostly steaks and schintzel sometimes pasta with a variation of different sauces , some topped with seafood. Mostly meat and potatoes! I might do another post at another place if I get the chance, probably on a cafe since that is the standard lunchtime food. Stay tuned ...

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hug-a-Dentist Day

Tis the wee hours of the morning now so expect some rambling. You have been forewarned !

We came back at 1:30 am from mick and debs place, the traditional place where we hang out on the eve of public holidays. In the past we have stumbled home at about 4 am after PS2 sing star comps and eye toy comps :) We have been doing this for the past 3 years since we have gotten to know them well. Richard had lots of stuff to do and we almost didn't go but we decided to go because we realised that this will probably be the last public holiday we live in Cowra. Our planned move is at Easter time so that will probably be full of moving stuff.

Yes its 2:20 am and I'm still up. Its bad sleeping habits yadda yadda but there is so much stuff you want to do after work and so little time. I usually only need 6 hours of sleep a night but Richard needs about 8-10. I just read in January's Australian Readers digest that this may be due to the amount of chilli I eat! This may explain our observations of asians being awake to late at night and still being able to function the next day. When I told my best friend in S'pore that they put kids to bed here at 7:30 pm, she said," Who on earth goes to bed at 7:30??" Over there kids sleep around 9 or 10 pm, yet awake full of energy at 7 am.

The main point of my post tonight is actually to reflect what got my goat today and how thinking about positive stuff helped me. Today, one of the public patients came in with pain and the tooth was loose with gum disease and she wanted it out. (There was no other option as it had a hopeless prognosis). She asked if I could give her a check up and see what other work needed to be done. I explained that as a public patient ( as I explained before, they don't need to pay a fee for emergency work. We have a schedule of items we can do, mostly fillings and extractions, attach the x-ray, write out a voucher for a nominal fee that the government gives private clinics for providing the service, get the patient to sign it and send it away. It is about half of what the Australian Dental Assoc. has as average fees, and in some cases does not even cover our cost of the nurse, sterilizing the instruments etc. etc.) there was only a limited amount of funding allocated so she would have to pay for a check up herself. She demanded to know exactly what could be done and she wanted to make as much use of the service as possible. She then proceeded to say," how about all the stuff on my teeth, can't you clean it off too?" I explained, trying to keep my cool, with as much patience that I could, that it was only meant for emergency work, there was a limited amount of funding and cleans were not included, only extractions and fillings. She then started to argue that her friend came here and got a clean done for free. Oh lordy! They are just scheming amongst themselves to rort the system as much as they can!

This town is extremely lucky that my boss has agreed to do this service because only one other dentist in this whole area does it. Hence we get public patients driving 200 kms just to see us as there is a drastic lack of dentists working in the public sector. Actually, Australia is lucky full stop as they are only 1 of 3 countries that provide free dental service to low income earners and pensioners. On the whole, I have mixed feelings about public patients. I pity them but I also feel that they could do a lot more to help themselves. One of my classmates at uni said that the funding could be better spent elsewhere because dental disease is the only one that is actually preventable. If people were honest about how much they brushed and flossed, there is a linear co-relation between that and the number of holes people get in their teeth. I tend to agree with that to a certain extent, barring people who were invalids, had brain damage etc. However, don't even get me started on people claiming to be low income earners and getting free dental, medical and pharmaceutical yet give their kids a brand new Playstation for Christmas. My nurse even observed that the above mentioned patient drove a nicer car than she did.

So I was feeling really made used of. Here I was trying my best to provide a public service yet this person was not only ungrateful, she was trying to get as much of out the service as possible.
Another type of patient that gets me down is the sort that you say hello and they just say, " I hate being here, I hate the dentist." And I think hang on, I'm that person, you don't even know me and you're telling me that you hate me. Its really an emotional drain as you need to work extra hard to make that person comfortable. No wonder it is the job with one of the highest suicide rates!

Then, along came a patient in the afternoon who was also a public patient. I had known her for a few years now, as she had a few problems having been on too many medications etc. We were coming to an end of an era as a few months ago, she was tired of having repeated treatments and after some discussion about pros and cons, decided to have all her teeth taken out and have a full set of dentures. This was approved by the regional head public dentist and so this drastic decision was done. Today was the day she was getting her dentures and apart from a few adjustments, she would probably not need any treatment again. (However, it would be hard for her to eat normal food as lower dentures are notoriously uncomfortable.) Before I could say anything, she gave me a hug and said she was really grateful I had organised everything for her and she was really happy with my treatment. That really changed everything and made my day. The whole day of stress from phobic patients and dealing with demanding ones just melted away with a hug. It also made me think of patients who had written me cards and letters, brought me produce from their farms (yes one of the great perks of living in the country) and one elderly lady even knitted me a teddy bear.

Hence,I declare it offically hug a dentist day. If you haven't done so lately, hug your dentist. It will really make a difference in their life.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fishy Obituary

***Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life that was Blackie Goldfish. In the short 9 days that he was with us, he brought us peace and joy. Though he lost an eye on Saturday to unknown circumstances, he fought valiantly on for 2 more days. May he rest in peace in the big fish tank in the sky.***

My sister gave us a fishtank set Christmas of 2004 (but she gave it to us a few months late.) However, we had 2 bettas (Siamese Fighting fish) at the time and we didn't want them to get jealous (actually, we didn't have time for any more pets! We had 2 fish, 2 dogs, a budgie and half a cat [don't ask- well, ok it was next doors cat but spent all its time in our yard]). During the course of 2005 our neighbours lost the cat to a snake (but it chose to die in our yard), the budgie fell off the perch and the 2 fish swam to Davy Jones locker - yes lots of sad fatalities that year. So when a petshop/ nursery decided to move location, we decided to check it out to see if there would be something suitable for the tank. Country businesses are confusing! They change ownership, move, rename themselves and close down at the drop of a hat. We thought this was a new place, however, it was just the old pet shop moving to a new location.

Anyway, it had a very good selection of birds and fish. There were really cute silky chicks that we had to fight hard to control the urge to keep them.There were lots of beautiful tropical fish but our tank had no heater. We also pondered getting one of these creepy creatures known as axolotl. To me it looks like some sort of strange mutated fish which has lived too close to toxic waste.
However, because they are half reptilian, we would have to feed it insects, meat, other fish!? etc and would need a much bigger tank than the 7 litre one we had. Hence we went home with Comet (the carpy looking goldfish), Blackie, and Puss (a tendenous catfish which is freshwater).

They had really different personalities. Comet is a big greedy fish which would come to the surface and make gulping noises whenever you opened the lid. Blackie was peaceful and loved swimming into the jet of the filter, swimming hard but going nowhere (probably exercising) and Puss just hides under that blue glass mountain thing where the light is. Poor Blackie, Richard noticed on Saturday that his right eye was missing. We wondered if it was involved in a fight with the innocent looking catfish (silent assasin?) or the big bully gold fish or if it was some strange pop-eye disease. Nevertheless, sadly he is gone but we will have this picture to remember him by.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Survivor Cowra ...or I just really wanted some seafood

Out here in the wild wild west, your survival skills and hunting acumen are honed. You realise you have to kill to eat and its a rough world but its all a matter of survival. Well its what I kept telling myself when I was faced with killing a bowl of hapless oysters.

I had never killed a living thing other than ants, small spiders ( I relate to Garfield) and the 2 pet terrapin I forgot to feed when I was about 6 years old. Until I came to Cowra that is. Sometime the year before (2003) when I looked at the Fishman's menu it said Live Mud Crabs.So I happily ordered a half kilo one. I was really surprised when the guy just handed it to me in a bag. It's claws had been tied up but it stared at me with its beady looking eyes, as if willing its claws to free itself and bite me. "Err aren't you supposed to kill it ?" I asked trying not to appear like the city bumpkin that I was. " No mate," he said cheerfully, "tastes much better if its killed just before cooking. Have a go love! Try it boiled and chilled with some seafood sauce." Well, actually I was dreaming more of Singapore chilli style or grilled with butter and freshly cracked pepper like how my dad does it. I carried my pet dinner home gingerly and presented it to my husband. He didn't fancy seafood even when it was filleted and deboned and shelled for him so I couldn't imagine he would be of much help.

I was surprised when he thought it was all very interesting (still had no idea of course) so I picked up the phone and talked to my mum and dad (should have paid more attention to how they did it in the past). They gave the advice to turn the crab on its back and drive a chopstick into the area at the apex of the "triangle" this is a weak spot as the triangle can be lifted up to reveal the gills of the crab. Then, quickly put into a pot of ready boiling water.Don't know if its true but they said that if you put it straight into boiling water, the crab panics and so the flesh is not as nice, also its more humane to kill it quickly first. Other tips were to put into the freezer so the crab becomes sleepy prior to stabbing it in the chest. A quick boil (10 mins) later, roughly break up the crab and my mum offered this recipe which was great! stir fry lots of ginger, garlic, chilli, soy and chinese wine and add the crab pieces with smashed shells so the flavour can absorb into the meat. It was a really tasty dinner and the previous thoughts of killing a hapless creature were soon forgotten.

We also visited the Cowra Smokehouse when it first opened. This deli features a fully functional smokehouse and trout farm so the trout are smoked fresh. It also smokes duck, chicken, salmon and offers sundried tomatoes and local marinated sheeps cheese. (Hmm so many details... I'll do a post on it sometime) Anyway, you can catch trout of your own from the tank for $6 each successful fish caught. It took me a while but I finally caught my own !

The owner Tim helped us to gut the fish and we went home to cook it. We took his suggestion and wrapped one in foil and grilled it with lemon and tomato in its belly. I fried the other and doused it with soy and mirin mmm both were yummy in their own way.

The main crux of today's story (yes I'm finally back to the oysters) is that yesterday, I walked past a pub where the blackboard read "3 dozen Batemans Bay Oysters $15" I had been having oyster cravings for a while now and I thought a few fresh oysters would hit the spot. I could ask them if they would sell me a dozen. I tried looking into the bottle shops refrigerators trying to see the tasty beauties. I asked the girl behind the counter about the oysters and felt the familiar sensation of ACK! when she lifted a damp towel up from an ice cream tub and showed me a bag of 36 closed, unshucked LIVE oysters. I squeeked "Oh I thought they would've been shucked" She explained that it was fresher that way out here and they could still be kept for another few days in the same cool damp conditions if I didn't plan on eating them all at once. I gulped and thought "How badly do I want these babies?" "OK I'll take them!" I also bought a bottle of McGuigans Traminer Riesling from them for good measure.

I got home and surveyed my prey. The label in the bag said they were Clyde River, Batemans Bay Sydney Rock Oysters. I swigged half a glass of Riesling and proceeded to try attacking one with a butter knife. I felt the oyster tighten and decided to give up. I could always try to grow an oyster farm in my bathtub ... Richard said," Where are you going to get the seawater from?" I took another swig and got him to try and call Casey and Clare. They would surely know how to open an oyster ! They could hunt and spear abalone and fish. If anyone could shuck an oyster, it would be them! All I got was an answering machine ... Richard looked it up on the internet and we found a handy video of a man opening Maryland oysters. Great! I knew we had to wash and scrub them first! We were getting somewhere ...

I went back to my pets dinner and proceeded to give them a bath and knock the excess hard stuff off them. I felt them tighten some more and I felt so bad I wanted to give up, but I convinced myself they were playing their part in the food chain. They still didn't look like the ocean type oysters but at least I could see where the hinge was now (in rock oysters they are in the pointy end) I also went to look for my trusty Victorinox camping knife where the main blade has a sharp end that rounds off to both sides. It looked more like the shucking knife the man was holding, rather than the harmless butter knife. It was a pretty amazing feeling to feel the hinge loosen as I pushed the pointy end in, and then I carefully slid it all the way aroundthe perimeter to prise the flat side open.

In the picture, I am not using the red checked teatowel. But this is only for dramatic license. It is dangerous to shuck without a towel as a safeguard in your hand while holding the oyster. Also, don't try this at home kids, but loosening it actually felt like loosening a tooth before extraction!! I was right at home after that and opened a dozen quickly. I ate them with a dash of tabasco sauce but for Richard, I popped them in a shotglass and topped it with mirin and some grated ginger. Ahh heavenly how it slides down ...the sweet mirin, the salty smooth oyster and the spicy ginger. We had it done this way at the local gourmet restaurant Neila and never forgot how it tasted. Today .... we could have some in our own home at less than a $1 per shot. I had always preferred pacific oysters but after tasting how really fresh rock oysters were, I think all oysters are yummy in their own way ... especially those you can open yourself. Oysters 3 dozen $15
Ikea star shaped ice cube tray $1.20
McGuigans Traminer Riesling $9.99
Learning how to shuck your own oysters- priceless

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Cowra Summer Breakout Bash

Every summer for the last ten years, Cowra has been flooded with an extra 70 or more residents for a week in summer. This eager group are made up of people from different churches around Sydney and comprise of people from 18 to 30+. They run a morning program from 9:30 to 12 noon catering specially for school aged kids but there are also afternoon activities like bbq and games at the pool for teens and evening activities for grown ups, such as mens cricket and pizza night and womens coffee and craft evening. You may also know of this kind of program as beach mission or vacation bible school. Whatever the case, it is a good chance for the town kids to get to know people of their age group from other schools and to burn off nervous holiday energy doing craft, skits and singing.

Why it shares its namesake with one of the saddest parts of history in Cowra escapes me. (During the second world war Cowra was a POW camp and to protect their honour, some Japanese soldiers tried to escape but were shot and died in the process. IT was known as the great Cowra breakout of 1944) Anyway, I digress ...The activities culminate in a Bash on Saturday held at Brougham Park( one of the larger parks in Cowra) and features the team setting up little booths with free face painting, hair wraps, balloon crafted animals and games (including catch the lolly man where a big strapping lad has lots of lollies taped to a caftan he wears. It is truly a great sight to see 20+ kids crash tackling a grown man to the ground).

The hair wrap stall ... very popular with the girls

This pavillion was a hot favourite ! kids everywhere had face painting, painted nails and fake tattoos

Aha ! What you see here is young D. Hayes had kicked his mate's footy too high up this palm tree. It took lots of thinking, a few failed attempts, 2 strong guys and a poking device fashioned out of one of the veins of the leaves to get the foot ball down. Fortunately his mother, the local high school teacher didn't see this or she would've chucked a spaz.

This band did great covers and kept us entertained. Love how they didn't bother to load the drum kit off the trailer. You can see the drummer in the background playing while sitting on the trailer.

Aussie BBQs are a must for every occasion. Even the commentators at the Rose Parade on New Years Day mentioned that the 2 countries which had the most number of BBQs were Korea and Australia. Onions and sausages are a must and sometimes steak and shrimp. I helped to sell canned drinks and opposite was the queue for the sausage sandwiches off the barbie. Traditionally, sausage sandwiches are served on a slice of white bread (since your eating sausages, you might as well go the whole unhealthy hog), topped with grilled onions, offered a squirt of tomato or bbq sauce and served to you on a napkin, folded together like a hot dog.

After cleanup, we were all tired but it had been a fun day :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Mill

The Mill is one of those little gems you find just where you least expect it. Right in the heart of Cowra, a block from the main street, lies this building which was built in 1861 of local granite. It ceased to function as a flour mill in 1905 and laid dormant until 1996 when a local family who owns a vineyard just outside of Cowra decided to renovate and re-open its doors, injecting new life into the beautiful structure.

It was re-opened as a cellar door and restaurant. However, while it provides tasting platters to accompany the wines, the restaurant is only operational for special occasions.

While the wine is a little dry for my palate, as is many found in this region, Cowra wine is growing in popularity. I guess I'm glad I'm not that fond of it otherwise I wouldn't be getting much work done :) It doesn't prevent us from taking people who come to visit us around on a local wine tour and The Mill is always a stop due to its accessability. We took Casey and Clare the last time the came to visit and we had a yummy tasting platter of local sheeps fetta, olives, smoked trout dip, sundried tomatoes and a few other things served with crackers. It was heavenly ! We sat at these benches out here enjoying the atmosphere.

Here is a picture of the main wine tasting area. Some local produce and country knick knacks are also presented nicely on barrels at the back of the room. The lady is always helpful and tells you a bit about each wine before pouring it into a little glass for your tasting pleasure. Water jugs are provided as well as bins for your to swish out your glasses or to cleanse your palate. We were fortunate as Richard had done a website for the lady working behind the counter so we got a tour of the place that day and told a bit about its history. All in all, it makes for a relaxing afternoon and defintely has added to the character of the town.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wyangala Dam and Darbys

The closest body of water to us is Wyangala Dam. It is 36 kms from our town and despite being a dam for irrigation, it is also part of the state recreational park. People swim, canoe, water ski and wake board in it. The dam is very low at the moment at only about 30% capacity. However, this is actually an improvement from the last 2 summers where it was at 12 and 8%.

The hills of Aussie countryside as we drive the road to the Dam

The little town of Darbys Falls we have to drive through to get to the dam. Famous to me for the town where a public(person on a pension or social security-we see them at no cost to them) patient who attended our surgery murdered someone the day after I extracted a tooth from him. It was black humour but I was teased about it for the week afterwards. Totally coincidental of course! No one else has gone on to do the same thing *phew*

A small cute note about country life. A patient rang up once who lived I think it was this lil town and needed a course of antibiotics. She was old and couldn't drive so we racked out brains and a lady who happened to be standing at reception said her son could pass it to the bus driver going along that route and if she could wait at the bus stop, the driver would pass it to her that afternoon. Thats a small community helping each other out. This is special and unique to a country practice :)

Blurb at lookout point outside the dam

See how far away the water is? Last year it was twice as far and old dead trees were sticking out of the water.
The Old Dam Wall almost covered. The new dam wall is behind it and about 2 and a half times the height.

It was a nice Sunday drive out there. We knew we might not ever come back as there will be more things to see and do close to Bathurst so it was a kind of farewell and a small tick off the list of things to do before we moved.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tidbits from around the world

Here is a collection of international goodies I recently acquired on my trip to Sydney. On the left, is more of the naeng-myun which I recently discovered the wonders of. The guy at the korean supermarket I went to was extremely helpful. I guess I was walking around with a slightly dazed expression. He explained that this was what they referred to as the summer noodle as it was eaten after rinsing with cold water thus it was eaten cold. He told me that this particular brand was from a popular province in north korea. I am keen to find out if it is similar to the one I had before which I felt was extremely good. I followed the pictures at the back of the packet. (Thank God for pictures!) Below the naeng-myun is a chocolate pie. Or rather it was something like what we called choco-pies in Singapore. It had a layer of blueberry jam in the middle, has chocolate casing and is as light as air on the inside, yet a bit cakey rather than biscuity. It was quite yummy although a bit sweet and much lighter than the pies I used to have growing up.

In the middle is stuff bought from Ikea in Rhodes. It has a little grocery store area after you get out of the checkouts full of Swedish goodies. At the top is some crispbread, quite different to any other I've had because its actually in a half bun shape like someone cut a mini bread roll in half and toasted it to a crisp. It has some major crunch to it and is *really* wholemeal and has little grains in it too.
This is a photo of it closer up and I spread the 2 pastes I got from the cold section. I skipped the herring as I find it a bit too salty. The paste on the right is a smoked cod roe paste. I put it with the cucumber on the toastie and it tasted really smoky and creamy all at once. Like a rich caviar mousse. The paste on the left was labelled crab paste however, on closer look at the ingredients, one finds roe also high up amongst the list. There was some crab flavour but also if you look closely, three are green specks of dill. It was pleasant and less fishy tasting than the cod roe.

The green packet contains macaroni that is meant for soup. Yes macaroni soup is a common dish in Singapore and Hong Kong. its a comfort food mostly and warming and easy on the stomach if your not feeling the best. I found that this brand, Nissin, which makes excellent cup noodles and instant noodles also takes the cake in this instant macaroni.

The last lil packet was an old fave of mine. We bought huge bags of these back from the US and I usually get some in Singapore to tide me over snack attacks. However! Target Aust has just started importing them. I really hope people like them and they stay!! Could this be a good beginning to the free trade agreement? Alot of people feel that Aust has more to lose out if US stock flood the market. I agree if it involves fresh stuff and the prices are lower than what the farmers here can afford to sell at. However, I am all for new products on the shelves. The supermarkets here have a whole aisle of breakfast cereal, BUT! there are about 5 different brands of cocoa pop type creal, 5 different brands of rice bubbles, 3 different brands of wheat-bix etc. Either the companies are too lazy to come up with something innovative or they are too scared to try making new products. Either way, I hope that we get to see lots of different ingredients and spices and sauces.

Anyway, this was meant to be a short post! Hope I can see what people think on the comments.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The pictures (they are *so* last year !) ;)

These pics accompany the previous post as blogbot obviously took a christmas/new year vacation.
Action shot:Omelette flies into sis-in-laws mouth slow mo
O Christmas Tree

The centrepiece for a blue and silver Christmas. Co-starring Gravy Jug and a third of Potato Salad

My strategic spot at Boxing Day dinner, surrounded by three dishes.

I have never been so happy to look up a birds bum