Breakfast at Giddy Goat

April 27, 2016

I’m sure by now you are sick of my breakfast posts – but, but, that’s all we’ve been doing! At least you’ll have a few options to choose from if you’re thinking of breakfast options!

We haven’t been to the Giddy Goat Cafe & Bar since it was renovated and were pleased with the results!

Still spacious with plenty of varied seating both indoors and outdoors, good service, quick food, and an inexpensive menu to choose from.

IMG_7693

Mr good looking!

IMG_7692

Can you guess what Michael ordered? You know it! Eggs Benedict with toasted English muffin, ham, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce ($13.00).

IMG_7694

I quite enjoyed the Brekkie Hash – sweet potato, onion, mushroom, capsicum, topped with a poached egg, asparagus and avocado ($13.00, and vegan!).

IMG_7696

As you can guess from the previous photo, my avocado was gorgeous and perfect! My poached egg, however, was a little overdone 😦

IMG_7698

During another visit, I ordered the Rustic omelette with chorizo, onion, cherry tomatoes, grilled capsicum, eggs, parsley, and melted goats cheese with thick toast ($14.50) – yum!

Untitled

For an easy going and tasty breakfast – don’t forget to check out the Giddy Goat!

A WEDDING DRESS & OUTLOOK CAFE

April 23, 2016

Many would say I’m crazy for cutting it so close, but ONE WEEK before flying back to Canada for our wedding, I finally picked up my wedding dress! Hurray! As previously mentioned, I will be posting a wedding blog series to document our adventures of wedding planning and the big day itself!

After the final fitting and carefully packing my dress away in the car, we decided to stop for breakfast before driving 1.5hours back to Rockhampton.

We have been meaning to try The Outlook Cafe – glad we finally did! Located on the hill by Auckland Point Lookout with great views!

IMG_7659

IMG_7656

Very simple set up and modest decor, with areas of seating protected from the elements.

IMG_7655

Can get a little stifling protected from the breeze!

IMG_7649

I quite enjoyed a very filling Brekky Wrap – 2 Bacon Rashers, Egg, 2 Hash Browns, Cheese, Hollandaise sauce & BBQ sauce in a tortilla ($13.90) plus a side of sweet potato chips ($3.10). Chips were crispy and sweet – really enjoyed it!

IMG_7652

Michael, of course, had his Eggs Benedict – English muffin with 2 poached eggs, shaved ham, and Hollandaise sauce ($18.50).

IMG_7650

And while Michael orders his usual flat white, I couldn’t help but get a refreshingly cold Real fruit mango smoothie ($7.50).

IMG_7648

Worth a visit if you’re in Gladstone! We had a great breakfast with much excitement for our upcoming trip back to Canada – getting married soon!

Degani @ Rockhampton Post Office

April 16, 2016

After a LONG night at work, Michael picked me up in the morning and took me out for a much needed meal. Our first visit to Degani at the Rockhampton Post Office – and certainly won’t be our last!

IMG_7570

It was 8am in the morning, but I had not had anything to eat all shift and was ravenous. Luckily, the staff were great – they didn’t blink an eye when I requested a burger and fries for breakfast – and it was also not a problem for the kitchen!

IMG_7569

I chose the Works Burger with hamburger patty, salad, egg, bacon, pineapple & cheese ($15.80). Everything was fresh and the burger was so big, I had to use a knife and fork to slowly hack away at it 😉 Chips were nice as well!

IMG_7566

And of course… I got this. Because who doesn’t need chocolate first thing in the morning?

IMG_7565

Mike was much more breakfast-appropriate, having Eggs Benedict Degani Style with two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, shaved ham and toast ($15.40).

IMG_7568

We finished everything, had a great morning catching up, and a good night’s sleep once we got home – thanks Degani! See you again in the future!

Cheese and Biscuits Cafe

March 31, 2016

Cheese and Biscuits Cafe is one of our favourite places in Rockhampton! Which makes it the perfect visit for a breakfast date.

They offer a simple menu revolving around delicious toasted paninis, baguettes, and sandwiches, as well as a variety of drinks, and a display cabinet full of tantalizing sweets. The service is always quick and friendly. Laid back atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating. A testament to their service and food is the familiarity between customers and the staff – obvious frequent customers.

The cafe is also loved by the community for proudly being a breast feeding friendly establishment, making the news in May 2015, which you can read about HERE.

We have yet to try all the sandwiches, but these 2 are definitely our favourite (all of them are super tasty though!)

Bonnie Loch ($12.50) with smoked salmon, red onion, dill creamed cheese

IMG_7449

The Dlough’y ($12.50) with BBQ pulled pork, cheese and coleslaw.

IMG_7447

Toasted to perfection with perfect flavour combinations – they never disappoint!

Coffee is tasty and they also offer a selection of (huge) smoothies ($6.90) which are subtle in flavour and not too sweet – made with greek yoghurt, skim milk and ice.

IMG_7445

We also never pass up an opportunity to grab something sweet – like this black forest cake – to have for later! We keep hearing about how amazing their caramel tarts are but haven’t yet had the chance to try!

IMG_7450

Definitely recommend a visit – any food choice you make, you won’t regret it! Wish I had taken more photos to share 🙂

 

 

Breakfast Date at The 2 Professors

March 29, 2016

Around this time, Michael and I were both working night ward call, alternating each other’s schedule… so when I was off, Mike was working and vice versa. Luckily, with only a little bit of difficulty, we successfully inverted our schedules. That meant, we were consistent night owls and slept during the day (12pm-9pm… ish)

That also meant, the opportunity for so many breakfast dates! Which never happens!

Finally had the opportunity to try out The Two Professors – a local favourite joint.

IMG_7395

Great open space with nice decor and variety of seating options. Order at the counter and grab your own seat.

IMG_7396

IMG_7389

Michael (and many people we know) said the coffee was fantastic.

IMG_7394

We were incredibly excited that they offered REAL bagels! So you know what we had…

We both had Benny’s in Detention ($16.50)

Michael enjoyed smoked salmon with sauteed spinach and poached eggs with house made hollandaise

IMG_7400

I had the Italian sausage patty, bacon, poached eggs and sauteed spinach with house made hollandaise

IMG_7397

We both agreed that the bagels were great – dense and chewy. However, my Italian sausage was not flavourful and terribly salty. In addition, it was a very long wait for our food.

Didn’t deter us from returning, as we soon came back for another breakfast. Again, there was quite a long wait for food. This time, I had the Cherry Ripe Pancakes – ricotta coconut pancakes with house made nutella chocolate syrup and black forest cherry ice cream ($15.50). A generous serving, however, I must not be a fan of coconut pancakes. In addition, the main reason I ordered this dish was the promise of ‘black forest cherry ice cream.’ Unfortunately, they served plain vanilla ice cream and when I inquired, the server didn’t even know if that was normally served. I was later told that it is the combination of the berry compote and vanilla ice cream that makes up ‘black forest’ Just a little underwhelming!

IMG_7461

Despite that, I would still recommend The 2 Professors to those looking for a new place to visit for breakfast. However, I will wait until my next bagel craving! 😉

The Two Professors Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast at The Grind

March 26, 2016

After hearing great things about The Grind (Yeppoon) for weeks – we finally had the chance to check it out. Breakfast date with Jess & Jin!

Beautiful weather, which was already a win 🙂

IMG_7344

Minimal seating inside but can’t complain about sitting outside in this weather!

IMG_7347

Neat mismatched decor

IMG_7349

The Grind serves a range of Yenda beer… too bad it was breakfast time!

IMG_7348

My husband in desperate need of a haircut

IMG_7353

Everyone agreed the coffee was great!

IMG_7355

Michael and I each enjoyed a filled bagel. Michael enjoyed the Smoked Salmon Classic ($11) – smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, red onion, black pepper, rocket & lemon.

I chose the BRAT ($10) with bacon, rocket, avocado, tomato & aioli.

IMG_7357

We both agreed that the bagels were delicious and filled with fresh ingredients. But, they are most definitely NOT real bagels. Just soft white bread shaped into bagels. As you might know, being Canadians, we are huge fans of bagels and were unfortunately quite disappointed 😦

Jess and Jin enjoyed their tasty fish and chips with a fresh salad, crispy fish, and generous amount of tartare sauce!

IMG_7358

Have been looking forward to visiting again for their tapas nights – unfortunately, no opportunity yet but hopefully soon!

For dessert, as per the recommendation of a friend, my first Long John (bar shaped, yeast risen, filled donut) from O’Gradys Bakehouse! Chewy, just the right amount of cinnamon sugar and cream filling – so yum!

Untitled

Lightbox

February 7, 2016

3 months before our wedding, I finally found and ordered my wedding dress! And actually, Jess did too (unexpectantly)! Thank you to Gladstone Bridal for everything… which I will share more about in another blog post 😉

After our dress adventure, we met up with Michael (who was killing time waiting around for us and Mike R to catch up over dinner. Both Mike R and Kon were in Gladstone doing an Emergency rotation, but unfortunately, Kon was working the evening shift.

Michael has been to lightbox for tapas dinner in the past and loved it. We have also all enjoyed an awesome breakfast there previously… check out this lightbox breakfast with eggs your way, bacon, sausage, roasted roma tomato, mushroom, baked beans and sourdough ($24).

IMG_4482

Given our previous good experiences, it was a no brainer to meet up at lightbox for dinner!

Service was impeccable as always. We arrived a little early for dinner but the place was packed later in the evening.

IMG_7007

We enjoyed a number of tapas dishes including the following:

Leek & manchego croquette with spicy mayonnaise ($9)

IMG_7019

Crispy Moroccan wings with lime aioli and lemon ($14)

IMG_7015

Lemon pepper calamari with tartare and lemon ($12)

IMG_7014

Sweet potato wedges with sweet chili mayonnaise ($8)

IMG_7016

Bruschetta with mushrooms and savoury schurros with cheese (sorry, I can’t remember exact name and price, and they are no longer listed on the menu)

IMG_7012

IMG_7017

All the dishes were nice and as stated in the menu. Good serving size for price and I always appreciate generous servings of sauce! Great food, day and night, always friendly service and a changing menu. Would love to go back for dinner and try their main dishes! Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Gladstone!

Lightbox Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Bliss – definitely worth a visit!

One of the most popular breakfast destinations in Rockhampton, Cafe Bliss made the perfect choice for our visiting friends, Josiah and Danya, from Bundaberg. 🙂

And, with a stroke of luck, we were able to grab seating for 4 on a late Sunday morning without reservations!

IMG_4071

Some of the first thoughts that went through our minds

  • Welcoming service
  • This place is very cute. It’s actually the most girly restaurant we have ever been to – which is not meant to be an insult! Splashes of pink everywhere!
  • Very bright with lots of windows and seating distant enough to give patrons a sense of privacy
  • The location of the display cabinet immediately draws your attention, and filled with lots of goodies!

IMG_4072

Look at the menu… hand made scrap books! I have never seen this at another restaurant. Obviously a lot of effort have gone into these menus, a unique pop of character!

IMG_4064

I could not resist ordering the Breakfast Bagel ($15.50). Toasted Bagel with crispy bacon, fried eggs, wilted spinach & Swiss cheese drizzled with outback BBQ sauce and a side of hollandaise. Alright, as a Canadian, this bagel isn’t fooling anyone. It has the consistency of a dinner roll – super light, soft, and fluffy – certainly not a real bagel. However, it looks charming and the perfectly positioned egg yolk is a nice touch. Not to mention, It was delicious and incredibly filling! I would definitely order this dish again 😉

IMG_4065

Both Michael and Josiah share the same code: Always order Eggs Benedict ($15.50) when trying a new restaurant. Why? Because that’s the benchmark against which their other dishes can be measured. Poached eggs, served on a bed of wilted baby spinach & your choice of ham, smoked salmon or bacon set on a toasted English muffin with fresh hollandaise. They weren’t disappointed! Generous salmon and the hollandaise sauce had the perfect consistency and right amount of zing.

IMG_4067

Thanks so much for visiting guys! We hope you have the chance to pop by again soon!

IMG_4069

Unfortunately, my second visit at Cafe Bliss was a lot more disappointing. Came for lunch with a friend and got Chicken Flat Bread Sandwich ($16.50). Premium chicken breast, fresh avocado, crispy bacon, baby cos lettuce, Swiss cheese & garlic aioli on home-made flat bread with beer battered fries. Unfortunately, as you might be able to imagine from the photo, the flat bread was incredibly greasy, tough and chewy. In addition, my chicken breast was under (or not) seasoned and was too overcooked, leaving it bland and dry. The fries were great and crisp though!

IMG_4261

I am hoping that my lunch meal was a fluke, and it certainly won’t deter us from visiting again soon!

We are especially looking forward to a dinner visit with finer dining: Bliss By Night. Their dinner menu looks tantalising and we continue to see good feedback online. Check out their menu HERE.

If you’re thinking of a place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – would definitely recommend visiting Cafe Bliss!

Click to add a blog post for Cafe Bliss on Zomato

Flour – Our new favourite cafe

It was a pleasure that one of the first cafes we dined at upon moving to Rockhampton, Flour, has become our favourite 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation Amanda!

Yes, it is a 25 minute drive away in Yeppoon, but definitely worth it! And considering we used to take public transport in Brisbane for longer periods of time when going out to eat, how could we possibly complain?

Immediate sign of a good cafe – it’s always buzzing! Which can sometimes concern you, “Am I going to have to wait forever for a table?” But the wait has never been too long for us. And they take reservations, which is even better.

IMG_0027

The second good sign – familiarity between customers and staff. Frequent diners! People don’t keep returning if they’re not happy right?

IMG_0028

The furniture and decor are mismatched and cute, giving off a fun, relaxed vibe.

IMG_0034

Sit down and look at the menu, but certainly don’t forget to check out the baked goods at the counter and in the fridges! Don’t be like me during my first visit and not leave room for cakes and pastries. For breakfast? Of course!

IMG_0032

I don’t drink coffee, but if Mike’s happy with his, then you’d be too!

IMG_0037

The menu is small but tantalizing and Michael, of course, must always try the Eggs Benedict. It sets the ‘food standard’ bar for him.

Eggs Benedict on ciabatta bread with smoked salmon, baby spinach, and hollandaise sauce ($17.50). Eggs beautifully poached, sauce delicious, with loads of salmon – worth it.

IMG_0039

I have a weakness for pumpkin (and haloumi cheese) when it comes to a breakfast menu… or any menu for that matter. So my choice was obvious: Spicy pumpkin fritters topped with baby spinach, poached eggs and bacon served with house made hollandaise ($17.50). Can you say a generous serving? I was stuffed! Not to mention it was delicious and definitely the kind of dish I would spend extra time trying to duplicate at home for a special weekend breakfast.

IMG_0040

And because you can’t see the pumpkin fritters from the above angle. I have had fritters at other restaurants where they have been soggy and/or dripping oil – not in this case!

IMG_0041

We have now visited a number of times and service has always been impeccable – friendly and efficient. Could not fault their food nor their service.

And yes, we most certainly have tried some of their cakes! Fresh, decadent, and delicious – there is definitely enough variety available on a daily basis to suit all sorts of sweet teeth!

IMG_2956

IMG_2960

So far, our favourite ‘getaway’ cafe for breakfast or even just a drink and snack. Would definitely recommend Flour to everyone who’s stopping in Yeppoon! Don’t forget to share your experience 🙂

Flour on Urbanspoon

A tasty catch Breakfast at Chouquette

December 17, 2014

It’s silly that it’s taken me so many months to share such a gem – but here it is! Now that we are living in Rockhampton, I can only daydream of having delicious French pastries again soon!

Founded and managed by Lara Sample, Chouquette opened in 2006… I didn’t visit until 2014, what a shame! At least we got a few visits in before moving away.

With the skills of French-born and trained bakers and pastry chefs, alongside Australian staff, Chouquette consistently produces authentic and high quality delights. It’s easy to see why customers return again and again.

In 2013, Chouquette’s sister business, Crust & Co, opened in Wilston as a wholesale business that also caters to the public. If you know me, then I’ve definitely told you how much we love Crust & Co! Chouquette is no different, with the bonus of more options and atmosphere!

The small bakery in New Farm opens at 6:30am Weds-Sunday. Get in early for the best selection of goodies, as well as a seat! There are a handle of seats indoors and a few more outside on the sidewalk. Definitely not a place to set up shop and study for the day, but a bite to eat and catch up with friends is perfect! You will also notice a consistent stream of customers come in for take away goodies through out the day.

IMG_1596

The variety makes the selection process difficult. Do I want cakes? Or pastries? Or bread? It often ends with, “I’ll have a bit of everything!”

IMG_1591

Service has always been fantastic and one of the few opportunities I’ve had to hear and speak French since moving to Australia!

IMG_1598

IMG_1597
Prices are definitely on the higher side than what I’m used to, especially compared to back in Canada. But once in a while is definitely worth it 😉

IMG_1590

One of my favourite breakfast options are their filled baguettes! Fresh, delicious, crispy baguette with a variety of toppings. They are max $9.00 and one of my favourites is salami, provolone, basil, lettuce and tomato.

IMG_1606

We love all the pastries, although haven’t had the opportunity to try many of their cakes yet.

IMG_1593

IMG_1592

Here a few yums!

Mille feuille – good cream but the pastry is a little too dark.

IMG_1601

Canele – beautiful and tasty! Although the ones we’ve had at Macarons et Madeleines in Ottawa will always be the best!

IMG_1604

Good coffees

IMG_1599

And of course, can’t forget to mention the good company! 😉

IMG_1608

Definitely worth a visit, I know I’ll be coming back when I have the chance!

Chouquette Patisserie & Café on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Pig ‘N’ Whistle

October 18, 2014

After a failed attempt to have breakfast at a (what we learned to be very) popular bakery in New Farm, we decided to instead enjoy a meal at the new Pig ‘N’ Whistle in Fortitude Valley.

IMG_8080

Taken from their website:

Opened in mid 2014, the Brunswick Street venue is the newest addition to the iconic Pig ‘N’ Whistle family.

Situated in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane’s main entertainment hub, this venue has prime position in the heart of the city’s most popular nightlife spots. Pig ‘N’ Whistle Brunswick Street boasts two outdoor beer gardens, stunning high ceilings and exposed brick heritage listed architecture – all combined to make it a celebrated venue for local residents and visitors to Brisbane.

IMG_8071

Downstairs, the venue has a large and open modern kitchen, which focuses on local produce and simple and delicious pub food. Local craft beer and British ales frequent the many taps throughout the venue and are complemented by an extensive wine list. Pig ‘N’ Whistle Brunswick Street is the newest offering in Brisbane’s nightlife and the ultimate ‘local’ for people looking for a great, non-pretentious, atmosphere and good quality food and beverages.

It was a quiet Saturday morning with a few other patrons scattered across the different dining areas.

IMG_8069

After placing our orders, we opted to sit outside. Really liked the accent mirrors on the old brick walls!

IMG_8072

Our orders came out quickly which was great because we were starving!

IMG_8079

Mike ordered the Eggs Royale – Tasmanian smoked salmon, poached eggs, spinach, avocado, sourdough toast ($16) and a flat white ($3.70). Today was the day I learned the difference between Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale… they’re the same, except Eggs Royale uses salmon in place of ham. Eggs were nicely poached, generous amount of decent smoked salmon with a nice Hollandaise sauce. Coffee was good too!

IMG_8077

IMG_8074

A softie for Haloumi cheese, I decided on the Greek Breakfast – Grilled haloumi, eggs your way, mushroom, tomato, avocado, spinach, sourdough toast ($18). As you can see from the photo, Mike’s poached eggs and mine were like night and day. Mine were a stringy hot mess, with nearly naked yolks and the whites tasting too vinegary. If this were my restaurant, I would be upset if someone served those eggs to customers. Good quality (not too salty) Haloumi and nicely ripened, buttery avocadoes partly made up for my failed eggs.

IMG_8076

We had good service and really liked the day time atmosphere of Pig ‘N’ Whistle but think the night vibe would be even better. The food (aside from my eggs) was better than anticipated. Would definitely return at night to check out the bar and non-breakfast menu!

A quick return to Stradbroke Island

October 6, 2014

On March 12th of this year, Michael proposed to me during a wonderful vacation on Stradbroke Island. One of our favourite places turned into a very special place that day, and we will always look forward to the opportunity for a visit.

With beautiful forecasted weather, we took advantage of the Labour Day long weekend to spend a day on the island.

Started our day sharing a delicious breakfast at Tillers Cafe Pantry, a restaurant attached to Allure Resort, where we stayed back in March. The last time we were here, it was our first meal out as an engaged couple and my first time wearing my ring in public. I remember not being able to help but continuously glance down at my ring, as it was so sparkly in the natural light 😛

We enjoyed Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12), which was just as delicious as last visit!

IMG_2350

We also shared a slice of berry white chocolate cheese cake accompanied with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. The cake had really good texture with interesting crunchiness from white chocolate within the cheesecake.

IMG_2348

We strolled along the beaches after breakfast, even coming across this sand mermaid who has seen better days

IMG_2353

Blue skies, sunshine, warm sand for lounging and refreshing ocean swims! Love him 🙂

IMG_2356

Coming up to high tide by the time we passed Deadman’s Beach and headed into Frenchman’s Beach, but here is where he proposed! At the tall boulder just slipping out of the sun… 🙂

IMG_2358

A perfect day, Stradbroke Island will always be one of my favourites places ❤

IMG_2357

Breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower

October 5, 2014

After months of being away, we finally caught up with James and Kim over breakfast at Cafe Auchenflower.

IMG_7996

With a cute and homely atmosphere, Cafe Auchenflower invites you in with friendly service and a steady stream of customers.

IMG_7994

A small menu that offers both sweet and savoury items, something for everyone.

IMG_7984

We started off with drinks, including a nice flat white, freshly brewed tea and iced coffee with ice cream

IMG_7983

IMG_7985

I ordered an iced chocolate, which was a little disappointing. Simply milk with chocolate syrup, not overly cold and certainly not iced.

IMG_7986

James and Kim decided on poached eggs on sourdough bread ($13) with a couple of sides, each around $3 (avocado, fritters, bacon).

IMG_7987

Michael couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pass up Benedict Eggs on toasted sourdough with bacon ($17).

IMG_7991

Everyone received consistent beautifully poached eggs and quite enjoyed their breakfast.

I ordered the Breaky Wrap with bacon, egg, greens, corn salsa & chipotle mayo ($17). Grilled to perfection with a generous amount of greens and bacon, although eggs a little overcooked.

IMG_7989

And don’t forget to check out the cabinet on your way out, tasty treats to pick up!

IMG_7992

IMG_7993

A lovely breakfast with great company! However, despite a good visit and food, Michael and I did find the menu overpriced and won’t be too hasty to return.

Cafe Auchenflower on Urbanspoon

DHAL: July 13-19, 2014 – Ottawa for a week!

One week home in Ottawa, been looking forward to this for weeks! 🙂

Michael and I aren’t planning on going home for over summer/Christmas holidays, since our graduation date isn’t until December 20th and we expect to be moving and preparing for a job rural at the end of the year, hopefully! This rotation is our opportunity to spend some time in Canada… so who knows when we will be back next!

Spent some quality time with the family!

Got to eat one of my favourite Vietnamese meals – Bo Bia! Fresh rolls with Chinese sausage, sauteed turnip, egg and veggies including Thai basil dipped in a hoison peanut sauce – thanks mum!

IMG_8720

IMG_8718

A meal selfie!

IMG_1211

My mom’s famous deboned, stuffed, and breaded chicken wings! Delicious! And some homemade samosas

IMG_1209

And with my grandparents!

IMG_1214

Trying out my grandpa’s first batch of banana lime liqueur – coming along well!

IMG_1216

We enjoyed quite a few different taste testings, haha!

IMG_1212

I finally got to meet Benny! The dog my brother adopted earlier this year who is now considered the baby of the house and my mum’s favourite. He’s a cutie and (mostly) really well behaved but always gets a little too excited when new people come over that he pees on them.

IMG_1219

He’s a sweetheart and a whiner, always crying and looking out the window if you leave him behind.

IMG_1868

And he loves his balls and squeaky toys…

IMG_7477

IMG_1867

Had the opportunity to go down to Perth Road Village to spend some quality time with Mike’s family on July 14th. Their property is by a lake and very cottage-like, so it was very nice and relaxing! Mike’s brother Matt and sister in law Jessica recently had their 2nd child – Rinoa, who’s super cute! Their oldest, Jasper has grown so much since I last saw him!

Some of my favourite photos, you can view all of them HERE.

Matt, Jessica and Jasper out on a canoe ride

IMG_0566

Matt & Jess’ dog Bubba – not feeling well today.

IMG_0616

Father son laughs

IMG_0758

Auntie and niece bonding time.

IMG_0738

Little Rinoa

IMG_0750

Tummy tickles!

IMG_0788

Like father like son

IMG_0801

Hanging out with Uncle Mike

IMG_0812

Indeed!

IMG_0814

A pair of loons and a baby! We tried to get as close as we could without being intrusive and they certainly kept an eye on us the whole time just in case!

IMG_0696

This dinosaur

IMG_0733

Got to satisfy a few of my cravings! Including McDonald’s McGriddle breakfast (mmm sweet and salty, maple syrup and sausage) and of course, Shawarma Palace with their awesome garlic sauce! Not shown: Stops at Tim Horton’s!

IMG_1870

IMG_1884

Even had time to catch up with some of my best girls! Thanks for coming over on July 17th Atong, Julia and Hue!

IMG_7478

Julia loved Benny!

IMG_7475

Julia requested Cuttlefish snacks by Nong Shim, which apparently can’t be found in Ottawa anymore. They are delicious though, even Mike’s hooked on them.

IMG_7480

A lovely engagement gift from Julia & Atong 🙂 A family cookbook that even has room for photos!

IMG_7484

IMG_7485

IMG_7488

And perhaps most importantly, my mum held an unofficial engagement dinner with Michael’s parents so they could formally meet all of my family. This was on Friday, July 18th, the night before both Michael and I flew out to our respective electives. We decided to have dinner at Chu Shing and luckily, only a handful of family were missing. It was the usual family deal, chaotic but I think it went well! Thank you also very much to my grandparents and to Ong Tia Ba Y for their generous gifts!

Some of the photos!

Selfie at the dinner table

IMG_8878

With Mike’s parents, my mum, my grandparents, and my dad’s aunt and uncle.

IMG_0409

The elders!

IMG_0423

All my aunts and uncles (except for my 4th aunt who was in LA with her daughter Lilian) and a few of the cousins

IMG_0434

Some more cousins as well as Aunt Diane, Uncle Andrew (my great aunt and uncle’s daughter) and their 3 children.

IMG_0439

Group photo!

IMG_0451

With my dad’s side of the family

IMG_0466

Aren’t I lovely?

IMG_0473

With Michael’s family. Unfortunately, his sister Meaghan was not able to join us due to work. His brother has 2 small children on an early schedule and it’s a drive up from Kingston!

IMG_0479

Before heading home, we dropped by Phuket Royal, a restaurant where my cousin Kevin was working (couldn’t make it to our dinner) to say hi. He was just getting off work so we decided to go to My Sweet Tea to catch up over bubble tea. We didn’t get back until past midnight, and Mike and I still needed to pack! Needless to say, it was a late night.

Woke up at 4:30am the next morning to have breakfast together at Perkins with Di Nam before heading to the airport for my 7am flight to Vancouver. Good bye family and see you again soon!

10556283_665121586902952_3707636421064270964_n

They’ve changed the format of the security line at the Ottawa Airport to be extremely inefficient, causing myself and a number of other passengers to almost miss our flight. At other airports, once passengers go through security, they may be pulled aside to a different station for an explosives scan, which is when they swab the outside and also open your bags to swab the inside and test for explosives. For whatever reason, Ottawa has decided to incorporate the explosives scan as part of their security line, before your bags go through the scanner. The ENTIRE security line gets held up when someone’s having their bag tested. Meaning nobody’s bags are being scanned and nobody is walking through the metal detectors. Completely inefficient, I don’t know what they were thinking, but they better change that.

My sister met me once I landed in Vancouver and we had time to grab a quick bite to eat before I had to start heading to Horseshoe Bay to catch my ferry to Nanaimo. It took a good 2 hours to get there from the airport via the SkyTrain into the city and then bus to the ferry terminal. More about Nanaimo in my next post!

Stradbroke: Good eats at Tillers Cafe Pantry

During our stay on Stradbroke Island, we enjoyed ourselves twice at Tilllers Cafe Pantry, a lovely open air dining space right next to the reception of Allure Resort.

IMG_6842

IMG_6841

The cafe offers non-alcoholic drinks and a nice selection of breakfast options, as well as sweet and savoury snacks. What we also really liked about this little cafe is the pantry, plenty of neat and unique specialty items to browse through and try.

IMG_6798

Our first visit was for coffee and an early evening snack. We were greeted by extremely friendly staff and the enormous cheesecakes in the display case caught my eye immediately.

I couldn’t pass up a slice of passionfruit cheesecake ($6) that even came with a side of delicious vanilla ice cream! Loved the topping! The crust was quite crumbly but not too sweet and I believe I even tasted coconut flakes.

IMG_6840

Mike enjoyed his flat white… and of course, some of my cheese cake. 😛

IMG_6838

The following morning, we came back for breakfast. In contrast to an empty cafe yesterday around 5:30pm, the cafe was buzzing and packed with customers. Definitely a popular breakfast destination!

My wonderful date!

IMG_6848

Photos of the menu. Reasonably priced, tantalizing options!

IMG_6846

IMG_6845

Mike didn’t take long to make up his mind: Croissant filled with smoked salmon, capers, sour cream and dill ($14.50) and a coffee ($4). He enjoyed his croissant immensely and was pleasantly surprised at the fresh and delicious side salad that was not mentioned in the menu!

IMG_6850

I decided on the Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12). I never say no to haloumi. And I’m not usually a fan of avocados but this was the most perfect avocado I’ve ever seen and tasted. I know, I sound crazy. But it was beautifully green without a blemish, perfectly ripe and buttery. And I don’t know how they get that dressing so emulsified but it was delicious.

IMG_6849

And I also ordered a plain toasted croissant ($2.50) – best croissant I’ve had in a long time!

IMG_6851

This vacation on Stradbroke Island has been extremely special with wonderful memories during our stay on Allure Resort. Enjoyable experiences at Tillers Cafe Pantry with tasty food options and friendly service will definitely bring us back when we’re on Stradbroke Island again!

Tillers Cafe Pantry on Urbanspoon

First batch of Year 4 Food

As you may know, I have gotten into the habit of keeping a photo diary of food I’ve been making since coming to Australia from Canada 3 years ago.

Going across the world was my first time moving away from home, and I hardly ever cooked before that because my mom’s food was too fabulous to bother trying. Curse of living at home? 😛

I am proud of myself for continuously trying and improving my skills in the kitchen. I am most certainly not the best at anything, but I am enjoying trying my hand at new things, and most importantly, it brings me happiness that people (especially Michael) enjoy the things I make. Being in the kitchen is my ‘relaxing activity’ believe it or not. And I especially love to cook and bake when I can share.

Annoyingly, I still have family members that ask, “So… how do you feed yourself when you’re living in Australia?” and are so surprised when I reply, “I cook for myself.”

“Really? You can cook?!” Why yes, yes I can. Did you really think I have been eating just take-out and salads for 3 years? Come on!

And the way I see it. Anybody can, they just have to want to try!

You’ll notice there’s no meat in anything below. Mike and I wanted to go meat-free for a few weeks, especially after indulging so much over the holidays.

First ‘hot meal’ after we finally got groceries on arriving back to Brisbane. Breakfast for dinner, a favourite.

IMG_6473

Creamy cauliflower soup, with onions, potato and sweet potato. Definitely a new favourite!

IMG_6478

Trying my hand at gnocchi from scratch for the first time. Sweet potato gnocchi (can you tell I was really lazy with the shaping of it) with a butter garlic rosemary sauce, fennel and apple salad and some grilled haloumi. Quite an odd combination, I know. But hey, it works! We shop the sales and then decide on the menu, not vice versa. Life of a student, you know? 😉

IMG_6482

Ricotta lime cookies with a lime glaze. Made these for “Friday Bake Day” at the hospital, which were enjoyed by many. Will definitely be making these again.

IMG_6485

IMG_6487

Pasta salad with green beans and carmelised onions with a greek yoghurt dressing. Side of cucumber and tomato salad.

IMG_6488

Coconut basil shrimp!

IMG_6489

Peanut butter cookies with caramel chips. Made these for another Friday Bake Day

IMG_6493

Had some basa fillets that I cooked up…

IMG_6552

To make delicious fish cakes for the first time! What an easy method to serve fish in a totally different and flavourful way!

IMG_6553

And 2 dishes that I made when back in Canada

Quiche with mushrooms, onions and bacon. Cheated with store bought crust though! 😉

IMG_1025

Cream of (wild) mushroom soup

IMG_6279

Trip Report – Business Class: YOW-LHR-PEK-SIN-BNE

(Note: I think this is going to be a long post, but I hope you enjoy!)

Hello friends!

On January 7th, Michael and I began our journey from Ottawa back to Brisbane… in style 😉

With 90 000 Aeroplan points and the most lovely agent on the phone, we were able to book our entire flight back in Business Class, going the long way. Of course, we had to pay taxes, which came to approximately $600.

Here was our flight itinerary:

itinerary

And so begins my amateur trip report! It certainly was an enjoyable first experience, definitely wanted to document and share!

January 7, 2014

Flight AC888 YOW-LHR (Boeing 767-300)
Departing Ottawa at 9:45pm
Arriving in London Heathrow at 9:35am Jan 08
Flight time: Approx 5hrs 40mins

Seats 2C and 2F

We said farewell to our family around 8pm at the airport and headed in through security. One of the best things about flying executive quickly became clear. Priority lines. For everything. Makes life so much easier.

Once through security, we headed to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. A worn but roomy lounge with ample seating space. A conservative but good selection of drinks. There were also snacks, including some hot foods, I believe. We didn’t take a closer look, mainly due to being stuffed from dinner.

IMG_1044

IMG_1045

The lounge was quite deserted and quiet, but good environment to get some work done. Also a nice view of planes landing and departing for those who are interested. Bathrooms were spacious with large, private stalls and anything you might need (feminine hygiene products, body lotion, etc).

IMG_1046

IMG_1047

Boarded without any issues and I got to experience the Classic Pod for the first time. Not to mention they recline completely flat! Although slightly sad that configuration was 1-1-1 because it meant I couldn’t talk to Michael at all while seated.

IMG_1048

IMG_1051

We left around an hour late due to bad weather outside Ottawa causing half the crew needing to come in via taxi from Montreal.

Hot towel, champagne and nuts right after take off as opposed to before due to lack of staff – no problem!

IMG_1057

Every year, Michael and I exchange cards on our flight back to Brisbane. Continuing with that tradition and reading my card after take off.

IMG_1053

Happy in his seat under mood lighting.

IMG_1055

Dinner was quite tasty, I was impressed.

IMG_1059

Appetizer: Nova Scotia lobster, seared scallop and marinated shrimp served with quinoa salad and caper tartar sauce.

IMG_1060

Salad: Mixed greens, grape tomatoes and Parmesan served with balsamic vinaigrette. Also had warm crusty bread.

IMG_1061

There were a choice of 4 mains, I chose the Ricotta and spinach ravioli offered with rose sauce, basil chiffonade, portobello mushrooms and parmesan. The ravioli was delicious but I simply couldn’t finish it all.

IMG_1064

Mike chose the Sauteed Atlantic salmon accompanied by lemon and scallion sauce, a grain medley of wheat berries, long grain rice and acini di pepe pasta, french beans and baby carrots. Slightly dry salmon but good flavours and definitely good quality for airplane food. No photo, sorry!

For dessert, a chocolate pecan brownie with whipped cream. Certainly not close to being one of the best brownies I’ve ever had but still good, nice and warm too. I passed on the cream.

IMG_1068

A decent wine selection but no Canadian choices, which I thought was a shame!

One of my favourite aspects of these flights – amenity kits. This one was compact and included the usual items (eye mask, toothbrush, tooth paste, ear plugs, socks) as well as some beauty products by Vancouver company Escents.

IMG_6412

In terms of service, nothing was lacking. However, both Michael and I felt pleasantries were forced rather than genuine coming from one particular flight attendant. Going up to every single passenger with a list in your hand, mumbling or butchering names while saying the exact same greeting to each person comes across as robotic. When we greet people and are unsure of how to pronounce their name, the easiest and most polite thing to do is to simply ask, “Excuse me, how do I correctly pronounce your name?” Such a simple thing to do and you look a lot less ignorant.

I had ambitious plans to stay awake and get a lot of studying done for my MCCEE. Yea, that didn’t happen. I slept most of the flight, eventually waking up to have breakfast before landing.

Continental breakfast consisted of fresh orange juice, sliced seasonal fruit, yogurt and croissants (and blueberry muffins I didn’t see) with butter and preserves.

IMG_1071

And soon we touched down in London! We made a quick stop in the AC Arrival Lounge to freshen up before heading into the city. Paid a small fee to store our carry on luggage at the airport and headed into the city via the Heathrow Express Train (£34/person return).

On the train for just a short 15 minute ride into the city!

IMG_6304

IMG_6305

Arrived at Paddington station!

IMG_6306

Being on the streets of London for the first time!

IMG_6309

Due to our short layover (approx 8 hours total), we decided to go on a tour with The Original London Sightseeing Tour. The bus tour was great, we didn’t hop on and off like we would’ve it we had more time but got to see most of what it had to offer. It eventually got pretty cold being on the top of the double decker bus and not moving around at all! 😛

IMG_6333

Here’s a short video I put together of the sights we saw! London is beautiful, we’d love to come back and visit again when we have time… and money!

We eventually made our way back to Heathrow Airport. I didn’t take any photos of the Star Alliance lounge but it was packed, even for 2 levels. Apparently many flights going into North America were delayed due to bad weather which explained why the lounge was so busy. Had a nice shower to recharge for the next leg of our journey and enjoyed some snacks and drinks as well. 

Sooner than we wanted, we were zipping through lines in order to board our next flight with Air China to Beijing.

January 8, 2014

Flight CA938 LHR-PEK (Boeing 777-200)
Departing London at 5:40pm
Arriving in Beijing at 11:25am Jan 9
Flight time: 9hrs 15mins

Seats 16A and 16C

Warm greetings from all the staff, a near empty cabin and seats actually beside each other, we immediately knew we were going to enjoy this flight.

Within minutes of being seated, we were given our noise-cancelling headphones, amenity kit, slippers and menu. 

IMG_6392

IMG_6385

IMG_6388

Amenity kit with L’Occitane de Provence products, lovely!

IMG_6389

IMG_6390

And of course, champagne for take off 🙂

IMG_6383

IMG_6384

Good bye London!

IMG_6393

I didn’t take any photos of the cabin, but here are some from other (as linked) sources

Wine and more champagne

IMG_6395

Air China was serving their Winter menus. 

For dinner, Michael chose to have the Western option, which consisted of the following:

Amuse Bouche: Asparagus wrapped in parma ham, Scallop with keta caviar and radish and Hot Canape: Chicken kebab with chili sauce, Veg brochette

IMG_6404

Assorted bread roll served with butter

Appetizer: Seared scallops with noodles

IMG_6400

Salad: Fresh seasonal salad mix with Italian dressing or basil vinaigrette

IMG_6403

Main courses: Beef fillet served with Frisse risotto & vegetables OR Blue cheese gnocchi spinach & pine nut kernels

IMG_6405

Dessert: Apple crumble tart OR Bread & butter pudding OR selection of cheese with crackers

IMG_6408

IMG_6410

Seasonal fresh fruit

IMG_6406

Overall, Michael enjoyed all components of his meal and found everything quite tasty! And of course, very filling 🙂

For myself, the Chinese option which consisted of the same amuse bouche, hot canape, breads and dessert options, with the following differences:

Appetizer: Poached chicken thigh with sesame soy dressing, mushroom shitake with julienne carrot, and mixed peppers with black bean sauce

IMG_6398

Main courses: Monkfish with hot bean sauce served with peppers, asparagus and carrots OR Chicken Yu Hsiang Aubergine served with brocoli (both options include steamed rice).

IMG_6399

IMG_6397

I chose the Chinese option because I thought of all airlines, Air China would have Chinese food down pat. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The food was alright but mostly bland. Comparing our meals, the Western option is certainly more elegant with much better and sophisticated ingredients.

Like the previous flight, these seats also laid completely flat, it was wonderful! Again, I didn’t get much studying but a lot of sleeping done. 😛

IMG_6414

IMG_6415

The flight certainly didn’t go by quickly, but was very comfortable and enjoyable. Service was impeccable and the bathrooms were spacious and well maintained. Air China has a small but decent drinks list, although we didn’t take advantage of it.

Lovely views passing by Mongolia!

IMG_1079

Breakfast!

As I had already chosen the Chinese breakfast option, I was anticipating disappointment after the first meal, haha!

My meal consisted of:

Plain rice congee with pickles, pickled spicy radish julienne, and mushroom wood fungus julienne. I’m normally a huge fan of pickles and especially fungus but again, not very flavourful.

IMG_6420

Dim sum with shrimp dumpling, sieu mai, char sieu bun, and chive & prawn dumpling. The dim sum was tasty, thank goodness!

IMG_6419

Mike had his Western breakfast of Scrambled eggs with bacon sausage & grilled tomato. Also danish, croissant, pain au choc & breakfast rolls with butter, marmalade, honey, cornflakes & milk, and fresh fruit. Of course he enjoyed his meal immensely!

IMG_6418

Again, comparing our meals, the Western option is much more substantial with more flavours.

Soon landing in Beijing!

IMG_6422

IMG_1084

Check out the crazy smog pollution… the closer we got to the city…

IMG_1086

I was last in Beijing in 2007, around a year before the Beijing Olympics. I remember the airport service being horrendous with poor service and extreme lacking in English speaking staff for international flights.

IMG_1088

The airport is still not completely efficient as they had only 1 kiosk open to proceed to international transfers. As a result, a haphazard, huge snaking line coiled around a tiny space that blocked way for further incoming passengers. Should’ve taken photos!

Once through security, we proceeded to International Air China Business Lounge (serving all Star Alliance members) located on the 2nd floor.

IMG_6440

IMG_6437

IMG_6438

The lounge itself is quite spacious with plenty of seating area, and multiple stations to get snacks (packaged pastries and sandwiches) and non-alcoholic drinks.

IMG_6425

IMG_1089

IMG_6431

There is also a separate hot food station. However, like the airline food, I don’t quite understand how the quality of Asian styled food is so low. It might taste alright if you are extremely hungry, however, we certainly didn’t go for seconds.

IMG_6434

IMG_6435

IMG_6426

IMG_1090

IMG_6427

IMG_6436

And unless we were mistaken and couldn’t locate other bathrooms, there are only 3-4 bathroom stalls in the entirety of the lounge, not enough!

The bar

IMG_6433

Otherwise a relaxing layover!

IMG_6430

View from the lounge

IMG_6439

 

IMG_6432

Heading to our boarding gate!

IMG_6443

January 9, 2014

Flight CA969 PEK-SIN (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Beijing at 3:25pm
Arriving in Singapore at 9:45pm Jan 9
Flight time: Approx 6 hrs

Seats 13D and 13H

Again, service was lovely as we boarded and settled into our seats. Although the seats were not as nice or private, we did find the cabin more spacious and open. We also liked the insect-antennae lamps.

The seats beside us.

IMG_6454

IMG_0885

Unfortunately, the cabin was quite full, with many Chinese passengers who find hoarking (Is this a real word? To bring up sputum and snot by snorting and hoarking) and spitting completely socially acceptable, as well as talking at full volume. Oh well, such is life!

No amenity kit either… 😦 But champagne for take off!

IMG_0886

Meals! We switched things up this flight. Mike decided to opt for the Chinese dinner option, consisting of:

Appetizer: Five spice smoked pomfret and Chinese salad: Marinated bran with vegetables and peanut

IMG_6447

Main courses: Gong Bao prawn OR braised chicken and chestnut with yellow wine sauce, both served with steamed pearl rice and seasonal vegetables, OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

IMG_6446

Michael found the meal, “meh.” The main course was alright but he didn’t touch the pomfret and most of the salad.

Learning from my previous mistake, I chose the Western option this time, which should have included:

  • Amuse bouche: Tea smoked duck breast
  • Hot canape: prawn skewer with Thai chili sauce
  • Appetizer: Baltic style smoked salmon with black pepper
  • Salad: Fresh seasonal salad leaf with French dressing or Chinese vinaigrette.
  • Assorted bread roll served with butter
  • Main courses: Baked Tandoori fish served with raisin turmeric rice and curried vegetable OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

IMG_6450

Unfortunately, bad luck struck again! Although I received my main course, apparently, they had made a mistake and were completely out of the other Western dishes. I said not a problem and accepted the Chinese side dishes… which weren’t very good and like Michael’s, remained mostly untouched. The Tandoori fish was very spicy and salty, I couldn’t finish it although the rice was extremely flavourful! Curried vegetables were mushy snow peas though 😦

Dessert: Hazelnut cake OR orange flavour chocolate cake OR selection of cheese with crackers AND seasonal fresh fruits.

IMG_6451

IMG_6452

Cakes were alright but not tasty enough to finish all of it!

This flight went by quickly and we soon found ourselves landing in Singapore!

IMG_6461

After transferring terminals and doing some duty free shopping (have to restock our bar ;)). For spending over $100 on duty free liquor, we got a free Spongebob SquarePants plush toy! I chose to take Patrick, complete with a deep innie belly button home.

IMG_6476

After shopping, we headed to the SilverKris Business Lounge.

Very spacious with ample seating room, this lounge reminded us of a gentlemen’s club with dark colours and leather seats. Lots of drink options and an extensive hot foods area although we didn’t check out the food. I was able to squeeze in a shower in their lovely bathrooms (that you don’t have to go to reception to get a key) which was refreshing and great.

IMG_6456

IMG_6459

Michael enjoyed a frosty mug of Tiger beer, of course

IMG_0887

We had a very brief 3 hour layover and soon found ourselves heading to our boarding gate for our last leg home.

IMG_6457

January 10, 2014

Flight SQ255 SIN-BNE (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Singapore at 12:45am
Arriving in Brisbane at 10:45am Jan 10
Flight time: Approx 7hrs 20mins

Seats 12H and 12K

Perhaps our most anticipated leg of the journey due to it being Singapore Airlines, the aircraft was probably one of their oldest and most outdated. The seats looked and felt tired, disappointment!

IMG_6463

IMG_6465

The service, however, was great as always on an SQ flight. Again, no amenity kit (why? :() but we did get funky slippers!

IMG_6462

As always, champagne for take off!

We opted for 2 meals during this flight. Both dinner and breakfast. With many naps lying nearly flat in between… 😛

For dinner, we had warm focaccia with smoked chicken, cheddar cheese and sweet onion relish. Delicious!

IMG_0890

Highland Park 12 Year-Old Single Malt Whisky for Mike and a Skyhigh (“An invigorating recipe featuring vodka, Cointreau, lemon, topped with 7-Up). I quite enjoyed all the unique Singapore Airlines’ cocktails on this flight.

IMG_0891

And egg noodles with braised beef brisket, mushrooms, and leafy greens. Also delicious!

IMG_0894

Before landing, we both enjoyed an American Breakfast with fruit yoghurt, poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, ham, mushroom and roast potatoes. As well as breads with preserves. For airplane food, it was impressive and mighty tasty!

IMG_6469

Once landed in Brisbane, we proceeded through immigration and customs without any issues or delays. Once outside, there was no taxi queue, allowing us to immediately get into a taxi and be home within 1/2 hour.

Although we enjoyed most aspects of our flights immensely, it was a relief to finally be home!

Summary:

Best service: Tie between Air China and Singapore Airlines
Best food: Air China (LHR-PEK) for Michael, Air Canada (YOW-LHR) for me
Best drinks selection: Singapore Airlines (SIN-BNE)
Most comfortable: Air China (LHR-PEK)
Best entertainment: Air Canada (YOW-LHR)
Best lounge: Changi Airport’s SilverKris

Would we do it again? Yes! But only on points… 😉

And thank you to James and Kim for being so lovely! Not only did they keep an eye on our place for us, they made sure we had some fresh bread and milk in the fridge for when we got back! You guys are the best!

No excuse for not blogging!

Hi friends!

Yes, I have no excuse for not blogging, I am on vacation after all!

How is everyone doing? Getting excited for the holidays yet?

For once, I am (mostly) on top of Christmas preparations! That even includes putting up the Christmas tree by myself at the beginning of December, yay! Not to mention all my presents have been wrapped… which normally never happens until the night of the 23rd or 24th.

Here are a few scattered moments since my last blog post:

Remember when I said I was digitizing all our old photos? Well, I finished! But I have not yet organised them T_T

IMG_0843

Mum made delicious guacamole!

IMG_0863

Got the tree up and this was my first present wrapped!

IMG_0866

Grilled cheese on a panini grill

IMG_0887

Snacking

IMG_0888

Made some macarons with the bro. They were successful in that they had feet, but failed in smoothness and texture – overbaked and way too crispy! We’ll try again soon…

IMG_0894

One of my favourite fruit snacks – pineapple with salt and pepper, yummy!

IMG_5970

Don’t know what made my mom think this would be good – smoked oysters (from China) in a can by Clover. Needless to say, she tasted one and didn’t get further.

IMG_5993

A little bit of a lot going on in this photo

IMG_5994

It snowed so hard on Dec 15! 😦

IMG_6009

Which was also the day my sister came home for the holidays from Vancouver. Thank god my uncle (Cau Hai) drove us to pick her up… or we would’ve died on the road.

The flight was, of course, delayed. Our poor grandparents had to chill at the airport until close to 3am when Jenni finally arrived!

IMG_6011

IMG_6013

IMG_6016

IMG_6018

December 16 – day after my sister came home. And Michael came up, finally! ❤ We went to see the Ottawa Senators vs St Louis Blues hockey game at the Canadian Tire Centre!

My sister, the biggest Toronto Maple Leafs fan… forced to wear a Sens jersey

IMG_6043

One of the most exciting games I’ve been to with the winning goal scored by Ceci in the last minute of overtime, yay! Note: I dislike hockey and have not watched many games in person.

IMG_6046

My brother “studying” before we left for the game.

IMG_6044

December 17 – breakfast with mum at Cora’s before driving her to work! Cora’s food was a disappointment, this is my 4th or 5th time going and it just… never wins me over.

IMG_6050

IMG_6049

IMG_6048

And homemade jajangmyun (Korean noodles with black bean sauce) that night! Mmm!

IMG_6061

Of course, Michael couldn’t visit Ottawa without having lunch at Play! Love the current menu options, although they have since increased the pricefrom 2 plates for $20 last year to $22. Still a great deal though!

Started off with house bread and frites with aioli sauce.

IMG_6090

Our first plates. beef laab / hoisin / jalapeño / daikon / romaine / ginger for Michael. So fragrant and delicious! Great contrast of flavours and textures, definitely a favourite.

IMG_6091

I enjoyed the pappardelle / chorizo / duck / celeriac / winter squash / shallot. Also very tasty! The pappardelle (broad pasta noodles) was cooked just with with really nice flavours but way too oily for me.

IMG_6093

IMG_6092

Onto our second plates! rabbit meatballs / pork / cornbread / eggplant agrodolce for Mike. Tender and moist meatballs against fluffly cornbread made for a very hearty meal.

IMG_6096

I chose the pork belly/edamame/Thai sauce/apricot/red bell pepper/onion. The flavours danced across my tongue… easily our favourite dish of the day! Crispy pork belly on a bed of wonderful delights with a good amount of heat. Unfortunately, the sauce in this dish was too oily, which was worse than my pappardelle because the pork belly is already so fatty. Still a delight though!

IMG_6095

And finally, guess who!

IMG_0917

Mike’s 34th Birthday!

Another long overdue post!

Mike turned 34 on September 21, 2013 – woo hoo! We had a quiet day at home with just the 2 of us… focused on food, haha!

Started the day by making us some mini blueberry and white chocolate pancakes for breakfast! 🙂

IMG_5479

For lunch we went to our favourite local sushi restaurant, Sakura Sushi – they have new menu items! They keep improving every time we visit – highly recommended!

And a lovely homemade meal to celebrate for dinner 🙂

At Mike’s request, Banh Tam Xiu Mai – one of his favourite Viet dishes!

IMG_5481

Also made some coconut basil shrimp, mmm so tasty!

IMG_5484

Happy birthday my love!

IMG_5487 IMG_5488

And also at his request, Caramel infused chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. My best homemade cupcakes yet, huge stamp of approval from the birthday boy!

IMG_5489 IMG_5490

And of course, presents!

IMG_5491

Wishing you many more happy birthdays to come my dear! ❤

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 01

September 18, 2013

During this vacation, I did something I’ve never done before: I went camping!

Big thanks to Mike for the awesome first experience! Being an avid camper, he had everything we needed to make the trip as smooth as possible 😀

Our destination had long been recommended by numerous friends and boy were we glad we finally went! STRADBROKE ISLAND – definitely would visit again!

Getting to the island was incredibly easy and convenient, making us both really wished we’d gone earlier. Take the train out to Cleveland, hop on the complimentary bus out to the dock and on to the ferry! Ferry price is $15 return for students, pretty good! Once we arrived on the island (Dunwich), the island bus was waiting and it cost an additional $2.50 to get to our camping ground, too easy!

On the way there!

IMG_5214

Here is a map of Stradbroke Island so you can see the places I have mentioned and will be talking about in this post.

NSI-Map

We decided to camp at an unpowered site at Adder Rock for $28/night. Being low season, we got our pick of camping sites and decided to camp along Flinders Beach. Camping on the beach, what could be better right? They even had all the amenities we could need, including cooking and toilet facilities. From Adder Rock, we hiked East along the coast, scampering over rocks and walking through kilometers of pristine beaches all the way to Main Beach.

Setting up camp

IMG_5215

Done! Our home for the next 2 days

IMG_5233

… with the awesome beach view

IMG_5230

Settled in and having lunch! Yes, Mike has a portable stove, pots and pans, and everything! Sausages, hard boiled eggs, bread, strawberries… yum!

IMG_5227

First selfie of the trip!

IMG_5228

After lunch we headed out to explore North Stradbroke Island.

We started with walking along the roads where we passed by a skatepark.

IMG_5243

IMG_5234

IMG_5238

We sooned turned off the road to walk along the beach instead. First up, Home Beach (refer to map above!)

IMG_5245

IMG_5248

IMG_5253

IMG_5257

IMG_5260

IMG_5262

IMG_5263

IMG_5264

Beaches were pretty much empty except for a few families scattered here and there

IMG_5266

We’ve reached Cylinder Beach! One of the few places to swim with lifeguards.

IMG_5269

IMG_5273

Beautiful Cylinder Beach

IMG_5274

IMG_5275

IMG_5277

Leaving Cylinder Beach…

IMG_5281

IMG_5282

Mike taking a break

IMG_5283

IMG_5284a

Looking back at Cylinder Beach

IMG_5285

Looking ahead to Deadman’s Beach

IMG_5288

We saw a manta ray cruising underwater while taking a break!

IMG_5293

Deadman’s Beach

IMG_5294

Really interesting to the see the variations in volcanic rock formations and colours as you go from beach to beach.

IMG_5303

Frenchman’s Bay!

IMG_5304

IMG_5305

IMG_5307

Heading up to the road because you couldn’t really continue onward by the beach

IMG_5309

Looking back down at Frenchman’s Bay

IMG_5312

IMG_5323

As we walked along the road to the Gorge Walk, we saw humpback whales! Unfortunately, they were really far out!

IMG_5325

IMG_5326

IMG_5317

The beautiful Gorge Walk!

Breathtaking North Gorge

IMG_5333d

IMG_5333b

IMG_5339

IMG_5340

We really kept our eye out for dolphins and sharks, but only saw sea turtles and manta rays unfortunately. Still amazing though!

IMG_5335

IMG_5337

IMG_5354

IMG_5359

IMG_5362

IMG_5343

IMG_5346

View of South Gorge and further ahead, Main Beach!

IMG_5365

Endless Main Beach as far as the eye can see!

IMG_5366

We didn’t swim at all today. Decided that we would hike the coast again tomorrow and go swimming and visit Main Beach then. With that we headed back, returning to Adder Rock just missing the sunset! Boo, but that’s okay, we’ll make sure to catch it tomorrow!

IMG_5371

Getting a fire going… just because 🙂

IMG_5375

Smoked out a huntsman spider!

IMG_5380

Easy dinner! With wine, fruit and other snacks on the side.

IMG_5381

We retired to our tent early with our headlamps and spent the night playing Monopoly Deal Card Game (thanks for that Vy!) and reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Good end to our first day.

Breakfast Date @ Gunshop Cafe

After a lovely breakfast with Fiona, Kristen and Christine at Gunshop Cafe a number of weeks back, I promised that I would take Michael on my return 🙂

Earlier this year, we had dinner at the Gunshop Cafe with Mike’s sister, Meaghan, that ended as a so-so experience. Because they are well known for breakfast, we vowed to come back and try and we both finally did!

IMG_5345

Friendly, attentive service and delicious food!

Mike tried the Tasmanian smoked salmon, poached eggs, traditional kettle boiled bagel, hollandaise with greens – $18.50. What a treat to have a bagel again since being in Canada! Delicious and very satisfying!

IMG_5342

A pleased customer!

IMG_5344

I struggled with choosing between either a sweet or savoury dish, our server convinced to go sweet and decadent and I did not regret! Canadian brioche French toast, double smoked bacon, caramelised banana, candied pecans, maple syrup – $18.50. Uh-mazing. Fluffy brioche drowned in maple syrup and pecans… I love pecans! The crispy bacon really did the trick, whole combination was so tasty!

IMG_5340

Good to the last bite!

IMG_5347

We had a great time and even got some studying and discussion done. Having breakfast at the Gunshop Cafe is definitely a treat (read: expensive!) and we look forward to visiting again soon! 🙂

IMG_5346

Gunshop Cafe on Urbanspoon

Morning tennis with friends & breakfast @ Ruby Cafe

August 3, 2013

Booked a tennis court at UQ for a morning of tennis with Xuan, Amanda and Yung!

There was a lot of ball chasing and annoying players in nearby courts that day… but all in good fun 🙂

Some pictures!

IMG_5169

IMG_5167

IMG_5174

And, naturally, food must follow exercise.

We went for late breakfast/brunch at Ruby Cafe in Paddington, a delightful meal indeed!

The little tables we sat at outside had little red blankets to keep you warm, which was quite cute.

Both Amanda and I got the Torn lamb toastie with fontina cheese, green tomato relish and dill pickle, served with shoestring fries ($13). Sandwich was amazing, loved the tender melt-in-your-mouth lamb in combination with the green tomato relish. Fries were tasty with the only disappointment being… it was a gherkin not a dill pickle! You don’t understand the feeling of expecting a tasty dill pickle and getting a sweet gherkin instead… for real!

IMG_5185

Mike got the BLT with smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, house BBQ and ranch, served with shoestring fries ($13). He definitely enjoyed it, but we both agreed the lamb toastie was much better in flavour.

IMG_5186

And lastly (because Yung didn’t join us), Xuan had the scrambled eggs with tomato chili jam, sourdough and pork fennel & chili sausage ($15). Also very tasty but sausage was not nearly as spicy as expected.

IMG_5187

Didn’t step inside the restaurant so I can’t comment on the decor and ambiance but it was nice to sit outside. Service was just okay. There were multiple friendly staff members who served our table but none of them were on the ball. Request for water was forgotten as food was brought to the table and the second round of coffee never came. Eventually, we decided to just get the bill and they didn’t even realize the coffee order was never fulfilled. Maybe they were too busy, but that should never be an excuse, right?

All in all, food was definitely good enough to warrant another visit. Perhaps next time we’ll sit inside and be less forgotten! 😉

Ruby Cafe on Urbanspoon

Day 08: Singapore – Last Breakfast!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Our last day in Singapore! 😦

In the morning, we checked out of Moon Hotel and left our luggage with reception. Then we hopped on the MRT to meet up with Bing and Lihuan for breakfast!

We finally had the chance to meet up and hang out for, yay! And they took us to a great place (so sad but I can’t remember the name) well known for their delicious roti prata.

The cutest couple!

IMG_0865

Plain served with 3 different kinds of curry, including mutton. My favourite of the ones we try. Roti prata is prepared by flipping the dough into a large thin layer before folding the outside edges inwards and you can really see the layers in the plain one.

IMG_0867

Tissue prata – Sweet, crispy and delicate. Delicious!

IMG_0870

I can’t remember the name of this one, but it was one of those special-deluxe-filled-with-tons-of-ingredients that the shop manager literally forced us to get it. It was tasty but huge and quite heavy. Needless to say, we couldn’t finish!

IMG_0869

Us!

IMG_0871

After breakfast, we made our way to the River Safari… stayed tuned for tons of cute animals!

Day 06: Singapore – Late Check-In @ Vintage Inn

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It was 11:30pm and we had landed in Singapore on time, woo hoo!

Unfortunately, there were also 2 drunk guys with us who caused trouble and smoked in the toilets throughout the flight. Due to this, there was quite a delay in disembarking because the police had to come on board to take them away.

Eventually, we were through customs and meeting our driver (Manesh, I think) to take us back to our accommodation for the night. But there was another guest, also on the same flight as us. So we waited, and waited and waited. Thank god after about an hour he finally showed up and we were on our way into the city.

We were soon at Vintage Inn (right beside Banana Leaf Apolo) on Racecourse Rd. Vintage Inn is a boutique hostel that’s a little nontraditional in the sense that guests sleep in capsules. The staff are extremely friendly and wonderful! The hostel is quite new and very well kept. Everything was consistently clean and the facilities are very efficient in terms of space and design.

(I didn’t take any pictures, but you can see some here on Agoda)

The capsules themselves are spacious (can comfortably sit up) with storage space around the mattress, hooks/hangers, lights, international power sockets and built in lockers with locks.

The capsule design is very sturdy with thick walls and as a result, provides more privacy and peace. Although we were in a room full of other people, conversations taking place in other capsules and snoring at night came across as no more than mere muffles.

A simple hot breakfast and coffee/tea is also included and is prepared for you when you show up in the kitchen in the morning. It’s not anything special but certainly satisfying and a good start to your day.

Did I mention complimentary WiFi? Yep! And only a 100m or so from the MRT.

For $50/night (double bed) with airport pick up and breakfast included, it was a great deal, especially in Singapore! We definitely recommend Vintage Inn! 🙂

By now it was past 1am and we were hungry…

Next up, food! 😉

Day 04: Bangkok – Abloom!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Can’t believe it was already the fourth morning of our trip! Let me show you where we were staying in Bangkok!

Buffet breakfast provided by the hotel. Small selection, but adequate to get you going until you find some real food out on the streets! 😉

IMG_4928

IMG_4929

Pool! Always nice to have a pool!

IMG_4931

IMG_4932

Hotel had a really nice and quirky lobby.

IMG_4934

IMG_4936

IMG_4937

IMG_4938

And we’ll end the post with a selfie!

IMG_4939

On to fun touristy-yet-beautiful stuff in the next post!

Day 02: Singapore – Asian Civilisations Museum

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Woke up and checked out of Big Hotel (left our luggage there for safe keeping)! Xuan met us for a day of fun before our flight to Bangkok in the evening.

First things first, off to breakfast!

As we walked over to Bugis Village Hawker Centre, we passed by a few sights:

IMG_3431

The Sri Krishan Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

IMG_3426

IMG_3427

IMG_3430

Just a couple of steps away, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist (1884) temples in Singapore. It is a popular place of worship for devotees of Kuan Yin, the Chinese god of mercy.

IMG_3434

We soon made it to the hawker centre where Xuan made sure we tried many yummy local dishes!

IMG_3437

IMG_3448

Iced milk tea

IMG_3440

Fresh deep fried goodness! Ham Chim Peng – a savory, rolled bun with 5 spice. You Tiao, crisp light dough sticks that’s called ‘gio chao quay’ in Vietnamese. First time having it fresh out of the fryer… I am now spoiled. And the Butterfly Bun, slightly sweet and covered in sesame seeds – yummy too!

IMG_3442

This is Poh Piah, our favourite of the morning. A thin crepe-like wrap filled with stir fried turnip, hoisin/chili-based sauce, cucumber, crispy peanuts, shallots, lettuce, egg and more. Bursting of flavour and texture! Similar in style and flavour to one of my favourite Vietnamese dished called ‘bo bia‘… both very delicious!

IMG_3444

Another dish, called Chwee Kuay. Steamed rice cakes topped with preserved radish and chili. Simple and tasty, but not a standout to me. I think it’s because the rice cakes reminded me of ‘banh beo‘ in Vietnamese cuisine – except banh beo is much more elevated in flavour with coconut-based rice cakes often topped with dried shrimp, mung bean paste and fried shallots, eaten with nuoc mam (fish sauce vinaigrette).

IMG_3446

With our bellies happy, we proceeded on foot to the Asian Civilisations Museum!

On the way, we passed through Raffles City and Xuan suggested a pit stop at the Tiong Bahru Bakery for their delightful Croissant au Beurre. Crisp, buttery and fluffy – how I’ve missed quality croissants!

IMG_3450

IMG_3452

We continue on with our scenic walk, an opportunity to see the Marina Bay Sands Hotel from an angle we’ve never seen before.

IMG_3455

IMG_3457

Eventually, we made it to the Asian Civilisations Museum but didn’t go in until we took pictures of the Singapore River with Boat Quay on the other side.

IMG_3458

IMG_3463

IMG_3465

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is the first museum in the region to present a broad yet integrated perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilisations… opened on 2 March 2003. Occupying over 14,000 square metres at the newly-restored Empress Place Building, it houses 11 galleries which showcase over 1300 artefacts from the Museum’s growing collections on the civilisations of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia/ Islamic. These collections include recent acquisitions as well as artefacts inherited from the historic Southeast Asian ethnographic collection of the former Raffles Museum.

And now onto some of my favourite pieces in the museum! (I am too lazy to write out the description of each piece, but if anyone would like to know more, I will be happy to write more!)

Teak Chettinad Door (19th-20th cent) Chettinad region, Tamil Nadu

IMG_3493

Crowned Buddha in dharmachakra (11th cent) Pala, Bihar

IMG_3499

Ganesha

IMG_3504

Sandstone Yogini (11th cent) Pramara, Bijamandal, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh

IMG_3506

Schist Nataraja (12th cent) Halebid, Karnataka

IMG_3513

Gateway (Late 17th – early 18th cent) Western Uttar Pradesh or Eastern Rajasthan

IMG_3516

Nebula (2003) by Kouichi Honda, Japan

IMG_3517

Carved Human Skull (1900s) Kayan Dayak, Sarawak, Malaysia

IMG_3527

Multi-armed Quan Am (18th cent or greater) Northern Vietnam

IMG_3532

He-He Erxian (17th cent)

IMG_3549

Shakyamuni Seated in Meditation (early 17th cent)

IMG_3553

Plurality of identities of Daoism

IMG_3561

An interactive area called ‘Share Your Insights‘ that allowed visitors to answer a number of questions. These were some of my favourites.

IMG_3566

“Imagine you are about to marry a person whom you have never met. In 5 words, sum up what is going through your mind”

IMG_3575

“Imagine you are holding your baby for the very first time. What is ONE promise you would make to him or her?”

IMG_3576

IMG_3578

“Imagine you can make the world a better place, what is the ONE thing you would do?”

IMG_3579

“Imagine you were an emperor. Name ONE value you would promote.”

IMG_3569

“Imagine how you would defeat a centaur who is bigger and taller than a horse to save a bride?”

IMG_3580

Southeast Asian silver

IMG_3585

Trophy and mug

IMG_3588

Gold Malay pendant necklace with Buddhist symbols and Chinese shop marks on reverse

IMG_3608

Peranakan Chinese bridal ensemble, headband, hairpins, lapel ornaments (19th cent) Java

IMG_3612

Shroud (2011) by Jakkai Siributr, Thailand, Bangkok

IMG_3617

IMG_3618

IMG_3620

And that marked the end of our visit!

IMG_3625

IMG_3630

Next, it was over the bridge and through The Fullerton Hotel where we stopped for drinks at The Landing Point. We were a little under-dressed, but that’s okay! We sat outside and enjoyed the view anyway.

IMG_3631

IMG_3649

IMG_3650

IMG_3651

IMG_3653

Finally, it was time to head back to our hotel to grab our luggage and head to the airport for our flight to Bangkok at 5:30pm.

But not without stopping for some food! Haha, this time at Parklane Zha Yun Tun Mee House!

IMG_3655

Mmm, some deep fried wontons (but not enough filling), non-soggy noodles and char siew with a side of soup. Great end to our temporary stay in Singapore!

IMG_3656

THANK YOU FOR TAKING CARE OF US XUAN!

We’ll be back, but for now… off to Bangkok!

FULL DAY 02 ALBUM IN SINGAPORE HERE

Day 01: Singapore – Just Food!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Checked out of Meriton early to catch the bus to the airport for our flight at 9am. Getting there wasn’t a hassle at all and neither was checking in. We were soon seated on the plane and “scooting” off to Singapore!

Arrived in Singapore around 3pm and took the MRT to our hotel. Have we mentioned how much we love the MRT there? So efficient! We were only staying a night, and booked ourselves a room at Big Hotel in Little India.

Although the building lived up to its name, the rooms were small, as expected. With that being said, the room was well designed and took advantage of all available space. Oh, please add a fridge to your rooms so we can keep our yummy drinks and food cold!

Really comfortable and homey lobby of Big Hotel!

IMG_3421

It didn’t take long for us to drop our stuff off and head out for food!

After a walk through Little India, we came to our first stop: The famous Banana Leaf Apolo!

IMG_3404

IMG_3403

After reading that it is often praised for having the best fish head curry in Singapore and being a dish we’ve never heard of, we had to try!

IMG_3402

IMG_3386

Luckily, we arrived just before the dinner rush and didn’t have to line up. We were seated at a table with an iPad for ordering which is always fun! Ordered a serving of fish head curry (smallest one is for 2 people), one side of rice and a garlic naan.

IMG_3385

While we were waiting a basket of fresh, crispy (not too salty) papadums came for us to munch on. Yum!

IMG_3390

Food is served on banana leaves (on plates)! It wasn’t long before our fish head curry came out and the staff quickly came around to scoop rice onto our banana leaves. We didn’t receive a side of vegetables though, don’t know if we should’ve but didn’t mind at this point because there was too much food!

The flavours were great, very spicy! The fish head was enormous and full of meat that was tender and quite earthy. We were curious what kind of fish they used and when asked, we were told red snapper. One fish head was more than enough for the 2 of us, I wish there was a smaller portion available because we really only wanted a taste. (Had to save room in our bellies for more snacking!)

IMG_3392

The garlic naan was actually quite a disappointment. We’ve had much better naan at pretty much everywhere else we’ve ever been…

IMG_3395

IMG_3396

IMG_3397

The meal was quite expensive by our standards. With one drink each, the total bill came to approximately $40 SGD. Would we come back again? Probably not. It was great to try, but not delicious or exciting enough to make us come back. Lots of other cheaper, yummier options to choose from!

Even though we had plans to meet Xuan later that night for (another) dinner, we continued to eat on our own…

Stopped at Rochor Original Beancurd for some cold tau huay.

IMG_3405

Again, we just beat the queue!

IMG_3406

Beancurd is very similar to the ‘tau hu’ with ginger syrup I had growing up, which was always eaten warm. On a hot day, it’s so refreshing to have it cold! And for only $1 SGD! Service could’ve been a little more friendly though. The lady was annoyed with me because I didn’t speak Mandarin… that’s not my fault!

IMG_3408

There were also egg tarts that we should’ve gotten. You can see many cups pre-filled with syrup in the background. At the rate of customers were coming to buy, I wouldn’t have been surprised if all of them were used up by the end of the night!

IMG_3409

Yummy!

IMG_3410

As we continued to walk, this time back to our hotel to rest before dinner with Xuan, we passed by Le Cafe Confectionary & Pastry.

IMG_3411

IMG_3412

If you know me, you know I love bakeries. When there are signs saying “Our Award-winning Pastries,” I am all over it.

IMG_3413

We walked in and asked to buy one of each award winning pastries. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the rum balls and coffee cookies, and you couldn’t buy the pineapple tarts and soya bean tarts individually. Oh no!

The young lady working told us to buy a box of pineapple tarts instead. “There are only 10,” she said, “You will eat them all in one day!” Haha, that wouldn’t be a good thing! But because we were heading to Bangkok the next day and meeting Laura, we ended up buying a box of 10 for around $8.50 SGD.

IMG_3676

I expressed disappointment that we couldn’t try/buy the other pastries individually and she said she might have some soya bean tarts for us to try. While we were waiting for her to come back, another lady came out from the back and gave us each a pineapple tart to sample. Thanks! We just bought 10… but oh my goodness they were delicious with crumble-in-your mouth pastry and generous not-too-sweet filling.

The lady helping us came back to give us 2 soya bean tarts. Also for free! Apparently, they were not pretty enough to sell so we could take these with us – woo hoo! We saved the tarts until we got back to the hotel and enjoyed them with a cup of iced tea… so tasty. We’d never had a soya bean tart before… what a silky treat!

IMG_3415

By now it was past 11pm and Xuan’s dinner with his parents had gone on for longer than expected. Mike and I decided to hold off dinner with him and see him tomorrow instead. Early night for us, no problem!

End of Day 01!

Homemade Foods!

It’s been a while since my last food update!

We’ve been cooking a lot of the same dishes I’ve made in the past, but I have baked a few new things! And don’t worry, I only bake when I can give most of it away and share… we are not constantly eating desserts, I swear!

Rice with stir fried water spinach and pan fried tofu with hoisin based sauce and crushed peanuts

IMG_4613

English muffin with Vietnamese BBQ ground pork, homemade garlic mayo and cucumber

IMG_4617

We had many lemons so it only made sense that we make a lemon loaf with lemon glaze drizzled over the top

IMG_4619

IMG_4620

Mini puff pastries with cinnamon cream cheese, whipped cream and cooked pear

IMG_4651

Chocolate chip cookies made without butter

IMG_4668

Nacho night 🙂

IMG_4733

We bought this wonderful green tea with red bean cake at Bread Top, one of our favourite bakery chains. So tasty!

IMG_4776

Breakfast for dinner – something we haven’t made in a while – eggs benedict

IMG_4804

I made a small baked ricotta dip for the first time, pretty tasty!

IMG_4810

IMG_4811

Weekend breakfast – lemony pancakes with maple syrup

IMG_4820

Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies sprinkled with sea salt

IMG_4846

Had a little bit of gouda so baked it with some pecans and cherry jam. It looks a lot bigger in this photo than it was in real life.

IMG_4859

Made cauliflower (with a little bit of bacon) soup for the first time. Tasty, definitely something we’ll make again!

IMG_4861

Breast of love 😛

IMG_4864

Rice, breaded chicken with a lemon fish sauce and garlic glaze

IMG_4865

And that’s all for now! 🙂

Late breakfast at Eurovida

After tennis with the boys, Xuan drove us to Paddington for a late breakfast at Eurovida –  mmm, so hungry!

IMG_4707

There were no free tables when we first arrived so we were invited to sit at the bar and order drinks to start. Didn’t have to wait long and we were soon seated at a table by the window.

IMG_4697

Xuan and Kee Ping

IMG_4694

Re-hydrated with some water and then ordered some drinks for breakfast.

IMG_4698

Missing pictures, but a chocolate milkshake for Kee Ping which he said was not bad. Along with a cappuccino for Xuan and a flat white for Mike – coffees were apparently quite good!

IMG_4699

A house made iced tea for me. Refreshing and I liked the fresh mint.

IMG_4700

Loved the wooden chandeliers. Very rustic and would look great in a cottage by a lake.

IMG_4693

And then the wait for food… which took a lot longer than we expected. The service was very pleasant but luckily we weren’t starving and grumpy!

Simple Eats for Mike: 2 poached eggs, toasted sourdough bread, Italian sausage and grilled haloumi cheese. Tasty sausages although not spicy as expected!

IMG_4701

Simple Eats for Xuan as well: scrambled eggs with sourdough bread and grilled haloumi. Nice fluffy scrambled eggs and large side of not-too-salty haloumi!

IMG_4705

Kee Ping got one of the specials of the day: Belgium waffle with poached pear, maple syrup and cream. For $17, we all expected a much larger serving, with at least 2 waffles. The dish was also too sweet.

IMG_4704

I got the Grilled haloumi with poached eggs, sautèed spinach, beetroot relish, sourdough toast. Nicely poached eggs and interesting beetroot relish which had good texture but I wish it had been a little more flavourful! The spinach could use some seasoning too, a hint of garlic would’ve been very nice. Also, I love watercress salad and find it such a shame when it’s sprinkled haphazardly as garnish (as seen with all 3 of our savoury dishes). A little bit on the side with a spritz of vinaigrette would make the dish much more tasty!

IMG_4703

We also got a side of fries with aioli sauce to share. The cut and taste of fries reminded me of McDonald’s fries, although slightly healthier if that’s possible. Aioli sauce was nice and garlicky – yum!

On the way out, I saw these huge banana chocolate pecan muffins and had to get one for later. It was big and looked very appealing but unfortunately didn’t taste exceptional. Very tough consistency for a muffin and not strong in flavour. Oh well!

IMG_4708

Overall we enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. We don’t live near Paddington but if it were more convenient, we would probably visit again.

IMG_4706

Eurovida on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Caffe di Vita

Since being introduced by our friend Fiona last year, di Vita has been one our favourite places, that’s close to home, to have breakfast with friends.

IMG_4598

It was only natural that we suggested to Josiah and Danya that we meet up there for breakfast and to catch up 2 Fridays ago on May 17th.

As Mike and I were walking towards di Vita, we realized it was completely void of patrons. On the other hand, Alcove Deli & Cafe, the establishment across the street that opened since our last visit in Wilston, was buzzing with people.

IMG_4590

I guess it could’ve been a sign, but since we had always been happy with the food and service in the past, we opted to stick to our original plans and stay at di Vita.

IMG_4589

We were soon joined by Jos and Danya and after some catching up, proceeded to place our orders for food and drinks.

The cute couple!

IMG_4593

From observation, there was only one staff member on duty out front and it was clear she had more on her plate than she could handle – especially since a number of additional customers had stopped to dine by this time.

I don’t know if there’s been a change in kitchen staff but the food that eventually came out was a little sub par compared to the number of times we’ve had in the past.

Josiah had French toasted brioche with apple & rhubard compote & an orange & honey yoghurt. I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to comment on this dish. Although it tasted good, it did not look very appetizing!

IMG_4594

Danya had the simple Eggs and bacon with toast. She noted the herbed butter on the toast – unexpected but nice flavour.

IMG_4596

Mike quite enjoyed his Eggs Benedict with ham.

IMG_4591

And I had the wild mushrooms sauteed in butter, thyme & garlic on toasted turkish bread with grilled haloumi, english spinach salad, a rocket & basil pesto & shaved parmesan. Very generous amount of mushrooms and nicely toasted bread but lacking the flavour of thyme and garlic.

IMG_4592

Unfortunately, due to being understaffed, the coffees also took very long to come out… too long. Danya’s coffee actually arrived after she was done her meal.

IMG_4597

It was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and grab a bite, however, I will be slower to suggest di Vita next time. Perhaps we will give Alcove across the street a try – especially when it was so popular, their menu was appealing and their prices cheaper!

Caffe di Vita on Urbanspoon

Recent culinary delights

I have been lazy, but I have still been cooking!

Thinly sliced firm tofu marinated in homemade bulgogi (Korean grilled marinated beef) sauce. Mmm, vegetarian dinner!

IMG_4469

I made risotto for the first time, with arborio rice. It was a lot more time consuming than I expected but no crunchy rice – success! Michael gave his stamp of approval for my bacon mushroom risotto with Parmesan cheese.

IMG_4488

I saw this on Imgur. It looked too cool, I had to try it too. 😛 Next time, MOAR CHEESE.

IMG_4487

French toast made with currant bread, topped with real maple syrup and kiwis on the side. Delicious breakfast to start a day of studying!

IMG_4492

Photo #333: Real Breakfast

January 26, 2013

After an intense week of early hours at the hospital, we finally have time to sit down and have a REALLY good breakfast. Open faced sandwiches on grilled ciabatta bread with turkey breast, garlic sauce, tomato, cucumber and Swiss cheese, and a side of salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Yummy!

Happy New Year!

Michael stayed to celebrate new year’s with my family, which consisted of champagne (okay, sparkling wine), snacks and board games. Hurray!

My mom didn’t stay up late with us because she had work the next day. Instead, we celebrated with an early breakfast at Perkins before taking her to work 🙂

Like previous years, our entire family was supposed to celebrate New Year’s on the 1st at my grandparents. Unfortunately, the majority of my relatives were really sick, so our family festivities were cancelled!

I hope you all had a wonderful time with your family and friends – either out partying or just having a good time relaxing! 🙂

Past to present

Alright, I’m going to go back now and catch up on blogging about everything from my last (not including Photo of the Day) post on December 16th!

Actually, before I do that, I need to share a few pictures from November 19th! My Cau Ba (third uncle) is off work on Mondays and he made “Vit Nau Chao” (Duck in soy bean based hotpot) for lunch with my grandparents and I was invited to join. Yum yum yum, thanks Cau Ba!

Mike was up visiting Dec 18-20 and of course, we had to go to Perkins for breakfast one day! We were pretty greedy and ordered not only huge breakfasts, but sweet potato fries as well.

We also contemplated trying their ‘Cake Pies’ but decided to spare our bodies and left it at that. Dinner that night? Shawarma of course!

November 21st: Down came the snow!!

It didn’t fall as snowflakes, it fell in huge clumps!

After clearing out the driveway, my sister and I headed out to run errands. We ended up at a Rexall pharmacy where they were providing flu shots. Guess who’s vaccinated this year? You should go get yours too!

I made baked gnocchi for dinner that night… thought it turned out okay! 🙂

Halifax Day 4: Breakfast @ The Coastal Cafe

December 07, 2012

We started the Friday morning with a delicious brunch at one of Michael’s favourite places – The Coastal Cafe

Got there just before the rush and were greeted with excellent service.

We started off with drinks. I got a blueberry pomegranate juice ($1.75) while Mike got a coffee 🙂

Mike had his heart set on his favourite, the McCoastal for $11.25 that included: 2 Fried Eggs, Maple Sausage or Montreal Bacon, Havarti, Roasted Onion Compote in an English Muffin w/ Hash or Salad. It sounded too good to pass up, I got it too!

The condiment stand was behind me – I’ve never seen such a great selection! And love the use of old Perrier bottles as well.

The food came out very quickly. We were also given the option of having a little bit of both the salad and home fries rather than just one or the other.

Breakfast was delicious. Loved the onion compote and Havarti never disappoints me. As we polished off our plates, the restaurant started to fill up and become extremely busy. There were people stopping in for take out as well.

As winner of The Coast – Best of Food Awards! Best Lunch 2008, Best Breakfast 4 years in a row (2009-2012), it comes as no surprise why Michael loves this place so much. I’m a new fan!

The Coastal Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Chez Nous Cafe

With our first exam (Nov 5) down and 2 more to go (Nov 7&8), Mike and I headed down to Roma on Nov 6 for some breakfast and a few solid hours of studying.

We had paid $19 for a voucher at Chez Nous Cafe worth $48. It included 2 breakfasts or lunches and 2 drinks.

The location couldn’t be more convenient – just across the street from Roma St Station.

We walked inside expecting a limited menu to choose from as part of our deal but it was a pleasant surprise to be told that we could pick anything off the extensive menu. The prices of each item would be added up and if the total was over $48, then we would just pay the difference.

We both ended up ordering the big breakfast with a coffee and a can of lemonade. There was plenty of outdoor seating, but we opted to sit inside with airconditioning and a slightly quieter atmosphere.

The food arrived quite quickly, and it was the nicest plated breakfast we’ve had in Brisbane. Most other places we’ve been to haphazardly chuck everything onto the plate so it was nice to see a little effort into food arrangement.

The big breakfast consisted of 2 pieces of buttered toast, 2 eggs, a lot of bacon, a sausage patty, 2 hashbrowns, 2 big slices of grilled haloumi and a serving of tomato relish. Everything was really nicely cooked, which was definitely a nice change from the last few breakfasts we’ve had out.

Our dishes were promptly cleared from the table and we settled into studying. Nov 6 was also Melbourne Cup Day so it became pretty busy and loud as more people came in to watch the horse races. But that was alright, we headed home for more studying on the comfort of our couch 😉

Friendly staff, fast service, good food, nice atmosphere… would we come back again? Definitely. Even without a voucher!

Chez Nous Cafe on Urbanspoon

Photo #122: Coffee Club’s Big Breakfast

June 30, 2012

We bought a Coffee Club deal off Groupon for $22 – any 2 breakfasts off the menu + 2 coffees/teas. Finally went on Saturday! Both of us ordered the Big Breakfast: Grilled steak, chipolata sausages, bacon, eggs, tomato, mushrooms, toast and a hash brown. Yummy! But needless to say, could not finish!

The best part? The Big Breakfast regularly costs $22.90 and we got 2 plus drinks for less!