SIN/KL 2014: Cheese & Chocolate Bar at Marina Bay Sands

November 30, 2014

[Note: Sorry everyone, I’ve come to learn that the Chocolate & Cheese Bar is now closed until January 5th when it will reopen at Tower 2 on Level 55. It’s too bad because you won’t have the opportunity to visit the rooftop as part of your dining experience :(]

We highly recommend booking yourselves an indulging late night buffet at The Cheese & Chocolate Bar on the top (57th) floor of Marina Bay Sands Hotel if you have time during your visit to Singapore. Yes, it is pricey ($48/person + service charge and without wine pairings) but is a great experience! Mike and I went last year when it was still only a chocolate buffet, imagine our excitement not only for the opportunity to take my mom, but that it’s now also a cheese buffet!

On arrival to Marina Bay Sands, you need to see the hostess of RISE Restaurant in the lobby to get your pass up to the 57th floor. You need this pass not to use the elevator but to be let onto the roof terrace once you reach the top. As you walk towards the restaurant, don’t forget to take your time and enjoy the amazing unobstructed night view of Singapore and the renowned infinity pool.

We were warmly greeted at the entrance and escorted into the restaurant. The wonderful aroma of chocolate welcomes you as you enter the dining area and shown to your table. You can request to sit inside where it’s air conditioned or outside to enjoy the view. The ambiance is warm, the decor rich in shades of brown, and service friendly.

You can have optional wine pairings which are an additional $19 or $27, we opted for just teas and coffees, which were quite good! No time was wasted and we were quickly checking out the tasty delights and filling our plates.

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The set up is quite compact and small, however, lots of different presentations of chocolate on every bench.

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There is also a manned station with its featured dish made to order. Last visit, they were chocolate donuts with your choice of flavoured sugars. This time it was a chocolate banana gallette with vanilla ice cream.

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Mike and I have a system. We share one item between the two of us – that way, we don’t eat as much and get to try as many dishes as possible 😉 As you can see and imagine, there were lots of delectables!

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Such a wonderful variety of flavours, textures and presentations, really something for everyone. There were too many good ones to choose a favourite!

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These were our only 2 misses: ginger chocolate poached pear with a flake of gold on top (ou, fancy) and macarons. The macarons looked good, but had a terrible texture to them, not at all what they should be like.

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We started with chocolate, but don’t forget this is also a cheese buffet! From their info page, “The newly added cheese buffet offers 12 types of the finest cheese brought in from France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom. Cheese lovers will be treated to a spread of hard cheese, soft cheese, blue cheese and goat cheese along with accompaniments. Round up the evening from a selection of six wines specially paired with each type of cheese for a divine experience.”

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Accompaniments included a range of breads, crackers, crisps, chutneys, honeys, nuts and dried fruit.

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A great selection of blue cheeses to Michael’s enjoyment! I’m trying to acquire a taste for blue cheese, but I think I need a lot more work 😛

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Dress up, come hungry and enjoy a great night out above the city of Singapore.

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Also, don’t forget to take in the views! My pretty mom enjoyed it!

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The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, as well as the Supertree grove of Gardens by the Bay.

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Looking out from the infinity pool on the other side of Marina Bay Sands is Singapore’s skyline – beautiful!

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After dinner, enjoy a walk around Marina Bay Sands, take in the decor, enjoy the views and maybe even watch the light show! Until next time! 🙂

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DHAL: July 28, 2014 – My 27th birthday!

Thanks to my lovely sister for spending the past weekend and indulging with me! Unfortunately, it was back to the real world for me and back to Vancouver for her this morning!

On the other hand, happy 27th birthday to me! Gosh, makes me feel old! I spent my birthday in the hospital, working hard and coming home late, just like any other day because no one knew it was my birthday and I felt it unnecessary to share. Despite being alone, I received so much love from family and friends in the form of text messages, phone calls and Facebook messages – many thanks everyone!

Facebook message and photo from my sister

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Received these 2 Pandora beads from my sister. The left one is the Birthday Bloom charm for my birth month. The left is an engagement present and called Forever Entwined. I love them, thanks Jenni!

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Cards from Mike’s parents and my sister (telling me to cheer up)!

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Facebook message and photo from Mike

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Received part 1 of my birthday gift at the airport from Michael. I’ve been wanting a fitbit for a while – it’s a bracelet you wear that helps you track your activity as well as sleep, thanks love! I haven’t started using it yet because I have no one around to discuss it with at the moment. I’m also excited for part 2 of my gift – soon reunited!

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Facebook message and photo from my mum!

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Before I left Ottawa at the beginning of this year, my mum had already given me my birthday gift in advance – this gold heart Pandora charm. Perhaps she forgot about it and that’s why she has another present for me? 😛

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I even came home to a chocolate bar and well wishes from my housemate Lyndsay, thank you! 🙂

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My first birthday spent truly by myself away from family and friends, but I felt the love!

Delectable dinner @ Moda Restaurant

April 9, 2014

Thank you to Aunt Patsy and Uncle Dan for treating us to this special night out in celebration of our engagement, from across the world in Canada!

We had a fantastic dining experience at Moda! Even today, Michael and I still talk about the amazing food we experienced that night with Javier’s Table Experience ($85.00/person), at the strong suggestion of Trent, our server for the evening. Thank you again, we are so glad to have listened to you!

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I know, you’re probably wondering what is this Javier’s Table Experience? It is a rustic degustation consisting of 3 courses with signature dishes from the menu and dishes created from fresh seasonal produces selected by the chef for the entire table.

(Some of the dishes we received are not listed on the menu, so I apologise in advance if our recall of descriptions are not accurate!)

Our first course consisted of 5 different appetizers. I know, how amazing is that.

Top left: Fresh ceviche that was light with lovely aromas
Top right: Amazingly tender WA octopus with tropical flavours
Bottom left: Crispy chicken croquettes with Romesco sauce
Bottom right: Manolete chorizo sausage with Spanish peppers

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And also sardines! They have never been our favourite but went well with tomato salsa underneath.

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I sipped a lychee martini throughout the meal while Michael thoroughly enjoyed a couple glasses of Spanish red (Viña Tobia and Manso).

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Next were 3 amazing main courses.

Even though I asked for the name of this dish twice, I can now only remember that it was red snapper, I’m sorry! Delicious with little clams and a rich sauce containing hearty peas.

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To the left was the daily special of suckling pig with goat cheese gnocchi and ginger essence. It was hard to say which dish was our favourite of the night but probably this one. So tasty with the crackling of the pig and the soft fluffy gnocchi – yum!

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And to the right: Fowl on a bed of purple potato mash and a side of chanterelle mushrooms (I think). Meat was moist, potato mash the perfect consistency and very nicely done mushrooms. This dish was easily our second favourite!

And lastly, dessert! From left to right: spiced ice cream (similar to gingerbread), chocolate mousse and Spanish creme caramel. All 3 desserts were lovely treats to end such a filling and wonderful meal!

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Could not fault the amazing and delicious food with Javier’s Table Experience. Thank you again to Trent and the staff at Moda for such an enjoyable dinner experience!

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(Note: Our dinner reservations were made with a 50% off Dimmi special, we couldn’t pass up such a great deal to revisit Moda for a second time. You can read about our previous visit here

Moda Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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:

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!

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

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Happy in his seat under mood lighting.

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Dinner was quite tasty, I was impressed.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Arrived at Paddington station!

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Being on the streets of London for the first time!

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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! 😛

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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. 

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

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And of course, champagne for take off 🙂

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Good bye London!

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

Wine and more champagne

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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

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Assorted bread roll served with butter

Appetizer: Seared scallops with noodles

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

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

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

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Seasonal fresh fruit

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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

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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).

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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. 😛

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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!

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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.

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

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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!

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

Soon landing in Beijing!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Otherwise a relaxing layover!

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View from the lounge

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Heading to our boarding gate!

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Michael enjoyed a frosty mug of Tiger beer, of course

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

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

Last batch of random moments in Canada!

I made macarons that tasted like the ones you get at the store! Their feet weren’t as pretty but white chocolate green tea… how delicious does that sound? Unfortunately, I was only able to make them successfully 1 out of the 3 times I attempted this break.

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Some of the chocolate truffles I made this year as Christmas presents for family and friends. Flavours were: Cocoa covered dark chocolate wasabi, sprinkle coated hazelnut milk chocolate, and Toasted almond orange white chocolate.

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Shawarma Palace with Mike on Boxing Day! Could not believe that I ran into Jason and Max there as well, exactly one year ago I was in the same place having shawarma with them (and Amin)!

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“This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and/or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

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Walked out of my driveway one day to hear something hissing at me from above. I was concerned it might jump down and eat my face like a zombie.

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My mom made deeelicious deep fried choux rolled in butter and dipped in a mixture of salt and sugar. Haven’t had these since 2007!

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And later she also made choux crème. Baked with a custard filling, yummy!

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Mike and I got matching Sunskis! We are quite happy with the quality and service and can’t wait to rock them at the beach! Check out their Facebook page HERE

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My sister got me some amazing wild mushrooms from West Coast Wild Foods for Christmas. I used them and altered the recipe it came with (didn’t have all the ingredients it called for) to make some delicious cream of mushroom soup. So tasty!

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Blackberries with freshly whipped cream! And they were so sweet!

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I got my nails done for the first time, with my sister! Shellac, I quite like this… too bad I can’t afford doing this all the time!

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Promised I would make a quiche and I actually did! With mushrooms, bacon and onion… not bad, got the stamp of approval from my brother!

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Mmm, McDonald’s McGriddles for breakfast, I will miss you! Delicious combination of maple syrup pancake sweetness sandwiching egg and the saltiness of cheese and sausage!

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Saying farewell to Franklin who’s going to be living with Anthony for a few months! My mom will miss her ‘grandson’ quite a bit!

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The day after New Year’s, our furnace died, on one of the coldest days! The temperature in our house quickly dropped to a frigid 13.5C before we finally got running again. Apparently our flame sensor needed replacing – ugh!

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This bird has been sitting by our kitchen window for as long as I can remember. My dad brought it home one day and I thought a real bird had flown in and perched on our window the first time I saw it. Dang, it’s an ugly bird! But, memories 🙂

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And that’s the last of my random moments in Canada… I believe! 🙂

 

 

Opening presents!

We have always opened our presents on Christmas night, as opposed to Christmas Eve night or Christmas morning like many of our other friends. Our rationale is that it allows us to collect all our presents in accordance with our get-togethers and we can open all our presents together at the end of the day.

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Family photo in onesies!

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It was really lovely to have Michael be able to join our entire family for the day, and then with us at home while we exchanged and opened gifts. ❤

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Friends and family were more than generous this year, thank you so much! Adults have always given the children ‘lucky red pockets’ so I received one from each of my mom’s 4 siblings.

And now opening presents!

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My mom is the oldest so she gets to open presents first 🙂

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Ou, Pandora beads!

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Hugs!

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Me too, me too!!

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My siblings pitched together to get me a great camera tripod, something I’ve been needing and wanting to buy for years. Additionally, they got me a whole bunch of other gifts! Thanks guys!

Yay,  a charm to add to my Pandora bracelet from my sister. Her note reads: In Celtic culture, ivy is symbolic of growth, renewal, connection, friendship, and opportunity.

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Have you ever tried chocolate flavoured cola? Because let me tell you, it’s pretty horrific. Don’t be fooled by the empty bottle, it’s because the syrupy liquid ended up down the drain!

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Mike and I always watch videos from the YouTube channel called RRCherrypie. We love watching them put together these Japanese mini edible meals and find the sound of mixing powder so soothing against the plastic tray. You will only understand this if you are familiar with the product and the videos, don’t laugh at us! Can’t wait to try this out! And in the realm of Japanese food, I also received some mini green tea and passion fruit KitKats! I would love to one day try all the KitKat flavours available in Japan, but for now, I can cross 2 off my list! They were nice, but I still prefer the chocolate one more.

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Received soooo many sweets like you wouldn’t believe. Including these Purdy ‘s Truffles and Goji Berry bar, also from my sister! Apparently, Purdy’s is a brand well known for its quality of chocolate but is not available outside the West coast, I will enjoy these!

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Caffeinated chocolate bars from my bro. Chocolate and caffeine, what more does a med student need?

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My mommy gave me a lovely fuchsia dress from Tommy Hilfiger, a nice addition to my clinical wardrobe! Also, a super comfy pair of black pants that I actually wore onto the flight home!

Michael gave me a Wilton piping set, something I’ve been wanting for a long time, thanks my dear! He also gave me a camera accessories kit but we decided to return it as it too came with a tripod, which my siblings already covered.

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Teavana teas from my cousins Janet and Kevin, will enjoy trying them and adding them to my tea collection! They also gave me a French Press which I didn’t take a picture of.

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Colette and her husbane Pete are old friends of my mom, look at the gorgeous card we received from them. Not to mention gifts!

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She even gave me gifts! A Burt’s Bees gift set with a lovely travel bag that I’m actually using for my flight bag. It’s cute, small and fits everything I need! Also a bracelet from Twilight Jewelry.

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Michael’s parents gave me a bagful of goodies, including a long and light snake-print scarf that I used repeatedly on the flight home! I think it will be perfect for Brisbane’s mild winter – Thanks Caroline and Greg!

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Every gift I receive, big and small, is valuable and sentimental to me. I hope you don’t mind, but I am not blogging about them to show off but to document these memories so that I may look back and read about it in the future. ^_^

This year’s Christmas was super special to me, in many ways, which perhaps I will elaborate on in a separate post. The time I got to spend with my family and friends, although short was very much treasured, especially because I may not be back in Canada for next Christmas. Thank you everyone for your love, time and generosity!

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope that wherever you were and the company you kept left you with joy and happiness!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 25, 2013

For as long as I can remember, the entire family has gathered at my grandparents for Christmas day. We always have lunch, complete with 2 turkeys and a plethora of side dishes and dessert. Food is followed by a large break filled with napping or catching up or board games with many laughs. Then evening rolls around and we have our second turkey meal of the day – leftovers from lunch!

This year was slightly different from previous ones. We had THREE turkeys. And a non-family member, Michael, joined the family festivities for the first time.

3 turkeys!

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Plating up the side dishes

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Uncles carving the turkeys

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Almost there

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Yay, eating time!

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In the past few years, as we get older, the cousins have been trying to do something a little different for special family occasions. You might remember at my grandpa’s birthday a few weeks ago, all the kids had lanyards stating their name and birth order. Other occasions have included colour coordinating outfits.

This year, my sister designed t-shirts for all the kids, including Mike. I think they turned out well, what about you? And surprisingly, all the cousins wore their t-shirts the entire day, as opposed to changing out of them once photos were taken. Thanks guys!

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Trying to replicate our faces

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Silly faces

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Isn’t Mike such a lucky man? 😛

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Playing games as soon as we finished eating!

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So much laughter and craziness playing ‘Heads Up’, Ellen Degeneres’ game that we played similar to charades.

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My grandparents! Probably watching our shenanigans!

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When it comes time for presents, the grandparents always receive theirs presents and cards from the grandchildren first.

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Then my grandparents will give children either a lucky red pocket with money inside, or a small gift each. This year, however, my grandpa decided to do something different – 2 raffle prizes for the kids. Each prize box contained tons of edible goodies with specific instructions to share with the other kids. Win win for all!

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And of course, my grandpa always arranges prize draws for the adults. Sadly, our family (the 6s) has never won one of my grandpa’s raffles! The 2 family were, again, the lucky winners!

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All the cousins participated in a gift exchange this year! Since we are all poor, we agreed to the challenge of buying one item from Dollarama for this gift exchange, with the option to steal presents. Worked out nicely and provided a bunch of fun!

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And some of the cousins participated in our first cookie exchange! Such a great idea and so many cookies to munch on for days. Can’t wait to do this again!

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There were 9 cousins who participated in total and we decided to do batches of 5 cookies as opposed to the traditional dozen. Good idea, because we would’ve had A LOT of cookies to eat.

Kim with her cookies. She attempted to make cookies which included fresh pomegranate syrup but they didn’t quite turn out, mainly because she didn’t use a recipe! She decided to make up for it with cute little bags, thanks Kim!

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Christine with her colourful and tasty pinwheel short bread cookies!

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Janet with fortune cookies!

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Jenni with her shortbread and sugar cookies, with super fancy packaging

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Andy going with the traditional chocolate chip cookies

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Flora and her decadent peanut butter cookies!

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I made some orange cinnamon cookies with cranberries and white chocolate chips!

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Mike and his triple chocolate candy cane cookies – so chocolatey

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Lilian with her impressive and massive red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting

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So many cookies!

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The haul!

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When our tummies finally made some room, we had dessert! Blueberry and cherry no-bake cheesecake made by my mom and Vietnamese Creme Caramel (flan) made by my Aunt 2! Yum yum!

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And of course, finally as always, some family photos.

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More Christmas photos HERE

This is quite late, but I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas with their loved ones as well! ❤

Random recent moments

As I mentioned in the last post, I haven’t done much in the last 3 weeks but there are a few things to share!

My dear friend Amanda gifted me with lovely chocolate covered sultanas by Melba’s and a bottle of Chenin Blanc (Coriole Vineyards), both presents from South Australia. The chocolates are rich, smooth and delicious and of the course, the wine was very tasty. She even wrote a really touching note… just because she’s an awesome friend and is always thinking of other people. 🙂

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Having some of the chocolates and salted cashews = winning snack.

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Craving for Korean food led us back to our usual spot – Madtongsan II for dinner on Oct 16!

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Oct 19 – Could not resist the great lunch specials at Wagaya. Went for my new favourite dish, tonkotsu ramen, so delicious! Even comes with dumplings and an amazing bowl of fried rice!

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For dessert, we chose to share the green tea cheese cake with green tea ice cream. Have been wanting to try this for a while but probably not worth getting again.

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Mike’s squishing me! Long but fun and extremely worthwhile days in hospital this rotation. But sooo tired when we finally get home, not much studying gets done.

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Yoni was in town from Nambour and staying with us Oct 19-20. We went to see Gravity which was good, although I was glad we didn’t see the 3D version because I think I would’ve gotten motion sickness. And we never go without food! My favourite wedges from Beastie Burgers and burritos from Guzman y Gomez, yummy picnic!

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I ordered a few BB Cream replacements recently, and look at all the amazing samples I received! All well known Korean brands too… can’t wait to try some of these out, especially the Ice Mask!

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Boiled quail eggs with some salt and pepper – delicious snack!

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How do you cut a pineapple? This is how I learned from my mom, least amount of pineapple wastage!

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Yummy! Honeydew melon with pineapple and lychee – can’t go wrong!

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Tried frozen yoghurt for the first time not too long ago – how delicious! Biscotti and coconut pandan flavour with fruits – yum!

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A new favourite in our house, basil & blueberry gin and tonic – try it! Very tasty 🙂

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Home made food update? Here are a few things!

Crispy oven baked sweet potato fries

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Creamy mushroom soup – delightful!

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More mango sticky rice with coconut cream, mmm

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Vegetarian pasta salad with Greek yoghurt based dressing

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Pear cupcakes with passionfruit icing for the students in my group

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Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing and carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing as thank you gifts for my med team.

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Catching up @ Chocolate Pavillion

August 25, 2013

Sunday date to finally catch up with Nuangi!

Mike and I suggested a chocolate cafe we had seen during previous visits to South Bank – Chocolate Pavillion.

The place was lovely and we immediately liked the spacious sitting area and no lineup as you often see at Max Brenner. The menu had an extensive variety of drink and dessert options, most appealing and within comparable price to other chocolate dessert cafes in the area.

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It didn’t take us long to make up our minds:

Nuangi chose the Sizzling Macadamia Brownie ($12) – A deliciously decadent Belgian chocolate and macadamia nut brownie. Served with gelato and smothered in hot chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce was poured over the brownie at the table and sizzled away on the hot plate, unexpected pleasant surprise!

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Mike couldn’t resist ordering the Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Toffee Sauce ($9) served with chantilly creme. Mmm, moist and sticky!

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And I decided on the Triple Chocolate Parfait ($9) – Three delicious layers of milk, dark and white chocolate. What better option to maximize the variety, tastes and textures of chocolate? So decadent!

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We all definitely enjoyed our tasty desserts!

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Unfortunately, despite the good food, we experienced what many others have complained about on Urbanspoon. The service – or lack thereof. Chocolate Pavillion offers ‘table service’ that unfortunately doesn’t live up to its definition. Requests for water went ignored and food was dropped off without a single follow up to see how things were going. It’s fine, we survived. But honestly, why not just make it self-service like so many other places and save yourself trouble?

Would we return? Yes, definitely. The atmosphere and food were both very nice, not to mention a good place to get some studying done. We look forward to trying other items on the menu. Hopefully their service improves in the meantime!

Chocolate Pavillion on Urbanspoon

Another year older…

Thought I should finally blog about my 26th birthday which was last month on July 28 – ah, I’m getting so old!

My birthday was very uneventful. I stayed at home all day and lounged on the couch, which was really just what I needed! 😀

For dinner, Mike made yummy chicken Kiev with potatoes and vegetables and chocolate cupcakes! I didn’t plan an event or do anything with friends, but perhaps next year!

Wasn’t expecting anything, but I even got presents…

Really cute wrapping from Mike, he was very impressed at his handiwork. Even the bow was handmade 😛

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Mike added 3 charms to my Pandora bracelet: Suitcase + Aeroplane, both representing each other’s travel buddy, the travels we’ve done together so far, and the places we’ll see together in the future. He also gifted me the Medical charm, also known as the Caduceus charm. Yes, we are both aware that the Rod of Asclepius (and not the Caduceus symbol) is the proper symbol of medicine!

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My sister sent me a package from Ottawa that contained a dinosaur card in an envelope that roared (sounding very much like my brother) when you opened it.

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Inside the card were my presents! Awesome gift certificates, you should take a look!

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In addition, I also received a bunch of Reese peanut butter cups! Delicious and not easily available, or cheap, in Australia.

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Unfortunately, they were all squished and looked like this!

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My brother ordered me a set of ceramic knives – nice! I’ve always wanted a few of these, and now I have some! He even gave me the “never sharpen ceramic knives” speech 😛 Yes bro, of course I know that already! 😉

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Thanks family!

And as a bonus, some gifts from Kristen! Cute heart-shaped silicone cupcake liners and a paper set with little decorations! Also a lovely brown skinny belt with a gold feather buckle and a turquoise clutch/wallet. Thank you my dear!

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Oh, did I mention my family back home had a party on my behalf? Thanks guys! Although I think you used my birthday as an excuse to eat cake 😛 Just kidding! Thanks for remembering me and including me in the family!

Here are some pictures from the “party”:

Me with my cake!

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With mum and the siblings

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And Di Nam (mum’s sister)

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And altogether!

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Siblings and Janet

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Cutting my cake

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Even get to eat cake!

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Bonus:

My siblings, their pets, and cousin Janet

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We’re having a baaaall!

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26 years old… gosh time is going by too quickly! I wonder what this year will hold? 🙂

Indulgence at Monty’s Chocolates

Michael and I FINALLY had the opportunity to visit Monty’s Chocolates on Friday. We had purchased an Ultimate Chocolate Indulgence for 2 ($15) voucher a while back and were extremely excited check it out.

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The shop is quaint and quiet, slightly tucked away from the bustling sidewalk. Superior chocolates from all around the world line both walls, a guarantee you can find a little something for anyone. There’s a coffee cart at the door for those in a hurry, as well as a stocked counter at the back for more options.

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Seating area is adorable with basic decor but cute character.

The chocolate indulgence included a coffee each or a pot of tea to share. Mike and I decided on sharing a cleansing pot of green tea.

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We had the opportunity to savour a small hot chocolate each and share 6 salted caramels as well as 4 handmade European chocolates.

The 4 chocolates we received were (from left to right) Macadamia Brittle, Lavender & Wildberry, Strawberry & Marscapone, and Vanilla Delight.

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The hot chocolate was dark, thick and decadent. The best part was that it was not overly sweet – yum!

The salted caramels by Artison du Chocolat were so delicious! Like nothing I’ve ever tried. A crisp dark chocolate shell, covered in cocoa with an explosive burst of liquid salted caramel inside – amazing!

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The Macadamia Brittle was creamy, light, and subtle.

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Although I’ve never been a fan of floral flavours, the lavender flavour in the next chocolate was not overpowering and I loved the tartness of the wildberry. The Vanilla Delight tasted exactly like its name.

Michael’s face of happiness 😛

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Strawberry & Marscapone was our favourite!

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We enjoyed everything we tried, and would’ve tried more if we didn’t already have dinner plans 😉

Steve, the owner, was present and introduced all his customers to little samples of chocolate. We got to try a little bit of dark chocolate from Madagascar (should’ve asked what percentage!). Although Mike and I were happy to be left to ourselves (not often we get to ‘go on dates’ in surgery), I’m sure Steve would’ve been more than happy to share his knowledge and answer any questions we might have.

This really cute elderly gentleman came in shortly before we left. I had to grab a picture!

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Monty’s Chocolates is a wonderful little shop with amazing chocolate from all over the world. Service is welcoming and It’s a great place to catch up with friends over some tasty chocolate, or even grab something on the go. We’ll definitely be back and I know exactly where to go when I’m looking for a gift of truly special chocolates!

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Thanks Monty’s Chocolates for a lovely beginning to the weekend after a long a week 🙂

Monty's Chocolates on Urbanspoon

High Tea at Coffee & Chocolate

Christine Q invited me out for a high tea and study date at Coffee & Chocolate, how could I say no? 😉

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We met last Sunday at Queens Plaza with reservations for 12pm and were told we could each select any of the hot or cold beverages.

Christine chose a Callebaut Strawberry Hot Chocolate, which was served on a stylish dish with some marshmallows.

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I got a refreshing Mango, Guava & Lychee Frappe.

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We chose seats by the window and didn’t have to wait long for our high tea, which came out on 2 tiers – savoury on the bottom, sweets on the top.

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Pretty Christine with the goodies!

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Started off with the savoury goodies – chicken salad finger sandwiches, puff pastry triangles with a meat filling, mini quiche tarts, and bread rusks with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Quality of food was good, everything was tasty but presentation could use a bit of work!

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On to the sweets! Warm soft scones with jam, butter and whipped cream, chocolate cake, strawberry bar, macarons and mini muffins (blueberry and chocolate). The desserts were all average, nothing that wowed us but they were all enjoyed. The macarons were unfortunately undercooked and the turquoise one, despite the lovely colour, had no flavour.

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For $12 a person, we had a good time and left with happy bellies to get some studying done 😉

I have to say, I was a little concerned after seeing so many bad reviews on Urbanspoon, but I was glad to have been overall proven wrong. Decent food with prompt service, hurray! Would I come back? Well, I would like to give their chocolates a try, so maybe if I’m ever in the area?

Coffee & Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge

Mike and I had big plans last Saturday:

  • We were going to wake up and study
  • Then off to South Bank, we were going to go back to Beastie Burgers and eat their delicious wedges
  • Then we were going to watch Iron Man 3 in all its glory in 3D
  • And then end the night getting fat and eating delicious waffles at Gelare.

Our plans were slightly foiled when we arrived over an hour early to book tickets for the 2:30pm show – they were already sold out. Oh no!

But that was alright, we bought tickets for the 6:00pm show instead ($8 – so cheap!). But now it left us with an extra, unplanned 5 hours of time.

We had passed by Theobroma Chocolate Lounge on the way to the movie theater and made a note to come back someday. Turned out today would be the day!

Greeted by friendly staff as we walked in and offered our choice of seats. We decided to sit inside by the open windows. Although I adore Max Brenner, I dislike how there’s always a huge line and the place is always packed. Theobroma was quiet, definitely more inviting especially because we were thinking doing some studying.

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The mirrored wall gave the illusion of an extra spacious lounge. And comfy chairs! Another good sign this would be a nice place to settle for a couple of hours.

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A very extensive menu that offered not only chocolatey deliciousness in all forms but there were savoury food items as well. A little something for everyone. Because we already had plans to eat elsewhere later, Mike and I opted for drinks only.

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Mike got a flat white. The coffee was just okay, unfortunately not much love was put into this coffee. I think he plans to stick with chocolate drinks from now on.

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And I can’t remember the exact name of my drink – and it’s not listed on the menu online. It was along the lines of an iced mint chocolate. There’s a choice of white, milk, or dark chocolate – I chose dark and it was delicious! I also liked the fact that it wasn’t too rich, especially because it was quite a large drink. The chocolate design on the inside of the glass was an additional nice touch. Not to mention I could scrape and eat it as well. 😛

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We studied for a few hours and never felt pressured to leave – thanks Theobroma!

They also have an impressive display of chocolates (approximately $2-3/each) at the counter.

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We bought 2 on the way out: Pineapple caramel and Creme Brule. Could not taste any pineapple or caramel flavour of the first one. The chocolate was also dry which made us think it had been sitting around for too long. The creme brulee, however, was super tasty.

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Good prices, friendly service, quiet ambiance, and lots of choices to choose from off the menu. We will be back! … But not for the coffee 😛

And the rest of the day went exactly as planned. What a great day!

PS: If you haven’t seen Iron Man 3 yet… watch it. You won’t be disappointed 😉

Theobroma Chocolate Lounge on Urbanspoon

Max Brenner, double rainbow and pretty skies

Our last treat out with Meaghan in Brisbane – Max Brenner (one of my favourite places) for dessert after our amazing dinner at Next Door Kitchen & Bar!

A very happy girl with her Toffee Choc-Nut Waffle – little pots of melted chocolate can bring such joy into people’s lives!

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Mike and I shared the Spectacular Choc-Fudge Brownie Sundae (with additional caramel sauce, haha). I don’t know how people finish this on their own – sugar coma!

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Silly face!

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Walked out of my house the other day and groaned aloud because it was raining and because it was so early in the morning. On the way to the train station, the rain stopped and this is what I saw – double rainbow all the way across the skyyyy!

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Some days, I make it out of the clinic and home before the sun goes down. When that happens, I get the chance to see pretty colours and bats flying across the sky.

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Other days, I have to walk home alone in the dark 😦 And by the time I get home, my brain and body are too tired to do anything but eat and sleep.

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These don’t belong anywhere

A few pictures from here and there in the past few months that don’t belong anywhere in particular! Still wanted to share them though 🙂

March 02. Homemade crispy chicken tossed with a garlic/fish sauce glaze, salad with fresh peaches and rice – yummy dinner!

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March 03. Saw Butter Baking‘s post on Peanut Butter Swirled Healthy Fudge Brownie Bites and readjusted it a little to suit what we had in our pantry. Tasted SO RICH, I couldn’t believe there was no butter/oil involved. Will definitely make them again 🙂

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During Orientation week (March 20), we reviewed our fundoscopy (looking into the eye using a special device) skills. The best way to see the optic disc (where your nerves come out at the back of your eye) is with your pupil dilated. Most people had an eye dilated with Tropicamide so we could practice on each other. We then ended up walking around squinting one eye in the sun (sensitive!) because no one brought sunglasses. Or, like me, ended up having a hard time seeing/focusing properly for a few hours! Good fun though 😛

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Lunch and study date with Mike (March 21) at The Coffee Club in Fortitude Valley. Buy a drink and get a meal for $10. Iced jasmine green tea – so refreshing!

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Chicken club sandwiches for the both of us with fries and salad

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Nom nom nom

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Went into an art/bookstore with Yoni before our last exam and walked out with this $1 mug. I am the best.

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Mum saved these chocolates from Christmas to bring to Vietnam to give to Mike and I when we met up in Vietnam. Worth it. These are so tasty! And crunchy!

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Photo #257: Almond Coconut Brownies??

November 11, 2012

We are trying to clean out the fridge before going back to Canada on Sunday. We have around a dozen eggs to use up. Naturally, that meant Eggs Benedict for breakfast (which is always a delicious treat) and baking in the evening. With a few other ingredients we had lying around, I decided to attempt creating an almond coconut brownie recipe. Moist and yummy!

Part 2: A Delightful Wednesday

October 24, 2012

Mike and I love food and wish we could go out all the time. Unfortunately, we are both poor students so can’t afford it! However, we do try to take advantage of as many great voucher deals as possible!

And tonight was such a deal: $69 for a 6 course degustation meal and a glass of bubbly for two at L’Academie! We had a good time there last year and thought it would be worth going a second time!

The week before we emailed in a reservation but never received a response. A little unexpected, but nothing a quick phone call couldn’t solve and we were booked for 7pm.

Always a nice change to get dressed up for a night out! 🙂

Upon arrival, we were shown to our table and our degustation meal was explained to us. Unfortunately, the server did not speak very good English and also did not know the menu very well. We missed half the things she was saying and couldn’t really ask her any questions regarding the food (Ie. she didn’t know what a palate cleanser was). Throughout the meal, we had 3 servers, which I find out and just adds to potential confusion.

The bread had been put out at our table ahead of time, but we also noticed the bread in the kitchen was just sitting in a basket, also exposed to air. Dry, crusty bread isn’t very nice! And the same problem we had the last time.

I remember the first time I was at a banquet and had more than one set of cutlery – gosh I was so confused, haha! Certainly know better now 😉

Hey dear!

We had a view of the kitchen from our seats

First course: Oyster 2 ways: Bloody Mary and au Gratin

I’m not a fan of oysters, especially raw oysters – but I figured I must try! Michael thought they were quite delicious but I simply couldn’t get past the aftertaste of raw oysters. The other components of the dish were good though! What I disliked: the undressed, out of place julienned carrot and onion. I also wish the chef had separated the oyster from the shell. Would make things a lot easier and look more appealing if patrons could just go straight to slurping the oyster!

Second course: Fried tofu with some Asian styled sauce with a side of salad.

Tofu was way overfried. Crisp but completely dry. Not enough sauce also made the dish quite tasteless, and I normally love tofu. And again, with an undressed and haphazard salad, this was our least favourite dish of the night.

By this time, they had not given us our glasses of bubbly so we had to request them. Unfortunately, it was a different server and he too, did not speak English well and couldn’t understand our request. It was fine though, as he asked the lady who initially seated us and she promptly brought them out. Seems like they just forgot, so no problem! In case you were wondering, it was 2 glasses of Charles Vienot Brut Cuvee.

Third course: Strawberry & citrus sorbet (We think! Couldn’t figure out if it was citrus or just lemon)

Nice but a little too sweet for a palate cleanser! I found the portion a little large as well.

Fourth course: Chicken skewer on a bed of greens

Chicken was amazing. Crisp on the outside, tender and perfectly cooked on the inside, I wish there were 2 skewers! The salad was a little weird for me, again. Raw zucchini skins are definitely not the tastiest things you can put in salad

Fifth course: Thyme and garlic pork fillet on Paris mash, saffron carrot & Blaukraut (got the full name off the menu on the counter beside us)

A very hearty dish, we were definitely getting full now! Pork was perfectly cooked and made me wish there was more than 3 slices and less mashed potatoes! The sauce was so overpowering (tasted mostly of Worcestershire sauce actually) that it made the Blaukraut (German braised red cabbage in red wine) seem like a really odd and weak-flavoured addition to the dish. Nevertheless, still quite tasty.

Sixth and last course: Choc Hazelnut Gateau

Yummy! The other time we had dessert here, it was a crude and dry brownie. This cake (even though it was precut and refrigerated) was moist, decadent, full of hazelnut crunch and the serving size was enormous! I would’ve been more than happy with a piece half that size, but who was complaining!

With our bellies bursting with happiness, we said thank you and headed home 😀

Overall, we had a good experience. Staff were friendly but really need to work on learning their menu items and ingredients. Some dishes were quite tasty but we hated the undressed filler salads that came with many plates. Dessert was super generous and delicious which ended the night on a high note. We understand L’Academie is a training restaurant, and with such mixed reviews on Urbanspoon, we definitely did not walk in with any expectations.

Will we come back?

For a good price we would. But I think we’re more interested in trying out a new place next time.

L'Acadamie on Urbanspoon

Part 1: A Delightful Wednesday

October 24, 2012

Met up with Christine for study date – lunch at Petit Four in Wintergarden Queen St Mall. Christine had a ‘tasting’ voucher – $15 for the 2 of us which I thought was definitely worth it!

I had read a number of negative reviews on Urbanspoon but was quite happy with the pleasant service! We were patiently instructed on our options and what we could choose:

  • 2 hot drinks (approx $5/ea value) – I chose a hazelnut chocolate milk while Christine got a strawberry mocha. My milk was nearly hot enough to even melt the chocolate so I ended up with a clumpy chocolatey drink. Fortunately, it still tasted good.

  • 2 chocolates ($3/ea value) – Wild passionfruit for me and a rose shaped fudge for Christine. Yummy chocolates!

  • 4 small macarons (approx $3/ea value) – Pistachio and citrus for me, strawberry and pistachio for Christine. I really enjoyed these but haven’t had them enough to know if these would be considered ‘great’ or not.

  • 1 tart (approx $5/ea value) – Lemon meringue. Nothing special but tasted good.

  • 1 square (approx $5/ea value) – Chocolate mud cake. Didn’t really like this – barely enough chocolate flavour and not very moist – definitely not a ‘mud’ cake.

  • 4 finger sandwiches – We got one of each flavour: egg & dill, chicken, tuna and tomato/cheese/ham. Again, nothing special but they were good!

Overall, the food was quite decent. And really, how could you complain when you paid $15 for all of that food, in Brisbane?

There were also numerous people who came to redeem the same voucher (which expired the next day). I was amazed at how impatient and stuck up some customers can be. Hello?! You chose to be cheap and purchase this great deal… what on earth are you so high and mighty about? Some people really need to learn to be a little more respectful!

Anyway, Petit Four is located in a corner of the mall so you don’t expect much. But they do have a cute environment with  clear plastic chairs and little tables (seat 2 or 4) as well as clear stools for 2 big counters for customers to sit at. We set up shop at one of the counters and ended up staying for close to 5 hours, mainly studying with some chit chat 😉 Not once did we feel pressured to leave and the tasting definitely filled us up for a while!

Would I come back? Yes! But only when I’m not so cheap and poor… 😛

Petit Four on Urbanspoon

Finally got home around 5:30pm to these! So pretty!

From this guy! 😉

We had a dinner date that night (you’ll see in Part 2!) so he decided to get me flowers… awww, so sweet!

Thanksgiving lunch at Mario’s

October 14, 2012

Mario invited a bunch of us over to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving… it was amazing 😀 Everybody brought such delicious food… let’s see if I can remember everything:

  • Mario – roasted pork belly and duck fat potatoes
  • Mike & Sandra – Meatloaf and apple tarts
  • Yoni – Sweet potato salad
  • Janet & Ben – Mac&Cheese and green been salad
  • Stacy – Pumpkin pie
  • MyCo – Wings (& salad I believe)
  • Jen & Alex – Roast lamb
  • Lauren – Salad
  • Saji – Drinks
  • Ben – Pumpkin risotto
  • Sarah – Mezze board
  • Sarah & Max – White chocolate mud cake

Is that everyone? I hope so! I’m sure everybody had super happy bellies by the afternoon 😉

I wish I had taken photos, but here are a few from Mario:

Setting up the tables with only some of the dishes

One of Sarah’s mezze boards and white chocolate mud cake – yum!

Shot of my apple tarts

Group photo!

And another group shot taken by MyCo

Thanks again to Mario and everyone else for a lovely lunch!

Photo #148: More to Eat

July 26, 2012

It says this Quality Street tin of chocolates now has ‘more to share’ – I don’t know about you, but I always look for better deals to have more to eat, not share, haha! Also, this is my first time seeing an odd weight (969g) that’s rounded up to a whole number by including the weight of the packaging… weird.

Oh look at that, all gone already!

Easter Holidays

One of the things I miss most about studying in Australia is missing out on the holiday-family-togethers 😦

Easter happens to be one of my favourite times because we always have turkey dinners – my ultimate satisfaction! Sadly, I missed out for the 2nd year in a row… but boy the food looked good! Dessert looked great too… my mom and sister’s bird nests looked really neat!

Photo credits to my brother, Andy Nguy

We always have 2 turkeys – my grandpa will cook one and my mom the other

My grandpa can always be found taking pictures and recording memories at such family events

Family members

Bird nests!

Coconut jelly dessert my mum made

My grandparents always have little gifts for the grandchildren. I’m missing out again! And the grandkids always make cards for our grandparents at all the festive gatherings.

FULL EASTER ALBUM HERE

I didn’t do much to celebrate, Mike’s parents are visiting and we just stayed in and watched TV together that day. And would you believe if I told you Australia doesn’t sell turkeys at grocery stores? How silly is that? Especially when they have turkeys running wild everywhere! Oh well, it wouldn’t have fit into my oven anyway…

Chocolate Truffle Balls

I’ve made these twice this year and both times people have loved them. They try to blame me for potential weight gain but believe it or not, they’re not THAT bad.

Some have been asking me for the recipe and if you’ve asked me for recipes before, I’m sure you were only disappointed. Mainly because all my recipes go something like this: “Oh, well I just go for it. A little bit of this, a little bit of that and see what works”

Well! I can do a little better this time! Sort of…

You will need:

  • Your favourite cookies
  • Anything you would like to add to the truffle filling: nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc
  • Cream cheese
  • Milk/dark chocolate for melting and coating the balls.
  • Sprinkles for decoration

Sorry but I’m very bad with amounts, mainly because I am never consistent and play cooking by ear.

  • Finely crush the cookies, the more you crush, the more balls you’ll make. One pack of TimTams (9 cookies) will make around 15-20.
  • Add in your additional fillings.
  • Melt the creamcheese in microwave, to more you put in, the silkier and rich your filling will be. For the past 2 batches I’ve made, I’ve used a little over ½ a 250g container for each pack of TimTams
  • Stir everything together until nice and smooth. It should naturally clump together but if the mixture is too liquid, put in the freezer for a few minutes before mixing again.
  • Measure out 1 tbsp balls, then roll them and put in freezer. You can make them bigger or smaller – up to you!
  • Break your chocolate into smaller pieces and melt them. Don’t overheat! Stir in peanut butter/flavour/nuts if you’d like
  • Take the balls out of the freezer. Using a fork, dip the balls into the chocolate and place on a plate lined with parchment paper or saran wrap. Sprinkle toppings!
  • Freeze or refrigerate until nice and hard!

Don’t be like me. Put more time into them and make them prettier! Haha

Foodies pictures

Life has been uneventful the past few days with nothing new to report!

My mom is on her way home from VN right now, I haven’t heard from her so hopefully her journey is going well!

In the meantime, here are a few dishes we’ve made recently:

Green curry – very in love with curry right now and probably have it too often!

Parmesan and onion baguette made into mini grilled cheese sandwiches (thanks Michael!)

Banana chocolate cupcakes – I was very happy with how these turned out. So decadent and moist – no icing needed!

Review: L’Academie Hotel (A well needed and deserved break!)

L’Academie Hotel is a training restaurant located in Spring Hill, Brisbane. L’Academie provides students of the Shafston School of Hospitality the opportunity to work in a live service kitchen and on the restaurant floor, putting into practice the skills that they have acquired in theory classes.

A couple of months ago, I bought a Scoopon for this restaurant and only used it this past Saturday. 3 course meal for 2 people and a bottle of wine for $50. $25 dollars each for some good fine dining, who can resist? After days and days of studying, it was just great to relax for an evening.

The restaurant is nicely decorated and inviting. This is from the dining area looking out towards the front door. Food being put out from the kitchen on the right, bar on the left.

The dining area. The paintings work well for the restaurant although I can’t imagine having them in my home!

Even the chandelier matched the colour scheme

We were seated immediately and a waitress came to give us menus and take our orders.

Our table – a good size for 2. That bread. The both of us had to wonder how long had it been sitting there… completely dried out, hard and brittle. We could barely cut into it without making a mess everywhere. The butter had also been left out for too long and had the consistency of mousse.

L’Academie was definitely not giving us a very good first impression. But rather than start out the evening complaining and asking for replacements, we decided to see what else the restaurant had to offer.

The entrees came out shortly.

I ordered the special – don’t remember the exact name but it came with breaded calamari and a salad. Delicious! Calamari was perfectly cooked and just the right amount of accompanying salad and sauce.

What was not pretty to see, however, was oxidized lettuce. It’s entirely natural but should never appear on a plate served in a restaurant. I wouldn’t even want it seen in anything I would serve my family, just unappetizing. Would’ve taken only an extra second to rip it off, so more care needed!

Mike ordered the Marinated Sweet Chilli Scallop & Tiger Prawn Salad with Fresh Rocket & Ginger Dressing. A seafood fan, he claimed it was fantastic. “Simply good.”

We were able to choose a bottle of wine between Tyrrell’s merlot or chardonnay, we chose chardonnay. Good wine, although not nearly worth the quoted price of $80 on our Scoopon. This bottle can be bought in the range of $15-20.

Our dishes were cleared within a few minutes of finishing but it was never intrusive. Staff was really great the entire time.

Our mains arrived in only a few minutes.

I ordered the Tasmanian Rosemary Lamb Rump on Sweet Potato Mash with Tomato, Bulgarian Fetta & Mint Salsa. Yummy! The lamb was so nicely seasoned and it was my first time trying the lamb and mint combination – was definitely not disappointed. Gravy was also amazing! The serving of sweet potato was massive but definitely delicious.

Mike had the Cold Water Slipper Lobster with Brown Rice Pilaf, Braised Leek & Chive Beurre Blanc. It was the first time either of us had heard of the slipper lobster – it’s tiny! But in his words, “So succulent and satisfying.”

With such satisfying entrees and mains, we were really hoping dessert would take it home for us. Man, were we ever disappointed! We chose to share a chocolate brownie and gosh, even I can make better brownies… from instant mix!

The brownie was nice and chocolately, but unfortunately too hard and dry. 😦 L’Academie, please don’t plate your desserts ahead of time and have them refrigerated… that is so cafeteria! I’m sure the brownie would’ve tasted at least 3x better if it had even been slightly warmed up before serving. Such is the downfall of convenience!

One of the servers kindly took a picture for us. Even getting down on one knee and proclaiming, “I think I took a good one there!” (You be the judge ;))

Thank you L’Academie Hotel for a much needed good night.

We had a great time and overall good food. Would we come back again? Perhaps, if we can get a good deal like this time! Service was great… although we had at least 4 people serve us – would’ve preferred to be stuck with one person the entire time. We weren’t too happy about certain aspects of the food as mentioned above. And lastly, the atmosphere was a little too much like a family restaurant than fine dining (although we understand it’s a training restaurant). Some music to set the mood would be nice! And maybe a separate area for large (noisy) groups 😀

Score: 3.5/5

 
L'Acadamie on Urbanspoon