Wedding Rehearsal

May 13, 2016

It was less of a rehearsal and more of a family meet and greet.

Thanks to Atong, we had a perfect location to host our wedding rehearsal. We were pretty sure that we wanted an informal get together and the rental space in her apartment complex was a great venue to a meet and mingle.

Also a big thank you to Michael’s parents, Gregory and Caroline, for their generosity towards dinner.

Although this was not the first time our families were meeting each other, not everyone had met before so it was a nice opportunity to get to know each other.

My bridesmaids were absolutely amazing with their help in making sure the night went smoothly. This even included buying and carrying cases of water and juice from a few blocks away. Believe it or not, we remembered to buy the alcohol but not the water!

My brother also brought names tags and markers, which I loved! Everyone had the chance to learn people’s names and their relationship to the bride and groom. I would highly recommend this idea to anyone with a huge family like mine!

For dinner, we ordered shawarma from… you know it… Shawarma Palace, the best place in town. Always a favourite for everyone! And for dessert, my sister made delicious lemon and s’mores squares, I made brownies.

IMG_8393

IMG_8397

We took the opportunity to thank Michael’s parents, my mom and my grandparents for their love and support. We saved our gifts for the bridal party for getting ready the following day.

IMG_9944

IMG_9947

IMG_9949

IMG_9951

IMG_9955

IMG_9956

IMG_9957

IMG_9958

20160513_193641

IMG_8730

Selfies took place… a lot of selfies.

Our 3 MCs: Elvin (and soon to be wife Jenn), Vinh and Amin

20160513_194503

3 of the 4 groomsmen! Bill, Matt, and Dan (4th is Michael’s brother Matt)

20160513_194412

My brother Andy and Kien’s (cousin) partner Samme

20160513_194136

Andy and cousins Janet and Justin

20160513_194145

With some of my family, including my grandparents, aunts and uncles!

20160513_195359

Photo with the immediate Brown family!

20160513_194243

Michael’s Aunt Patsy and her husband Uncle Dan!

20160513_194314

My sister Jenni and Michael

20160513_195431

Janet, Jenni and her partner Edward

20160513_195459

Being themselves 😛

20160513_195643

20160513_195651

20160513_195658

Justin… always ruining our photos!

20160513_195725

As you can probably tell by now, my family is… special 😉

20160513_195757

My grandparents, mum and aunt

20160513_195835

Cousins

20160513_200202

We even had props! Although mostly forgot to use them!

20160513_200357

(Note Samme’s name tag… see? Useful!)

IMG_9988

Like mothers like daughters

20160513_201409

20160513_201455

IMG_9973

Cousin love

IMG_9974

My mum!

IMG_9995

Somehow… Michael and I ended the night without a single photo together 😛 Thank you again to all our family and friends who took the time to attend, and for all their love ❤

It was hard to believe we were getting married the following day! After cleaning up, Michael and I then headed over to Four Points by Sheraton in Gatineau and called it a night. We even did a bit of much needed first dance practicing 😉 We would highly recommend getting away from everyone and spending the night before the wedding with just your partner – to have quality time together and reflect on exciting times to come!

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

Thanksgiving brunch

October 11, 2014

A tradition since moving to Australia, Mario hosted the Canadian Thanksgiving meal yet again this year. Interestingly, most attendees were Australian but who can resist a get together that revolves around delicious food and over indulgence?

The Canadian crew with Mario, Stacy, Yoni and Mike

IMG_8030

Selfies!

IMG_8029

Some of the food spread:

Tender and fragrant roasted leg of lamb with creme fraiche, courtesy of Mario

IMG_8024

Butternut squash soup and chicken pesto salad from Mike and I

IMG_8032

IMG_8019
Yoni made savoury beef filled crepes

IMG_8026

The rest of the food including: scalloped potatoes, pumpkin, beet and quinoa salad, mini quiches, and tacos. There was an array of desserts including sticky date pudding, pumpkin pie, and chocolate cake.

IMG_8033

IMG_8034

Didn’t take too many photos of food or people but good meal nonetheless! Likely our last Thanksgiving meal at Mario’s since we will be moving away in January. Happy to have held on a small aspect of home but it has never been the same celebrating Thanksgiving without family (and a stuffed turkey).

Consistently delicious food at Mon’s Thai Rarnaharn

We have eaten at Mon’s Thai Rarnaharn a number of times now, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to blog about it!

Dining in at Mon’s Thai is always a pleasure with good ambiance, friendly staff and great service. There is the option of dining indoors or outdoors (sheltered and of course, with heat), which is nice! Also fully licensed with BYO bottled wine.

The prices here are slightly more expensive than what you might expect compared to other Thai restaurants, but the quality of food is consistently great and the portions generous. We have also ordered take out a number of times – quick preparation times and piping hot – they even offer home delivery. Sometimes we find takeaway portions can be smaller than what is offered dining in, but certainly not at this restaurant!

IMG_1721

My last visit was on June 14th with Tan and Christine. The restaurant was packed for a Saturday night, with both small and large groups. After browsing through the menu, we decided on one of the banquet options as the dishes were appealing and it seemed like a good deal.

We chose the Phuket Banquet option (minimum 2 people) at $29.90 per person. This included:

  • An appetizer for each person. Either Mixed Entree (1 springroll, 1 chicken satay skewer, 1 curry puff) or Tom Kha Gai
  • 1 main dish per person. Choices were Mussamun Beef, Green Curry Chicken, Beef or Chicken Stir Fried with Oyster Sauce.
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Ice cream with chocolate/caramel/strawberry topping
  • Tea or Coffee 

We were unorthodox, had our tea and coffee before the meal because Tan and Christine were falling asleep despite being hungry. Jasmine green tea for me and decent cappuccinos for them!

IMG_1723

I now apologise, we were so excited to eat that I forgot to take photos of our appetizers until we were halfway through, here’s a curry puff for your viewing pleasure.

IMG_1725

And half of my bowl of Tom Kha Gai. For those who don’t know, it is a delicious coconut milk based soup with strong aromas of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and galangal – yum! I was first introduced to this dish in Bangkok and this definitely brought back memories!

IMG_1724

We were then served the jasmine rice and our mains.

Green curry chicken. We opted for the mild-medium level of spiciness with extra chillies on the side, I’m glad! Tender chicken, flavoursome broth and crisp vegetables.

IMG_1729

Beef Massumun (beef curry) was delicious and melted in your mouth. I am also a fan of the cashews! This dish reminded me of the Vietnamese dish ‘Bo Kho’ due to the texture of the meat and spices in the sauce.

IMG_1730

For the third main, we decided on Stir Fried Beef in Oyster Sauce. Whenever I order dishes in restaurants with stir fried beef, I always wonder if it will come out dry or awfully chewy. This was definitely not the case! Beef was easy to bite into and vegetables still had a crunch, simple dish but yum!

IMG_1731

For dessert, we were expecting one scoop of ice cream each. Boy were we wrong. 3 scoops of nice vanilla ice cream! Luckily, there is a second stomach for dessert but we seriously struggled to finish this meal. Banquet option was definitely a bargain!

IMG_1733

Other dishes I’ve had in the past and love include their Pad Thai and Pad See Eiw, definitely give those a try as well!

Definitely recommend Mon’s Thai for some of the most delicious Thai food in Brisbane!

Mon's Thai Rarnaharn on Urbanspoon

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!

IMG_0947

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

IMG_0945

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

IMG_0946

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

IMG_0951

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.

IMG_0956

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!

IMG_0959

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!

IMG_0966

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!

IMG_0964

(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

Melbourne: Dessert at Brunetti

Saturday, March 1, 2014 

After a delicious dinner at Bar Santo, Christine suggested that we have dessert at Brunetti (City Square).

She claimed it was one of the most popular dessert shops in Melbourne, how could we possibly say no? Actually, it never takes much convincing for me to agree to any form of dessert.

It was already 8:30pm by the time we arrived and the place was still buzzing with customers. (Photo below was taken the following afternoon)

IMG_9832

There was quite a decent selection to choose from, and I imagine there is even more variety during the day.

I found the layout of the dessert area of the shop a little frustrating and not conducive to both the customer and the staff. Customers just crowd in front of the display cases and when they’ve made up their mind, get the attention of one of the staff to put their order through. It would be much more orderly and perhaps quicker to have the cash to one side. That way, whenever anyone has looked at the selection and made up their mind, they can step to the side to order and free up room for someone else to step in and take a look.

We skipped out on gelato, coffee and other drinks but did get a few desserts, which were all extremely delicious!

Christine got a Tre Gusti with dark, milk and white chocolate mousse. The consistency was lovely and light, melting immediately in your mouth.

IMG_9836

Michael and I got the Rum Baba (back) and a slice of the pear and berry cheesecake (front, unsure of exact name).

IMG_9833

The Rum Baba was a delicate cake that had been soaked in rum/syrup. Although we were personally not fans of this one, we definitely appreciated the look and texture of this cake. In addition, it was neither overwhelmingly sweet nor contained too much rum. I’m sure there are many fans of the Rum Baba!

The cheesecake was fabulous. I loved that pear was the strongest flavour I could taste, which sometimes doesn’t happen in baked goods with pear. I remember the crust was neither too thick nor sweet and even had some chocolate chips. Overall, a very generous slice of not-too-sweet but wonderful cheesecake!

Brunetti is a lovely establishment to visit at any time of the day either by yourself or with company. There is a large selection of reasonably priced delicious desserts to choose from as well as savoury items and drinks. Plenty of seating area outside to watch the city go by as well. It’s too bad there isn’t a Brunetti in Brisbane, I would’ve loved to revisit again!

Brunetti 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

Life has been dull

Not too many exciting things happening, but here are a few moments!

January 13, 2014

Photo right before leaving for our first day of school! Both of us need hair cuts real bad… good thing we finally got them last week!

IMG_6477

January 24, 2014

Tan was in town from Mackay, where he is now an intern, visiting Christine so we got to hang out! We went to Sunnybank for Korean BBQ dinner at Midam, which I’ve blogged about before. Dinner was definitely delicious and filling!

We, of course, saved room for dessert! At Christine’s suggestion, we went to Meet Fresh – a Taiwanese dessert shop. And boy it was yum!

IMG_6496

IMG_6498

IMG_6499

Both couples shared a Duo-Deluxe Pudding. Ice cream, egg pudding, tapioca pearls, milk pudding and crushed ice. Not too sweet, lovely creamy pudding consistency, and the tapioca pearls were cooked just right!

IMG_6497

IMG_6495

IMG_6494

January 25, 2014

Saturday morning tennis! It was great fun, to the point that we continued playing in the rain, got completely soaked and then went for breakfast at the adjacent Saint Lucy Caffe.

IMG_6546

IMG_6544

Although we were all sore the next day, looking forward to doing it again!

January 31, 2014

Check out this interesting Christmas present Michael received from my sister, Jenni!

IMG_6577

Bacon marmalade! Looks mighty interesting doesn’t it?

IMG_6578

And look, just because it says bacon, doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you.

IMG_6582

Unfortunately, although it smelled really nice, the marmalade (which I am normally not a fan of) overpowered any flavour or taste of bacon. It was also way too sweet 😦 I wish it was a little more savoury!

IMG_6585See? I wasn’t joking when I said life has been dull. In the 3 weeks we’ve been back, these are all the “fun things” we’ve done 😛

Actually, I lied. On Friday, January 10th, we caught up with Amanda, Xuan, Sarah and Kee Ping over a lovely dinner at Wagaya!

And the following weekend, January 18th, we also went to visit Kristen, Matt and their adorable 1 month old (at the time) baby girl Abigail! She is too precious and we are looking forward to visiting them again soon. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos 😦 Next time!

There, now that’s all the fun things we’ve done… I think! ^_^

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!

Yummy delights at Macarons et Madeleines

December 18, 2013

I finally had the opportunity to visit my sister and brother’s favourite bakery in Ottawa – Macarons et Madeleines – a beautiful, warm and cozy home bakery tucked away in Chinatown that specializes in French pastries.

A semi-detached house, the first things that greet you as you enter: delicious aromas of freshly baked goods and Stephan Ethier’s friendly welcome.

IMG_6076

As it is a business run out of their home, Macarons et Madeleines does not have space for customers to sit down and eat, however, that doesn’t mean that their atmosphere is lacking in any way.

IMG_6069

A price list and guest book are set up in the foyer, Christmas decor lines the small yet spacious room, even a lovely wood fireplace.

IMG_6070

IMG_6071

Looks like there should be a cat around, but we didn’t get to meet him/her!

IMG_6074

Macarons et Madeleines offers a small selection of approximately 10 pastries on a regular basis. For macarons, only a few flavours are chosen and made each week, many of them creative adventures suggested by customers. In addition, there are others (like the chocolate almond croissant) available only on the weekends. They are also very happy to work with you to create any custom orders you might have, which is great!

IMG_6073

Stephan is a very friendly and extremely passionate patissier (read his biography here). He was more than happy to thoroughly explain the story and work behind the pastries, provide any tips and answer any questions. I did not have a chance to chat with his wife that day, but my sister tells me she is lovely and also just as friendly.

IMG_6068

After a bit of a chat and being given some information on everything available, it was difficult not to get everything to try!

IMG_6078

Christmas macaron flavours available were: pistachio-cinnamon (red), hot chocolate with marshmallow (white), and eggnog with rum (yellow) – we bought 2 of each to share ($2/each). Our favourite was the pistachio-cinnamon, having the most vibrant flavours of the 3, as well as great colour for the holiday season!

IMG_6089

Since we’ve never had a Cannele Bordelais ($3) before, we had to try. A small striated cylinder with a crispy carmelised crust and a soft custard inside – rich, creamy and delicious!

IMG_6085

Croissant ($1.75) – flaky and tender, easily one of the best ones we’ve ever had!

IMG_6083

Pain au chocolate/Chocolate croissant ($2.50) – even better than the regular croissant because of its smooth, creamy, chocolate centre, mmm!

IMG_6080

Apple turnover/Chausson aux pommes ($2.50) – most unique one we’ve tried as it is made with a velvety home made apple puree filling. I love apple+cinnamon, this one definitely did not last long.

IMG_6081

We also got a Brioche Parisienne ($1.25) which was very nice as well!

Macarons et Madeleines offers delicious French pastries Wednesday to Sunday starting at 7am until quantities last. Definitely worth a special visit, I promise you will not be disappointed! Not only will you be warmly received into the home of one of the most passionate pastry chefs, you will surely leave with amazing treats that will leave you pining for more!

Macarons et Madeleines on Urbanspoon

AYCE buffet at Eclipse Asian Cuisine

December 16, 2013

At my mum’s friend’s recommendation, our family decided to have AYCE buffet lunch at Eclipse Asian Cuisine.

A reasonable, $12.95/person + tax/tip for weekday lunch.

Our first impression of Eclipse was, “Holy, heavy doors!” But we did appreciate the eclipse decor pattern on the glass.

Joking aside, the restaurant is large with 2 main seating areas, offering both tables and booths. We were greeted at the door and immediately shown to a booth. Recommendation: hooks by the booths to hang up coats!

The decor is nice and tasteful with wood and brown furniture against purple walls with circular white and yellow accents.

IMG_6023

We arrived shortly after 11:30am for lunch so it was not surprising that there were only a few other patrons in the restaurant. However, there was a steady flow of diners as we headed into lunch hours.

Before grabbing food, I walked around to take a look at all the dishes available and take a few pictures. I was quite taken aback when an employee, I assume the manager/owner as he was in a dress shirt and tie, saw me and harshly asked, “Why are you taking pictures?!” When I replied that I like to blog and was planning to write a review, and asked if taking pictures would be okay, he gave a curt nod of his head and walked away. Isn’t it easier to be friendly?

Anyway, I quite liked the set up of the food. A symmetrical, semi-circular area with an island at the centre and 2 smaller areas off to each side.

IMG_6042

IMG_6022

The presentation of the food was elegant, smaller portions cleanly plated on white square dishes. However, I believe this also allowed the dishes to cool a little quickly.

IMG_6021

There are many meat dishes (vegetarians will have a hard time here) and a number of seafood ones to choose from. Many of the classics (dumplings, General Tao’s chicken, egg rolls, stir-fries, etc) are available along with a selection of sushi, salads, soups, and desserts.

IMG_6019

IMG_6020

Hungry for food!

IMG_6025

IMG_6030

I found my mum’s side profile funny

IMG_6036

My plate. Trying to get a bite of many dishes…

IMG_6028

Unfortunately, my tiny, sesame ball with red bean filling was still raw on the inside.

IMG_6031

And 2 of us had big chunks of fat in one of our pork dishes, not a fan. Fat is the closest piece, pork behind it.

IMG_6033

Overall, the food and selection is good. Of course, the variety doesn’t match Emerald Buffet, but Eclipse still offers something for everyone in a nicer environment. Some dishes are cooked and taste better than others. I especially liked the salmon Teriyaki and salt and pepper shrimp. The sushi is decent, although if you are looking for sushi, I would definitely recommend going down the street for AYCE at Sushi Kan.

IMG_6040

Desserts were definitely disappointing, with a small selection of fruits, jello, ice cream and pre-bought desserts. Unfortunately, many pastries/cakes were dry as they are left open to the air. Would’ve loved to see some Asian desserts as well!

With reasonable prices and food, I’m sure we will find ourselves back when craving Chinese buffet!

Eclipse Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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! ❤

Dinner with friends @ Epicurean

This is posted late, but I wanted to tell you about a delicious dinner we had at Epicurean (official restaurant of Inchcolm Hotel) back on September 17, 2013 🙂

Thanks to a weekly Dimmi Special, we were able to enjoy this restaurant for the first time at 50% off the food bill, drinks not included.

With dinner reservations for 7pm, we were greeted by the friendly staff and shown to our table. It was a quiet Tuesday night with not many other patrons except for a few I presume were staying at Incholm Hotel.

IMG_5378

Service was really great throughout the night, thank you especially to Richard for explaining the dishes and continuously checking in on us!

IMG_5376

We started off with wine and warm delicious bread.

IMG_5377

Next came the entrees which we shared between us.

Lamb Tenderloin, Pistachio Dukkah, Smoked Eggplant, Sumac Yoghurt, Lemon. Lamb was extremely tender and I especially loved it combined with the dukkah and yoghurt!

IMG_5381

½ Shell Hervey Bay Scallops, Salt Baked Apple & Onion Puree, Radish, Dill Oil. The scallops were sweet but I wish they had been seared (had absolutely no colour) and were accompanied by ingredients with a stronger flavour profile.

IMG_5382

IMG_5386

Hot Smoked NZ King Salmon Salad, Charred Potatoes, Candied Spec, Green Beans, 62˚C Egg. Smoked salmon was delicious and an interesting combination with the egg as well.

IMG_5379

White Rabbit & Mustard Fruit Rillettes, Moreton Bay Prawn Salad, Herb Brioche. I was worried, but the rabbit was tender and moist! The brioche, however, was too dry!

IMG_5385

Onto the lovely mains

I got the East Coast Gold Band Snapper, Roasted Peach, Sorrel & Green Peppercorn Cream which was absolutely lovely. The peach and peppercorn cream was a fantastic combination with the fish, which was perfectly cooked.

IMG_5387

Mike got the Pork Sirloin, Red Cabbage, Ricotta & Jamon Dumpling, Pear & Sage Emulsion which he said was, “deeelicious.”

IMG_5389

Kageen chose the Free Range Chicken (Breast & Leg), Pickled Ratatouille, Sweet & Sour Tomato Coulis, Fried Capers that she quite enjoyed.

IMG_5391

And finally, Xuan got King Reef Barramundi, Sand Crab, Tomato & Chive Mash, Sauce Nero with an additional side of Dutch Cream Potato Mash,Truffle Oil to share. The dish was good and it was interesting to try a squid ink sauce for the first time!

IMG_5390

Fortunately, with all of that, we still had room to try some of the desserts!

Mike and I shared the Belgian Milk Chocolate Mousse, Gin & Strawberry Gelee, Vanilla Crumble, Seasonal Berries. Beautifully decadent! The only thing we would point out is that the mousse was quite thick, more air would’ve been perfect but still delicious!

Kageen chose the Fruit Salad Compression, Crème de Framboise, Granita, Hazelnut Gelato as she had not compressed fruit before and found it quite refreshing. Her gelato had slipped off the starfruit in this picture.

IMG_5395

Xuan decided on the Classic Lemon Tart, Spiced Marmalade, Lime Crème that looked delicious!

IMG_5396

Thank you Epicurean for a great dinner with delicious food and wonderful service! We will definitely try to come back and visit again soon!

Group photo!

IMG_5400

Epicurean on Urbanspoon

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.

IMG_5285

IMG_5284

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!

IMG_5278

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

IMG_5280

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!

IMG_5279

IMG_5282

We all definitely enjoyed our tasty desserts!

IMG_5281

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

Just a bit of food

I haven’t done a food update since… May probably?

Not much to share since then, but here are a few dishes!

Vietnamese ground pork, ready to go into the oven! Nom nom nom. Final product was served at our post-surgery potluck.

IMG_0372

Chewy nutella peanut butter cookies

IMG_0376

We first had laksa last month in Singapore and it was quickly one of our favourite dishes. Trying my hand at homemade laksa and it was quite tasty!

IMG_5198

Chicken panfried dumplings. I love dumplings and these tasted great but they just take so long to make and get eaten so quickly! Haha!

IMG_0507

Made some perfect carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing to raise money for the RSPCA!

IMG_5263

IMG_5264

I made cheesecake for the first time! The lazy way… with a chocolate oreo cookie as a base rather than a crumbed one. Baked cheesecake with a hint of peanut butter and nutella 🙂 Got the stamp of approval from Yoni and Mike!

IMG_5271

Post-surgery dinner

(Long overdue post!)

Thursday, July 11th was day of our surgery exam – what a stressful morning!

But the day ended on a high note because Mike and I had invited all of our surgery-rotation-group over for a potluck dinner, yum yum yum!

Most people were able to come (some even with their partners) and everyone brought so much delicious food! Completely stuffed by the end of the night.

Thank you to Sarah K for taking pictures! All photo credits belong to her!

Sorry, we don’t have photos of everyone’s food!

Bacon wrapped chicken by Amanda

1077240_679516252064809_1123543134_o

Seafood paella topped with feta cheese by Tom

1074854_679516322064802_1755233087_o

Stuffed roasted chicken bought by Xuan

1074514_679516018731499_1827077661_o

Daniel bought this, I think it was sweet and sour chicken but I could be wrong!

1073111_679516285398139_1670442453_o

Thanks to Sarah for spending so much time making this fried rice and kimchi pancake, very tasty!

892758_679516458731455_729774554_o

Argh, I forgot the name of this dish, but it is a Malaysian beef curry-like dish made by Yung and his gf Chloe.

740680_679516562064778_1589481613_o

Fresh salad from Kristine and Jeff!

267138_679516338731467_1661878807_o

We provided Vietnamese BBQ ground pork balls with garlic mayo and fresh bread

242909_679515338731567_905879074_o

Let’s take a group picture guys

1074343_679517565398011_949509087_o

Guys…?

1072679_679515798731521_1800476540_o

Woo, finally! 🙂

457311_679517702064664_677316578_o

Thank you to everyone for coming over that night and bringing such wonderful food! Hope you enjoyed yourselves just as much as we did 🙂

The next day, we were off to the Gold Coast!

Day 03: Bangkok – Dinner at Gaggan!

Monday, July 15, 2013

After our little shopping adventure, we met up with Laura in the evening close to Lumpini Park for some drinks – buy one cocktail get one free! 😀

It was nice to spend more time together but it wasn’t long before we said our good-byes and parted ways because Mike and I had reservations for a very special dinner… at Gaggan, known for its progressive Indian cuisine. I know what many of you, including Laura, are thinking, “Who goes to Thailand to eat Indian food?”

Well, when it’s listed as #10 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, (#3 in 2014!) you know it’s worth it. We made our reservation back while studying for exams and were looking forward to this meal the entire trip. We had even already decided that we would be going for one of the tasting menus.

Unfortunately, it was raining and we had left our umbrella back at the hotel… and because our cab driver (which we needed for only a couple hundred of metres) was inefficient, we still showed up to the restaurant wet. It is also why we don’t have any pictures of what the restaurant looks like from the outside. But to give you an idea, it was a large white colonial-styled house with many large windows, each with warm light shining through. 🙂

We were greeted by friendly staff and shown upstairs to our table for 2. There was a sense of intimacy as we were seated in the corner but could still look out to the dining room and see the other diners. I only wished the lighting was a little bit brighter for better quality of photos 😉

The ambiance was really nice and felt like we were dining in someone’s house rather than a restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures to show you… sorry!

IMG_3783

Along with our menus, we received a ‘welcome drink,’ a passionfruit and strawberry sorbet, frozen with liquid nitrogen. We didn’t get the “flair” presentation with the liquid nitrogen being poured at the table like other diners have shared, but it was still tart and tasty.

IMG_3751

IMG_3749

We soon decided on our drinks: An Asahi beer for Mike and a frozen lychee and rosewater mocktail for me.

IMG_3756

And it also didn’t take much effort to confirm that we would be going for the 10 course tasting menu. Most courses are listed on the menu, but the unlisted ones were a nice surprise!

The meal was exceptional… and I have photos to share with you!

The first item was something we had read online from previous diners and were quite looking forward to – the Yoghurt Explosion. Rich yoghurt with black pepper submersed in an alginate bath to give the form of an egg yolk and served on a ceramic spoon. We were instructed to slide the whole thing into our mouth and just experience the explosion. Explosion indeed! An awesome burst of flavour that left us with silly smiles on our faces and looking forward to what the rest of the evening had to offer.

IMG_3757

Next was a trio served on an interestingly shaped metal plate. We were instructed to eat from left to right. The first was a white chocolate shell filled with a spiced liquid concoction that included chili. Sweet and spicy, a nice kick to start off the plate.

The next item was an edible bag made of rice paper and filled with wasabi flavoured beans and dried fruit. Interesting textures from the melting rice paper, crunchiness of the beans and chewiness of the fruit – the combination of flavours was nice as well.

Lastly was a deconstructed samosa with potato mousse on the top. Nicely flavoured, but I wish it was served fresh and hot rather than cold/room temperature.

IMG_3759

My date! ❤

IMG_3780

Our third dish was called Viagra – French Oysters freshly shucked served with kokam nectar and Indian mustard ice cream. On top of the oyster was an oyster leaf with foam. We were told to eat the leaf first on its own and that it tastes like an oyster… wow, true! Did some reading afterward to find out that oyster leaves have a slightly salty/ocean taste that highly resembles oysters – even referred to as vegetarian oysters. The oysters were fresh (actually the first one I’ve tried and enjoyed) with the coldness of the mustard ice cream immediately melting in your mouth. Yum! With slight brain freeze 😉

IMG_3764

The next dish, Egyptian Secret was spiced foiegras with spiced red onion chutney and cold raspberry foie powder. My first time having foiegras, and it didn’t disappoint. It was smooth and creamy with a slight bitterness that was balanced by the sweetness of the other components.

IMG_3767

The fifth dish, In Season was an airlight soup of summer truffles and organic waynaud peppers. With slivers of truffle on top of this delicious foamy creaminess, In Season has ruined one of my favourite comfort foods – Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup from a can. The soup was literally airy but packed full of flavour. So rich and tasty! I only wish I could eat it again…

IMG_3770

Next on our tasting adventure was Smoke It Up – river king prawns tandoor grilled and finished with fennel Kachumber, coriander foam and charcoal oil. The green garnish on the prawn was called salty finger, and we were told to eat it first. It was a surprising taste of watery saltiness, and interesting addition to seafood dishes! Mike’s prawn came out with a head and mine didn’t, one of the only inconsistencies we noticed that night. The dish tasted nice, although the salad was a little too salty. At the end of the night, this was our least favourite dish.

IMG_3772

A happy girl!

IMG_3781

What Mike had been looking forward to, Game On – Wild French quail sous-vide 6 hours with chettinaud spices tandoor roasted with pineapple chutney. Without inquiry, we were assured, “Using fingers is fine!” which gave us a little laugh. The quail was super tender and flavourful and the pineapple chutney added a combination of spicy sweetness we’d never had before. We both agreed that the chutney was a little too thick, too dark and too sweet.

IMG_3776

The last savoury dish for the night, British National Dish – chicken Tikka masala deconstructed and reconstructed curry makhani foam with traditional chicken tikka. Yes, a pretty full on dish description but it can be simplified to fewer words: Best Tikka masala ever. Really. For us at least, we’ve only eaten Indian food in Brisbane. The naan was delicious as well, we completely devoured that dish!

IMG_3784

IMG_3786

Our pre-dessert: Black sesame ice cream topped with a sponge cake. Being honest here, the ice cream was great but sponge cake was kind of weird… I think this dessert would’ve been much better as a take on fried ice cream. With crisp, fried cake on top instead 😉

IMG_3792

IMG_3795

And the finale to our night: Cinanana – banana meringue with Ceylon sweet cinnamon burnt ice cream. So tasty! The banana meringue, in terms of texture, light sweetness and flavour, really made the dish for us. There was also passion fruit gelee tubes which had a nice flavour but we weren’t a fan of the texture and thought the flavours would’ve been just as great without. 🙂

IMG_3791

After such an enjoyable meal, our only wish was that we could’ve had 2 or 3 times the portions! But alas! It was still be a great adventure!

I was adamant with Mike that I wanted to meet Chef Gaggan and shake his hand. Mike was skeptical. Chefs, after all, are busy people where their kitchen is a secret where magical things happen and not the place for customers. So I tried to prove him wrong. When I asked if it was possible to meet the chef and give him our thanks, our waitress said she would ask. She came back and said, “Yes, and he would like to give you a tour of the kitchen! Would you like to go? But he’s a very busy man, so he’s waiting for you to come right now.”

Without a second of thought I blurted, “Of course, thank you! Let’s go!” And off we scurried downstairs. Chef Gaggan met us at the kitchen entrance and welcomed us into his kitchen, asking how we enjoyed our dinner. Then he gave us a tour of his little kitchen, which although small, was highly functional with around 30 staff members coming and going. We even got to see his lab, where some of the magical creations take place.

Unbelievable to Mike, I asked Chef Gaggan for a picture with him, to which he happily agreed!

IMG_3796

Knowing he was quite busy, I still jumped at the opportunity to ask if I could snap a few pictures of the kitchen… He responded with telling his staff to put on their faces for the camera!

[Chef Gaggan has an interesting history and extensive experience, read more about him here on their website!]

I’m sorry for disrupting for your work environment! I wish I had been able to get everyone’s names and titles but I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. ^_^

IMG_3797

IMG_3798

IMG_3799

Excuse the pan, my fault for barging in and snapping away! But look at the colours! 🙂

IMG_3800

IMG_3801

IMG_3803

Mike and I had a great experience here and I wanted to share that with all of you! If you are ever in Bangkok, make a booking at Gaggan for a night of surprises. We were taken on a whirlwind of wonderful tastes, and the other great thing? That 10 course tasting menu cost a fraction of what it would in Brisbane – 1600 baht per person (+10% service charge and 7% VAT) ~$55 CAD + fees.

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.

IMG_4869

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.

IMG_4887

IMG_4889

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.

IMG_4868

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.

IMG_4870

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!

IMG_4874

The Macadamia Brittle was creamy, light, and subtle.

IMG_4876

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 😛

IMG_4877

Strawberry & Marscapone was our favourite!

IMG_4880

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!

IMG_4883

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!

IMG_4888

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

Monty's Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Burritos and Zombies

A group of us went to for burritos at Guzman y Gomez in South Bank. Food was cheap and yummy, although I definitely recommend the burritos over the quesadillas!

So serious, unwrapping burritos takes a lot of concentration!

IMG_4835

IMG_4836

IMG_4838

IMG_4840

We followed that with World War Z, which we all (genuinely) enjoyed. No comparing to the book! It was just a really entertaining and fast paced movie that had a number of humourous moments. Go see it if you want a night of fun!

And of course, we had to end the night with 1/2 off waffles at Gelare!

IMG_4841

IMG_4843

Fun night with friends! 🙂

Night out with friends @ Moda Restaurant

Xuan and Amanda joined us for a 50% Dimmi special at Moda Restaurant this past Wednesday. We had looked at the menu before arriving and were certainly excited to try many of the delicious sounding dishes.

We were immediately greeted and shown to our table. I was a little skeptical to be sitting outside on a cold breezy evening but it was surprisingly nice and warm! Francois, the front of house host, also came by to check up on us multiple times through out the evening.

IMG_4780

Our server (I’m sorry I didn’t get his name!) was extremely friendly and pleasant, recommending dishes and answering our questions.

IMG_4782

We started with bread ($3/pp, homemade Ciabatta) and house olives ($5). Good conversation starter and I liked having the small bottle of olive oil at our table.

IMG_4779

We soon decided on a share plate (5 items) for 4 – $78. The dishes all came out to be enjoyed at once. (I’ve taken the menu items straight from the website, but I think some of the menu may have changed the night we were there)

Black pudding (blood sausage) with white onion puree. Tasty but did not stand out by the end of the night.

IMG_4788

White anchovies with heirloom tomatoes. Personally, I’m not a fan of anchovies and found the pickled taste overpowering but everyone else really enjoyed them!

IMG_4790

Reef fish ceviche with rose water and berries. Lovely combination of flavours with the sweetness of the pineapple and tartness of the blueberries. The roe added a pop of flavour but the texture of the fish was quite stringy/chewy which I thought was odd when it was supposed to be raw and fresh.

IMG_4785

WA Octopus with persimmon and passion fruit. Easily the favourite at our table. Tender grilled octopus on slices of fresh persimmon – one of my favourite fruits. So yummy!

IMG_4786

Half shell scallops with cauliflower & saffron and jamon. These were delicious and the second favourite dish between us. The cauliflower added a nice creaminess and the jamon was thin, crisp and flavourful – such a treat!

IMG_4787

It was only afterwards that I realized the prices: $78 for a tasting plate of 5 dishes ($15.60 each) or $16 to order them individually – not really sure why there’s this option when you end up saving only $2. The portions were also quite small, especially the scallops – there were only 2…

We then moved on to mains:

Mike got the Beef cheek with horseradish mash and King Brown mushrooms ($35). He found no fault with this dish, the cheek was so tender it fell apart in your mouth. I think he wanted more 😉

IMG_4793

Xuan got the Angel hair pasta with scallops, clams, prawn and aioli ($37). He was pretty disappointed with this dish, which he found similar to fried noodles and the aioli sauce an odd combination.

IMG_4795

Amanda decided on the John Dory with pancetta, potatoes, rosemary and garlic ($39). I remember she said this dish was okay, a 7/10

IMG_4797

And after changing my mind a few times, I settled for Venison Pie with persimmon and Goat’s curd ($36). The best thing I put in my mouth that night. The flavour combination was so unique and delicious to me, I just wish it hadn’t been SO TINY. Really… the pie should’ve been at least double the size!

IMG_4792

Because almost all the portions were tiny, we had plenty of room for dessert. There were 4 options on the menu which made the decision easy – one of each.

Spanish creme caramel with mini meringues and lemon sauce ($17). None of us were expecting such a… texture. It was very thick with a strong flavour of egg yolk and sweet like condensed milk. Interesting but I wouldn’t order it myself again.

IMG_4798

Creme catalana with white raspberries and honey comb ($18). I’ve never had creme catalana before, and when I looked it up, Google tells me it’s also known as creme brulee. That was certainly not what we were served but it was my favourite dessert of the night. A glass of foamy, delicious, spicy creaminess with a nice crunch and sweetness from the honey comb. There was also some sherry (made into a jelly) at the bottom of the glass which added nicely to the dessert.

IMG_4802

Valhrona Chocolate Fondant with orange marmalade ice cream ($19). Like molten lava cake… it’s hard to go wrong with this decision! 😉

IMG_4803

And lastly, Rice pudding with poached pear and vanilla bean ice cream ($18). I am not a fan of anything porridge like, whether sweet or savoury. I found the texture of rice a little too hard for a pudding, made me think of a sweet risotto, haha! The others enjoyed it though! I forgot to take a picture of this dish – haha, sorry!

Service was easily the best out of all the places we visited so far this year. We were lucky to have been able to dine here for 50% off our food. Despite the good experience, we all found it too expensive to return here (at least anytime soon as poor international students) at regular prices. Additionally, the portions were quite small when compared to the prices and our expectations. With that being said, the ambiance is fantastic (although I wish the lighting had been better for pictures) and I would definitely recommend this restaurant to others looking for a special night out.

Moda Restaurant 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? 😉

IMG_4657

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.

IMG_4655

I got a refreshing Mango, Guava & Lychee Frappe.

IMG_4656

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.

IMG_4662

Pretty Christine with the goodies!

IMG_4659

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!

IMG_4661

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.

IMG_4660

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

50% off @ The Greek Club

We had the opportunity to dine at The Greek Club – Odyssey Taverna + Bar for 50% off – thanks to Urbanspoon’s Weekly Flash Specials! I received the promo email because I’m an Urbanspoon member, but these deals are open for everyone! 🙂

Our dinner reservation was for March 04 at 5:30pm. We were initially a little confused when we arrived because it was completely empty but turned out we were just the first guests to arrive. The Greek Club has a nice outdoor seating area with a view of the kitchen and out to the park. Since it was a rainy evening, we opted to sit indoors and check out the restaurant ambiance.

Our server, Vincent, was friendly and prompt with his service. He advised us which options were not available that night as he gave us the menus, which we appreciated. He also confirmed that our 50% off special was applicable to any food item on the menu (drinks are regular priced), which was great because we were expecting to only be able to choose from a selected number of choices.

We started off with a glass of Greek wine each. Rose for me and a red for Mike. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the brands we chose and they don’t have their drinks list online.

Without much hesitation, we decided on the Greek Delight platter for two (reg price $35/person). Delightful indeed, it included a selection of: grilled haloumi cheese, calamari, dolmades, chicken souvlakia, lamb cutlets, spanakopita, pita bread & dips, and Greek salad. Vincent explained that the pita bread and dips would come out first, followed by the salad and everything else on a large platter.

Warm, thick, chewy pita bread – delicious! Loved that I could taste the fact that it was heated over a charcoal grill. The homemade three dips were (left to right) eggplant, taramosalata (made with fish roe) and tzatziki sauce (yogurt & cucumber) – all of which were tasty!

By now there were other patrons in the restaurant and 2 more servers looking after the diners. We noticed that the servers would check up on us from afar to see how far along we were with the pita bread and dips to alert the cook to start on our platter.

We were not disappointed. The platter was piping hot when it came out. And huge, there was so much food!

  • The lamb cutlet was cooked beautifully – so nice and tender.
  • I always love grilled Haloumi, but I especially loved the fact that this was not intensely salty like I’ve had at other restaurants.

  • The calamari (I think was actually baby squid) was the best I’ve had in Brisbane, really! The batter was nice and crisp (not overly greasy or salty) and the squid soft and tender. Yum!
  • Chicken souvlakia was well seasoned and perfectly grilled – so moist!

  • Dolmades – warm, very flavourful filling!
  • The salad was very fresh but underdressed for my tastes. However, the feta cheese was nicely seasoned and the kalamata olives were delicious!

As much as we tried, we couldn’t finish the platter AND have any sort of room for dessert. So we decided to have some of platter packed to take home in order to try some of their desserts.

I chose Baklava…

And Mike chose Poura (phyllo pastry filled with almonds and honey) and a side of icecream (only $0.50 extra! Haha).

Although the desserts were good, I did not think they were great. I have had the pleasure of eating lots of delicious Baklava in the past, and this one just didn’t measure up.

By dessert, we agreed that plating and presentation at this restaurant was not that great – but overall, the food most definitely was.

Two glasses of wine, the Greek Delight platter for 2, and 2 desserts cost us a total of $55. 🙂 Considering the platter is normally $35/person, what an awesome deal!

A really great evening with amazing food (we left so stuffed that our lungs couldn’t fully expand when we breathed) and wonderful service. The menu is also quite reasonably priced and I would definitely recommend coming back with friends. Apparently, they also have live entertainment during the weekends, so we’ll have to come back then! 🙂

         

Odyssey Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

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!

Singapore Day 3: Universal Studios

June 20, 2012

After breakfast at the hotel, we took the train to Harbourfront Station and then the Boardwalk ($1) over to Sentosa Island.

There are many tourist attractions on this island but we were focused on completing just one – Universal Studios – and my first time too!

By late afternoon, I started running a fever 😦 Fortunately, the short line ups allowed us to go on all the rides at least once and we felt happy to leave early.

What is amazing about having a fever? You can be outside in +40C and not sweat… at all!

As you can imagine, early night for me 😦 And breaking fevers is no fun when your bed is left soaking wet! At least Michael was able to enjoy happy hour at the hotel and Bing even came by later with ‘Dau Huay’ from Rochor Beancurd. Very similar to the Vietnamese hot tofu dessert with ginger syrup – except this one is eaten cold and doesn’t have ginger – yum yum!