ADELAIDE: DAY 2 – MCLAREN VALE

September 27, 2015

Day 2 in Adelaide was full of awesome firsts!

We started the day with breakfast with Matt, Laura, and Isabelle before heading out to Pete’s house and meeting his wife Chrissy and their 3 children. We also met another one of Matt’s colleagues, Chi, his wife Joan and their 2 children (plus grandparents)!

Thank you to Matt’s lovely colleagues and families for welcoming us and including us in their day out to McLaren Vale!

Only approximately 35km south of Adelaide, the drive out went by quick! We also passed by John (another one of Matt’s colleagues) and his family on the road, who would also be joining us for the day.

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Isabelle and I mastering selfies during the drive 🙂

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The McLaren Vale region is known for its dry red wines, which meant our lucky day! We were very thankful that Chrissy had organised the day so well. McLaren Vale would take days to weeks to properly tour and we really enjoyed all the stops she had planned.

First up, Mollydooker Wines Cellar Door. The first thing you notice is the breathtaking view of vineyards against a hilly backdrop.

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Today, I learned that Mollydooker Wines was not only started by Sarah and Sparky Marquis, a husband and wife team, but that mollydooker is also an Aussie term for left-handers. You guessed it, Sarah and Sparky are also lefties! They have a pretty interesting story, you can read more here!

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The Cellar Door had a quirky, retro themed tasting room with easy going staff and generous tastings we must say!

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The boys loved some of the red selection, particularly the Velvet Glove Shiraz and Gigglepot Cabernet Sauvignon. It was also my first time trying Miss Molly (Sparkling Shiraz) and Girl on the Go (Sparkling Verdelho), both of which were great. And we were even served some beautiful, warm home made bread with olive oil and dukka – yum!

They had a promotion going at the time of our visit. Post a selfie with Mollydooker’s Girl on the Go and receive a free bottle of Girl on the Go or a pair of flutes. Was too good not to pass up 😉

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Beautiful backdrop and outdoor seating area to really soak in the surroundings.

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Thanks for a great visit Mollydooker Wines, hope to be back in the future!

Next stop was Serafino Restaurant for lunch 🙂

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The grounds are immaculate and is the perfect location for a wedding or special occasion – there was a baptism lunch the day we visited – very eloborate!

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I remember waiting a long time for the food to arrive, but it was delicious! Mike had the Beef Wellington and I enjoyed an herb crusted lamb rack with baby veggies and gnocchi – yum! Definitely on the pricier side but worth a visit for a special occasion!

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Last on our McLaren Vale stops – Penny’s Hill Cellar Door. Rustic and charming, it was a relaxing way to end our visit. I also love their elegant and distinct packaging.

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Lots of sitting area, even a restaurant! Can watch grazing sheep or check out the chooks. Great for kids to hang out as well 🙂

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Both of us concentrating on a game we don’t know how to play

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Isabelle visiting the chooks

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Wine is serious business

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Can’t get over the amazing views in McLaren Vale!

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Took some photos of Laura, looking fabulous at 36 weeks!

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Soon it was time to head back as we thanked and said good bye to our new friends for a great time!

Mike and I absolutely loved McLaren Vale (or maybe we just love vineyards) but definitely hope to visit again… for much longer!

We couldn’t buy too much, but did leave with a nice bundle of souvenirs to enjoy at a later date 😉

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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014

I’m chuckling because I’m writing about our Christmas in April – better late than never?

My mom and I decided to stay home and relax on Christmas, but Michael and his parents braved the hoards to experience Christmas on the beach 😛 Weather was good and they had a fun time!

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How many Canadians can say they spent Christmas in this kind of weather?

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I was adamant I would be cooking Christmas dinner – letting my mom relax. Unfortunately, it was one of my biggest cooking fails – a raw meat loaf – so upsetting! The other dishes were good, including corn, potato wedges, prawn toast and salad.

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Our first Christmas tree in Australia

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Beautiful, love our colour scheme!

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Family photo!

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In previous years, our cousins have always had a bit of fun at family get togethers, like colour coordinating our outfits, wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, custom made t-shirts, etc. Imagine my delight when Mike’s mom produced these funky Dollarama light necklaces – complete with 3 different modes and extra batteries!

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Had a glitch with one of them – ah, expected of Dollarama!

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Blueberry pie for dessert, thanks Caroline!

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Some more family photos before opening presents

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I look sort of like a monster here

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My love!

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Let me share some of the wonderful presents I received 🙂

Gorgeous ruby (my birthstone) and diamond earrings from Michael that nicely match a necklace he gave for Christmas in 2011

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A beautiful Ivanka Trump dress from my mom. I’ve received many compliments wearing it already!

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A nice leather Coach clutch from my sister and some delicious chocolate bars! Can’t find those in Australia!

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Presents from my brother…

A wine making kit. I haven’t used it yet, will have to soon!

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And an electronic measuring cup and ceramic knives – now staples in my kitchen 🙂

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From Michael’s parents, goodies from Canada!

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And a few items from his mom! The candle holders fit nicely in our new home in Rockhampton!

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Michael was very happy with my Christmas present to him – adding to his collection 😉

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It’s long passed, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your loved ones!

Dinner at Brooklyn Warehouse

August 22, 2014

We didn’t think we would be able to get a place at Brooklyn Warehouse on a Friday evening without reservations but luckily, a table for 2 was available outside!

Sheltered, which I always appreciate, especially in the evening! Sorry, didn’t take photos of what the restaurant looked like on the inside.

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Service was great, friendly and attentive without being too pushy. We were quickly offered a drinks menu, which we ordered to start.

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I got the Wasabi Caesars with vodka, shochu, clamato and pickled snow peas. I’d never had anything like that before, it was delicious! However, because it was very spicy and explosive in flavours, don’t do what I did and have it with your meal, it doesn’t pair as nicely as a wine! 😉 Mike got a Boxing Rock Red which he enjoyed.

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The food menu was in the form of chalkboards strategically located around the restaurant, offering a view from wherever you were sitting.

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I chose the NS rabbit carbonara house fettuccine with bacon and herb crumb ($26). The pasta was nicely cooked and rabbit was tender and moist. However, although it might be difficult to gauge from this photo, but the portion was tiny. We found it hard to believe that this was supposed to a main dish, it looked more like an appetizer.

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Mike had the Maple glazed halibut with polenta, thyme, and pickled blueberries ($26). The flavours were great, unfortunately, the halibut was overcooked and as a result quite dry. Similar to mine, this dish was also quite small.

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Brooklyn Warehouse offers a pleasant dining atmosphere with great service and well thought out dishes and drinks. However, although the food is delicious, the servings are too small while being on the pricier side! We hope to leave with bellies more satisfied on our next visit!

The Brooklyn Warehouse 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!

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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

Valentine’s Day dinner

February 14, 2014

Although completely consumed with studying, we did put time aside for ourselves to celebrate Valentine’s Day. A slightly silly holiday, as you should be celebrating your love everyday, it was still nice to do something a little more special than usual.

I decided on getting ‘us‘ a ‘gift‘ – case of 12 bottles of wine, yay! I personally picked a mix of reds, whites, and sparkling – which we will be enjoying (hopefully if all my choices are good) throughout the next months!

Flowers, a card, and a delicious home cooked meal from Mike. We also cracked the first bottle of wine, a Kooks Shiraz 2012, given the stamp of approval from the both of us.

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Glazed beef tenderloin with walnut mash and grilled veggies. The walnut flavour was great and the beef so tender, so yum! Thank you dear!

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You can clearly see how tired and tired we are in this photo. 😛

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Someone might think, “Why not roses?” Because lilies are my favourite, they are large and beautiful, will bloom over days, and leave your house smelling amazing!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! What did you do to celebrate?

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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Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 01

September 18, 2013

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

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

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

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

On the way there!

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

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

Setting up camp

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Done! Our home for the next 2 days

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… with the awesome beach view

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

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First selfie of the trip!

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After lunch we headed out to explore North Stradbroke Island.

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

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

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

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

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Beautiful Cylinder Beach

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Leaving Cylinder Beach…

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Mike taking a break

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Looking back at Cylinder Beach

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Looking ahead to Deadman’s Beach

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

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Deadman’s Beach

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

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Frenchman’s Bay!

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

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Looking back down at Frenchman’s Bay

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

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The beautiful Gorge Walk!

Breathtaking North Gorge

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

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View of South Gorge and further ahead, Main Beach!

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Endless Main Beach as far as the eye can see!

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

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Getting a fire going… just because 🙂

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Smoked out a huntsman spider!

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

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

Visiting Fi in Toowoomba!

Kristen, Christine and I went to visit Fiona in Toowoomba last Sunday! What a lovely opportunity to catch up with the girls, how I’ve missed them!

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Fi, our very lovely (and free!) tour guide, took us on a ride around town and we eventually drove up to Preston Peak Wines for lunch. Fun and friendly wine tasting but a limited lunch menu. The location was beautiful and peaceful, it’s too bad the sun wasn’t out for very long!

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The day was short and soon we were on our way back to Brisbane. With exams coming up, we left with the promise to be back for a hiking and boardgames day – looking forward to it!

Until then, surgery study time!

The “REALLY COOL” car we saw during the drive home:

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Picked up a little something for Michael, a bottle of fortified wine. Golden Gleam – Fortified pristine White Muscat juice. Lychee and marmalade characteristics; a very fruity wine. 🙂

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Choya Umeshu

Mike and I finally opened the bottle of Umeshu we picked up at duty free coming home from Singapore – yay! Choya is one of the most famous brands of umeshu and we bought the Royal Honey version – with added royal jelly (secretion from honey bees) and sweetened with honey rather than sugar.

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Umeshu is commonly known as Japanese “plum wine” or “plum liqueur”. It is made from steeping green, unripe ume fruits in alcohol and sugar/honey. Although widely referred to as plums, ume fruit is more closely related to the apricot. The alcohol used is Shōchū, typically distilled from barley, sweet potatoes or rice.

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With a 15% alcohol content, umeshu is rich, distinctively fruity while being both sweet and sour. It can also be served a variety of ways at different temperatures (iced, room temperature, even hot). We enjoyed our drinks on the rocks, although it can be also mixed as cocktails or simply with tonic or soda. In a colder climate, it can even be mixed with green tea or water and enjoyed hot!

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Random moments of random days

While walking home one day, I saw this flock of Rose-breasted cockatoos – one of the most common and widespread cockatoos. Thought they might be friendly but they didn’t let me get too close!

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Pretty view of the clouds another day

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This always happens to me when exams roll around. Some store is having a book sale and I’m compelled to buy some and read them instead of studying. Don’t worry, I’m holding off this time.

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Had to take a picture so I remember! This Moscato is delicious!

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Forgot about this frog I picked up in Eumundi Market last year 🙂 Running the stick down its back mimics a croaking frog

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Remember my review of Beastie Burgers? Although their burgers didn’t impress us, their wedges sure did and we said we’d be back for them! Perfect treat before watching Iron Man 3!

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Nom nom nom

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Deer Duck Bistro – You disappoint

(Since writing this review, I have been contacted by Nicholas, the owner of Deer Duck. Please take your time to also read his comments and my reply below. Although I thought I would never want to return to Deer Duck Bistro, that is no longer the case. The simple act of taking time to read and politely acknowledge what I’ve written tells me this is someone who cares and I would be happy to visit again for a better experience!)

Mike and I purchased a Groupon Voucher ($99) for a 4-course meal (with a glass of wine) for 2 at Deer Duck Bistro.

We finally redeemed it yesterday (Friday) with high expectations. Boy, little did we know!

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Our reservations were for 7pm and we were promptly shown to our seats. Quirky seating arrangements, I loved the long sofas, but the decor looked tired.

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We were handed menus and offered our glasses of wine. Both of us chose red and were given Sacred Earth Clarendon Hills Onkaparinga Grenache 2007 – We were pretty sure we didn’t get a full serving. The wine was good, but when you can buy it for $5/bottle, I feel a little ripped off.

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This was the menu offered on Groupon when we purchased our vouchers:

deer duck bistro menu

The menu we received. There were a few changes that were a little disappointing, which I will mentioned as we go.

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First to arrive was our entree: Share platter of meats, dips, terrines & freshly baked breads.

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Our visual impression was, “Not bad!” The bread crisp was interesting, the house marinated olives were delicious, the fish (herring I think) was nicely seasoned and the pate with carmelized onions was quite tasty. But the house baked bread was dry, terrine and the other meat were both not very flavourful, and the homemade hummus was quite bland.

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Then onto our mains. Our Groupon voucher stated we were supposed to get a side of either potatoes or vegetables but it was not available to us.

It took way too long for the mains to come out – we waited nearly 45 minutes! In addition, both our dishes were already going cold when it came out. Why did it take so long for our food to be served cold?!

Mike got the Prosciutto rolled chicken ballotine, parsnip & pear puree, whipped saffron potato, chicken jus

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Flavours were okay but this is not the size of a main dish, compounded by the fact we didn’t get a side dish as well.

I got the Duck trio, baby leek, apple, fennel, fondant potato, and baby vegetables.

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Do you see any baby leek, apple, fennel or baby vegetables? None. Instead, both our dishes are adorned by a couple little pieces of carrot, asparagus and radish. Barely enough for a few mouthfuls let alone compliment a protein dish. I’ve mentioned it before in other posts, but when the same vegetables are showing up on multiple plates, it’s not for flavour, only decoration. Unfortunate, because all 3 duck meats were really delicious, although why is the duck breast plated skin down? Why?

After finishing our mains, we proceeded to wait for our cheese platter to share. We waited and waited and waited. What on earth takes so long for a dish that doesn’t even require cooking?

The menu said: Cheese plate, lavosh, house baked breads, fresh & dry fruits.

Look at the plate that finally came out…

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Old grapes, 1 strawberry sliced in half, and the same dry bread and bread crisps (not lavosh) as the entree plate. 2 slices of cheddar cheese and a wedge of brie, compared to Millawa goat blue and Pont Leveque cheese on the Groupon menu. Not the same cheeses as advertised deal, which was a disappointment because we felt these cheeses weren’t as special and possibly cheaper substitutes.

By now, we were both frustrated and unimpressed at the quality of the food. After a full day at the clinic, we were also quite tired which didn’t help.

Again, we waited and waited for dessert to come out, which was no longer a surprise.

Mike got the Lemon meringue roulade. Why on earth is there burnt crumbled meringue on the plate? We have no idea.

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I got the chocolate Chocolate tart with chocolate ice cream. The good thing about this dessert? The ice cream and berries underneath. The tart was not even close to being decadent, I probably could’ve found something tastier in the Coles bakery aisle.

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We left immediately after dessert around 9:30pm. It took us 2.5 hours to finish a “4-course meal” where only one dish required cooking. Unbelievable.

Although service was friendly and polite (dishes promptly cleared, never had to ask for water), the dishes were not true to the menu we were given, the quality of food was sub-par, and the wait times were unacceptable. We also noticed that some dining tables had a direct view of the toilet and at one point during dinner service, a less-than-impressed diner had to actually get up and close the door.

Our dinner was most definitely not worth the amount we paid. For the quality of food we received, we would never come back and pay the regular prices. Heck, even if the same Groupon deal was available again we wouldn’t consider buying it. This dinner was possibly the worst dining experience we’ve had this year, what a waste of time and money. 😦

Deer Duck Bistro on Urbanspoon

Next Door Kitchen & Bar – Our best meal so far this year

We had an important mission on Friday (April 05) – to pick a random restaurant in South Bank and have some delicious food.

This might sound easy, but there are tons of restaurants to choose from and so many sound good! The second restaurant we stopped at, Next Door Kitchen & Bar had a menu that invited us in immediately. All tapas styled dishes that sounded amazing and the best part: no lining up on a Friday night.

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The restaurant was quite busy, but the staff joined 2 small tables together and we were seated almost immediately.

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Cocktails on the menu were quite appealing but we opted for wine instead. Mike and Meaghan shared a bottle of Dalrymple Pinot Noir and I got a glass of Kiss Chasey Rose.

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It’s not often when you look at a menu and think, “You can order whatever you want, I would be happy to eat it.” But that was the case!

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Because the dishes are meant to be shared, the restaurant recommends 2-3 plates per person. We decided on 7 plates to share, as we also had full intentions to finish the night off at Max Brenner for dessert – needed to save some room!

FRESH BAGUETTE, PEPE SAYA BUTTER & HOUSE MADE SARDINE BUTTER ($9.50) Baguette was nice and crispy on the outside, chewy and dense on the inside – just the way I like it. It was my first time trying sardine butter so I was a little apprehensive, but it was quite tasty!

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GOLDEN FRIED POLENTA CHIPS, SALSA VERDE, SOUR CREAM, PICKLED EGGPLANT ($14.50) The polenta chips were fried beautifully! 6 sticks, a perfect portion to share between 3 people. I especially liked the pickled egglant, yum!

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PEA ARANCINI, GOATS CURD AIOLI, CORIANDER OIL ($14.50) Arancini (fried rice balls coated in breadcrumbs) is something I’d never had until last year. I’ve only had it a few times since and it was delicious this time as well 🙂

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GARLIC PRAWNS, GREEN ONION PILAF, GREEN BUTTER & SNAIL BEIGNET ($16.50) Succulent prawns on a delicious bed of rice. The snail beignet was not strongly flavoured but very nice with the crisp crust.

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CURED OCEAN TROUT, PICKLED BEETROOT, KATAIFI CRISP, DILL MAYONNAISE ($16.50) I normally don’t like cured fish, but the trout was delicious and worked nicely with the beetroot. The kataifi crisp (made from shredded phyllo dough) tasted like a delicious vat of crispy butter. I’m glad it was shared between 3 people! 😛

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SEARED QUAIL, TRUFFLED WHITE BEANS, RAISIN & PINE NUT VINAIGRETTE ($22.50) The most tender quail I’ve ever had! It’s a hard decision but probably my favourite dish of the night! 😀

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TRUFFLE PARMESAN FRIES ($8.50) We couldn’t resist! Such a generous portion of delicious, crispy fries – you could smell the parmesan from across the restaurant and the aioli just made them even better. Nom nom nom!

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Service was extremely attentive throughout the night. Mike and Meaghan had their wine glasses continuously topped up. Plates were promptly cleared off the table and we never had to wait long between dishes. The only thing we would change: To serve the fries first rather than last so we can enjoy them alongside the other courses.

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Thank you Meaghan for treating us to a wonderful dinner! We will definitely be back and be recommending this restaurant to our friends 🙂

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Photo #306: Learning My Wines

December 30, 2012

I failed at taking a picture today 😦 So sad, I’m sorry! But I did find this fun and informative flowchart. I’ve already tried quite a few and now I’m thinking of attempting to taste everything on this list (and others not on here) in my lifetime… want to join?

 

Halifax Day 7: A Date with Michael @ Salty’s

December 10, 2012

So… our last day in Halifax! So sad that time has gone by so quickly!

Michael and I spent the morning running errands in terrible weather but also had the chance to relax before our lunch date.

We had reservations for 1pm at Upstairs at Salty’s. Salty’s is a 2 level restaurant, where downstairs is casual and upstairs is more formal.

Michael had specifically asked for window seats, which was a treat! It’s too bad the weather wasn’t nicer but it’s the company that matters right? 😉 You look tired!

We were the only diners (Again! It seems to happen to us quite a bit) so service couldn’t have been any better.

Apparently, Upstairs at Salty’s uses the same lunch menu as their downstairs restaurant, which was fine with us.

We started with a glass of white before making our decisions.

Love good bread at a restaurant. Our food came quite quickly, which is always a treat.

Mike ordered the Maple Ginger Salmon ($17.95)
(roasted fillet of salmon with Nova Scotia maple syrup & ginger glaze, mashed potato, and seasonal vegetable)

Seasonal vegetable was indeed singular! Haha. Mike said his dish was tasty, but personally, I think his dish was lacking. Come on… you couldn’t add in some other veggies? And a little bit of effort on plating would have made such a difference. I also really don’t know what the sprig of parsley is trying to achieve…

I got the Beer Battered Shrimp ($15.95)
(served with fries, lemon mayo, and coleslaw) – I substituted sweet potato fries with curry mayonnaise (+$2)

The shrimp was good but the best part of my dish were those sweet potato fries. I will gladly exchange anything for those fries any day. So nice and crispy on the outside and light on the inside. However, the plating was once again disappointing. This is a nice restaurant… Why are my sauces coming out in plastic containers? You were able to get my coleslaw into a little dish, couldn’t you go all the way with the sauces?

Overall, we had a good time, especially with the restaurant to ourselves. The service was great and I wish the sky cleared so we could enjoy the view even more but perhaps next time.

Next time you say? Well the food was pricey… tasted good but nothing great. However, the good service and location warrants another visit – but we’ll try dinner next time, that menu is much more enticing.

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Saturday Nov 10: Halfway Dinner

After a wonderful spa day with Fi, Kristen and Christine the day before – I was looking forward to our Halfway Dinner.

Mike and I were really bad at planning our attire for that evening because we were so focused on studying. I eventually decided to wear a dress I brought from home back in first year (even though it didn’t match the theme of “Summer Glamour”) because I couldn’t be bothered to spend hundreds of $$ here for a new dress.

That meant I still had to buy shoes, because I do not own a single pair of heels here. Yay, shopping, my favourite… not! So, Mike and I went shopping Saturday morning and luckily were successful! Found shoes and Mike even found a nice red tie to match my dress. We also ran into Kristen and Matt at the mall doing some last minute shopping as well 🙂

Our group decided to rent a room at the Mercure, where our dinner was being held, for a little pre-party. Everybody looked stunning!

Group shot!

Girlies

Boys being silly 🙂

PBL 25 love

James & Kim

Matt & Kristen

Mike’s sleazy ‘stache 😉

Beauties!

This is how James and Harrison actually went to dinner

Our dinner table: Matt & Kristen, James & Kim, Mike & I, Fi, Christine, JJ and Harrison

Thank you Christine for this lovely photo!

Yay, we found Roger!

❤ Fi!

With Mabel!

Mabel, Mario, Lauren, and Stacy

Roger & Chen

PBL 36! (Christine’s cam)

With the boys

Many many more pictures HERE and a few from Roger’s cam HERE

She can put a smile on your face: Atong

My dearest chocolate friend, Atong, never fails puts a smile on my face.

If you’re lucky, you know her personally. But even if you don’t, I hope sharing this story will make you laugh too!

She’s currently in New Orleans and obviously having a blast. Sent the girls the following update yesterday:

Ladies, I cried in a restaurant last night. Lol. No joke. Tears came out of my ducts and rolled onto my face. Then I stole a goblet. My food was so good that I actually cried. No joke. I cried in the middle of the restaurant. I then stole the cup (it’s actually a goblet – it’s huge!). Actually, when I say ‘stole’ what I actually did was call the waitress over and ask her how she felt about me taking the goblet. She said she didn’t see anything and then helped me hide it. I love this place.

I went for a jog outside this morning. First of all, it’s hot. Second of all, the boys are so nice. I’ve been called a ‘pretty young thang’ so many times that I’ve lost count. Lol. I’m not coming back to Ottawa. There’s nothing there for me.

I’m just going to find my first husband in the next few days and just lock him down. This is the new me. Get used to it.

Things to note: She cried over food and she plans to find her first husband. Haha

She then added:

I had deep fried shrimp wrapped in crab stuffing. Sooooooo good. Sandra, if you do your rotations here, I will visit ALL THE TIME. The weather is gorgeous. The only downside is that I didn’t bring my booty shorts. Sad face.

I stole the goblet because it’s huge! It’s the equivalent of 3 drinks. It’s magnificent. I’m going to drink every thing out of it. Coffee, cocktails, beer. I might even put soup in it.

I miss this girl! 😉

FADU: Short Stay in Sydney

The five of us went down to Sydney on Friday, August 03 for a short visit… $45/person each way – woo hoo!

Mike and I had to head back on the 6th because of class but my family stayed until the 9th before heading to Perth.

Here’s a sorta-long summary of what we did!

Day 1 – Aug 3

Landed around 3:30pm and was picked up by Chet Muoi and his wife!

Went right away to check into our residence at Oaks Hyde Park Plaza. A great price for the location but the apartment we had was definitely too small for 5 people. Sleeping 3 nights on a dinky sofabed did terrible wonders on my back!

Immediately headed out. We walked down to Darling Harbour and up to visit the Sydney Aquarium. Very lively with beautiful views by the harbour.

The aquarium was well worth the visit! Lots of fun 🙂

About to head in…

All manta rays have such cute faces!

The fish, they cry crystal tears!

Fluorescent jelly fish and enormous crab

Shark attack!

Nemo! Dory! I’ve found you!

We finished the map and got our gold coins! Chocolate, who could resist?

We headed back down to Chinatown for a visit and ended the night with a late Korean dinner – yum yum!

Day 2 – Aug 4

Woke up early to check out the rooftop facilities – heated pool, jacuzzi and a great view – what more do you need?

By 10:30am, we were on the train and headed to Cabramatta to meet my dad’s family.

A great dim sum lunch where we got to meet some family members for the first time and catch up with many others.

Lunch was followed by a walk around Viettown and then ‘the rounds’ What does that mean? Going from one person’s house to another for a few reasons: to check out their home, to talk some more, and to eat of course 😉

We visited a total of 5 homes and soon it was time for dinner! Amazing food at a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant that left us completely stuffed.

We ended the night at The Star Casino. I cannot understand the appeal of losing money but lots of people looked like they were having fun 😛

Day 3 – Aug 5

A day to ourselves, yay! My mom came down with a migraine so didn’t join us for the first part. The four of us headed out to see more of the city. We decided the first stop would be Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park.

Onwards to the Sydney Fish Market, but on the way there, we got distracted by a lovely cafe and tasty treats.

When we finally got there, I wanted to leave immediately, haha. I really don’t like crowds… and it was SO crowded. Asians everywhere, haha. We did pick up a bottle of wine and some sashimi to share, very tasty!

Headed back going through Darling Harbour again to check it out during the day. Then we walked over to see… (you guessed it!) the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Then hopped on the free bus (love the free bus) back to our residence to pick up my mom for the evening activities – luckily she was feeling better!

First up, Mme Tussaud’s! Had a great time ‘meeting’ all the famous people!

Then over to the Sydney Tower Eye to check out Sydney at night – so pretty!

Then back to Opera House to see it again but against a black sky!

Finally ended the night with a super late but amazing Japanese dinner!

Day 4 – Aug 6

Wake up, pack up, go home! 😦 No time to do anything but haul ourselves to the airport, eat breakfast and head back to Brisbane! Luckily… our flights weren’t delayed! 🙂

FULL SYDNEY ALBUM HERE!

Old and New Friends

In the last few weeks, we have had 2 dinners with friends at our place.

On March 2 was with my new PBL for Sushi Night. It was amazing and we made tons of food. There was fresh salmon sushi, calamari tempura, yam tempura, shrimp tempura, Mario made great crispy roasted pork, Chen and Roger made dessert – such yumminess! It was also a nice opportunity to get to know PBL 36 better and overall just have a good time.

Then we had a Wine & Cheese Housewarming night on March 9 with our old PBL members from last year. Such good food! Everyone complimented our new place and had their fill of finger foods. I’ve missed my old PBL group so it was really nice to have everyone together again for some catch up time. Hoping to do something again soon!

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

 
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