I can hardly believe that it’s already October. This is going to sound like a cliche, but the year has just flown by. It’s been an absolute whirlwind of eating, a month-long overseas holiday, getting engaged, planning a wedding, going on a diet and exercise regime, and some new and exciting projects at work.
There’s some good news – the wedding plans are going off without a hitch (22 November is looming!), and I’ve lost 22kgs since I first embarked on this new healthier lifestyle journey! With those lifestyle changes, it’s quite incredible how many of the photos in this blog entry are actually of dessert. I clearly haven’t lost my sweet tooth despite an overall healthier lifestyle.
There are some things that happened in July to September that you won’t see mentioned in this post as I have longer blog entries planned for publication later – an anniversary lunch at Ormeggio at the Spit, my hens weekend on the Mornington Peninsula, and a weekend away in the Hunter Valley for a friend’s 30th birthday. Keep your eye out for those entries over the next few weeks!
Finally, I started a Facebook page last month, and I would love more Likers!
I can remember the first time I tried soy-based ice-cream…let’s just say that it didn’t quite live up to its name of being “So Good”. I think I was scarred by that experience, and it’s only recently that I’ve been brave enough to try soy ice-cream again. This black sesame soy ice-cream from Green Gourmet in Newtown (read my review of the St Leonards branch) hit the spot though – surprisingly creamy in texture, the black sesame gave a strong nutty flavour that really satisfied. The next test would be whether or not Green Gourmet’s soy ice-cream tastes as nice with a more subtle flavour – how would a regular vanilla bean soy ice-cream stack up for example?
One of my best girl friends from high school got married in July (read my review of her hens dinner at Melba at the Langham Hotel), and I was a bridesmaid! The wedding was brought forward a year because of a surprise bun in the oven that came along a bit sooner than anyone expected, and amazingly, was planned in less than two months! They chose to go with a slightly less traditional wedding cake setup, with tiers of chocolate cupcakes for second dessert and take-home treats for guests. If you’re interested, they used Jaycee’s Partee World for their cake (based in Caroline Springs, Melbourne).
The morning after the wedding, K and I dragged ourselves from our hotel near Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, and headed off in search for breakfast. We weren’t prepared to wait for hours at a funkier and more hip breakfast joint as we were both working that day in our companies’ respective Melbourne offices, so quick and efficient was what we were looking for.
Emily’s Place in Melbourne Central ticked that box and their hearty baked eggs, while not an attractively presented dish, helped to satisfy that morning-after-a-big-night craving for comfort food. While I won’t rush back any time soon, I can see myself dropping in quickly for one of their grab-n-go options the next time I need a quick snack.
While I have a fantastic cohort of friends and colleagues here in Sydney, the fact still remains that most of my closest girl friends are based in Melbourne. That’s why it’s so exciting whenever any of them come to visit me, and I can share all my favourite Sydney haunts with them! My friend Beth came to visit for a weekend in July, and we spent the time market-ing. This shot is of the breakfast we had at the Billy Kwong stall at Eveleigh Markets, one of my favourite fresh food markets in Sydney. My friend was very impressed that Kylie Kwong herself was on the stall that morning, assembling our breakfasts!
I picked up these dips from Yalla while we were at Eveleigh Markets, and honestly found a million uses for them. I didn’t just have them as dips with crackers and cut vegetables – as nice as that was, I found that these dips were actually best used when stir-throughed other dishes. A mere heaped tablespoon of the eggplant kasaundi really added an extra richness to a curry that I made one night. The same amount of Moroccan matbucha gave a kick to a simple tomato-based pasta meal. Their website shows that they also do a range of desserts, so I may have to try some of those as I was so impressed with the dips.
Sometimes, you have cravings that you just can’t satiate. After a less than impressive clam chowder in a bread bowl at Blue Fish, I decided to make my own clam chowder at home. This first time, I kept it very simple for myself by using a Pitango potato and leek soup as my chowder base rather than making it from scratch myself. I’m a pragmatist in that way I guess – I didn’t want to spend too long on cooking the meal if it wasn’t going to turn out well! Now that I know it works though, I might splash out and get a proper sourdough cob, some good quality seafood, and make everything from scratch.
I went back again this year to try the Magnum Pleasure Pop-Up Store for the second time (read my account of the first time). The line was as long as last time, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that four of the six staff working on that night were just standing around chatting rather than actually serving customers. The Magnum itself had improved marginally on last year – while the chocolate shell was still much too chewy and still lacked that ‘snap’ of coated chocolate, they’ve at least learned to put the toppings on both sides allowing for an easier eating experience.
A much more exciting and impressive ice-cream pop-up store happened was the Gelato Messina pop-up stall at Chatswood Chase in August. The one-day-only pop up offered four different dessert options, with each option designed to represent new stores at the Chase shopping centre – Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm. I arrived early and was amongst the first in line to choose my dessert – a “Fairy Bread Popsicle” designed for Pottery Barn Kids. It was like going back in time and being a child again – the hundreds and thousands on a white chocolate shell with sugary sweet ice-cream inside…how do I even begin to explain the absolute joyfulness of this experience?
K and I are at the time of our lives where our friendship group are hitting milestones. We’re getting married, my friends are having babies, his friends are turning 30…there’s a lot of different reasons to celebrate! One of these celebrations was an impromptu night out for our friend N’s 30th birthday where we started off with drinks at the Stoned Crow, and ended with dinner at the Bavarian Bier Cafe. It may seem like a low-key celebration, but we did go away for a weekend in the Hunter just a few weeks later as a belated birthday celebration.
Anyway, while the Bavarian is best known for their litre beers and schnitzels, they also do a great range of other dishes. This side dish of blackened corn with jalapeno butter ($6), was just delicious with a great slow burn and smoked flavour. I would go back just for this corn side dish!
I spent a long weekend in Melbourne in September as well – mostly for my hens weekend in the Mornington Peninsula, but I also got to spend some evenings with my dad. As much as I love eating out and trying new places, there’s something very comforting about home cooking. While my mum always used to be the cook in our house, my dad has really stepped up since my mum passed away. He’s cooking a lot more, and trying to recreate some of the dishes that my mum used to make. This dinner featured a large pot of chicken curry (Malaysian style) and roti – similar to a dish that they used to make a decade ago when they owned a takeaway shop.
Finally, I always feel like Black Star Pastry’s strawberry and watermelon cake deserves a bit of praise! This large cake was for a colleague’s birthday, and believe me when I say it was devoured in absolutely no time at all! K and I are actually thinking of having one of these cakes at our wedding…we’ll see!
Coming up in the next three months – our wedding! Our honeymoon in the Byron Bay rainforest hinterland! Our Chinese banquet! There’ll be lots of celebrations with friends and family – and you can keep up with my food and life adventures on Instagram or Facebook!