The last three months of 2014 were extremely overwhelming. From a frantic rush to finish off work before I went on annual leave, hens parties, last minute wedding preparations, a wedding, a honeymoon, a brother’s graduation, and finally Christmas…there’s been a lot going on!
I’m about two months behind in blog posts, reviews, and recaps, so while this post is about “unblogged” food, you should know there’s a lot of posts coming up in the near future that will actually talk about all the above – weddings, honeymoons, graduation, etc.
In the meantime, here’s a few short snapshots of things that caught my fancy during the past three months.
K’s brother and girlfriend took us to Costco for the first time, so we could stock up on candy for the lolly buffet at the wedding. We had lunch at Costco – my new sister-in-law is American, and loves the massive slices of pizza that you get at the Costco cafeteria as it reminds her of home. And honestly, a slice of pizza as big as your head? What’s not to love?
K and I are now seriously considering getting a Costco membership ourselves as I figured out that the savings we’d make on buying kitty litter in bulk alone would almost make the annual membership worthwhile!
Inspired by Not Quite Nigella’s energy ball croquembouche, I made a (less attractive) gluten-free version for my manager’s birthday at work. I think I made the error of buying a foam cone that was just much too tall, whereas I would have been better off getting a cone that was shorter but wider. You live, you learn!
On this croquemboche, I had two types of gluten-free home-made coconut truffles – one with apricot and ginger, the other a sweet chocolate truffle. My colleague helped me out with a few additional gluten-free store-bought goodies that we added – some chocolate-covered marshmallows, passionfruit kisses, apricot squares, Turkish delight, fresh strawberries, and we topped it off with a few flowers for decoration.
Needless to say it was a step up from the usual hastily-bought chocolate mudcake from Coles that usually makes an appearance at workplace birthdays! The expected standard for birthday cakes has definitely been lifted, to the point that my manager reciprocated with a home-made zombie-inspired cake for my birthday a month later!
I was highly spoiled in the leadup to my wedding. Having moved from Melbourne to Sydney, I have a few very distinct groups of friends, who all wanted to help me celebrate my impending marriage. I went to the Mornington Peninsula with the first group, which was fantastic and relaxing.
My friends from work also wanted to help me celebrate – thank you to the lovely Kate who organised a hens evening for me with drinks and games at her place, before we moved onto Thai Face in Crows Nest for dinner (read my previous review) and onto the Stoned Crow for drinks after that.
A day after that, my group of Sydney friends treated me to a super relaxing hens afternoon at the Balmain Bath House, where we hopped in and out of the hot and cold spas and the sauna and steam rooms. With a half hour Turkish body scrub included, we emerged fresh-faced and glowing. We followed it with some treats from Adriano Zumbo’s Patisserie, and some drinks at Wilhelmina’s, where my friend was excited to see Jamie from Masterchef and even had a shot with him!
My father will happily eat the Western-style dishes that I cook – risottos, pastas, salads, and more. “It’s good that you cook,” he’ll say. “So many young girls these days can’t be bothered cooking and get everything out of a packet or the freezer”. Blatant stereotyping aside, he’s less keen on my attempts at cooking a traditional family-style Chinese meal, always seeing it as somewhat inferior to the dishes that he cooks.
Luckily, K isn’t quite as discerning – he’s just happy that I get home from work before he does and that dinner is generally waiting for him by the time that he does get home. He particularly enjoyed this meal, and was impressed that I had four different dishes cooked and ready in less than half an hour.
- Green beans with chilli pork mince
- Cold silken tofu with soy and sesame dressing and dried pork floss
- Tomato and egg
- Steamed choysum with oyster sauce
What he didn’t realise was that these three dishes are particularly quick and easy to make – the preparation is more time-consuming than the actual cooking!
One of the best novels I read early in the year was Gone Girl – the dark, twisted, psychological thriller had me hooked! After reading it, I insisted that everyone else around me read it and got a half dozen of my colleagues hooked as well. When the movie came out, I went to see it with my manager and we stopped in at Soban and Towon in Westfield Chatswood for dinner beforehand. This spicy beef stew was under $15, and came with a generous serve of steamed rice on the side – a hefty meal more suited to two people rather than just me. Amazing value and strong depth of flavours – I’ll be back!
K thoroughly spoiled me on my birthday with surprise tickets to see Wicked – a personal sacrifice for him as he hates musicals! We also got to go to the Burger Project for dinner (read review), before moving onto Asian dessert bar Passionflower for dessert. It wasn’t a super fancy birthday given that we had overindulged the weekend before at O Bar and Dining (read review), but it was casual and fun and a perfect way to celebrate with ‘dirty food’ and creamy desserts.
To finish off the working year, we went out for a ‘team lunch’ at the Wooden Whisk in Crows Nest. It’s a popular little cafe that serves up a mix of ready-made takeaway lunches and made-to-order sit down lunches. I ordered one of the daily specials – an amazingly tender Brisket Burger with Fries, $16. With a sweet brioche bun that went incredibly well with the tender marinated brisket, the burger was so more-ish that a colleague went back to the following week to have it again!
My love for Nutella knows no bounds. K’s aunt once made fun of me for ordering a Nutella dessert pizza as she thought it was awfully plebeian…but hey, if being a plebe means that I get to order and enjoy delicious Nutella desserts, then so be it! This is from Karoo & Co in Wahroonga, and comes with a lovely dollop of creamy mascarpone on top of each slice, which helps to cut through the sticky sweetness of the Nutella.
I closed out 2014 at a friend’s low-key New Years party in Kew, Melbourne. Located on top of a hill, it had great views over to the city skyline which meant that we could enjoy the fireworks without battling the crowds in the city – always a bonus! It’s also always a bonus when you can do a barbecue for New Years Eve dinner, then finish it off with a massive pavlova for dessert!
A belated Happy New Year everyone, and here’s to a fantastic year of eating ahead!