Friday, September 2, 2016

Ph(f)oto Friday: Briont

Please meet Briont - the happy crossover of brioche and croissant. Brioche by itself is already yummy, so is croissant. Naturally briont is excellent. I bought a loaf from Brioche by Philip.

I first found out about this bakery even before I moved to Melbourne. I was on a business trip from Sydney at that time and stumbled upon their shop on Queen Street. I still remember I bought their blueberry brioche and it was absolutely fantastic.

Besides brioche, I've now also taken a liking to their briont, bronut (brioche + donut) and matcha latte from their Little Collins Street outlet. They do good coffees too. ;)

Most of it I had it either plain, with butter or jam but decided to jazz things up and went along with Melbourne's brunch concept and made this with the last 2 slices.

Yup - my fat breakfast consisted of 2 slices of toasted briont, cheddar cheese, bacon and egg, sprinkled with cayenne pepper powder.

I concluded that this bakery is dangerous but the good thing is my office isn't near any of their branches. Lucky for me. Grin.

Side note: Not too long for a break from work now... ;)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ph(f)oto Friday: The last Bono

Bono gifted by Little P and family. They went to Japan and very generously gave me a whole big box but as per the title, I am left with the last one. To make it last longer (and longer), I took a few photos! Haha.

Side note: Bono.. yumm... 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sydney: A night in Swissotel

I've been put at a different hotel at this stage every time I travel for work to Sydney, not too many times but at count number 4 at this stage. This is my favourite hotel but I don't have any good pictures to show. I would like to think this is because it was only a night's stay and not because I was busy stuffing myself with food. Ahem.

Swissotel Sydney is at an absolute strategic location on Market Street, a very short stroll to Pitt Street Mall and Queen Victoria Building (QVB), ok - and work too. Lol.

Walking in front from door
Olympics on TV
The white cupboard is the fridge
Retro feel tiles. Shower stall on the left so can't fit in the photo

Guess what? This hotel has a swimming pool!

I still this from their website
After my lament about hotels not having a pool, I had to fit in time to use it... and there really isn't much space in my eating schedule. My guilt conscience must be strong because I woke up at an ungodly hour of 5:30 am and braced myself in an outdoor pool. Heated but still outdoor on a winter morning. After a short splashing of water, I went for breakfast at about 7:00 am, which is also rare because I usually don't eat breakfast that early. Food comes after maybe 2 rounds of coffee and in the form of grazing throughout the day on a non weekends.

Anyway, all went according to plan. I finished breakfast, checked out and presented myself at work by 8:30 am. Not bad huh. So, back to Swissotel, if your accommodation budget allows for a stay in Swissotel, do book yourself a room there. Absolutely recommended! (... though this is not in my budget for my own self sponsored leisure travel.. sigh)

Side note: How do I know if it is cold or hay fever? Tsk

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sydney: 2 working (eating) days

I wrote about how i missed a photo opportunity where another plane was at sight but I was busy eating before grabbing my camera. Well I saw it again but this was already getting pretty close to Sydney Airport so... but if I don't say it, it isn't obvious from up above is it? Grin.

I was back in Sydney quite unexpectedly. Well, to me, I didn't see any pressing issues for the need to fly but obviously I am not the bosses. It was a short trip, only 2 full days - flying in on a Wednesday morning and out Thursday evening... and that gave me 1 breakfast, 2 lunches and 1 dinner. Not too bad.

What did I managed to squeeze in the 2 days (aside from full day working, of course)? 3 separate catch ups with friends and a lot of food.

One of the regular ex-colleague I that always catch up with when I find myself in Sydney brought me to this Korean restaurant- Danjee. It was introduced to her by a Korean and I am convinced it is good stuff, completed by a lane way entrance on Albion Place. Both of us had the standard lunch box special which set us back $16 (actually set my friend back $32 as she very kindly shouted me lunch). I personally think it is good value as you can see the amount of food, complete with a bowl of seaweed soup.

After lunch, we crossed over to 580 George Street to Alice's Makan to grab some kuih as dessert or afternoon tea. By the time we got there, only kuih lapis were left on the shop counter. Seri muka were sold out, only a sign indicating seri muka were available was left.

Of course we went back to work thereafter. I met up with another friend after logging off work at 5 PM. As she is a model wife and needing to get home to cook for her husband, it was a quick catch up over hot chocolate. We just went to a cafe in Westfield's food court, just because they were still trading at that time.

I checked myself in for the accommodation (will write about that in the next post) and unload my things before making my way towards Central station area. We had Thai food this round, instead of our usual Japanese meals. This is another restaurant that I haven't been prior to this - Green Peppercorn. All photos are courtesy of E.

Durian shake ($7.50).. must be stated that they added coconut milk in these... not good as it meant it diluted the durian taste. 
Spring rolls ($9.90) and charcoal satay skewers ($10.90)
Chicken feet salad ($13.90) - I did try to be adventurous and tried the chicken feet.. not my cup of 'feet'
Pad Thai ($25.90)
Fried ice-cream ($14)
It didn't end here, we then walked over to Koi and got ourselves some cakes. Lol. There were some very nice description but I could only remember something something lemon and something something matcha. Haha.

The lemon cake was exceptionally delicate, by the time I walked back to the hotel the lemon chantilly cream has fallen off the cake = ="

After all the calories input, I decided to pretend to be healthier and woke up for a little swim the next morning. A little swim worked out my hunger so I walked to Surry Hills and had breakfast. :P

Mmm.. ok, I'll come clean. For some strange reason I had cravings to eat HK egg waffle. It is strange because I have never taste it before... so it doesn't really make sense why I had cravings for egg waffle. Anyways, to appease the cravings I rocked up to Haven and had this.

I was trying to do a quick snap and didn't realised that I was actually focusing on the wrong thing... but well, at least now I have a photo of the background eh.. haha.

Must have coffee - Macchiato. The day is better with coffee. 
I was indecisive between black sesame or red bean/green tea but decided will go with the black sesame. So "Sexy Me" it was - black sesame cream mochi, black sesame sauce, sesame chips, vanilla bean ice-cream, lemon zest, mint, classic plain waffle.

Lunch time plan was to grab more cakes! In the ideal world, I would grab some cakes from BlackStar Pastry (now that they are in Kinokuniya!) and had ramen at Ippudo but I left work for lunch late so there was a queue outside Ippudo :(

These are cheat photos of the cakes because I didn't have time to. The cakes had to endure some rough handling and by the time I reached Sydney, cakes had turned into a lumpy mess. I sent some crying stickers over LINE to E and S and they very kindly send me their copy of photos! Hahaa.

The famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake
Raspberry Lychee Cake
Lunch? I just bought a couple of sushi rolls as lunch. So that was how I ate my way around Sydney ;)

Side note: 如果他总为别人撑伞, 你何苦非得为他等在雨中

Saturday, July 2, 2016

FB Nature Photography Challenge

My friend tagged me over in Facebook on this Nature Photography Challenge which I thought why not put up some photos here too, lol.. maximising on this since I have already grabbed some photos off the HDD. There's no brilliant scientific reason as to why the photos were selected or in the order that I posted.

Anyway, the idea is is to post one photo (past or present) a day for 7 days and tag a new friend each day to pass this along. The idea is to flood Facebook with beautiful photo of nature.

Day 1: 
Asahidake 旭岳, Hokkaido, Japan (2012)

Day 2: 
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA (2011)

Day 3:
Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia (2008)

Day 4:
Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan (2015)

Day 5: 
Kravice, Bosnia Herzegovina (2014)

Day 6: 
Mount Cook, New Zealand (2013)

Day 7: 
River Cave, Jenolan, NSW, Australia (2014)

Side note: Alright, got to stop procrastinating!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ballarat: Sovereign Hill Christmas in July 2016

I very rarely put up a post that is not expired (opps!) but I'm trying to redeem myself with this post. This is very much up to date as my visit to Sovereign Hills was just.. yesterday. 

Sovereign Hill Christmas in July this year runs between 25th June 2016 to 24th July 2016... so yup, still about a month more to go if you plan a visit now. I've been toying with an idea to getaway, to curb the itchy feet but day life lately has been needing more money faster than I am earning so I have been grounding myself. That being said, I do need a break so decided to do a day trip to Ballarat. Ideally, I would've prefer to do the commute on a long weekend but being a good Asian I am (kiasu and cheapskate) I want to make it coincide with this Christmas in July event so I made the travel yesterday. 

Entrance fee to Sovereign Hill is not cheap at a price of $54 for one adult and this fee include entrance to Gold Museum across the road from Sovereign Hill. There isn't much discount available except maybe via Entertainment Book, or if you are a RACV member or if you stumbled upon an online deals which I've been checking for a while but haven't seen any. 

I took a train to Ballarat and any discount is better than none, I decided to coincide my VLine commute with the VLine Goldrush special train. Travelling on Goldrush Special hour train gives a 10% discount and a free Cobb & Co Coach ride. 

Currently, Cobb & Co Coach ride costs $5.50 for one adult. So there is a little savings of $10.90. Something is better than nothing. 

Got this discount voucher from the bus driver. Upon paying for entrance fee, make sure you get another voucher for the coach ride because this voucher will be kept. 
As my other reason of going to Sovereign Hill is for the Christmas in July and the lights will only be up at about 5.45 PM, so leaving Sovereign Hills via the Goldrush special train hour is not an option. I decided to take a public bus to Ballarat Station after catching the Winter Wonderlights. Sovereign Hill website mentioned of bus number 9 but buses in Australia have different schedule between weekdays and weekends, so best to re-check before your travel. 

Here are links to check on public transport. 

I reached Sovereign Hill just before 11 AM and took the 6.49 PM bus to catch the 7:14 PM train back to Melbourne, which translates to I was in Sovereign Hills for more than seven hours. I was initially wondering if it has enough activities to keep my occupy but well, it did and I didn't even do all of the activities. Would I return again? Maybe but I don't think I would in the near future unless there are new activities to be explored. 

So.. here are what I did yesterday:

11:00 AM - Walked around the main street. Link to map

11:30 AM - Musket Firing (15 minutes duration)

11:45 PM - Snowfalls at Main Street

There were snow falls, and there was Santa Claus who gave out sweets.

12:00 PM - St Nicholas Old Horse stage performance
I didn't take any photo of the stage play though...
12:25 PM - Cobb & Co coach ride
I had a good timing. I was lucky that I didn't have to wait to get a ride. 

12:40 PM - Lunch
I bought a steak and mushroom pie from Hope Bakery.

It was so-so, I wished it had chunks of meat though
01:00 PM - Gold Pour (20 minutes duration)

He was rubbing some wood on the red-hot gold. It was so hot that there were fire sparks. 
This block of gold is 3 kg and cost about $187,000!
01:30 PM - Red Coat Soldiers (15 minutes duration)
I initially thought it was to see the Red Coat Soldiers marching and thought I have missed it because the leader said "go up the stairstairs" Lol.

The reason they gone upstairs was because they were getting ready to fire the guns, each at a time.

02:00 PM - Sweet making (15 minutes duration)
This by far has the most kids, it is sweet making after all. The area wasn't spacious either and I was there just before the session started, so I was catching the session just outside the door.

Adding citric acid to the raspberry drop
We were given free sample of these raspberry drops, this is their best selling candy
02:30 PM - Candlemaker (20 minutes duration)
This one a bit of a letdown actually because there were so much talk and so little demonstration. The actual candle making demonstration was pushing down the apparatus twice that was used to make candles. She did show how to dip to make a coloured candle though.

The demo was not by this lady though, she was showing a couple of children who participated to dip the candles

03:00 PM - continued walkabout the area and went up Gold Mine

Real gold flakes on sale as souvenir

03:30 PM - Red Hill Mine Tour (12 minutes duration)
This is the free self guided mine tour in a very loose description. What really happened was the person in charge will give a short briefing i.e. going down some steps till reach a landing, listened to audio recording and once that was done, the audio recording will tell you to continue walking. 

The paid mine tour was popular but I didn't want to take that one (even though it wasn't that expensive ) but because 
- I was being a cheapskate
- I've gone down a mine in Bendigo
- the entrance fee to Sovereign Hill is expensive enough as it is

04:00 PM - 'Rue' by Three High Acrobats

04:30 PM - continued walkabout

Inside Apothecaries' Hall

Minced pie candles.. lol
04:45 PM - get a pass-out stamp from Post Office and checked out Gold Museum

Last entrance at 5:15 PM before closing at 5:30 PM
05:40 PM - Christmas Choir and Winter Wonderlights

I'm trying to put photos of similar buildings so that the projection lights looks more obvious.

06:35 PM - making my way out to the bus stop

So.. that was a day in Sovereign Hill during Christmas in July :)

P/S: If Sovereign Hill is not your cup of tea, maybe a flower festival might interest you. Ballarat holds the Ballarat Begonia Festival annually, usually during the Labour Day long weekend. So if not July, maybe next March? ;)

Side note: Haih - why is 2016 so hard...?