Friday, December 24, 2010

The end to another year gone by....

Hi everyone, Christmas has really snuck up on us, hasn't it? Feels like I was just celebrating Christmas last year with my family in Melbourne, eating a delicious roast turkey prepared by mom and opening presents gifted by the boy :)

This year I only decided 3 days ago to head home for Christmas to celebrate the holiday with family and I'm off tonight! Can't wait :D . And since I made such an impromptu decision, I spent today hunting down presents and wrapping all of them up. Ok, one was bought a month ago and I was eye-ing a couple yesterday, but I can't believe I managed such a monumental effort in such a short time!
I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, enjoy the New Year celebrations, be safe on the roads when travelling (drinking and driving is a big NO-NO, in fact it's downright stupid) and I'll see you again next year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Burnt .... out.

Having left the professional services industry to work in commerce, I must say that the deadlines are few and far between. I've been lucky to leave work at 5-ish everyday but as the company I currently work for has a 31 December year-end, it means that I'll be lucky to see daylight when I leave the office for the next couple of months. 

Add into the mix a merger to complicate reporting requirements- a merger with a listed Hong Kong company, no less. So that means I'll have to take into account HK Listing Rules and Disclosures when I prepare the accounts. Whee. Not so fun when I've been sick for the past week (2nd time in 2 months! Urgh.) and I think I've got the flu this time. *sniffle. Body aches, headaches, blocked nose, cough, sneezing...everything! 

Unfortunately there hasn't been time for bedrest, I've had to work from home (no, working from home doesn't really sound as fun as it does) and last Thurs/Fri were late nights :(. But I guess it was good that I was home, because that meant I was logged onto my Hotmail and I received an email to place pre-orders for Macarons by Duncan! Yay! In my groggy haze I ordered 10 macarons for myself *teehee. Picked them up today on the way home from work and I can't wait to get better so I can devour all of them! Being sick means I've had to say goodbye to my tastebuds so there's really no point getting into them right now.

Look how tempting they are........mmmm......
Check out the sparkly Christmassy stars
Even the red ones have glitter on them
How can you resist them?

I couldn't resist them in the past *here & *here, and I'm back to my old, greedy ways ;) Oh let's be honest, I've never been able to resist good macarons (unless they were absolutely horrible, and trust me, you know a bad macaron when you see one). 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Roast Pork...with Crackling!!!

Who doesn't love a good 'siew yuk'?. When I was young I steered clear of this because of the layers of fat in each perfectly cut column of meat but as I grew older I began to appreciate this more and more. Suffice to say, I've come to love a good roast pork paired with crispy crackling- you can't have it any other way ;). I never thought to attempt this dish at home but one day I just felt like making it. Sure, I could've gone to Pacific House (who do a really good 'siew yuk') but nothing would've curbed my urge to get busy in the kitchen experimenting and trying to get it right.

The Internet is my cookbook when it comes to looking up recipes but a search for 'Roast Pork with Crackling' turned up more variations of how, what, when, why to do it than I could count on both hands. So I did what I did best- opened up a couple of recipes and combined all the sensible bits together. 

Before I chopped up the pork belly...see how juicy and moist it looks! Of course you can trim the fat before placing on a serving plate.
And after- yum!
Of course, it's not complete without the crackling..
And last, but definitely not least, bird's eye chillies to bring everything together.

1 kg pork belly
Copious amount of sea salt
1 tsp of five spice powder
1 tbsp of light soy sauce
A pinch of sugar
A few teaspoons of olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 200°C (fan forced).
2. Rinse pork belly under cold running water. Pat dry. Using a sharp knife, score the skin all the way across (approximately 1 cm apart for each incision), repeat until the whole skin layer has been scored.
3. Rub a copious amount of sea salt into the skin and incisions (the more the better as salt helps draw out moisture from the skin). Prepare the marinade by mixing together five spice powder, soy sauce and sugar. Stir well and coat meat with marinate. Be careful NOT to let this touch the skin as you want the skin to be dry. Place uncovered in fridge for 2-4 hours, depending on how much time you have. Some people recommend leaving it overnight to completely dry out the skin.
4. Remove pork belly from fridge, wipe away excess salt and let it warm to room temperature. 
5. In a bowl, mix a handful of salt to olive oil and rub this mixture all over the skin, and into the incisions. Remember, the more salt, the better.
6. If you have a rack, place the pork belly on a rack and put this onto a baking tray and into the oven. I just used a baking tray as I didn't have a rack.
7. Let it roast on  200°C fan-forced for 20-30 minutes; drop the temperature to 180°C (non- fan) and roast for a further 40 minutes, or until pork is moist and tender in the middle.

Tip for a good crackling:

When I cooked this I opened the oven a couple of times to keep adding salt to the skin but what I learnt was that you can slice the layer of skin off the meat once the meat is cooked, brush some olive oil and sea salt onto the skin and pop the skin back into the oven at  220°C (fan-forced) for 10 minutes- please hover around your oven and keep an eye on the progress...I will not be responsible for any fires started by this recipe! While you are waiting you can chop up the meat and place on a serving plate. 

The sound of the skin crackling is like music to your ears. When this happens you know you've done it right! You have to constantly watch the oven as you are cooking on high heat and there is a lot of smoke involved. Make sure your windows are open when you open the oven doors, otherwise your smoke detectors will have a field day. Once the crackling has been cooked to your desired crispiness, remove from oven and let cool in a warm place. Slice and place on top of the meat. Ta-da! All done, and easier than you thought ;)


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Three bags full - Richmond

Do you remember how the nursery rhyme goes?

'Baa, baa black sheep have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full'

Haha the name of the cafe just reminds me of that. Now you can't get the rhyme out of your head either, right? 

On the weekend the boy and I resumed our brunch outings and headed to Three Bags Full in Richmond. We were lucky to get a table inside (and we didn't have to wait! yay!) because halfway through our meal it started pouring and everyone sitting outside got drenched, or had rain-soaked food!
Supposedly famous for coffee- but the cappuccino the boy ordered was lukewarm. Is there a reason why coffee is sometimes served tepid? I like my beverages relatively hot.
Baghdad Omelette- potatoes, yoghurt, avocado, herbs. The boy loves potatoes (he could eat it all day everyday) and was disappointed there were only 2 pieces lurking in his omelette. Tastewise this was yummy though, can't go wrong with avocado and a surprisingly delicious sourish note from the yoghurt. 
The girl who enjoys life's little things ie. me went for the Parmesan. Poached eggs, prosciutto, parmesan, truffle oil, served with organic sourdough bread to mop it all up. Decadent? Yes. Indulgent? Yes. I finished this feeling like I had overindulged for my first meal of the day but I enjoyed it. Only complain was the poached eggs didn't have yolks that were runny enough; which meant this dish was a little on the dry side. More sauce or condiments might've lifted this dish up.
We were both still hungry after our egg breakfast so we ordered something sweet to share. Raspberry, coconut and fig bread with vanilla mascarpone, fresh strawberries and passionfruit sauce. The bread was warm and yummy, not overly sweet and was perfectly balanced by the sourness of the passionfruit and the neutral creamy taste of the mascarpone. Don't be fooled, it might look like a small portion but it sure did fill us up! We were too stuffed by the end of the meal and it was a struggle trying to finish this. All in the name of dessert :D
Quirky signs doubling up as table tops. The cafe itself has an industrial feel to it ala Seven Seeds, St Ali etc., with exposed bricks and steel.

Eagerly waiting for my brekkie!
Perfect weather one second, raining cats and dogs the next second. That's Melbourne for you, great coffee culture and famous indecisive weather. :)

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 29, 2010

Keeping to promises

Oh HI, it's been a while (I've lost count of how many times my posts contain 'it's been a while') so let's move on from that, shall we? :D Skip the unimportant stuff I say!

Remember how I promised a few posts back that I'd post up pictures of some of my online purchases? Well I received ONE package so far so I'll treat your eyes to some pretty dresses! All pictures from ASOS of course, no way did I morph into a leggy brunette overnight. 

How gorgeous is this? Look at the beautiful pleats and the rich navy colour! Absolute <3 It is a nightmare getting this dress on and off though, I feel like there's no easy way but to constantly wiggle for 10 minutes to put it on/ take it off. At least I burn some calories doing that. Why don't they make a size 7? A 6 in this is a teeny bit small for me, but an 8 would be too big. :\

This dress has a whimsical peter pan collar, tutu underlay and scalloped lace hem. Could it get anymore perfect? Yes- the back is awesome too! Highly pixelated pic but you get the idea.

And for work I thought this would be perfect....
Sure it looks short, but since the model is Amazonian and I'm on the other end of the spectrum, fingers crossed it'll be a-OK for work. I haven't received this yet because this was delivery #2 which consisted of 2 packages, and guess what? They delivered only one package, so they'll re-deliver the second package tomorrow. Argh *refer below for story*. 

Now let me tell you a story. I only started work in the last week of September and on the FIRST day of work, I got my Louboutin babies delivered. To work. Cos someone had to sign for it and no one would be home during working hours. Which I then showed my manager. To which she later asked, 'How in the world are you going to walk in them?' So first impression I reckon I made was- 'this girl likes to shop'.

And I'm always heading out to the post office to post stuff/ collect packages so I more often than not have a carry bag containing a package. I'm trying to limit the deliveries made by the postie or courier so I re-route them to my residential address and get the boy to fetch them from the post office since it's a 5 min drive and he gets home before they close. But as luck would have it, they upgraded my package to courier/express delivery so someone has to sign for it. So how now brown cow? Only option was to get it delivered to work. And what do they do? Stuff up and deliver one today, and another tomorrow! I have to figure out a way to sneak the package to my desk without anyone noticing *thinks ninja thoughts. It has come to a point where my colleague has called me over to her desk to look at shopping emails and discounts thinking I'd be interested...cos that's all I do, rriiight?

Oh and I also bought a mouse ring because it looked cute!
When I get to work I can introduce him to my computer mouse. 'Mickey, meet Minnie'! HAHA. Now, excuse me while I pick myself up from laughing so much till I accidentally rolled onto the floor.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A bone to pick

Sorry for the lack of pictures lately, maybe when my packages arrive I'll post up my shopping buys <3. In the meantime however, I blame the HOT weather for turning me into one giant ball of moodiness. I was just chatting to the bestie earlier and we started talking about holidays (yes, she goes on like 5 a year- well at least that's what it feels like to me!), and of course Air Asia and Tiger Airways naturally popped up in the convo. 

And it made me realise I've never ever talked about my dissatisfaction with Tiger. They really suck- yes, very mature of me to use such an elementary expression. But really, I have nothing complimentary to say about them. Let's play a word association game now. When I say Tiger, tell me the first thing that pops into your head. 


ALWAYS DELAYED @#$%^& . That's two words + cursing, but who's counting?

I have been scarred from my previous experiences and I can safely say never again will I even think about flying with them. I don't care if prices are ridiculously cheap, they are cheap for a reason and it's always not worth the low prices.

Take my recent trip to KL, where the family and I were due to fly Tiger from KL-Singapore. Flight was at 12pm so we were at the airport by 11am to check in. What do we see when we arrive at the check-in counter? Confused looks on passengers' faces and a sign on the check-in counter notifying us that our 12pm flight had been delayed to 4pm! Cue another round of cursing. It still makes my blood boil to this very day. Imagine having to wait almost 5 hours at LCCT- an airport where there's NOTHING you can do. 

Why did they delay the flight? Who knows, we weren't even told. We didn't even receive an apology when we checked in for the 4pm flight. Of course, everyone's guessed that it was because the 12pm flight was empty and it wasn't economical to go ahead and depart when you can cram everyone onto the later flight and decrease operating costs that way. 

Seriously, Tiger is rubbish. 

The other time was when I had to fly from KL-SIN to catch a flight from SIN-MEL. It was my first time flying Tiger and looking back now, I shouldn't have been surprised it was delayed too. Imagine if it was delayed for 5 hrs and I missed my flight from SIN-MEL and had to figure out some other way to get back to Melbourne. 

Not happy, Tiger. I whole heartedly agree with the Air Asia ads. If you were meant to fly, you'd be born with wings.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I.Have.6. Packages.Coming.In.The.Mail. O.M.G. (plus one shipped to KL). GULP. 

*at least I'll get some credit card points? *consoles self.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

OK, so...

...lately when I'm out (or online) shopping I've developed this habit of checking the inside label or description of each garment to see what material they're made out of. 90% of the time it's polyester, acrylic, viscose, something that probably starts melting when worn more than 10 times etcetc. I never used to care but I'm starting to realise I prefer clothing made out of natural fabrics...and it's so difficult to find these! Where are all the 100% silk, leather or cotton clothes? Where are they hiding. Not that I'd ever wear a leather dress. 

And it's disappointing to see that even the more expensive clothing brands for example, Sretsis also use a lot of man-made materials. Would you fork out $600 bucks for a polyester dress? That makes me think twice. I guess it's good in a way because it's curbing my horrible shopping habit. Seriously, I don't really need a wardrobe half-full of disposable fashion! Skin should be able to breathe naturally, so my quest going forward I guess is to be able to slowly change the contents of my wardrobe. Really liking the sound of cotton clothing already, so comfy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'The only thing we do in pots is mussels...yummm!'

Spring is well and truly warming up, some days the sun will decide to make a rare appearance, and appear it did last Sunday! We just HAD to take advantage of the warmer weather to do some *ahem* dining outdoors and what better way to wash down food on a warm day than to have it with icy cold beer? Remember how in my last post I didn't have a camera with me? Well I brought mine for a walk but guess what? I left my memory card in my laptop! Good work, me. 
Satisfied after devouring a pot of mussels with a friend who was visiting from Sydney. This was cooked in lemon and orange zest with Hoegaarden and coriander. Yum.

Oh I lied. Did I say my cravings were satisfied? :D We had ANOTHER pot of mussels- this time cooked in white wine broth with onions, celery, thyme and leek. Delicious!

And the best part was? They were all half priced pots. :D Score!

Camera stares forlornly back at me. Who knew Peach Beer could taste like 10 KINDS OF AWESOME
Can't wait for the weekend again- weather will be p-e-r-f-e-c-t and that spells visits to the Rooftop Bar ;) There's just so much more to do in summer, I can't wait!
Belgian Beer Café on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Il Fornaio, St Kilda

I wonder if I can just fill a post with pictures and get away with it? My SLR didn't come along with me so all I have are grainy Iphone pics. It really doesn't do the desserts any justice as it doesn't show them in alllllllllllll their glory :( Maybe just SLR your minds? :D

Creme Brulee with Heilala Vanilla- according to a knowledgeable friend (whom we think should audition for Masterchef) Heilala is a very famous type of vanilla from New Zealand. I would never have known otherwise. My food vocab is probably limited to knowing that truffle oil is amazing and I need to get me some of that soon!

Tart Tatin- poached pineapple on pastry served with gingerbread ice-cream and mr. gingerbreadman! Hmm, I wonder who ate the gingerbreadman?

Creme Caramel- passionfruit creme caramel with a mango sorbet, some small cubes of jelly-like things (I have no idea what they were 0_o) and summer salad (including blood oranges yum!)

Because a pretty dessert deserves two pictures! Snow white and rose red- beautiful summer dessert, complete with sugared rose petals, meringue, rhubarb and berries.

Fans of Masterchef might have seen this on the show! It was one of the challenges on one of the episodes. It's a caramel parfait glace with salted peanut caramel and milk chocolate mousse. In layman's terms, it's a deconstructed Snickers bar! Absolutely delicious. Salt when paired with chocolate always, always comes out on top.

I liked every single one of the desserts we ordered, but the standouts for me were the passionfruit creme caramel and snickers bar. Don't get me wrong, they were ALL very good, but sometimes you just need favourites, right? :) Hmm, but I also liked the pineapple pastry and gingerbread ice-cream..uh-oh I can't make up my mind now. 

Testament to how good everything was- all polished off in less than 20 minutes! I bet we waited longer for the desserts hehehe. Run, don't walk kids ;)

Il Fornaio on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I woke up this morning to the sound of rain pouring down, and turning all the buildings around mine a darker shade of cement gray. I went to my balcony door and looked at the view. I was transported back 5-8 years ago, when it would always rain during my Semester 2 exam periods and it reminded me of how things have changed since. I was still financially dependent on my parents then, anything I bought I dipped into their allowance for me and always had to think twice about getting something....or came from my stash of savings from receiving angpows during Chinese New Year. All I had to worry about was when my holidays were, and how to do well in the mid-sem test, the next assignment, the next try to score High Distinctions for my final exam papers....putting a lot of pressure on myself to excel. Uni was fun- but it was always more work than play for me. After all, my parents had invested a lot of money, time and effort to put me through Uni and that's no easy feat. I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford raising a kid (so expensive!), so I've resorted to raising Care Bears hahahaha. 

The sight, smell and sound of rain this morning awoken this distinct memory in me and I can even remember how before each exam I would stop studying a day before and just relax, taking it easy and trying not to stress (not easy!). I would always rug up in the same winter jacket for my exams- with pockets for my phone and my keys. I never brought a bag to the exam hall, but I think it helped that I used to stay right opposite my examination place. I was always a light traveller ;) I would check that I had my favourite pencils and pens, my whiteout, my metal ruler, my eraser that's been in my possesion for a couple of years. I'm like that- I never change my things if they are still working fine, that way I don't amass massive amounts of junk, or have 2-3 of the same thing. I would be very calm as I bumped into friends outside the examination  hall, with many of them freaking out even before stepping foot into the building.

I remember the feeling of taking my seat, and looking around me- hoping I didn't sit next to people who were fidgety or smelled bad hahaha. Unfortunately, having been through 6 crucial exam periods, I couldn't avoid weirdos who happened to sit around me. I remember being told not to flip open the exam paper until we were told to do so, and not to start until reading time was up. I remember going on auto-pilot and regurgitating everything I'd study....but it wasn't as straightforward as that. We needed to really think. It was about application of what we'd learnt. I remember the feeling of freedom, of liberation when the exam was over, and when we were told to 'stop writing'. The unofficial sign that exam had ended. I remember waiting impatiently as invigilators went around collecting papers. Hurry up, I would be thinking. I want to get out of here and smell the fresh air. The smell of being free from the shackles of formal education. I had a plane to catch, My holiday starts soon! Hurry, walk a little quicker. I remember rushing through the heavy double doors of the examination hall, glad to be out and not having to rummage in storage for my bag I never brought. Glad to be home, to start thinking about going to the airport to begin my 1 or 3-month holiday. Life as a student- was a breeze, relatively speaking of course, when compared to life to come!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Absolutely LOVIN' the strength of the AUD right now!

I finally bought a pair of flats I've been coveting since FOREVER! They retail for about AUD 610 in Australia (rip-off!) but in the US it only costs USD 440. Can you guess what they are? Hint: Patent leather, with a pretty trademark bow design on the front!


You can do better....

Salvatore Ferragamo Varina flats in black patent leather.

And you know what the best part was? I got them on SALE! Wheeeee! So happy *jumps up and down. I initially wanted a pair that was nude instead of black, but unless I magically expand my feet to size 9.5 I don't think it's a good idea getting shoes that will look like small boats on my feet. :\

The flats + shipping from the US cost me less than AUD 400. How awesome is that? :D

Now I just can't wait for them to arrive hehehe.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tom Phat - Brunswick

After weeks of having breakfast at home on the weekends, we decided to head out to Tom Phat with a couple of friends to check out the place. Never one to pick Asian cuisine over Western meals, I decided to go along with the boy for some fusion food ;) It took me a while though- oh let's say maybe....a couple of months- to agree to go? It was the perfect Saturday, sunny and warm, always a good excuse to try new things!
It's a cosy little place, complete with a communal table (which is where we sat that morning)

A splash of colour on the wall- the mural looks like its come straight out of a comic strip
Lonesome 'sifu' floating knowledgeably on a cloud :D
I wish I could say I finished it all but it was too big for one person! Roti omelette- roti and omelette with bacon, chives and tomato salsa. Very yummy mMMmmmm...heaps and heaps of bacon too, just what I like!
Omelette with spicy chorizo- tastes exactly like it sounds hahaha. The people who had this preferred it over my dish hmmph!
Uh oh I forgot what this was :( It was a very interesting combination! Not liking the maraschino cherries but the kaffir lime leaves and tamarind caramel were awesome possum! I never knew all these ingredients could work so well together.

I surprise myself sometimes...I liked what I had so much that this is going under the Stuff you HAVE to try label :D

Tom Phat on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The weekend came and went in the blink of an eye! Stay tuned- two (and a half) new posts coming up next week! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Melb Cup Google

How cool is Google today? It's even got on the bandhorsewagon (teehee!) and when I hover my mouse over the picture the caption reads 'The race that stops the nation.' Pic courtesy of Google (obviously).

Tired but happy little camper- that's me!

So today was Melbourne Cup and since I'm not a big gambler....the only thing I was looking forward to was the fact that it was a public holiday! Yay! Race that stops the nation? What's that? Lol. When you're in VIC, public holidays are few and far between so I'm always hanging out for one- especially if it means a shorter working week! :)

Decided to head into the city for some shopping. Ever since I stopped working in the CBD, heading into the city on a weekday or weekend feels like an absolute treat. When I was still working in the city I used to trawl the shops almost every lunch hour *guilty face.

I couldn't go for long either since I had to be back before dinner to resume kitchen duties (boooo) so I fully utilised my 2-hour tram ticket. Headed into Melb Central as there was something I had set my eye on that I knew my wardrobe would gladly welcome with open arms. First stop: Peter Alexander for my Gingerbread PJs! Result: Out of stock. Argh!

Stopped by my favourite chemist for some new nailpolishes but they hadn't restocked, so I left empty handed. Result: No damage done.

Popped by Target to check out the new Stella McCartney for Target range. They had some good pieces- beautiful lace tops and dresses, perfectly cut tulip skirts...other than that, I wasn't that impressed with the rest of the range. Result: Left empty handed.

I still had time on my side so hopped onto the tram and went to Spencer St to visit PA again. Result: They had my PJ bottoms in my size. Score!

Next stop: PA in Crown. Good thing was I never really had to wait for trams so I had plenty of time to spare. Visited the PA store- couldn't find my Gingerbread singlet top! Ahh I was blind. They were right at the front of the store. They had an S, so I had to ask the SA whether they had one in my size. Result: None left in store, one available at Chapel St- put on hold for me till they close at 4pm. 

OMG. By then it was already 3.07pm and my ticket expired at 4pm! Should I head to Chapel St or not? Took the tram to Southern Cross Station and what do I see? My train leaving the station as I was heading down the escalators. Oh nooooo! The next train to South Yarra was in 8 minutes. Sigh. Waited and waited- good thing it was on time so I hopped on the train and got off at Flinders thinking that I should just head home. Don't know what made me change my mind but I got on the same train two carriages down from where I got off hahaha. Decided to take a punt and see if I would make it to Chapel St to get my hands on the sneaky lil gingerbread top that kept evading me. 

I finally made it into the PA Chapel St store where I swiped my credit card and got my hands on the singlet top. Hurray. Result: pictures below! I also got home from Chapel St before my tram ticket expired too. I'm still amazed by how I managed to squeeze all the travelling in within a couple of hours, plus shopping and other stuff too.

Two different tissue wrappers since I got them from separate stores.
Tada! How cute is the top? Look at Mr. Gingerbreadman with his fuschia eyes trying to sneak out of the pocket. And the pants will be great for spring weather...can you believe it's still cold now? One more month to summer and we're still having 16 degree days! Not that I'm complaining...I love the cold :)

New PJs for sleep. Awesomesauce :D