Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Penny Jar for Australia?

In the USA, a penny isn't worth very much. So in shops, there is usually a little 'penny tray' or 'penny jar', where you can leave your unwanted pennies ... and also pick up a few if you're a bit short in payment. It's a separate thing to the 'tip' jar. And, I think, an unusual display of generosity.

I think it would be a pretty neat idea to implement in Australia. I know that we have phased out the 1c and 2c coins... but you could pretty much do the same with the 5c pieces. It is almost as if they're not regarded as legal tender anymore - you can't pay your tolls with them, and the train ticket machines won't accept them either.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Regressing Tastebuds

Perhaps it is a symptom of moving out from the city, and not being able to go out as much as I would like to, but it appears that the tastes that I like on my tastebuds have 'regressed' from my umami seeking delicate sensibilities.
When a small child, peppermint choc-chip ice-cream was the bees knees. Then I 'grew up', didn't like it. Now? When approaching a magnum icecream, my two favourite flavours are now the chocolate almond with the nuts on the outside (only if sharing), and the peppermint.
I am also in favour of the sharp punchy flavour of salt & vinegar chippies, the saltiness of twisties and the artificial high from cheetos cheese & bacon balls. I appear to have lost the appetite for the latter though - quick consumption of 2 packets in rapid succession may have had something to do with it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: Wyrd Sisters performed by Horsley Park theatrical and musical society

Dated 10 November 2008. Not my words, but in line with what I thought of the play. "Wyrd Sisters" is Terry Pratchett's take on Macbeth...
With thanks to Ross.

We went and saw Wyrd Sisters on Friday night (...it's amazing what a couple of performances will do for an amateur company!)

The actor playing Nanny Ogg that you were less than impressed with nicked off at 6:00 that evening - there was no understudy, so someone stepped in and read the part - but she had enough experience that it presented like a bookish Gytha always with her nose in a "grimmer" and after a while you hardly noticed.

Granny Weatherwax and Magrat Garlick brought the house down. No, really! I didn't understand the remark about "couldn't trust a man with horns on his hat" until I saw the exchange between Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, with Magrat looking bewildered and the audience knowing who the Fool really was! Exercising his "droit de seigneur" indeed!

The Ghost Verence was great - relished his part and played against Nanny Ogg very well. The dungeon scene was a lot of fun, as was the play. "My own sodding dagger!!"

The Fool needed a personality transplant...no argument there.

I enjoyed Felmet, and the Sergeant worked very well with him.....very Blackadder, as per Stephen Briggs' stage instructions. "She gave me a bun!" The hands worked a bit better than you reported...timing is everything I guess.

They'd given Lady Felmet a riding crop, and it worked for some scenes...but not all. She's such a central character that that must have been quite disappointing.

The scene changes worked well enough, but the "thunder flashes" on the heath and when Magrat bursts the dungeon door were pretty lame. Suspension of disbelief required there.

All up, we were quite prepared to forgive the Fool and Lady Felmet for the fun we got from the Witches, the Ghost and Felmet.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Argh, computer addict

I've been on the computer at work 830 until 7pm. Then I went home. Then I got back on the computer again. I am surprisingly chirpy again once in front of the keyboard. What's going on?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review: Chilli Cha Cha, Haymarket

I have a new fave thai restaurant! There are no queues to get in, there are seven kinds of som tum (classic, fermented fish, fermented crab, fermented crab&fish, vermicilli rice noodles & crab, grilled pork neck and crispy fish), they don't stint on the chilli, and the food is good!

So Shh - don't tell anyone.*

So far, I have tried (numbers correspond to the takeaway menu):
21 - Yum Woon Seen (vermicilli salad). This is my new favourite signature dish. Vermicilli, squid and pork mince tossed in mint, coriander and thai dressing. Chilli/sour taste, balanced by the sweetness of spanish onion. Or are the eschallots?
26 - Som Tum (green papaya salad) 'classic'. Very hot and spicy, but the sauce is well balanced.
34 - Choo Chee with white fish. Steamed fish smothered in a creamy coconut red curry sauce, and sprinkled with finely sliced kaffir lime leaf. I wanted more.
39 - Panang curry with tofu & vegies. Kaffir lime leaf again, carrot, zuccini, and big chunky tofu pieces.
Thai red (iced) tea. Yum. yum. yum. yum. I love this drink. I love the strong tea flavour, I love the sugar.

Highly, highly recommended; stacks of dishes to try out, and not too pricey.
Chilli Cha Cha Thai Restaurant
Shop 462, 40-50 Campbell Street, Chinatown

* - Hmm. Looks like I may be too late. They've already got a mention in the smh.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: Ramen Kan, Haymarket

I raved about Ramen Kan in Bondi Junction in an earlier post. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for their Haymarket branch.

So I had a craving *again* for soft shell crab. In Bondi Junction, you get four segments of a soft shell crab, with a dipping sauce on the side. The whole crab. In Haymarket, it is "soft shell crab salad", and you get two segments of crab, shredded cabbage, indifferent tomato, and a decorative butter lettuce leaf speckled with ice. The whole lot was covered by a brownish vinegar-type sauce, that looked a bit like Satay, but wasn't.

I had originally ordered the "seaweed salad", craving the Kaiso Salad that I had enjoyed so much at Sushisuma, but the waitress suggested that I was getting a lot of salad. So Agedashi tofu instead - four cubes of tofu, in the light soy sauce and shaved bonito flakes on top.

I did alternate between genmaichai, the tofu, and the 'salad', but it was a struggle to finish. Too many 'samey' tastes, and the vinegar was a bit harsh.

Kudos for letting me know that I had way too much salad (I don't think I could have eaten much if it had had the same brown vinegar sauce). But for value for money soft shell crab - I would go to Bondi Junction instead.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review: Elephant Jump Cafe, Surry Hills

A new discovery!
Was lurking near Central Station, when I made this new discovery. The restaurant at the Madison hotel was shut for renovations, so I ventured into Devonshire street to have a look-see. Elephant jump cafe looks pretty new, seats about 15 people. There were definitely thai people behind the counter.

We tried one of the house specials - Yum Yum stir fried; and Penang curry.

'Yum Yum stir fried' had instant (2 minute noodles), egg, chicken, carrot, chinese cabbage (wombok) and lots of pepper.
The Penang curry was really rich and pumpkiny with bits of carrot. A mild to medium flavoured curry, but very moreish. I was quite tempted to lick the bowl clean.

They had plenty of visitors
Highly enjoyable. I shall have to visit again.

Elephant Jump Cafe
Shop 3, 99 Devonshire Street Surry Hills NSW

Friday, November 14, 2008

Partying 'light'

I was at the lindt cafe last night at Darling harbour. Having ordered my small dark hot chocolate (disappointing, it didn't taste right - almost as though the milk was nearly off?), I needed to visit the bathroom. There was a young lady in there, who had just unpacked a hair straightener, and was looking for a spot to plug it in. I was stunned.
Guys always complain about the weight of women's handbags... and I can see why. Why wouldn't you straighten your hair at *home*, so you didn't have to carry it on Friday night?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Review: Ramen Kan, Bondi Junction

I found myself in the eastern suburbs, and having a craving for Japanese food, I went to Ramen Kan in Bondi Junction.
This is where I first discovered (deep fried) soft shell crab, several years ago.
The place was full of anglos. In fact, I only saw three Asians whilst I was there, and only one of them was Japanese. No matter, although the adage is that to find good japanese you should eat where the "locals" eat, the food is good.

Soft shell crab $8.90. One baby crab, cut into quarters, deep fried.
Ramen & Gyoza (set). $13.90. You get three gyoza (instead of the the six on the regular entree), a little heap of rice, a mini cabbage salad and your choice of shio/shoyu or miso ramen. I chose shio, because it had a tonkatsu base, and I adore tonkatsu ramen from ichban boshi.

The tonkatsu was a little disappointing. Instead of being really rich, sweet and satisfying; I found it slightly bland. Perhaps it was diluted to many bowls instead? After all, ichi ban boshi claims it can only make 15 bowls a day - and I've seen the stock with legs of pork all wrapped up in string, simmmering away.

I shall have to head back, and take some food pictures. If I had had space, I would have ordered the cabbage salad as well, for $1.50 a serve. (edit: going on the Haymarket store prices, this was probably $5.90).

Ramen Kan
Shop 3, Bronte Road (cnr Ebley Street), Bondi Junction

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Highway 50, Nevada

A few years ago, the Nevada State government got given some dollars by the Federal government, I guess, to "improve tourist facilities". They didn't really have any, because after all, people never actually *visit* Nevada, they just go to Las Vegas, right?

So Highway 50 (travelling west to east) got dubbed "Loneliest Highway in America", and you can get a dinky little passport, and get it stamped in each of the 5 counties that you travel through, and then at the *end* you can get some little souvenir. I didn't.

There is a distinct lack of signage, or even 'confirmation', that you are indeed travelling on the correct road, and in the correct direction. On one north-south road up to Interstate-80, we went 20miles from missing one sign, to being able to read the next one.

Every now and then there is a "Historic Marker coming up" sign, with no distance, and no indication if it is on the left or the right of the road. Only after having driven past it at 70mph, do you go "oh, that was the turnoff I was supposed to have turned off on".

We drove from Carson City to Fort Churchill. This posting was seen as a 'good one' for the officers during the Indian Wars, because you were about a day's ride from the towns of either Fallon or Carson City, and you got one day off per month. Plus you got someone else to do your washing. It wasn't so good for the infantrymen, but the signs didn't tell us why.

From Fort Churchill, we drove up to Fallon via "Ragtown", so named because of the plethora of washing that was draped all over the bushes to dry near the river. After Fallon, we visited Grimes Point Archaeological area, ooohed over the peteroglyphs, and ahhed over the sunset. Missed seeing the "Hidden Cave", I will have to call up and arrange a tour next time.

I remember seeing "Sand Mountain", this out-of-place looking enormous sand dune in the middle of high salt desert. Apparently the local Indians thought it was a snake god, because the ridge resembled the changing shape of a snake. Also, there used to be a pony express station at the base of the mountain. One day *...slurpe..* the sand mountain covered it over, and then 150 years or so later *...slurpe..*, it uncovered it again. I would be hesitant to slide down that thing on a cardboard box or 'sand surf' down the slope. Now it is being used for ATV or dune buggy shenanigans.

From there, it was a couple of hours drive into Austin, and the very strange Serbian International bar.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Crossing the Sierra Nevada, CA to NV

We camped at Calaveras Big Trees campground, just north of Arnold California. This is on Highway 4. In the morning, we did some of the easy walks. That is the three senses walk (which I tried by following my hand along the guide rope, and then stopping at the braille sections to open my eyes), the grove overlook walk, and the north grove walk. I love the smell of the pine trees, and kept stopping to crush some of the leaves in my fingers.
Every now and then, something would fall past my eyes, but when I tried to see what it was, I convinced myself that it was just a bit of falling twig, or the seed from a pine tree. However, just as we arrived back at the car, what I thought wasn't happening, actually was: It was snow! Oh my god! We were not prepared for snow.
In any case, based upon the reassurances of the people in the visitors centre ("this is just a fluke"), we hopped in the car and drove east, planning to cross the Sierra Nevada by going through Eberts pass. We drove past Alpine lake, and you could see clear across to the otherside. It was beautiful.
As we climbed higher and higher though, it began to snow again, and visibility dropped to about 30metres. All the vehicles that were going the other way were 4wd type, and they had quite a bit of snow and ice crusted on their windscreen. It got to the point that when we passed a car, by the time we got to the next snow patch on the road, we could not see their tracks.
Around the Mosquito Lake trailhead, L made an executive decision to turn back. We had not yet reached Ebert's pass, and from what he remembered, it turned into more of a corkscrew on the descent that the ascent. We were in a 2wd car, and we weren't carrying chains. And as I had muttered to myself earlier: the last time that I had driven in the snow, I had my old AWD, and I had chains then!
So we retreated from the ascent, and drove back down to the campground, and camped for another night. Dinner was had at "Giant Burger" in Arnold, and, I have to say, the giant burger wasn't really so giant. L claims that during the middle of the night he heard someone hop into their vehicle and turn on the engine to try and warm up. In the morning the puddles of water on the picnic table had all frozen into ice! This was at an altitude of approx 4500 feet (1100 m).
We found out from a ranger that it was lucky indeed that we had turned back. The road through Ebert's pass was now closed, and would not open again until the snow melted.
Our 'crossing of the Sierra Nevada' turned into a full-scale retreat. We backtracked through to Angel's Camp, and then had to take Highway 88 through Carson Pass to Carson City and Nevada. I hopped out every now and then during the drive to take a picture of the snow covered mountains, and marvel at how cold it was. The mountains, already a beautiful place, had been made even more so by that cold front and the resulting snow, which had caused us to retreat.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Grr.. thought I would be about to get the fy0708 tax ticked off tonight, but no. I'm missing one vital bit of information, the bit that says FBT liability equals 'this'.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cirque du Soleil and Sushisuma

Had the advantage of being part of a group booking for some Cirque du Soleil tickets, for the latest production: Dralion. The advantage of the group booking? $10 discount. However, It still means that you pay over $100 per ticket.

Prior to heading to fox studios, we went to Sushisuma to eat. I had been here the week before, prior to seeing Sigur Ros at the Hordern, and I have been here a few years ago. I remember having to queue up on the street outside waiting for a table.

The renovations have included a new "waiting room" upstairs, where you are expected to order. If you haven't ordered, don't expect to be able to secure a table downstairs. Terse communication from the waiters mean that it is generally the other customers that explain why you are up here, and what to do.

Luckily, no waiting on a Thursday night. We got the enormous Kaiso Salad (mysteriously lurking in the entreee section of the menu), the teriayki fish dinner set, and a bowl of tempura udon. The dinner set was very good value, and although only one set was ordered, the other party got some agedashi tofu and the vanilla icecream with red bean and green tea topping. I loved the sauce that the Kaiso salad came with - it was a mountain of mostly shredded cabbage, carrot and wakame. I ended up taking away some leftovers home, although of course, it was not the same the next day. Searching for it online only seems to come up with an "instant" packet of the stuff, and no explanation of what a Kaiso salad is, or what dressing to use. plum dressing?

Cirque du soleil - the acrobatics were amazing, especially the girl who stood upside down on her hand on top of a pole, and then twisted her body this way and that. Just watching it, you couldn't believe that her body was connected at all, it was like there were two separate disjointed "bits". I also enjoyed the trampoline section where the multiple acrobats bounced between two trampolines, "walked up the wall", and then onto an intermediate platform inbetween fun and enjoyable.

However... what I didn't like. I found the costumes a little bit "twee" and predictable. What is the point of getting the acrobats to head backstage, change one chinese style costume for another (including a fake "mop-end of hair" for another). I vaguely remember reading a smh review of the show, which mentioned something about a rather weak story line joining the whole lot. Some of the artists I actually, well, the girl in the blue costume near the end of the show, who did the ribbon acrobatics. Watching her, it was all very routine, and she didn't look like she was enjoying herself at all. And ARGH, what was the point of the two singers? Silly winged costumes, songs that were nothing, and the 'hey look over there while I change the set' technique. I - uh- ... actually got a little bored near the end of the show.

It's so very easy to be critical and judgemental .. but really, when you're paying over $100 for the ticket, wouldn't you expect more! Anyway. I did enjoy myself. I am glad I went and saw the show once, but I don't think that I would bother to do so again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Socks

After the washing fairy has washed and dried the clothes, and it comes to sorting. I always seem to end up with the mismatched pairs, or the ones that have matching holes in the toe. His excuse: Your socks are always shorter than mine, and I have the softer ones. This problem is not helped by the fact that I like men's business socks.

In response I have just bought 3 new 3 packs of socks for me. Count them! And not only that, I am going to monogram them so he can't claim them as his own.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Adelaide: Central Market

So, my first Adelaide morning was spent wandering around Central Market. I liked it. Like a cross between Queen Vic and Prahan markets in Melbourne (except without the free and abundant samples). And arrgh, why can't we have markets like this in Sydney! There was coffee, nut shops (Charlesworths appears to be an Adelaide institutions), smelly cheese shops, and the biggest chocolate crackle that I have seen!

After some debate (across the road in a cafe on Gouger Street), I decided to get a baby goats cheese (Le Crottin d'Anton), a Barossa Valley Cheese 'baby bert', a truffle...! (My first one ever. I got the French summer one, rather than the stronger Tassie Winter one). Also, the house blend from the coffee bean shop, and one of the ginormous chocolate crackle in dark chocolate.

I went to the Sydney Growers' Markets the next weekend (good timing, eh?), and it was fun, and it was sunny and glorious and there were samples to taste and try... but I wish the Sydney ones were a weekly occurrence (or even daily, if I could stump it), instead of a "special" occasion.

I have read in the mX though, that there will soon be a weekly Hawksbury Harvest farmers markets on Friday mornings at the corner of cook & phillip park (St Mary's Cathedral, or sort of where William Street starts). Exciting! I hope there will be good bread.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mmm.. duck

We tried the duck with 'ginger & star anise' pastabilities pasta on Sunday night.

I prepared as suggested on the packet, with a bit of soy sauce flavoured "asian greens" (spinach). It was quite nice, although the presentation was terrible. (I don't know how you could do it if needed at at dinner party). The inside tasted a bit like those little roast chicken livers you get from the chinese bbq duck places. (Also Suan-i-san thai place on Pitt St in Sydney).

I also tried to pan fry a few, to get a 'healthy version' of the ones they do at the markets for samples. Not much luck… I think you really need to deep fry them. I ended up with normal looking pasta, with some uneven brown dried bits where it had been in contact with the pan.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Say what?

This is a photo of an accountant "spotted" in Melbourne in the local trashy afternoon read on the train home. I'm sooo jealous. What person do you know, apart from AH herself, can afford to dress in top to toe Allanah Hill? ARGH! I do like the tights though... will have to see if I can get a pair.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New England Scallop Chowder

L had bought a bunch of scallops, and had a craving for scallops "with cream". The directive was for cream with mushrooms, and my reaction was 'ew'. So I attempted New England clam chowder - with scallops instead of clams. I think it turned out quite well.

This is what I did, based upon elsa peterson-schepelern's "Soups" book.

250g frozen scallops
water to suit (125ml fish stock - I used beef stock powder)
Dried chinese shrimp
1/3 can of spam (preferrably 500g smoked pancetta or bacon!)
3 small onions, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 bay leaves
a few small potatoes, cubed
1 patty butter (10g?)
1 tablespoon flour
250mL warm milk
parsley bunch, coarsely chopped to serve.

Put scallops in large pot, add bay leaves, carrot, celery, potatoes, pepper, shrimp. Add water/stock to suit. 1.5L or so. Simmer for 10 minutes (when the potatoes are cooked).

Meanwhile fry up the cubed spam until 'crunchy' , or the sides have seared.

Instead of adding cream, I made up a roux, so this could be reheated later without separating.

1 tablespoon of flour, and butter, melt together. Add warm milk. Stir constantly to prevent it clumping. When it goes 'thick', add the roux to the soup.

Serve with chopped parsley and spam/pancetta/bacon on top. Garlic rubbed toast on the side.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Epic Bushwalk

Had an "almost-epic" bushwalk over the weekend. Armed with a topo map and a gps, we headed out at 10am, and arrived at the dirt track ready to depart by midday. 6km bike ride to Drip Rock, and then the bush bashing began - for real.

I didn't realise that it would be this hard! It all looks so easy on the map - just follow this ridge line to here, and then follow this one to this point, and then we'll walk down into the canyon and follow the creek. We'd even entered in 3 waypoints into the gps toy, so that we would have something to aim for. Satellite reception was good - it was the bushbashing through, well, the bush that hurt.

It took nearly 8 hours return journey, and we only made it to the second waypoint (i.e. the second ridgeline). We didn't get anywhere near the third waypoint, or the creek that we were aiming for. After the second, we clambered around the cliffline hunting for caves. The rock was really exposed, rotton and soft. Kind of strataed in the wrong direction, and it wasn't at all what we were hunting for.

Gave up on the hike then, and started heading back. It's amazing how disorientated you get when i starts to get dark, and your vision 'switches' to black and white. Every bush and tree starts to look the same, and they're all so darn spiky! I was glad of my super tough 'quagmire goretex gaiters', but i wish i had the equivalent for my arms.At least I had fleece gloves to protectect the hands, but ow!

Once it got properly dark, it was all relying on the leader picking up the faint trail through the brush, and backed up by the 'breadbrubs' laid down by the gps. It was one of those paths that when you were on it - you weren't sure if you were on it, but you definitely knew when you had come off it, because of the amount of undergrowth.

*Finally* got back to the bikes, and then began to pick our way back slowly along the dirt trail. I have ridden at night before without much light - but normally along the street where you have streetlights or car lights to help you out. Worst case for me so far had been riding through centennial park in the dark. But this? You could barely see where you were going, and the throw of the headtorches that we had wasn't really adequate. Luckily it was a fairly flat, well graded track, although I nearly did come a cropper by running into a downed tree whilst daydreaming about tinned sardines for tea.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Regional or class accents within Australia?

Two weeks ago, Triple J's current affairs program did a special about 'money', and whether or not there are different class accents within Australia. The conclusion from the linguistics analyst was that there are no 'class' accents, but more regional accents. That is, students from two schools will have the same accent if they're in the same area/suburb.

It got me to thinking .. I went to what could be termed a wannabe private school. I have memories of being told off for using the term "loo" or "bog", instead of "bathroom. I have noticed recently that I adopt the accent or style of speech of the people that I am conversing with. I'll adopt a more westie accent to make fun... and my sister has commented that I have been saying things more 'westie' style.

The strangest thing about the program was that it concluded with an take from Ja'mie. The linguist being interviewed adored the accent, and called it "progressive", with a lot of 'ah' ('eh?'), flat sort of sounds. To me it sounds more like a kiwi accent.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pacific Dragons Fundraiser

Got invited by Sarah to the Pacific Dragons Trivia Fundraiser last Thursday.

Made me realise how much I miss going to regular trivia events. *sigh*. I really am too competitive by nature. And I miss not beingthe bearer of wierd, strange, and oddball trivia.

In any case, the Pac Dragons got what they wanted out of me! Lots of dosh for heading to Malaysia for the World Club Crew Championships inAugust. Our table came 7th overall out of 16; not a bad effort!

I got some computer speakers in the silent auction (they're very heavy when trying to get a post-trivia cache), and they're sounding very nice. I'm getting the doof-doof effect without the low slung car and the cruising. I would've also got an external hard disk drive if someone else had actually bid by the rules (he bid $1 more than me, but the rules said $5 increments. So either I should've got them, or the auction admin should've made himpay the additional $4).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Review: Sushiya at Artarmon

Sushiya near Atarmon train station today, because I got stuck in traffic in the lane merge on the cahill expressway, and couldn't be bothered going climbing, despite having made the effort to buy cheap disposable clothing: having left my climbing clothes at home.

Second time there. For some reason, I was drawn to the sea urchin sushi *again*, but this second attempt, I agree: it was too strongly flavoured and slimy to eat as one person! I really wish I had gotten the generic sashimi platter: I could have tried the sea urchin again without it being overkill. Also tried Scallop tataki (yummo!) with bits of fish roe, pickled japanese vegie and seaweed. Ponzu sauce as well? Most tasty.

My 'main' was kitsune udon. Udon good. Wakame good. Seafood extender and kitsune tofu (I thought it would be tofu puffs, not flat bits of sweet dense tofu!/wail). Got to try the tempura set too. The batter was lovely and light, and there was a good variety of tempura foodstuffs there. The most interesting was the tempura fish - there was a slight ammonia taste - was that supposed to be there, or accident?

Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Stupidest thing going?

Most silly thing I saw someone do recently:

I went through a roundabout, and just on the other side, stopped to let someone reverse park into a parking space. After they'd rolled back a bit, and started cutting hard left, I noticed that they were texting on their phone at the *same* time.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Review: Kai on King

I went to Kai on King some nights ago. It ended up being $48 for two. I was told that a friend liked it because it was innovative? I suppose being newtown, it had to label which was and which wasn't vego; but most of the stuff going around was samey: salmon on rice, tuna on rice. It reminds me of what the cheap sushi trains used to be like (but not anymore). I had a bonito (I think) on rice, and it looked dry, and not moist and fresh.

Not licensed (but byo), so the craving for sushi and sake was also not satisfied

Very disappointing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Da Gianni Trattoria

Kicking myself because I never visited Three Clicks West when it was going, a proposed family gathering gave the opportunity to try the new place in its shoes 'Da Gianni Trattoria'. It got a recent rating of 14/20 in the smh's good living.

Walking in, it reminded me a lot of the good times and great food that I had enjoyed at Billingsgate in Randwick. It had a great buzzy atmosphere which in the end turned out to be a bit too loud for this old bat.

Service was a bit variable. The people closest to the serving corridor got their water glasses refilled, but I felt quite neglected up back near the wall. My water glass got filled up once, just before dessert.

Main dishes sampled: roast quail stuffed with fennel sausage with marsala and grapes; duck pappardelle with chestnuts and unfindable funghi, and roman-style slow cooked roast lamb.

The lamb had had the following comment in the review: " Roman-style roast suckling lamb is an early leader for favourite dish of 2008. On-the-bone chunks of baby lamb, initially marinated and cooked in a white wine, tomato and herb braise, are re-roasted then coated in a rosemary-pungent reduction of the cooking juices. Thus the angelically tender lamb is wetter than Romans would expect, but no less for it."

The waiter had recommended the lamb as well, saying that it was dish of the month. My lamb was tender, but over the top too salty. The sampled duck pappardelle tasted sweet and mild in comparison. I needed to intersperse the bites with the sharp vinegarette of the rocket, radicchio and parmesan salad. The rosemary had been deepfried or roasted, and was providing crunchy bits of rosemary flavoured entertaintment. But really? It was almost a relief to finish it.

I seemed intent on filling my stomach with rich-flavoured food. I dithered between the chocolate, hazelnut and frangelico semifreddo; and the vanilla panacotta. I went the semifreddo - great dish to share, almost impossible to finish on ones own! It again was very rich and intense. I thought that it would be a layered type of dessert, but it was a mix, with some intensely spiced cherries as an aside.

I also had the chance to sample the olive oil and rosemary cake with marscapone gelato and stewed figs. That was interesting: the cake was dry yet moist at the same time, and had a faint rosemary herb taste. The figs were tasty: and reminded me of the fig glut I had had whilst in Croatia. The gelato was also an interesting taste: it made the whole dessert more of a savoury affair.

I'm glad I had walked up to the restaurant, because I definitely waddled on home afterwards.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Upcoming eating outs

Next week looks to be quite busy in terms of eating outs (and going-outs). Monday will be sushi and sake from Kai on King. I'm still adoring Umi Kaiten Zushi near central station, so I'll see how this compares. This'll be followed by Ross Noble at the enmore theatre. I don't know how I'll cope with his accent, but I'll try.

Then Tuesday is next next installment in my stc theatre subscription - rock-n-roll is the play. L wasn't impressed with the Indian production of Midsummer Nights' Dream. I have to admit it took me a while to get into the play (once I worked out which particular storyline it was). Anyway, preceeding the play will be gourmet pizza & a beer at the Australian Hotel, in the Rocks.
Wednesday - normally a humpish day, but since this week ends on the Thursday, it really is the downhill end of the week. Anyway - debating whether to head to Restaurant Sojourn in Balmain (run bay another ex-banc chef! I must go!), or the three weeds pub restaurant, or the ex-three clicks west Da Gianni Trattatoria.

Having moved out west (but *not a westie, I'm not, I'm not!!) I somehow manage to pack in my social life into lots-of-stuff in one week, and then nothing for months, don't I?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Geocaching addict

I'm getting such a buzz from finding the little treasures associated with geocaching. It's like: "!yes! score!". It's also providing me with an opportunity to get ride off all the trinkets and toys (remember pogs, anyone?) that I've accumulated over the years, but haven't wanted to give to the Salvos, for fear they would throw them out.

I went hunting today, after my facial. I went hunting on Monday, partway between one training course and another. No luck then - it was quite frustrating having to turn back without the little 'found' treasure chest on my GPS. What am I going to do, when all my local ones have been found?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rediscovering Thainatown

Thainatown, on Goulbourn Street near the Masonic Centre has a lunchtime loyalty card!

I went there a twice last week because it was close to where I was. Good food, and not too pricey. always a table or a spot free for a loner. Loved their Duck noodle soup with blood jelly (mmm, offal), and their iced red tea with milk always seems to hit the spot.

Speaking of offal, Suan-i-san, around the corner, sells bbq-style roast liver on a stick. Yummo, iron hit.!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


My recent Melbourne visit (and related food extravaganza) has left me a little portly. My mum has described me as being a little bit more 'juicy'.

You know that stereotypical scenario: Girl goes shopping, drags boyfriend along to carry shopping, boyfriend is in catatonic state as girlfriend tries on endless item of clothing after another, prances out of change room and asks: "Do I look fat in this?"

Apparently the bit that we *don't* hear after the "Yes", and then slapping said-boyfriend is....

"Wow, you look fantastic, Yes please buy it, *drool*, in fact let me buy that for you, even better - here, use my credit card..."

Monday, March 10, 2008

So what am I *supposed* to do with it?

A little bit shirty, because I got locked out of my gmail account for 24hours. The reason had been "oh, there's been way too much activity on your account, so we've locked it."

Grr - so if you enable to email auto-forward on your account, and then some emails come in, and get forwarded elsewhere, "normal" activity suddenly becomes "abnormal", and you get locked out. ARGH!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Review: Chat thai

Visited Chat Thai on Campbell Street for lunch today. Good crowd - mix of mostly Asian, some westerners, quite a few thai. Excellent vibes. Seems authentic, but it has a bit of a french influence - e.g. the use of 'consomme' and 'jus' in the menu descriptions

Service staff were lacking, and seemed more interested in taking names for people queueing for tables, and not in actual service. E.g. mains arrived before entrees; mains were dumped on table with no explanation of what dish it was; and mains were delivered without cutlery or serviettes!! Use of wireless pda-style order takers. Design - although it looks pretty, the waitstaff have to push past the queue of people waiting for tables or paying in order to deliver it to the table. Precarious when carrying three or four dishes.

Food good. The Som tum (papaya green salad) was plenty hot and sweet: but lacking in the sour taste. The little dish of chilli sauce that came with the pork skewers - fresh and panfried chillies, coriander, ground rice was a lot better balanced. The snacks - chicken skewers with satay sauce and the bbq pork were disappointing.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Eating Well, in contradiction

Flying 800kmSydney-Melbourne to do "the slow food thing" seems a bit of an enormous contrdiction.

I had a fantastic time, with three going-out-meals in three days. Sitting for 3 hours on a plane (and filling in the other hours with shopping) don't seem to have balanced out the amount of eating that I achieved. I have most decidedly put on weight, and he had to yield an extra hole on his belt!

Saturday night: "A taste of slow" dinner at Tjanabi restaurant in Federation Square*.
Sunday night was yummo vegetarian banquet at the Morroccan Soup Bar. (Shares joint 'fave melbourne places' with the Vegie Bar in Fitzroy)
Monday lunch was risotto at Piadina Slow Food in Punch Lane. (In retrospect, I should have gone for the Japanese mushroom, green pea lentil curry)
Finally, a double pot of rainbow chai at Well-Connected cafe to settle the stomach on Monday night.

*slow food incorporating food/fish/microherbs flown in from NT, and cooked by two chefs from restaurants in Alice Springs seems to contradict the *other* slow food tennant, that of sourcing food locally.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Impulse Purchase

Honestly went to birkenhead point 'just to look for some work shirts'. Should not have walked into Laura Ashley, where the fare is usually too fluffy, too girly for me. Then I walked outed with two new sheet sets - white with red polka dots, and a green with white stripes. Oh me, oh my, ever so pretty.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One sauce, many dishes

Lots of chilli based cooking from me this week. very easy to do so: just bought a small bag of the birds eye chillies (scuds), and put them into everything.

Tried Volum Tom Yum soup in a can. Awful. Flat. My 'substitute everything for every other ingredient' version tasted better.

What I'm really loving is the salad sauce that you pound up in a mortar and pestle. Clove of garlic, pinch of salt, one chilli, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. It tastes different depending what you add it to. Yum!

I made a recreate-a-dish-from-the-plane vermicilli noodle and cucumber salad (accidently forgot the cherry tomato); And I also added the sauce to a fried rice that made it tasty and spicy, and ever so moreish.

Tonight I used the chillies, and rubbed them on some t-bone steaks before cooking. Mmm.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Too many things to do, too little time

I have been one stressed out little bunny recently. A combination of impending deadlines and a "well Mr X. did it, so why can't you?", have meant that I have not been a happy camper! Over summer I have had the assistance of a uni student doing a work experience stint with us: and it has been enormously helpful being able to hand over the responsibility of those tasks that you really have to do, but just can't fit in, because there is so much other stuff that are even more important. *sigh* I'll miss him when he has head to back to uni.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


It rained again today, torrentially, after lunch. Feels like I'm living in monsoonal country. Anyway, the little drainage ditch was flowing, the duckpond had overfilled, and the walking track was flooded. I've never seen that much water there.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pizza Night

Made pizza from scratch, on one of the hotter days we've had this year. I think it was 33 degrees during the day.
The dough refused to rise (I was using Stephanie Alexander proportions; not Donna Hay ones, which I am used to), The oven was either too cold or smoking and threatening to set off the smoke alarm. They were very tasty pizzas though. Next tme, I think I'll wait for winter to satisfy the homemade pizza craving.

Friday, January 04, 2008

NY Road Trip Part 2

After leaving the Honeysuckle Camping ground in Namadgi National Park, we drove down the dirt road to Adaminaby. The road was twisty and hilly, with the added fun of dirt and thus less traction. It was fun to do once - but really the signboards and scenery along the way didn't really encourage a re-visit. The only thing possibly worthwhile - the Orroral Valley.

Stopped in at Buckenderra holiday park on the shores of Lake Eucembene for New Years Eve. Last year, the lake level was so low that you could see the foundations and remanents of Old Adaminaby town. Today - the level was 20%. Certainly very refreshing, and enough to have a swim in.

Finally: the main attraction. Drove up to Charlotte Pass and set off for the Blue Lake Walk, with plans for the return via Hedley Tarn. The weather was good, with a predicted afternooon thunderstorm and shower. Hiked up to the saddle of Mount Twyman. Whilst resting from the 250m climb over 2km distance, we got lured by the prospect of Mount Carruthers so nearby.

2km deviation later, and the view over the valley and Northcott canyon to the north was beautiful and worth it. Stopped at Blue Lake on the way back - lots of patches of snow still remaining. Tried to spot where the ice climbs would be in winter. All the alpine wildflowers were out flowering and looking fabulous.

The final part of the walk - from the northern shore of Hedley tarn was a bit hardgoing. There were some cairns marking the trail, but not many, and they were a bit irregular. A bit of bushbashing through the heath! Reaching the showgrass section and downhill to the paved walkway was a relief, as was eating lunch with my feet dangling in the Snowy river afterwards.