Friday, May 23, 2008

Brief Stops

KL: Shoe-shopping topped the list of must-buy. Mission accomplished with 2 pairs of houndstooth fabric shoes, a pair of flats and a pair of open toed, kitten-heeled pumps.
Didn't have enough meal slots to eat all the yummy local food that I've been yearning for. Managed to have wanton mee for brekkie one morning at a kopitiam, the mamak mee at Cafe Societe that I always go for every single trip to KL, and a delicious big Sichuan dinner at Silkroad with the gang.

The 2 sessions of foot reflexology were relaxing and enjoyable. Watching a colleague squeal and flinch while attempting the new fad of having her feet and legs nibbled by "doctor fish" at the foot spa was hilarious. But she reported that her soles which were usually cracked, felt quite smooth after the fish finished their feasting.

Singapore: 1 full day in Singapore on transit from KL back to Sydney. Met up with S for lunch, had xiao long bao at my request. At least we didn't have to queue at the popular "Din Tai Fong" because we got there early. We managed to digest quickly enough for tea after making our rounds in the shops, and had 2 pots of interesting-sounding tea, which names I now forget, and shared a French chocolate cake with double cream on the side - yummy.

2 brief stops, quick catch ups, a prelude to the longer trip coming up in June.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008


This was the trip to meet the parents. We had booked the air tickets a couple of months ahead and still had to deal with the budget airline changing our itinerary without so much as consulting us. It was by a pure stroke of luck that we found out. But in any case, we got to Rocky and then to Yeppoon without any issues in the end. (Returning from Yeppoon was another story - because we had to fly to Brissie, then to Sydney. Then I went to the International terminal to catch a flight to Singapore, stayed overnight and slept 5 hours, then caught the early shuttle flight to KL. But that really is another story.)

So Yeppoon. G said 5 minutes into arriving at the resort in Yeppoon, "I hate the country. I wanna go back to Sydney." Well, it certainly wasn't Sydney. But the resort was so self-contained (with a captive audience) with rolling grounds and amenitites, we hardly needed to leave it the 3 days we were there, except for the one trip into the township to get some groceries so as to avoid having to pay an arm and a leg for breakfast every morning!

As there was really nothing much to see in town, we spent our time in the resort having massages, playing lawn bowls and miniature golf, walking on the beach and admiring strange nature formations on the sand and eating big meals. The weather was nice and warm, we forgot that we were well into autumn as during the day, we reverted to summer wear and slapped the sunblock on. No wonder old people move to Brisbane to retire.

Lawn bowls and miniature golf were a first for me, I discovered that I wasn't too bad at putting, perhaps golf might be a leisure option when retirement time comes.

Oh and meeting the parents? They were lovely people, and I heard some stories about G that might come in handy some day. In fact, the photo of him in his lycras carrying the torch in the relay for the opening of the Commonwealth Games some time back, just came in the post today with my birthday card from his mum!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008


A leisurely jaunt today after a visit to the national art gallery threw up some interesting walls (ok, one was really a door). We were tired and made a pitstop at Toni and Bill's, an old-fashioned, quaint, little Italian cafe, with real Italian old men speaking to one another in thick, accented English, poring over their newspapers, dunking biscuits into their tiny expresso cups.

We were fortified with strong italian coffees, which I found a little too heavily roasted for my liking, and shared a rum-tinged, chocolate-filled pastry in the shape of an "X". It's yet another Sunday afternoon in Sydney.

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Ciel Rouge And More

Dinner last Thursday night was at Ciel Rouge, a somewhat cosy French restaurant with chandeliers and red ceilings (hence its name) with red oil paintings of abstract landscapes (just up my alley) adorning the walls. Colour theory was obviously practised here, red whets the appetite, which is what every cafe and restaurant would want to elicit in their customers.

One glance at the short menu and I had succumbed to the duck confit (for comparison purposes to Onde some weeks ago where I feasted on the same, was my excuse) with duck sausage plated on parsnip puree. It was delicious. My zucchini flowers entree was equally yummy. G's entree was a squid risotto which was absolutely fabulous and his main was crispy skin barramundi. I think it's a tie between Onde and Ciel Rouge, I can't say which duck confit was more heavenly.

We were satiated. But that did not stop us from paying the French bakery opposite Ciel Rouge a visit. G had fond memories of that bakery from the period in his relative youth, where he still found it tolerable, exciting even, to live in the Cross. Now he insists we are too old for such excitement and need a more genteel inner city residence.

Flourless chocolate cake caught his eye, but what caught mine was macaroons. Chocolate and raspberry ones. They were perfectly shaped, a largish size and the scarlet just called out to me, after the red in Ciel Rouge (and my pinkish red roses that G brought me earlier), it seems like a good complementary choice. Raspberry macaroon with hazelnut chocolate ganache filling. Ah, I have found the best macaroon in Sydney. The chocolate cake was like a shot of deja vu coursing through me as I took a bite. I took another and pondered, rifling through the foodie archives of my brain. My first thought was it tasted like the Valrhona chocolate lava cake from Bugis Junction. But another taste cemented it. This was exactly like the chocolate cake to die for, from the French Stall back in Singapore. French bakery cf French food stall - bingo! I know where to go to when I want another taste of that to-die-for chocolate cake.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

More Market Finds

This weekend turned out to be another market-filled one. We forgot that it was the Surry Hills markets this Saturday and didn't really have much time except to do a quick 10-minute run through what looked like quite a promising array of wares and treasures.

We had to go meet my sister and friend in front of the Paddington market where they and other (probably Japanese mostly) tourists are parting with lots of dollars, buying stuff where locals don't shop. When they lamented how expensive things were, I had to tell them about the OTHER options available, for instance the Surry Hill markets! As it turned out, after lunch at the Italian deli, Alimentari, we went on an art gallery foray on Glenmore Road, and I sold my sister's friend, A , a 1974 Japanese woodblock print by Haku Maki at JF's gallery (where I pretend I still work - apart from doing the actual successful sales pitch, JF let me do the invoicing and the credit card transaction) for A$750, we didn't have time to go back to SH markets, and did a quick detour into the Fringe Bar markets instead. Yes the bar turns into a market every Saturday - that says something about the entrepreneurial spirit of the bar owners, and the location is prime for tapping into the right demographics.

So I promised to take them to the Bondi Beach markets on Sunday, where things were more reasonably priced and the variety would be no less. And so, they went a little crazy, buying up prints, photos mounted on wooden blocks, dresses and other knick knacks.

After I found my own treasures - a Chinese plate which looked quite old with a potter's mark which I will have to add to my list of marks to research, and a similar-looking bowl with no mark, but with lovely crazing, I left them to carry on spending more money at the markets. I parted with my last $40 and left it to my sister as they were running out of cash with a third of the market still to cover!

Yes, we all have to do our part for the Australian economy.

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