Monday, 31 December 2012

2013

Wow, this year has seriously flown past in the blink of an eye. I know it feels that way pretty much every year now, but this year especially, it's been a whirlwind of a year.

I think it's a great idea to write down my thoughts and aspirations for the year to come, mainly so that I can look back the next year and see how I've done!

It feels like the best and the worst year, and one where I've learnt a lot about myself and many lessons along the way.

I had a few things I wanted to achieve in 2012 - as it always turns out, things don't always go according to plan :P

On my quest to improve my salsa, my avid advanced salsa dancing housemate decided to give me private lessons, though she needed to find a guy that was also a good dancer to help. Of course she had to pick the most snobby (avoided beginner dancers) and stand-offish person, whom I'd had the displeasure of being pushed to dance with him by said housemate, and it was a pretty horrible experience as a beginner dancer.

Of course, like a cheesy romantic comedy, we got to know each other, got on like a house on fire, and that was that. We explored, constantly laughed until it hurt, and just enjoyed each other's company. Those who know me, will know how that turned out, but nonetheless, it will always a time that I will cherish always.

So the first lesson(s) for me was not to judge a book by it's cover (I think I do this pretty well already) and the best things happen when you least expect it to.

Another thing was to really appreciate and be grateful for everything in my life - which I know seems like a pretty easy thing but at times, I simply forgot to do.

One of the major things on my list to achieve was to travel.

This year started off nicely with a girly trip to Byron Bay, soaking in the sunshine, carefree lifestyle and  indulging in the best smoothie store and falafels I've ever had.

I spent the first half of the year dancing as much as possible, sometimes every week night of a given week, and improved a lot (though at the expense of proper sleep!) It's always easier when you have someone to motivate you do so, and I had that with my housemate, who became over 2012 one of my best friends, though she moved away mid-year, I will cherish all our dinner dates, dancing salsa til 1am and so many deep and meaningful chats at home.

April travel was a Easter break to Newcastle and the lovely Hunter Valley - always a nice getaway!

May was my trip to Bali, to attend a family friend's wedding. Such an amazing place with beautiful people.

I think around mid-year things started to go downhill for me, nothing major, but I was just exhausted and pretty miserable to be around. Work was moving, I was looking for a new place to live/moving/settling into my new place, things were just 'meh' - I felt lazy and unmotivated, and was too much in my comfort zone and unfortunately, this reflected onto a lot of other areas in my life.

I went on holidays in September, and this was a much needed break. I went to Hong Kong and South Korea and came back refreshed and relaxed, though since then, the last few months have been a bit of a blur.

2013 goals
Finish my graduate certificate by the end of the year - Postgrad studies was on my 2012 list, so I'm pretty happy that I actually followed through and applied. It's been challenging yet great so far.

Volunteer - have signed up to volunteer at Sydney Colour Run, so that's a start for the new year!
One of my other goals in 2012 was to volunteer. This didn't really happen, except a visit to walk the doggies at Monika's Doggie Rescue, so this is something I can work on in 2013!

Learn a new language - this was on my list for 2012, though I never signed up for any classes. It's still something that I'd love to get around to doing. Must sign up for classes in 2013.

Expand on fashion interest/sell at markets/etsy was another 2012 goal. I still have to figure this one out as it requires a fair bit of business planning. In the meantime, I'm just having fun dabbling in making things during my spare time.

Learn to paint - this is another thing I'd love to squeeze into my ever expanding list of things to do.

Exercise and eating in moderation - moderation sounds like a dirty word, being a food blogger and all :P but lately I've been logging my food intake with My Fitness Pal and have been really conscious of all the crap I seem to eat without realising it! I'm really looking forward to doing new classes (more fun than the gym!) improve my rock climbing, and trying some new things (pole dancing or yoga, perhaps?)

Other than that, I just want to always keep trying new things and be thankful and grateful for the things I have and the wonderful people in my life.

Happy 2013 everyone! Hope you all have a fabulous one!! x






Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Burch & Purchese - South Yarra, Melbourne

One of my must visit places during my recent Melbourne trip was Burch & Purchese, the famous dessert studio owned by Darren Purchese. 

burch & purchese
I was seriously excited about visiting and started speed walking when I spotted the pink and white store - it did not disappoint. Upon entering the store, you're met with dozens of pretty and exquisite creations.

Since it was nearing the season, there were lots of cute Christmas creations.

I didn't need much 'persuasion' to pick up some of these pistachio lemon & white chocolate persuaders -:P

There were so many tempting things in store, I really didn't know where to start




Mr Potato head!!

Not to mention it was hard deciding which cakes to pick up... everything looked amazing!




This was a last minute purchase, the passionfruit cloud, that was a fabulous choice. It was light and fluffy, like a cloud, and full of fruity passionfruit flavour.

Caramelised white choc, hazelnut, banana and vanilla cheesecake

Choc hazelnut cream, choc hazelnut brownie, vanilla cheesecake, cinnamon toffee, caramelised white chocolate mousse, roast banana cream, banana jelly fool.


This was a recommendation from Darren himself, and it was my favourite out of everything. 

Coconut, passionfruit, ginger, mint

Coconut mousse, passionfruit curd, coconut caviar, passionfruit jelly, salted oat and ginger crumble, ginger marshmallow, white chocolate mint wafer, brilliant white chocolate spray

This is a definite must try!!

Pineapple, mango, chocolate

Coconut sponge, mango mousse, spicy pineapple jam, pineapple cream, chocolate mousse, white chocolate velvet spray, pineapple jelly, mango jelly

My haul:



I've heard rave reviews about this spread, so it was definitely on my list of things to take back home.

Wish we had Burch & Purchase in Sydney! Will need to find more excuses to go down to Melbourne more often ;)

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Kinfolk - Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD

I am absolutely in love with Melbourne and all the funky lane ways and cool cafes you can just randomly stumble across. 

On the way to the station, we were met with a downpour (typical Melbourne style!) and decided that if we were going to duck for cover, it might as well involve a coffee too. 

kinfolk melbourne
This is where Kinfolk came in - a cosy little electic cafe with a twist. Priding themselves on being a social business, with volunteer waitstaff and their profits are given to charity projects. 

The cafe has a communal and mismatched vibe, where you can just grab a chair and make yourself at home. 


 Very cool bird display

They also have a small lunch menu written up on the blackboard that changes daily




Unfortunately we already had lunch, so we couldn't sample the lunch, though we were pretty content with getting a coffee, sitting out the rain and browsing their extensive book collection.

Hope everyone is having a fantastic feast and spending quality time with family and friends! x 

Kinfolk on Urbanspoon

Monday, 24 December 2012

Restaurant Indonesia - Napier, New Zealand

Restaurant Indonesia was one of the places that popped up with rave reviews, especially their famous rijstaffel, a feast of all kinds of small dishes that cover the whole table. 



Located on Marine Parade, near the aquarium, the restaurant is easy to miss as it looks like a regular house when you drive past. The stone guardians and colourful umbrellas are a giveaway that we are at the right place for our dinner booking.

 
Inside, the restaurant is decorated with Balinese statues, masks, shadow puppets and Batik tablecloths. 

Ordering is relatively easy as everyone is having the rijstaffel, it seems most other tables have the same idea too.

The dishes come out fairly quickly, and the hot dishes are placed on the warmers. 

We had a mixture of choices out of all the rijstaffel options; vegetarian, meat and supreme. They also offer a fish/seafood choice too.

Emping melinjo - Melinjo nut crackers for the vegetarian rijstaffel 

Kroket kentang - potato croquette which was part of the vegetarian set

Tempeh Bacem - sweet fried tempeh

Atjar Tjampur - pickled vegetable condiment, 
Sayur lodeh - vegetables in curried coconut cream
Sambal goreng paprika - spiced capsicum 

I really enjoyed the creamy vegetables in coconut

Kerang goreng jahe - Mussels with ginger


Dadar jagung - indonesian style corn fritter

Kari telor - stewed egg

Kare ikan - fish curry

Gado gado - mixed vegetable salad

Rendang padang - slow cooked beef
Kurmah - lamb stew
Sateh ayam - skewered chicken with peanut sauce

The small dishes are deceiving! It ended up being a lot of food, and we struggled to finish them. The rijstaffel is a great idea, as it allows you to try a bit of everything. 

Restaurant Indonesia
409 Marine Parade, Napier
Ph: (06) 835 83 103
Email: indonesianapier@gmail.com

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

MGM Butterfly Pavillion - MGM Grand, Macau


During my stay in Macau, MGM Grand had a butterfly pavillion installed - basically a huge dome filled  with dozens of butterflies. 

Kept at a high temperature at all times, you can feel the heat as you walk in and are suddenly surrounded by butterflies flapping past you. 








The patisserie at MGM followed suit with a butterfly theme:


Butterfly cakes

Chocolate section - the yuzu praline instantly caught my eye. 




MGM patisserie offer a lunch time set which includes a sandwich of choice and tea/coffee for $68 MOP, which is a pretty good deal! I pick a blooming tea for my set.


Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel served with crisps

Roasted vegetable sandwich

I have to admit, I'm not used to getting crisps - I think I much prefer hot chips instead!

I couldn't resist the cake selection:



Green apple mousse with vanilla pudding

This pretty cake was light and refreshing with green apple mousse and filling.

Chocolates - earl grey praline & yuzu praline


Round two of butterfly cake - this one had mandarin and white chocolate