Apr 30, 2012

The Weekend Forces of Good and Evil. Mamak, Chinatown.

The weekends are often a time of extremes in behaviour.  And Mondays are often a good day to reflect upon them.

One day I was congratulating myself on not buying any shoes from the infamous Luisa sale at The Hilton.

All trying and no buying.  I did a good thing walking away from those Tod's pumps.  

And the next, Mr SSG and I became the proud owners of this $480 Dyson Hot + Cool heater and fan device.

Now that I've read the reviews after buying, it turns out it's better as a heater than a cooler.  It does look snazzy though.

It's tiny and so user friendly it came with labels telling me where to click parts together.

The feature I love the most is the in-built magnet onto which the remote clicks.  No more lost remotes!

While I'm on the subject of in house climate control, this is our new humidifier.  Mr SSG has claimed it for his bedside table.  It looks like a lava lamp with benefits.  I'll test it out tonight and I'll tell you tomorrow if it glows in the dark.  When filled with water, it's also too heavy to lug around the house so I guess it's staying where it is for good.

I try hard to have a 50:50 rule with meals on the weekend.  Half can be fun and the other half as healthy as I can be.  The healthy part of this weekend involved an Asian Avocado and Salmon Salad, the recipe for which I found in the current Woolworth's freebie magazine.  The vegetable component is 1/4 thinly sliced red cabbage, 2 sliced Lebanese cucumbers, a chopped spring onion, coriander, a grated carrot and an avocado.  You also need a can of red salmon.  The recipe also calls for mint leaves which I didn't have on hand today.

The dressing is 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, some chopped chilli as well as the juice and rind of one lime.  Mix these together with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and set aside.

To assemble the salad, just combine the vegetables and salmon.  Then top with the dressing and devour ASAP.

The hardest part of making the salad was removing the bones from the salmon.  Then, for me, it was to find a way of slicing the red cabbage as thinly as possible.  All that effort was worth it, though, it is a delicious and surprisingly filling salad.

You're waiting for the calorific counterpoint to this salad, aren't you?

Roti tisu - served tall and sweet.  You wouldn't think it but this works with curry!
As the weather gets cooler, what says comfort food in Chinatown better than the original Mamak?  Mr SSG and I were there for dinner with my brother in law and his family.  The best think about going to Mamak is that the more there are in your party, the wider the variety of dishes you can order to share.  We ordered both the roti tisu and the famous roti canai ($5.50) but we were all so hungry, there was no time to take a photo of the roti canai.

Limau ais - $3.50.
The beverage of choice for the table was lime juice.  The icy, citrus sweetness was the perfect contrast for the rich spiciness of the dishes we ordered.

Ayam goreng - $14 for 4 pieces.
We each had a piece of Malaysian fried chicken.  The batter was crisp and light and the chicken breasts skinless.  The overall effect was crunch of batter with moist chicken following quickly.  There is no comparison to KFC though I'm an occasional KFC lover too.

Kari ayam - $16.
It wouldn't be dinner at Mamak without a serve of the classic Malaysian chicken curry.  Its sauce is my favourite thing for dipping pieces of roti canai into.

Kari kambing - $16.
 The slow cooked lamb curry was very tender.  It's a spicier curry than the chicken but just as moreish.

Mee goreng - $11.50.
To balance our meal, we did order vegetables.  Or perhaps more accurately, dishes containing vegetables.  The mee goreng was spicy and generously studded with prawns, chicken and fish cake slices.  One of my favourite dishes of the night.  We also had a serve of Kachang Panjang Belacan ($14) - stir fried long beans in chilli and shrimp paste.  Which I neglected to take a photo of because I was too busy eating them and taking photos of our guest of honour.....

My 6 month old nephew who was in Sydney for the first time in his life.  He'd even learned to sit up just in time for this trip and all the restaurants it would take him to.

We got along very well and bonded over many things, including a mutual interest in Zhanel.  Though to be fair, I think his interest was more to do with the tactile rather than fashion elements of my jacket.  The child is already a star.  His photo already has received over 30 likes since it debuted on my Facebook account a night ago.  I shall tell his parents he needs either his own Facebook fan page or else his very own account.

Mamak on Urbanspoon

Apr 29, 2012

Finding Up & Go. The Victoria Tea Room Tea Salon, Westfield Sydney.

If only it were as easy as going down to the supermarket and picking up some Up & Go for more get up and go.  I'm having one of those days where I'm still struggling to find the energy to embrace a laid back Sunday at home.

Believe me, I've tried everything within reason today:

  • ice cold ginger ale on waking
  • sleeping in
  • vegemite on toast
  • yoga
  • a walk in the sun (while it was out)
  • deep breathing while on the walk (I ended up sounding like a rottweiler I used to meet frequently in Perth when I went running on the foreshore, I'm pretty sure he had obstructive sleep apnoea).
All to no avail.

In a last ditch effort, I went in search of a new bistro that's opened in our area, Bistro Meme.

Drink coffee.  Do stupid things faster with more energy.  Word.

Where the answer to my problem was clearly spelled out at the front counter and delivered by a French accented barista.  I've got my Sunday brunch needs sorted.  The bistro serves crepes and croque sandwiches for breakfast daily as well as excellent coffee.  I will be back for a full breakfast soon.  In the meantime, my Bistro Meme coffee did it's trick and while I've not been up to anything energetic today, at least I've now got the energy to write about yesterday.  Looking back, it's no wonder I'm so tired today, I was out and about until after dinner.  That's a pretty big Saturday in my book.

I started out pretty early by not putting off for another day something I'd already put off doing for around 6 months.  Installing the update of Office for Mac on my now 'newish' macbook.  It took me all of 2 minutes but gee I felt like I was making progress with my life afterwards.

One of the many wonders of pay television is the ability to channel surf your way into sporting events from around the world.  Even if you're not an armchair athlete, the pomp and circumstance is infectious.  There's something called the NFL Draft Pick going on in the United States right now. And it's huge news.  I think it's a live telecast of players being selected for various NFL teams.  But from the lavish media presentation, you'd think it was something to do with federal politics.  Which it is, to some people's minds, because the voice over man takes great pains to emphasise that we're watching something of world wide significance each time the telecast goes to an ad break.

The draft picking goes on for days and apparently anyone who calls themselves an American citizen has an opinion on the picks.  Besides the panel of announcers analysing each pick, there are NFL celebrity appearances for each announcement.  It's all very slick and much thought and attention goes into what everyone wears as well.  There was a behind the scenes segment featuring one athlete deliberating over what he was going to wear for his big day. I think he settled on fire engine red trousers.

Jacket - Zara, tank - Big W, jeans - Next, belt - Hermes.
But I can't be certain because  had to leave the house at that point for the first of my Saturday engagements.  High tea with my dear friend D at The Victoria Room Tea Salon on level 4 at Westfield Sydney.  When you're onto a good thing with Zhanel (Chanel by way of Zara), stick to it, I say.

The Victoria Room Tea Salon is an intimate little space in the midst of the action on the Designer Floor at Westfield.  It's the little sister of the famous Darlinghurst Tea Room.  Light refreshments are served all day with an additional High Tea and lunch menu available from 11.30 am until 4.30pm.  For reference, D had a classic high tea (no champagne) which cost $38 while I had a pot of tea ($4.50) and one of the top 10 scones ($6.95 per scone) as well as most of the cakes in D's high tea (just joking).

The china is delightfully mismatched but pastel themed.  I had pot of lemongrass and ginger tea.

Our scones.  Left - date and orange, right - white chocolate and cranberry.
The scones were ridiculously good (and pricy).  They had a buttery dense crumb and were packed full of fruit.  They were served with strawberry jam, marmalade and cream.

Standard sandwich selection for one - a vegetarian choice is available as well.
The sandwiches were fresh and I liked the micro herbs scattered over them.  The smoked salmon was a stand out, according to D.

The final tier of the tea stand was a variety of bite sized cakes.

The tea salon gets very busy at lunch time on the weekend and as they don't take bookings for small groups, you should probably try and get in around 11am to be assured of a table.  It really is a lovely corner of the world to relax in when the pressures of designer label shopping get too much.

Those glistening bottles of Moet will probably be too much to resist the next time I visit.  I think the Couture High Tea will be a must, don't you think?

The Victoria Room Tea Salon on Urbanspoon

Apr 27, 2012

Zhanel - Chanel By Way of Zara. Lime Green in the Kitchen.

Hasn't it been very civilized having the working week broken in half by a Wednesday public holiday?  You just can't help but feel just a little more energetic on that 'second' Friday of the week.

Knit cardi - Zara, top - Costco, necklaces - Red Phoenix Emporium.
Energetic enough to make your one woman Casual Friday a 'Chanel by way of Zara' aka Zhanel Friday.  This is one of several textured jackets I bought from Zara London this March.  It's very warm and much more comfortable than it might look.  I felt like I was walking around in a throw rug all day.  Which is always a good thing when you're up against a hectic day at work.  I'm sure Karl himself had the working woman in mind when he first reinterpreted the classic Chanel boucle into softer, more draping knit jackets.

Skinnies - Next, available online in Australia at NextDirect.

I am feeling nothing but love for my Next black skinnies.  24 GBP they were and they are the perfect length and fit.  I'm at that stage in my life when a forgiving pair of skinnies is as good as winning the lottery.
Teapot - $30.00, T2.
The general air of calmness under pressure followed me home from work where I got out this new tea pot of mine to make a soothing pot or two of herbal tea.  The pot has a 400ml volume and is dishwasher safe.  The internal strainer is removable and easy to clean.  I had to have it in the lime green shade.

By the way, T2 now stock their own brand of jam and chocolate!  I didn't have to time to sample either but I think I'll make a special trip back this weekend to investigate further.  The sales assistant sent me home with a couple of loose leaf samples - Terrific Toffee a black tea and Green Rose a green.  I will report back on these.  Most of my loose leaf teas are decaffeinated whilst my black and greens are in tea bags for convenience.  Brewing these samples will be such a challenge to my accepted reality.  Will I be brave enough to challenge my tea bag dunking routine of a life time?  Watch this space.

Lime green tea pot, lime green based dinner.  It was only logical, wasn't it?  I've rediscovered avocados in a big way in recent weeks and for this week's steak dinner, I decided to make an avocado and lime salsa to go on top.  The salsa is simply a diced avocado, red onion, spring onion, lime juice and tomatoes gently combined together.  You can add oil if you like but I prefer not to.

To serve, just top your prepared steak with some salsa and a lime wedge on the side.  I'm still marvelling at how I got those bits of spring onion and avocado to fall with such aplomb onto the plate. I'm guessing that is was mostly the work of good old gravity but it's nearly Masterchef 2012 time here in Australia (Sunday May 6 according to google) so perhaps my dinner was subconsciously plating itself up in readiness.

I've got a big day out tomorrow, out and about with friends and family.  So it's going to be a quiet night in tonight with my pot of tea, a new book from Amazon and my Explorer socks.

Have a lovely evening!

Apr 25, 2012

ANZAC Day Reflections. The Wind. Juicy Buns.

Image courtesy of www.abc.net.au
ANZAC Day 2012 in Darwin.  Both American and Australia troops marched together to remember the fallen from both countries.
It has been a day to reflect and never forget.  On the selfless sacrifices of made in the past, present and future.  For me, this is an ANZAC Day with great hope because of the planned early draw down of Australian troops in Afghanistan.  As the War Against Terror has dragged on and the doubts about it grow, it's the good and right thing for our country to withdraw from the region.  Despite the mixed public opinion on the conflict, I hope that the returned service men and women know that their fellow Australians are behind them and their dedication to service for the country regardless of the prevailing politics.

It's also a time where plans are being discussed for the centenary commemoration of ANZAC day in 2015.  About the need, perhaps, to make it more 'culturally relevant' to the changing dynamic of Australian society.  I don't know if anything needs to change, really.  I think many of us without actual personal roots to the war effort in Australia still relate very personally to ANZAC Day as it is now observed.  I like the current reverence for the past and the recognition of current and future members of our defence forces.  We may be in danger of forgetting if we let go of the past.

While we've had perfect clear skies for the ANZAC Day services and marches, we've also had howling winds all day in Sydney today.  This impacted my life in two ways today.  I wore my ugg boots home from the pool for the first time this year.

And the gusts of wind snapped the flags at Maccas Up The Road to full attention.

McCafe is my go to place for coffee on public holidays.  I also needed to refuel with an after swim snack.  The price of a box of McDonald Land Cookies has rinse 300% since  I last bought a box in 1989.  They are Arnott's though.  And I know the box says Cookies but in my mind, they will always be from McDonald Land and the tastiest ones will aways be the ones shaped like a bunch of Junior Burgers.  I didn't have a chance to see if they still tastes like crispy synthetic shortbread because it was getting late and busy and I had to get home for lunch.  My public holidays revolve entirely around meal times, I tell you.

On the menu for lunch today was dumplings at home.  The thought of lining up at our favourite place in Chatswood was overwhelming.  So Mr SSG and I decided to eat in.  We didn't make the dumplings from scratch but we got the next best thing from the frozen food aisle of our local Asian grocer.  The official name of the dumplings is Xiao Long Bao (the kind you need to pierce with a chop stick before biting or else risk being burned by the hot soup inside) but these are cutely branded Shanghai Small Juicy Bun.

Dumpling vinegar and some prawn har gow.  
For the complete dumpling house experience, we ate ours with this special dumpling vinegar.

For a complete dumpling house / yum cha experience, the table is not complete without a serve of choi sam in yum cha sauce.  It's really easy to do at home.  Just top your blanched vegetables with a mixture of 2 teaspoons sesame and 1 tablespoon peanut oil that have been warmed.  After mixing through the veggies, top with the sauce.  The sauce I use is 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of soya sauce.  There's no need to warm these ingredients.  Just stir until the sugar dissolves.

I'm also all set for dinner tonight as well.  A big crock pot of pork sausage and leek soup is ready to reheat when we feel like eating this evening.  It's a big night of public holiday television (even without The Voice) - Offspring and The Good Wife.

Hope you're having a thoughtful and relaxing day!


Related Posts with Thumbnails