Monthly Archives: February 2013

Restarting and Rebuilding: Mero Mero, Kensington Peking and more

This week I was rather heartbroken.  No, there is no tragic love story to share.  In my mind it is something worse!  The recovery process of my external hard drive did not fair too well in the end and I ended up losing ALL and I mean ALL my photos, which I have taken over the last four years.  Yes, it’s seems obscenely petty to be whining and dwelling on this when there are so many bigger things in life, but in a way I feel like the memories of my graduation, 18th birthday, family holidays and so forth have partially been lost.

Funnily enough when I think about it, this would not have happened say around 10 years ago.  I would have developed my photos and have had hard copies of them.  Oh how the convenience of technology has backfired on me.

Perhaps, I should take this as a sign??

It may be time for me to honestly start afresh and create new memories.  Maybe, it is a metaphorical disaster that is urging me to pursue something completely different this year.  Yes, it is rather sad that HSC English analytical techniques will forever run in my veins.  In all seriousness however, it is quite possible.  Perhaps I need to re-evaluate my goals?  Much pondering must be done now – quite appropriate really as this has coincided with a conversation I had with Mumma last night about what other options there were for me to pursue in my studies.

No matter, I hope 2013 will be a year, which I look back upon fondly and this whole shenanigans and (momentary) heartbreak will only be a miniscule fraction of the painting.

Moral of the story: NEVER EVER trust an external hard drive!!

Note to self: develop my favourite/most important photographs!

I don’t think I could have ended without a quick foodie-graph section!  I may as well start sharing some of these new memories with you all.  Here are a few of my eats of the week.
(Excuse some of the photo quality – I took a fair few of these on the go with my iPhone.)

Trips back to Sussex Street’s “Yummy Thai” for their delicious Fried Fish Set have become a weekly event!  Mumma and I went slightly crazy and ordered three different variations – Sweet Chilli, Lemongrass and Chilli and Chilli Basil.  We may have eaten all three between the two of us but it was hard to resist when fish is fried to perfection and it was in fact not overly filling!  I assume that the frying process renders off a lot of the fats etc, making the fish super crispy and light!  Our favourite still remains the Lemongrass and Chilli variant but the abundance of vegetables with the Sweet Chilli makes me quite the happy eater!

After hearing the sad fate of my photographs, I pulled myself together and headed to the city on Friday to run some errands for Mumma.  It was indeed a productive day and I treated myself to one of my favourite salads from Mero Mero located in Westfield’s Food on Five and my undisputedly favourite Soy Vanilla Latte from a hole in the wall Vietnamese joint on Clarence Street.  “Why is this Ming’s favourite salad?” you may ask.  Well, it’s “make your own salad” at Mero Mero and their ingredients are always fresh and full of flavour.  My usual combination consists of Baby Spinach, Avocado, Feta, Chilli, Pumpkin, Mushroom, Cucumber and Sundried Tomatoes topped with a Chilli Mayo Dressing.  It also helps when they provide a piece of soy and linseed on the side ;)!

I am proud to say I returned home from the city with a brand new Phillips Juicer as well – a health kick for the family!  We’ve been on the juice wagon for the last month and it really does wonders when one is feeling a bit under the weather or stressed (and Lil’ Bro is certainly feeling that with the HSC ahead!)

After picking Lil’ Bro up from his very long English tutoring session after his first week of HSC assessments, a quick, simple, enjoyable and fulfilling Friday night dinner was in order!

Drunken Chicken

Crispy Duck

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Shanghainese Nian Gao

Four Season Beans

Siew Mai

Kensington Peking is a deceptively great restaurant, which the family head to when in search of comforting Chinese fair, without having to face the chaos of Chinatown.  Must tries are their Drunken Chicken, which is so tender and wonderfully marinated, and their Crispy Duck, which can only be described as perfectly ‘crispy’ haha.  For the vegetable lovers, the Four Season Beans are what I think to be one of the best.  So don’t let the exterior of this restaurant fool you!

Stay tuned with my next post with photos from the last weekend of Chinese New Year!

P.S. I hope the new approach I’ve tried in this and the previous post of combining a few eats/events into one is being enjoyed.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to develop a style that doesn’t make everything seem too disjointed.
Kensington Peking on Urbanspoon

Ming xx

Friendship + Food: Bills and Mad Spuds

During high school, we undoubtedly form a close group of friends.  In my case, it was a group of friends that literally had every single class together – thank you 4 unit Maths!  I might add that our nightmarishly three hour long (not to mention afternoon) lessons were often hijacked by gourmet brownies, feta and sourdough – you name it, we had it to quell our stresses and overloaded brain capacities. When university started, we all headed our ways without a second thought, thinking that we would still see each other every other day considering some of us would be going to the same ‘big pond’ in which we were the ‘little fish’ again!  So with a few scattered across the state and the unexpectedly frantic new journey it was hard to really sit down and enjoy our once common breakfast/brunch dates.

This is where I begin to be so thankful for ‘Summer Holidays’.  Not only do I have time to really relax and unwind and take care of myself, but I have been able to set aside some much needed ‘catch-up’ and talk about everything and anything time.  More importantly, this time is actually enjoyed without the constant inkling that you have an assignment due or three quizzes next week – this is how my stress head works 99.9999% of the time!

P and I have always had a soft spot for anything Bills, so when our long overdue catch up came around we took a stroll down Queen Street to meet the delights of the famous Corn Fritters.  In the same course and university, we expected to see each other all the time, but timetables and subject choices decided otherwise and the most we saw of each other during semester was a wave across campus!

You can judge how enjoyed and required a catch up is when you’re still chatting, *cough* savouring their coffee *cough*, the café has cleared out and the kitchen staff are beginning to stand around aimlessly.  The best part however, was the absence of the staff attempting to push us out the door, allowing us to enjoy our close to three hour lunch!  The deco of Bills Woollahra is simply inviting and homelike, as if one was sitting around their own dining area which looks into a sun drenched courtyard – perfect for a relaxing meal.

How could I not take some foodie-graphs though? (Thanks for tolerating this P!)
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The Papaya Series

The idea of ‘papaya’ has always had two connotations for me:

  1. Singapore – super sweet and super cheap
  2. Sydney – not fantastic and super expensive

Upon my return from Singapore the tables were turned….

Showered with an abundance of rock fruit upon my return from Singapore, such as my favourite Queen Peach I almost strolled past the papaya stand without a second glimpse.  Luckily for me I was shopping with Mumma who spied some ripe looking slices of papaya, so we took some home for a test run.  One word – heaven.  Ok, maybe a few more – “let’s go buy some more”.

I returned home with 2 of the juiciest, sweetest papayas that just tasted like summer!  With Mumma’s busy work schedule and the fruit aversion of Lil’ Bro and Pappa, I was ‘forced’ to tackle most of these babies by myself – such a hard task!

Part of my aim to establish a more healthy routine was breakfast.  During semester there is hardly enough time to really sit down and enjoy this meal, so I made a pact to cook up some delicious breakfasts in the time that I have now.  Papaya incorporated breakfasts?!  I was one happy, healthy girl!

Rolled oats with banana, sliced papaya topped with a dollop of Chobani Greek Yoghurt, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey.

Papaya and cream cheese on toast – inspired by the Asian Papaya Milk smoothies!

(Complimented by Peanut Butter and Banana with Honey + Nutella :P)

Letting the papaya shine one its own, topped with Chobani Greek Yoghurt, Honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  This combination really brought out the best in the flavours of the papaya, especially with a drizzle of lemon juice.  The acidity really kicked the sweet and sour to a fresh, vibrant taste!

A return trip to the shops the next week was a sad one – the papaya season was short lived!  Until next year!!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Hey all!  A BIG Happy Chinese New Year from me :)!  I had a wonderful weekend with my family and some close friends calling in “The Year of the Snake”.  What would be a celebration without the production of hearty meals that bring everyone together around the table.  Although we weren’t able to celebrate this important event with our family in Singapore :(, I think Mumma and I did a pretty good job in replicating the traditional reunion dinner and New Years Day meals.

Before, I present you all with the deliciousness of Chinese New Year I wish to present you with a “Hello It’s Ming” update since a new year calls for new ideas and goals.

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Old and New Worlds: L’etoile Cafe + Tiong Bahru Bakery, Singapore

Forget the dichotomous phrase “do you want to hear the good news or bad news?” as today, good news has presented itself twice.

  1. The fate of my holiday snapshots and the rest of my photo collection i.e. life is looking quite promising.  ‘Computer Doctor’ is doing his best and the drive is currently recovering, so I have my fingers crossed that I will soon be able to share a piece of Singaporean culture with you all through my ‘foodography’.
  2. While I don’t have a large proportion of my holiday photos, I found the remaining snapshots on my camera memory card

While waiting for the final recovery of my photographs, I thought I would make full use of the photographs that I have now!  Funnily enough, the photos I found were of a number of my favourite and more interesting experiences in Singapore.

From the age of diapers through to awkward braces, I have never known Singapore for its ‘Western’ cuisine or its Café/Coffee scene.  Over the last two years or so I have started to pay more attention to the development and change in this wonderful city and its food scene has undoubtedly ‘reshaped’ itself.  Gone are the days of hawker meal followed by hawker meal and the inherently local cuisine!  Older suburbs of cultural heritage, which were once forgotten or taken for granted have been regentrified and thus we see the rise of modernity infused with traditional undertones.

A trip past my Ah Ma’s previous home, which holds many childhood memories for my brother and I was the perfect example of the arising change in the ‘Rangoon Rd’ vicinity – the old and worn walk up flat had been replaced with a modern condominium.  One can see these spurts of development surrounded by old shop houses that have also been given a ‘face-lift’ with repainted facades and new interiors.

The wonderful and informative dimension of Instagram, led me to remember a photograph I had scrolled past of ‘Letoile Café’ when we drove past Owens Rd, discussing and laughing about the ‘big change’ that we had missed over the last year away from Singapore.

“Letoile!” I exclaimed and pointed.
“You want coffee?” Pappa translated.

No response was required as I think the family knew that in my mind I was already sitting by the window sipping on a coffee!

The beautiful white façade of the shop-house converted into a café was a wonderful reminder of the past while the interior welcomed us into a new aspect of Singaporean culture.  Divided into two levels, the café had an old-school charm with mismatched furniture that echoed a different history and story for each piece.  I felt like the eclectic historical cultures of Singapore had been united in this humble shop house.

Mumma and I were immediately drawn to the hand-written and drawn menu, which was very sweet, adding personality to what could have been the standard café menu.

Being a family of coffee-drinkers, we were interested to see how the coffee would fair.  Pappa ordered his usual Latte, while Mumma and I decided to share an Iced Latte to cool down in the heat of the afternoon.  With the votes in, the verdict was very positive.  Pappa seemed to enjoy his Latte, which I did not bother trying as I was completely taken by the Ice Latte.  The coffee itself was extremely smooth with just enough kick that it struck a perfect balance with the milk.  Mumma commented that it wasn’t overly sweet, which we both appreciated as customers had the option to adjust sweetness to their preferred level, however we enjoyed the taste of the coffee so much that it was perfect without any additions!

With both a menu and dessert cabinet, I was given the difficult task of choosing something for us all to share.  Every option looked too good to resist, but the friendly lady behind the counter suggested something a little different – different is good!!  The Matcha Chiffon with Azuki Cream Cheese Icing was indescribable!  It still amazes me as to how the typical Asian dessert flavours can be incorporated into cake, a generally Western dessert.  This dessert is the definition of the cafe, with its Western (French) name L’etoile and Asian location –pure genius!  A perfect balance was struck between the flavours of Matcha and Azuki, which coexisted harmoniously.  Both Mumma and Pappa gave me the big thumbs up on my choice as we savoured each light and airy mouthful of chiffon coupled with the smooth texture of a subtle Azuki icing.  One word to describe this dessert??  ‘Bliss.’

Having a more ‘Western’ palate, Lil’ Bro opted for ‘Nutella Crepes’.  Since I can remember, his ‘go to’ breakfast has been “Nutella Bread”, so it was no surprise that this dessert was the lucky one!  I managed to convince Lil’ Bro to give us a sample and I could see why he grudgingly did so.  The crepes were wonderfully thin and light without the overpowering sweetness that is sometimes characteristic of this dessert.  The comforting taste of Nutella coupled with Banana only added to our enjoyment of this sporadic coffee break!

While it is not as hyped as other cafes around the island of Singapore, Letoile possesses understated beauty.  Its location in an area quite sentimental to my family and retained traditional and original façade parallels the continuous development of Singapore into its contemporary identity, which will always be underscored by its unique old-time charm.

Right now, all the focus is on “Tiong Bahru Bakery” by Gontran Cherrier –  a gourmet patisserie located in one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore.  It is surrounded by a cluster of lowrise homes and shop houses and the famous Tiong Bahru Food Market.  With more of these modern cafes popping up, Tiong Bahru, with the likes of the Rangoon Rd vicinity is undergoing rapid regentrification.  After hearing so much about this ‘hotspot’ this place was on my ‘must-go’ list.

Upon entering, the young professionals crowd was making full use of their weekend and a strong aroma of coffee infused with buttered pastry was in the air.  The canteen-like style of ordering resulted in rash decisions being made on which munchables we would order.  We decided upon the Almond Croissant, Vanilla Puff and a Chocolate Tart.  While the pastries were enjoyable, with nice flaky exteriors and unique flavours, I just wasn’t blown away – perhaps maybe because it had been overly hyped?  I much preferred the calmer ambience at Letoile, but nevertheless, it was a must-try this trip – I just had to see what all the fuss was about!!

Wow – Singapore has undergone quite a facelift, especially in its café scene.  The most remarkable part of this change is how the cafes still manage to maintain the local charm and tradition, which I have grown to love!