Category Archives: Friends

‘speedo’-ing through sydney.

Hello from Sydney!

(and a belated Merry Christmas)

The night I completed 3 weeks of hard but fulfilling work with a truly fantastic group of giving and fun-filled individuals, I hopped onto a plane heading for Christmas in the land down-under. More specifically, this would be Christmas in Sydney for the first time in 15 years. A relaxing break like this could not have come at a better time!

The most unique part about Christmas in Sydney is the oxymoron of summer and beaches with the iconic white winter Christmas imagery we all know so well. This was really drawn to my attention when someone recently asked me whether it was odd to see ‘tank-top wearing Santas’ in Australia, to which I replied with a “Strangely, I think I may be used to it”.  So, when organising our mandatory catch up with wifey @mighteee, I of course suggested that we embrace this Sydney ‘uniqueness’ and make our way to Bondi Beach.

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punch.

♪♫ headlights – robin schulz ft. ilsey

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hello from the other side…& RONIN.

♪♫ talk me down – troye sivan

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Winter ‘Chills’: Devon Cafe

The end of semester arrived after what felt like an endless three weeks of study and exams.

Third year has definitely provided its challenges and pressure is most definitely mounting – as my Pharmacology lecturer expresses, “You guys are on the market next year”.  So, between study, more study and planning for 2015 (it seems early but as usual application deadlines and New Years will arrive with little warning!!), there has been little time for anything else!

Completing my final paper on the painfully timetabled final Saturday morning of exam period, I met one of my oldest food ‘partners-in-crime’, M for brunch on this chilly Monday.  Being my third visit to the increasingly famous Devon Cafe (Mama and I have have enjoyed both their brunch and lunch), I was eager to introduce M to this brunch haven.  We agreed that after a hectic semester, the feeling of being able to simply “chill” over winter break (excuse the pun) was more than welcome in a widespread embrace!

My insta-surveying had me eyeing the “Ultimate Toastie” special BUT to my the disappointment of my increasingly large winter appetite, I was told that this highly photographed dish is only served on Friday to Sunday!  No matter, this momentary sadness was salvaged by the prospect of trying the “Eggs Blini”; Buckwheat blini, cured king salmon, salmon caviar, broccolini, sauce Mikado and poached eggs.  Usually, ‘Benedict-type’ eggs are sometimes rather heavy, but thisdish was quite the opposite.  Eggs were poached to oozing perfection, blini was fluffy and slightly sweet and was complemented perfectly by a tangy sauce and delicious cured salmon.  Never having seen this on a cafe menu before, I thought it was rather unique and definitely something I would recommend for poached egg enthusiasts and those looking for a dish that is not the ‘run-of-the-mill’ brunch option.

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Practice makes…almost perfect: Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes

After each semester has come to an end, I instantly enter kitchen/baking mode while trying to organize numerous meetings with my dearest but ‘long-time-no-see’ friends.  Believe it or not, I was an avid violin student for the twelve years which span from primary to the end of high school.  Over this time I both Mumma and I formed a strong bond with my teacher.  Each holiday I look forward to morning teas with her and her son, the cutest kiddie one will ever meet!

This meet up, Mumma and I were pondering upon the numerous morning tea options we could provide… Muffins from Cre Asion, Devon…. until…..through the gift of photo uploads Facebook, we decided to take the challenge and bake our own Pandan Chiffon Muffins.  My Singaporean background means I have grown up with this distinctive and unique Asian flavor which I love so much. 

A quick round up of ingredients, perhaps a secretive purchase of an electric whisk and an hour or two in the kitchen resulted in my first batch of Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes*.  My heart was mildly fractured when I was unable to achieve the airy consistency of chiffon and troubleshooting led me to realize that I had made the rookie error of beating insufficient air into the egg whites. <face palm>

Nevertheless, due to the integration of fresh pandan leaves the flavor made up for this and the denser ‘kueh**-like” texture was rather enjoyed at our morning tea.  It was a catch-up that we were all reluctant to end, however the challenge to create the perfect or rather ‘better’ chiffon still weighed heavily in my mind.

That afternoon Pandan Chiffon: Take 2 began.  The final result was as I had hoped for but alas I am no chiffon expert.  Visually it looked much better and the distinct Pandan aroma blanketed the kitchen.  Might I say that ‘practice makes … almost perfect’!

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The Seashells Foundation – Coffee for a Cause

Today I am diverging away from the usual foodie posts to focus on a more personal and serious note with no photographs or quirky anecdotes.

Over the summer one of my closest friends, P lost someone very dear to her to cancer, an individual who I had the great priviledge of knowing.  It is almost impossible to completely comprehend how one copes with the loss of their mother.

P and her family have founded the Seashells Foundation in the memory of her mother, with the hopes of establishing an undergraduate nursing scholarship at The University of Sydney.  This is a true testament to the strength and love of the family.

In order to raise of the funds for the scholarship, P and her siblings are organising a number of events and personal challenges such as partaking in the annual City2Surf.  On her own, P is undertaking the challenge of giving up all things caffeine in the month of August, which includes what most of us foodies love the most, coffee.  For a university student this is not any easy challenge to undertake!!  

I urge you to consider:

  1. The amount of money that we spend on our favourite cup of coffee each week
    ~$4 per cup x 7 = $28 (not an insignificant amount!)
  2. The difficulty we would have with forfeiting our daily dose.
    It would be extremely difficult to ‘kick the habit’

If we each gave up that cup of coffee for one week or even one day and donated what we would have spent to the Seashells Foundation, that amount could go a long way in supporting the development of fantastic nurses in our hospitals.

I am so proud of P and her family’s vision is incredibly inspirational.  I would truly appreciate if you, my fellow foodies would take the time to read about P’s cause below and consider my proposed idea on how to contribute.

If you have any queries please feel free to comment below or visit the Seashells Foundation Facebook Page!

Ming xx

Philippa Gives Up Caffeine!
Anyone who knows me knows that it is very rare to see me without a tea, coffee or can of diet coke in my hand! I love the stuff! However I am not going to drink any caffeine for the whole month of August and I want you to sponsor me to do this.

 Why? Well as many of you know my wonderful Mum passed away last December. So my siblings and I want to do something in memory of her, something that she herself would have supported. She spent December in the hospital. The hospital was a great experience! The staff were well trained and professional. She had top quality care on every front. She had doctors who were intelligent and good doctors, they cared and they knew what they were doing. However it was the nurses that cared for her the most. They are the ones who are with you all the time, who do the day to day care of the patient. They took the chance to get to know my Mum and the whole family and made the hard time in hospital much easier. I am sure many people have similar stories of the gift that a good nurse can be.

However we realised that we were blessed by talented and especially well trained nurses and that getting trained is a process that takes both time and money. To become a great nurse you have to have a solid education from a great university. Education was also something my Mum had a passion for. So my siblings and I decided that there was no better thing to do in her memory than establish a charity that works to support nurses and their educations! We are going to start this support by establishing nursing scholarships at a top University in Australia – the University of Sydney.

 And this is where the lack of caffeine comes in. To endow a post graduate scholarship at the University we need $600,000. This may seem like a huge amount, but we believe that, with your support, we can reach this goal! Whether that be by sponsoring me in my caffeine fast, one of my siblings in their fundraising adventure or holding your own fundraiser we would love to hear your ideas! But an easy way to help is to sponsor me. No caffeine for the month of August, and many headaches later, I hope to raise some decent amount of money!

 So please, consider sponsoring me to help us set up this scholarship! You can sponsor me electronically at https://www.alumniandfriends.usyd.edu.au/BethSpenceMemorial.asp (you have been referred by Philippa Spence) or by giving me cash. Because this is being done in partnership with the university, the donations are all tax deductible. Anything you give will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you so much!

Philippa

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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