If one didn’t know any better and happened to scroll through my instagram, they would most likely make the inference that I spent 10 days in Sydney eating and doing nothing else. They wouldn’t be entirely correct but in no way would I say they were completely wrong either. With the days I spent waiting for ‘pending’ or ‘processing’ paperwork, I was determined to meet up with as many of my friends as possible; a corollary of this being the copious amount of coffees and brunches which came into existence. There really is no better way to catch up with someone than over a relaxing brunch. Additionally, many of my foodie friends were enthusiastically recommending all of the ‘must-try’ hot-spots and dishes which I had better add onto my list before I left. Without further ado, the food ‘log’ shall be revealed…. *inhale*
I have always loved these dining outings with my family, especially now when I the time I spend with Mama and Lil’ Bro is rather limited. It provides an opportunity to explore and experience new things together as well as share our stories, thoughts and amateur food critiques ;)! The photo below only reinforces to me the joys that my family brings me every day.
To say that Singapore’s cafe scene has grown over the past few years would still be an understatement.
At present, there is no shortage of cafes to choose from when Western dishes or hearty breakfast fare is being craved; a far cry from a time where I remember McDonald’s being the only place we would visit to appease Lil’ Bro’s desire for ‘non-hawker’ food. Singapore has what appears to be an infinite list of cafes making their mark across the island city in unique locations, however there are certainly a few which have stood out.
An animation to whet the appetite….
Five and Dime Eatery is another one of the consistently trending cafe/restaurants, which I had been meaning to try since its existence first surfaced on Instagram. Unlike the typical brunch/lunch fare, Five and Dime adds a Japanese nuance to its menu.
For the last six months I have been travelling between Sydney and Singapore, visiting my Lil’ Bro who has undergone quite a dramatic life-change; moving to Singapore (post-HSC) for National Service. Although there was initial worry for him, in terms of adapting to such change, Lil’ Bro took the challenge with a determined and positive attitude and recently graduated from his Basic Military Training.
The final challenge of this component of his service was a 24km route march from the Training Centre to the majestic location of the Floating Platform at Marina Bay, which is surrounded by the beautiful icons of the city. Following this gruelling but what Lil’ Bro describes as an emotional and breathtaking march, symbolic of their 10 week intensive training, the ‘recruits’ take part in their ‘Passing Out Parade’ (shortened to POP) where they are met by their family and friends.
This event was highly anticipated by my family, however my suspicions are that I was the most eager of all. The night before the POP, I set numerous alarms to ensure that we would be able to secure front row seats for the best photo opportunities – I was out of my bed at 4.00am. My parents and aunt were amused by my eagerness, especially when we ended up being the first to arrive at Marina Bay although I insisted that we were already arriving very late!
The month of June was saturated in copious amounts of studying with specks of excitement as I made a last minute trip to Singapore to celebrate Mumma’s birthday with her and of course visit Lil’ Bro who has less than a week left before graduating from Basic Military Training!
While in Singapore there were many dinners and celebrations of which one was a wedding, thus one could infer that it was indeed a fortunate coincidence that my ‘study vacation’ was abnormally long due to the dear old exam timetabling system.
Fast forwarding through a whirlwind trip, I landed back in Sydney with the prospect of 3rd year exams looming and three weeks of study hibernation clawing me into a draining ordeal. Only joking, it was not that dramatic but it was a tiring yet productive few weeks.
Over the past two years I have learnt the importance of fueling the brain with the right foods during this time. Not only does it provide for a productive session but allows me to take a breath, albeit quick. Time spent in the kitchen in the mornings before a day of study and during lunch hour somehow provides some form therapeutic relief from the technicalities of biochemistry and pharmacology.
Most mornings were filled with warming oats; eaten with pure class straight from the pot. As they say ‘practice makes perfect’ and I found myself discovering delicious combinations and improving in the ‘art of oats’. Given the wintery chill enveloping Sydney I would say that this breakfast staple was my survival aid and comfort.
Tips for Oat-Making Beginners
1. The amount of water you use will determine the texture that you achieve
For oats with more ‘chew’ use less liquid and for super creamy oats use more liquid
2. Cook on LOW heat i.e. cook with LOVE
Even if you use less liquid you can still achieve a creamy texture! In addition, you don’t want to burn your oats!
3. If you don’t have milk don’t stress
Using water will still produce a delicious bowl of goodness. In fact, I prefer to use water as my primary liquid and add my milk at the very end. I feel that this retains the fresh taste of the milk but of course it is all up to personal preference.
4. Add in your bananas/apples (fruit of choice) at the beginning and cook together with your oats
This allows your fruits to ‘stew’ and soften, releasing flavours into your oats. I always used to chop up my fruits as a topping, but realised how much flavour was infused via this method.
5. Toppings – anything goes!
I have always loved to add nut butters, but have recently discovered the beauty of Nutella. Lil’ Bro left many tubs behind when he headed off to Singapore so I have been trying to find easy ways of using this delicious treat (other than the obvious toast spread).
Fresh fruits are also great – save some from the fruit you cook with your oats!
Finally, to balance out the soft textures I like to add a sprinkle of granola. At the moment I am very much enjoying the new Woolworth’s Home Brand Orange Granola Clusters and Coconut Macadamia Toasted Granola.
6. Cinnamon and ginger
This warming and comforting combination of spices not only adds to the overall flavour but they also provide numerous health benefits! I always mix these in before I cook the oats.
7. Sweetness can be added in many forms
I love to use dates as a natural sweetener as they provide my digestive system with a good dose of fibre. If dates are not being craved I use honey or maple syrup. I have yet to try adding some good berry jam on top…but there’s another idea!
1. Apple + Date + Peanut Butter
2. Banana + Honey + Nutella/Peanut Butter
Thus comes an end to Mornings with Ming and my 2014 Oat Series! Hopefully I have not bored you all 🙂
I am now in the antithesis of Sydney winter and back in Singapore! More posts to come 🙂
If you’re sick of looking at oats, I have provided a photo of toast hehe.
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.
With winter comes cold and with that comes the intrinsic need for comfort and what better way to find this in a meal than through a wonderful bowl of Ramen?! A good ‘Winter Warmer’ should provide what my good friend M describes as a “hug in a bowl/cup” and for me, ramen has never failed to do so!
Here is a preview (temptation???) of what is to come!!
At this moment, Lil’ Bro and I are at opposite ends of the freedom spectrum – I am basking in the freedom of post-exam period while Lil’ Bro is suffering the stress and hard-work of HSC Trial preparation as he hibernates in the study. Upon delivering Lil’ Bro to his morning tutoring session, Mama and I snuck off to Randwick to give 18 Grams Espresso a taste test after Papa had raved about its coffee numerous times.
“What’s with the name 18 Grams?” you may ask.
A double shot of coffee uses roughly 18 Grams of ground beans!