Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Food Shopping In Melbourne

One of the things that I look forward to whenever I go to places like Singapore & Melbourne is to shop for food related items which do not exist in Kuching. On the contrary, my shopping is also one of the things that appalls Greg cos he knows very well that he would be the person to carry all of them home.

There are usually a few shops that I'd always return to around Lygon Street. I was doing a bit of price surveying & checking out which shops have the best deal. One of the other thing that I was looking for was whether the shops did any vacuum packing. This was important cos if I was to spend that kind of money, & to lug all these back to Kuching, they'd better be good quality stuff and be able to stay fresh.

This is King and Godfree. It's a good place for gourmet food delights.

They sell a range of imported and australian cheeses, italian proscuitto and hams, aged balsamic vineger, whole range of olive oils both local and imported, saffron, wines etc. etc. etc.

Grinders is good for excellent Australian coffee to take home as gifts.

According to the shop, they have been selling coffee for 40 over years and so far they've been doing well. Well, I didn't really know it but Melbourne is actually well known for its coffee.

This is Lavazza, another shop along Lygon. They sell about the same thing as King & Godfree.

Lavazza also does coffee and a small yet good selection of organic pastas, hams and other gourmet food.

La Pariessene Pates is currently my favourite shop of the season.

This place is so very the goodest. Their operator is French and he/she makes some of the stuff here in Australia while the rest are imported.

Camembert & Brie.

Oils for dressings.

Terrines, Pates, Foie Gras.

Homemade sausages.

This place is where I got my Christmas Ham on the Bone!

Besides these boutique shops, I went to David Jones for their cheeses because they do the almighty vacuum packing and they'd let you try everything before you buy.

Victoria market gourmet food section is also heaven. They have an excellent gourmet food section. But that has already become general knowledge.

This time around I expanded my exploration to Prahran Market. There's this shop called Essential Ingredients which was one of the more notable ones. Prahan Market is open on Tues, & Thurs-Sun, accessible by Tram 72 from the city right to the front of the market! Of course I only found out after I got there. And this place is heaven, i swear. It is huge! Seasonings, herbs, pastas, vanilla extracts and beans, olive oils, 150 year old balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, sea salts, all sort of baking wares, cooking wares, beautiful cheese boards and so on and on and on.

GREG (whisper): That sounds like Nee when she's shopping. On and on and on.

Anyway this concludes our Melbourne trip 2008. 56 kg on return flight and another prob 25 kg on Greg's shoulders and 10kg on mine. Tip: Bring a cooler bag with you!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Christmas Binge Continues...

I've heard of certain communities in India where the festivity feasting goes on for weeks. Well, Christmas is something like this here, but of course not to that extent.

It has always been a tradition for my side of the family to celebrate Christmas with a large family gathering. Since we always do potluck, you can tell by the increase in the amount of food on the table that the number of new family members have also increased.

Strangely enough, soup has always been an indispensible dish on the Foochow dinner table. I don't know why, but for certain reasons the Foochows have a very wet palate. Maybe it has something to do with their old tradition of making everything soupy so that it fills the stomach. This must have worked well for them in the rubber tapping past when they were living within minimal means. I guess somehow this old habit got stuck till today.

This was my mom's silky smooth chicken & ham dish. She'd make this everytime there's a big family potluck. We grew up on this & it has become her trademark specialisation.

I couldn't take pictures of every dish on the table. But you can tell that some of them were home cooked while the others were bought from outside especially this BBQ fish here.

And the satays as well. These were all brought in from the four corners of Kuching.

Nee has always mentioned that there will always be the Four Heavenly dishes at every potluck - The Fried Noodles, Fried Bee Hoon, Fried Koay Teow & Fried Rice. Well, the Celestial Heavens were not completely aligned that night, so only two turned up - The Heavenly Fried Noodles & Bee Hoon.

This is what I'd always be on the lookout for in our family potluck - My aunt's Super Red Chicken Curry with those solid whammy potatoes.

Tomorrow, I will drive to Stutong Park, put on my Nikes & do a 1 mile run. But for now, I shall feast.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Greg & Nee Christmas

It's been a while since we really made the effort to do up the house for Christmas. This year, out of the blue, Nee suddenly sprang into action & brought all these back from Green Gallery. NEE: I was inspired by all the pretty things at Terri's blog. :)

For those in Kuching, Green Gallery is an excellent place to shop for home & festive decor stuff. They actually import & export these things, & so they have a very very wide selection. So if you're looking for decorative items done in good taste, head on to Green Gallery. You won't need, let me rephrase that, you DON"T WANT to go anywhere else after that.

This holly was from the previous Christmas. It has survived well.

Over the years, we have always dreaded to setup the Chrismas tree having the impression that it takes a lot of time & effort to do it up & then having to take it down again later on. Yes, we've been guilty of leaving the Christmas tree in the store room for the past two Christmases. I think Santa wasn't too happy with us then. But this year, Nee & I have been very good.

And as usual, Nee's Kitchen was in full swing at this time of the year. It was a tornado in there & stress levels were at an all time high.

But in the end, it was beautiful. We had a little Christmas Eve dinner last night with our immediate famly members. There were about 9 pax altogether, but I think Nee overshot & cooked for 30 people instead, as usual. I'll just let Nee bring you through the menu.

Hi Guys! Nee here. There were 2 starters, 5 sides, 3 mains and desserts + cheese platters with fruits.

Side 1: Sweet Honey Pea with Hollandaise sauce. I decided to plate this. Greg took the picture upside down. Suppose to look like flowers.

(Greg: I noticed that this year's presentation was more creative & artsy. I wish I could say that I had something to do with that, but honestly speaking, I had nothing to do with it)

Nee: This was the starter 1 - French Bread Foie Gras & Provencal Pork Terrine (hand carried from Melbourne).
Starter 2: Pork Rilletes with gherkins and caper berries and the highlight ~ Italian Proscuitto (hand carried from Singapore) rolled with cantaloupes.

Main 1: Chestnut Stuffing. This was very the last minute and I really don't like stuffing in birds. So we did that separately in a roll.

Main 2: Roasted Chicken, in place of Turkey which we weren't really keen.

Highlight main 3: Christmas ham on the bone.
This fellow is from Melbourne as well. I glazed it with apple and honey, rebake it and it really taste good

Side 2: Mango and Macadamia Nuts with Garden Vegetables and 4 year old Modena Balsamic vineger and olive dressings

Side 3: Pumpkin with pesto. Not too good because the pumpkin was a little wet.

Side 4: Potato Salad. A never fail.

And this, for my super traditional foochow father who only eats rice. Side 5: Pilaf Rice to give rice a upped touch.

For dessert: My last minute Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice cream & also English tea (Hand Carried from Fortnum & Mason).

And finally, different assorted cheeses like Comte Gruyere and Double Brie with fruits.

Don't you just want to be our friends?

All the same, we'd like to wish all our readers a very Happy, Peaceful & Blessed Christmas this year & have a good holiday!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Amazing Race's Last Leg: Oyster On Little Bourke

Our 7 days in Melbourne had been an Amazing Race. If the real show on TV was about hunting down exquisite restaurants & then stuffing our faces with food, then we would have won. Thanks to Roger who had been gracious enough to bring us to all these excellent places.

Our flight back to KL was around midnight. So that meant we were able to squeeze in one more meal for that last 100 metres sprint. And so we squeezed in the Oyster on Little Bourke.

The place certainly looked & felt very the posh. Even the waiter & the service were poshy. Not to mention the price as well.

We ordered the tasting platter which turned out to be commonly disappointing.

Fortunately the Pacific Oyster platter was better.

Those little munchkins were really fresh but then again Victoria Market would have just as fresh ones as well. We also ordered some harvey bay scallops which came with lime and chilli dressing. Nice, but really nothing to shout about.

Grilled Kingfish. Seriously average.

Crayfish ravioli. Juicy and al dente.

Veal cutlets with Parmesan Cheese.
Ehmmm.... tasted just like British food with the British-like gravy and the British-like peas.

In terms of fine dining standards, we felt this place was missing something, which turned out to be the WOW factor. I mean the standard was good, but that's just expected from the kind of price that we were paying. The problem was, there were no surprises.
Maybe we were just overstuffed. It was a bit unfortunate that this anti-climactic experience actually concluded the last leg of our binging trip in Melbourne. But nevertheless, looking back, we had some really amazing highlights - Lunch at Tuck's Ridge, Italian at Villa Romana, Chocolates at Koko Black, Thai Fusion at Longrain, Korean at Hallah, Peking Duck at Old Kingdom & Dim sum at East Imperial.

I think Roger has proven himself to be a worthy food enthusiast & could very well make an excellent Food Consultant. I think he should be knighted for that. Maybe something like The Royal Cuisine Commander of the British Empire.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Full to the Brim at Stoker

I thought I was going to burst after the 6 course dinner at New Kum Den with Nee's cousins John, Michelle & Sharon.

No, this wasn't what we ate, fortunately. I just thought that visually, this was the best way to decribe how full I felt.

Sorry for the distraction. (But that's exactly what the puffing is for)

Because the night was still young (or not so young), Roger suggested for us to hang out at a wonderful tea house at Little Collins Street. But unfortunately, luck was just not on our side. It looked like a nice place but it was closing when we reached there.

So then we decided to head to Stokers, the pancake place that Roger had been raving about for days. It was a bit out of the way cos it took a bit of a drive to reach there.

But I wasn't so sure whether it was really that far away, or that Roger was going around in circles to buy us more time for digestion. But anyway, when we got there, we had consolidated ourselves for more food.

This place, according to Roger, has good pancakes, good drinks, & is a nice place to bring girls to. Nee & I thought the first two were very good reasons, but the third didn't really apply to an uncle & auntie like us.

Well, he was right. Stoker had very very extremely low lighting with nice wooden tables and a huge heating stove which makes it a nice cozy place to snuggle up during winter. I don't know about Roger or John, or the snuggling, but Nee & I were definitely there for the food.

Being a big fan of American pancakes, I was a bit apprehensive at how the 'Australian' pancakes here would turn out. The drawings on the wall, although a nice touch, did not reassure me.

But when the drinks came, I was sold. The iced chocolate & iced mocha were TO DIE FOR.

We also DIEDED for the pancakes - chery & banana with rum.

That night, I switched allegiance to Australian pancakes.

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