Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Savoury Pumpkin Scones

A picture of the savoury pumpkin scones as promised!

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The First Time cont'd (Part III)

Having spied a simple recipe for pound cake on the back of the box of Sunbeam sultanas while making the Rustic Apple Tart, I decided to try it one Thursday afternoon. A loves sultanas so I thought it would also be a nice snack for him to take to work the next day. I paid the corner bottle shop a visit for a bottle of white wine and was ready to start once I stepped back into the apartment. Not having any oranges on hand, I decided to tweak the recipe a little taking into account the ingredients I already had in the fridge.

Sultana Syrup Cake

½ cup Sunbeam Natural Sultanas
1¼ cup self-raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
80g butter, melted
½ cup milk
2 x 70g eggs, lightly beaten [As the eggs I had weighed approximately 59g each (as stated on the box), I compensated for the difference in liquid with slightly more milk and 10g more butter.]

For the syrup:
Juice and zest of 2 oranges [I used the zest and juice of 1 lemon and ¾ cup of orange juice from the packet instead]
½ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup white wine

1. Preheat the oven to 180'C and grease and line a 20cm loaf pan.
2. Place flour, sugar and sultanas in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the butter, milk and eggs and mix until well combined. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes at 180'C.
3. To make the syrup, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for 5 minutes.
4. Carefully pour ¼ of the syrup over cake while cooling in tin. Leave to soak in and then repeat until ½ the syrup has soaked into the cake. Invert when cold and serve with the remaining syrup.

[As my syrup was quite liquidy to start with, I ended up gently boiling it for much longer and in three stages instead. I also found that it was easier for the cake to absorb the syrup when it was more liquid instead of when it had thickened in consistency. So I boiled it for 5 minutes first and spooned ¼ of the syrup over the cake. I then gently boiled it for a further 5 minutes and spooned another ¼ of the now-thicker syrup over the cake together with the zest, which left a nice shiny glaze. I then simmered the syrup for a further 3 minutes until it was the consistency of pouring honey and served it when cool with the sliced cake.]

No guesses as to where these 3 slices disappeared to!

It must have been sugar wonderland for A that week, coming home to dinner (sticky chicken wings, sweet potato cakes and cabbage braised in white wine & butter) AND yet another delicious treat. A loves sultanas so he was happily pattering around the kitchen in anticipation of having a slice after dinner, as well as sneaking a couple of bites while my back was turned. Well, all 3 slices in the picture above disappeared by the time we turned in for the night and I packed a further 2 slices, generously drizzled with the syrup, for A's mid-morning snack the next day**. If it's not apparent by now, A really loves his food!

The recipe was simple and quick, taking no longer than 15 minutes preparation and assembly time and the results were really delicious for something so simple. The only further tweak to the recipe above I would make would be to reduce the sugar in the syrup to ¼ cup and a little bit more and have equal proportions of the wine and lemon/orange juice at ½ cup each instead as the syrup turned out tooth-rottingly sweet. A slice or two made for a great afternoon treat the next day with a cup of Earl Grey tea and my latest book, Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking.

**A reported that the thought of not having every single bit of the cake to himself (his colleagues apparently likely to pinch bits and pieces of his cake once they hear the rustle of the foil according to him) was so distressing that he had smuggled them to the meeting room during a teleconference with a client and ate them in the course of the conversation. That gave me a good laugh!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The First Time cont'd (Part II)

Scones can be savoury too

A couple of days after making the Rustic Apple Tart, I spied a Donna Hay recipe in the Sunday magazine to the Sunday
Herald-Sun for savoury pumpkin scones and decided to try it out, seeing that pumpkins were easily available and rather cheap in the market compared to other fruit and vegetables. I was also a little intrigued about cooking with pumpkin since pumpkins are not that easily available in Singapore and usually in abnormally large sizes around Halloween in the better supermarkets, so it would be only the second time that I used pumpkin in a recipe.

The original recipe called for a fair amount of shaved parmesan and grated cheddar cheese and chopped bacon for toppings. I tweaked the recipe a little by reducing the amount of cheese and loosing the bacon as I didn't fancy a whole load of cheese and bacon on the scone to detract from the pumpkin flavour. I also added a generous pinch of curry powder to intensify the pumpkin flavour and used a butternut or jacara pumpkin (I forget which) instead of a Japanese pumpkin, that being the only pumpkin available in the local Coles supermarket. The recipe I used with slight tweaks to the original is set out below:

Savoury Pumpkin Scones

500g pumpkin, peeled and chopped
3½ cups self-raising flour
Sea salt – I used Murray River Salt Flakes
Cracked black pepper – Be generous with the cracked black pepper as it adds a slightly spicy tinge to the scones
¾ cup milk
A generous pinch of curry powder – I used Hot Madras Curry Powder from Clive of India
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200'C.
2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and steam the pumpkin (in a baking paper-lined bamboo steamer or any other steamer) for 10-12 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked when tested with a skewer. [I found it easier to mash the pumpkin if it was sufficiently cooked till soft and cooked it for about 20 minutes instead.]
3. Remove the pumpkin from the heat, place in a bowl and mash until smooth. Add the flour, salt and pepper, and curry powder in a large bowl.
4. Make a well in the centre and gradually add the milk, stirring with a butter knife until just combined.
5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until a smooth dough forms. [I found the mixture a little too wet to turn out and knead sufficiently and lightly kneaded it in the bowl instead.]
6. Press out the dough to form a 20cm x 30cm rectangle. Scatter with the cheese, divide into 12 individual scones and place on an oiled and lined baking tray. [As I hadn't turned it out to knead, I used 2 spoons to form irregular shaped scones on the oiled and lined baking tray. That made for about 13 scones. I then scattered the cheese on top.]
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

The end-result was a little chewier than I expected of a scone but definitely had a similar density to traditional scones (which I've yet to try). A and I enjoyed the savoury pumpkin scones very much that night with the Tomato, Bean and Bacon stew (also another Nigel Slater recipe), especially with a great wodge of butter slowly melting over the side. I also had the scones for breakfast the next day. I found it a great alternative accompaniment to stews/soups instead of ordinary bread, as the pumpkin scones are more substantial than bread. Better yet, I froze the remaining scones for a rainy day when we run out of bread. Simply wrap in cling wrap and store in the freezer.

* Note: I defrosted a couple of the scones for dinner one night and it seemed like the pumpkin flavour had become more pronounced from its sojourn in the freezer. It also mopped up the remnants of the steak juices very well. Definitely convenient to have some of these on hand to satisfy the odd afternoon cravings or for the days when you've discovered the wholemeal loaf has turned moldy!
** Sorry guys but I wasn't able to upload the photos of the scones successfully so will post those in a separate entry next time around.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The First Time (Part I)

The first time for anything is an occasion you will always remember. The first time you rode a bike, kissed a guy, bought your first pair of high heels and baked your first cake. It's been a while since that last memory – that particular occasion would strike a familiar cord with most Singaporean school girls in the 90's who had to learn as part of their Home Economics class, the skill of rolling up a "swiss roll" without cracking it!

I then spent a large part of my teenage years in the school kitchen every Wednesday and Saturday afternoons putting together dishes, cakes and pastries of varying levels of difficulty as part of the lesson plans for my GCE "O" Levels for Food & Nutrition. The height of difficulty for me then was baking a fruit cake for Christmas which involved starting the whole process in September (6 hours of slow baking following 2 hours of prep!) after which I basted the cake with brandy for 3 months after – imagine the fumes when I finally cut the cake at our Christmas dinner! Rarely did I let a recipe go untested, even those on the back of flour bags/raisin & chocolate chip boxes, magazines and generally anywhere; as long as a recipe interested me, I would clip it, compile it in a file and try it out.

Following those intense years of baking and cooking, my skills fell into a period of long disuse where, like any other teenager, shopping, partying and going out took precedence over anything kitchen-related.

Time has turned a full circle and I find myself now, more than 10 years after setting down my spatula and apron, with time on my hands to play with flour, sugar and eggs again. Even enough time on my hand to compile recipes from all over including Epicurious, the back of produce boxes, magazines and favourite recipes of friends. As I haven't made anything more complicated than a peach pudding-cake in the past couple of years, and much as I want to dive right in and try all the lovely complicated-looking cakes in my cookbooks (the food blogs Nordljus, Kuidaore and Cupcake Bakeshop by Chocklit, amongst many others are big inspirations), I refrain and decided to start right from the beginning with simple basic recipes. I tried 3 simple recipes over the course of a week and will post separately on each of them beginning with the first below.

The Rustic Apple Tart

A couple of weeks ago, A was having a tough time at work, working all hours of the day (and much of the subsequent weekend) to complete a transaction after we drove back from Sydney earlier in the week. So inspired by an article I had read recently about apples, I decided to chance making a rustic apple tart with some leftover Pink Lady apples in our fridge following one of Nigel Slater's recipes from his book Real Cooking with some necessary adaptation, as a treat to cheer him up. It looked simple enough and I had most of the ingredients in my pantry already.

I love Nigel Slater's recipe books as most of his recipes are easy to recreate for daily meals. And now that I'm in Melbourne with easier access to the more easily-available ingredients for Western cooking (like artichokes, leeks and the like), it's been a pleasure trying out many of his recipes. I did hit a snag though when I tried his Lentil Soup with Mushrooms and Lemon using red lentils – one would naturally think that the soup would be orangey at the very least and not the sludge-like green mess (more porridge than soup) I ended up with. Tasty though it was redolent with the flavour of mushroom cut through with lemon, I couldn't stomach eating it although A had no problems! Thankfully, his recipes for sweeties don't usually have such tragic results.

Nigel Slater's recipe called for fruits like apples, plums, gooseberry, damson and blueberries and I only had apples in the fridge and wasn't about to trek out in the cold to buy the rest of the fruits (which would also be phenomenally expensive in winter). My only concession was to add some sultanas I had in the fridge. I was a little nervous with the pastry as I still lacked basic baking equipment and had to guess-timate the quantity of each of the ingredients (using a can of tomatoes to get an approximate idea of how much was 250g of flour). Worse still was the light kneading of the dough and rolling it out as I had to improvise using our dining room table and a wine bottle to do so and the dough stuck to the glass despite generous flouring of the surface. After transferring the dough to the baking tray, I spread the sliced apples out in a fan shape throughout 85% of the pastry, sprinkled the sultanas, drizzled some honey and dusted the top with caster sugar before folding up the edges roughly leaving part of the tart uncovered (explaining why the tart is "rustic"). It was with much relief when I finally bunged it into the oven.

I needn't have worried all that much even with all the guess-timating on my part – evidently, I hadn't lost all of my skills from those sweaty afternoons in the school kitchen! Light and flaky, the shortcrust pastry was a much better result than what I remembered from my long-ago pastry sessions – it's likely to be as a result of the weather in Melbourne being more conducive to pastry-making (without the heater, the temperature hovered around 20'C indoors, outdoors being 15'C). No picture of this as I hadn't used eggwash but milk as instructed by the recipe and I thought the resulting pale pastry too unappetizing to photograph. A didn't have any problems with it though, happily wolfing up a couple of slices with ice-cream and a generous splash of cream.

After finishing the tart, I belatedly recalled the section in Damien Pignolet's cookbook French titled "The Pastry Kitchen", which has helpful step-by-step photos and a more precise recipe for pate brisee (shortcrust pastry) and resolved to use that instead next time. I haven't reproduced either of Nigel Slater's or Damien Pignolet's recipes here as I trust that any true cook out there would have their own version of apple pie/tart using a pastry of their choice.


Comfort Food on a Cold Night

Some weeks ago, A and I made a trek to the heart of Richmond for one of Melbourne's well-known cheap eats along Bridge Road. It was a trek indeed, being a time when we were car-less and before we drove A's car down from Sydney, as although Richmond was the next suburb to ours, it still entailed a 45 minute walk in the cold. A friend asked in an email "isn't that why trams exist in Melbourne?" and I secretly agreed with her (right about 30 minutes into the walk) but A and I thought it would be a good way to work up an appetite for one of our favourite Japanese dishes. There's also something in walking all that distance on a cold dark winter night, anticipating the meal ahead before emerging into a cosy café with the steamy aroma of freshly cooked ramen.

Momotaro Rahmen is one of those tiny café with nondescript furniture and a small menu which one on a cold night, might easily walk on by; this would quite likely be the case in Richmond where there is a plethora of good food from the many Vietnamese outlets on Victoria Street to the venerable Richmond Hill Café & Larder at the beginning of Bridge Road. But having read that this café served up great ramen at very reasonable prices (and therefore thoroughly deserving the tag of Melbourne "Cheap Eats"), I decided that we would have dinner there one Saturday night.

Ordering at Momotaro is quick and simple. Make your way to the cashier and read your order off the huge menu hung on the wall above to the nice lady at the counter, pay and take a number.

We both decided to order the Negi Miso Ramen which is a classic ramen with a miso soup base topped with roast pork and leeks with hot chilli sauce. One word of caution! Momotaro serves up the biggest bowl of ramen I've ever eaten; I had earlier dismissed the comment by one reviewer that the bowl in which the ramen is served was as big as her head until a bowl was set before me. When I leaned over to bathe my face in the steamy aroma, I realised that there was truth to that statement! On our first visit, both A and I made the mistake of ordering one bowl each (in addition to an appetizer and dessert to share) and paying for that moment of greediness when we pried ourselves from our chairs to face the 45 minute walk back home. Needless to say, the next time we visited, we shared a bowl of ramen instead, which, together with an appetizer and dessert, was more than sufficient for 2 hungry people.

It doesn't look as impressive here but trust me that it was a BIG bowl!

After a short wait, the ramen was brought to our table and we turned to the serious business of slurping up some goodness. With my first mouthful of noodles from the steaming bowl on that cold winter night, my thoughts were that nothing comes quite close to this. The serving of ramen was definitely value for money at A$10, given the size of the serving. I leave more than half of my ramen untouched as I was stuffed! That's probably because we had a delicious starter to begin with which was on the Specials board that night – gyoza which is a part pan-fried and steamed dumpling. I had earlier read a very enlightening post by J of Kuidaore on how gyozas are prepared and Momotaro's version was true to the method (I could see Reiji, chef and owner, cooking each order of gyoza in the open-plan kitchen).

The special gyoza for the night - see the squid-ink pastry?

The special gyoza (A$8 for 6 pieces) for that night was a nice variation on the classic Italian dish of squid-ink pasta – the gyoza wrapper was made with squid-ink pastry and came with a filling of hot chilli prawn & squid with bamboo. I'm not a big fan of squid ink pasta for various reasons; not only does it use the ink sacs of the squid for its colour and was therefore very 'fishy-tasting', it is also truly difficult to eat this dish with company with any semblance of dignity (witness ink-stained teeth and lips). This time however, the gyoza wrapper was a lightly-tinged grey (probably because not as much squid ink was used) so I thought I would chance a bite. I was glad I did as each mouthful was a sensation of tastes - salty with the tang of the ocean from the prawns and squid, slightly spicy from the bite of the chilli and crunchy from the bamboo shoots. We had tried the regular gyoza on our first visit which was definitely good stuff. But the special definitely blew our minds. Our dish emptied itself magically within the next couple of minutes and A and I didn't speak further after the first "mmmm" until we had polished all 6 gyozas off.

A enjoying a bite of the crepe layer cake

After such a huge bowl of ramen and the gyoza, you wouldn't think that we'd be able to squeeze in any more food. But I had my eye on the crepe layer cake with green tea custard (A$3.50), and had taken the precaution of ordering it upfront with our ramen. I had missed trying it out on my previous visit when someone nicked the last piece before me and had to settle for the green tea icecream (wonderful still as it was chockfull of green tea flavour). This dessert intrigued me when it was served – layer upon layer of crepes were sandwiched with a thin spread of green tea custard such that it formed a 'cake'. Served with a generous wodge of vanilla icecream on the side, A and I fought over every last bit of this dessert.

Momotaro Rahmen comes out tops for good hearty comfort food and all for around $25 for two. A and I have definitely marked this on our favourites list - it is definitely worth the 45 minute walk anytime!

Momotaro Rahmen – Japanese Noodle Bar
392 Bridge Road
Richmond Vic 3121

Phone: (03) 9421 1661

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Monday, August 28, 2006

A Weekend Away

On the Hume freeway from Sydney to Melbourne

A couple of weeks ago, we flew to Sydney for the weekend to visit with A's family before taking a road trip of 850 kilometres back to Melbourne with A's car. We took the direct route back to Melbourne instead of the scenic coastal route (which we will undertake in December for Christmas) and it was a great drive seeing that the Hume freeway back was largely free of cars.
Taking my turn at the wheel, I was somewhat apprehensive about long-distance driving, having up to now, always been driven around for long distance travel. After a couple of hours behind the wheel on a clear road with blue skies above and scenery changing every few kilometres or so, I now understand why many Singaporeans love to take their cars up to Kuala Lumpur for the weekend – there is something therapeutic about driving at 120km/h and singing loudly to a good selection of road trip music. While I would have loved my John Mayer and Dick Lee albums to be on hand, I had to be content with Madonna's "The Immaculate Collection", Michael Jackson's "History", "Grease!" and the soundtrack from the movie "Pretty in Pink" – all courtesy of A's teenage years and all the CDs left in his bedroom!
The drive back topped off a truly enjoyable weekend spent chowing down A's mom's luscious cooking, lounging around with our books and catching up with family in the local pub at Westmead. One particular highlight of the weekend was the extended family gathering over the usual dim sum lunch (which is always a fixture on the calendar every time we come back to Sydney) in Carlingford. This time, we were all more restrained with our orders for dim sum as we were told that we would be heading over to Uncle Edgar's place for birthday cake. And what a birthday cake it turned out to be!

Uncle Edgar's birthday cake

As a tribute to their Filipino heritage, A's aunt had ordered an ube-macapuno (yam with young sweet coconut) cake. Covered in pastel buttercream icing, once sliced, the cake comprised of 2 layers of purple ube-flavoured sponge with a filing of macapuno. I was rather surprised at the intensity of the purple sponge, having read previously on Chockylit's post on Ube Cupcakes with Bubble Buttercream that her attempts at making the ube cupcakes resulted instead in an unappetizing sludge-green colour. Chocklit left the colour natural although she suggested that to correct the colour, some drops of red food colouring might do the trick to try smash red beets (although I think that might affect the flavour of the ube!). In the case of the birthday cake, I'm guessing it must have been the former as I certainly tasted only ube in the sponge.

A slice of the ube sponge cake with macapuno filing

Colour-aside, the birthday cake was light, fluffy and definitely delicious enough for A to return for a second slice. For me, as I have never been a big fan of yam-based desserts (whether in the form of Magnolia's ube icecream or my grandma's traditional Teochew dessert, ohr ngee), it was a nice reminder of the wonderful macapuno icecream from Magnolia and coconut pies that my mom used to cart back from Manila.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

I am a Shoeholic

I obviously didn't learn anything from my excursion to buy Billy Joel tickets.

Having read in the Melbourne Weekly Magazine that Miss Louise, Melbourne's smaller-scale equivalent of On Pedder, was having a massive sale starting from 9 a.m. this morning, I should have timed my arrival for 8.30 a.m.... at the very latest! But as Miss Louise is nicely situated opposite A's office, I thought it would be nice to do like we do in Singapore in the mornings on the way to work and head into the city together in time for A's start at 9 a.m..
After spending the short train ride in laughing at my anxiety ("What if no size?!"), A very nicely wished me "Happy hunting!" before we parted at the junction as I happily contemplated a nice hour looking at pretty shoes.
I crossed the street and drew in a sharp breath..... as I realised that there were at least 22 other shoe-crazy Melbournians (mostly well-dressed women skivving off work) stamping their impatient feet in the snaking queue and yet more in the store starting the pillage. So much for the pleasant hour looking at shoes! I thought "Heck, I made the trek all the way into the city, I'm not going to leave without having a peek inside..." and thanked my lucky stars that the queue wasn't as bad as the ones for the MNG sales back home.
After an interminable wait of 25 minutes, I crossed the roped-off entrance and couldn't help squealing a little in excitement looking at the shoes. There is something about a crowded shop full of women and a limited supply of shoes that quickens one's breathing and ups the adrenaline. I knew what I wanted since I had peeped in the window the night before to spy out the landscape when I was waiting for A to finish up with work. Unfortunately, there weren't any Size 38s available for the shoes I (and obviously many of the other women) had been eyeing. All that meant was that I just had to have a second look around the store again.
BINGO! An hour later, I left the shop with a huge bag, having dropped a load of cash on shoes that I don't need (but definitely don't mind having!).

If you're a shoeholic too and wondering what I scored (like the girls in A's office who clamoured to dig through my bag that day), they were pale green Sergio Rossi thongs and Giuseppi Zanotti creamy white leather ballet flats with an antique-looking pin brooch.

So what is it about shoes that make some women go weak in the knees? Go see the episode in Sex and the City where Carrie's Manolo's get stolen from a house party - I totally identified with her sentiments! I've tried to explain this phenomenon to A many times over but he still thinks I'm a little gaga to rush down to the city first thing in the morning to score shoes on sale. Men just don't get it.

Miss Louise

Shop 601 Grand Hyatt Hotel

123 Collins Street Melbourne


Friday, August 04, 2006

The Long Holiday

July 2006 proved to be an eventful month for both A and I. After months of discussion with family and friends and a lot of soul-searching on my part, we took the plunge to move to Melbourne for 6 months - A, to start a secondment with his company's Melbourne office and me, for a long-awaited sabbatical from my crazy long hours as a lawyer and to hit the books (for fun this time though), the shops and cook up a storm. We thought it would be a great way to wind down a hectic year, exploring a new city together and recovering some excitement in life that had been squashed out of us by our intense work schedules for the past couple of years.

My original intention when I first had thoughts last year of taking a sabbatical from work was to do the usual globe-trot, which upon further reflection (that I couldn't fit a decent wardrobe into a 20kg backpack AND lug back any of the exotic food stuff/clothes/artwork etc I was sure to discover) was quickly revised to settling in another country doing something useful. I then had brief visions of being another Jane Goodall, doing field work for enviromental NGOs until quite a few friends remarked that they would never have put me down for any trekking trips to the Amazon. They had a point, of course.

Work then got intensely busy, and not being able to arrive at any firm decision, meant that any plans to take a sabbatical got pushed to the side. I would also have to leave A, as he had just started a new job this year and couldn't possibly ask for 6 months off any time soon. Yet, I thought constantly about taking time out for myself. Fate or coincidence intervened when A told me about a contemplated posting to Melbourne and asked me to consider coming with him and take this to be my sabbatical instead. While Australia is not unfamiliar to both of us, A having grown up in Sydney and me having been in and out of Australia countless times, neither of us had lived in Melbourne for an extended period. So the thought of settling here for 6 months did prove quite exciting. After some initial panic at my end ("What am I going to do with myself for 6 months?!"), soothed by very helpful advice from my gal-pal, G, here we are, in one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Liveable it is for sure! We are fortunate that our (tiny) apartment is situated in very genial surroundings - we are within 5 minutes walk from Chapel Street for all the shopping any girl could desire, Toorak and Domain Road for some of Melbourne's venerable eating institutions and Commercial Road for the local produce at Prahran Market. And just a stone's throw too from the Royal Botanic Gardens, where we've been pounding "the Tan" (Melbournian's affectionate name for the running strip circling the Botanic Gardens) every weekend in a bid to work off all our excessive eating since we got here.
After spending the past few weeks exploring the new surroundings and checking out the local produce stores and food haunts (ok, I confess that I also checked out all the shops too), I finally set aside some time last week to reassess my 'goals' for my time-off. Flipping the pages of my diary, I note that I now have ticks for the following annotations:
  • "study Literature again" - I signed up for a course at the University of Melbourne and am into my 3rd lecture and tutorial.
  • "cook regularly" - ha, this one has many ticks against it, for the new recipes I've tried since I got here, most of which turned out quite well, except for one bad experience with lentils.
  • "begin that long overdue exercise regime" - a 4km walk, 3-4 times a week around the Tan is an "exercise regime" isn't it?
  • "lounging around in my jammies the whole day and doing absolutely nothing" - this one I got it down pat.

But I hadn't made any headway on the bit in my diary that said "record all the fun bits in Melbourne". And then some friends suggested that they would love to know what else I get up to over here and to do it the techie way - bare my thoughts on a blog. Ok...I'm sure this beats repeating myself 10,000 times in emails (and forgetting which friends I've told what!).

Anyway, I do realise that the choice of name for this blog may be a little misleading. Unlike some great food blogs out there I've been following, this one isn't going to be all about cooking, new creations and beautiful food photos (as you can tell from the subject choice in my first post!). Food posts will make its appearance from time to time for sure - Melbourne being such a foodie town, it would be a pity not to share about finding yummy chocolate truffles from Prahran Market's chocolatier, the experience of sating a chilli craving one day with a spicy Indonesian chicken dish or walking 45 minutes from our apartment to find a tiny ramen shop in Richmond. But I'm sure you won't begrudge the other random thoughts posted here too - there are so many other pleasures in life other than food ....


Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Piano Man

Guess where A and I will be on 10 November 2006?

Getting your hands on tickets for any concert back home in Singapore was pretty easy. Just log on to the SISTIC or TicketCharge online website and tick the right boxes, voila... you have your preferred choice of tickets to a show. Any time and all from the comfort of your home.

Down under in Melbourne, it's a different story altogether. To get my hands on these babies, I could order tickets through the Ticketek website and pay an extra $7.95 for delivery. Or I could go down to the Ticketek outlet itself. Thankfully, we live just down the road from a Ticketek outlet so when the tickets went on sale on 31 July, my 'battle plan' to get these tickets involved rolling out of the comfort of our warm bed and getting into line by 9 a.m.. Silly me, I thought getting there by 9.05 a.m. would have been alright, not wanting to be a typical *kiasu Singaporean and be the first in line. Little did I know that the counter had given out queue tickets from 8.45 a.m.! So there I was, No 18 in the queue, calculating my odds of getting tickets as by the drips and draps of the conversation swirling around me, tickets were moving at lightning speed.

Luckily, after some indecision on my part ("Gold or Silver tickets, miss? Erm.. ermm.... hmm... ok, silver...."), I scored 2 precious tickets. No choice as to seats though but we're quite near the stage, albeit a restricted view. I don't care. All that mattered as I skipped up the slope to the apartment, humming "Sing us a song you're the Piano Man", was that it wouldn't be too long before I hear that line and many other favourite ones, sung live.

*kiasu - Singapore English slang translating loosely to mean "afraid to lose". Typical characteristic of Singaporeans.

Billy Joel - Live in Concert 2006

Friday 10 November 2006 8 p.m., Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne