Bye bye #2 On My Bucket List

I just want to cheerfully announce that I am now able to scratch/cross out/check off-whatever you want to call it-the 2nd thing on my bucket list! It may not seem like a big accomplishment but there’s this feeble warm and fuzzy feeling on the inside that lets me know I am taking small but necessary steps. The only time I have ever had a macaron was when I was down in Melbourne last year; and it is without a doubt THE food city of Australia. Every few steps you take, something delicious slaps you in the face. Every corner you turn, almost guaranteed you’re heading down another food alley of awesomeness.

My first thoughts on macarons:

1. “It looks plastic.”

2. “Why isn’t macaron spelled with double ‘o’?” (…I’m such a spelling freak. I’m still bothered by people who cannot tell the difference between words like their, they’re and there. But if I correct them I’m the asshole.)

3. “There are too many colours and flavours… great, now I’m going to spend forever here making a decision. It’s not a life changing decision…just pick something… wow I really do have a problem”

I chose vanilla.

Despite my first impressions on this little gem, I’m pretty sure an orgasmic food bomb went off in my mouth as I bit into it. From that moment on, I wanted to try as many flavours as I can and make my own someday!

Then I came back to Brisbane without the first clue on where to find macarons. Aside from Starbucks but I don’t exactly want to pay an astronomical amount for just one. Until recently, my friend Jackie told me there’s a guy in the city every week on market day that sells them! And to the city I went…

Coconut macaron

Oh, what’s this? Pistachio macaron? Why not!

I loved both flavours and all the other nutty ones! Although the fruity ones were worth a try, they were too sweet and not as refreshing. In case you guys are wondering why I specifically wrote coconut macaron on the list; it’s because I love coconut. There’s no story behind it. I’m sure the title of my blog says how much love I have for coconuts. Did I have high expectations before trying the coconut macaron? Yes, I have been anticipating it. Did it meet my expectations? You bet!

TTFN

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High Tea

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since I first came to Australia. Why is it that people have a tendency of picking the farthest place on the map whenever they want to go somewhere? Having lived in Toronto (well, Cambridge, but most of you are familiar with Toronto) for 16 years now, I never once visited NYC, Vancouver or Banff. Those are some pretty popular destinations that are not too far from me right? And when I ask some of my Aussie friends what Melbourne and Sydney are like, a few of them simply told me they’ve never been outside of Queensland. It’s an interesting observation, how sometimes we are not so inclined to explore what’s around us, but deviating far from the place we are most familiar with just seems like a refreshing thing to do. It’s almost as if we want to break away from our quicksand-like comfort zone so desperately before it pulls us even deeper.

At least that’s how I felt 3 years ago.

I remember being so excited to move far away and start a new chapter in my life. However, it didn’t take too long before I realized how I overestimated my ability to live on my own. An incredible sadness overcame me – and lingered like a fog for a long time- when I started to miss my comfort zone more than ever. I immediately wanted to get back on a plane and go home; but I didn’t. Well, because it would have been the most ridiculous thing ever; having paid $2000 for that flight, I am not a rockstar so I sucked it up. And I’m glad I did. Now I’m living happily in Brisbane and couldn’t be more ecstatic that graduation is just a mere 6 months away. After I finished my first year of University in Canada, I never would have dreamed of having a pharmacy degree at the age of 24 (because my grades were crap), let alone be fortunate enough to attain it while living in Australia.

One big thing that I’ve learned over the past few years is that the future is never exactly what I imagine it to be. For example, when I was in my first and second year University I never thought I would want to have a blog, a passion for food and now I want to start my OWN BUSINESS!? The old me would have said “don’t be stupid, focus on pharmacy”. I miss the old me.

Just kidding. But seriously, why can’t I do both? I feel so fulfilled that I’ve found the things I love doing. So I want to give a big thanks to all of you who have been alongside of me on this ride over the past few years. Yea yea, it’s still early in the year I’m not graduated yet why am I being such a cheeseball. That’s what I’m picturing some of my friends saying right now. Hey whatever, take it before the offer expires. 😛

Anyway, huge thick pair of graduation goggles are on and they seem to be glued to my face. Metaphorically not literally. If you don’t know what graduation goggles are or watch How I Met Your Mother religiously, they’re kind of like beer goggles only in your graduation year, everything about the student life seem much more attractive than usual. Symptoms include; but are not limited to: the urge to drink like a fish all day everyday (which can also cause beer goggles), fist pumpin’ that nasty club air with more enthusiasm, eating out as if there’s a zombie apocalypse coming (I’ve already mastered Rule #1 – Cardio), and striking up a conversation with people you’ve known for your entire degree but never talked to them until now. (Not that I didn’t think you’re an interesting person. I am just shy sometimes)

I’m trying to put a cap on the eating out thing. Lately I have been encouraging myself to explore the diversity of cuisines in Brisbane before I no longer have the opportunity to. Couple of days ago I had a fantastic afternoon at the Stamford Plaza with Kim and Quynh and finally experienced how delicious and elegant high tea is.  I am way overdue for photos in this post…

I’m still trying to learn about all the functions on my new camera. It takes time!

“Sipping on tea like a female sir”
Haha

Salmon on a piece of… pancake? Kim and I thought it was a cracker at first. How wrong we were

The waitress was suppose to be well trained at naming everything as soon as they’ve served us. She had to apologize as she forgot what a few things were. I said “don’t worry, it’s not like we’ll remember what you just said anyway”.  It’s true, we didn’t. My favourite was the salmon appetizer by far, and raw fish isn’t even my cup of tea! (I had to) The tarts and mousse were amazing as well and there were also curry puffs that I failed to include in the photos. My least favourite was the cucumber sandwich. It was just too bland!

It doesn’t seem like a lot of food but by the end all three of us were stuffed! Had to leave the leftover scones. Shame.  The inspiration from high tea influenced me so much that I want to master a wide variety of little delectable treats and host my own high tea someday haha 😀 All in all, another memorable afternoon in Brisbane. If you’re looking to go somewhere for high tea around this area, Stamford Plaza is it for you.

Cheers to the rest of 2012 and more great experiences 🙂

Coconut Mango Sago Soup

Heads up: this post is not as dramatic as the title. Yeah I know it’s got a dark feel to it… If it’s one thing I learned from being a part-time blogger for 2 months now (whoa. I should be popping a bottle of bubbly), is that the attitude of the title makes an absurdly big difference in whether your post will get read. This is clearly not an all-or-none scenario, because if I changed the title to just “sago”, I’m sure some of you will still peek in pure curiosity from questioning “what the fuck is sago?”. If it was a household word/term like… I dunno.. “Chocolate Pudding”, it’s prooobably going to get the short end of the stick. Making a mental note to edit my “Creme Brulee” post *shifty eyes*. Enough of my scattered, aimless thoughts.

[Side note alert] By the way, I am really enjoying this blogging business. Not only does it give me a place to visually gather my progress and reflections, it has even provided me some level of comfort in writing. The latter, I did not expect going into it. I have read – and enjoyed reading – many superstar articles a.k.a Freshly Pressed. Let’s be honest, and I say this with a chuckle, I’m not planning on quitting my day job. Anyway, like I said, blogging is keeping me interested and I really do appreciate those of you who are reading my food rambles. It means a lot 🙂

OKAY okay, sago, with a long “a” sound. This is where grade school English is coming back to bite me in the ass. You know, I am still iffy on that concept. It’s deceiving in the sense that anyone could have just pronounced sago like “saaaaago”. Is that LONG enough of an ‘a’ sound for you Mr. Insertnamehere!? Instead, what it really means is that sago, is legitimately pronounced as “say-go”. Tomato tomahto.

So! I made mango coconut sago. What are the ingredients? I just told you. Easy, simple, doesn’t beat around the bush. If it were only that way for other desserts, like Chocolate Diane, but that’s a whole different story for another sitting.

Shanghai is a hotspot for sago desserts. I spent 50% of my time seeing family and the other 50% eating that stuff last time. They come in a variety of flavours containing black sesame, tropical fruits, durian, sticky rice, red beans, grass jelly etc.  That’s a lot of trial-and-errors to go through to get the successful mixtures. Interestingly, I did not know that sago and tapioca are essentially the same thing. They are both starches extracted from a family of trees mostly found in SE Asia. Did you make the connection  to the title of the post yet? Sago is pure carbohydrate and extremely scarce in other nutrients. So, if you’re on a low carb diet… Make sure you ask for no “bubbles” in your bubble tea!

In all honesty, my creative juices were just not flowing and I struggled with the title of this post. I actually don’t have a lot to say about low carb diets. Except I tried it once and failed after 2 months hah. One thing I know for sure now: stay away from sago if you want to succeed. There are approximately 5g of carbohydrates in a slice of bread and 94g of carbs in 100g of sago. Yikes..

Sago in its packaged form.

It’s surprisingly tricky to “cook” sago. I find that boiling it for a few minutes and then drowning them in cold water for about a day works wonders. When they’re ready, I submerged them in coconut milk drink and diced a mango.

I apologize for the crappy picture. It wasn’t actually taken until I was half finished. I am probably the most distracted food “photographer”.

This is one of the simplest dishes among a million other varieties of sago soupy desserts. I encourage you to branch out and give this a shot sometime. It’s a very refreshing and light palate cleanser. Not too sugary or dense. The most challenging part is knowing where to purchase sago. As I got mine from Shanghai, you will most definitely not be able to spot it on a shelf at your regular supermarket. Try T & T, or other Asian grocery stores-for all you Canadian readers. For my Australian friends, try this place about 10 minutes away from CBD near the corner of McLoughlin and Ma-I’m just playing with ya I have no clue where to get sago in Brisbane. 😉

TTFN

If I won the lottery…

My absolute ultimate outdoor dream kitchen. Yes, hence the title of this entry.

It’s not just a wine cellar, it has a mystical feel to it that I could not resist sharing this photo

And a list of few other “affordable” kitchen gadgets I would love to have:

What a beauty

Gonna start saving up to make this bad boy mine!

Not only would my strawberry Belgian waffles be freakin’ delicious, they’d be heart-warming in more ways than one.

Well it’s not a lemon-shaped kettle

I don’t consider this as a kitchen essential but I find this gadget intriguing. Apparently this Blomus Lemon Squeezer will get every last drop out of that fruit. Wouldn’t a regular lemon squeezer do the job too? Ohhh the curiosity…

Potato masher

Probably the most affordable and practical item in this entry yet. Believe it or not, I haven’t come across any. Maybe I just have tunnel vision for all the other cool kitchen gadgets that I make a beeline for every time I enter Kitchen Stuff Plus. Great store by the way if you haven’t checked it out yet. Lots of deals!

…to be continued