Les Nourritures //Food #122016

Bringing back memories from December 2016 through my food diary.

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Dear all, I hope 2017 has been treating you well! So far, my January looks something like this:

  • I welcomed the New Year with my family in our cozy home. There was plenty of talking and snacking.
  • I celebrated birthdays, went on a day trip and spent quality time with my dearest friends.
  • I find that I’m better at letting go (still learning!).
  • I visited my relatives from both sides of the family.
  • I got my health checked. There were good and bad news but nothing I can’t handle.
  • I’m getting better at pampering myself (self-love is crucial!).
  • I finally got my workaholic mojo back. It has been gone for the past year and I miss it.
  • I thought I’d fail in restricting food that’ll contribute to an increase in cholesterol but I’m doing surprisingly well. I really hope this lasts. Come on self-control! Come on willpower! YOU CAN DO THIS!

This post is supposed to go up early January but I spent most of my time back home doing things I don’t get to do often. If you’re an international student like me, then you know what I’m talking about. There was plenty of shopping (only the necessities as they’re usually cheaper in Malaysia), movies, catch up sessions, cleaning…

No fear though, December 2016’s food diary is finally here.

 

Week 1

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Stir fry chicken with broccoli and carrots.
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Beef mixed with carrots, pumpkin and spinach with a side of yogurt. I used a dash of pepper and some dried chili for seasoning (the beef dish not the yogurt).

To be honest, November 2016 wasn’t the healthiest month for me. I had quite a lot of sweets, burgers, fried chicken and snacks. Since I’ll be eating a lot of local food when I’m back in Malaysia (mostly unhealthy as well), I decided to treat my body with nutritious food two weeks before I board the plane.

My mum used to stir fry spinach with garlic or make spinach soup. When I cook for myself, I tend to only stir fry spinach with garlic or ginger. So far, I’ve never tried cooking spinach in another way and needless to say, I got bored of it really quickly.

So I decided to try something different.

I came across a recipe that uses beef and spinach as the main ingredients. Since I cook in bulk, I like to add more ingredients to my dishes so that they could last me for a few days. In this case, I added carrots and sweet potatoes to the original recipe and I have to say I quite like the final result.

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Paella

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When summer rolls around, food stalls will be set up at the Queen Victoria Market in preparation for the Summer Night Market that runs every Wednesday. In the first week of December, R and I got some friends to join us for an eating spree at the market. We had paella, roasted turkey legs, New York waffles and ice cream. The paella was disappointing (I don’t remember the name of the stall) but the other food we had were decent.

The weekend has arrived and it’s time for another food adventure!

After spending some time on Google, R and I decided to venture out to Collingwood and have lunch at Rockwell and Sons. The service was prompt and the place has a hipster vibe to it. R got the Double Patty Smash Burger (with Kraft, special sauce, seeded bun and bacon) while I got the Black Bean Burger (with Jazz sauce, pepper jack cheese and pickled green tomato). We also shared the Pork Crackling (with BBQ salt and Kimchi mayo) and Hand-cut French Fries (with malt vinegar mayo). That was my first time trying a vegetarian burger and as someone who likes a good meat burger, it was actually really good! R loved his burger (he said “So good” a billion times) and don’t get me started on the Kimchi mayo.

Just a heads up, Rockwell and Sons tend to get really busy at night so it’s probably wise to reserve a table if you’re going to have a family gathering or a night out with your mates. Also, if you’re looking for a new burger place to try, I highly recommend this place. You’ll want to come back again and again!

*One word of advice though, if you’re already having a burger yourself, only get one side to share. Two was definitely too much for us (and we’re not small eaters!).*

 

Week 2

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I had some leftover beef from last week so I included the rest in this week’s dish. After that sinful feast at Rockwell and Sons, I tossed together some white cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli and beef for a homely meal. For seasoning, I used garlic, red onions and a bit of salt. Once I finished this batch, I made another using drum sticks instead of beef. If you’re wondering what’s on top of the vegetables, it’s the famous Lao Gan Ma spicy chili crisp. I first heard about this through M’s Chinese friends. They told me if I love spicy I should give it a go. I did and this is my verdict: it’s great because it adds great flavor to any dish but don’t expect it to be spicy.

I heard you could even spread it on bread like jam. I’ve tried it and it’s really quite good! No kidding!

Good fats are great for those with high cholesterol. Hence, I’ve been trying to increase my intake of salmon for the past few months. I used to hate salmon when I was younger because I feel that the meat is too dry. Maybe the salmon in Malaysia isn’t that fresh or maybe it has something to do with the cooking method. However, when I was an undergraduate, I included salmon in my diet because I know they’re good for me, not because I like it. I’ve made different versions of it but I always come back to pan fried salmon with herbs and salt. Also, I’ve learnt that if I want my salmon to be juicy, I shouldn’t leave it on the pan for too long.

And just like that, I’ve fallen in love with salmon again.

Since I’m leaving Melbourne the week after, I decided to have dinner at the Summer Night Market on Wednesday. As soon as I got there, I made a beeline for The Cypriot Kitchen. The reason why I wanted to try their food was because they don’t actually have a physical store like the rest of the vendors. If I missed it, I won’t be able to try their food when the night market is over.

I ordered the chicken souvlaki with chips and I thought it was alright. The bread was freshly made and the combination of cheese and fries was great. The only problem is that the chicken could be juicier. Nonetheless, I have no regrets.

Last week, R and I came across a new Mexican place after our meal at Rockwell and Sons. We had a quick peek inside Hotel Jesus and immediately knew that we’d come back to try. The interior looks nothing like the other Mexican restaurants we’ve been to (but then again, we’ve never been to many). It actually feels like you’ve stepped into a restaurant in Mexico

Over the weekend, we invited a small group of friends to hang out and we chose to dine at Hotel Jesus. I love eating food from other cultures so I was really excited.

We ordered a variety of things to share: tostadas, tacos, tortas and more. Personally I think everything tasted great and the ingredients used were all really fresh. Even R and J (who is from Mexico City) said the food was authentic. However, I think the portion size is too small to share and the food is a bit overpriced. That said, Hotel Jesus is the perfect venue for light eaters and for those who want some snacks. It’s also great if you and your friends are planning to drink, but want to try something different.

*The Smoked Diablo Mezcal is the bomb! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t fancy alcohol.*

 

Week 3

dscf3801Final week in Melbourne! And that means using up all perishable food to prevent waste. In times like these, it’s quite impossible to whip up something fancy for the camera. So all I had for lunch this week was broccoli, chickpeas, tomatoes and avocado. I topped it off with some Sriracha sauce and nutritional yeast. Simple and yummy!

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Auction Rooms Cafe
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Grilled eggplant: stuffed paratha bread, freekeh + brown rice salad, smoked hummus, preserved lemon, poached egg

When you finish all your food and you don’t want to shop for more, what would you do? Grab a friend and have a spontaneous catch up session at a brunch place! I’ve heard good things about Auction Rooms Cafe at the beginning of 2016 and I wanted to go there for the longest time. Even though it’s located close to where I live, there’s always something that prevents me from visiting this place. Usually it’s the price or the people I’m with. Brunch in Melbourne is expensive and I often tell myself I’m better off spending that money somewhere else. Also, I tend to go with other people’s preferences. That is why I never get the chance to drop by until the end of 2016.

But better late than never right?

Auction Rooms Cafe has an industrial look as its foundation is made up of mostly bricks and metal. However, the accents of wood, glass as well as the soft lighting in the background bring out the hygge vibe within this space.

M and I talked about the things graduates have to face in the real world and our future plans. The experience was made better by the grilled eggplant dish I was having. There was so much flavor! I get sweet (pomegranate), savory (eggplant, hummus and bread) and bitter (rocket) one after the other and sometimes all at once. I felt really satisfied after the meal.

M got herself the banana and walnut loaf (espresso mascarpone, banana yoghurt and coffee crumb). I had a little bite and I thought it was nice. However, the serving size maybe too much for one person. Sweet things can fill you up really quickly especially when you don’t have a big appetite in the morning. The best solution is probably to share or to swap dishes with your friend or partner (half way through the meal) so you don’t overeat and you get to try two dishes in one visit.

 

Week 4

I packed my bags and took the plane back to Malaysia. I remember feeling happy, excited and relaxed on board because

1. I get a break from my part time job and

2. I get a chance to plan and get myself back on track for 2017.

 

As always, I hope you enjoyed this food diary and to all Chinese readers and bloggers out there, HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

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Les Nourritures // Food #112016

Food diary 2.0 and some podcast recommendations for you lovely people.

As I’m writing this, Solange’s Mad is playing on my phone.

I used to be able to sing along to every song aired on the radio. But now, I hardly know the lyrics to any popular songs. I guess it’s because I rarely listen to music anymore. I don’t plug in when I do grocery shopping, buy takeaway food, jogging etc. I only turn on the music when I’m getting ready, cooking or cleaning. Lately though, I’m more interested in podcasts than anything else.

*I know you’re expecting to see content relating to food, but bear with me as I digress*

The following are my current favorites on Spotify:

  1. The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health -Whenever I’m picking out books or articles to read, I gravitate towards Psychology. Dr. Ellen Hendriksen is, in my opinion, a great host. She’s easy to listen to and she’s funny too. All episodes are brief but you’ll learn a lot in a short amount of time. Favorite episodes: 129 How is ADHD Different for Women and Girls? and 039 How to Talk to Kids About Terrorism and Violence
  2. The Ultimate Health Podcast with Dr. Jesse Chappus and Marni Wasserman – This podcast offers a lot of interesting topics. Because the length of each episode is quite long, it’s great for road trips or when you’re commuting back home on public transport. I don’t know about you but I like experimenting with tips provided by experts just to see if they actually work for me. Favorite episode: 127 The Allergy Solution with Dr. Leo Galland
  3. Girlboss Radio with Sophia Amoruso – I’ve heard a lot about Sophia, her book and her success story with Nasty Gal in the past but I haven’t explore any of her works. So when I came across this podcast, I thought it’s time to give her a chance. I only managed to listen to two episodes so far but I love them. Sophia interviews successful women working in various career fields and discusses how they get to where they are right now, the lessons they’ve learned and their opinions on specific issues. If you want to be inspired, have a listen to this! Favorite episode: Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief for Marie Claire

Thank you for being patient and let’s get straight to business!

 

Week 1

I planned to have dinner with R on Friday but there was a change of plans so I went to Torasan Ramen (again) without him. I was tempted to get the raw salmon dish but I went for grilled salmon with curry instead.

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I think I only had grilled salmon once or twice in my entire life. Pairing it with Japanese curry is a nice combination but be warned, Japanese curry is super mild. If you crave something spicier, this won’t cut it!

On Saturday, I decided to give Flora Indian Restaurant & Cafe a try. I didn’t feel like travelling too far so this place is perfect as it’s located in the CBD.

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I ordered a small combination meal which consists of either 1 roti or naan, 1 meat dish, 1 vegetarian dish and Daal. The naan was freshly made and it goes really well with the meat, the pumpkin and the sauces. Although they are generous with the vegetarian dish, I only got two pieces of goat meat. The bones were huge and for $10.50 AUD, I think it’s not worth it. The flavors were good but I don’t think I’ll revisit anytime soon.

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If you live in Melbourne, you’re bound to come across Bakers Delight. I got curious so I decided to pop in and sample their products. I got myself an almond custard scroll for $2.5 AUD (if I’m not mistaken) and it was actually pretty good. I would prefer that they skip the cream beneath the almonds though.

 

Week 2

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I was craving for my mum’s sweet and sour chicken dish, so I decided to try and make it myself. I didn’t ask my mum for the recipe or search the internet. I just improvised and went with what feels right.

I marinated the chicken with some soy sauce, dipped them in corn flour and pan fried them in olive oil. The frying process takes time and be prepared to clean up after. I cut up some cucumbers, tomatoes and capsicum and stir fried them for 2-3 minutes. I then added some water and a tiny bit of brown sugar to the mix and tossed them for another 2-3 minutes. To make the gravy thicker, add in some corn flour.

Once it’s done, get yourself a bowl of rice, add some chicken and top it off with the vegetable mix and voila! I’m really happy with the final result and I had this for lunch for the entire week. What better way to satisfy a craving?

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For dinner, I made tofu with shitake and enoki mushrooms (I LOVE mushrooms!!) as well as stir fried kale and tomatoes. I love a good tofu dish! Tofu is not only a good source of protein but it can provide some benefit to people with high cholesterol (like me).

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Random breakfast shot. I wanted to get my own matcha powder for a while now so when it was on sale at Chemist Warehouse, I snapped one up. I add one teaspoon of matcha powder to my oatmeal when I feel like it but I use cinnamon powder more often. Now that I’m about to finish the rest of my apple cider vinegar (I add this to warm water and drink it first thing in the morning), I plan to use matcha powder for my morning “tonic” in the future. 

I remember it was a sunny Saturday and I was craving for a burger. So I did what most people with cravings would do. I walked to New York Minute and got the Hell’s Kitchen Chili Beef Burger! I expected it to be spicy but it turned out to be like any other normal burger. I understand that most Australians cannot handle spicy food, but this is below the mild standard. If the burger is named as Hell’s Kitchen Chili Beef Burger, might as well go all in and make it spicy! But overall, it was still pretty good.

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Week 3

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Quick and easy snack on a Monday before lunch. 

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This week I made stir fried long beans and chicken for lunch. Since I have some leftover bread, I decided to have avocado toast as well.

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I saw this recipe on jenny mustard’s YouTube channel and I knew I had to give it a go. Firstly, I haven’t made congee on my own before; secondly, I was craving for something comforting and finally, I’ve never had congee that’s sour or soup based.

Jenny used shiitake mushrooms, lentils, spring onion, coriander, ginger (and all the other stuff) in her recipe but I substituted shiitake with button mushrooms and I omitted the rest. I have to say, I really like her take on this! The combination of sour and salty (from the Miso) together with all those vegetables and mushrooms…perfect! If you want to give it a try, click here.

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To switch things up, I sometimes add half a tablespoon of chocolate powder to my oatmeal. I’m trying to use up my cheap chocolate powder so I can get the real deal (aka 100% cocoa with no sugar added). 

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On Saturday, I had lunch with some of my high school friends. We haven’t seen each other for more than 3 months and we only meet twice a year: during the midterm break and after the final exams. Even if that’s the case, we have a lot to talk about and we always have a great time together.

I suggested that we lunch at Fat Oma because it was on my TO TRY list. My friends haven’t tried it either, so it was a win-win situation for us. I got Iga Balado (beef ribs with chunky sambal sauce, tofu and tempeh) and went with the spicy option. I thought I could handle it but I was wrong.

The spiciness builds up over time and as I reach the end of my meal, I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing. Having something so spicy numbs the tongue and I couldn’t really taste the meat. Also, the bones were big and I got a big piece of fat. That said, those were the only negatives. Otherwise, I like what I had.

 

Week 4

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Have you heard of Weet-Bix? It’s considered as ‘Australia’s No. 1 breakfast cereal’My brother introduced this to me and I’m glad that he did. Unlike the typical cereal, Weet-Bix is high in fiber, iron and Vitamins B1, 2 and 3. The best part? It’s low in sugar and fat! R says it tastes like cardboard but I beg to differ. If you eat it with just milk, obviously it’ll be bland. But when you add raisins, nuts, cinnamon powder and a small amount of natural honey, you’ll bound to have a bowl of healthy and yummy breakfast!

Besides milk, I like to eat them with yogurt. I break the bars into small pieces and then add the yogurt and all the other things I usually include in my oatmeal. If you find this in your country, give it a go! Trust me, it’s definitely the healthier option when it comes to breakfast cereal (Want proof? Compare the sugar levels!).

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I first tasted mango sticky rice when I was in Thailand about 15 years ago. I remember sharing it with my family and we all loved it. I was so excited when one of my friends mentioned that she recently had this at the Night Noodle Market. I sent a text to R and we decided to go on Thursday.

Four other friends joined us and we went on a crazy food adventure. R and I started dinner with mango sticky rice. I know, I know…we don’t do entree, main and then dessert. Anything goes!

Despite being Chinese, I have this weird love for baos. R loves them too so we got some from Wonderbao (featured photo). The buns were incredibly soft and fluffy and they come with three different filings: spicy Korean chicken, eggplant and pork belly. The last two are my favorite! Spicy Korean chicken tend to be sweet rather than spicy.

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We walked around, saw Messina and went straight for another round of dessert. Everything looks so good that we had a lot of trouble deciding. In the end, R and I went with Turron Not, which consists of deep fried banana and brown sugar gelato, wrapped in filo pastry, with Ube cream, kalamansi puree and coconut crunch. Yeah, it’s like the unicorn in the ice cream world…and it was delicious!

The last dish we had was some good old Japanese stir fried noodles. We both thought it was average. For some reason, we didn’t mix the toppings with the noodles so we started off having a really flavorful meal and was left with a really bland one at the end. Silly us.

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This is what I made for the final week of November. More stir fried beans but this time with carrots, chicken drumsticks with miso and Korean chili paste as seasoning. One of the best combinations I came up with!

That’s it! I hope you enjoy seeing and reading all about the food I’ve made and consumed last month. Until then, take care and get excited for Christmas!

Les Nourritures // Food #102016

I’ve had (and made) some pretty amazing food last month. Anything food related is bound to make me happy, hungry, inspired or all three at once. Be prepared for this is going to be a long post (it’s mostly visual so if you hate words, then hooray!).

I’m the type of person who thinks about food all the time. Last Saturday while I was out with R, I asked him if we should try the Indian place near his apartment for dinner. R looked at me in disbelief and said: “But we just finished lunch!”

I like walking around the city, discovering new places and dishes to eat. I used to stick to specific types of food; the ones that will leave me feeling satisfied and happy. But at some point I realized that I’m clearly missing out! From then on wards (I think I was about 21 years old), I’ve decided to order food/drinks that I’ve never tried before. And if I revisit the same restaurant, I should order a different dish every time I do so.

And you know what? So far I don’t think I’ve been disappointed with my choices.

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On October 1st, R and some of our friends from the Tae Kwon Do club organized a pizza party at his place so we could watch the AFL grand final together. I think only two or three guys from the group were big fans of the game. Nevertheless, we all had a great time preparing food and eating together. Can you think of anything better than guacamole (avocado is finally in season!) & corn chips, homemade wood fire pizzas and berry nice cream?

We didn’t follow any recipes when we make the pizzas (except for the base). We improvised and put together ingredients that we think would work well. Replications of the Hawaiian Chicken, Vegetarian, Pepperoni and Meat Lovers were expected at any pizza party. We also attempted to make “fancier” pizzas topped with prosciutto, anchovies, sun dried tomatoes, blue cheese and Gouda. And let me tell you, they were fantastic! 

If you crave good pizzas but don’t really want to spend, just make your own! Trust me, it’s not that hard and it’s worth the effort.

As usual, we bought more ingredients than we need so R and I ended up making more pizzas on the very next day. I think all in all I had about 10 slices in two days.

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What was on my pizza: Ham, pineapples, olives, onion, capsicum, prosciutto, roasted chicken, sun dried tomatoes, tasties (aka cheddar), Gouda, blue cheese and pepperoni. It was a really heavy and loaded pizza. 

 

Week 1

Breakfast this week consists of granola and toast. Having the same thing every day is boring so I like to switch things up between oatmeal, muesli, granola and toast on a weekly basis.

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I like to top my breakfast bowl with nuts, raisins and coconut shreds. I hate the taste of full cream milk so I mainly drink soy or oat milk. I’m not sure how I develop such preference, considering I grew up drinking full cream milk!

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The usual ingredients for rice paper rolls are carrot sticks, cucumber and basil. To create something different, I used pan fried chicken, spicy tempeh, mushroom and bean sprouts (cooked with sesame oil) and tuna as the filling. 

I don’t have much time to cook during the weekdays. I start work at 9 AM and finish by 3 or 4 PM. Most of the time I’ll take a 30 minute walk towards Flinders St. to catch the tram in the free zone, get down at Queen Victoria Market and walk for another 15 minutes before I reach home. If I take the tram from my workplace, I usually get home in 30 minutes. Not much of a difference so I rather get some exercise in and save money.

After work, I either do Pilates, jog or both (depending on how I feel), have dinner, shower, catch up with my hobbies and then hit the sack by 11.30 PM. As you can probably tell, I don’t have the time to cook every single day. The solution? Cook in bulk!

I was craving for Vietnamese food at the start of October. And since I still have some rice paper rolls left from last time (R and I made these at the beginning of the year), I thought why not make rice paper rolls for dinner this week?  My version of rice paper rolls was a bit funky. I was just going with what I want to eat or intend to use up (for instance, you’ll normally find vermicelli in your rice paper rolls but I used soba instead). Adding spicy tempeh to my rice paper rolls is surprisingly delicious! I also really like the dipping sauce I came up with (I combined Miso paste with Go Chu Jang [Korean sweet and spicy sauce]).

For lunch I opted for something filling: fried brown rice with peas, corn, sliced onion, chicken breast stripes and chili flakes. Meals without gravy or soup are easy to carry around. Sometimes I’d really like to have noodle soup for lunch but the containers I own just can’t seem to keep the contents from leaking. I had my share of disasters and I wouldn’t want to go through the same scenarios again.

Weekends are my favorite! I get to spend time with R, try out new places and eat out. I really cannot imagine having home cooked food every single day.

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Matcha ice cream from Tsujiri.

I first discovered Tsujiri while I was on my way to work. Two weeks later, R and I finally had the chance to give this place a go as it was a warm and sunny Saturday in Melbourne. We got the signature Tsujiri sundae (left) and the Shiratama Matcha sundae to share (right).

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Between the two, I prefer the signature sundae. If you know me well, you know that I like chewy and crunchy things. Besides the Shiramata balls, the signature sundae also has a layer of crunchy Japanese brown rice. The combination of these different textures made the dessert so much more enjoyable! The Matcha ice cream was pretty good but I prefer the bitter version. The price point for something this size is pretty high (about $9 AUD). Maybe because the Matcha is imported all the way from Uji, Kyoto. I would come back for more but only on very special occasions.

 

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Beef bibimbap
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Spicy pork with rice

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R and I prefer to stay in on Sundays. Sometimes we’d cook but most of the time we’ll walk to Newmarket (about 20 minutes from his apartment) to have lunch. We came across Gogi Gogi while we were shopping at an Asian grocery store in September. The lunch menu looks decent (price is between $10-12 AUD) so we promised each other that we’d visit this place one day. From far Gogi Gogi looks like a Korean restaurant but it’s actually run by the Chinese. So if you’re looking for the real deal, give this place a pass.

R had the beef bibimbap lunch set while I had the spicy pork with rice lunch set. All lunch sets come with a free soft drink but I didn’t get mine. Since I don’t really like soft drinks, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. The portion size is huge and worth every penny of it. R said the bibimbap was alright but the spicy pork dish was a little bit on the sweet side and could be spicier (I love spicy). This place isn’t the best and I probably won’t come back if I have a craving for Korean food.

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I wanted to make use of my jumpsuit during Spring so I layered it over my Uniqlo thermals. I like how it turns out. I even wear this outfit two days in a row. What do you think?

For dinner I made myself some nice cream (I used frozen strawberries and mango) and topped my bowl with some toasted muesli. I had to wear a sweater and cover myself in R’s fleece blanket while I dig into this bowl of yumminess.

 

Week 2

For the past month I’ve been devouring content produced by jenny mustard. I decided to try one of her recipes this week and it turned out great. The only adjustment I made was I substituted whole-wheat spaghetti with spinach fettuccine. I also didn’t have any kimchi with me so I had do without it.

Since I mostly eat vegetables when I cook for myself, it is important to make sure that my body gets enough vitamin B12. One way to get that is through nutritional yeast. I know the name doesn’t sound appealing but it adds a nice flavor to your dishes. Apparently some people substitute cheese with nutritional yeast (for pasta dishes) but it’s just not the same!

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For week 2’s lunch, I made barley with pumpkin and black beans (topped with nutritional yeast and linseeds). 
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Jenny Mustard’s spicy sour noodles. This is such a comforting meal for cold nights.

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Random breakfast shot: oatmeal with soy milk topped with blueberries, coconut shreds, almonds, raisins and linseeds.

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Ahh scrolls. Who doesn’t love them? When I was younger, my parents used to get hot cinnamon scrolls from a shop at Mid Valley (if I’m not mistaken). It was so long ago I don’t even remember the name of the shop. All I know is that they taste great! So while Oregano is having a temporary pop-up store in Melbourne Central, I had to get my hands on one.

There are more than 10 flavors to choose from. I couldn’t decide between the original, peanut butter and the red velvet. In the end, I went with red velvet (remember I said I like to try things I haven’t tried before? I haven’t even had a red velvet cake) and I was utterly disappointed. The topping/ icing reminds me of cough medicine and the dough is a bit hard and dry. I didn’t warm it up in the microwave as it’s broken. Maybe the dough will be fluffy when it’s warm? I’m not sure.

Just last week, R told me his friend bought some to share. Surprisingly he said they were good (Especially the caramel one! Oh God, the caramel one is sooooo good!). Maybe I’ll give Oregano one more try in the future. I’ll make sure to go for the original or peanut butter. Perhaps the caramel one as well.

I’ve mentioned to R that I’d love to have brunch with him some day. So you can imagine my excitement when he suggested that we have brunch together before he goes off for a quick meeting at the university.

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As usual, I had a hard time deciding. In the end, I made a last minute decision to go to 1932 Cafe & Restaurant. This place is tucked inside the Arcade building along Collins St. It has a nice cozy ambiance and the staff is friendly and attentive. I had my eye on Mushroom Ragu but unfortunately for me, it was sold out. I ended up ordering the same dish as R -the 1932 Eggs Royale, which consists of house cured trout, poached eggs, sautéed spinach, lemon hollandaise.

Doesn’t it look gorgeous? I love the lemon hollandaise! It’s creamy and tangy and it goes really well with the trout and bread. The trout is really fresh and it has a hint of smoke flavor to it. I’m not sure what the brown thing is but we think it could be fried trout skin. Although the portion looks small, we were really full after the meal.

I would definitely revisit this place and I’ll make sure to come in early so that I could try the Mushroom Ragu dish.

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Since we had an early meal, we decided to have dessert at Sweetie & Moustache Dessert Lounge after R’s meeting. I wanted to try their signature mille crepes but their (ridiculously) gigantic bread dessert also looks very appealing. We took the “Go big or go home” quote to heart and ordered the latter.

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Honeycomb Honey Toast: Crispy honey toast cubes, vanilla ice cream, natural honeycomb, custard honey and salted caramel pistachio.

The toast cubes were crispy and warm when served. I would probably only add half of the honey and custard sauce but R poured everything before I could react. Needless to say, it was too sweet for me. Even though we had some space for dessert, we couldn’t finish it. The dessert is aesthetically pleasing but taste wise it’s average. Not great but not the worst either.

I’m still curious about their signature mille crepes though.

 

Week 3

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It’s important to make sure you’re eating from every category on the food pyramid. For lunch I opted for something quick and easy: pan fried chicken breasts (seasoned with paprika, turmeric, salt and pepper), kale and eggs and some stir fried cauliflower.

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On Saturday, R and I dined at a new burger place called Goody’s Burger House. I got the Classic Philly Burger (with a side of fries) simply because it has cream cheese in it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a burger with cream cheese before. R wanted to get the same but went with Texas BBQ instead. The first impression I got when I unwrap my burger was that it looked miserable and beaten up.  Aside from that, the cream cheese goes really well with the bacon. The overall taste was alright and the portion size is decent. The burgers have the same price as those from New York Minute and Royal Stacks but at least they serve hot and good looking burgers. Not something that seems to be left on the side for hours. Given the choice, I won’t be visiting Goody’s Burger House in the future.

Once every month, I’ll cook something for R. Since I have some spinach fettuccine left from last week, I have decided to make a simple pasta dish with mushrooms, carrots and chicken stripes. I then mix everything with fresh tomatoes, garlic and brown onion. Simple yet so delicious!

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I also made some peanut and almond pralines on Sunday. I know, I know…they look nothing like the ones in the recipe and here are the reasons why:

  1. There wasn’t enough peanut butter and I didn’t bring enough dates.
  2. I messed up the consistency of the dark chocolate by pouring hot water onto the chocolate squares.
  3. The recipe requires that I heat up the peanut butter first then mix in the vanilla essence and maple syrup. But I heated all three ingredients together instead. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the mixture cooled while I was still shaping the pralines. Hence, I had to heat it again after I’m done and that changes the consistency of the mixture.

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I ended up borrowing D’s (R’s hosuemate) Nutella to coat the rest of the pralines and added water to the oats, almond and dates mixture (it was loose because of the lack of dates) to make everything “stick”. We also nearly broke our front teeth because the maple syrup turned hard under constant heating. This definitely wasn’t the best but I’m determine to do better next time.

 

Week 4

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On Tuesday, me and my friend from high school visited European Bier Cafe for a 2 for 1 lunch deal. I ordered the panko calamari while M got the spaghetti alla amatriciana. I think that it’s ridiculous to charge $21 for 5 rings of calamari on a bed of salad (a bag of mixed salad costs about $5)Needless to say, I wasn’t satisfied. I wouldn’t recommend eating here but if you’re looking for a place to drink and chat, this is actually a decent place to do so as I’ve been here for drinks once.

After lunch, we decided to walk to Exhibition St. to get gelato. I’ve tried Gelateria Primavera before but this is a first for M. Since they offer very unique flavors, you can expect the gelato to be on the expensive side. I got cardamon & roasted pistachio, yogurt, rose & acai and sheep’s curd, rosemary & honey. They were all good but the second flavor tasted like regular strawberry yogurt. The first and the third flavor were amazing.

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I feel in love with Bun Bo Xao (Vietnamse Lemongrass Beef Noodles Salad) the first time I had it at a Vietnamese restaurant. I like that it has a little bit of everything: fiber from the vegetables, carbohydrates from the rice vermicelli and protein from the meat. I try to reduce my intake of red meat so I added chicken breast to the mix. And tofu! It’s not only good for people with high cholesterol but it’s also a good source of protein.

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Saturday breakfast

Oh I remember this day. It was a glorious sunny Saturday. The weather was so warm that I could actually wear mini shorts and a see through lace top. I told R I wanted to go to the beach and we did!

But before that, we had lunch at a new location called Torasan Ramen. This place offers typical Japanese food -ramen, rice with beef/spicy pork/fried chicken and more. I opted for the salmon don while R went with the waitress’s suggestion and ordered their signature Tonkotsu ramen.

I was surprised that so many things came with my salmon don (and it only costs $12 AUD!). There were fresh fruits, a side of fries and fried potato cakes, a small bowl of Miso soup and kimchi. The salmon slices were fresh and everything else was great. I tried some of R’s ramen and it was delicious too! If you live in the city, give this place a shot!

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Strolling along St Kilda beach. Guess what? There was a truck giving out free popsicles and frozen yogurt. Must be our lucky day. 

 

Saturday was one of the best days I had. Good food, good company and a good movie. It was a long day so we decided to take Sunday slow.

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The first time R and I had lunch at New Somali Kitchen, we concluded that the dishes were delicious, plentiful and cheap. I was excited for our second visit and we weren’t disappointed. Instead of ordering our own dishes, we decided to share the NSK combo so we could get the “full taste of Somali fare”. We also got a side of Bajeya, which is a Somali-style falafel made from ground black-eyed peas, ginger, garlic and coriander. I’m glad we did because they were awesome. After we devoured everything, we even made plans to come back for the Worker’s Lunch in the near future.

And there you have it! I hope you enjoy my longest post yet. I may write two food posts in a month so that it’s more manageable for me. But I’ll see how things go.

Happy a great week ahead and take care!

Les Nourritures // Food #092016

Before I start university in Melbourne, I’ve never cooked a meal for myself, my family or my friends. At 20, I can boil eggs, make instant noodles and prepare my own breakfast (which consists of two slices of bread and a cup of hot chocolate).

You can imagine how scared my parents were when they realized that their daughter will be living alone and have to cook her own meals because eating out every day is just too expensive. They told me to take it easy and said if I can’t figure out how to cook, I should just eat out until I learn to do so.

A few hours after they boarded the plane, I managed to make myself a decent dinner – a bowl of white rice with some stir fry vegetables and chicken. My parents were very surprised and proud as heck. For the next few months, I continue to cook my own meals and I think I did pretty well. The only issue I had was that most things were under cooked. No food poisoning was involved though. All those years of observing my mum cooking in the kitchen paid off!

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My first home cooked meal.

Since then, I’ve been documenting my meals on Facebook under the album called “Cooking up a Storm – A Newbie’s Version”. The meals I make are simple and I put in whatever ingredients that I think would work. I rarely follow recipes but when I do, it is usually because I am cooking for R.

Since I met R, we’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking together. I remember I was really impressed when he told me he could make bread from scratch. I later found out that he knows how to make ice cream (!!!) and pancakes as well (he is THE ONE)! Not that any of these things are hard to make, but I grew up in a family where women do all the cooking. So to learn that R could make things from scratch just left me in awe.

Now that I have a blog, I will share the meals I had or made on this platform. Otherwise, they’ll be on Instagram. Let’s get started, shall we?

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I like to have small portions of different things for dinner. {Fruits, stir fry flat noodles with cauliflower, strawberries and peanut butter toast, sauerkraut and mustard on toast}.
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New Jersey Burger from New York Minute. {Really really good but the portion size is too huge for me}
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Home made turmeric “latte” (I use soy milk as a substitute).
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R organized a BBQ party to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day. We (with 3 other friends) had Spanish sausages, ribs, mushrooms and capsicums filled with blue cheese. Yum!
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J (R’s high school friend) brought back some candy from Mexico! They were all a mix of spicy, sweet and sour. I love them!
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I don’t know about you but I can have oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. {Berry oatmeal with warm soy milk and muesli for some extra crunch}.
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Brown rice topped with stir fry string beans and avocado. Papaya as a side dish.
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What do you do when you run out of milk in the morning? I cook my oatmeal in water and stir in two tablespoons of chocolate powder and add a pinch of cinnamon. I always top my oatmeal with some variety of nuts and fruits. Sometimes I’ll add some raisins and coconut shreds.
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Monday meal prep! {red cabbage, broccoli, carrots, chicken breasts, tomatoes, chopped almonds, black pepper and herbs}
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I made two huge batch of salad for the week (lunch). One with balsamic vinegar dressing and the other with spicy Miso dressing. I really like the latter. Will definitely make more in the future!