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.
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.
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!).*
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.*
Final 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!
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.
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!