Monday, September 29, 2008

COCONUT CENDOL JELLY

Coconut! That is the secret ingredient for Weekend Wokking in the month of September. Hmm..what should I cook? Should I use dessicated coconut? Or coconut water? Or coconut flesh? Or coconut milk? So versatile yet so difficult to decide. I want to do something simple yet delicious. Something that is unique and Malaysian. Something that is cold and sweet.

Finally I decided to do a bit of 'conversion' to my all-time favourite Malaysian shaved-ice dessert, Cendol (pronounced as 'Chen-doll')! This original local dessert is served with shaved iced with cendol and coconut milk mixture pour all over the ice and lastly drizzled with melted gula melaka (palm sugar). Nowadays we can find a variation of cendol that comes with kidney beans, red beans, durian, pulut or glutinous rice and even a scoop of ice-cream!
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Using the same main ingredients, I transformed it into jelly so that I could enjoy it anytime of the day. The ingredients are:

25 gram
Agar-Agar (soak and squeeze away the water)
200 ml Coconut Milk
1 packet Cendol
100gm Gula Melaka / Palm Sugar
2 cups White Sugar (or according to taste)
2 pcs Pandan/Screwpine leaves (tie a knot)
1.4liter Boiling Water
*Note: Kindly ignore the dog in the background. Dog is definitely not being used in this recipe!
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Cendol is made of rice flour formed into tiny strands. Usually, pandan/screwpine leaf is used to give the dough a nice flavour and of course, for the colour as well. I tend to avoid those with bright green as artificial colouring is being used. Good cendol should be light green in colour. Give it a good rinse and drain well.
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Once the water is boiled, put in the pandan leaf and the agar-agar. Boil till the agar-agar melts. Using another small pot, put aside about 1/4 (approximate 8 soup ladle) of the mixture and set aside. Throw away the pandan leaf.
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With the remaining 3/4 of the agar-agar mixture, pour in the white sugar according to your taste. I usually cut down on the white sugar so that I can use more of the palm sugar later on. Once the sugar melts, put in the coconut milk. Remember to lower your fire so that the mixture doesn't spill all over and also to avoid the particles from the coconut milk to break, hence becoming oily.
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Pour the coconut mixture into a mould (I used a baking tin) and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Add the cendol into the mixture and give it a good stir.
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Next, bring the 1/4 agar-agar mixture to boil to melt the palm sugar. Try to get good quality palm sugar as it makes a lot of difference to your food. I remembered once my palm sugar tasted burnt and bitter! I got mine from Tesco and luckily it was not prepacked, hence I did something really terrible. I scrapped a bit off to taste before buying it! Anyway, I love the aroma of the palm sugar so I tend to use more of it to sweeten the jelly.
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Using a fork, lightly scratch the surface of the white jelly so that when the palm sugar mixture is poured over, it will stay on firmly.
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Lastly pour the palm sugar mixture onto the coconut jelly and let it cool to set. Remember to chill it before serving.
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Mmm...I just love the top layer which is so fragrant and complements perfectly with the rich coconut layer and not forgetting, the strands of pandan flavoured cendol.
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The roundup will be up on 1 October 2008, so do drop by again to take a peep at all the delicious and lip-smacking dishes from all over the world using coconut as one of the key ingredients!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

TWEED ENDEAVOUR CRAB CATCHING CRUISE!

I was really fascinated with Christine's post on her crab catching experience in Gold Coast and I told myself right then that if I ever have a chance to travel to Gold Coast, this would be in the top of my list, and it was. In fact, this was the only thing I look forward to (apart from meeting up with my sis and nephew) before the trip.

I found out there are two popular crab catching cruise operators: Catch-A-Crab (CAC) and Tweed Endeavour Cruises (TEC). Christine went for the CAC which includes a visit to a oyster farm. However, our apartment caretaker told us that he went for both before and he recommended TEC as it is much better, friendlier and less commercialized.

The fee per person depends on the meal on board that you choose:
i) freshly cooked one whole mud crab = AUD109 per person
ii) freshly cooked half mud crab with boiled tiger prawns = AUD89
iii) BBQ chicken with ham = AUD69.

The price also includes morning tea and snack, rice, miso soup, salad and fruits. Kids below age of 5 is complimentary.

The cruise departs at Tweed Head, a beautiful suburb which is quite far from where we stayed. For additional AUD10 per person, they came to pick us up right in front of our apartment. A wise decision as otherwise, we would not be able to find the secluded departure point. I was the only one really hyper that morning, jumping up and down with joy and full on anticipation on the various activities that lies ahead.
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Refreshment was served the moment we stepped into the boat. A choice of coffee or tea with a slice of fruit cake each. Due to my excitement, my tummy suddenly switched off and total lost of appetite. I did not even bother taking picture of the refreshment served! My precious nephew was wondering, why is his Yiyeh behaved like a crazy woman that morning.
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The itinerary of crab catching cruise is not limited to crabs catching only. It also include other very interesting activities as well, so much so, it was so well-catered to my interest! Nothing could be more perfect than this cruise. Come come, scroll down to see my proud achievement from this cruise:


# 1 YAB...YABB...YABBY PUMPING!!
Before I even have a chance to explore the boat, we were asked to take off our shoes as we are going to going to be wet from some hard labour work. Each group was given a set of equipment; steel pump and a sieve. Off we went, following the guide to a shallow sandy area.
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We were told to look for tiny holes, aim the pump at the hole and start pumping by pulling up the handle.

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Aim at the sieve and push the handle down to release the sand. Repeat the pumping process on the same spot 4 - 5 times.

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Give the sieve a good shake to get rid of the sand and ta da......YABBIES!!! Sounded pretty easy? Actually it wasn't. Quite tiring especially when you have to bend down quite a lot due to the length of the pump and you need a lot of energy to pull the handle up. I had so much fun pumping up the yabbies. Hard work but fun especially when you see pinkish yabbies crawling around the sieve.

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I was a bit disappointed to see such tiny yabbies as I expected it to be the size I ate at Max! Kitchen. Our guide told us that these yabbies are not meant to be eaten as there are too tiny and not much meat. Bigger ones are found in deep sea. But we are collecting our catch for later use.

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#2 PULL....PULL....PULL!!!
After drying our feet, a representative from each group was picked and ushered outside to the front of the boat for more labour work. We saw a few cages floating in the river right in front of us. They have thrown in the cage with baits the night before to trap the crabs. So it is our task now to pull the cages back to see if it yielded any results. I was the 4th person in line and the cages pulled up by those ahead of me had one crab each. With my poor luck in catching anything, I asked Hubby to do the job as I would be very disappointed if I pull up an empty cage.
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My heart was pounding like mad when I was called to step right in front and handed the rope to pull back my assigned cage. Can you just imagine my excitement when I saw what greeted me? Not one but two!!! Two huge mud crabs!!! One male and one female!! Everyone cheered and clapped!! And they even took photos of me with my crabs! I was a 30 seconds celebrity! Well, am not crowned as Queen of Crab for no reason. HAHA!

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Once all the cages were pulled up, we were asked to return to our seat so that our guide could give us some crab education course. To preserve the environment, they are very strict with their rules. Only crabs exceeding the permitted size are allowed to be eaten, otherwise it has to be released. Female crabs CANNOT be eaten as they are used to breed. BUMMER BUMMER BUMMER! I was hoping to taste the roes. He also taught us ways to identify male and female and showed us how to tie a crab. He warned us to never ever put our finger near the pincher, and he demonstrated to us the reason why with a carrot stick. Snap! He said these crabs are strong and the only way we could save our finger is to quickly release the crab into the river.

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After the crab education course, we were given an opportunity to take photos with the crabs.10


#3 MY CURRENT FAVOURITE HOBBY...FISHING!!
Fishing rods and baits were provided for free. Remember the yabbies that we caught earlier? Yes, they were used as baits. They also supplied prawns as bait for those who find hooking a live yabby too cruel. I didn't really care as long as I get just one fish, just one! The moment I reeled in, I can feel something pulling my line and sadly most of the time, the fish managed to pull away my bait. I finally managed to catch an Ocean Bream!!!! The biggest fish I ever caught so far. Just like crab, they also have a standard size for fish to comply to. Mine was slightly smaller than the allowable size hence back it went into the water. It doesn't matter cos I was very very happy and contented with my catch. 11

Lady luck must be on my side that day. Not too long after my first catch, I caught another ocean bream again. Slightly smaller than the first, that means 'bye bye and hope to see you again when you are much bigger'.
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I was surprised as even my precious nephew caught something. He was playing with the fishing rod, reeling in and out his line when suddenly he pulled up something. Everyone cheered and I was of course very proud of him. He can be my potential fishing mate when I retire in Melbourne.
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And then I got my third ocean bream. I was the only one who kept catching something and the guide was so proud of me. All the guys on board was pressured to catch up, for the women are leading in the number of catch! Hubby at this point in time was extremely upset. He was hoping to at least catch something, and the way he saw me pulling up the fishes one after another, he was even more pressured. I can even hear him mumbling! LOL!
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My fourth ocean bream was the tiniest of all and I realised I didn't even take any picture of it. While throwing it back to the water, this pelican grabbed and had it for lunch.
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Yeah!! Hubby finally caught one, ocean bream too! He was very very happy and of course, less pressured.

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We were called in for lunch but with the last bait in my hand, I decided to give myself one last try. I have this strong feeling that I will catch something. True enough, within seconds, I caught my 5th ocean bream. I am very satisfied with my achievement! *grin*
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# 4 CRAB FIESTA
While we were busy fishing, our guide with two other staffs were busy preparing for our lunch. The aroma from the boiling crabs was so inviting, immediately I tracked down the smell and it was such a beautiful sight to be greeted by a pot of huge orangey red crabs!
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Hubby and I opted for the half portion of boiled mud crab with tiger prawns, while my sis who is not a crab fanatic took the roast chicken meal. The meal also includes miso soup, rice, bread, salad and fruits. By the time I arrived at the dining table, my sis almost finished her roast chicken and ham, so no photos of it. But I can confirmed, those roast chicken were from Coles (supermarket) cos the driver who picked us up made a stop at Coles to grab it. We got a shock cos the chicken meal costs AUD69 and one whole chicken in Coles won't even cost AUD10. For only additional AUD20, do go for the crabs as it is more worth it.
My crab was H.U.G.E. For once, I was glad I didn't order one whole crab for myself. 19

Look! Palm-sized claws!

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And if you notice, those crab legs are bigger than my nephew's finger! 21

So much meat and it was sweet, juicy but slightly salty. It was slightly overcooked but luckily it was served hot, otherwise I will surely have a hard time finishing it. Actually, quite a waste for such big fat nice crab to be cooked this way. I don't mind boiled but it must be cooked to perfection. Maybe they should slot me in to teach on ways to cook crabs during the education course? LOL!!!
After the lovely meal, I was hoping to continue fishing but sadly, was told that we will be heading for the last stop shortly before the tour ends. So Hubby and I enjoyed the cruise and admiring those waterfront houses as we passed by. I can imagine myself living here. Everyday, I will be fishing at my own home backyard...dinner will be ocean bream, crab, ocean bream, crab and ocean bream. Ahhh....I want this kind of life so Hubby, please work hard as I want to live here! (This is not a hint hint, am SERIOUS!) 22

# 5 IT'S FEEDING TIME!!
Not us, the pelicans! While enjoying the beautiful view, we noticed more and more pelicans flew towards our direction.
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Suddenly, we were surrounded by pelicans. Smart birds cos they knew it was feeding time!!!
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Each of us was given a piece of fish frame (bones and head) to feed the pelican. I was terrified initially as I was scare that the pelicans would peck on my hand, hence I just threw the fish out. But actually, pelicans are very gentle and they don't fight for food at all.

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The 4-hour cruise came to an end after the pelican feeding. The cruise was exactly what I anticipated; fun, fun, fun and fun!! It was the best highlight of my Gold Coast trip. How could it not be when all the activities seem to cater my interest? I will surely go again, but probably next time I will try the other crab cruise that includes oyster farm so that I can make a comparison and share with you which is the better one.

Next post am going to bring you to a dreamy world!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

PETER'S FISH MARKET @ GOLD COAST

Just shortly before arriving at Sea World, we passed by the luxurious and most expensive hotel in Australia, Palazzo Versace Hotel and right at the side across a small road, my sister told us that we must make a stop there on the way back. Peter's Fish Market is the name and it offers fresh seafood to takeaway or you can simply order fish and chips to eat at their al-fresco dining area.
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Quite a variety of seafood available here such as calamari, baby octopus, scallop, oyster, mussel, caviar, smoked salmon and etc..
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Fresh Fish fillet! Perfect for fish and chips! Apart from Barramundi (siakap) and flounder, the rest of the fish sounded pretty alien to me. Anyone heard of Red Emperor and Mangrove fish in Malaysia? Definitely a good news for Dory-phobic person like me.
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Moreton Bay Bugs are from the lobster family. I might be wrong, but it looked like slipper lobster to me. I was tempted to try, but it was already pre-cooked and displayed on ice. Thawing available but how nice could it be after thawing?
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Cooked prawns..also served on ice. Looks good, so we bought some to try.
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My sis grabbed a box of Fish and Chips to share. It came with deep fried calamaris, fish nuggets and lots of chips. It was really good! The batter was light and crispy. No craps like what we had in Sea World. Am amazed with the chips, it was crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. Crispy till the last piece! BIG THUMBS UP!
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I was disappointed with the cooked prawns. First of all, we have to buy our own wasabi soya sauce. Wasabi? What wasabi? Couldn't taste any wasabi at all. Pricey too! Secondly, the prawns were overcooked. Flesh was tough and chewy. Icy cold prawns just not for me. Bummer!
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I do recommend the Fish and Chips here if you happen to visit Sea World. Visit their website for their location and operating hours HERE.

In the meantime, the highlight of my Gold Coast trip is on the way.......

Sunday, September 21, 2008

WEEKEND WOKKING!

Weekend Wokking is a worldwide food blogging event initiated by Wandering Chopsticks in which every month, a secret ingredient will be revealed and participants will have to create a dish, post it up on your blog and submit your link to the host of the month.



Yours truly, me, will be hosting the weekend wokking this month and the secret ingredient is COCONUT! You can simply create any dish from using coconut milk, coconut water, coconut flesh...anything from coconut will do. The roundup is on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 and the compilation of all entries will be featured in my blog.

Interested to join in the fun? Do check out the rules and send your entries to ivywong78 (at) hotmail (dot) com by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, September 28.

Looking forward to your entries!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

SEA WORLD, GOLD COAST

When one mention Gold Coast, the three famous theme world will come to my mind; Sea World, Dream World and Movie World. Before our trip, Hubby and I already discussed and agreed that we should choose at least two worlds to fit into our itinerary. Being an animal lover, Sea World naturally became my first choice. 1

The admission price, gulp, was slightly pricey. A day pass costs AUD69 (~RM207) for adults and AUD45 (~RM135) for kids between 3 - 13 years old. Additional activities such as helicopter ride, tropical reef snorkeling, shark scuba, whale watching cruise and getting up-close-and-personal with dolphin requires additional charges.
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My nephew was excited the moment he saw the filming site for
Toasted, an Australian children program filmed entirely in Seaworld. Apparently, it's a hit! Immediately my nephew posed for me and ended up lying on the toasted bread logo and exclaimed loudly "I AM A SLICE OF CHEESE!!!!!"
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There are a number of scheduled shows too such as Waterski Wipeout.....
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Sea lion show with the theme "Fish Detectives".....
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and dolphin show at Dolphin Cove.
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Getting into the water to be up-close with dolphins is my dream. Hubby insisted that I should give it a go, but when we were told that we have to part with AUD225 (~RM675) per person for only 20 minutes spent in the water with dolphins, forget it. I am most contented to watch it from afar with the AUD225 save and sound in my pocket. I vowed to work here one day, that way, I can get paid to fulfill my dream! Hehehe!

Apart from the shows, I enjoyed visiting the marine attractions too. First stop: Polar Bear!
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Sadly, it was napping time for them. Otherwise, it would be cool to watch them swim through the underwater viewing windows. Always next time, right Hubby?? *wink wink*
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This is my Hubby's favourite zone, Shark Bay. I have never mention in my blog before, my hubby is actually very fascinated with sharks and crocodiles. While my dream is to swim with dolphins, Hubby's dream is to swim with sharks! Hubby eagerly wanted to go for the shark scuba. Thank god the price is expensive, otherwise I would be freaking out while waiting for him.
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Shark Bay comprises of three main areas including a touch pool, a snorkel & dive lagoon and a shark lagoon. At the touch pool, you can dip your hand in to touch the sea creatures such as star fish, sea cucumbers (yumyum) and I even spotted sea urchins (slurp slurp).
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Time to show off my underwater-friendly camera. The moment I dip my camera into the water, a spiky puffer-fish lookalike swam towards me immediately. I quickly snapped a picture of it before it come any closer. I did a search and believes that it might be a porcupine fish. It looked like smiling at my camera, such a cutie isn't it?
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The shark lagoon is the world's largest lagoon housing a variety of sharks and a range of exotic tropical fishes and stingrays. There are two levels for your viewing pleasure; above water and underwater.
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Hubby excitedly pointed out to us the species of each and every sharks that swam pass us. Black tip, Hammerhead, whale shark, nurse shark and etc. I still don't like them. They have such brutal eyes and nasty look. The must be looking at us and wish we are their buffet spread! Anyway, in the photos below, can you spot the two divers?
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I didn't know Dugong is known as Sea Pigs. They are so adorable and playful with a friendly smiling face. They simply adore spinning and turning upside down in front of us. Show off! Hehehe!
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I have seen hundreds of Fairy Penguins at one time before, hence I was less fascinated with the Penguin Point. Fairy Penguin is the tiny species and I do hope I will have the chance to see Emperor Penguins one day, preferably one that could tap dance like Mumble in Happy Feet!
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Who said marine animals can't fly? Pelican is categorized as sea bird and there are lots and lots of them here at the rehabilitation aviary. They are absolutely beautiful creature, I am beginning to develop an interest on them. More on pelicans in my coming posts!
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Apart from animals, they do have other attractions such as 4D show, rides, water park, carousel, train rides and even Sesame Street Beach!
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Since the water park was closed for maintenance, we spent some time at the Sesame Street Beach so that he could have some splashing fun! Do remember to bring extra clothing and towel if you intend to get wet.
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After all the fun, it's time now for me to touch on food. From the cable car, I spotted the Dockside Tavern. I insisted of dining here although the menu offers limited choice and ahem, quite pricey too. Why?
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Because this is exactly what you will see if you are seated at the balcony of the tavern, right next to the dolphin pond! There were at least 10 of them swimming and playing around. What could be better than this?
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I went around surveying at each table for the most ordered dish. A popular choice is the Seafood Basket priced at AUD15.95. It came with deep fried battered calamaris, shrimps, seafood bites (crapstick - I mispelled it intentionally), fish and chips served in a tortilla baskets. Except for the battered fish, the rest tasted artificial. The calamaris and shrimps had the fake taste and texture, just exactly like crapstick. It was CRAP! By the way, if you foresee yourself eating lots of fish and chips throughout your trip or for those who simply cannot live without chili and ketchup, please go grab a bottle from the supermarket and bring it with you wherever you go. For a small tub of tomato sauce which is barely enough for one person per meal can easily cost you 70 cents (~RM2) onwards. I will tell you the most expensive tub of ketchup I bought in another post. By the way, chili sauce is not available at most places.
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I made an excellent choice with the Vegetarian Nachos, a tortilla basket filled with corn chips covered with melted cheese and topped with salsa, sour cream and guacamole. The dollop of guacamole or avocado relish/dip was the reason for my order. Huge portion for AUD14.95. It was really tasty and flavourful.
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All of us enjoyed Sea World very much. The staffs are friendly and they are really passionate of their job. The place is clean, tidy and systematic. I really hope one day, I will have a chance to be part of the Sea World family.

Coming up next: Peter's Fish & Chips!

 

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