Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MY OZZIE FARM

There is a small plot of land at the side of my sister's house where my bro-in-law used to plant herbs such as rosemary and thyme. Somehow, this sad plot of land has been abandoned for years and the only thing growing were weeds and grasses. While browsing at the $2 shop with my sis couple of weeks ago, I came across a variety of vegetable seedlings for sale. Since I am so free at home, why not?
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And so, one very cold and windy evening with several layers of thick clothing on, I went to clear up the plot of land. My nephew who excitedly told me that he gonna help me decided to stay in to watch his favourite cartoon, Bakugan! I thought the work gonna take me less than 15 minutes but I ended up spending more than an hour clearing the weeds, filling it up with fresh new soil and cleaning up the place (which I dreaded most).
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And finally, SOWING time!!! I have planted zucchini, tomato, leek and rocket according to its instruction. I would be very happy if at least one of them grow. I wonder if Asian vegetable seedlings are available here.
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5 more days to go and Spring will be here!!! Flowers flowers blooming everywhere. Magnolias! Tulips! Daffodils! Ahhh...am gonna plant those next year.
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Anyway, just to share a video that I took last week while I was drying my laundry when the sunny weather suddenly turned into a storm. I was so scared that the trees might fall onto the garage!

video

Friday, August 21, 2009

ARTICHOKE SOUP

Honestly speaking, I don't know much about artichoke except for a few occasions where I had it on my pizza and pasta. Artichokes are expensive in Malaysia and not knowing how to cook it, I never bother to explore further. We were doing our weekend grocery shopping at Woolworths and came across a whole bin of artichokes for less than a dollar each! Brother-in-law told me that artichokes can lower cholesterol level and is very high with nutritional values. And hence, we grabbed some home.
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When bro-in-law suggested artichoke soup, I was expecting thick creamy Western-style soup. But surprise surprise, it turned out to be the clear Chinese-style soup that I always love. As he was away at work, I was given the task to prepare the soup for dinner. For about 3 liters of water, I used 2 florets of artichoke. Cut off the stem and divide the artichoke bud into half.
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Give it a good rinse to discard any dirt in the center of the bud.
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As for the meat to go with the soup, it is entirely up to you. I have tried using both chicken and pork on separate occasion. Personally I always prefer chicken soup for the sweet chic aroma. On my next attempt, I shall throw in some dried scallops, dried octopus or even dried oysters. I can already imagine how good the soup will turn out to be. Yumzz! Anyway, the picture below was the meat I used for the artichoke soup on my second attempt. Why I put this picture up instead of the chicken?? Well...spot that dark maroon colour piece of liver-lookalike thingy? Try guessing which part of a pig it belongs to???
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I was horrified when I saw it. It looked like a long long piece of tongue!!! Bro-in-law told me it was some sort of a pig's internal organ. I was not convinced! I guess he didn't want to scare me off but I am pretty sure it was a piece of pig's tongue. The smell when cooked was exactly like pig's liver. I didn't dare to eat it and I was told the texture is like spongey loofah.
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Simmer the artichokes and meat in a pot of boiling water on low fire for 2 hours. Season with a little bit of salt and tada....a very nutritionous bowl of clear and sweet artichoke soup. Absolutely perfect on cold rainy days.
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While I was googling for artichoke recipe, I came across some really interesting photos. I have never heard of artichoke flowers before...aren't they beautiful???

Picture taken from HERE
artichoke flower

Picture taken from Wikipedia.
400px-Unidentified_Flower_6677

Now now..back to googling to see how I can plant this in my farm....not Pea Farm in Malaysia but my new farm in Melbourne which I am going to share with you soon.

Have a good weekend!!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Phở Dzung @ Richmond, Melbourne

I was checking my calendar for some possible dates for a short holiday and found out that today is exactly one month since I stepped foot into Melbourne. I can still recall just a month ago, I was crying badly at this very moment as I leave my house to the airport. But hey, today am very happy as life is great and I really love it here very much. Except of course, the constant longing for my two boys and Hubby makes me sad. They are doing great back home and here are some shots I took of my boys while we were 'Skype-ing' the other day.
Pea


During a lunch with
WMW before I left, she asked me "What is the first thing you gonna eat when you reach Melbourne?" and without a need to think, "Phở" of course! Melbourne offers great Phở or Vietnamese Flat Rice Noodle with Beef and Chicken Soup, thanks to the large Vietnamese community here. There are so many Vietnamese restaurant in Melbourne offering Phở and other Vietnamese delicacies but my all-time favourite is still Phở Dzung also known as Yung Kee which is located at Victoria Street in Richmond, Melbourne. This is also the place where I had my first bowl of Phở back in year 1992. Despite everyone that I know telling me the quality here has deteriorated, I find it still as good as before. Even my sis and bro-in-law insisted that another restaurant just a few shops away is much better but I tried, nah...I still insist this place is much better.
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For the Phở, three sizes are available; small (AUD7), regular (AUD8) and large (AUD9) and you can have the rice noodle with your choice of either beef or chicken as well as brisket, tendon, tripe, coagulated ox blood or etc. Trust me, for a Malaysian's standard, a small portion is more than enough. Also available, Vietnamese spring rolls, grilled chicken or pork chop on rice and assorted beverages.
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Beansprouts, basil, mint and lemon wedges....a MUST to go with the Phở.
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And of course, red hot fiery chilies to spice thing up! I love the chilies here as they are spicier and has got more chili flavour than those in Malaysia. Anyone want me to bring some seeds back to Malaysia to try growing it??
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My dad had his noodle with chicken meat, a choice that I would never make cos I feel that Phở must have beef in it, unless of course if you cannot take beef. The broth is not as sweet as those with beef too. Told him that but he still insist, well, his choice.
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I had my all-time favourite rare beef with chicken. With the piping hot broth poured over the noodle, the thinly sliced rare beef was cooked to perfection! Yummy!! The beefy broth is really tasty and usually I will finish it off till the last drop!
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Hubby had rare beef with tripe. Am surprised that he didn't go for beef combination.
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Look at the generous portion of pinkish sliced rare beef ....this was my sis's order. Her broth is much richer in taste, thanks to the essence of the rare beef.
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This place remains my favourite till I can find a better one, will let you know once I do!

Phở Dzung is located at:

Richmond - 208 Victoria St, 3121 Victoria
Melbourne City - 234 Russel St, 3000 Victoria
Operating Hours - 7 days a week
8.30 a.m - 10.00 p.m. (City)
8.00 a.m. - 9.00 p.m. (Richmond)

Also check out KY's recent ravings about this place HERE.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MURES @ Hobart Waterfront, Tasmania

We were told that dining at Mures is a must as it is well-known for superb seafood (caught by their own fishing boats) with spectacular Hobart waterfront view. Mures lower deck offers cheaper dishes such as the usual deep fried/grilled fish and chips as well as fresh seafood for takeaway at reasonable price. There is also a sushi bar at the lower deck which we didn't get to try. Of course, Mures Upper Deck offers a much better view, really good food (as we were told..) and ahem, very much pricier too. Booking is a MUST too as the place is always packed.
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At the side of Mures, there are many tiny floating boats? shops? or whatever they call it selling fresh as well as cooked seafood.
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It was cold, I was hungry and it was way too early for our booking at Mures Upper Deck, hence Hubby went to grab some food to soothe my growling tummy.
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Calamaris and chips!!!!! I was too cold and hungry so I got to say that it was one of the yummiest calamaris and chips I ever had. Only vinegar provided and I hate soaking my chips in vinegar. Tips tips: bring a bottle of chili/tomato sauce with you wherever you go!!
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My nephew loved the chips too!
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After the light snack, we went to check out the Mures Lower Deck and discovered we should save our money on the chips and indulge on fresh seafood instead. Fresh oysters at AUD13 per dozen, slightly more expensive than Barilla Bay but equally as good!
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We spotted fresh swordfish and had it sashimi-style. Soooo rich, buttery and sweet.
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After the second round of light refreshment, we went for dinner at Mures Upper Deck. Very nice and classy settings and the items on the menu, ahem impressively pricy too! I opted for the Prawn Fest menu that came with an appetizer and a main dish for slightly under than AUD35. Hubby had the same set too and this is his Caesar salad as appetizer.
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I had the BLAND chowder instead and I didn't like the fishy smell that came from the bits and pieces of fish. In the end, I finished off Hubby's Caesar salad instead.
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For the main, Hubby ordered a disastrous dish....Honey Soy Tiger Prawns served with Steamed Rice. It was utterly SWEET, more like dessert than a savoury dish. Hubby seldom complain about his food and no matter how awful, he would still finish his food instead of wasting it. This, he couldn't even take a second bite. I was grinning cheekily cos I almost ordered this dish as well but when I saw the word steamed rice I knew it was a risky bet.
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My TASTELESS pasta with scallops and smoked salmon was another disappointment but at least it was still edible after putting some salt and pepper into it.
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I didn't take picture of the other disaster dishes the rest had that night but as I recalled Ben's fish was raw inside (it was sent back to the kitchen and it came back still dry outside and raw inside, eventually the order was cancelled), my dad's medium-rare steak was fully cooked and burnt at one side, my nephew's mussel was cooked in SALT water. Nothing was good except for the Caesar salad. We were wondering maybe the food is cater more to the Aussie's tastebud (no way cos Aussies love their food)? Or maybe the chef is on leave? But but but how could it go so bad for every dishes we ordered?? Anyway, we left the place with half empty stomach, just as sick-looking as the octopus here coloured by my nephew at the restaurant.
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Feeling so disappointed for the expensive lousy dinner, we went to Woolworths to grab some groceries and headed home to cook a feast.

Great chef at work.....
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Bacon & corn salad and assorted greens prepared by Ben, another great chef.
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Ahhhh.....fine dining at home...delicious tender lamb shank cooked by my brother in law. I feel so proud and lucky to have such a wonderful cook as my brother in law...hehehe.
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If you wanna give Mures Upper Deck a try (hope you have better luck with their food), just check out their website here. Mures Lower Deck is worth a visit!

Monday, August 03, 2009

OYSTERS!! OYSTERS!! @ Barilla Bay, Tasmania

This is Barilla Bay Tasmania - heaven to all oyster lovers! Barilla Bay (as in the real bay) is located right behind this building. Dining at the upper deck offers spectacular view of the bay but for those who opt for takeaway, the gourmet deli offering an extensive range of Tasmanian produce is located at the lower level. Oyster farm tour is available too and booking is necessary. Since we were too early for the tour, we decided to head off to some wineries before returning to Barilla Bay in the afternoon.
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But but but, we just couldn't resist the temptation of having a dozen or two or three right at that moment...and in the end, we ended up having 5 dozens! Takeaway oysters are way much cheaper than having it right at their deli. If I remember correctly, a dozen only cost less than AUD11.00 and even cheaper for unopened oysters. And so here we are, feasting at our car.
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My bro-in-law actually packed a bottle of his homemade sauce specially to go with the oysters. It was GOOD!!! But I enjoyed having it with a squeeze of lemon juice to enjoy its natural sweetness. Nothing beats having fresh oysters at its source!! Ooolala...I so love Barilla!!!
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The shore-based farm tour took about 45 minutes and we were shown on ways to breed oyster, the process flow and right till we put it into our mouth. At the end of the tour, each of us were offered an oyster each, opened right on the spot.
Eh?? Only 1??
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A basket loaded with fresh harvested oysters. Yummy yum yum...if only I can have it all.
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A shot before I glided it down my throat. Sooo full of sea flavour...salty and sweet!
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After the tour, we were asked to return back to the gourmet deli area and guess what?? We were greeted by more oysters!!!! Ooolala....
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We ended up buying 10 more dozens to bring home for dinner.
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For those who doesn't fancy raw oysters like my dad and nephew (he said it tasted ugly!), oyster omelet is just as yummy too!
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Barilla Bay Tasmania is located at:
1388 Tasman Highway
Cambridge, Hobart
Tel: 03-6248.5454
Email: info@barillabay.com.au

For further information on the farm tour and booking, check out there website HERE.

 

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