The birds there are too cute. These are wild, mind you.
How does anyone not get eaten??
They probably cheep “Don’t eat me! I’m too cute!” to their predators.

I wish we had finches in Singapore.

Also, I think I left my Birds of the Blue Mountains guide sheet on the dashboard of the car :(


So we brought back a number of gifts from Sydney with us – namely nuts, because almost everyone in singapore is, somewhat oddly, fanatic about macadamias. The thing is, we didn’t quite purchase enough. When you are at a shop ordering nearly 2kg of nuts it seems like a lot until you realise you need to split it between your families, your colleagues, etc. So the obvious solution is to repackage:

We got the idea to cut and fold up paper plates from Pinterest. I didn’t do as nice a job here (the plates we got were too small) but I think it’s decent enough for Singaporean design standards.

There weren’t as many flavours as I had hoped (like abalone, etc.) but there was chilli

and honey roasted.

I think they look just adorable with the little pegs (which I collected back from everyone for reuse lol.)

I also purchased some raw macadamias to make macadamia cookies. After walking around Candy Empire in Star Vista looking for white chocolate chips (to no avail) we discovered packages and packages of macadamia shortbread, so I made that instead. Much easier, in my opinion, apart from the fact that you have to cool these babies in the fridge for 2 hours to preserve the sharp edges of the knife cut.

I made the Scottish shortbread finger style, as well as the round button shaped ones pressed down with a fork and sprinkled with vanilla sugar (supposed to be for Creme Brulee but I haven’t made that in a while)

Here it is with the vase I brought back from Opus Design Co. on Oxford Street in Paddington.

Liangze and his friends inhaled an entire tray of these almost instantaneously while playing Citadels and I had to give them more in ziplocs to take home.

La Perouse

Outside the sky is light with stars
There’s a hollow roaring from the sea

We walked along the seaside at La Perouse, a little tooth like peninsula at the mouth of Botany Bay. The peninsula ended in an island which beheld a museum.

On the other side of the island, the sky was grey as slate, flinted with lights from the factories across the shore.

This was the aftermath of the great rainbow that stretched from east to west, building an arc through which we drove from North Sydney to Botany Bay-

Dusk had not yet descended on this most secluded of beaches. On Frenchman’s Bay, lovers come for leisurely strolls amongst fishermen; a couple were shooting their wedding photos.

As the light began to wane, sailboats dotted the horizon of factories and airports, casting their intricate shadows like nets into the sea. No longer are we in the era of those beautiful vessels with towering masts and bunched up sails, wending their mercantile way through the trade routes of the South China Sea. Everything is high powered these days, lithe like the shinkansen. Now, the only place in which you will find the most classic of ships is in a bottle.

The Sydney Fish Market

I’ll be publishing a few of our journal entries in Sydney here – we bought a delightful little notebook with a screen print of the opera house on the front cover from a place called Monster Threads at Westfield in the Sydney CBD. LZ and I took turns to journal in it, record our expenses, collate our parking receipts, tickets, thoughts, memories, grievances, everything. Here is my entry on the Sydney Fish Market (photos from flickr, which I uploaded throughout the trip with what little internet we had in order to back them up. I refused to leave them in the camera card in case I ever ran out of space, so if the hard drive in LZ’s laptop gave out, we would have nothing apart from the shots I managed to upload to Flickr in full resolution)

The Sydney Fish Market
We had a whale of a time here even though they don’t sell whale meat (I could be wrong!) We saw everything else from squid,



wings of rays, baby abalone, razor clams,

spanner crab (of the Pamplemousse Spanner Crab Capellini fame and their pincers actually look like spanners!),

humongous king crab leg clusters,

several different kinds of prawns, both green (raw), and cooked,



Singapore chilli prawns (ha! What on earth is that?),

swimmer crabs,

saucer scallops in their half shell, reproductive parts removed – perfect for noix de St Jacques,

rock lobster,

slipper lobster, and real scampi! Which are not prawns.

Just to name a few.

Check out this $690 crab

and these fish with googly eyes:

Didn’t really take notice of what they are but I know their name starts with a ‘p’.

Fun Fact: Australians refer to crayfish as bugs! As they sell crocodile and kangaroo meat on skewers, I wondered what new monstrosity ‘bugs’ could possibly be on the menu of Outback Jack’s. Turns out to be crayfish. You can really see the anatomical differences between a lobster and a crayfish/bug when they’re arranged side by side on the fish market shelf.

Not to mention the sheer variety of groceries there! I could find my dried ancho, pasilla, and chipotle chillies

(time for homemade chipotle sauce? Or perhaps some real beef barbacoa? I brought back a package of each (they’re dried and will last till 2015) as well as an overpriced bag of ‘honeycomb’ for baking – the kind you find in crunchie bars? No honey in there at all! Made with high fructose corn syrup. So now you know. Williams Sonoma sells honeycomb in jars – they basically arrange the jars upside down in a bee colony (probably with a seed or catalyst of some sort) and the bees construct the honey comb inside the jars themselves! Then Williams Sonoma slaps the cap on the jars and vacuum seals it, and you have a hunk of honeycomb bigger than the opening of the jar. If only bees knew how to make model ships huh??

So anyway I spent ages snapping artistic shots of all the fresh produce – all products of Australia.

the cherries weren’t real cheap – roughly the same price as in Singapore so I guess the season is over.

Humongous leeks

Triangulating pears

they cut and cling wrap melons to show you how fresh they are,

and all the varieties of onions and potatoes are really neatly arranged!

Haven’t seen a market with Jerusalem artichokes,

fresh figs, and humongous chestnuts/custard apples in awhile.

Heirlooms too!
I really miss Wegman’s – that place had everything, including freaking prima packs! Liangze was really bored though. When I was successfully dragged away we found a lovely outdoor table right by the harbour (where the seafood comes in, presumably)

and I sat there to chope it while he went to forage for food. We got a half lobster mornay(not great – cooked by Chinese! They don’t have much skill with dairy as far as I can tell), fried calamari – not bad, but not fresh/crispy either, and some really nice steamed prawns with cocktail sauce – not the American kind with horseradish, but the creamy British sort. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected otherwise since Australia’s a British colony.

omg these pandan churros with kaya dip look amazing

why don’t we have this in singapore?

you can see the rest of the dishes at this asian street food night in LA here.

I haven’t really talked about the food we ate in Australia – we weren’t real adventurous, with the wattleseed or kangaroo and crocodile skewers or anzac biscuits. We just ate normal food, especially grilled food that they’re supposed to be excellent at.

Here’s the surf and turf we were served at Outback Jack’s on Station Road in Penrith, a little town inbetween the blue mountains and Sydney where we stopped for dinner to break up the 3 hour journey home. I’m not real confident about Liangze’s driving at night, but he was really great on the trip, not a scratch on the car! So much for paying for the extra insurance to reduce our liability- but then Singaporeans are pretty risk averse people.

The steak was pretty good – even though I ordered it medium well. Kenji recently did a post advocating constant flipping of steaks on the grill instead of leaving them out there for the Maillard reaction to take place. With a hot enough grill and a thick enough steak (at least one inch) there should be no difference in browning and the steak will be more pink inside, a la the sous vide method, as opposed to having the rim of grey, well done meat that I actually like.

Extra surf for our surf and turf. So what we did a lot of the time was to share the main and add an entree or appetizer – Australian portions are humongous. And while in the states you can always pack back whatever you can’t finish (we did that on two occasions here) you don’t always have a microwave or kitchenette when you are on vacation. They seem to be able to consume prodigious amounts of chips. For example, when we ordered one main and two entrees at this seafood restaurant in La Perouse, I was banking on the fact that liangze’s grilled barra would come with a crazy amount of chips that no sane human person could finish, so there was no need for me to get a side as well. (I was right) The waiter thought we were just trying to be economical by ordering an entree instead of a main and very graciously gave us a complimentary basket of additional chips that obviously we didn’t even make a dent in, and I felt kinda bad about that.
This meal we bought in Leura Mall, when we paid a visit to Sublime Point, Leura, where there was this lookout point over a very steep cliff. I guess our elevation was bout 1km above sea level, and we could look down into the cloud filled valley below which was pretty cool. Pictures of that another day. The food was from a Chinese diner – we weren’t being real picky, because we had to hurry onward to the Jenolan Caves before the last tour (4:30pm) and mountain roads are notoriously tortuous and take a long time to traverse. In Australia, we drive on the left side of the road, like in Singapore, and the mountain we were trying to go up had a clockwise winding path to the destination, which means we were about 20cm away from falling to our deaths all of the time we were driving (no fences of course). Liangze was fine because he couldn’t see the steep drop, but I was petrified most of the journey up to the caves.

This is popular chinese diner food – honey chicken. They use real honey, cause it’s so cheap there. It tastes pretty good but this was certainly not fresh and was probably left out over night. Most of the chinese food was like that.

Leftover fried rice. The cheap chinese eateries here are somewhat like the chinese eateries in most of Hungary, Europe, London – you point at what you want and the food is seldom heated, or at the most, microwaved. Like Apollo, but at least Apollo’s metal trays are over steaming water to keep the food warm.

This chinese place we ta paoed from doubled up as a British chippy so we also got a plate of fish and chips. We were eating this in the car to save time. The fish and chips (cooked by chinese) are not as good as the fish and chips near Uxbridge (cooked by Indians or Arabs lol). A proper British chippy ought to serve mashed peas, but I didn’t have any of that there. A real British chippy also makes you pay for your ketchup and tartar sauce, but I think the salt and malt vinegar is free. Most importantly, a real British chippy is typically run by foreign immigrants :P This chinese place didn’t have any malt vinegar. The fish here was not real fresh, and amazingly, a lot of the fish we had in Sydney didn’t seem to be very fresh. Maybe we didn’t go to expensive enough restaurants.
This meal was at Kobe Jones, a kinda fusion Japanese restaurant at the harbour opposite the Novotel – right next to the Wildlife Zoo, Sealife Aquarium, and Madame Tussauds where we spent the day because we had a group pass. It was the first time I ever saw wobbegongs!

It was crazy hard to take photos of them (for those of you who have experience trying to shoot through curved aquarium glass)
but here’s a photo I managed to pull.

On to the food: We went for an omakase like set meal that was the cheapest thing on the menu at $36 per person, and you can only order it with a minimum of two people.

Edamame to start. Not sufficiently salted, in my opinion. Perhaps they should be brined prior to steaming. It was a very cosy starter on account of the warmth it provided for the alfresco seating. A lot of restaurants have alfresco seating in the winter with big burners lit up that emanate heat, the same as we saw in Providenciales. Most people in fact prefer the outdoor seating because of the view of the harbor. In the case of Kobe Jones, they didn’t have indoor seating anyway.

A crab and wakame salad. This was pretty good. There was a bunch of sashimi at the bottom which I don’t eat, but Liangze enjoyed it very much. I liked the crab salad myself. Reminds me of the lobster rolls in Boston.

After the crab salad, they brought some dynamite sushi – quite similar to the Dynamite in Kyushu that I love so much. The scallops were the freshest we ever had in Sydney, and sweet to boot. I really love mentai mayo (key ingredient in Dynamite sauce)

The mushroom tobiyaki, which is basically rice and mushrooms and cheese au gratin. Not very interesting or spectacular. Sparingly seasoned, if at all.

Grilled teriyaki chicken. Not bad, but we were kinda stuffed by then. There were so many courses we kinda lost track of what was to arrive or what hadn’t arrived and were quite ready to head back for another evening movie. We brought lots of DVDs borrowed from the esplanade over since the site specified that rooms had DVD players and wide screen TVs – it was like a mega long sleepover/movie marathon.

Pancakes on the Rocks
Apparently Australian pancakes are famous? They are kinda thick, like the American kind, or like buttermilk pancakes that rise pretty high when cooked. My mum has an excellent pancake recipe (created in Singapore’s humid weather) so there was no need for me to buy a bottle of their pancake mix back.

This was their chicken and mushroom crepe, with two sheets of toasted parmesan cheese on top, just like I do for my salads. Not bad. Not sure why the need for sour cream and marinara sauce though. The crepes seem a bit chewy and pre-made though, like the crepes in Saybons. I miss the non buckwheat savoury galettes they make on the edge of the Lake Geneva in the summer.

The fisherman’s crepe with mixed seafood in a cream sauce, covered with hollandaise and ketchup. I think this place is famous for their ribs but they don’t carry half racks, and we were stuffed after our breakfast at Pattison’s Patisserie in Westfield, Bondi Junction.

Their Devil’s Delight pancakes were super chocolatey (almost like a brownie pancake) that was doused in their homemade chocolate fudge (finally! Someone who doesn’t use Hershey’s chocolate fudge which is neither chocolate nor fudge) strawberries, and vanilla ice cream. Amazing.

A visit to any of their branches in Sydney is well worth your time. There was even a queue outside the restaurant, which seems weird in non Asian, non Singapore countries.

Pattison’s Patisserie – we walked past it while at Westfield and I thought it looked pretty decent, and it is too. Pastries are far cheaper if you take them away as opposed to sitting there for a cuppa, which is exactly what we did. Not to mention almost all Westfields in Australia have really posh seating areas, even better furnished than your living room at home. Case in point:

We sat there to write postcards to several people who are overseas.

This is their pear danish, which was the most remarkable of the lot. I like the fact that it is shaped like a shuriken, and pear is not a super common fruit, danish wise. Usually apple, apricot, or peach.

The quiche Lorraine. The cheese and egg custard had the perfect texture but we bought found it a tad too salty. Still, good effort on a classic quiche. The pastry base was excellent and non soggy. (Is it narcissistic that I compare all their food to my own cooking? :P)

See those nice floating sugar panels in the glaze of the coffee eclair? So beautiful. My glazes were never that successful since I usually make ganaches with cream and everything that melts in double quick time in our weather. And Singaporeans don’t like super sweet things so using too much icing sugar in a glaze is also out of the question. We really are hard to please.

More another time! I’ve gotten kinda lazy about post-processing our photos since I’ve come back. I mean what with work in the day and dinner appointments at night :S and I started on some Amish series on the plane back so have been reading most of my free time at night… and in the office :P