Australia, Guides, NSW, Reviews, Travel

48 Hours In The Hunter

Looking for a short getaway? Nothing screams weekend getaway more than a 48-hour trip to the Hunter Valley. Food, wine, nature – what more could you want for a blissful getaway from the daily grind.

We departed on a Saturday morning, greeted with friendly weekend traffic at 11am and arrived at Amanda’s On The Edge by 2.30pm for the most divine lunch set in quaint estate territory, that is quintessentially ‘the Hunter’.

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Overlooking the serene calmness and echoing sounds of birds chirping over expansive lush vineyards, our first course arrives. Seared scallops with a green pea puree, truffle oil & crispy prosciutto ($23.50).

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Seared scallops with a green pea puree, truffle oil & crispy prosciutto ($23.50)

As we entertain the perfectly cooked scallops the Pan seared in garlic & parsley butter with crusty ciabatta bread ($22.50) arrives in the most vibrant blood orange bisque. One of life’s greatest indulgences is a big bowl of soup or sauce with crispy bread to mop it all up.

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Pan seared in garlic & parsley butter with crusty ciabatta bread ($22.50)

We order a main to share. Three times cooked duck maryland in sauté leek & shallot with plum compote & golden kipfler potatoes ($39.50) arrives at the table as wafts of caramelised plum permeates the clean country air. Crispy dusk skin, succulent tender meat falls away from the bone with golden strands of crispy leek & shallot for added texture.

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Three times cooked duck maryland in sauté leek & shallot with plum compote & golden kipfler potatoes ($39.50)

To finish, we opt for the passionfruit and mango sorbet that is utterly refreshing in 40-degree heat and the perfect way to end what is always a fabulous meal at Amanda’s On The Edge.

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In the next post we take you to Spicer’s Retreat, which is one of the finest accomodation you can stay at in the Hunter. With a one hatted chef heading the restaurant and an infinity pool to boot, you’ll want to book this stay at your next trip to the Hunter.

Stay tuned…

 

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Australia, Reviews, Tasmania

Hobart: Franks

I’ve just come back from an epic tour around Tasmania, tasting the fresh produce down there just made me appreciate that we live in such a beautiful country. Hobart is definitely a foodie’s destination, particularly for seafood that’s cheap and available. But after nights of oysters and Tasmanian salmon, we were in the mood for something a little different and the wonderful lady at the Avis counter recommended we go to Franks. This is easily confused with the other award winning restaurant in Hobart, Franklin, which we didn’t manage to get around to but we weren’t disappointed with our choice.

Franks is a south American inspired restaurants, that serve small tapas dishes designed to be shared. As you walk in your greeted with a huge wall painting and unique art sculptures that immediately make you feel like you’ve just walked into some underground hipster restaurant. It is extremely dark in the room with orange hues across the restaurant.

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We couldn’t go past the oysters, I mean c’mon, we only had 5 days in Hobart and had to make the most of our oyster eating days. We decided to go with something a littler different, since we had been eating fresh oysters most of the time and ordered the Fire-roasted Oysters with chorizo, peppers & garlic.

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You could smell the chorizo as the dish lands to the table, however we would have probably preferred something less heavy as the flavours of the oyster did get lost amongst the strong chorizo flavours.

The Empanadas were quite expensive, costing $5.50 each. And since there were only two options: Beef & Egg, and Tres Queso, this made our decision easy.

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The pastry was light and flaky with a crisp exterior. I personally preferred the Tres Queso, as I found the Beef & Egg slightly dry. It also would have been nice if the empanadas came with a dipping sauce.

For the smaller dishes we order the Frank cold-smoked salmon with yellow chilli aiolo, sweet potato chips which was absolutely delicious. You can never go wrong with Tasmanian salmon in Tasmania.

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The main was definitely the highlight of the meal. We ordered the Spice rubbed pork rib, inca Kola glaze & fried pickles, which was so moreish. The pork ribs were tender with a sweet sticky smoky glaze and the fried onions on the side were the perfect accompaniment.

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Crisp Potatoes

If you take a look at the dessert menu, it might be a bit difficult to decipher what each one really is. In the end with some research on Instagram, we took a punt and went with the Nemesis cake, whisky ice cream, brazil nut, smoked paprika praline. It turned out to be a chocolate brownie. The whisky ice cream was definitely not devoid of whisky and the alcohol was extremely prominent.

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Overall, it was an enjoyable night and a wonderful relaxed atmosphere with good service. But was it the best Mexican/ South American food I’ve had? Not by far. But I guess it’s because we’re spoilt for choice here in Sydney. If you’re feeling like a change of cuisine in Hobart, then Franks is worth checking out for a chilled night by the waterfront with good food.

Frank Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Reviews, Singapore, Travel

Epic Grad Trip Part 1: Singapore

Wow wow wow it has been an incredibly long time since I’ve last blogged! But finally I’m free from a tortuous 9 months in a 9-5 full time job… okay maybe tortuous seems a bit exaggerated… but fellow 9-5ers can probably relate to me. Anyway, I finally have some time to myself and to this blog so expect a lot more posts!

Lets backtrack a bit to late 2015. Now this trip had been in planning since early last year when we were all graduating and dreaming of that ‘Epic grad trip’. It turned from a 1.5 month long trip to a trip that only lasted 2 weeks…and you can all probably guess why. We graduated, got jobs, life happened. But boy am I glad I took that trip even if it was for a short 2 weeks! I had the best time of my life and I heed anyone to travel while they’re young with friends, it’s an experience you’ll never get back.

Anyway enough rambling, our trip would start from Sydney to Singapore, Singapore to Seoul, Korea, then to Osaka Japan.

This first part of the blog will cover Singapore, in which we stayed a short 2 days. Now I’ve been to Singapore before, so it didn’t really excite me as much, though I was of course excited about the food. Good and cheap – who can complain?

The night we landed we of course had to rush and get our feed of Singapore Chilli Crab.

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This was at No Signboard in Clarke Quay. Personally, I didn’t feel it was that great especially when we all paid over $70AUD for dinner per head! Jumbo Seafood in Marina Bay was much better.

Here’s the obligatory photo of Chicken Rice from Bu Tong Kee. I wish we had the chance to eat at Tian Tian Chicken Rice mmmm would travel to Singapore just for that!

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Sweet drink from nearby Hawker Centre

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Marina Bay

Anyway, the point of this post was to not to share dodgy photos of chilli crab taken on my phone, but to hopefully enlighten some of you out there even if it’s just one person to see the world and make travelling a priority on your to do list because I can tell you whole heartedly you can learn more in that small window of time than you will learn in a school or an office.

I specifically remember this moment, sitting on the train in Kyoto by myself for the first time, in a foreign country, 10,000 miles from anyone I knew and coming to the realisation that the world is a big big place, bigger than you know it to be right now. There’s a world out there you can explore and many things you can do – it doesn’t have to be the set path you thought you had to follow or society taught you how it should be.

The fact that I could gain so much in such a short period of time made me realise what was I doing for the rest of the 300 days of the year…if i was back home, sitting at my desk at work, nothing, absolutely nothing would have changed in those 2 weeks.

Happy travelling kids.

Part 2,3 & 4 are coming soon! Stay posted.

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Chinese, Guides, Hong Kong, Travel

Hong Kong Travel Guide

From the hustle and bustle of Temple Street Market to the refined sophistication of Central District, Hong Kong has the best of both worlds, mixing both the old and the new – a true East meets West destination you’ll never forget.

STAY

The Peninsula

Synonymous with romance, glamour and style, The Peninsula is boasted as Hong Kong’s most luxury hotel, offering guests an unforgettable experience. With stunning state-of-the-art facilities, The Peninsula takes inspiration from the older, quainter times of Hong Kong and Shanghai’s era of grace and elegance. You’ll never find yourself short of something to do, with The Peninsula offering an array of art and music events to fill your calendar all year round. When you’re done admiring the panoramic views of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline by the pool, why not experience the local culture and history with a Gourmet cooking class. Whatever it is that you’d like to do, The Peninsula’s got you covered.

The Ritz-Carlton

With the newly opened sky100 last year, The Ritz has become a one-stop for all accommodation, for those looking for the ultimate experience. The luxury hotel is the tallest building in Hong Kong and seventh tallest in the world, offering unrivalled views of Victoria Harbour from Kowloon. It’s multifaceted facilities is a reflection of Hong Kong’s reputation as a city that never sleeps with a vibrancy matched by world-class culinary delights. Book a table for their Michelin starred restaurant Tin Lung Heen and experience the authentic taste of Cantonese cuisine. End your evening on top of the world at Ozone, the world’s highest rooftop bar on the 118th floor – if you dare.

SEE

Hong Kong is known for its iconic skyline and bustling streets with neon signs and flashing lights. With the highest number of skyscrapers in the world, you simply cannot leave Hong Kong without experiencing its skyline. The best place to enjoy the panoramic views would be at The Peak, where you take the historical Peak tram – one of the steepest in the world.

Hong Kong offers spectacular Harbour views that are unlike any other in the world. The Symphony of Lights show is on every night at 8pm and it is not to be missed. If you choose to enjoy the harbour in the day time, make sure you walk along Tsim Tsa Tsui promenade and see the Avenue of Stars, where you can spot the famous bronze statue of Bruce Lee and handprints of Jackie Chan!

DO

Ride on a Junk

Despite Hong Kong’s status as an international modern city, it still maintains it’s traditional charm with its unique blend of the old and the new. Why not get on a ‘Junk’ and experience what Hong Kong was like 100 years ago, as a fishing village. Load up the picnic basket, pop open some bubbly and set off into Hong Kong’s surrounding islands and enjoy a picturesque sunset. Traway do eight-hour charters that pick you up from Central Pier 9 or Kowloon Public Pier.

Go to a street market

Hong Kong is all about the street markets, it’s where people shop, eat and hang out. There’s a market for practically everything and if it exists, you’ll find it in Hong Kong. Temple Street Night Market is one of the more popular ones with tourists, selling everything from lightbulbs to Louis Vuitton handbags (albeit counterfeits). For something different head down to the Goldfish Market, where you will see rows and rows of bags filled with all types of fish. For a full list of Hong Kong’s markets go here.

Have Breakfast at a Cha Chaan Teng

A Cha Chaan Teng literally translates into, Tea Meal Lounge, which pretty much sums up the experience perfectly. It’s noisy, fast-paced but offers authentic Hong Kong style comfort food that really hits the spot.

However, don’t expect to get your sweet and sour pork here, the food at a Cha Chaan Teng is basically a mix of Hong Kong and Western cuisine that started during British colonialism.

Experience what the locals like to eat for breakfast, it’s a world away from the Weetbix and oatmeal we have here in Australia that’s for sure! Carb-heavy and at times butter loaded, Hong-Kongers as they like to call themselves, sure know how to kick start their day. The typical breakfast would include macaroni and ham soup with a slice of toast and Hong Kong milk tea.

Those who prefer something sweeter can opt for the ‘pineapple bun’ (which doesn’t really have pineapple in it, the top just looks like one), served with a wedge of ice cold butter in the centre – definitely not one for the weight watchers. Another popular favourite is a ‘piggy bun’, doused in condensed milk and – you guessed it – some more butter! Tsui Wah have a number of locations around Hong Kong and is well-known for giving the authentic Cha Chaan Teng experience.

SHOP

IFC Mall

Located in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central Business District, IFC (International Finance Centre) Mall houses luxury brands from A-Z and fine dining options to suit every taste. Enjoy the spectacular architecture both inside and outside, while grabbing a light lunch at Pret A Manger or an afternoon sweet treat at Petite Amanda.

Hysan Place

New malls are always popping up in Hong Kong with great success, and this latest edition is no exception, offering up a wide range of dining and shopping options. Most people come to visit the highly anticipated Taiwanese Book store, Eslite, that focuses on arts, creativity and the humanities. Eslite’s doors were open for 24-hours on the opening day, attracting a swarm of people to camp out at the bookstore.

Elements

If you’re looking for a uniquely luxury experience, then Elements is the place to be. The mall is split up into five zones to represent the five elements of traditional Chinese culture. The ambience is unparalleled with state-of-the-art washrooms and art and music to tantalise your senses.

K-11

For something off the beaten track, go to K-11 – the world’s first art concept mall. Adrien Cheng founded the mall in 2008 with a focus on three core values: art, people and nature. It feels like you’re walking into a museum, except you can shop and dine at the same time. It’s a great way to experience the work of local artists and to enhance our appreciation of art and nature.

EAT

Little Bao

Serving up trendy food to a contemporary Hong Kong dining scene, Little Bao succeeds in stepping outside the boundaries of traditional Chinese cuisine. From mac and cheese made from rice rolls to the cult favourite LB Ice cream sandwiches, Little Bao is always surprising and delicious.

Ming Court

Michelin Star restaurant specialising in Cantonese cuisine that combines innovation and authentic flavours. It pays homage to the Ming Dynasty, from the moment you step into the restaurant you are transported to a by gone era with ink landscape paintings and delicate pottery. For the adventurous, don’t leave without trying the shark fin crystals that look like jewels out of an Emperor’s treasure chest.

Lung King Heen

Literally translates to ‘View of the Dragon‘, Lung King Heen is the first Chinese restaurant in the world to receive three Michelin stars. Located in the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel, LKH offers spectacular harbour views so you can dine and unwind. LKH serve up high quality seafood and dim sum that looks as good as it tastes, combing the freshest ingredients with a team of regionally renowned chefs – no foodie should miss out.

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Melbourne, Reviews, Travel

Hardware Societe

Apparently this is the brunch place to be in Melbourne, and after visiting twice I can certainly see why. The food is fantastic.

Good thing we arrived around 9.30am, because anytime after that there’s always a crowd of people outside waiting to get a table.

The restaurant is tucked away near the end of Hardware Lane, though it’s hard to miss as its already buzzing early in the morning.

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We got a nifty spot near the cashier with our own bench with cushions and all.

Hardware Societe is known for their baked eggs with chorizo and they certainly do not dissapoint. The small pot of bubbling goodness packs a punch, with the spicy chorizo and meaty flavours. It’s the perfect size for a satisfying brekky.

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On the other side of the table, my friends ordered the pork belly which looks phenomenal, you’d mistake it for a lunch option not a breakfast one!

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All the coffees come with a cute tiny donut ball which is delectable. I wish they sold these! (not sure if they do)20140730-002721-1641457.jpg

Had to come back to try this!

The fried Brioche with Earl Grey pannacotta and mini meringues looked amazing as it came to the table. The pannacotta had a strong earl grey flavour.

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20140730-010331-3811262.jpgDefinitely a favourite place of mine in Melbourne.

The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon

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Dessert, Melbourne, Travel

Hopetoun Tea Rooms – Melbourne

Warning: There’s going to be a lot of cake in this post!

If you follow my Instagram then you’ll know we went dessert crazy in Melbourne. Basically dessert became lunch and we were on an unbelievable sugar-high.

But we had to try the cakes at Hopetoun, as apparently they’re some of the best in Melbourne.

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Immediately you’re drawn to the shot with its colourful cake display with every flavour imaginable. It’s located in the Block Arcade I believe, and looks similar to the Victorian style of Sydney’s QVB.20140729-235717-86237305.jpg

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I ordered the lime tart, as I didn’t want anything too heavy and creamy after having so much sweets the day before. The tart had a refreshing lime taste and the brûlée top added a textural element.

The lemon meringue looked tempting but I didn’t think I could stomach something so heavy, though I did have a try of it and the meringue was super light and fluffy.20140730-000130-90543.jpg

My friends ordered the passionfruit tart, apple and berry crumble and white chocolate cheesecake.20140730-000210-130286.jpg

20140730-000208-128635.jpgThe tea room was quite small and there was a line to get in, though it moved pretty quickly. The decor was quaint, and reminded me of Mrs. Umbridge’s room from Harry Potter with the wallpaper and antique clocks.

It’s well worth a visit for the Victorian high tea feel. The cakes are delicious, just make sure you go in with an appetite for desserts!

Hopetoun Tea Rooms on Urbanspoon

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Brunch, Melbourne, Travel

Cumulus Inc.

So I’m back from a four day adventure in Melbourne – the city of food and fashion! We made it our mission to try as many cafes and restaurants as possible, and probably gained a couple of kilos in the process…but hey YOLO!

My favourite meal of the day would probably have to be breakfast/brunch and Melbourne is certainly in no shortage of great brunch spots. This would have to be my next favourite place after Hardware Societe. My friend recommended me the homemade crumpets with lemon ricotta and Rooftop honey, and man were they good!20140729-210826-76106063.jpg

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Thanks Jess for the nice drizzle shot.20140729-211035-76235445.jpg

We both ordered Cappuccino’s. 20140729-211034-76234029.jpg

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The crumpets were light and golden, with a crisp exterior having been lightly fried, while still being nice and airy on the inside, as it should be. What made this dish though was that lemon ricotta! The lemon notes were intense and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice brings out the flavour even more. Who would have thought that savoury would work with sweet? But the combination is amazingly delicious with the honey balancing out the whole dish.20140729-211200-76320755.jpg

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We also had to order their infamous lemon curd Madeleines, which look as good as they taste. I haven’t had many madeleines before, but the ones that I’ve had were always soft and cake-like in texture. These Madeleines had a biscuity texture on the outside and a slightly softer centre. The lemon curd lifts these biscuits and ensures the texture doesn’t become too dry. 20140729-211307-76387888.jpg

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20140729-211345-76425075.jpgWill definitely be coming back for those lemon honey crumpets next time I’m in Melbourne! They really were that good.

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

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