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Hobart Diary, Part 1
Sunday, 8 November 2015 15:14
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Australians don't like to travel around Australia. Ok, this is not a proven fact but I can guarantee there's at least 70% truth behind it. Reasons are obvious, it's bloody expensive and we would rather see other parts of the world that's vibing at a different pace to us. 

Lately though, I've been more inclined to do short weekend trips, mainly because I'm in negative annual leave (lol), but also from shock that someone from Asia/US/UK has travelled around more parts of my own country than I have. Tasmania has always been a popular travel destination for tourists (knowledge from working in the travel industry), but year ago I would have not thought of any reason of why I would want to go Hobart. Then Jetstar had their birthday sale and tickets were pretty cheap, so I was like "why not?". 

Hobart is like the distant cousin twice-removed of Australia's metro cities, usually excluded from family functions because, damn, it's not even attached to the main island (shout out to Sicily, they know what's up). It is one of the oldest cities in Australia dating back to the first fleet and convict era, but what else? Could you even call it a city? Are people there Amish? But more importantly, what's there to eat? 

Day 1 of my 2 day journey began at Salamanca Markets, operating every Saturday on Salamanca Place. An amazing, though a bit touristy, place with stores selling artisanal craftwork, hand-made goods and locally grown produce. We then made our way to Battery Point, one of Hobart's oldest and most historical areas. It was time travelling to the past, with sandstone structures still standing from the 18th century. Afterwards, we headed to the top of Mt Wellington for panoramic views of the city. I'm never tired of views from the top, there's something very peaceful to me when you look down onto the world, watching it go by but just being in the present and savouring that moment. The day ended on a high note, with a stroll around Franklin Wharf basking in the last light of the day as we awe at the beautiful sunset colours. 

1. Classical guitarist in Salamanca Markets.
2. Homemade biscuits: Pepper berry, oat biscuit, chocolate & almond, coffee & cinnamon (fav pick). Back: Chocolate Afghan biscuit. 
3. Pure leather fruit peels (similar to roll ups?).
4. Recycled toy trinkets (sort of like Sid from Toy Story, but more love less blowing up things).
5. Hand built terrariums. You can see tiny people in there if you look closely enough, all of which were also hand painted!
6. Silver Hill Bratwurst hotdogs
7. Jolly Jumbuck from Gypsy Rolls $12 - Spit roasted, marinated lamb wrapped in mountain bread and served with lettuce, carrot and apple bushpepper relish. The slow roasting spit smelt and looked delicious, but it was quite dry (sad) and about 3 bites worth.
8. A million different types of locally grown apples that I've never heard of but look equally as juicy.
9. Locally grown and organic fruits and veg.
10. CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUT. They even heat it up for you so that it's toasty on the outside and oozy on the inside :').
11. Beautiful flowers everywhere.
12. Hand made ceramic cups.
13. Mangus - Tasmanian based blues and jazz band. They were amazing and so cool!
14. Famous scallop pie ($7?) from Smiths Pie. The fishy/seafood taste is distinct but not overpowering, with a slight curry flavour. Huge pieces of scallops as well, win! 
15. Just up the road from Salamanca Markets was the historical part of town, Battery Point.
16. Stuck in time, even the lollies on the display looked like they were from way too long ago (acid drops, anyone?).
17. We walked into Narryna Heritage Museum not knowing what it was. The huge 19th century house was built by a sea capital and some items brought from his ship still remain, but others were just as old. Full of rich and interesting history (like using human hair to make fine jewellery), well worth the $10 entrance fee if you have the time.
18. Hobart is apparently known for its doors.
19. Drove up to Mt. Wellington for a 360° view of Hobart and its surrounds. 
20. Breath taking sunset by Franklin Wharf. 

It really says something about a place when you find knick knacks like this at the markets...

We had dinner at the amazing Ethos Eat Drink at night (separate post to come), and the day could honestly have not gone more perfect. Hobart has been a delightful surprise so far, but there's much more to come. 

Part Two to come shortly, keep posted! 
Follow me on Instagram for more updates (@WhatEmDid).

** Please note: this post was not sponsored. Everything was paid for out of my own pocket, including flights, accom and food.

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Excelsior Jones, Redfern
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 12:32
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Excelsior Jones has got to be one of the most strategically located cafes in Sydney. Nestled on the corner of a residential street just off Hume Hwy/Liverpool Rd in Ashfield meant that even at 10.30 am on a Sunday I could easily find parking on the street. Yes, ASHFIELD, the home of dumplings and cheap Chinese is now being invaded by hipster brunch joints, but who's complaining? I mean, if anyone else is looking to open a hipster cafe in a quiet suburban area then my hood is also free... 

While parking was a breeze, we still had to wait 10-15 minutes or so for a table - still super speedy in brunch time. The interior was well-lit, with a rustic, sort of Scandinavian vibe. It was super clean and minimal with wooden furnishings. Bonus points for open kitchen, cause how great are they?

Cronut for me, cronut for you

After being seated and trying to decide if I wanted a coffee or a milkshake, the kind lady took our orders and guess what I got...

Chocolate and Choc Mint Malted Milkshake $6.50 each

Milkshakes! I've been craving milkshakes for a while and every time I do I feel so grateful that I'm not lactose intolerant. oOoo, and I love when milkshakes are served in the milkshaking machine tin things. It just feels like you get the milkshake as it is, no fuss with a fancy straw or syrup dripping down the side (with a doughnut ball, brownie, pretzels, whipped cream, ice cream and every other OTT diabetic consumable item). Would of preferred a bit more of the malted texture but it had a delicious chocolate flavour (not the artificial syrup kind) and wasn't too sweet. We also got them on skim milk so they weren't as naughty hehe ;-).

Fennel & Pear Barely Salad + Chicken Chorizo $14 + $4

CC decided to be healthy and ordered this, which also had beetroot, asparagus, chard and toasted hazelnut relish with red wine vinaigrette. The dish was fresh, simple and tasted what it sounded like, but wasn't anything special. Also, $4 for 3 slices of chorizo seemed a bit steep to me :|. 

Pork Hash $16

If there's potato on the menu, it's a sure bet that I will order it. Hash is my kind of happiness food. Crisp bits of pan fried potato and buckwheat, aromatic roasted eschalots and fresh micro herbs topped with shredded pork hock and a beautiful, gooey soft boiled egg #yolkpork. Some of the larger potato pieces weren't crispy and seemed a bit underdone, but it was well seasoned and went together with the other elements. I was tossing up between pancakes and hash, and my intuition made the right choice. 

Props to the staff for being attentive even when it's busy. The food didn't take too long to come out either, which was good because the smell of baked goods and bacon filling the air made me hunger. It's a great to see a no fuss local cafe, run by ex-Le Monde's Anthony Svilicich and James Naylor, who are just doing it for the food and people, and not for how many IG likes they can get. 

Excelsior Jones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket
Wednesday, 5 August 2015 23:12
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There's great stigma surrounding Thai food, brewed by all the shitty fast/takeaway Western style joints. So when I first visited Thailand, almost three years ago, I was completely blown away at how bloody flavoursome and complex Thai food actually is - holy sht, what crap have I been eating all this time? 

While shitty pad thais are still aplenty in tourist trap zones, we ventured out of town to find where the locals eat after a hard day of hustling and experienced Thai food at its truly best. Carts of questionable meats charring and colour dessert stalls lined the after hours street markets, all very curious but so inviting.

The most memorable dish was from this soup noodle cart with all the inner trimmings (think intestines, livers...) and it was so spicy but I kept on wanting more. You know the food is good when the chilli pain is too real but you still want to keep eating T_T. Do Dee Paidang is no joke when it comes to spicy Thai food and reminds me why I love it so much.  

As you walk in you'll see a beautiful display of Khanom Wan Ruam Mit (yes, I had to Google that), a Thai dessert concoction of mixed fruits, jelly, or whatever you want really served with shaved ice, coconut milk and sugar syrup. It's similar to Vietnamese Chè or Halo Halo in the Philippines. Basically fantastic for a hot day or cooling yourself down because you thought you could handle the chilli and you really couldn't. 

It was packed for a weeknight and our party of two grabbed the last seats. There were lots of students and young families, and crowds of Thai customers - a good sign, surely. 

Thai Ice Milk Tea $3.90

We ordered a round of Thai style milk tea, similar to Malaysian Tek Tarik. There's so much flavour infused from the way the tea is pulled back and forth and I love condensed milk. It is bomb a.f and will cool your mouth down after you thought you could handle the chilli. 

Thai Sausages $8?

Kiki wanted to try the Thai sausages and it was a house speciality apparently. I'm not a fan in general tbh, but they're not bad. Lots of herbs and spice with strong hint of lemongrass, great with some sticky rice.

BBQ Pork Neck $11.90

I love eating weird cuts of meat and read good reviews about this dish so had to order it. It looked simple on the plate, but this dish was simply bam-wow in flavour. The meat was tender and juicy, with a saahhh tasty sweet sticky glaze. It's reminds me of a good ol' home BBQ spit roast, and you simply can't argue with that. 

Doo Dee Devil (Level 2) - Small $4.90

Finally we get to the soul of this restaurant - the spicy noodles. My stomach hurts now just thinking of how spicy it was, and this was only level 2!! As someone who can generally eat really spicy food, tears were had after a few mouthfuls. A generous amount of different meats and fish balls, sprinkle of deep fried wonton skin, fried onions and clear noodles. I was taken to an "omg, I'm dying but I can't stop eating it" moment, again. Spiciness aside, the broth had intense depth of flavour - it was tangy, subtly sweet and salty; pretty much the epitome of Thai food and reminded me of the noodle street carts. Though it was an uphill battle, we both finished our bowls (but left the soup) and felt like winners. It was a close call but Us 1, Thai food 0. 

Mango with Sticky Rice $7

To give ourselves a pat on the back for surviving, we had to order one of my fav Asian desserts. I can never go past sticky rice with coconut milk, it is simplicity at its best. The rice is gelatinous and the stickiness goes amazingly well with the sweet coconut milk and refreshing pieces of mango. Not too sweet or heavy, it was the perfect end to a punchy meal. 

It doesn't look like much, but we were completely coma-ing by the end. The staff of entirely Thai folks were super friendly and quick to service. Much like the streets of Thailand, the place can get a bit noisy and cramped, but nothing we were fussed about. It is as authentic as you can get in Sydney and bang for buck. Just try not to be a daredevil with the noodles spiciness level... you have been warned! 

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Five Points Burgers, North Sydney
Monday, 13 July 2015 23:38
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The search the Sydney's best burger continues as the city's burger-crazed madness lives to fight off thigh gaps. Newly established Five Points, in North Sydney, just recently celebrated its first 3 months of opening and makes a worthy contender in the burger scene. My inner fat cat spirit animal was freed to the smell of grilled patties, melted cheese and bacon with any and every thing. I'm such a massive sucker for burgers.

What I LOVE about Five Points, firstly, is that it's down the road from my office (and my gym, oops). North Sydney finally getting some good grub, take that city slickers. 

DDN, Deli & I were too eager to hop on the "Omg, something exciting happening in North Syd"-train and went during the first week of opening (as always, my posts are super delayed). The queue was painfully long, but after going the second time around last week, it seems they've finally got an effective production line system happening to beat the peak hour lunch woes. 

Manhattan Burger $10 + double meat $3 + chips $4

CUE THE MEAT SWEATS. Ok, I didn't get this. I would never be able to finish a double patty and have to then go back to WORK with my food baby. This burger is serious though. Double grilled beef patty, double cheese, tomato sauce, pickles, american mustard aioli, iceberg lettuce. It makes me feel more masculine just looking at it, definitely not one for the light hearted. 

Bronx Burger + double meat $12.50 + $3

Double grilled beef patty, double cheese, tomato sauce, pickles, american mustard aioli, bacon, onion jam, iceberg lettuce. BRUH, look at dat cheese tho. And bacon, don't forget that bacon. Burger so big you need two hands and can't eat it in a mouthful. You also need napkins, lots of napkins. It'll get real messy, real quick.

Bronx Burger $12.50  + chips $4

OMG, slightly grilled sweet Brasserie Bread (!!!). The soft and fluffy bread soaks in some serious juice aka grease. Even with a single patty I had to be rolled back into the office, meat sweats were too real. Let's talk about the perfect smash-style patty; juicy, pink, wonderful char flavour - one of my top rated patties. The onion added a perfect sweetness to it, however it needed a bit more pickles to cut through all the oil and lettuce was sort of awkward to eat. Wished my hands were less greasy and more free to take a photo of the cross section :-(.The beer battered fries were great, very light, crispy and well seasoned. Not wow, but pretty solid side.

I also tried the milkshakes on my second visit, which were de-fkn-li-cious. Maybe because I've been craving a milkshake for WEEKS, but totally feeling the chocolate and salted caramel milkshake. Slurp-able consistency, classic taste, not too sweet - nothing fancy, but ticks all the right boxes (and better than Mary's PB shake IMO). Grab a shake after though so you don't fill up your stomach before you digest two days worth of calories. 

Five Points seems to have one of the best American-Style burgers in Sydney at the moment, and the whole industrial fit out look is just understated cool. I seem to be able to get a table easy, but sitting outside when the weather's clear is even better. The service has really picked up since the start and the staff are tops. I finished the burger and felt like complete crap, and ate nothing but air for the next few days but totally worth it. 

Best burger in Sydney? Arguable, but definitely floating somewhere in Top 5.

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