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The year that was 2014.
Thursday, 12 February 2015 22:40
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Each year I set out on doing bigger and better things for myself. But recently, upon drafting this post and reflecting on my goals for the year, I had an epiphany - how do you define bigger and better? Sure, I can have a checklist of things I'd like to accomplish for the year, but what makes them bigger and better than the year before? Maybe it's based on results and success, maybe it's based on failures and did-nots. At this point, I know one thing is for certain - this year (and the years after) I am set out on being happy. 

This sounds quite vague, I know, but it's sort of like that whole "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "I want to be happy" outlook on life. (Read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, she explains it much better than I can). We're already halfway through February and I'm so incredibly excited for the journey ahead. 

Though I certainly had my share of downs last year, it is not without all its joys as well. Thank you to everyone who made 2014 such an incredible memory. To sum up my year, I: 

- Left my FC fam to complete my studies and travel. Is it ironic that I left my job in travel to travel?

- Got rejected by a deer.

- Decided to do a short summer course abroad in Firenze. We planned an event to launch two Italian handbag companies. It was an amazing experience with so many new friends made along the way.

- Completed another internship. The best group of girls to work with and awesome rooftop BBQs. 

- Became crew with Snoopy and Woodstock. 

- But always with my main crew(s). Oops, excuse the offensiveness in last photo. 

- Decided to live on the edge a little.

(Sienna, Santorini, Cinque Terre)

- Ticked off places I've always wanted to go to. And ticked off others twice.
(Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine, Firenze Duomo, Tomorrowland Round 2, Berlin East Side Gallery, Berlin Fall of The Wall 25th Anniversary, Uluru)

- Saw my favourite artist in the world. Twice.

- Second year of Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas. Thanks for hosting again, Suze & Helen!

- Had two new rascals join the family. Welcome Coffee and Cinnamon. Dw Peach, you'll always be main. 

- Said hi and bye six times. 

This year I also:
- Finished the year on a Distinction average! 
- Got around to holding a Glebe Market stall. 
- Revamped my room; new paint, feature wall, furniture. 
- Survived my first camping experience.
- Ate too much but never regretted it (though my waistline did). 
- Made more memories with my fam and loved ones. 

2014 was a great year, perhaps bigger and better than 2013. I know for certain that 2015 will bring us just as much and even more happiness, because we'll make it so. 

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Have a Berry good day - Berry Day Trip, Part 2
Monday, 9 February 2015 22:09
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Oops, sorry for this delayed post. I was too busy recovering from my food coma ^_^"... We ate so much in the span of 4 hours that I could not fit all the photos in one post. So, think of this as an extended degustation meal, where by the end of it you're so full and can barely move even though it took ages for the entire meal to finish but it was worth every bite (and every kilo you gained). 

After amazing pastries at Milkwood, we set for Pompadour's Chocolate House as recommended by our waitress at South on Albany. I read many good things about these gorgeous handmade chocolate and treats so excitement was an understatement. I mean, it's chocolate! 

Belgium Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Slice $4.50(?)

All the shards of beautiful white, milk and dark chocolate displayed in the wooden cabinet was just a pretty sight for sore eyes. There's a confused aromatic whiff of coffee and chocolate (duh), with lots of locals having ice-cream and tea outside as well. An array of goodies presented themselves near the counter, from delicate handmade bonbons to praline bars. I eye the caramel slice on the bench top and we both knew at first sight it was meant to be. I'm a massive sucker for caramel slices, there's something about the chocolate top, gooey caramel centre, and crumbly biscuit base - it's a heavenly trifecta. 

This. Is. The. Best. Caramel. Slice. Ever. In. History. Geez, how can  anything be this amazing(!!!). I think I pretty much cried tears when I finished my last bite knowing that I have to travel all those kilometres just to get another one. That dark, rich cocoa and salty caramel... What a combo. 

Dark and Milk Salted Caramel $1.90 each

We took these little morsels home to try as we ate a crap tonne of food already and decided to save them. Rvr has his when we got home and said it was "oh god, sooo good", but little did I know how divine these little drops of heaven actually were. A thin layer of chocolate that covered the most delicious, intense and rich gooey salted caramel. So much ragrat not getting a few more of these :'(

After our pitstop at Pompadour's, we strolled down the street to "burn some cals off." Berry is such a charming town with cute cafes and boutiques lining the main street, and even the alleyways were good-looking. After covering the short main street, we headed to Il Locale Gelato, which translates pretty much to "The Locale Gelato". Hard to miss with its simple white and wood interior, covered in drawings outside and in.  

Cup - 1 flavour $4 (Caramel)

A generous scoop of homemade gelato. It had a deep caramel flavour that wasn't too overly sweet, which was perfect considering how much sugar we had already consumed. It had a wonderful consistency and taste that differs it to the likes of Messina et al. - must be all that organic milk! 

Affogato $6 (with Hazelnut Ice-Cream)

Our lovely South on Albany waitress recommended getting the Affogato with Hazelnut Ice-Cream, which hit the spot for a long afternoon drive back home. A strong, rich and fragrant hit of coffee with this creamy, delightful gelato that did the Italians justice - perfect pairing of flavours.

Heading back to the car we almost forgot one important thing - the reason why we came to Berry in the first place - The Famous Berry Donut Van (yes, that's the official name)!!! 

The donuts are made to order, so they're fried and then generously seasoned with sugar and cinnamon in front of you! And god, the smell of it - I would wear it as perfume so when people walk past they'll say "You smell delicious" in the most totally non-creeper type way.

Very well priced with 6 donuts for $8 or 12 for $14, which makes me cry thinking about the prices of everything in Sydney. Fresh out of the fryer, I was so excited I almost burnt myself. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside and covering your lips with cinnamon sugar, just like how a donut should be. They were quite dense so we could only eat one before calling it quits and saving the rest for home.

It was a long drive home, but was it worth it? Two-hundred per cent. I can't wait for our next trip down (or until someone else goes and can get takeaway for me ^_^).

Pompadour’s Chocolate House on Urbanspoon Il Locale on Urbanspoon Famous Berry Donut Van on Urbanspoon

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You're looking Berry fine today - Berry Day Trip, Part 1
Friday, 9 January 2015 13:30
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Rvr and I see each other pretty much never, but it makes it that much more special when we do. After covering many areas in Sydney, we (aka I) decided that we should do a day trip out to a cutesy country town. I thought of Berry in an instance simply because... donuts/doughnuts(!!!). Yes, the famous Berry Doughnut Van - it just had to be done. Of course, Rvr had no idea what it was (such unawareness, it hurts) but he's slowly learning... 

Never have I ever driven anywhere remotely past Campbeltown and I was surprised to be met with lush green meadows and cows grazing on grass; not at all like the tumbleweed deserts I'd imagine. Plus, the drive was quite fun on the freeway as it meant that I got to go super fast and pretend I was a race car driver. After two hours or so, a string of songs on repeat (we couldn't put on any Taytay *sad*), and accidentally packing SPARKLING water instead of still (yes, I had a cry about this), we finally arrived at Berry. 

After thorough research on where to have brunch in Berry, we/I decided on South on Albany for its simple and fresh menu. Most, if not all, the ingredients are sourced locally and are organic etc. The restaurant was just off Queen Street on the corner of Albany (ha!). 

For fear of looking like a tourist (being Asian really doesn't help my stereotype), I didn't get as many photos as I liked now that I look back on it. The staff were so kind and friendly though and made us feel very welcomed. A beautiful sunny winter (yes, this was some time ago) day meant outdoor seating with the added bonus of throw overs and outdoor heaters. The menu worked with entrees on the left, salads and shares in the middle, and mains on the right. We had a full day of eating ahead of us so I had to be sure not to over order like usual. The menu is ever changing as they use seasonal ingredients, so it's always something fresh and exciting.

Rhubarb, mint and ginger cordial $4

Wtf, this drink was only $4?! When's the last time anyone got a drink for $4 in Sydney cafes? The rhubarb had a sweet subtle flavour and there was a zing of ginger aftertaste. Didn't realise it would be sparkling but that suited flavours of this drink. It was refreshing after a long drive and could see it being popular for the warmer summer days.

Chicken Liver Pate and Pear Chutney on Grilled Sourdough $9

Depending on your attitudes towards liver, the sound of pate can either delight you or disgust you. But I wouldn't order it if I hated it ^_^. The presentation looked a bit off-putting with the squiggles and it lacked that heavy liver taste that I love. The sourdough also took more effort than necessary to bite and the watercress(?) did not add to anything. Not to say it wasn't a tasty dish, the addition of the sweet pear chutney worked well with the pate, but the dish is not something I'd order again.

Soy and Mirin Infused Ocean Trout, Avocado, Picked Daikon, Radish, Eik Leaf, Fennel Dressing and Dashi $16

The presentation of this dish is so beautiful; the bright orange trout, hint of red radish, different shades of green and tinge of purple dancing on the plate. The Japanese-inspired flavours were surprising but def the good kind. The dressing was light and citrus-y and worked wonderfully with all the different textures. 

Fish of the day: Blue Eye Fillet with Sauteed Savoy Cabbage, Potato, Peas & Green Beans and Jerusalem Artichoke Sauce $35 (MP)

Embarrass to admit it was my first time trying Blue Eye - it's not a very common fish to eat, well at least a common one I would eat. Wonderfully well-season and crispy skin with soft white flesh peeling off. The highlight was that sauce though; sort of sweet and broth-like, pairing wonderfully with the fish that was a bit boring at times. 

After a wonderful meal and start to our day of food adventures, the lovely waitress who served us recommended a couple of places to try for our day out and, of course, Milkwood Bakery was one of them. I'm sure everyone who has been past Berry has gotten a treat from this place, famous for its freshly baked goodies. 

Along with a selection of tantalising tarts and cakes, they also sell organic coffee, fresh juices, sandwiches, bread, and a shelf full jams and preserves made locally. 

Lamb and pine nuts sausage roll $4 

Bourke St Bakery sausage rolls can eat its heart out, we have a new winner. While the pork and fennel will always have a place in my heart, this lamb in simply a whole new game of sausage rolls. The mince meat was intense with flavour with a touch of spice and the pine nuts added some needed texture. The pastry, as expected, was thin and flaky and the size was perfect for a post-lunch snack. We got tomato sauce but didn't even need it cause the flavour was that spot on.

Chocolate croissant $4(?)

I've never been much of a croissant fan, but I can't front that there is something magical about the flaky buttery layers that are soft and pillowy on the inside, but golden with a light crisp on the outside. Especially when they're freshly baked :O Only comment on this is the large chocolate chunk in the centre, where we thought it would be spread out through the layers. Was awkward to eat as it was literally just a ball of chocolate pushed through the middle of the pastry when baked... Hmm.... 

Apple Tart $4(?)

Seriously though, this short crust pastry is my life. MY LIFE. Buttery, crumbly, delicious goodness GET ALL UP IN ME. Slivered almonds and slices of apple in all its tart-y goodness. Perhaps one of the most wonderful and memorable pastries I've had. I will be back for you, my love. 

To think, this is only half of what we ate so far... 

Stay tuned for Part 2. 

South on Albany on Urbanspoon Milkwood Bakery on Urbanspoon