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Meatless Monday #4 Potato and Leek Soup and Spain’s Semana Santa

Potato and Leek Soup

There are some sights that are so unexpected that it stays with you for life. Last year, I was in the midst of Seville’s Semana Santa and saw hundreds of years of traditions re-enacted in the 21st century.

Santa Semana

Semana Santa or Holy Week is a week long celebration leading to lent. This year Semana Santa starts from 19th March to 6th of April. Although Semana Santa occurs all over Spain, Seville’s Semana Santa is arguably the most famous. There are over 55 brotherhood all over the cities with fraternities dating back to the 13th century. Throughout the week multiple processions takes place starting from various churches all around the cities carrying pasos a float depicting a scene from the Passion of Christ. Read More…

Vegetarian travel – Berlin Part 1 – flat white, beer and hot dog

The old and the retro new in Berlin It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a city with an active Four Square community will likely be be an absolute godsend for spotting vegetarian restaurants. This is in fact true for Berlin, city of bratwurst, hipsters and surprisingly plentiful vegetarian options. Read More…

Burgers in the Concrete City – NY part 1 of many

Shake Shack in NYTime is a ticking and there are still so many more photos to upload from New York. New York in summer is rather glorious, despite the scalding bitumen. On a summer day, a lunch break at the Shake Shack consisting of burger and shakes is a must have experience.

Shake Shack in NYThere is no such thing as a not busy time at the Shack. Even hours past lunch, the line was snaking its way around Madison Square Park as hungry mob waited patiently for their burger, shakes and fries.

Shake Shack in NY

We ordered the ShackBurger, Cheese Fries and some milk shake to wash it all down. The burger was smaller than I expected, but the patty oozed enough grease when lightly squeezed. The bun itself was more like a brioche rather than hamburger buns. I loved the melted cheese on top of fries, but it made me feel a little sick after a while. My favourite item out of this menu was my vanilla milkshake. It was thick and creamy and tasted exactly what a good old fashion shake should, complete and utter indulgence of the best kind.

Shake Shack in NYWe stayed in Brookly for the first few days of the trip, revisiting old haunts in what is an increasingly gentrified neighbourhood.

BrooklynIt felt like home when I wandered down the street, with hidden chocolate shops, random furniture stores and craft markets.

Brooklyn

Imagining living here is not such a big stretch…maybe next time?
iBrooklyn

Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2009 – laughing all the way

Edinburgh

There are more than 1,000 acts during any day at the Fringe, and this is rather low estimate.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival came to a close last week with the last of the winners of various categories announced just a few days ago. Not quite knowing what to expect at the Fringe , it was rather overwhelming being surrounded by literally thousands of performers begging, pleading, cajoling or screaming for your attention. Even with the heavy rain, the crowd continue to build on the first day I arrived. Think O week before university started with clubs and societies on the hunt for new members, then multiply that buzz in the air a thousand time. Curiously I rarely heard a Scottish accent during my short time here, it seemed like the entire city was invaded by southerners.

Edinburgh

I was rather disorganised when it comes to researching who to watch and decided to follow the rest of the group, deviating here and there to watch a random show. I remembered thinking that there was no way a sane person can read the entire guidebook and not be overwhelmed by the variety of what’s available, from comedies, drama, dance and everything in between.

Edinburgh

It doesn’t help that every show happily proclaimed that they were a four or five rated by some reviewer that I have never heard of! One thing I do love about the Fringe is the fact anyone can bring their show. There is no selection process by the Fringe Society, as long as the venue that the performer approached agree to stage them and the performer does all the required admin to be listed, the show will go on. What I should have done is kept my eyes on venues such as the Underbelly, the Assembly or Pleasance Courtyard and buy any tickets I can. These three venues are quite well known for attracting interesting/ big name acts and the shows that I managed to catch there did not disappoint.

Edinburgh

So what did I see? There was the Castle Rocks Breakdance Championship 2009, I didn’t realise that break dancing was still happening. The Roundhouse’s production of Your Number’s Up, a surprising drama set in Camden with a very clever structure and ending. There was lots and lots of walking in between to reach venues. I love Edinburgh I think it’s very grand, but by the tenth time  of crosing the bridge and walking all the way up to reach the Royal Mile I cursed the town planners who built an entire city on a hillside.

EdinburghOh and because we couldn’t help it, we watched some Australian comedians. Notably Adam Hills pictured below tying a rather unfortunate audience member named Scot (who’s a Scotsman!) with a length of floss found on stage.

EdinburghFollowing his on stage promotion, I bought a ticket to watch Hannah Gadsby, an up and coming story teller comedian from Tasmania. It might seem silly to go all the way to the other side of the world and watch Australian comedians, but there was something about watching local talents make it big so far away that made me feel all warm and fuzzy. It made me realise that next time the Melbourne Comedy Festival is on, I really should make the effort to go down south rather than let another year go by. Oh and if sleep is not needed, the Late Show at the Underbelly is a definite one to watch. I can’t remember the name of the first guy we watched, an flannel wearing American who handled hecklers beautifully. If anyone knows who performed on the 15th of August on the Late Show, let me know!

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Edinburgh Edinburgh - haggis

Dim sum at Fook Lam Moon

Lau Fau Shan

“It’s going down, we’re going to miss it!”
“We might make it just in time!”

We ran out of the taxi and dashed inside the fish market, cursing the number of tourists on our path.

“Forget it, the sun is gone already!” one of the fishmonger yelled as we swerved and bumped our way past her stall.

I could hear B cursing behind me as we finally reached the muddy shores of Lau Fau San and although the sun has left the stage, on its wake a spectacular light show started and I had to pick up my jaw and start taking photos. You see once in a blue moon, the tide was low enough to reveal the mudflats below, and once this happened this mud-beach landscape with stranded junks had to be experienced (knee-deep in mud and all) to be appreciated fully.

Lau Fau Shan

Hong Kong lifeA week ago I was in Hong Kong, making my way back home from the UK back home. In hindsight I was still in a bit of a shock about being home, still am to tell the truth, but the extended stop over provided a much needed break from the state of things. An old friend had moved to Hong Kong a year ago and much to my delight he had taken up photography in earnest. Promised with a trip filled with good food and photography, my jet lag died a thankfully quick death as I explored this incredibly diverse and humid city.

AU09  1555 copy

Yum cha at Fook Lam Moon

Our first stop was for yum cha at Fook Lam Moon, a highly respected institution using high quality procedure and cooked lovingly (even the fishes in their tanks looked happy). Apparently can spot a celebrity or two during dinner. We ordered their famed shark fin soup, some dim sums and their steamed cake to finish. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of shark fin in general. In this case, my conscience made unhappy murmurs at the back of my head while my tastebud took control. Like every other dish, everything was finely balanced, the shark fin provided an subtle texture to the soup, but it was the addition of the vinegar that made the whole dish come together. A combination of sour, mildly savoury consome. Pricier than your local Chinese restaurant, it made me wonder what it would be like to come back for dinner.
Street foodWhat made me smile looking back was the street food around the city. B happily obliged my curiosity for that delicacy known as stinky tofu by taking me to Dundas street. I expected it to be a soft fermented tofu, not realising that it was deep fried and not unlike similar versions in South East Asia. The biggest difference was the sauce, which was mustard and Hoisin sauce, an unlikely combination that somehow made the whole experience very more-ish.

Smelly tofuIn between, we ate and ate and ate. From the luscious BBQ goose, with side dishes of water spinach in a sambal like sauce and seafood in XO sauce, to the luscious mango dessert with sago topped with pomelo.

Duck duck, goose?

AU09  1732My stomach was in love, even while my body was sending panic signal due to the heat, I’ll remember this trip fondly.

Hong Kong life

Cloudy horizon

Sky skyDear London,

You have not been the easiest city to love. Your weather tantrum can be atrocious and unpredictable, your taste in food is tragic and when you decide to turn your sun light out by 3 in the afternoon during winter months I wonder why I bother. Yet, for some reason or another the thought of leaving you is making me decidedly unhappy.  You are lots of fun to be with and although the idea of never quite knowing what will happen each day can be terrifying, it is also exhilarating.

I wish our time is longer, but I guess it is not meant to be for now…

With less than 12 hours left in London, the inevitable panic starts to set in. I still can’t believe I am actually leaving this country, with so many things I have yet to see and experience. At the same time, I can honestly say that I am glad I came and took a gamble by coming here. It had been grand, and beautiful at the same time. It frighten me that I have no idea what will happen when I return back to Sydney, whether I will settle back to my old life, or whether I will still be pining for this country and everything I’m missing, like the Bust London Summer Craftacular that’s happening this Saturday, or a weekend photo trip to Salisbury.

Between the sky and the seaI still have so many photos left unprocessed to go through and post, and I can imagine it will be very surreal to look at photos of cloudy, green Ireland in sunny Sydney. Incidentally, these photos were taken on a weekend away with some friends as we wandered through the southern cost of the Republic of Ireland, ending somewhere close to Dingle.

Postcards from Brooklyn

Brooklyn grafitti

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, but other events in the past few days proved to be more exciting. New York, or more correctly Williamsburg, Brooklyn where I spent most of my time was this chaotic vibrant place. I was never quite during which exact moment that I had the biggest crush on this part of New York. Each street was covered in graffiti, the snow was packed solid to the point that walking became impossible and sliding inevitable, but somehow it was so alive.

Brooklyn grafitti

It didn’t hurt that Williamsburg was alive with great little coffee shops, cute little gift shops and more artists, musicians and other artistic type within a square mile.

Artists and Fleas Indoor Market, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

One of my favourite market was the Artists & Fleas Indoor market that was open every weekend. With the Christmas season they were opened during Thursday and Friday as well and I ended up visiting it more often than was good for my wallet. Nestled in a little warehouse space it housed a number of up and coming designers selling their ware for a fraction of the cost of the price in the upmarket boutiques in Manhattan. The atmosphere was rather like Bust’s craftacular last year and I envied the fact markets such as this were rather common in this part of the world.

Artists and Fleas Indoor Market, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

It was easy to imagine Brooklyn Tweed wandering around the same streets, sipping coffee in the many coffee shops (serving only organic coffee beans, eggs and whatnot) and visiting the many yarn shops around the area. I think that’s when it clicked in my head that I could quite easily live here some day.

Christmas in Brooklyn

Christmas in Brooklyn


Brooklyn grafitti

Brooklyn grafitti

Straddling 2008 and 2009

Beware gap when boarding aka mind the gap

With 2008 ticking away slowly I’m finding it difficult to summarise the past 12 months. In a lot of ways it felt as if I have managed to pack two years into one with moving over to the UK and everything that involved. Strangely enough coming back home made the entire thing feel more than a little surreal as nothing much have changed in Sydney.

The year in review in ten bullet points:

  • Moved oversea with a backpack and not much else
  • Quit my job
  • Found a new job
  • Lived in a share house for the first time
  • Realised skype is probably the best thing after the…
  • iTouch, iTune, ieverything
  • Knitted more than I have in a while
  • Met more new people in 6 months than I have in the past 3 years
  • Stopped planning
  • Found some new inspiring photographers

I don’t have any new year resolution since the chance of breaking them is quite high. Wistfully I would like to be more organised,  sleep more and stress less, but more than a little content to let things go.

Cracked window

Not quite sure what 2009 will bring, but looking forward to it all the same. I felt really lucky this year as things seemed to fall into place in a way I could not have imagined had I plan for them to do so. I remembered picking up a fortune telling  scroll while I was in Tokyo and reading that though my fortune was moderate it was the right time to travel, to find work and to start new ventures. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back I’m glad it worked out the way that 100 yen scroll say it would.

I just want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and an even better 2009. For friends I have met this year, I hope to see more of you next year and for old friends from the past, thank you for being there even when we were oceans apart.

Abandon me

Post Christmas

Santa full of air

The rather unfortunate result of flying in the wrong direction on Christmas Eve meant that I sort of spent Christmas on the plane. Sort of as in reality it was a non day which I guess meant it was a non Christmas as well. On the other hand the plethora of left over Christmas decoration made it feel as if the festive season was still very much alive as I pass yet another inflatable santa perched on someone’s rooftop or plastic reindeers planted on another house’s lawn.

Christmas deers down under

It was definitely a different type of Christmas compared to the one in London!

London Christmas

I haven’t been as active as I thought I would be once I am back in Sydney. Time seemed to crawl at a slower pace and the warm air was making me decidedly sleepy almost all the time.

I am very close to finishing my Anne Elliott cardigan with only the sleeves to knit up. It’s probably one of the most half baked pattern I have used, having to improvise stitch count and the overall measurement to get the correct fit, fingers crossed it will turn out. I am loving the fact that I have only used a single skein for the project so far. Then again the 200g ball of cotton from Bendigo Woollen Mills was bigger than normal. Not quite sure what possessed me to buy this particular shade of green as it was out of my usual colour palette. I noticed that Bendigo no longer stocked this particular colour or any shade of green in their cotton range which was somewhat a shame, though I wouldn’t mind to try out their shade of new ochre or oxford for another cotton project…

WIP Anne Elliot

European Weekender Part Tre: Torino

Palazzo Carignano

A few things that I vaguely know about Turin before I took myself there for the long weekend:

  • Juventus
  • Turin shroud
  • Where chocolate was invented
  • Not much else…

Not knowing anything about a place did not worry me as much as missing my plane to reach the said unknown place for the third time…

For some reason Gatwick airport and I were just not meant to be friends. My sense of direction, timing and anything else that made me a vaguely functional person went haywire every time I head towards Gatwick.

To those who are in a similar situation, grab the Gatwick express and save yourself plenty of grief.

Palazzo Carignano

Nestled in the north of Italy, Turin is surrounded by the Alps. When combined with the numerous number of gorgeous architecture within the city meant that I could and should have spent a few more days to really explore it properly.

Turin Cathedral

If you are a bit of a Museum maven, Turin has a number of interesting museums and galleries. Ranging from the Eyptian Museum of Turin to the National Cinema museum. I was happy to wander around aimlessly for the majority of the time, but I did want to see Porta Palazzo, reputedly the biggest open market in Europe.

I love markets in general. Whether it is visiting Kyoto’s Nishiki market or London’s Burough market they are usually a pretty good reflection of how the locals live. In Porta Palazzo’s case, I have never seen so many different varieties of tomatoes being sold in one spot.Had I been a little more mad, I would have bought my weekly grocery and carted it all the way back home to London. Fresh vegetables were just so cheap, with most things costing one euro per kilogram. I could easily imagine spending a long and lazy weekend with some friends in Turin enjying the sights and the food, perhaps come next summer we might just do exactly that.

Turin Market - Gran Balon


Foodwise if you have the time, drop in to Baratti & Milano, a confectionery to the Italian royal family that now operated as a cafe and restaurant. I loved the old fashioned charm of the decor and of course the chocolate!

Baratti & Milano

Baratti & Milano