Thursday, September 30, 2010

RT with Angelina

Guess where I was last weekend?

Have I told you that my Mama is an impulse traveller? OK, so she had this meeting scheduled on a Monday in Melbourne. A whole day of meetings, she said, so she may have to stay overnight. Except that she wasn't sure if she should travel earlier and come back on the day, or travel on the day and come back the next. tsk tsk tsk...

She spent hours in front of the lappy, checking flight schedules and accommodation. Then she said the magic words: "Kids, you're coming with me." Woohooo!!!!

Then the "woohoo" turned to "what?" when she said we'd have to wake up super duper early on a Sunday morning to catch a 6am flight. There goes my beauty sleep.....

Anyway, there was actually no sleeping Saturday night as everyone was so excited. Especially at the prospect of visiting Australia's most livable city. As well as the city's famous Queen Victoria Market. "I haven't been there for, like, four years," Mama said. That's about my age, Mama, and I surely haven't been there at all.

As it was too early for taxis, Mama decided to book the Sydney Airport's long term parking facility and left home around 4.30am. The flight was punctual and by 7.30am, we were already at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport. We took the Skybus to the Southern Cross Station, then we took the tram to QVM.

The Queen Victoria Market, better known as QVM, is Melbourne's must-visit spot that was established in 1878. However, it's only open from Wednesdays to Sundays. Guess that's why Mama decided to go on Sunday. Retail therapy is her know....

The first stall we saw was this. Y'all know I can't resist poffertjes, right? What a great way to fuel up for the day....burp...lovely lovely breakfast...

Then we started visiting the sheds. There were so many to look, see and touch. Oh, not forgetting, to buy too. No worries, plenty of ATMs around.

Mama threatened to buy a dress for Brad if he doesn't behave...teeheehee...

Toys and toys for us....

Aren't those teddy bears cute? Mama bought a pink one for me....

I'd love to be immortalised like Monalisa...but it was hard for a feline to sit still....sigh....

Aahh...princess stuffs. Nope, I won't even be seen dead in them. Not for me.

Hmmm...Physics lessons at the market. The stall sells dragonflies made from bamboo that can balance on your nose.

If I don't behave, Mama said she'd buy those gowns for me. Eeeuuuwwww!!!!

My favourite....artwork and musical instruments of the First Australians. Where can a cat enrol for didgeridoo class?

Brad loves this stall. He's still googoo-gaga over soccer. The World Cup's over, mate!

Or maybe he wanted some shirts with naughty messages too?

Mama, I want that purple match the gowns? teeheehee...

I learnt soap carving from this lady. Surely they're too pretty to use in the bathroom?

Oh boy! Another stall catering for the soccer crazy! OK, we bought an Arsenal one for Dad...

Oh, we bought that embroidery piece of Melbourne's tram. The one that goes round the city for free....

Ooh...we love this musical group. Wish I had castanets so I could dance the flamenco gypsy style...breathtaking music by four hunks...drool....

They were celebrating the mooncake festival at the market on that day. So, we get to meet a couple of dancing lions too.

Brad gets to practise his soccer skills at this stall.

I felt "rich" when we paid that petshop a visit.

Say "Aum"....hmmm...familiarised ourselves with Indian stuffs, after all the Commonwealth Games is just round the corner.

Mama was in coffee wonderland...she ends up with kilos of the "black gold."

Turkish bread, anyone?

Oodles of dips to go with the bread...oo la la...

Mama wants to start on the Mediterranean diet...plenty of olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese and capers...

Brad and I would rather stick to seafood diet, thank you.

After all that walking and ogling....a good cuppa....slurrrrpp!!!

Aaahhh....I have fallen in love...

What's the damage to Mama's purse? Hmmm...actually not much as we were only looking for stuffs that we can't get in Sydney.

The QVM wasn't the only market we visited that day. But that story deserves an entry of its own, OK? There's only so much photographs blogger can help upload in a day. purrr....meow!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spring is in the Air!!!

We had a long winter this year. And very cold too.

But it's OK now. The trees have started to produce young shoots and there are flowers everywhere.

The nectarine tree at Nanna's garden is in full bloom now. We hope for a good harvest. Or else, we'll go attack one of those PYO orchards in Bilpin...

The nectarine blooms up close. The fruits will come around November.

The flowering nectarine tree in all its full glory.

Aaahh...picture-postcard purrrfect...I love the blue sky too.

Oh, next Sunday, Oct 3rd will be the start of daylight saving time where we'll have to hasten the clock by an hour. Does that mean I'll have to wake up earlier? purrrr...meow!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creme de la Crema

Nope. That's not a typo. In the title, I mean.

Crema is the term the Italians use to describe the golden layer of liquid on top of the espresso. In the same vein, espresso is also an Italian term used to call the extract of coffee that's the base of many many beautiful caffeine creations such as macchiato, americano, caffe latte, flat white, cappuccino, mocha and affogato. Those who frequent Gloria Jeans or Starbucks would be familiar with those Italian terms.

Truth to be told, sometimes I wonder if Mama is trying to turn our home into a cafe. Poor Dad has been turned into a lab rat. Not that he minds drinking copious cups of latte, flat white, cappuccino, mocha, macchiato and even hot chocolate. What has been happening?

Well, there was a "sale" at the famous Sydney Coffee School where you get 50% off the fees for a limited period. And, trust my Mama in not letting any "sale" pass her by. (OK...there are exceptions to the how she turned down her friends' invitation to the Noritake wholesaler's sale...but that's another story altogether.)

So, I digress. Anyway, instead of trawling the streets of Sydney for the best cuppa, Mama decided to make THE best cuppa by enrolling in a coffee barista class. Serious! She even went on to also sign up for the latte art class and get an accreditation for her skills. Then, she dragged us to Target and bought this set of espresso machine and coffee grinder. Then, she went to Gloria Jeans, Jamaica Blues and Robert Timm's to buy their coffee beans. Nope, not the ready ground ones, just whole roasted beans. Organic, Fairtrade, the whole lot. Oh, there were talks of her planting coffee at Dad's village but I treat that as wishful thinking. For now.

Hmmm....tea time is never the same again at our house. Oh, don't even let me get started on Mama's tea collection. That deserves another entry. OK, who wants a bottle of Nescafe? Nobody drinks that anymore around here.

The basics first: espresso with crema on top (about 30ml) with enough textured milk turn an ordinary cup of coffee into black gold.

Ms EM was Mama's teacher for the day. Look at those intricate designs of the cuppa. That's latte art.

Mama's interpretation of latte art. It's freestyling, she said. Designs are created using milk foam, chocolate and a bamboo stick.

Mama's first attempt at creating "the fern" with a single pour, meaning latte art is created by a special way of pouring the milk instead of using bamboo stick and chocolate sauce. (see above)

And her first attempt at creating the love-heart design with a single pour too.

The teacher's version of love-heart that Mama had to aspire to.

Exquisite "fern" that the teacher did as sample for Mama to follow.

Finally! After hours of trying, Mama succeeded in making this.

And this too! Only then that she gets the accreditation., anyone? purrr....meow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

1Australia @ Eid

It's not every year that Mama and Dad open our house during Eid. That is, holding an Open House Malaysian style. This year happens to be one of those years where Dad will be frantically cleaning the house while Mama tears her hair out in the kitchen.

Last weekend, we opened our home and our hearts to friends from near and far. Last count, there were 40 (adults and children) people who came to our humble abode. Luckily they didn't all come at one the same time or else it would be hard to fit all into our teenie weenie living room.

In the invitation, Mama told everyone to come anytime after 1pm and by noon, everything was in place. Oh, there were some last minute things like Mama forgetting where she kept the tablecloth that we use only once a year.... or Dad made a mistake in buying the wrong size of instant ketupat.... But all went well...phew! We even get rewarded with oodles of Magnum afterwards...

When we look back at the list of those who came, we are amazed that our home was like a mini United Nations as we had guests who originated from Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Fiji and local Aussies as well. 1Australia?

Mama made us proud by preparing the following menu:
Nasi impit (instant pressed rice) with two types of rendang: beef and cockles (kerang)
Nasi minyak (ghee rice) with ayam masak merah (chicken in red gravy), kurma kambing (lamb in white curry), sambal sotong & tempe (squid & fermented soybean in chili), acar nenas & timun (pineapple & cucumber salsa) and garden salad with feta cheese.

Dessert? Mama didn't prepare any but we had heaps that the guests brought. There were mini cupcakes, cheesecake, jelly, layered and rolled cakes...Oh, we put some bananas and mandarins out. Easy peasy as we don't have to cut or carve to serve...clever, eh?

Oh yes...Mama also made us proud by putting her coffee making skills (using a proper espresso machine) to good use. So, we had many who tasted her cappuchino, latte, flat white, hot chocolate etc on that day.

Unfortunately, we were too busy with the meet and greet that we utterly forgot to take any pix of the food, either during cooking or when they've all been laid on the table. But we managed to snap pix of the leftovers that Mama stored in the fridge.

Hehehe...we attacked these girls while they were having their meal...

Hmmm...concentrate on the food...yummm...

Look closely...rare shots of the food as guests tucked in.

Pro-tem committee of Association of Kelantanese in Sydney?

Hmmm...what's tickling Aunty R? But a penny for Aunty H2's thoughts...

Uncle M, Uncle RB and Uncle R seemed glad to have bumped into each other at our home...small world, they said.

My nemesis for the day...these three, plus four more, were totally besotted with Brad and I that we ended up so exhausted and traumatic at the end of the day....

Aunty Z's kids were busy concentrating on the food....

Uncle Is and Uncle M were not having a fight that they sat very far from each other...? Or, were they?

Attentive audience that Uncle Y seemed to attract...

Aunty If and Uncle Is practicing grandchild minding while the actual parents and GrandMa looked on...

Very good baby! He was fast asleep despite all the noise the older kids were making.

After the party, the washing up was back breaking...heavy pots and pans and lids and oil and grease and chili....we're wishing for a dishwasher!
Leftovers in the more cooking for the next fortnight!

Ah...Dad choosing the best Magnum as our reward for being such a sport....purrr...meow!