Thursday, August 29, 2013

Galleon Cafe, St Kilda, Melbourne

Address: 9, Carlisle Street, St Kilda, VIC 3182.
Opening Hours: 7am to 5pm daily
Telephone: 03 9534 8934
Website: here | Facebook page: here

Eating out is a weekend affair and it usually involves browsing through the ratings and reviews on Urbanspoon for something (or some place) worth checking out prior to the outing.

Good coffee and good burgers were for a must for us that day (11th August 2013) and we drove to St Kilda that bright and blustery that Sunday afternoon, excited. It was my first time in St Kilda, a tourist place with a small amusement park by the beach and cafes and eateries on both sides of the street. Wow!

Parking is a bomb, at AUD$4.70 per hour (or AUD$10.50 for the whole day) but there are some places where parking is free up to noon. Lesson learnt: go there for breakfast or brunch, not lunch and tea! (But if you're really lucky, you may just be able to find free parking somewhere!)

That brown paper stuck on the glass door is the waiting list.

Lunchtime is a popular hour and we had to wait for 30 minutes until we were seated. Then it took us a while to study the menu to decide which burgers we were going to have.

The cafe was crowded. :)

A vodka shot to perk you up?

Each table was given a bottle of water (with no charge) which is a common thing over here. We ordered a large latte to share (AUD$4.40) as we already had coffee at home that morning. It was good.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What's Cooking In My Kitchen?

"What have you been doing, besides running, cooking and knitting*?" is a regular question thrown at me.

*it's not knitting, by the way. it's crochet. i use a crochet hook, not knitting needles. :)

I'm a bum, really, sad to say. I get lots of sleep, so that's a good thing. I can run at any time of the day before dinner, that's another good thing. :D

I enjoy cooking the most. Almost every dinner (well, there are some lousy ones, too) is a proud masterpiece and I'm not sure if it's due to the influence of watching Masterchef Australia but yes, I take pride in most of the meals. The other half is obliged to go "Oooh..." when dinner is served and nod his head (in yummy delight) at first taste - if it's good. :P

And because July was Ramadhan month for the Muslims, I didn't share most of my food photos online out of respect. This blog post is NOT to showcase my culinary skills (puh-leese!) but these food photos need to go somewhere or it would be a waste of my photographic skills, hah! Just kidding.

1. Braised Vegemite Chicken.
I cooked it during the first week I was here and cooked it again a few days ago. Not my best dish, but it's one which I can cook without referring to the recipe. Honey, vegemite and oyster sauce are the 3 main ingredients.

Note: Best served with rice. 
(Ooops, I can't find the recipe link anymore. Sorry!)

2. Chicken Feet, soup or stewed.
I love chicken feet and thank goodness YB eats it too. I know some people who  don't eat it, because when I was describing to my dad in my email (with pride) about the dishes I cooked, he went, "Euws yuck! Chicken feet is not delicious lah!"

A childhood favourite!

Chicken feet with peanut soup is easy. Just keep them boiling. :)

Stewed chicken feet is pretty easy, too. I just follow this recipe here and I got it right the 2nd attempt - it basically needed more time stewing over the hob. Mmm. And rice wine does add that extra kick.

Add some chopped chilli, if you want!

Note: Stewed chicken feet is best served with rice or porridge.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

When There's No Oven, Steam Some Cakes

Ooooh my hands have been twitchy and my brain, in a frenzy. My eyes opened wide and my mouth would gasped in amazement, I'd grip my hubby's arm tight as we watched Masterchef Australia or The Great Australian Bake-Off on the telly.

I wanted to eat cake.
I wanted to bake.


Our oven doesn't work (or we probably don't know how to work it!) and I have no baking utensils or equipment. Solution? Buy an oven and everything else, taa-daa!

Otherwise, browse through the internet and look for alternatives, like steamed cakes.

I have been wanting to make my own 'malaikou' (direct translation "Malay kuih") but instead, I came across a recipe for steamed vanilla cake which immediately intrigued me.

It took me a week before I finally bought some baking powder and vanilla essence just because in my Scrooge-y eyes, they cost a bomb! :D

Never mind.

The recipe which you must refer to is Just One Cookbook's Japanese Steamed Cake recipe, or the adapted version on Kate From Scratch's site. Easy peasy!

Didn't have a tea towel big enough to wrap around the lid, so I used 2 of my bandannas instead!

My biggest gripe?

It makes only 4 cakes. Boo!

Slowly pry the cakes out of the ramekins/bowls and turn them upside down!

I made the corn and cheese version and I loved the soft and fluffy texture. I was very pleased with the outcome and I wished there was more! I must tweak the recipe to make at least 6 cakes, perhaps.

(Perhaps it needs 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla!)

Good stuff!

Now someone expects me to steam some pau soon ...

Update on 26-9-2013:
Made a banana version of this last night and found them to be very tasty. As the banana is heavy, the top would flatten once it's cooled. The cake is more dense and not fluffy and it tastes exactly like Malaysian's cekodok pisang (mashed banana fritters) but the steamed version is called Apam Pisang.

The ingredients are as follows:
1/2 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 egg
2 tablespoon of sugar (or reduce to 1 1/2)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 tablespoon of milk (or water)
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients with mashed banana added last.
2. Boil water in a pan, flat enough to fit 4 ramekins or small bowls (at least 9cm in diameter, 4cm in height).
3. Divide mixture into the bowls and place into pan once water is boiling.
4. Cover with lid wrapped in tea towel to avoid moisture dripping down.
5. Steam for 12 minutes or until skewer comes out with very few crumbs.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Salomon Trail Run Series 2013: Recceing The Silvan Route

Note: For non-participants and non-runners, you may scroll down and enjoy the beautiful scenery encountered along the way. :)

That's what the amateurs (and elites) do, if it's possible. They'd familiarise themselves with the route as much as possible, until it is engraved in your head. Knowing your race route helps to strategise your race as well as your nutrition on the go.

Next Sunday, 25th August 2013, one of the ongoing races in Melbourne is Race 3 of the Salomon Trail Running series which will be held at Silvan, Mount Evelyn, Dandenongs. The earlier races were held at Studley Park in Kew (Race 1) and Plenty Gorge in Plenty (Race 2).

Nope, this won't be the starting point!

Prior to our recce, we did some research on the Internet and was unable to find enough information on the route. (I didn't look hard enough!) Todd Keating, the Bitumen is Boring Ambassador 2013 for Race 3 eventually put up a short video of his run for the 1st 10KM. The 21KM category is actually new this year (for Race 3) as previously only the 7.3KM and 14.3KM categories were available. :)

* On further research, I came across Jason Montfort's race report on last year's Silvan 14.3KM. The route for 14.3KM remains unchanged this year. I think! 

This post is to give you some inkling of the route via  pictures as well as tips to assist first-time participants for their race next week. It may be more relevant to those running the long course (21KM)  and part of the medium course (14.3KM).

Our summary/conclusion of tackling the route is basically this:

1. Bring a pole ... 
Or find a nice branch along the trails to use as a walking stick for the crazy inclines and declines. It will reduce the stress to your calves and quads when going up, and the impact to your knees when running down.

2. Bring a bottle of electrolytes ...
To sip on while you're panting up the crazy inclines. You will need them to deter/avoid your legs from cramping. Never wait until it's too late or otherwise, it will be a miserable run towards the finish.

* Water/aid stations are available at every 7KM and the electrolyte drinks provided may not be sufficiently concentrated. If you don't want to carry a bottle, maybe you'd want to drink up at the water stations instead.

We start at the parking area and head out towards Mount Evelyn first.
Long course (21KM) in red.
Medium course (14.3KM) in green.
Short course (7.3KM) in blue.

This is the elevation profile for the long course which looks ridiculously daunting (for a scaredy-cat runner like me) and has a cut off time of 3 hours.

The medium course will run along the same route up to KM12.5 thereabouts.

Once you've completed the 1st loop and return to the water tanks, you will continue onto a brief track into the forest before reaching a singletrack which joins a 2WD road. (Olinda Creek Road and Road 10) 

This flat run is an estimated 2.6KM to the 1st water station at KM7±. Drink up and have a piece or 2 of chocolate before you tackle the upcoming incline. 

The incline on Wols Track is about 2KM long and up to an elevation of 337m before you have at least 1KM of respite before a 200m dip and a steep 400m climb up on Richardson Track.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Coffee, Please

Preppy coffee places are popping up in the cities at an alarming rate these days. Curious coffee aficionados will pop by to check it out, whether to add the said place onto their approved list of good coffee places to go.

I'm no expert when it comes to coffee and occasionally, I wouldn't mind a cup of Hainanese kopi (coffee) at the local kopitiam (coffee shop), especially when it cost only a fraction of your espresso based cuppa.

LewisGene Espresso
Address: Lot 2-1(first floor), Jalan Solaris 3, Solaris Mont Kiara, KL
Facebook page: here

A few of my friends are fans of this place and out of curiousity (and postponement of SCKLM that weekend), I joined a friend for brunch.


We were pretty early, I suppose, given that it was a Saturday. I asked for a menu from the waitress who was taking our orders and she told me to look at the board.

The food menu board was right above my head and somehow it irked me that I had to stand up and get out of my seat, stand back to study the menu, place my order with her before sitting back down. 

So, do study the menu first before being seated at your table, yeah? :P

We both selected a breakfast platter each for RM16.90 (or was it RM15.90, I don't remember) with a choice of tea. For coffee, you would have to order a cuppa on its own. Prices range from RM5.50 for espresso, cappuccino (RM9.90), latte (RM8.90), macchiato (RM6.90), long black (RM6.90), etc.

The platter was decent for the price, except that I'm not fond of the red corral leaves/salad. We were also made to share the chilli sauce from the same saucer plate - I would have preferred if we each had our own or served in a larger saucer place to be shared. (Or just leave a bottle on the table, maybe?)

I didn't try their coffee but I was told that it is pretty good. 

Coffee Elements
Address: Level 2 (above Pappa Rich), All Seasons Place, Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Bandar Baru Air Itam, Penang
Facebook page: here

Stepping into this cafe felt like stepping into an artist's spacious studio. Simple white furniture on cement floor, decorations are kept at a minimum.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Salomon XT Wings 3 - The Review

My pair of women's Salomon XT Wings 3 is about 3+ months old and they're probably one of the bigger investments I've made (so far) in terms of my running hobby. We know that Salomon products are sold in Malaysia at a very steep price and during the sale period, you're lucky if you can purchase something with at least some discount to soothe that potential cardiac arrest of your wallet.

The upper is made of a single layer of open air mesh combined with a nylon layer, thereby making it quick drying and very breathable. There are textile parts placed at strategic sections of the upper mesh to help prevent overheating on very warm days. 

The tongue cover prevents mud and debris from getting inside the shoes. 

With the Quicklace™ system, one quick tug of the laces tightens them, with minimal adjustment required if necessary. I've always been in awe of these minimalistic laces - they look so delicate yet they are quite strong.

Once you've tightened the laces, tuck them into the pocket located at the top of the tongue cover.

(Can they design a similar one for our running shoes with regular tie-on shoelaces? Sometimes they come undone even with double knots!)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Yeast @ Bangsar, KL

My sister treated me to a meal the night before my flight to Melbourne. Flattered, I was, however, concerned with the choice of cuisine. I don't think I ever had French food before, unless you count devouring croissants as a French experience.

Oh, and escargots, too. :)

She told me she had breakfast at Yeast before (I went, "Heh? What? Why 'Yeast'? How is that French?") and absolutely loved it to bits, so she wanted to try out their dinner menu too.

I made her drive (*heehee* my car was low on fuel that night) us to Bangsar that night and we parked at Bangsar Village II.

The place was warm and cosy, and we were quickly ushered to a booth in a corner. The table next to us was a happy party of 6 and we tried not to peek into their dishes to see what they were ordering.

That piece of paper enveloping the napkin was actually the menu, to be unfolded as if a treasure map. Hmmmm.

An open kitchen counter where you can see your chefs preparing and cooking your meals.
Yes, this pic is blurry.

The menu had a lot of duck dishes and my poor sister had to forgo those (because my body system cannot tolerate 'heaty' food much) so we mulled over the menu for a long time, I suppose.

Complimentary bread roll was provided and I do love the one on the right. Not sure what it was, but lovely.

Unfortunately the crusts were very hard so to pull them apart into pieces made a mess of fine crumbs onto the table and plate - I felt so not 'atas' (upper class)! *shy*

We ordered foie gras (top) and some fishy something au gratin like dish (bottom) which was yummy but a tad bit salty after a while. The crispy top was a delight.

When it came to the foie gras, which my sister insisted we order (because she has been craving for it since she first tasted it in London last year), I was trying not to be a tree hugger and scream bloody murder.

I tentatively asked my sister whether she knew the origins of foie gras and how the geese were treated in order to produce big fat liver.

She shuddered and said not to tell her so I kept my mouth shut.

But every bite I took, I was trying not to gag and imagine poor crying geese with their legs forced open.

The liver is the slab on the left. It was a bit too strong for me. 

It was my first try, to be honest and perhaps I really am not classy enough to enjoy the taste of it. :D

We also ordered a bottle of San Pellegrino (sparkling mineral water) just because everyone on the other table had one and we didn't want to look like cheapskates. RM15 a bottle is freaking steep, if you ask me. But hey, that's the cheapskate in me talking!

The mushroom truffle pasta (I don't remember the exact name on the menu) was lovely. Loved the mushrooms and interestingly, the pasta on its own is bland, so you'd have to ensure your forkful of pasta should have at least one or two slivers of mushroom before you pop it into your mouth.

Just saying.

Did that turn out to be unclassy? :P

The bill came up to about RM139 including tax, and the meal was quite a filling one for the both of us.

Looking at other reviews, their breakfast/lunch menu seems to be more interesting. My sister said it was yummy!

Now where do I find yummy croissants in Melbourne?

Breakfast/Tea reviews: