Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Melbourne Eats: Three Bags Full, Richmond

It is impossible to walk past cafes in Melbourne and not be curious about it. Why the queue, and why is the place packed? The food (and coffee) must definitely be good, then!

Earlier last Sunday morning, we were in Studley Park supporting a few friends who ran Race 1 of the Salomon Trail Series. (I took a few random photos at the event.) We were expecting to arrive at the cafe in time for brunch but we got there just as lunch hour began.

Three Bags Full
60 Nicholson Street
Abbotsford, VIC 3067

The place was packed to the brim but we were lucky to get two seats at the high table. Not the best spot to admire the interior and sneak a few photos, but it had to do. :)

A round table for a big group.

A waitress came and took our order for drinks before our seats were even warm. Talk about fast service!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Weekend Run: Superheroes and Villains, and Mount Juliet

Event: Wild Wombat Fat Ass 30K
Theme: Superheroes vs Super Villains
Date: 25th May 2014 (Sunday)
Time: 7.30am
Venue: Lerderderg State Park
Distance: 16km x 2

Group photo of the 7.30am runners. So many Batmans!

I had initially offered to be one of the course photographers for the day. All dressed up and hiding behind the bushes appealed to me, I suppose, seeing that I was 'retired' from running.

Wolverine and Mario greeted each other a g'day.

Then I realised that it was a bit silly to hide in the bushes for more than 2 hours until the first runner came by.

Not everyone ran in their costume. Some of them took them off just before the run!

Our photoshoot!

The hubs and I ended up doing one loop in ours before calling it quits. We weren't much in a rush, since I couldn't run fast, anyway, but it was a shame that no one ran with us!

We took our time framing our pictures carefully, waiting for the breeze to pick up our capes before the timer went off.

The 9am group returned, led by Wonder Woman!

We sat around and waited for everyone's return, munching on the food brought by Yuan, Aliona, Tara, Rachelle and myself. From vege sticks and dip to sushi to coconut ice to choc eclairs to amazeballs, it was a lovely picnic.

The winners of the best costume win an entry to the You Yangs event in July, for the 15km or 30km categories. So, we will be seeing Wolverine and Wonder Woman in their costume again, hopefully! :)

For more photos. visit Wild Wombat's Facebook album here.

p.s. My 1st fancy dress party, haha!


Date: 31st May 2014
Location: Mount Juliet, Yarra Ranges

It was quite late when we started, almost 3pm, I suppose. I don't remember but haha, we do have a tendency to laze about in the morning until lunch, before we decide to head out and get some fresh air.

Mount Juliet boasts of being the highest peak in Yarra Ranges with the summit at about 1120m high. We honestly didn't realise that it would be that tough when we started out.

I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from grumbling!

The track was pretty wild and busy.

It did remind me of Clear Spot as hiking up to the top required quad power!

As the track towards the top were wild, we had to be careful where we placed our feet lest we'd slip into fluffy tufts of dried grass.

The last 2km up took forever ... (to me, that is).

We met a couple who were on their way down and I asked whether the view was worth it. The lady answered that there was a giant corn.

I'm not very good at selfies. :)

That's it??
I climbed all the way just for this?

Apparently it's called a cairn, and it was built in the 1800's for a geodetic survey. I have checked for its definition and unfortunately, I still don't know what this geodacy is all about!

Just follow the orange arrows!

It was dark before we reached the bottom of the track so we had to use our head lamps. Once the steep 2km was cleared, the rest of the track was runnable and I did my best to run as quickly as possible!

To be just the only two people on the trails in the dark can be a bit spooky, brrr!

As much as I enjoyed the climb (it was a good workout), the long drive to get to the location was not worth the effort. The rest of the tracks were off limits (most likely because it's situated at Maroondah Dam Catchment Area), leaving only Mount Juliet Walking Track open to the public. With just that, it was less than 10km to and fro, from the car park.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Laksa Fried Chicken Is Delicious

I thought it was a coincidence.

The night before I cooked this dish, I was wondering whether I could marinate the chicken wings with some laksa paste instead of the usual garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, honey, salt, pepper, etc marinade. I thought very hard about how the laksa marinade would work.

I flicked through Adam Liaw's Two Asian Kitchens absent-mindedly, while watching Masterchef Australia on the telly, when I flicked to the right page.

My eyes opened wide.

So someone has thought about it before, hah!

And it was a brilliant recipe as he combined both his favourite food into one dish. Not bad, not bad.

Rich and aromatic chicken wings.

And who would have thought, coconut cream in the marinade, too!

The cream provides some richness to it, complementing the spices from the laksa paste. The occasional crunch from the  flour, and the dessicated coconut provides a little bit of texture.

As the recipe suggests, it is best to marinade the chicken overnight. My chicken was only marinated for about 6 hours and it was not enough for the flavours to intensify.

Adam Liaw's Laksa Fried Chicken Recipe

Ingredients for marinade:
1 whole chicken, chopped into pieces (I used chicken wings, minus the wing tips.)
1 cup of laksa paste
125ml coconut cream

Ingredients for coating:
75gm corn flour
75gm plain flour
90gm dessicated coconut

cooking oil for frying

Friday, June 6, 2014

Miso Ramen With Korean Soybean Paste

I've been trying to figure out what to do with that tub of soybean paste I bought some time ago when I attempted to recreate Taiwanese oyster mee sua. It was nasty, did I tell you? I am tempted to throw out that bottle of black vinegar I bought as I don't foresee myself using it again in the future. At all!

My tub of soybean paste.

I love tonkotsu ramen, but to cook its broth would require all the time in the world, and I don't think I want to do it. Hmmm, unless I cook it over a campfire, just to save the gas and electricity bills!

24 hours to boil and simmer the broth sounds like a real effort.

Just One Cookbook's recipe is a good one for a cheat's version of the miso ramen. It takes about an hour to prepare and cook it.

The alterations I made to the recipe were:
* Chinese cooking wine instead of sake. 
* I minced some pork from pork belly instead of minced pork.
* Korean soybean paste instead of Japanese miso paste.
* Chilli oil paste instead of chilli bean oil, not sure if it's the same thing.

In all honesty, I don't even know how miso ramen is supposed to taste like!

Nevertheless, I must confess that the dish I cooked was decently yummy. So yummy that one serving wasn't enough.

BUT don't be fooled, one serving is enough to fill you up nicely. :)

2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 TBSP of ginger, minced
1 shallot, minced
 4 cups of water
1 TBSP sesame oil
1/4 lb minced pork (about 100gm)
1 tsp chilli oil
3 TBSP of soybean paste
1 TBSP of Chinese cooking wine
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP of sesame seeds, grounded with mortar and pestle.
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of white pepper

2 servings of ramen noodles
water to boil the noodles

hard boiled eggs
strips of nori (seaweed)
spring onion
cha shu or pork loin
mayu (black garlic oil)

Almost got my runny hard boiled egg right!

1. Boil 2 pots of water, one for the noodles and the other (4 cups) for the broth. Set aside.
2. Loosen up ramen noodles as per instructions and set aside until it's time to cook them.
3. In a medium pot, heat up the sesame oil on medium heat to saute the garlic, ginger and shallot. Once soft, add the meat.
4. Increase heat to medium high and cook until meat changes colour.
5. Add chilli oil and mix well.
6. Pour in the water (4 cups) and add the seasonings. I let it simmer while I start to cook the noodles in the other pot as per the packet instructions.
7. Once the noodles are ready and divided into the bowls, I bring the broth to a boil and take it off the heat.
8. Pour into the bowls.
9. Garnish with your preferred toppings and serve.

This recipe serves two.

1. For the hard boiled eggs with runny yolk, boil water in a pot. Once it is boiling, put the eggs in and set your timer for 7 minutes. When time is up, scoop them out and cool them in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Gently peel them under a tap of running water and set aside. Only cut them in half before serving. Here's another recipe.
2. Mayu, or black garlic oil gives a tiny kick of bitterness to the broth. Use 5 cloves of garlic, minced, and fry with 1/4 cup of sesame oil on low heat. Stir occasionally. In about 10 minutes, garlic will turn black. Pour mixture into a heatproof bowl and cool for 30 minutes. Blitz. Pour 1 tsp of mayu into your bowl of  ramen. Keep the rest in a bottle until the next time. BUT, mine didn't turn out as smooth as this recipe's. Mine was still grainy. :P
3. Chopping the nori sheets into fine shreds was freaking tiring! Cut them into large squares and serve, or buy a packet of seaweed strips instead.
4. The next time, I may blitz the mixture in step 5 before adding water. The soybeans and meat needed to be a bit more fine, in my humble opinon.
5. I may also use chicken or beef as an alternative to minced pork the next time.

Have fun trying this out!

p.s. I tried it with our Malaysian taucu, and although it wasn't as strong as the Korean's soybean paste, it was equally delicious!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Runner Profile: Caroline Bertrand

Caroline at Buffalo SkyCamp 2014.
 I first met Caroline at the Surf Coast Trail Runners' inaugural night run earlier this year. She has always been part of the front pack and there's no doubt about her being a very strong runner.

Besides completing the Buffalo Stampede Sky Marathon in a fabulous time, she recently went on to bag first place in the women's category for Wilson's Prom 44KM. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!

1. When you're not running about and climbing mountains, your day job involves ...

I'm a design consultant and visual merchandiser for a high-end furniture shop in Richmond. I've just been made redundant though so maybe I should go into full time trail running!

Caroline's sleigh dogs.
2. How long have you been running? Is it awesome or what! :D

Like most people, I have always ran, whether it was the Tan or around the block... I signed up for my first half marathon in 2011 - then didn't do much apart from running to work in 2012.

My first official trail run was the Roller Coaster Run last year - since then I've been hooked and done various events.

3. What other sports do you do?

I play field hockey for Collegians X.

4. Just this year, we've seen you conquer the Buffalo Stampede Sky Marathon in April and the recent TNF50 in Blue Mountains. How was your training schedule like for both these events?

For the Buffalo Stampede, I concentrated on hilly trails. I probably averaged 50-60kms a week, one speed/hill session a week, a long trail run (in the Dandys), and then just a few runs around where I lived. Because the events were pretty close together I didn't do much in the lead up of TNF50, I focused on leg strength with my PT, stair repeats and the Running Wild Wilson's Prom 44km run as my last (and only) long training run.

At Buffalo Stampede Sky Marathon 2014.

5. Congrats on winning Wilson's Prom 44KM! How did you feel knowing you had won?

Winning always feels good, let's be honest. I was just lucky all the super duper good runners were busy that weekend!!!!!

 6. What are the upcoming events for you for the rest of this year?

A few... some confirmed and signed up for others in the pipeline:

I have signed up for the following:
- Surfcoast trail Marathon in June
- Surfcoast Century Solo 50 in September

On the wish list:
- Season of pain Mt Bawbaw in July
- The last leg of the Goldfields Track series in August
- Lake Mountain in October
- Four peaks in November
- Alpine Challenge 60km

That looks like plenty to me!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Melbourne Eats: Auction Rooms, North Melbourne

There was a lot of hype about this cafe some time back, and I vaguely remember reading about the place being packed and patrons having to queue for a bit before being seated. Oh, and not to mention that their coffee was great.

It has been a while since we ventured out into the city for a bit of a gastronomic adventure so we thought, what the heck, better get out there and try some place new. 

We were seated at one of the tables at the front window.

Auction Rooms
103 - 107 Errol Street
North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Links: Urbanspoon | Website | Facebook

We ordered a cappuccino and a latte, although we already had coffee in the morning. One has to taste the coffee due to its rave reviews, no?

I really must not order latte anymore because milky coffee is not what I want. The latte I was served with was more milk than espresso, and the cappuccino was no biggie. Hmmm.

Top: Cappuccino.
Bottom: Latte.

Our food came in huge plates. One of the items which we initially wanted to order had run out, so we decided to go with the today's special and a baby cos lettuce salad.

I felt like a real grown up eating fancy looking food!
 How utterly clueless I am! 
It goes to show that I don't eat out much. Bwahaha! :)

Is that a giant Caesar salad?