Sunday, December 22, 2013

Outfit of the Week: Modern Kimono

Over the years, I noticed that jackets almost always makes an outfit look more polished and more professional.  Doesn't matter what you wear underneath, be in a simple white tank or a floral top, topping it off with a jacket glamorizes the simplest of outfits.  So why am I harping over jackets when I'm not wearing one?  Because in this country where the sun always shines and the weather is 24/7, 365 days hot hot hot, 'ol sweaty me cannot stand the thought of wearing jackets!  Nope.  If I could go out in my birthday suit, I would.  But that would be scandalous.  Plus, I think everyone would run away screaming "my eye, my eye!!!"  LOL.  So what's the next best alternative?  Kimono jackets!  Aha!  See?  All this babbling leads to a point!  It's definitely lighter than a jacket, but it also gives off that same polished look and same coverage, without making you break a sweat!  How's that for fashion and comfort?  Best of both worlds!  Another plus is that kimono jackets are so versatile, you can wear them practically with anything.  Be it a dress, a skirt, a pair of pants, leggings, shorts... the list is endless!  Just a tip when finding your own kimono jacket though, veer away from the ones that looks like a bathrobe or else you'd end up looking ready for bed, or bath!  LOL.  We wouldn't want that.  So choose your piece wisely and you'd be able to wear them in endless ways.  Enjoy!

Cover-up:  Cotton On
Tank Top:  Arizona
Shorts:  Ever New
Bag:  YSL
Shoes:  Janylin
Necklace:  from Karl Edward Bazaar at NBC Tent, Fort

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sydney Eats: Hurricane's Grill

...and I saved the best for last!  It's been quite a long time since my last post, sorry!  Since it's the holiday season, been quite busy with work-related stuff.  BUT, I hope I can make up for it with this post!  Hurricane's Grill:  our last dinner in Sydney, and Brother's amazing discovery.

First off:  a little back story.  during our countless searches for great restaurants in Sydney, Brother came across Hurricane's Grill.  He mentioned that the reviews were pretty good, so a few days before, we've already decided to go there for dinner.  But in those few days, we were nowhere near the area so we had to dine somewhere else.  Finally, on the last day, we had a bit of time in our hands.  We needed to eat someplace close since we'll be heading back to the hotel early to pack up our luggage (boo!) and Harbourside Shopping Center, where Hurricane's Grill is situated, is very near where we're staying.  Yay!

Here's what we had:

Salt & Pepper Calamari

Char-Grilled Chicken Salad

Fillet of Tenderloin with Baked Potato and Mushroom Sauce

Pork Riblets

Oh. My. Goodness.  The pork riblets were the best ribs we've ever tasted in our lives!  Notice the plural form "we've" and "our"?  Yup, all four of us agreed they are simply the best!  Extra tender, fall-off-the-bone pieces with lip smacking barbecue sauce.  I tell you, you'll never go wrong with this one.  The other dishes were pretty good too.  The tenderloin is also soft and juicy.  I particularly loved the mushroom sauce; you'll taste the mushroom in every drop!  Calamari is also soft, but I find it a tad too salty.  Salad was pretty fresh too!  See?  I have no bad things to say about Hurricane's Grill.  Every single thing is Y-U-M-M-Y!  5 out of 5 stars!  And yes, I will definitely be back.

So boys and girls, here's the final entry for this year's Sydney vacation.  I hope you liked it!  Never expected I'd say this, but yes, I've fallen in love with Sydney.  The place, the people, the shopping and the food are all fantastic.  Can't wait to go back and see the rest of Australia!  Maybe next year?  Cross fingers! :)

Hurricane's Grill is at Shop 433-436, Level 2, Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney Australia

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sydney Eats: Charlie & Co. Burgers

Over the whole week we were in Sydney, we had food court food four times.  And out of those four times, only one was worth mentioning.  I present to you... Charlie & Co. Burgers, one of our last meals in Sydney!  Well... actually, I was the only one that ate it.  LOL.  Everyone had their own preference when it comes to food.  I was actually planning on having Ippudo ramen (yes, they have it in Sydney!) but decided against it when I saw the long line forming in front of Charlie and Co.  Call me gullible, but a long line anywhere is almost always a surefire way to make you get in line too.  So yes, I fell in line and waited for my turn.


The menu.  Short and sweet.
Open kitchen.  Bun area.

You can even see them cooking your patties!

The entire kitchen.  Simple, no frills.

Might Charlie Burger
Charlie's wagyu patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, egg, bacon, caramelised onions, Charlie's tomato sauce and aioli

Close up

Cross section of the burger

Uber expensive bottle of Coke!
Curious why I posted a picture of the Coke bottle?  Because this is the most expensive Coke I've ever drank, I just had to immortalize it!  At 330ml, it costs $4 AUD!!!  Converted, that is around Php 160++ for a bottle of Coke, and a small one at that!  Can you believe it?!  If there's one thing I learned about the beverages in Australia, it's that they are quite expensive.  Oh wait, did I say quite?  Scratch that.  They are bloody expensive!  Bottled water is about $3 AUD, and sodas like the Coke above is around $3-4 AUD.  And that's food court prices!  Next time I go, I think I better bring my own.  Or better yet, I think I'll bring over a whole truckload and start selling them over there.  Who knows, maybe I'll get rich!  LOL.

So do I think Charlie's "well worth the wait" motto is really worth the wait?  Heck yes!  This might be one of the best burgers I've tasted in a looooong time.  And I've got discriminating taste!  The patty was soft without being crumbly, and you could smell the heavenly scent of the patty with each bite!  And I loved the fact that they incorporated eggs and caramelized onions in the burger too!  Now that's what I call an authentic burger!  5 out of 5 stars!

Charlie & Co. Burgers is 5/F Westfield Shopping Center, Pitt St. corner Market St. Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sydney Eats: Oxford Social

We booked a one day tour during our Sydney trip.  As luck would have it, it rained cats and dogs half of that day.  And since about 90% of the tour is outdoors, we were not able to visit about 50% of the sites, and even got soaked during the cruise.  So after the disappointing tour, everyone was on the edge and feeling not so happy.  We wanted to end the night on a high note, so Brother and I went on a frantic online search on where to eat that night.  The ever reliable TripAdvisor had a restaurant named Oxford Social as #2 in Sydney's best restaurants list, so we decided to take the plunge and just go for it.  For those who are curious, the reason why we didn't go for #1 on the list was because #1 was a gelato place and the parents would kill us if we chose to have dinner there.  LOL!

A quick taxi trip later, we stood outside a small, dark, cozy-looking restaurant.  It looked like a date restaurant!  Actually, we were the only group of 4.  The other tables are all twosome lovebirds.  Haha!  No matter, we were tired and hungry, so we went ahead and ordered away!
Arancini Balls

Insides of the Arancini Balls

For appetizers, we had the Arancini balls.  The what?  It''s something that reminded me of a croquette.  An order would give you two Spinach and Dolce Gorgonzola and two Pumpkin and Parmesan with Beurre Blanc.  Do not be deceived by the size of these balls because they are packed with flavor!  

Chicken Breast Roulade
 "Filled with sun dried tomato, capsicum, pesto served with diced sauteed zucchini, provincial tomato & parmesan crisp"

Never been a fan of chicken breast.  I had a bite of this and found it to be tender.  But when everyone had their fill, they forced me to eat the remaining chicken and it was a bit tough and dry.  Lesson of the day:  better eat them while it's hot!

Pork Belly
 "Braised belly, pork crackling, roasted apple, pork jus & apple puree"

Crunchhh!  Now we're talking!  The pork crackling reminded me of our local chicharon, but a slightly thicker one.  The pork belly on the other hand, was pillow-soft.

Veal Fillet
 "With potato mille feuille, baby carrots & port veal jus"

The menu had me at potato mille feuille.  How on earth is that possible?!  Well, apparently it is.  The potato really did resemble one of my favorite desserts.  And the veal was so tender and so juicy.

Michaud Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

When dessert came around, we asked for recommendations from the server.  She suggested a few things, but when she said that the chocolate cake had something oozing out, we knew we had to get that one.  Well, nothing oozed out.  BUT, the filling inside had such a creamy consistency, something in between a mousse and a syrup.  It was oh so good we almost forgot our own names!  

The verdict?  Oxford Social gets a 4 out of 5.  A bit of a warning:  though service and food is good, the food comes out really, really slowly.  Perfect for date nights, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're in a hurry.

Oxford Social is  at 135 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst 2010 Australia

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sydney: Where to go and What to do

Disclaimer:  This guide is most definitely not complete.  But it's what we experienced.  You see, we did not have any itinerary during our trip to Sydney.  We booked a one day tour, and that's it.  All we wanted was to relax, bond, eat and (for me) shop!  So in short, it's a lazy shopaholic's guide to Sydney.  Enjoy!

1. Stroll and Dine along Darling Harbour

In addition to a great view, Darling Harbour boasts of a number of great restaurants.  What could be better than watching the sun set with a bottle of cold beer, or a glass of chilled wine?  Food + Sights = Awesome. 

2. Shopping 

Sydney has a lot of shopping centers.  But the three best would be:
a.  Sydney's Central Business District, where you can find almost anything and everything you need.
b.  Broadway Shopping Centre, which houses two retail giants namely Target and Kmart, or
c.  The outlets.  In our case, we went to Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre.  Lots of great finds!

3.  Tours

We booked a one day tour to the Blue Mountains.  It includes a trip to:
a.  Lincoln's Rock

Brother makes a cameo appearance in my blog.  Say hello! :)

b.  Scenic World (where you can ride the world's steepest railway)

c.  River Cruise (where you can see sights such as the Sydney Opera House)

Was it enjoyable?  Yes and no.  Yes because you get to see a lot of things outside the city, but no because it had to rain on the one day that we decided to go on a tour... and the whole tour is outdoors!  So we had no choice but to skip half of it.  Sigh.

4.  Zoo

Our hotel is right smack in the middle of the Central Business District.  Since the tour did not include a trip to the zoo, we went to the Wild Life Sydney Zoo in Darling Harbour near our hotel.  The zoo itself is quite small, but if you just want to see the "basic" animals in Australia, then Wild Life Sydney Zoo will do.  I couldn't leave Australia without seeing the kangaroos and the koalas, so this zoo was perfect. 

Above is just some of the animals that you'd find in the Wild Life Sydney Zoo.  Cute huh?  Cutest (at least for me) would be the koala.  Who can resist that adorable sleeping face?  Awww...

So that's it!  A short roundup of what we did in Sydney.  Don't worry, the Sydney posts are not over yet, I still have some food posts coming up!  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sydney Eats: Golden Century Seafood Restaurant

Does the name of the restaurant sound Chinese?  Well, because it is!  Yup, Dad had another one of his Chinese food cravings, but this time, I'm not complaining.

A little back story:  Many, many years ago, my parents went to Australia.  In one of the restaurants they dined in, they tried to order king crab.  You see, Australia's king crabs are nothing like ours here in the Philippines.  Theirs are really, really huge!  So the server refused to sell them the crab claiming that they couldn't finish it since it was just the two of them.  They told the server that if they couldn't finish it, they'd just bring it home, but to no avail.  They never got to try the king crab.  And my Mom haven't stopped thinking about it since.  So fast forward to our trip this time, there's four of us and we finally had the chance to eat Australia's famous king crab!

King Crab
They weren't kidding when they said king crab.  This baby is 2.5 kilos, and apparently, it's their smallest one!

Since the crab is pretty big, we had the option to divide it and have it cooked in different ways.  The server initially suggested we cook it two ways, but Mom felt that it's going to be too much so she bargained for three ways.  
Crab with Salt and Pepper
This is the first way.  I like how the salt and pepper was not too much, making it blend nicely with the soft and juicy meat of the crab.

Crab with Ginger
Second way.  Not much of a fan of ginger, but since the ginger was not too overpowering, I had a couple of these too.  This is a good saucy alternative for those who do not want their crab "dry".

Noodles cooked in Crab Fat

And finally, the third way.  And in my opinion, the best way!  This dish has absolutely zero crab meat in it, but it has something else that more than makes up for it:  crab fat!  See the small bits of orange stuff?  Crab fat.  My own personal bliss.  And my cholesterol's biggest nightmare.  It was so good that I wanted to finish it, but I can't.  Serving's too big so we had to leave it.  Boo hoo!

Braised Chinese Ham with Vegetables

Vegetables.  Zzzzz... LOL!  Nothing much to say here.

Beancurd with Minced Prawns

A not-so-exciting dish, but it's nicely appetizing.  The minced prawns gave flavor to the otherwise bland beancurd.

Complimentary Dessert Trio

Among the three, I only liked the butter cookies.  The one with the powdered sugar is just fried wonton wrappers, and the other one.. well, I can't seem to distinguish the taste but it did nothing to please my palate.

Peanut Soup

Watery.  But my Mom likes the fact that it's not too sweet.

This is possibly the most expensive dinner we've had for four people, but it is also one of the best.  With the exception of the dessert (which was free anyway), every single thing we had was oh so good!  To this day, I still think of the noodles cooked in crab fat, cholesterol be damned.  5 out of 5 stars!

Golden Century Seafood Restaurant is at 393-399 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sydney Eats: The Meat and Wine Co.

Australia is well known for their steaks.  And we are not leaving Australia without trying at least one steakhouse.  So during dinner at the Emperor's Garden Restaurant, we asked the manager which steakhouse was the best in Sydney.  He recommended The Meat and Wine Co.  The next day, we wasted no time and found ourselves in that very steakhouse.  Efficient huh?  We're never lethargic when it comes to food.  LOL.

Szechuan Calamari
Our appetizer.  Oh wow.  I was blown away from the very first bite.  Extra soft squid with flavorful batter.  I daresay the best calamari we've ever tried!

Greek Village Salad with Chicken
Brother's salad.  Dear brother is on a diet so instead of protein-loading, he opted to have this.  Bo-ring!

Monte Grain Select Rib-Eye
Mom's steak.  Tough as a rock.  Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.  But you get my point.

Monte Black Wagyu Rib-Eye

My steak.  This one was a lot softer, but incomparable to the better wagyus I've tried.

Overall impression?  Not impressed.  Heck, we can get better steaks here in Manila!  Mom didn't want her rib-eye, so she gave it all to me!  And I seriously had a headache while chewing on her rib-eye.  The only dish that saved the restaurant from getting a zero from me was the calamari.  So... 1 out of 5 stars.

The Meat and Wine Co. is at L1, 31 Wheat Road, IMAX Theatre Complex, Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sydney Eats: Emperor's Garden Restaurant

Our first dinner in Sydney was in Chinatown (surprise, surprise!).  You see, my Dad is a forever fan of Chinese food.  He likes is so much that he looks for it every single time we go abroad, no matter which country.  Yes, that includes the US, Europe, and other non-Asian countries.  LOL.  So it's no surprise that on our trip to Australia, Chinatown was the first place he looked for.  

A year ago, my parents and my brother went to Sydney.  Without me.  Boohoo!  Kidding!  One meal that they remembered the most was from a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, so naturally, they went looking for that exact same restaurant this time around.  Emperor's Garden Restaurant.  Note:  please do not be shocked by the number of dishes on this post, we did not eat all this in one meal.  It's a combination of two dinners.  Told ya my Dad loves Chinese, and he loved this restaurant too, that we had to eat it twice!  

So what did we have?  Scroll down and take a look:
Fried Rice with Diced Scallops and Vegetables with Egg White

It's quite amazing that Emperor's Garden's version of this classic rice dish is much, much better than the others.  Why?  See the huge chunks of scallops?  Yes, in addition to the dried scallops, they included fresh ones!  It was so good that me and my brother had to fight for the chunks and leave the rest to my Dad.  What nice kids.  Haha!

Top Shell Slices Steam Boat served with Vegetables
Found this a bit boring.  It was served raw and came with soup which you can dunk your top shell slices to cook it.  Like hot pot.  Meh.

Stir-fried Pork Cheek Meat with Assorted Vegetables
The pork cheek meat gave off a nice bite.  It was pretty tasty too.  First time I got to try pork cheek cooked this way, and I like it!

Stir-fried Veggies with Garlic
Vegetables will be vegetables.  We're not very good friends.  LOL.  I took a few bites of this and that's about it.

Braised Cod Fillet Stir-fried with XO Sauce served in Hot Pot
The fish itself was a bit tough, but it was pretty flavorful since it was cooked stir fried with XO sauce.

Kangaroo Meat with Assorted Vegetables
Ooooh.  Another first for me!  Kangaroo meat!  Don't worry, this is legit.  Kangaroo meat is served in a lot of restaurants in Sydney.  Very tender and tasty.  Actually, it tastes just like beef steak!

Stir-fried Pork Cheek Meat with Broccoli
Another pork cheek meat dish.  We ate this the second time around with different vegetables and it was just as good.

Honey King Prawns
If there's one dish to make me come back to Emperor's Garden Restaurant, then this is it.  I must've eaten 2/3 of this dish!  See how big the prawns are??  They weren't kidding when they said king prawns!  Imagine the extra crispy batter, with extra succulent insides, all drizzled with honey.  It was pure heaven in every bite.

Stir-fried Scallops with Egg White
This too, was pretty good.  Note the scallops:  this time, they're not chunks, it's by pieces!  And yes, huge ones again!  Sadly, we had to return this one because they mixed a bit of flour in the egg whites and we could taste the flour in every bite.

Stir-fried Sliced Abalone with Vegetables
Tastes likes you're eating thinly sliced cuttlefish.  Not impressed.

Stewed Eel with Dried Beancurd Sheets

The eel was pretty yummy but I had a hard time with the bones.  Lazy 'ol me wished it was deboned.  The serving was a bit too much for us, so we had this to go.

Dining in Emperor's Garden Restaurant made me reverse my thinking that good Chinese food simply cannot be found in non-Asian countries.  Some of the dishes we had were even better than the Chinese restaurants here!  They're more unique too!  4 out of 5 stars!

Emperor's Garden Restaurant is at 100 Hay Street, Haymarket NSW 2000, Australia

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's Me Miss M's Blog Anniversary Contest Winner!

...and we have a winner!  Early this month, I celebrated my blog's first ever anniversary.  And to thank you, my dear readers, who have been with me this past year, I sponsored a contest for all you guys out there.  Well, there were only two entries.  Sniff, sniff.  Don't you guys love me?!  LOL.  Nah, no worries.  Two entries is still two entries.  I don't promote this blog much anyway so I'm not expecting a loadful of contestants.  I still love you guys :)  

So without further ado, the winner is..

Caryn Morales!  Congratulations!  Please reply to my email to receive your prize.  Thanks for reading my blog!  It really means so much to me :)