January favourites 2017

It’s been an interesting start to the new year. Lots of things have happened and rather than dwelling on the not-so-good, I thought I’d share my favorites for the month! The hubby and I started the year off spending less time holding onto our phones and more time holding onto each other and creating memories with the kids and it’s been amazing, so below are something of the things that have brightened up the first few weeks of 2017.

Hot air ballooning with Global Ballooning 

With January being my birthday month it’s always such a hectic end of the year/start of the year period. So this year I absolutely loved that the hubby planned something for just the two of us for breakfast and dinner. I  was surprised with a hot air balloon ride! It was like we were watching a live Google Earth flying high over the houses, golf courses, freeways and parks. It was so peaceful up there that I think it would be the perfect place to get away on your own. No noise and beautiful views of our world. We watched as the sun rose and the beautiful changes of colour in the morning sky. I would highly recommend trying out this experience if you haven’t been already! We flew with Global Ballooning Australia and they were brilliant. So friendly and knowledgeable.

Dinner dates – Nieuw Amsterdam & The Graham

We spent most of this month feeling like we were in holiday mode and the evenings were filled with either family movie nights and relaxing at the beach, or enjoying dining out with friends. The hubby booked birthday dinner for me at one of our faves – Nieuw Amsterdam. This place has amazing food with vibrant service and there’s just something comfortable about being there. This time round some of the dishes we enjoyed were the zucchini flower poppers, the pork and scallops and the fresh tasting salmon ceviche.

Sharing a meal is always such a great way to bring about conversation and get to know each other better and we did just that with some friends from the parish at a sophisticated yet casual place in Port Melbourne called The Graham. I had the pork belly for entree and it was so delicious and generous in serving, I wondered how I would finish the mushroom risotto I had ordered for mains. I needn’t worry as the risotto was so tasty, I easily cleaned up the plate. The wine and conversation was never-ending which made for another great night out. We didn’t have to worry about parking as there were plenty parking options around and the beach is just a walk away. Great for a no fuss weeknight dinner I say!

 How much clearer are these two pics above compared to the previous ones? These two were taken with the hubby’s Samsung S6 andriod phone. So much sharper than my iPhone 6S.

Kikki K – Wellbeing Diary

A new year means a shiny new diary. I love opening up books to fresh, clean, white pages. A blank canvas to write new stories and capture wandering thoughts. This year the hubby bought me the Wellbeing Diary from Kikki K. So apart from keeping up with appointments, to do’s and generally organising my life, this diary also has weekly prompts that encourage me to reflect and improve on things like health, nutrition, exercise and overall wellbeing. There’s a different focus theme for each month of the year and so far I’m hooked!

January – Dream Then Do (bucketlists, dreams and goals)
February – Exercise
March – Nutrition
April – Sleeping Habits
May – Mindfulness
June – Time for Me
July – Relationships
August – Attitude Audit (Self Esteem)
September – Surroundings (Enhance your sense of wellbeing by surrounding yourself with the things you love. Simplify. Declutter. Creativity)
October – Technology Detox (Technology has the power to improve lives in so many ways but it can also provide endless distraction which can negatively impact your productivity, relationships and sense of wellbeing)
November – De-stress
December – Gratitude

I also love how the diary has a yearly, monthly and weekly view set up. Easy to plan dates and have an overview of what’s coming up.

Skin Naturale’s Me. range – Pink Clay and Jojoba Exfoliant

Spending so much time outdoors in the sun, sand, park, garden etc means slathering on the sunscreen, moisturiser and make up. After a long day out, exfoliating with this pink clay and jojoba medley makes my skin feel oh so squeaky clean and smooth. Gentle enough to be used daily but thorough enough to stimulate blood circulation, even out complexion, reduce pre mature aging and tighten pores. I’m sure I’ve included this in a previous favorites post I’m so obsessed with it!

 

How was your start to 2017? What were some of your favorite places, products or moments that brightened up your January?

Happy Lunar New Year 2017 – Lazat Malaysian Restaurant, Sunshine

Lazat Malaysian Restaurant
495 Ballarat Rd, Sunshine

Happy lunar new year to all those that celebrate the season! Melbourne’s lunar new year festivities seem to get bigger and brighter each year. Coming from a Filipino background I never really celebrated the occassion until I met my hubby. He is half Filipino, half Malaysian Chinese and every year we celebrate with his dad’s side of the family. An abundance of food and a clean house, red pockets for all the kids and greetings and hopes of prosperity in the new year.

This year the in laws were on holiday overseas so with little experience on how to prepare the traditional new year’s dishes, the hubby and I searched for a place that served yee sang. Yee sang or yusheng, also known as the Prosperity Toss, is a salad that consists of raw fish, crunchy noodles, strips of veggies and assorted condiments and sauces. We have fond memories of our first ever taste of the dish in Malaysia. It’s not even so much the flavour but the sharing of the meal that we get excited about. Everyone gathers around the table and tosses the noodles and veggies high into the air as happy new year greetings are shared.

We headed to Lazat Malaysian Restaurant in Sunshine and devoured a few dishes for lunch:

– Steamed fish of the day with ginger and onion
– Seafood fried crispy noodles
– Yee sang salad with crunchy wontonpieces, veggies, sauces and condiments and salmon
– cendol for dessert

I loveeee the cendol dessert! The first time I had it was in a market in KL when we visited the hubby’s family during our honeymoon. Cendol is a popular dessert enjoyed in south east Asia consisting of coconut milk, green rice flour jellies, pandan leaves juice, shaved ice and palm sugar.

When the dessert came out these three smashed it in no time, We should’ve bought another one!Lazat have a little courtyard out the back with outdoor seating and the kids spent quite a while just standing in front of the waterfall fountains and watching the fish swimming around.

Foodie Fridays on a Monday! – Latin Foods and Wines, Deer Park

Grilled meat South American bbqInterior Latin Foods and Wine

Latin Foods and Wines, 809 Ballarat rd, Deer Park

I had never really paid too much attention to the strip of shops near the corner of Station and Ballarat roads in Deer park until a few years ago when Chef Lagenda opened. And more recently when we wanted to get our fix of Vietnamese soups but didn’t want to drive over to Sunshine or St Albans to get it we found ourselves Vinh Thuan restaurant. And yes I have no idea why I’d never been to the infamous kebab instition that is Roxy’s Kebabs who’s fans claim have the best kebabs in Melbourne. It seems that this eclectic row of shops which, by the way, includes an awesome costume store (we hired some costumes for the kids’ birthday party recently and the ladies were extremely help and efficient), is successfully covering nearly all the continents in terms of choice of cuisine – South America is the latest addition.

It was just over a couple of years ago now that we first met Maria and Marco at their La Morenita shop in Sunshine for a feast organised by Kenny from Consider The Sauce. We were seduced by their hospitality and handmade empanadas and were so excited to see them again at their launch event to celebrate the extension of their opening hours to now cater for the dinner crowd as well as the popular lunch time rush. Operating in Melbourne for over 20 years now, Maria and Marco recently moved from the small Sunshine store to this space in Deer Park that is more than double the area with not only table service but fresh hot bread, drinks, and other goods – your one stop shop for all things South American!
Empanada Latin Foods and Wine Melbourne's West

Our South American BBQ journey took the form of a set menu feast that was further enhanced by the gorgeous bottle of red we tried from Chile – I can’t remember the name and will totally have to go back and grab a bottle or two it was so good. Our meal was complimentary and the dishes were part of the $50 set menu that is now available for dinner and also includes a drink. We devoured:

Appetisers
A trio of empanadas including pork, mash n’ meat and vegetarian accompanied by a tomato and onion salsa (I could totally eat this salsa on its own. So fresh tasting and full of flavour

Surprise!
Pan de bono with mayonesa de ajo. These little bread rolls full of melted cheese were a hit with the whole table and weren’t on the menu so it was a nice surprise!

Entree
Ceviche
– Chillean style, shredded haku cured in citrus juices. Such a refreshing light dish that I can imagine would be perfect to eat during the hot summer days. Now if only Melbourne would keep it consistent – It feels like winter again!
Causa limefia – mashed potato with chicken and topped with a slice of hardboiled egg. This tasted like an amazing homemade potato salad but all mashed up. The kind you keep going back for at a family bbq.
Anticucho – a slice of chorizo sandwiched between two pieces of beef on a skewer fresh off the bbq

Mains
– Costillar – pork with a little cumin. 
– Pamplona –
grilled stuff meat, in this case chicken stuffed with cheese and ham
– Lamb – Parrillada (South American BBQ) with a sprinkle of rosemary

 

Typing it all out, it looks like so much food and thankfully they were portioned out quite well and I left feeling fully satisfied without feeling like I needed to be rolled out of the restaurant. I was so pleasantly surprised by the last trio of delights that came out for dessert. I almost licked the plate clean.

Dessert
– Pineapple gelato – tangy, cool and perfectly garnished with golden piece of caramelised pineapple – I almost tried to steal Wes’ little piece after finishing mine. This gelato held the rest of the desserts well together giving that refreshing feeling after eating the two other creamy, sweet samples.
– Tres leche. Oh gosh, this moist sponge cake with layers of cream and other sweet goodness on top was just heaven. I will defnitely be ordering this all on its own next time I visit.
– Merengue lucuma. I popped my lucuma cherry with this bad boy of a dessert that consisted of a biscuit base topped with chocolate, topped with cream sweetened by lucuma. I was told by the friendly staff member doing the whisking that lucuma is also known as the “Gold of the Incas”. It is found in Peru and Ecuador and kinda looks like a mini avocado slash mango but tastes totally different. It is a natural low GI sweetener that is rich in antioxidants and has the same amount of calcium as a glass of cow’s milk according to this article. I was given a  teaspoon to try and it was sweet and tasted a little like dates. Hooked!

Cheese bread Latin Foods and Wine Melbourne restaurantsEntree Latin Foods & Wine Melbourne restaurantsThe Urban Ma food blogger MelbourneSouth American bbq Melbourne's west
dessert Melbourne restaurants Latin foods and wine
Melbourne's West South American restaurant
Whisking the lucuma into the cream
Kenny Consider the Sauce Latin Food & Wines Melbourne's WestKenny trying his hand at Latin kareoke? Heheh!
Latin Foods and WineI made my way over to the grill after our meal and this friendly guy gave me some pieces of different chorizo to try – I ended up buying some to take home for my dad.
Thank you Papa for looking after our kids while we went out for dinner!

Exterior Melbourne restaurant Melbourne Latin foods and wine
It was a great casual night out with the hubby and Kenny and a chance to hang out with some new and familiar faces including bloggers Maggie from They Call Me Maggie and Nat who I had met previously. And some new friends, Cassandra from Hungry Cookie, and Susan from Point Cook Dining and her friend Saba. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories about life, food and blogging!

Thank you to Kenny and Latin Foods and Wines for having us. With all the food so delicioso, warm-hearted service, music and entertainment, we had such a fun night out. The live dj made me want to get up and salsa! Latin Foods and Wines are open daily and have some popular lunch specials. Try the egg tart or fresh bread if you’re in a rush and if you have time to sit and relax, they have indoor and outdoor seating available.

Where: Latin Foods and Wines 809 Ballarat road, Deer Park
When: Open daily. Call them on or check their Facebook for the latest updates
Cuisine: South American

Buenas noches amigos and have a great week!

Date night excellence in Melbourne’s west – West of Kin

     Having a new addition to our family has brought both joy and sleepless nights but perhaps one of the biggest changes is that we’ve lost that time we used to have to ourselves. LifeBc (life before children) afforded us so much time to just sit and be, and while I wouldn’t change a thing, it was nice to finally have a date night again just us two after having baby number two.

A bright new addition to Melbourne’s restaurant scene in the west had just opened its doors and we were keen on enjoying an evening out somewhere new. West of Kin was the perfect choice with its high quality and sophisticated Asian fusion menu and ambiance. As soon as we were greeted by our waiter and placed our order we knew we were in for a treat.

  We ordered:

– Kelp cured kingfish, smoked oysters, chogochujang, viola
– Jiangxi style chicken bao (the hubby practically inhaled his bao it was so tasty!)
– Yunnan style lamb ribs, sesame seeds, sweet and sour soy lacquer (recommended by our waiter and it was one of our faves of the night)
– New style son in law egg, steamed rice, house made Kim chi mayonnaise
– Sichuan style beef tartare, fried shallot and garlic, quail yolk
– Quail terrine, raisin relish
And that was just to start!

– Master stock shredded duck, egg noodle, xo sauce, spring onion, coriander, chilli, fried quail eggs (By the time we finished this dish between the two of us we were both full!)
– spiced panna cotta, scorched fruit, saffron syrup
– Chocolate de lice, golden leaf, hazelnut crumble (a rich chocolate flavour but oh so good!)


We loved everything we picked and having ordered nearly everything on the menu.
We initially drove straight past West of Kin because as soon as I saw that the address was Lacy street, I remembered that this street was where my dad used to work and wanted to reach the end of the street. At the end of Lacy street is a big factory warehouse where Pilkington used to be located before moving to Laverton and then later closing their operations in Australia. I remember visiting my dad with my brother when I was small and seeing all the big machines and his workmates. At the end of the street there are sloping hills and a park and playground and I remember Pilkington holding a family Christmas party one year where we got to meet Santa and it was so much fun. Funny the memories that stay in your head!

After reaching the end of the road still not seeing number 17 anywhere, I finished my little trip down memory lane, and we did a u-turn and realised that West of Kin was actually located in the unassuming but esteemed building that  on the corner of Ballarat road and Lacy street.
  

  
  
Spot Kenny! We bumped into him as he was also dining there that night and you can check out his West of Kin experience here.
For now West of Kin is only open for dinner but we are told that they will extend their service to breakfast and lunch as they settle in. The courtyard would be a great place to dine and relax on a nice day. A much needed addition to this area, we can’t wait to come back for a drink or two and to taste the rest of the menu!

West of Kin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mama Mondays – Est 1906 A kid-friendly lazy afternoon

Est 1906 iced coffee MelbourneEst 1906 – 81 Charles st Seddon
Lazy Sunday afternoons with kids and cousins

Thank goodness for places like Est 1906 you can have it all – a nice cafe to catch up with friends, smooth coffee and good food, and somewhere where the kids are welcome. A couple of weeks ago we spent a Sunday afternoon hanging out with the cousins in the gorgeous outdoor area at the back of the cafe complete with a sandpit, beanbags and toys for the kids to play with.

We ordered:

– iced coffee, a range of juices
– roasted bone marrow
– chicken burger with sweet potato fries
– roasted bone marrow with sides
– salmon bagel
– kids meals of ham and cheese muffins
and a few more things that I forgot to snap

Est 1906 salmon bagel Melbourne

This was my second visit to Est 1906, both times with at least two or three0 toddlers accompanying us, and it won’t be my last. As more of friends pop out new additions to their families I will definitely be recommending them to this cafe that makes you feel so comfortable and at ease.

Est 1906 is also a great little place to dine without the kiddies as there are so many different seating areas you’re bound to find a space to suit the occassion 🙂

Est 1906 bone marrow MelbourneEst 1906 Chicken burger Melbourne burgersEst 1906 Chicken Burger Sweet potato friesEst 1906 kid friendly Melbourne cafesEst 1906 exterior Est 1906 interior 1 Est 1906 interior 2

Fusion lunch at Chu ManChu

   

Chumanchu – Cafe and Restaurant
2/4 Gilbert st, Preston

I’ve never really ventured out to eat in this side of town. My grandma, aunty and uncle live just off High street but since they’re such great bakers and really know how to smash out a spectacular home-cooked meal, we hardly need to check out the eateries in this area.

So when I had the chance to check out this Asian fusion place just off Bell street I was really excited (thanks for taking us out to this place Doan!). The collaboration between Nursing Mamas and Elk Accessories was the reason we took over one corner of this wonderfully styled restaurant. We sat down at the end of an all morning photo session to a fragrant and colorful spread of Asian dishes and can I just say straight out that the chicken satay skewers and its sauce were absolutely amazing! It was either that or I was just so hungry hehe! But seriously the satay sauce was a perfect blend of flavors that I wish they sold jars of them – I would’ve bought a whole box!

We Ordered:

– Fresh house made Rice Paper Rolls (we had the vegetarian and pork and prawn ones)
– Satay Chicken skewers served with Asian herbs and house made satay sauce (Oh so freakin’ good!)
– Vietnamese Spring Rolls
– Cappucino and Vietnamese iced coffee (the hubby had had two cappucinos! Must’ve been some smooth coffee)
– Com Tam Broken rice with grilled lamb steaks, marinated in lemongrass, Asian spices and topped with fried egg and Vietnamese kim chi
– Pho Viet rice noodle soup for the soul with free range chicken
– Warm black sticky rice with shaved coconut, milk and papaya (this looked so pretty and tasted just as nice! I’ll definitely be ordering this dessert when we visit this place again)

There are lots of other options on the menu such as green lentil dahl, Japanese okonomiyaki panckes and bircher muesli and other breakfast stars. Chumanchu is both stylish and welcoming at the same time. Perfect for a family lunch date, a romantic date or a coffee catch up with fellow mama friends. It is also kid-friendly and has a kids menu with lots of space for parents with prams to move around.

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Pinoy Fridays – Filipino dining in Melbourne, Occasions Restaurant

Filipino Barbie, Occasions Restaurant, William Angliss
March 7, 2014

For this week’s Pinoy Friday post, I wanted to share with you a flashback to early last year where we attended a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event in the city. Chef Sau del Rosario and Chef JP Anglos showcased a procession of timeless Filipino classics with their own little touch to a full house. It was so nice to see that the event was sold out and that the people of Melbourne were interested and willing to give Pinoy a go.

The below lists out the descriptions of each dish from the menu:

Cocktail – Luzviminda
Our pass around food represents the 3 main isalnds of the Philippines. Mini Tamales from Luzon which Spanish influence is very evident, the Ukoy with aoili is an influence from our Malay ancestors and the Fresh Oysters and use of ginger is the Chinese presence in our country.

Malunggay Pan De Sal & Butter

Filipino Barbie cocktail

Appetizer – Kare-Kare
A Filipino “fiesta” staple of braised oxtail simmered in peanut tasting sauce and annatto seeds, we stuffed this in a ravioli and drizzled with macadamia kare-kare sauce and truffle oil

Kare Kare Filipino Barbie 2014

Soup – Binakol
A traditional chiken soup cooked in coconut water, our soup is sous vide seasbass in coconut broth and served with fresh green papaya and candied ginger

Binakol Filipino Barbie 2014

Salad – Pinoy Salad
Grilled prawns marinated in coconut milk, karrif lime leaves and ginger and served on Asian greens and cilantro served with pineapple salsa

Pinoy Salad

Entree – Lechon
Traditionally a whole pig and roasted for 4 hours, we picked the best part of the lechon, “the pork belly” and we stuffed this with paella valencia, a rice dish we ingerited from our Spanish ancestors and formed a cripsy pork belly roulade served with French beans

Lechon Filipino Barbie 2014

Dessert – Halo-Halo
A Filipino favorite dessert all rolled in a spring roll (stuff with red beans, purple yam, coconut) and cut like sushi and topped with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with banana chips

Petit Fours – Filipino Petit Four
An espresso cup of Philippine chocolate tablea drink served with “pinipig”, Filipino crunchies, Uraro, Philippine cookies and Chocnut

Petit fours Filipino Barbie

Filipino dining William Angliss Melbourne