Monday, November 12, 2007

My new permanent resident status...

Sorry for the long absence peeps. Been wanting to post pics from the Perth trip, which got delayed for a few months...and then the L.A. trip happened, and pics and updates from that were also postponed for a couple of weeks...

So...I have decided to start with the easiest update of the lot - my recent trip to Melbourne.

I was granted an Australian PR a week before I left for L.A. in September. To complete the process, I had to make an initial entry into Australia by Dec 12th to “activate” my PR status. Hence, the mini-break. I hate to use the word “uneventful” to describe any kind of holiday, but this almost felt just like that. Perhaps it’s the first non-work related trip of the year, so it felt odd not having to be at a certain place at a certain time and having x amount of minutes for a quick bite in a new found café or browsing through the endless shelves at a bookstore.

What did I do then, you ask?
Indulged myself in devilishly delicious desserts whenever we got a chance. Ann and Kent took us (mum went with me) to a string of very nice cafés. And thanks to my sis, I am now proud to say that I have finally watched a production of The Phantom of The Opera onstage. I will no longer have to live that embarassment of not having seen it all these years.

Note: This is not by all means your guide to visiting Melbourne. I kind of did all that touristy stuff a few years ago when I was there to visit Ann - the penguin watch at Phillip Island, tea at Mount Dandenong, National Gallery of Victoria, etc. And there are lots more to explore! I was very laid back this time around about taking pictures during the trip. But here are some for your enjoyment - take note of the foodie comments!

Day 1: Arrived in Melbourne
Breakfast at Madame Sou Sou's, Brunswick Street



Ann took us to Madame Sou Sou's for breakfast. It's a small, cozy french café located on Brunswick Street. As we got closer to the area, Ann turned to mum and I and said, "I know this area looks really dodgy, but it isn't! It's safe" Think Santa Monica - 2nd and 4th Street...just quieter. I had a yummy eggs benedict and mum had that pizza looking egg thing above. It was tasty, just that the portion was too huge.

Crate&Barrel vs Wheel&Barrow
I couldn't have left without taking a picture of this. Specially for my American friends and Crate&Barrel fans (like moi). What in the freaking world is WHEEL&BARROW??? Check out the typeface. Lets not get started on the products (I had a peek through the window on Sunday before leaving Melbourne) - they resemble what you might find in C&B, just that C&B's got more varieties. I asked Ann if she's been in there, and she said yes. On top of that, she also asked on of the employees about the resemblance to C&B and the answer was, "Well, we were inspired by Crate&Barrel."

Right.



Day 2
Lunch @ BECCO
Do you like Italian food? Do you like fresh seafood? Are you game for something new?
This is a place you ought to visit even if you're on a 3-day trip to Melbourne. I came across BECCO in the lonelyplanet guide book and decided to give it a try, especially since it's a 3-minute walk to The Princess Theatre where we were headed to after lunch.

This chic and trendy restaurant/bar is located on Crossley Street (a block away from Chinatown and His Majesty's Theatre) - a small lane on the side of Crossley Hotel. Being the fish lover I am, I ordered the grilled King Whiting. It was super yummy - seafood at its freshest, grilled to perfection, and with each bite the juiciness and tenderness of the flesh will keep you craving for more!


Pictures from visitvictoria.com.au and mettias.com

The Phantom of the Opera
@ The Princess Theatre
Caught the matinee performance of Cameron MacKintosh's touring production of Phantom directed by Harold Prince with Anthony Warlow playing the lead. Fantastic performances by the cast.




We passed His Majesty's Theatre on our way to lunch.


One of the many artsy installations at Southbank; Shoppers' paradise along Elizabeth, Bourke, Little Bourke and Swanston Streets (we stayed in a service apartment property called Somerset at Elizabeth - great location, everything's within walking distance; tram stop just outside)

Desserts @ Bernetti's
After bowls of hot and tasty Vietnamese noodles for dinner, we headed off to Bernetti's for a cup of java and something sweet. After what it felt like 15 minutes of trying to decide what to get, I ended up with a chocolate-raspberry cake.




Yum...; Like Mother Like Daughter? - any resemblance?

Day 3
Queen Victoria's Market
I have a thing for markets. Flea markets, outdoor markets, night markets, whatever market...and on some ocassions - even our Malaysian wet markets (and by this I only mean if they have stalls of yummy nasi lemak, chee cheong fun and yau char kuai).

I fell in love with the QV indoor market. This is your everyday pasar in an air conditioned building. Very European looking with rows and rows of little shops selling a variety of cheese, meats, breads, ingredients, antipasto, you name it, they've got it. I think I'm in love with the aesthetics of this place more than anything else. It makes an instant noodle chef champion feel like a sous chef. You want to cook up a storm just because you feel like buying stuff.






There is a second and third section to this market - this is where you'd find fresh seafood, poultry, meats, fruits and such. Miraculously it doesn't smell one bit (with the exception of the goat meat area). Mum and I were salivating over the scallops and oysters.

"Low fat" minced meat??? (click on the picture for a bigger version)


The outdoor market where there are hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling Aussie souvenirs, arts and crafts, clothing and accessories, homewares, etc. resembled most of the other markets (hence I didn't take any pictures). If you're looking for souvenir tees, you can be sure to find something here at bargain prices. We bought 2 paintings from a local artist - will post a picture another time.

Here are some pics of an Australian specialty store selling rock candy. These rock candies make great gifts for anyone with a sweet tooth. They're tasty and very pretty to look at.




Federation Square - Melbourne's Meeting Place
We trotted off to Federation Square, Melbourne's "public hub, imbued with a healthy cultural heart" (lonelyplanet). There is a variety of cultural activities one can be engaged in in this one-block square in the city centre. The building facade is made out of 3 different materials: sandstone, zinc - perforated and solid, and glass. Some of the highlights aside from the architecture of the buildings themselves are ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) where interesting screenings of shorts, films, etc. from all over the world are screened from time to time; National Design Centre that showcases Australian designs; Australian Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.






ACMI


Courtyard performances are a hit!

Lunch at Chocolate Buddha @ Fed Square
This place serves organic Japanese cuisine. Didn't venture into anything exciting here. Probably too tired after all that walking in the morning. Nice atmosphere though.





Fresh sashimi


Passed Flinders Street Station on our way to Fed Square

Max Brenner's Chocolate
HEAVEN ON EARTH. Becareful not to start drooling at the sight of the desserts when placing orders. Apparently there's an outlet in Singapore...so for those of you cocoa fans out there, hunt that place down next time you're there. I love how they serve the hot beverages in these "Hug Mugs" which are cacao bean shaped mugs (see picture below).





Clockwise from top: Strawberry waffle; chocolate souffle - you literally feel the thick creamy milky chocolate melting in your mouth; this little chocolate number was delivered by mistake to our table..I have no idea what it is or how it's meant to be eaten but it sure looks good; my special hot chocolate with a hint of toffee flavour.

If you're looking for interesting gifts for a chocolate lover, check out their online store (products also available at outlets). Pics from http://www.maxbrenner.com/



Dinner @ Ragazzi Italian Restaurant
Tiny place filled with tables slightly more than a couple of feet apart. Reservations recommended. Great pasta selection.
I can't remember what the first one's called - got to check - it was very good; Tiramisu


Day 4 was spent shopping.

Day 5
Breakfast @ Gingerlee
Click on Gingerlee for a review of it in The Age newspaper, Australia.


I was adventurous and decided to go with something I've never had before:
Syrian style french toast with orange blossom syrup, honey labne, stewed rhubard and pistachios. Definitely an interesting mix of sweet and sour.
The toast was yummy with the syrup and pistachios.

New home
And introducing the new home of Ann and Kent. Interesting layout with little nooks here and there, very cosy. Especially loved the "family room" with the piano and a single arm chair in the corner...and not forgetting the peanut seat as well. They're still in the midst of decorating and such...it's a never ending process when it comes to a new home.


Living room, dining & kitchen, family room


Backyard - think they may need a bbq set to complete the picture

Domesticated. (She's going to kill me for posting this pic - but I like it. hah)


Thanks for the great hospitality, guys!
And that concludes my 5-day trip to Melbourne. I was updating dad about our daily activities via sms while we were there. On the 3rd day, he sent me a msg that read "You are a PR now but act like a tourist", to which I replied, "It will take me years to feel like a PR in here, so therefore I am still a tourist."

No, I am not moving to Australia anytime soon in case you are wondering. :)

More soon, promise!

4 comments:

RC said...

yup you and your mum kidna look alike more than your sister

CHARIS said...

Seems like you had a whale of a time! Hope that we can to meet up this time around when I get back in two weeks time, yah!

Seah said...

Gosh! Didnt knw u hv a blog like this!!! :)
SO "ADMIRE" u guys with so much energy & interest in writing a blog & posting all the photos & else... Am kinda interested in doing so, bt DAMN! am so lazy!!! Haha...

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