Sunday, June 27, 2010

Plenty of vegetables and walking

This arvo over lunch, Xin Wen asked if I was turning vegetarian. I shook my head and gave a negative response. She was worried that I was. Don't really blame her, as I have been frequenting vegetarian places more recently.

Yesterday was a green day for me. I am trying to make it a point to have vegetarian every 1st and 15th day of the lunar month, like Mum - she does it with so much discipline. Therefore, when we were at Naggy's, I decided to order something that did not have meat. I was thrilled to see something actually 'vegetarian' on the Specials board. Take a guess which it was that I ordered...

Yes, I ordered the last dish on the board, the Mediterranean vegetable lasagna served with crisp salad:

The salad looked great, despite the scary onions:

I recommended the french toast to Alex, which he actually did order:

He ordered the same thing I normally order, which was the one with the citrus butter and berry compote:

We then searched for the temple in Glebe. Literally, we searched and what was worse was that I could not even recall the name of the temple! Good thing Alex used his brain and went into the Glebe Library to check online. We found out the name and address of the well-hidden temple:

Typical of most Chinese temples, the 112-year-old Sze Yup Temple had an arch gate with a pair of guardian lions:

With the smell of burning incense obvious from round the corner, it was delightful to see the temple for myself.

It reminded me very much of home, as the temple resembled those in Penang and Melaka - long and narrow divided into several sections serving different purposes.

From there, we walked to the University of Sydney, as Alex has not seen the newer buildings. We cut across to Newtown, where I went to Holy Sheet! to buy a new olive green sheet. Feeling tired, we took a bus back to the city and made a stop at QVB to look at watches. I saw one at Swatch, which I really liked but hm, we'll see if it will become mine.

Next stop was the Sony Centre in World Square. Alex wanted to check out the new camera, which they did not have. Thus, we walked over to Ted's, where he had a fiddle with it. I felt that he was not really keen after having a feel of it but I am sure he would know what to do after reading up more about the pros and cons of it by other users.

Having no where to go before dinner time, we had a stroll at Darling Harbour and a small tete-a-tete. It made me think of how our friendship is and it would be interesting to see what it would be like as time progresses. After enough talking and watching the world pass us by, we headed over to our designated dinner venue, Peace Harmony.

A vegetarian Thai restaurant with a fresh light green facade and a calming Buddhist chant playing in the background, it is not hard to tell why this small establishment would be full.

We opted to sit at the back of the shop, in a corner. I quite enjoyed the food we ordered, which were a bowl of tom yum soup, which was very sour...

...and a main dish of Pad Prik Khing:

I totally recommend this dish! The sauce, fragrant with lemongrass strips mixed in a tangy, slightly spicy peanut sauce just opens up your taste buds! The only downside to dinner was how the two waitresses had to run around the whole shop, serving everyone. It took them a while to hand us our takeaway box but I would not mind going again to try their other dishes.

Who's up for more vegetarian cuisine in two weeks?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

PappaRoti Kogarah

It has been a very long time since I last woke up that early. I think it was the first time I woke up that early for work. The last time I remember waking up at that time was for my trip to Guangzhou last June. Gosh, nearly a year ago!

I was up at 4:45am. My train was at 5:40am, which I took to Redfern for a change to Kogarah. I diligently and surprisingly, alertly read the article that I brought along, even scribbling notes. I had my breakfast shake at Redfern while waiting at the platform.

Simon and David were already at the shop. After I put my bag down, Junda stepped in and handed me my new gear. He went through briefly what I was to do and for that morning, I was in charge of piping:

Took me a while to get my spirals looking not too bad.

Standing next to the oven was great because of the warmth it provided and also the smell of these handsome buns!

The other job I had was to stand in front of the shop to hand out flyers to passers-by. Melissa and I took turns at that, but I was outside more than I was inside.

Jenny, I do not know how you managed to withstand the piercing cold wind! Salute!

I left at 11:15am to catch a train to class. I brought some of our trademark buns to treat my friends and...

... didn't they love it!

I think I would have to bring more next week - I take that as a good sign but they were lamenting how far Kogarah is from everyone. Yes, yes, we are trying to look for a place in the city or nearby so fingers crossed!

I arrived back at the shop at 2:30pm and could see Jenny waving at me from afar. She was talking to Edward and introduced the both of us. My tasks in the arvo were more inside - helped Lisa at the back with filling the piping bags with topping, defrosting the dough, transferring dough from the freezer room to the cool room to the trays to the trolleys........ yea, long process. But if that long process would bring in queues like this, it is all worth it!

I had a good time talking to David, the barista, getting to know him a little better. Speaking of which, you have to eat these buns with coffee! We serve Scared Grounds organic coffee and they are a fabulous combination!

Come try out our buns - no harm right? They have a great mocha topping with a buttery-filling, which is halal and easy to bring along. No harm trying, right? But if you ask me, I would say you would love them!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Set a date in your calendar!

Okay people, listen up!

If you have been observant, you would have noticed that I have a red little rectangle in my sidebar. If you were inquisitive enough to have clicked it, you would already know what this post is all about. For those of you still in the dark, shame on you... haha..

Anyways, being the nice person that I am, you are forgiven. Let me fill you in...

The very first PappaRoti outlet is opening in Australia! Woohoo!!!

All thanks to Junda and his mates for making this happen. Tomorrow is the grand opening and guess what - they are giving out FREE buns the entire day. Yes, FREE! No conditions attached. After tomorrow until Sunday, the promotion is that you would get one bun free when you buy one bun.

These buns are delicious - crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. Add the aromatic coffee smell of the topping and you would get a fabulous Malaysian-made Mexican bun! No wonder they could sell up to 5000 buns a day in Jusco!

No, I am not uploading photos here of the bun because you have to go see it for yourself. Buy it, try it, taste it and I would know that you are lying if you do not like it (unless you are not a bun or coffee person).

The shop is located in Kogarah, which is along the South Coast/Illawarra train line. From the exit/entrance of the train station, turn right and walk straight down after crossing the road. Here, a graphic illustration for your convenience:

Grab a pen, write it down in your diary! Grab your phone and set it in your reminders!

Congratulations to Junda and team! Wishing you guys an exciting and fruitful journey ahead!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

South Coast Saturday

My day started early on Saturday. The last time I had an early start was last month when I followed Xin Wen to work. If not for trackworks on the Northern Line, I could have had another 15 minutes worth of sleep (or bed lazing). Instead of taking the complimentary bus service to Strathfield Station, I decided to take a walk. I am glad I did, as I found out it takes only 40 minutes to get there on foot.

My 9:06am train to Central was unusually empty. Perhaps it was a long weekend? I arrived at Central with plenty of time to make the connecting train on Platform 14 to the South Coast. Just look at how deserted the station was when I was there that morning... big contrast to its weekday bustling form, eh?

Recalling what Alex said about the coastal scenery, I decided to read my book during the first half of the train ride. Coincidentally, when I finished the first section of the book that consisted 7 chapters, the view changed from suburban rooftops to unending blue. The snapshots from my window seat reminded me of my Taiwan coastal bus ride last year...

A happy face greeted me when I alighted the train at Fairy Meadow. Also, I was welcome with warm sunshine and friendly breezes. My new coat remains unworn due to the lovely weather - it was in the backseat throughout the trip.

I was taken for a car ride through the main campus of the University of Wollongong (UOW). I came away impressed with the greenery of the campus. Like my uni, they have a new medical centre for research purposes, too.

The clear weather prompted Alex to make Mount Keira Lookout our first stop.

As his uni is located at the foot of the mountain, they bring students up to the top as one of the activities during orientation. With Keira meaning large lagoon or high mountain in Indigenous Australian, it lies 4 kilometres northwest of Wollongong city and forms part of the Illawarra escarpment. Here, let the pictures show you what I saw from up there:

Yes, that is a lighthouse in the last picture. Alex pointed out the Innovation Campus and was trying to look for the temple but due to the trees that obviously grow taller every year, he was not able to locate the temple. We were, however, able to trace out the Princes Highway or Highway 1, the main highway linking all the major cities of Australia.

We then proceeded to Nan Tien Temple for lunch. As it was the first day of the fifth lunar month, I wanted to observe my practice of having a vegetarian meal. I was glad that the Dining Hall was open for business, as the last time I came, it was shut. Similar to the Chatswood branch, they too served a set lunch meal for $9.

For that day, the meal consisted of your choice of either white rice or fried noodles with vegetarian chicken with potato and Chinese cabbage curry and green vegetables.

There were side servings of two pieces of fruit and tempura vegetables.

We were also allowed to take our own serving of salad.

It was funny how I had a piece of orange and pineapple each while Alex had 2 slices of orange.

It was funnier when he bit into the second piece of orange and said, "It's not the same orange!"

Chinese tea was free-flow but we did not take any. And, the below picture shows the common practice at most vegetarian eateries:

Exploring the temple grounds ensued after the meal. The pagoda was a must and I let Alex show me the way.

Halfway, Alex thought it would be a better idea for me to exercise more and so we did a detoured hike up the hill...

... to see the Nan Tien Gratitude Bell...

After deciding not to sound the bell (haha, I have no gratitude), we continued down the path towards the pagoda.

The pagoda functions as a resting place for the cremated ashes of devotees and their relatives. Inside, I paid my respects to the Buddha, lighted an incense and then headed towards the car.

Our drive to Hyams Beach was an earful - my nano was plugged in and so you can imagine all the singing and head bobbing (mostly on my part) that entailed. The journey was broken by a short toilet stop in the historic township of Huskisson in the Jervis Bay Territory. This is where you would want to come to if you are interested in dolphin or whale-watching - they have resident dolphins!

The GPS took us through the long way to Hyams Beach. Walking on the beach made me tell myself never to wear my pair of Croc flats to a beach ever again. Have a look at what happened after I spent time admiring the whiteness of the sand:

Reported to be the whitest sand on the world by Guinness World Records, it was a case of seeing is believing when I shook the sand out of my shoes:

While we still had sunlight, we drove to Green Patch:

While walking from the carpark to the beach, we came across this:

I thought it looked strange - it is a waterfall but the road does not stop there.... so....

... it took a vehicle to drive through it to demonstrate to me that it forms part of the road. How clever! The national parks in Malaysia could learn a thing or two from this!

Munching on some food at the side of the boardwalk was this little guy:

Honestly, if you asked me, I thought the sand here was better than the sand over at Hyams - finer and whiter. It was sunset when we were there:

Chasing the orange sun in far yonder, we headed back to Alex's for dinner. Meeting his brother and sister for the first time in person, it felt slightly weird. Even more so when it was just introductory and for a few minutes (do not think it was even for half an hour). All in all, I returned to Sydney a tired but happy person.

Recalling the glistening linings of the clouds of sunset, I wondered during the train ride home if a new leaf is being turned over. Like how the calm of night turns the crispness of day, how winter seaps into the autumn air, how exciting beginnings unknowingly kidnap bitter endings...