• “I’ve heard a lot about Claypots, but never tried it. I think it’s Asian,” she quipped as we walked through their door. She wasn’t necessarily right on that account, nor was she completely wrong.

    Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda

    “I’ve heard a lot about Claypots, but never tried it. I think it’s Asian,” she quipped as we walked through their door. She wasn’t necessarily right on that account, nor was she completely wrong.

  • The SO organised a little getaway to the Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa Gold Coast for the two of us after my tour of duty for the year, and what better place to have breakfast than the Providore Marina Mirage across the street.

    Providore at the Gold Coast Marina Mirage

    The SO organised a little getaway to the Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa Gold Coast for the two of us after my tour of duty for the year, and what better place to have breakfast than the Providore Marina Mirage across the street.

  • Moray Café is an institution in the New Farm area and has had a lick of paint quite recently.

    Breakfast at Moray Cafe

    Moray Café is an institution in the New Farm area and has had a lick of paint quite recently.

  • We had been trying to organise a get-together for much of the year, but something always got in the way. We were finally able to lock something in to sample Brisbane’s two hatted restaurant, Urbane.

    Urbane’s 8 course omnivore degustation

    We had been trying to organise a get-together for much of the year, but something always got in the way. We were finally able to lock something in to sample Brisbane’s two hatted restaurant, Urbane.

  • he upside to getting poked and prodded with needles all day (my left arm was covered in cotton ball, medical tape and bandaids) was that the SO was willing to take me anywhere for lunch to boost my sorry spirits. I took advantage of the situation to suggest visiting Chur Burger and didn’t even have to sell him the fact that their burgers are only AUD$10 each.

    Chur Burger in Fortitude Valley

    he upside to getting poked and prodded with needles all day (my left arm was covered in cotton ball, medical tape and bandaids) was that the SO was willing to take me anywhere for lunch to boost my sorry spirits. I took advantage of the situation to suggest visiting Chur Burger and didn’t even have to sell him the fact that their burgers are only AUD$10 each.

  • When a Japanese person recommends a Japanese eatery, you better sit up and pay attention – or at least I certainly did, especially since this was a recommendation for yakitori. And what’s not to love about little skewers of BBQed meats?

    Samurais Paradise on the Gold Coast

    When a Japanese person recommends a Japanese eatery, you better sit up and pay attention – or at least I certainly did, especially since this was a recommendation for yakitori. And what’s not to love about little skewers of BBQed meats?

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Claypots Seafood Bar, St Kilda

We never meant to go to Claypots Seafood Bar, but our original dinner plan in St Kilda was packed to the rafters and there was at least a 15 minute wait. Conscious that being a diabetic meant I would have to wait 2 hours to test my glucose levels after a meal, we decided to take our chances and wander the area to find something sooner, when a signboard caught my colleague’s eye.

“I’ve heard a lot about Claypots, but never tried it. I think it’s Asian,” she quipped as we walked through their door.

She wasn’t necessarily right on that account, nor was she completely wrong.

The décor was quite simple and almost bordering on tacky with the paper mache octopus looming overhead as we grabbed a booth seat. Our seats were more duct tape than cushioning and probably deserved to be put out of its misery, but it somehow added to the place’s rustic charm.

Claypots Seafood Bar is a celebration of everything from the sea, with its bounty of fresh seafood displayed behind a chiller window awaiting its ultimate fate on the grill in a range of spices and sauces. While there are menus, it was best to study the mounted blackboards for the day’s offering or to simply ask the staff to help.

Claypots Seafood Bar

One such lady took us under her wing and steered us clear from their claypot menu – “They’re nothing special”, she said as she flapped a hand like she was swatting a fly and directed us to what Claypots Seafood Bar truly prided themselves on. She got us up to the chiller window and described some of the ways each of the fish might be prepared and recommended for our company of four to order an entrée of prawns (one each) and two whole fish. We were sold.

Claypots Seafood Bar

Claypots Seafood Bar

Claypots Seafood Bar

Granted at AUD$10 a piece, the tiger prawns were extremely pricey as an entrée, as you could probably get large tiger prawns for $30 a kilo over the Christmas season. But would you get them cooked in garlic and served with crusty bread to soak up all the prawn oil and juices? Probably not.

I pitched to our company the sheer joy of properly prepared stingray. Despite the abundance and notorious nature of these cartilaginous fish, one rarely sees it on the Australian menu and I really wanted them to try it. A colleague once related how he had thrown a stingray back into the water on a fruitless fishing trip and I wailed in horror that he could’ve enjoyed a perfectly succulent dinner on the muscular flaps.

Claypots Seafood Bar

Sambal stingray. AUD$20

Grilled with a thick sambal paste of ginger and garlic, Claypots Seafood Bar’s interpretation on this commonly available Southeast Asian dish was a delightful effort. Not being too spicy in the heat department, everyone was able to enjoy the flesh, which one member of our table described to be almost as plump and firm as chicken. The complexity of the spicy dish was relieved by a simple blanched bak choy and an upturned bowl of white rice.

Claypots Seafood Bar

Cajun flathead. AUD$40/45/55/60

Our second dish might not win any beauty pageants, but who needs looks when you have a stunningly delicious whole flathead cooked in Cajun spices begging to be ravaged by all at the table? We literally picked the whole thing clean and were not the least bit apologetic about the sheer lack of decorum in doing so – mostly by me sucking at every morsel. This dish was served with the same blanched bak choy and thickly sliced potatoes.

By the end of the meal, there wasn’t a doubt in our minds Claypots Seafood Bar is an amazing eatery, well suited to those who adore fresh seafood in all its incarnations and don’t mind it staring back at you. As we walked past the chiller window to leave, much of the seafood had already disappeared into the waiting maw of diners who had filled the eatery. But be warned: Claypots Seafood Bar isn’t cheap (but when is great seafood ever cheap?), so be well prepared to fork out the dough.

Claypots Seafood & Wine on Urbanspoon

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Providore at the Gold Coast Marina Mirage

The SO organised a little getaway to the Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa Gold Coast for the two of us after my tour of duty for the year, and what better place to have breakfast than the Providore Marina Mirage across the street.

In fact, it is still so good, we went twice.

Breakfast at Providore at the Marina Mirage

Slow cooked marinated field mushrooms with tomato water, silverbeet, aged cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs with olive ciabatta. AUD$16.50

Breakfast at Providore at the Marina Mirage

Scrambled eggs with chorizo with smoked chilli oil, butter poached potato and dried cherry tomato served with sourdough toast. AUD$16

Breakfast at Providore at the Marina Mirage

Ham hock and bean cassoulet with merquez sausage, sauteed kale, fried egg, confit garlic and herb foccacia. AUD$17.50

Breakfast at Providore at the Marina Mirage

Buttermilk pancake with banana and rum compote, whipped cinnamon butter and homemade coconut yoghurt. AUD$15

These are the breakfasts worth rolling out of bed for. Check out our first visit to Providore in 2013!

 

Providore Marina Mirage on Urbanspoon

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Flying business class with Virgin airlines

I am admittedly an airline snob. Having flown with a number of airlines, I have developed a strong preference for Singapore Airlines and Emirates (Eithad is also a close contender) as an international carrier and Virgin for domestic.

But I have always flown cattle class and don’t have any qualms about it.

Nonetheless when the SO got an announcement that Virgin and Singapore Airlines were strengthening the ties between their respective frequent-flyer programs, Velocity and KrisFlyer, by allowing members to convert miles or points between the two loyalty schemes, he jumped on it. We had accumulated a few KrisFlyer points, but with Bubby on the way, we weren’t going to be flying international any time soon.

After converting his KrisFlyer points, he used them to upgraded our Virgin flights to and from Melbourne to business class as a special treat.

Trust the SO to make Bubby’s first flight a business class one.

20141130VirginBusinessClass01

Look at how much leg room we got! Even stretched down in my seat, my legs still couldn’t touch the other side. It did make for some awkward maneuvering to reach the magazine pocket once I was buckled in.

Entertainment-wise, we relied on our own iPads, which we had already installed the Virgin app to access their wire-less entertainment. In that sense, nothing was different. Their movie selection was quite decent – I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and 12 years a slave (2013).

Not only did we get drinks served prior to taxi-ing onto the runway, we had an excellent choice of breakfast. On offer was a burnt fig and cinnamon almond toasted muesli or the bacon, mushroom, spinach and goats curd omelette. I chose the omelette (lovely crisp edges) and was surprised by the arrival of 2 croissants and passionfruit yoghurt that came with it. And the adorable tiny salt and pepper shakers. 20141130VirginBusinessClass02

20141130VirginBusinessClass03

20141130VirginBusinessClass04

20141130VirginBusinessClass05Two happy customers! I could definitely get used to travelling this way.

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Back to normality

Sky between Brisbane and Melbourne

My tour of duty is now over for another year. This year has lacked much of last year’s chaos, which was a very pleasant welcomed change. Maybe after 6 years, we’re finally getting things right and meeting most of our audiences’ expectations.

It’s the first year we managed to secure more than 2 female speakers.

I can count the number of times people asked us for free wifi with one hand.

We sold out in 2 of the 3 cities.

We received a record number of volunteer applications in Brisbane, but we’ll have to do better in Melbourne and Sydney.

I am immensely grateful to the ladies (and gents) who made up the team this year.
And to the people and companies who supported the events.
And the attendees who came over to say ‘hello’ and have a chat with me at the desk.

I love being a part of this community!

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Heading to Melbourne

IMG_8284.JPG

It’s that time of year again, when work ramps up and I head to the east coast’s capital cities for conference work.

Except this year is slightly different, because I’ll only be in Melbourne and Brisbane. I’ve had to pull out of my participation from the Sydney leg on my doctor’s advice, which is a bummer. I’m one of the very lucky individuals who can sleep on planes and just wake up at the destination, so travel is usually very enjoyable.

Nonetheless, I best enjoy the time in Melbourne while I can. Once I return, I’ll be grounded till Bub is ready to fly.

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