• Ribs & Burgers recently hit the James Street scene and hasn't stopped the tongues waggling since. Not to be left out, the SO and I trooped down to check them out for a weekend lunch.

    Ribs & Burgers on James Street

    Ribs & Burgers recently hit the James Street scene and hasn’t stopped the tongues waggling since. Not to be left out, the SO and I trooped down to check them out for a weekend lunch.

  • Malaya Corner has three locations in Brisbane, but we have only ever dropped into their city store - usually for a quick dinner when we have a craving for Asian to tide us over till the next appointment later in the evening.

    Malaya Corner in the city

    Malaya Corner has three locations in Brisbane, but we have only ever dropped into their city store – usually for a quick dinner when we have a craving for Asian to tide us over till the next appointment later in the evening.

  • When Domino’s announced the launch of their new pulled pork range of pizzas, I knew this one is up our alley. What's even better is they come in their chef's best range. Score!

    Domino’s Pulled Pork pizza range

    When Domino’s announced the launch of their new pulled pork range of pizzas, I knew this one is up our alley. What’s even better is they come in their chef’s best range. Score!

  • Saturday morning breakfasts with friends Luke and Amanda are becoming a thing, and on this weekend, we hit up Anouk in Paddington.

    Anouk

    Saturday morning breakfasts with friends Luke and Amanda are becoming a thing, and on this weekend, we hit up Anouk in Paddington.

  • When I first heard about Ramen Champion, I was excited. I thought it might be similar to Singapore’s Ultimate Ramen Champion, which I really enjoyed for the variety and sheer amazingness of the ramen available. Unfortunately this was not to be and here’s why.

    Ramen Champion

    When I first heard about Ramen Champion, I was excited. I thought it might be similar to Singapore’s Ultimate Ramen Champion, which I really enjoyed for the variety and sheer amazingness of the ramen available. Unfortunately this was not to be and here’s why.

  • Spicers Balfour Hotel is a bit of a black sheep. The Spicers name is well known for luxury accommodation, with […]

    Breakfast at the Balfour Kitchen

    Spicers Balfour Hotel is a bit of a black sheep. The Spicers name is well known for luxury accommodation, with […]

Latest Posts
1

Necessity forces me out of procrastination

I usually have a million projects lined up in my head to get round to, but there never seems to be enough time to get any of them done. Then once in a blue moon, I get restless or necessity forces me out of procrastination – I knuckle down to churn out a couple of things.

I haven’t left Australia in a couple of years and didn’t realize my passport expired. When I was issued a new one, I went hunting for passport holders. I didn’t find anything I liked, so I followed this tutorial to make my own with some fabric I picked up when we were in Tokyo 5 years ago. Being a fabric hoarder has its perks.

Passport holder

Make your own with this tutorial

Then our clothes peg basket died. We had been using a white plastic waste basket I bought from Ikea some 10 years ago, but the plastic started disintegrating to the point it cannot hold the pegs anymore. I got desperate, but didn’t want to trek all the way to Ikea to pick up a new one.

Plus we don’t really need more plastic in our lives, so I did a bit of research and found this adorable clothes peg tutorial. An hour, a spare clothes hanger and leftover fabric from my circle skirt phase later, we have a new clothes peg holder that I think is ridiculously adorable.

Clothes peg holder

Make your own with this tutorial

What projects have you lined up?

1

What’s in a name? Please, just call me Melissa.

Image by and some rights reserved by Robert Occhialini (Flickr)

Image by and some rights reserved by Robert Occhialini (Flickr)

Like many Singaporean Chinese, my parents gave me an English name as well as a Chinese name at birth.

The practice is quite common and this has never been an issue back in Singapore, where most people are quite familiar with this type of naming convention and know that ordinarily, one’s English name is usually predominantly used and is often referred to as the ‘first name’, no matter where it’s positioned in official documents.

However since moving to Australia, my Chinese name has caused more trouble than it should.

Many organisations insist on listing my Chinese name as my first name and my English name as my middle name. Which doesn’t really matter until someone who doesn’t know how to pronounce it tries to call me.

Imagine being in a doctor’s office and not realising the nurse is calling, because instead of saying “way Lee” (it’s spelt Wei Li), it sounds like “WHY ee” or “Whee Lee”. And yes, I can see the awkwardness and pain of trying to work out how to spit those words out written all over their faces.

The thing is my English name is written right next to my Chinese one. I’ve seen it on every form and yet Australians don’t seem to want to take this bone my parents have thrown them and use it.

Of course this is just a minor annoyance compared to how this affects my employment, tax returns and just about every official document I have in this country.

Please, just call me Melissa.

1

Ribs & Burgers on James Street

Ribs & Burger

Ribs & Burgers recently hit the James Street scene and hasn’t stopped the tongues waggling since. Not to be left out, the SO and I trooped down to check them out for a weekend lunch.

Ribs & Burger

Ribs & Burger

Ribs & Burger - Onion rings. AUD$5

Onion rings. AUD$5

The first order item to hit the table was the onion rings and I was smacked with disappointment. What was supposed to be crisp rings of golden brown sitting in the paper didn’t even look like rings. Instead they resembled a heap of tiny shavings – or if you’re familiar with Japanese cuisine, Tenkasu (天かす) literally meaning ‘tempura refuse’. Those are the little bits of tempura batter that broke away when frying up tempura and is sometimes used as a flavoring ingredient and a garnish. There was the flavor of onions in the mix, but honestly I wouldn’t order this one again nor recommend it.

Ribs & Burger - Cajun chicken burger. AUD$14

Cajun chicken burger. AUD$14

At least the main stars performed better. The Cajun chicken burger might not look as large as some burger joints’, but the chicken fillet was juicy and moist. The inside of the bun was also slightly toasted, though the bottom of my bun arrived soggy from all the chicken’s juices.

Ribs & Burger - Beef ribs with chips. AUD$27

Beef ribs with chips. AUD$27

But the most impressive was the SO’s beef ribs with chips. The portion was MASSIVE! I do not recommend tackling this monster board, unless you have been starved the whole day (preferably two days), a hardcore carnivore looking to reduce the bovine population singlehandedly or willing to share with your dining companions (with their permission of course).

The slab arrived on a bed of regular chips (you have the option of salad if you want to at least TRY to be healthy) and was liberally coated in Ribs & Burgers‘ smoky sauce, which I found a little on the sweet side.

Ribs & Burgers also offers a condiment station with a range of other sauces you can choose from, including wholegrain mustard and Tabasco. Not bad if you like to turn up the heat.

Ribs & Burgers on Urbanspoon

1

The Hundred Foot Journey movie vs book review

Disclaimer: We attended the preview screening of The Hundred Foot Journey as invited guests of Shout Communications, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Event Cinema Carindale

The SO and I were recently invited to watch a preview screening of The Hundred Foot Journey at Event Cinema Carindale. As part of the experience, we were ushered into the Event Cinemas Vmax. The Vmax cinema is licensed and there was a little bar behind the regular snack area, so you can order your beverage (they have a selection of wines, beers and soft drink) and popcorn right before heading into the theatre. We got a complimentary beverage and small salty popcorn each to enjoy the movie with, which was a very nice touch.

But what I loved about the Event Cinemas Vmax was how comfy the seats were. Nothing annoys me more than a cinema seat where the stuffing has gotten so old, my butt presses into the hard chair frame. These chairs were roomy and I could’ve curled up with my legs tucked under if I wanted.  Also Event Cinemas Vmax is allocated seating, so you get to choose your viewing position and not worry about the stampede and having to sit through the commercials.

You also got lots of elbow room – enough for everyone to rest their elbows if they wanted. And there was a little table top extended from the arm rest for your box of popcorn and a cup holder for your drink. If you want to watch one of those super epic trilogy type movies or treat yourself, I think Event Cinemas Vmax is the way to go.

Now onto the movie review!

The Hundred Foot Journey movie is an American comedy-drama film based on the novel The Hundred-Foot Journey written by Richard C. Morais. It is currently airing in cinemas across Brisbane.

If you haven’t read the book, then the movie is quite a delightful experience brought together by producers Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. It’s hard to imagine anything but amazing entertainment from this trio. The screenplay is much more focused on the relationships between the characters than the culinary journey undertaken by the lead Hassan Kadam (played by Manish Dayal) from his native colourful India to the small sleepy French town of Lumière. There was enough play on the French and Indian stereotypes, but not that was in any way offensive – a delicate balance that is appreciated in our increasingly PC world.

Helen Mirren’s French accent as the snobby-antagonist-turned-mentor Madame Mallory isn’t consistent, but it doesn’t detract from the story. In fact, the Kadam family have more than enough authentic accent to make up for any lack elsewhere. The movie was ultimately a feel-good movie about ethnic harmony between two extreme cultures – the hot vibrant no-holds barred Indian culture and the cool refinement of the French – and was reflected in the blossoming relationship between Hassan and Mallory’s sous chef Marguerite, as well as Madame Mallory and Hassan’s hilariously cheeky father, Papa.

However, if you have read the novel upon which the movie is based, you might come away with quite a different impression. It is understandable that there are severe limitations in fitting the contents of a novel into 122 minutes, but the differences made it quite jarring.

 

*** SPOILER ALERT START ***

Novel vs Movie Difference 1: Hassan’s family name

In the novel, the family name is Haji. In the movie, it’s Kadam.

Now this might seem minor, but the novel emphasises the family being Muslim – in fact, the reason the family moved to Europe in the first place was due to the Muslim and Hindu tensions in India – whereas the origins of the name ‘Kadam’ are Hindu. Why did the movie producers and screenplay writer feel the need to change the family name? Did they expect that American audiences would not identify with a lead Muslim character and his family without association to Islamic fundamentalism? If so, then the purpose of the movie portraying ethnic harmony between cultures seems a little less authentic.

 

Novel vs Movie Difference 2: How Hassan was burned

In the novel, Hassan’s hands and parts of his body were severely burned due to an altercation between his father and Madame Mallory in the Punjabi Palace kitchen. This became the catalyst for Madame Mallory’s guilt-laden crusade to sit outside the household to convince Papa to permit Hassan’s formal training at her restaurant.

The movie had a different explanation for Hassan’s burns – Madame Mallory’s head chef Jean-Paul had recruited some anti-foreigner-pro-French buddies to vandalise the Punjabi Palace and Hassan was caught by a homemade fire bomb. Madame Mallory, upon figuring out her staff was somewhat responsible for her neighbour’s tragedy, offered her services to clean their vandalised wall and train Hassan.

Frankly the movie version seemed a much weaker rationale for Madame Mallory’s guilt, but perhaps there was too much potential to damage her character’s affability with cinema audiences with the novel version.

 

Novel vs Movie Difference 3: Work ethic vs talent

My impression from the movie is that Hassan’s rapid progress in the gastronomy world is mostly based on his incredible talent and ability to recreate and improve recipes on the get-go. He is seen to be able to spend some time wooing Marguerite and not breaking a sweat in the kitchen – much to Marguerite’s frustration.

But the novel paints a much more realistic version of how the world of Michelin-star kitchens get to be where they are – sheer hard work. Novel Hassan spends most of his time outside the kitchen studying with Madam Mallory, an element I was disappointed was not better reflected in the movie, as I think that illustrates how their mentor-pupil relationship grew into one of mutual respect. He also got one day a week off, which he spent with his family, who gave him massages and ensured he was fed in exchange for gossipy tit-bits about what went on a hundred feet from their front door. In fact, the first time Hassan told his family he was going to spend his precious day off to be with Marguerite, Papa had to let him sneak out of the house to avoid World War Three in the traditional family household.

 

Novel vs Movie Difference 4: Hassan’s tortured soul

Much of Hassan’s screen time in Paris seemed dedicated to his increased despondency and desire to return to his alma mater. He even cries after tasting his staff’s wife’s home cooked meal, prompting him to return to the tiny village of Lumière. Hassan in the novel was much more focused on developing his restaurant business and earning his own Michelin stars.

 

Novel vs Movie Difference 5:  Papa and Madame Mallory’s relationship

In the novel, Papa and Madame Mallory do not seem to share much interaction beyond that of courtesy. However the movie seems to suggest Papa and Madame Mallory may share a romantic interest with each other, that was even encouraged by the elder daughter Mahira. There was even a scene where the two are seen waltzing before the camera pans to the glittering fireworks – a common visual tool used in film that has cultivated a perception as a euphemism for an explosion of love, sex or even orgasm.

 

Novel vs Movie Difference 5: Hassan and Marguerite’s relationship

It wasn’t a surprise that the movie version of Hassan and Marguerite’s relationship was far more romanticized than the novel version. Personally I like the novel version better, because we know in reality, people don’t always make the right choices for their hearts at the right time, but for those who are lucky, there is a second chance and that, in my opinion, is far more heartwarming and hopeful.
 

*** SPOILER ALERT END ***

 

Disclaimer: We attended the preview screening of The Hundred Foot Journey as invited guests of Shout Communications, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Event Cinema Carindale.

1

Yummy fresh sea cockroaches

Almost everyone I know loves seafood, even the ones who are allergic are prepared to suffer for the taste of the sea’s bounty. Except for one friend we know, who refers to them as ‘sea cockroaches’ and admittedly, the name has kinda stuck my head now. That still doesn’t change how seafood is my protein of choice, but I’ve found seafood generally more expensive than back in Singapore and therefore do not indulge very often.

But every once in a while, I subtly suggest to the SO it would be nice if we could drive down to the Gold Coast Fisherman’s Co-op to pick up some prawns. And head down we did, coming away with a kilo of large cooked prawns (about 17 of them) for $30 to peel and savour every bite. I swear the joy of eating delicious fresh seafood is almost better than sex.

Gold Coast Fishermen's Co-op

And you seriously cannot get prawns much fresher than from these guys and they taste nothing like the prawns you might get at a supermarket. The fleet of 12 trawlers head out and sell their catch direct to the public from the boat at some great prices, so you drive in, park and stroll down to whichever pontoon towards the boat you’d like to buy your produce from. Easy peasy!

Gold Coast Fishermen's Co-op

Gold Coast Fishermen's Co-op

Gold Coast Fishermen's Co-op

And it’s all thanks to friend Jun, who as a fellow Singaporean, felt it her patriotic duty to set me on the right path to getting our grubby prawn-smelly hands on fresh seafood. Gotta love fellow foodies.

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