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The perfect pizzas at Italian Street Kitchen

Italian St Kitchen

Carne. AUD$16

I don’t think there’s a person out there who has never had a pizza. This versatile disc of baked dough is everywhere, and now gluten-free and vegan versions are becoming ubiquitous. What’s not to love?

I have certainly had my fair share of pizza. I have even conducted The Australian Delivery Pizza Taste Challenge back in 2014. That was a lot of fun.

But the perfect pizza? Now, THAT is the holy grail and I think I have found it at Italian Street Kitchen.

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[Singapore] The Halia

 Blog title - The Halia [Singapore]

My mum works at The Halia‘s current and only location in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. She makes the many drinks the restaurant offers and sells at its kiosk stand. It’s hard work with very early mornings, but she seems to enjoy the work and the people she works with.

She has worked there a number of years now and we’ve been to Singapore several times, but never got the opportunity to dine at The Halia. We decided a visit was long overdue, so we went for lunch on our visit to Singapore in December last year.


The Venue

Nestled inside the Singapore Botanic Gardens, The Halia is a fair walk from the Botanic Gardens MRT station. Signage to the restaurant is limited, but follow all signs to its neighbour the National Orchid Garden.

The Halia might not look imposing nor impressive from the outside, but its true nature is hidden by the surrounding ginger plants and palm trees. It offers several dining areas, each with a unique view to the greenery outside. Those who seek relief from Singapore’s unforgiving heat and humidity can escape to the air-conditioned dining room, but the open-air deck was just as popular.


The Service

As my mother works at the restaurant, I am not inclined to comment on the warmth of service.

The Halia was busy at the time with a number of large groups, so while time to table and ordering were swift, food service was slow. However, we were told from the very straight that our meals might take awhile, and the manager apologised for the delay. Both strategies helped manage our expectations and we were fine with how long it took.


The Food

The Halia offers a weekday set lunch menu from 12 pm till 2pm. It includes a starter, a choice between 3 mains, a choice between 2 desserts, and coffee or tea to finish. Two courses set you back SGD28, and three courses are SGD 34. Prices do not include 7% GST or 10% service charge.

The SO worked up quite the appetite walking from the Botanic Gardens MRT station to The Halia, so went all out with the three-course weekday set lunch.

The soup of the day was white vegetable soup – potato, parsnip, etc and served with a freshly baked bread. Tasty, but not particularly stellar.

The Halia (Singapore)

The Halia (Singapore) - Ginger Jive. SGD 7

Ginger Jive. SGD 7

Between the barramundi, slow-cooked chicken breast or puff pastry parcel, the SO went with what’s familiar to him – the pan-fried barramundi.

The Halia did very well with its crispy pan-fried skin and not drying out the flesh underneath. The bed was a Thai coconut cream (think super mild green curry), served with lengths of firm asparagus, cherry tomatoes, pignolina and basil oil. This was, for us an unusual flavour combination with barramundi, but it was enjoyable and satisfying.

The Halia (Singapore) - Panfried Barramundi

Panfried Barramundi

I got The Halia‘s Puff Pastry Parcel, which in hindsight I could easily recreate at home. Filled with butternut squash (pumpkin), spinach and feta, the pastry is dressed with dehydrated olives, mesclun, and a drizzle of basil and tomato oil. Deceptively simple, and utterly delicious for those looking for something vegetarian and heartier than a salad.

The Halia (Singapore) - Puff Pastry Parcel. SGD 24

Puff Pastry Parcel. SGD 24

The Paperbag Oven-baked Halibut Fillet was by far the star dish of our meal.

Presenting the fish in its crinkly paper bag offers the diner to create their own personal dining theatre – one has to gingerly untwist and peel back the folds with anticipation, to reveal the prize inside.

If you have any initial sense of disappointment at the dark mess inside, don’t get your panties in a twist! Stick your fork in there and taste it. The fish has sucked up the umami flavours from its ginger and soy broth. Add a touch of the wasabi aioli or ginger flower sambal (or both! My preference was for the sambal though), and your taste buds will sing!

The Halia (Singapore) - Paper bag oven-baked halibut fillet

Paper bag oven-baked halibut fillet

The Halia (Singapore)

The Halia (Singapore) - Ginger Spice, all things nice

Ginger Spice, all things nice

Dessert was a toss up between Die Die Must Have Chocolate (chocolate and raspberry, which sounded kinda vanilla to me) and Ginger Spice, all things nice.

We decided to be adventurous and opted for the Ginger Spice, which was delightful! I admired the number of elements that all balanced each other: ginger and almond nougatine parfait (the base and it’s stunning, without being sickeningly sweet), coconut mousse (very light and not too heavy on the coconut), compressed pineapple (little cubes of summer sunshine) and shavings of dehydrated coconut flesh.


The Verdict

I am definitely willing to overlook the slow service to visit again for a lazy lunch of good food.


The Halia
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Garden, Singapore 259569
Phone: +65 8444 1148


[Gold Coast] Bam Bam Bakehouse

 Blog title - Bam Bam Bakehouse

Bam Bam Bakehouse has been on my radar for awhile and I was thrilled we stopped in on the way home from a quick weekend on the Gold Coast.

It started with an early morning at Tallebudgera Beach. Its gentle crystal clear waves and soft sand are the perfect backdrop for a day of frolicking under the warm summer sun. Tallebudgera Beach is also a patrolled beach, making it our favourite beach to take the Little Mister swimming.

The lifesavers are from Neptune Royal Life Saving Club, which is right by the beach. At the bottom of the Neptune Royal Life Saving Club, there’s a coffee stand and I discovered they offer some Bam Bam Bakehouse goodies for sale.

One Nutella cruffin later, and I was hooked!

Bam Bam Bakehouse

The Venue

While Bam Bam Bakehouse is located on the Gold Coast Highway, you might not quite see it driving past. It is tucked along the side of the building in front of a small car park, but fret not – you’ll need to find parking somewhere nearby first. We found parking on Francis Street, and some might get lucky on Montana Road.

The cafe is fairly large with plenty of open air to capitalise on the gorgeous Gold Coast weather. There is a somewhat Parisian air to the place, and the clientele is not the average daggy flip-flop wearing beachgoer. Think well-pressed polos, crispy white shirts, luxury bags and proper footwear – casual, but not cheap.


The Service

Now there are a number of reviews that mention it’s impossible to get a table without a booking. Or that the wait might be 20 minutes. We went in for a late lunch, and while they were busy, we did not have trouble getting a table with some space for our pram.

While you’re ushered to tables by staff, you order and pay at the counter. Service was quick, even though nearly every table was occupied. Staff were friendly without being overly-clingy – they did not hover over us asking how our meals were going before our first bite.


The Food

Bam Bam Bakehouse‘s claim to fame is their delectable croissants. Each flakey bakes creation takes three days to make. And they sometimes offer special limited edition croissants, such as their mince croissant for Christmas, mermaid croissant and lovers croissant for Valentine’s Day.

Bam Bam Bakehouse - Twice baked almond croissant. AUD$8.90

Twice baked almond croissant. AUD$8.90

These are their almond croissants, fresh out of the oven and they disappeared very quickly. If you see them, buy them straight away! You can also order these babies online.

If baked goodies are not your thing, Bam Bam Bakehouse also has a meal menu.

Bam Bam Bakehouse - Egg Nasi - AUD$18.90

Egg Nasi – AUD$18.90

The Egg Nasi was super popular while we were there – every table surrounding us had at least one person devouring one of these. This is Bam Bam Bakehouse‘s interpretation of a nasi goreng, a Malay/Indonesian fried rice. Rather than mix in an animal protein, the Egg Nasi is instead full of vegetables and topped with the perfect sunnyside up egg and liberally sprinkled with crispy fried onion for crunch.

And of course, what’s a nasi goreng with a generous dollop of sambal? Their sambal is spicy, but it’s not going to explode your head.

If you are quite hungry (as the SO was on this occasion), add the chicken satay for AUD$7.

Bam Bam Bakehouse - Karaage chicken croissant. AUD$16.90

Karaage chicken croissant. AUD$16.90

My choice was Bam Bam Bakehouse‘s Karaage chicken croissant. with an additional side of sweet potato fries for AUD$8 (cuz I’m such a sucker for sweet potato). This was utter perfection! The beautiful buttery croissant lent itself as the ultimate vessel for a crunchy large chicken karaage. The rest of the ensemble were simple – finely shredded crisp iceberg lettuce, kewpie mayonnaise (of course!) and a sweet in-house made teriyaki sauce. God, I’m still drooling at the memory of it.


The Verdict

Bam Bam Bakehouse is a wonderful must-visit cafe on the Gold Coast, but be prepared to spend – it’ll worth every cent though! If you cannot get a table, at least grab some croissants to enjoy while soaking up the sunshine.


Bam Bam Bakehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


How to read more in 2018

Blog title - How to read more in 2018

Do you often have “read more” as a new year’s resolution? Or is it your 2018 resolution?

And as a result, do you buy lots of books that you never finish reading?

Then after reading Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“, you end up throwing away your collection of never-finished-reading and only-read-once books?

I read more than 50 books in 2017 without spending a cent, and am hoping to repeat it this year. Here’s how you can do the same.


Get a library card

If you have a Brisbane City Council library card, you’re already halfway towards a universe of books to jump into this year.

Every town or city has a public library, and membership is usually free. You’ll need a form of identification to sign up and away you go!

Find your nearest Brisbane City Council library here.


Use it to access ebooks

Finding the time to go to a library and select books I want to stick my nose into can be a monumental task. This is especially when you are juggling a toddler, work/business and home.

But you don’t need to step foot into a Brisbane City Council library to check out a book and read more!

I learnt Brisbane City Council library catalogue has a growing number of ebooks. To access them, you need to download the mobile app Libby, select the appropriate library collection and type in your library card number.

And voila! You can now browse, tag, hold and check out books from the comfort of home.


Get more ebooks

Whether you have an iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle or Nook, you should subscribe to BookBub. They will send you alerts on limited-time offers for the best free books in over twenty genres, from both top-tier publishers and critically-acclaimed independent authors.

There are also free ebook collections:


Join a book club

If you’d like to keep track of your reading goals this year, sign up to Goodreads. They have a huge community with book recommendations, book clubs, deals and giveaways.

You can start with 2018 Reading Challenge, Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf or Oprah’s Book Club group to help you along. Sure, you won’t get to sit around someone’s living room, sipping tea or wine with like-minded readers, but you can still connect with fellow bibliophiles.


If you DO decide to take up more reading and sign up to Goodreads, friend me and we can share our reads over the year!

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Welcome to 2018

Blogpost - Welcome to 2018

I swear the years fly faster the older you get. How the hell did I blink and we’re already a week into 2018?

This blog has seen fuller days – 2017 has not been kind, so I wanna a fresh start.

Let’s start with reflecting on my 10 goals for 2017.

  • We never got around to scheduling those date nights, but there were tonnes of family time.
  • Our 10th-year-anniversary celebration was a disaster – a Noosa weekend turned into a diarrhoea episode on the SO’s part.
  • I smashed my 30-books reading goal by reading 56 books, thanks to BookBub.
  • I didn’t get to physically attend a conference, but I DID watch videos from Social Media Marketing World 2017 conference.

And I obviously didn’t stick to ANY editorial plan for this blog.

So much for that.

Let’s hope I do better this year.


Celebrating 2017

While 2017 ended on a horrible note with my father having to undergo a triple bypass (more on that later), I cannot deny there have been some incredible moments worth celebrating.

So it certainly wasn’t all bad.

Nonetheless, I should mention our Christmas/New Year.

Our family originally planned to host a small Christmas lunch with the SO’s family, but it was quickly abandoned after my father was admitted to hospital for heart attacks in late November. He was told one of his heart arteries was 100% blocked, and the other two were 80% blocked – a triple bypass was inevitable.

The surgery was to take place in January, but further heart attacks forced his doctors to push it forward with a week’s notice. We immediately booked tickets to Singapore and stayed 22 days over Christmas and New Year. When we weren’t at the hospital, we were cleaning my parents’ home (did I ever mention I come from a family of hoarders?), fixing toilets and installing handrails, and helping with his post-op care.

I came home earlier this week, physically and emotionally exhausted. It took me two days of hiding at home to recover. Thank god for Youfoodz and an understanding husband.


What’s in store for 2018

As they say – “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”

Who knows what 2018 has in store? Whatever it throws this way, buckle up and join the ride. I am still planning to keep these things around.

  • Journalling is here to stay! I’ll be using a Passion Planner this year.
    While I certainly miss the flexibility of a plain notebook, I am loving this planner’s structure and weekly motivational quotes. Heaven knows I need it.
  • Can I up the stakes with my 50-book reading challenge in 2018? I hope so, with the help of my local library.
  • Single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned in Queensland this July. It’s about time too!
    I’ll be pushing our family further into a no-waste lifestyle. We already use reusable shopping bags (I love and use this one), cups, water bottles, lunch boxes and metal straws. I also use a MeLuna menstrual cup and Tic bottle for toiletries.

I haven't made a caprese salad 🥗 in yonks! Which is sort of ridiculous, because they are so ridiculously easy to put together and require so few ingredients. And if you have a little bit of space, growing your own tomatoes 🍅 and basil 🌿 will bless you with some amazing bright summer flavours without the chemicals or pesticides you might find in today's supermarket produce. Im so happy to be putting this on the table tonight! ❤️ #lunch #dinner #onthetable #nourish #healthyfood #healthy #homemade #homecooking #inthekitchen #kitchenlife #food #foodshare #foodie #foodlover #foodporn #pornfood #foodgasm #foodstagram #tasty #getinmybelly #nomnomnom #eeeeeats #instaeat #sharefood #instafood

A post shared by Melissa 🙋🏻Lifestyle Food | BNE (@melissaloh80) on

But don’t worry – the food will always still be here.

So thank YOU for sticking around, for following me on Instagram, for watching my stories…

I love you too.

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