Thursday, January 31, 2008

Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market is in the city and definitely one of the must-visit places in Melbourne. There are meat and seafood sections, deli section (love this), fresh fruits and veggies section (the biggest section), handicrafts section, florists, food stalls and maybe more that I've missed. This is where you can get oysters freshly shucked for you, live lobsters and Moreton Bay bugs, the freshest salmon, best meat, nuts of all kinds, and on and on. The most popular section is the veg and fruits section which is awesome. SO many fruits and veggies, so fresh and at such low prices! If you go there around 2 pm (they close 3), the sellers will be shouting out their give-away prices of A$3 per kg of very fresh white mushrooms, A$3 per box of big avocados, A$5 a box of big's crazy. I went to Vic Mart 4 times during the 2 weeks I was there. Vic Mart is open from 6 am till 3 pm everyday except Mondays and Wednesdays.

Vic Mart is the biggest market in Melbourne but there are many others such as Prahran (smaller, classier), Footscray (another must-go. Mostly Vietnamese stores, so prices are cheapest here)and many more others. After going to these markets, I just felt the awful disparity. There's so much food in Australia. If they share half of it with Africa, they'll still have more than enough...

Oz mangoes are meaty, juicy and sweet but the flavor is too mild. Very unsatisfying. If you have eaten a good Luzon mango you'll know what I mean.


Oh! The grapes were throat-hurting sweet and crunchy-crisp.

You think this is an odd one out?

A whole box of them!
Fresh olives

'Moonlight' mushrooms, I was told. These 2 weighed 1/2 kg, and were excellent - sweet & meaty - but Ming finds them too meaty. I could grill and eat one like a steak although we pan-fried one only and that was enough for all of us.

These big avocados were going for A$3/RM9 per box!

Queen Vic Mart, II

The deli section of Vic Mart is very continental. Makes me hungry just walking there.








A$2 for one hock? And here we have to order in advance? Look at the neck ribs at the back - 2 racks for A$3! Don't they know how to make soup with them?
Now that looks unusual and yummy. 3- flavored pesto. Why didn't I try it? And bum burners! That's what I need most.


On Friday afternoons, Vic Mart has a section for international food, selling Middle Eastern to Vietnamese to Spanish food at very exorbitant prices eg A$4 for a cob of corn. And what is Oz without beer - everybody sits out in the open with a few bottles while the rock band is blasting away.



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bucatini With Clams

Remember the pipis (clams) my kids dug up in the Mornington Peninsula? Truth is, I didn't quite know how to get the pipis to spit out the sand (my aunt used nails, some say to use oatmeal, some say milk. We used steel spoons. Stupid idea; it didn't work. Any advice?) and I was concerned about the hygiene in that area although I was told later that if the water's not clean, there'll be signs up saying so. Anyway, the clams went down the rubbish chute. These ones in the pic were from Vic Mart. No sand.


This is my favorite pasta dish, if it is cooked right. The best olio pasta (with prawns) I've had was - surprise - in Perth, in this place somewhere off Hay street near the city 'park'. I'll have to find out the name of the restaurant and tell you Perth people because I hear good restaurants are hard to find in Perth.

Do you, like me, sometimes find creamy white sauce pasta too rich and tomato sauce ones too everyday? That's when I want a simple pasta with no cream or tomato sauce. Although this is an easy dish to cook, it is not easy to get it right because the ingredients must be very fresh and of the best quality. So this is where I'd compromise by adding a can of chicken stock or freshly-made stock (Howfor can thou have home-made stock on standby all the time??).


Bucatini With Clams

1 1/2 to 2 kg small clams
500g bucatini/linguine or pasta of your choice
2 T chopped garlic
1 brown onion, chopped
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1 t dried oregano or basil
1 to 2 cups chicken stock/broth
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
dried chili flakes (optional)
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 T butter

1. Bring to boil a large pot of salted water and boil the pasta. When the centre of the linguine still has a small white spot when you break it off, switch off the fire and let it sit in the water for 2 minutes,covered, then check again. There should be no more white uncooked dough. This is the way I cook my pasta but you can do it your way.Drain and put pasta back into the pot and add the butter (omit if health conscious). Mix well and keep warm in the pot.

2. Put 2T extra virgin olive oil into a large skillet, add 1 T garlic and fry till soft, then add the clams. Now add the wine and cover. When it starts to boil, remove the cover and cook at high heat for 10 minutes to reduce the water. When all the shells have opened (discard those that aren't), dish out (including the juice) into a bowl.

3. In a clean skillet, add 2 T x-virgin oil and fry the 1 T garlic and the onions till soft, then add the clams and chicken stock, the basil/oregano, bring it to a boil and let simmer a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta and season with salt and pepper. Finally add the parsley and toss well. Sprinkle with dried chili flakes if like. Serve hot with shaved parmesan on the side.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Food From Vic Market

Christmas Eve morning, Hub and I made a trip to my favorite market -the Queen Victoria Market - and did a final shopping of all things I've wanted to eat before we leave the next day for Brisbane. So this is what we had for Christmas Eve lunch and dinner. Presentation is not very nice because: Excuse no 1: we're not at our own house, no 2: no maid to clean up, no 3: some of us were getting the flu.

Excellent parma ham.

Oysters au natural, A$9.99/US$9/RM30 per dozen, shucked on the spot.
These were delicious - fresh, tender, briny and sweet. We also had pasta with clams, recipe to follow. For dinner, I just dumped all my seafood in a pot with some dashi because Yi was down with the flu and it was a cold day and we all wanted something soupy. However, our carnivorous craving still had to be satisfied so we threw in some steaks.

Wey frying lamb chops.


This was my porcini-rubbed sirloin. Looks so boring but it tasted great.


Bad presentation but the Tasmanian salmon (A$20/US$18/RM60 per kg, slightly cheaper for Atlantic salmon) was the best I've eaten outside of Japan. In KK, sashimi is horrible because the fish are all frozen and thawed so there's a lot of water and the texture's all mushy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Check This Out!

I've located Lyn of Hungry Hamster, the blogger I met in Melbourne. She has a great food blog, do check it out and make friends!

Supertanker Restaurant

update 10/9/2010: i just had dinner at supertanker and it was the worst meal in recent memory. Looking at these photos, I think Supertanker's presentation and the food quality have dropped even more.

Whatever happened to Supertanker Restaurant?? This is a restaurant that everybody goes to for weddings, birthdays, babies' full-month, retirement, whatever occasion. It's been around for at least 25 years and I think most visitors to KK have eaten there. It is popular because the food is okay,the portions are generous and prices reasonable. I personally am not very hot about it because everytime there's a dinner out, it will be at Supertanker. I liked their almond de-boned chicken with prawn mince but through the years they've done away with the almonds so I'm upset with them. Their steamed cod, mitzi ribs and Sabah veg used to be good too.

After not eating there in 6 months, I was back last week and I must report that all's not well at Supertanker. The food was so bad. Every dish tasted different, bland and without 'wok hei' (heat of the wok, essential for giving quick stir-fries that flavor). I wouldn't go back even at gunpoint.

Crispy skin chicken.

It was okay. None of the restaurants in KK does this dish well anymore.

Fried Sabah veggies.
They used to cook this very well but now either the cook's changed (and I heard that night that that's the case) or he's getting too old to cook (that too). The veg tasted like that in King Hu Restaurant, no wok hei at all, making the veg taste like it was fried and then boiled.

Stewed pork leg with mini mantao (buns).
I didn't even try this because it didn't taste good before and I guessed that chances were it would taste worse now. I was told I was right.

House tofu with broccoli and fresh shiitake mushrooms.
Bland, bland, bland.

Crispy de-boned chicken.

We had two chicken dishes because Wey liked this. He still ate a lot of it but I could taste that it's not like before. Not in pic: claypot tofu with seafood and fish maw soup, the latter tasting like glue and was only edible with lots of black vinegar.

Yi will be happy to read this. No more Supertanker meals when she comes home. But there's still King Hu Restaurant, another of her top-feared restaurants.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Graduation Pics

Bear with me as I document Yi's convocation pics. I wasn't able to post as many pics when I was in Melb. I also want to share some tips I've learnt that day.


I think the Archi gown is beautiful with the pink band on the hood. I also like the tulip hem.



1. Take Studio Pictures Early.

My biggest regret was not taking studio pics (or preferably, SHARP family pics taken outdoors) with the graduate. When we walked in at 5 pm (ceremony 7:30 pm to 9 pm), I did notice a couple of booths set up by professional photographers. I've always hated studio pics and for my wedding I went against convention and didn't have studio or professional photographers because I didn't like the stiffness and formality of pics in those days. So I didn't bother with the proffs. Big mistake, because 90% of our pics turned out blurr. While I can take reasonably ok pics of food, it is a different thing altogether taking pics of people (they move) in the outdoors. I was very disappointed and frustrated with my poor photo skills.

After the ceremony and tea party, Yi returned the regalia and I was standing at one of the booths. How much, I asked. The guy said 15 poses, single or multiple subjects, for only A$30/RM90! So cheap ah?! That's for the proof copy only and then you pay, from A$30 onwards depending on the size, for each pic. I made Yi rush up to retrieve her gown but you know, all these gweilo places are sticklers for rules and regulations. It was 10:10 pm., 10 min past the cut-off time for the return of the gowns. I sulked and blamed everyone all the way to the car (What if our pics didn't turn out good? Better to have pics with a cardboard background and stiff poses than blur pics ya?). We tried to get the gown a few days later but the whole circus was over. So do take all your family pics, special poses etc (I wanted one where Hub and I were sitting with Yi in the middle, the boys at the back, preferably outdoors with trees and lawn behind. You know, like the royalty family pics...) EARLY esp. if the ceremony ends in the night.



The bachelors do not get a mortar board at U of Melbourne and look 'incomplete' at the ceremony. Very inconsiderate because most people don't go on to masters and PhDs.

2. Take Away The Graduand's Mobile.

That's right, I should've done that. She got so many calls and we wasted time waiting for her, one call after another.

Doing what I do best : fuss.


So many friends turned up to support and congratulate her. She's very blessed!

The papparazi were there too.

This pretty young girl with beautiful skin and dimples asked to take a pic with me; she reads my blog and recognized me! (I hope it's okay for me to put this pic up. I couldn't find your comment so couldn't contact you. Please keep in touch!)

3. Bring Some Safety Pins.

The uni couldn't provide everybody with pins and her hood kept slipping up to her neck.


4. Go To The Hairdresser's!

Never ever have your hair permed one week before the big day. That's what I did, and when I tell friends they go "What? You permed your hair? But you never perm your hair!" Yup, I did and that morning of the convo, 5 of us fought to use the washroom in the apartment and my hair was half-dried when we left. In some of the pics, I look (or I was) deranged.

5. Buy/Order the Graduand's Bouquet Outside.

At our UMS, teddy bears are as popular as flowers but at U of Melbourne (rated 19th best in the world!) the preferred comfort blanket is a bunch of fresh flowers. The bouquets on campus were ugly and expensive. I bought Yi's on Lygon St; almost forgot it. Next time, I'd order bearing in mind the color of her hood...I'm thinking burgundy red callas tied with a straw string to go with the pink band.



6. ( Not exactly a convo tip, but never mind) Never Hang Your Clothes Out On The Balcony.

Yup, guilty again. I handwashed Yi's white blouse (a beautiful silky one I bought in KL years ago) a few days later and hung it out without pegging it. When we got home, nothing was on the linestand. Gone with the wind. I nearly cried.

7. Make Sure The Father Wears A Suit.

Don't listen to what they say about Ozzies being very casual in their attire. On that day, every father was in a suit. I had to sneak the suit into my suitcase because Hub was so adamant that it wasn't necessary. Shanghai ngin. And I must say, Ming, I am still upset you didn't wear your tie.

8. Plan A Convo Party.

We forgot and it was late so we ended up with whoever wanted to come at Papa Joe's on Lygon St, a place which I swore I'd never go again after the last time I was there. It wasn't so bad this time, but really, try and do a party somewhere nice.



It may have been her special day but that's all I allowed her, a salad.


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