Showing posts from January, 2013

Sydney Vignettes


Newtown Revisited - Sydney NSW

Newtown, a fifteen minute ride by train from Sydney city centre, lies at the nexus of university, bohemian, alternative and happy day twenty something lifestyles.  Saturday morning and the tribes come out.  Students, artists, young families, musicians, couples of every orientation, gig followers and more have hallmark moments as they commence a weekend of possibilities. Wardrobe is casual and to identify oneself with a certain crowd. The pace is easy, often filled with the aroma of coffee, unusual shopping choices and a body mark here and there, be it a tattoo or a nose ring. The day may progress to a street market, music from buskers or the intent concentration on music, books or movies.  The Whitlams had a great start at the Sandringham Hotel here before they conquered the world.

Newtown has just celebrated its first 150 years.  It is now more diverse, dynamic and interesting than it has ever been before.  Many buildings are or may seem run down, but there have been renovations ins…

Straits Chinese Cuisine - Comforts of Home

The har mee yoke, a soup based concoction of prawny flavours, spicy sauces, hard boiled eggs, tender pork cuts and spinach, is available throughout cafes and food courts in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.
May be of interest is this blog entry on:

The Jiu Hu Char, or cuttlefish stir fry, can be a test of cutting and cooking skills and maturity.  Most of the ingredients have to be deftly sliced to a fine and consistent texture, for the resulting quality affects the taste and refinement of the dish prepared. Skin peeled yam bean, peeled carrots, cabbage, soaked dried shitake mushrooms, onions, minced garlic, shredded dried cuttlefish (which has to be thoroughly rinsed before use) are the main items to gather and prepare.  Sugar, salt and pepper is utilised to taste as garnish. In addition,m this is not a vegetarian dish, for pork belly or chicken strips are also thrown into the mix.  The mixture is eaten wr…

The Left Bower Cafe, Sutherland, NSW

Its decor, facade and ambiance can be unique. Except for the coffee equipment, I am thrown back to the 70s or early eighties. It does not over emphasise coffee, though it is the main product.  You walk into a lifestyle. You can delve into intimate details of coffee and learn much as to where the origin of all this used in this place.  It can be an unassuming place, but hey why are there headlights at the front of the shop?  You can take your coffee through a ice cream van-like counter.  You could be at a beach or camping ground, but no, you are in the Shire.

I find the coffee slick, mellow and stimulating.  I am offered a choice of whether I want my brew hard and strong, or smooth and easy.  The coffee beans come from two places in Australia, one near Byron Bay and the other from Mount Warning.  The barista can be the same person as the roaster.  What's so good about home grown coffee beans? The breakky and lunch menus support Shire providers and suppliers.

Left Bower is open on…

Picton, NSW revisited

On a warm December day, the inland suburb of Picton, tucked away 80 kilometers from the Sydney Harbour Bridge,  in the south-west of the greater Sydney region, looks like any New South Wales regional conurbation with its rail station, main street, supermarkets, cottage produce shops, heritage buildings and surrounding farmland.  Coming from Picton Road, and approaching the unique Picton Railway Viaduct, I had to reduce my driving speed to accommodate a residential area before getting into town.  The place looks sparse initially but perhaps I was on the quiet side.

Lunchtime beckoned me to the cafe strip, with several choices in modern Australian themed food, ranging from all day breakfast to burgers to pasta.  There is a Vietnamese bakery offering pork rolls at Aud 4.50 a piece near to the IGA Supermarket, but this is away from the main food and shopping hub. Along the way to the cafe hub, an elderly lady at a furniture shop struck up a conversation with me - she had a large courtyar…

Brasserie Bread, Sydney Airport T2, NSW


The most recent occasion I had checking out a Brasserie Bread outlet was a make shift stall in a campus. On a warm Thursday morning, when it was not quite 630am, I came across the airport outlet in Sydney. It was well patronised, located in a an area surrounded by fast food breakfast retails and in a terminal that served both budget and full fledged airlines.  What stands out from BB is the quality and display  of its aromatic baked stuff. The coffee is steady and the menu they offer has variety, with sourdough and garlic bread being their current stand out offerings.  Having said that, the airport cafe menu is not as extensive as those in South Melbourne and Banksmeadow, southern Sydney.

Quinoa, rye, soya and eggs are favoured by BB.  I chose the crispy bacon with avocado, soft boiled egg and roasted  tomato on sourdough (photo above).  The bacon was a bit over on the salt front, but otherwise the other ingredients were served in an appetising mode, especially good for travellers t…

Perfumed Pagodas, Vietnam

The Suoi Yen River is the path leading to the Perfumed Pagodas.  Here, the manually paddled boat ride can take up to 90 minutes, indeed reminding me of how native Americans more than two centuries ago used to ride up the various waterways in the North American continent.  Although the ride is calming and tranquil, it can be trying under a hot sun and humid conditions.  The Perfumed Pagodas is a collective term for a concoction of variety in temples, walking trails, mountain scenery, interesting caverns and cable car journeys.  This region lies just 65 kilometers south-west of Ha Noi.  My Duc town is another popular set off point to this area, especially during the Tet Festival or Lunar New Year period.

There are several major places of interest, but my sojourn there for just a full day had to be limited to a couple of pagodas - the Thien Tru, also fondly known as the Heavenly Kitchen Pagoda (photo above) and the Huong Tich, a revered grotto reached by a steep 120 step staircase.  Bot…

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam - Diversions