Foooood

Here I am, eating my taro mochi (dericious), after making my own (frozen) dumplings in my new steamer basket with my finally found rooster chilli sauce that I discovered in China in 2009, though still recovering from the feast of yum cha yesterday. Quite oriental of me, I feel.

I went with the civil engineers from America and mechanical engineer-turned-financer that I met last Friday at a young professionals meetup for dinner and a movie (American Pie Reunion), and a chemical engineer friend of the Americans (also from meetup). Last week there were five of us at a smaller table in a large group, and four of us turned out to be engineers- how cool. They’ve just moved to St Kilda from California – not for any particular reason, just for a change!! I wonder if I’ll be like that after my masters course.. and they invited me! Yayyyy I have friends 😀

Did some gift shopping for Mum afterwards, and was so full when I got home I don’t think I had dinner. Brunch the next morning with a meetup in Brunswick which I rode my bike to – it’s getting a bit cold now though, I had to wear ear muffs and gloves! Nice food and a really nice host – no long-lasting friends though I feel.

Can’t remember much else of what happened that weekend/week because it’s been a while since it happened!

Macaron drive

Today I gave macarons to strangers for donations to Teagan’s Live Below the Line campaign (we’re going to live on $2 a day for a week in May, but she’s raised heaps and is close to winning a volunteer trip overseas, so I’m focusing on her).

Even on the tram ride in, because I had some signs on the trays, I received two donations of $6.50 and $5, one not even for the macaron. Off to a good start!

It was a perfect setting on the lawn – by the time I’d made one round, the high turnover rate meant I had a whole new group of people to sell my spiel to.

One lady I spoke to when I was half way through talking she said ‘Oh, I’m not giving money to any children’.. what?! I should have asked her reasons.. seems like such a strange thing to say.

As far as I can remember, the donation on the tram was the most I had- most people stuck to the $5, but it was definitely the most common number. Quite a few were happy to just donate and not get anything in return, but I think if there hadn’t have been anything offered, it could have been a different story. And once that number was in their head, it seemed to stick.

Incredibly, in two hours I was able to pool $163 from strangers – not bad!

Overall the day was quite good – I’m glad I did it; Teagan appreciated the donation (though for a while I was torn between giving it to her (she was second but by like $2k) or putting it on my account so I could go into the draw for an ipad.. I figure she’ll need it eventually), and noone was rude to me for interrupting their reading etc.

Given that I came home and ate a ‘few’ of the leftovers, I’m not sure how I’ll go without much by way of snacks during LBL week….

Baking and Comedy

The past week I have been, as the title suggests, going to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and doing some baking.

Dave Thornton on discount tickets for being a ‘preview’ session.. a good hour! It had a long-running story of how he was to give an inspirational talk at a school, but had no idea what to say. Quite intimate-feeling, as it was just in a narrow hall with some seats set up. I laughed most at the improvised things that he said when talking with audience members.

Charlie Pickering, though I probably should have picked someone that IknewI would like, instead of a guess. Most of his jokes I saw coming, and his personality can be a bit annoying.. plus the whole theme of the thing was about why haven’t we kept caring about traveling to the moon. It’s not like he’s training to be an astronaut either!

The maths of dying was pretty funny, but you learn things as well eg only 10% of Australian population dies before 60-something. More people die each year falling out of bed than falling off a ladder.. but there wasn’t too much technical stuff, but a few jokes thrown in for good measure (‘if that line wasn’t funny, you ruined it by observing it’.. and something about a particular mathematician being able to check into Hotel Infinity because you can always find infinity+1 or something..

The science comedy (Peer Revue) was mostly the same: I learnt a few things, like about Hawking radiation, the mimic octopus, Russian countries becoming sub-colonies within sub-colonies are alike to babushka dolls.. I enjoyed most seeing Simon Pampena, the maths comedian I’ve seen during national science week for the past 4 years. The other day I was feeling disappointed that I might not be in the country to see him again, and then this popped up! I was worried that he would recycle jokes, but only the intro song was reused (I’m a brainiac on the floor..). Since he normally performs at the universities, he can usually throw in some pretty mathsy jokes, but he’s not allowed to swear. At this show, he opened by getting everyone who liked maths to yell swearwords (breaking stereotypes), but then used venn diagrams as the mathsiest thing.. and not even in an appropriate way! But I enjoyed it, but it was over much too soon, I would have happily paid more for him to go for longer, even if it was jokes which I’d heard before.. it’s not the same as rehearing normal comedian’s jokes. I want to be able to remember these, so I can tell them myself! But I always forget too quickly.

So, baking…!

Chocolate theme at the baking club for easter. As soon as I heard that I knew it was a bad idea.. but everyone likes a good chocolate overdose. I read through a list of someone’s top 50 chocolate recipes, but only found one inspiring one (I try not to do typical things). Then I realised that I have a pile of cookbooks in the corner, which might actually come to good use. In particular, the Adriano Zumbo one which I know also does NOT do boring. However, the recipes are normally comprised of at least 4 other recipes, and require weird ingredients…

Enter the japanese mayonnaise cake. No weird ingredients.. in fact, fewer ingredients than a normal cake recipe! jackpot! But, it’s the mirror glaze recipe (and consequently clear glaze recipe) that gets you with the weird ingredients. Normal glaze should be fine, just some condensed milk, chocolate, gelatine (new for me!), glucose syrup.. sounds healthy hey!! turned out a bit like jelly. you could easily set it in a pan and cut it into cubes for decorating different things.. I have way too much left over and am not quite sure what to do with it (the condensed milk too!).

The cake turned out quite nicely.. it’s quite moist and while you can taste the mayonnaise, you can’t identify it.. too much sweetness for anyone to be freaked out by it. Oh, there are raspberries too. But next time I won’t use frozen raspberries for decorating.. they’re not too pretty (they went moldy too!) And perhaps as they melted overnight, that was what caused the moisture ontop of the cake…. oh well!

It went pretty well at baking club but by getting there at 1230 so that I could be there for when the 1pm people arrived, the 12pm people were already full! It took some prompting to get people to eat more, and some volunteers to take chunks home, but most of it was taken care of.. leaving only the muffins and heart-tarts in the house.

The next day I had nothing planned and decided to try out one of the macarons recipes. One which didn’t require any weird ingredients.. Salted butter popcorn was my choice, but the task was to find some almondmeal.. not many stores are open on Good Friday! I took my bike for a zip around the suburb and eventually came across a shop.. charging $40/kg for almondmeal!!! The things I do for.. myself? The recipe is the same as what I’m used to (Italian version, but that’s easy now), but with different proportions. As he’s an Australian chef, I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to make my own adjustments to the amount of almondmeal like before which I believe was due to humidity factors or something.. perhaps almondmeal is just different overseas.

Anyway, it worked like a charm! had to bake the second tray for longer than indicated, as the first ones lost their guts. Also, the recipe says 130 degrees which I find quite low, but in a video of Adriano he refers to 150.. so I might try that next time? their feet weren’t amazing, which I think had to do with the temperature.

I was really impressed with the filling.. partly because it let me use up the leftover egg yolks! but also because it tasted like popcorn!! well, the butter part anyway- that’s for sure. I found that the more salt I added the less it amazed me as popcorny, but my housemates recommended it. Hopefully they will last until french on Tuesday- we’re having a bit of a party since it’s our last session for the term (ridiculous!!!!!!)

Can’t wait to try out the other fillings!! Maybe even some fancy cakes!

Moooooomba

A bit of a dumb name, I’ll admit, but it turned out to be a bunch of fun. I read about it on Sunday when I spent most of the day at home categorising my coupons (by restaurant ranking) from the entertainment book Jenny gave me because she didn’t use it. Eh, nothing else planned for a Monday night.

Monday daytime, however, I spent doing a bit of eating. You see, Sunday night I realised that the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s restaurant express program, where you get two courses, a wine and a coffee for $35 at totally fancy places, ends next Wednesday, but I’m busy every lunchtime from this Wednesday!! Who says I can’t fit a few lunches into Monday Tuesday I have off.

I stayed up all night researching the restaurants and whether you could book online and see their set menu. The reviews for a restaurant at the national gallery were really standout, but you had to call, so I set my alarm for opening time. Only available for late lunch, which worked in just fine with my dual-lunch plan. Tried to get into pm24 but never got off hold, so called and booked at Papa Goose and headed in straight away.

An empty restaurant, a friendly waiter, and a phone to keep me company. Look what resulted!

Anything with confit in the name I would consider pretty fancy, so I gave it a go. It had a really nice crispy skin and was soft and smooth inside. The salad was interesting and I probably would have been impressed if it didn’t taste so similar to one that I get at the surf club in Soutbank. The avocado mush and those fried yoghurt balls were amazing though!

The dessert was a bit eh, as I didn’t enjoy the stout ice cream or the sour cherries. The half of the terrine with crackles in it was nice and tasted like peanut butter, the other: eh. But, it takes a nice photo for facebook!!

I had to wait for a while at the end to get my coat which they’d taken, because people kept arriving and taking the waiters’ attention, but got out eventually- without a tip: I claim ignorance!

On my way to the next restaurant I took a wander through the Moomba festival.. didn’t see very much (except a million prams in my way), but grabbed a festival program to read during lunch number 2, at Persimmon.

The chicken. So delicious. This is what I was expecting at an expensive place. The mush (pea I think) was sweet, the chicken was so soft, and the brown sauce was fantastic. And the wine didn’t even make me shudder! Must be fancy stuff!

Chilli, chocolate, raspberries and pop rocks. Pretty good idea if you ask me.. The first few bites were incredible (nice spice from the chilli) but by the end I was definitely struggling! (the previous three courses and the luke warm flavourless chai latte might have had something to do with it.. no more food for me for a while I think!)

Afterwards I spent the afternoon with a Meetup group.. so good, instant friends! I really enjoyed watching the trapeze artists.. but moreover the trapeze classes. I spent aaages watching them, it was way more interesting than the ones who had perfected it.. what an interesting concept!

There was only one thing that I was set on once I read it from the program.. a silent disco. Ehhh, sure. but the theme? 80s. Hell yeah! I danced the night away with my instant friends and had a super good time inside a skate park with headphones on. As you do.

Went to the Speigeltent for some drinks afterwards, saw Josh Thomas, went over and had an awkward chat (how could I not!?). Only in Melbourne..

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