Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Housewarming/Christmas Party 2012

Just 2 days before what seems like the biggest day of the entire year, K and S had the brilliant idea of hosting a get together and combining both their housewarming and Christmas celebrations.

It is the congregation of seemingly endless food, drinks, family, friends, receiving presents (and maybe giving them) all over the world that makes this short, yet so big part of the year just so special.

K and S are newlyweds themselves and using their prime honeymoon time to help all the other couples getting hitched during this period, they barely had any down time to enjoy their Just Married status in between.
So a big thank you to them, for taking time out of no time at all to organise such an enjoyable day for everyone who probably deserves it so much less than they do :)

Lamb Spit Roast
This was a sight to behold for guests who s-l-o-w-l-y trickled in, as I waited as patiently as possible as my starvation levels hit climax.

A slightly charcoal, hazy meat roast smell lingered teasingly in the air as the whole lamb rotated slowly on the rotisserie; a continuous motion that gradually cooks the meat and crisps up the craggy surface as the skin turns to a glistening brown.

Oops, better stick to societal norms...
P had a glance at the carcass's ass and thought we were having pork that day, which triggered this response from K. We definitely did not have a deformed pig roast, haha.

If only all misassumptions had explanations as clear as this!

Slow, almost TOO slow cooking of the lamb
This meat show is really an audible process, with the slight spitting sounds and almost robotic like movement of the rotisserie as it rotates the lamb.

Standing even a small distance away, the blasts of heat from that strong invisible flame is intense (I'm probably just feeling the sun, on this 35 degree Celsius day) as it slowly transforms the outer skin into a crisp and crackly layer.

Not a giant sausage
The body of the roast; lean, tender and basted in a mixture of herbs coating every inch of flesh in every mouthful.

Before the party on the lamb roast started, everyone snacked on much tamer food at the table.

A big plate of assorted breads fuelled me early on, with mini toasts, sliced turkish bread and bread sticks. I couldn't stop eating those bread twists! I think I had a mild addiction to their slight spiciness and salty flavour, with specks of what I think were bacon and chives.

The essential salad component of party food was delivered with this smashing pumpkin salad, with sweet pumpkin cubes, crumbled feta, and toasted pine nuts atop a bed of baby spinach leaves.
"Caesar" and "salad" were just meant to be
Caesar salad is a most popular choice when it comes to salads, probably because there is just nothing that salady or healthy, especially with the heavy pouring of creamy salad dressing before giving it a thorough toss. And NOTHING is left uncoated, ever.

There's just something so indulgent and enjoyable with a big plate of crunchy cos lettuce leaves, boiled egg, salty bacon strips, parmesan cheese and crunchy croutons, laden with calorific dressing on top.

Yes, loads of bread left over at the end of the day, even after enthusiastic scooping of all the tubs of dips provided. The amount of products made into dips these days is mind boggling!

This simple antipasto platter was a winner among guests, with an assortment of semi-dried tomatoes, thin crackers, marinated olives and salami twiggy sticks, paired with a creamy onion and bacon dip.

A surprisingly close winner also is the raw vegetable platter in the background, with sticks of raw carrot, zucchini and celery - collectively termed "rabbit food", and should probably be everyone's diet after the festive season.

A very simple cheeseboard on the day, featuring a small mix of cheeses.
This was barely touched; just not anybody's cup of tea or slice of cheese that day!

Dangerously moreish are these party platters with small snackable sized food items, which I realised after making a huge dent in the plate.

Roasted with a lime and sweet chilli flavour, all the salted peanuts, almonds, cashews, macadamias, brazil nuts and crisps are just too easy to pick up and pop into the mouth, and just too hard to stop.

Party helpers did a wonderful job of dessert duty (with the aid of the miraculous Thermomix - maybe, maybe not? ;)) and made bowls of refreshingly sweet mango pudding and almond jelly (not pictured) for all the [now plump] guests.

Lets eat!...and eat, and eat some more...
Deep fried spring rolls was also on the crowded table, with a choice of vegetable or taro fillings.

And I haven't even mentioned the rolls of buttery garlic bread, mountains of fresh fruit, L's box of delicious moist chocolate brownies, the hot dog station cranking outside the house, the big box of party junk food that didn't end up being opened, and the aromatic batches of grilled marinated chicken wings that definitely warmed the entire house up with delicious smells at this housewarming event.

And a special mention to the burnt red velvet cupcakes that never made it to the party.

Ready for some Dirty Santa action
A fun and playful method of gift giving is a game of Dirty Santa and all the rivalries created from gift snatching.

The only dirty thing about this game is the right to steal (and the mind of the person who decided to buy a revealing French maid costume as a present).

Indoor spearfishing

Note: NERF guns - always popular with the male species, no matter how old you are.

The boys trekking to the nearest shops, buying 5 new guns and turning the new house into a battlefield.
Take a break (from plain old red and white packaging!)
I came home heavier than I had expected! (Not the extra food baby I was now carrying. Obviously.)

It was this very beautiful and enticingly packaged box of assorted kit kats that L had generously lugged back from Japan, the land where kit kats exist in more than just their brown and white chocolate forms.

Kit Kats: Strawberry, Green Tea, Rum & Raisin and Wasabi flavours
Even though I was stuffed and in a horizontal position on the couch straight after lunch, the moment of kit kat distribution was the kick I needed to realise there was still room in my stomach.

These are still resting in my fridge, reserved as my "break glass in case of emergency" sugar fix for when urges arise unexpectedly. I'm still working my way through, slow and steady, one flavour at a time.

Hello, my name is Antisocial. If you ever need me, I'll be in the corner.
So before I do a few rounds and forget, I hope you all had a magical Christmas.

May you all be merry, laugh lots, eat as much as you want to, get fat, then lose it all after the new year again.

Yeah, I wish too.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Maylands Street Festival

Perth has become festival-happy in the crazy fast lead-up to the festive season, and so have I.

Festival hopping results in excessive spending, but is a worthy expenditure when these hard-earned dollars in turn work even harder to contribute to a local community that is playing a role in Perth's rapid development.

Organised by the not-for-profit Maylands Business Association, The Maylands Street Festival is a bi-annual event taking place on the 25th of November this year.
As a great initiative to promote businesses in this emerging suburb, the festival brings out the creativity and culture it has been hiding and showcases the interesting character of (and characters in!) this thriving neighbourhood.

The bustling crowd on 8th Avenue
The festival, albeit smaller than most others, took place on a small but abundant strip in the suburb and undoubtedly had strong unanimous community support from local residents and visitors alike.

It attracted a steady crowd of people and immensely popular with families, with many activities aimed at the smaller people :) Children were spoiled with choice from all the games, face painting, amusement rides, art and craft workshops, and a live animal farm they could get their hands on (literally!)

As to keep us bigger ones amused, an abundance of market stalls stood amongst a constant movement of talented street performers, buskers and other forms of roving entertainment.

Don't wait 'til the Royal Show!
Once a yearly treat to get excited about, but now the pop-up showbag stand is everywhere where the kids + adults combination can be found.

Good news to the kids; but a detrimental effect on parents' wallets.

So that's what it feels like to be inside an orange...

Many items become so much more amusing when made into either a giant of miniature form, and this is no exception. Slightly ruined however, as this sadly, very very sadly, reminded me of Annoying Orange.

Because really, no matter how you think of it, this is also a talking orange.

Get down and dirty (Your hands)
In the artsy craftsy corner of the street lay a dedicated station loaded with bright, colourful paint mixes for every kid to be a kid and every adult to become a kid.

MYO Umbrella!
Sighted at just about every festival I have visited are a plethora of kids crowded around this particular art station, set up with a sea of plain paper umbrellas as a blank canvas for every person's artistic ability (or wild and senseless scribbles) to be released on.

A very creative idea to bring out the child's imagination, and a very practical item giving much needed shade from the harsh, unforgiving Aussie sun.

Colouring In and Silhouette artwork
We walked past a wall display of some impressive artwork done by primary school students, which only made me cringe at the rubbish I managed back in year 4.

Only I believed they were true indecipherable works of art (just like a true artist does).

Adventureland Bouncy Castle
A bouncy palace, fit for every little king and queen in every Mum and Dad's hearts :)
The Western Bull
And it wasn't just the kids who enjoyed a thrilling ride that day!

Kangaroo Drop
Kangaroo Drop, a much smaller scale of the ride I am too chicken to go on.

Add caption
As expected, there were queues for food and drink but nowhere near as long as frustration extends to.

The guys from Milkd sure did fill the air with the ubiquitous carnival smell of sausages and onions, sizzling away in a lifesized fry pan and baristas pumping out cups of milky brown liquid desire that people are so fond of.

Need this for my home
A one pan fits 10 meals approach - a genius solution to efficiency, or just pure laziness :)

Just one of many
While food is popular, others sold pre-packaged cups of bubble tea, sweet snacks and desserts to keep everyone going for the day.

Delish Ice
The Delish Ice mini caravan sold various gourmet popsicles at $3.50 a pop, a perfect companion and enemy of the heat.

Scrawled on the blackboard were the flavours available, including classic foolproof favourites like banana, strawberry and choc chip and orange and strawberry.
Venturing into more exotic choices, there is a ginger beer, mint and lime choice and the Herbes de Provence, infused with Madagascan vanilla and thyme.

For the alcohol-happy among us, Delish Ice have a range of cocktail inspired popsicles including the Mojito (mint and lime) and the Basil Smash (a gin inspired syrup) of elder flower and basil.

Mrs S stand
Following their prominence on the breakfast scene in Perth and the Maylands cafe strip, the Mrs S. team had a very prominent corner on the street with a steady queue for their sweet and savoury offerings.

Hot off the hotplate
Mrs S. has given the standard sandwich a slightly fancier cousin famously known as the manwich, a macho combination of pulled pork, aioli, rocket and beetroot relish for $8.

The same $8 also gets you more standard breakfast fare - piping hot bacon and egg rolls with homemade BBQ sauce compiled fresh off the overworked barbeque.

Refreshing chilled beverages
Salted Caramel Popcorn - $4
Bags and bags of popped joy - salted caramel sure has had rocketing fame lately!

On dainty little flower entwined cake stands sat beautifully decorated and presented sweets and cupcakes.

Temptations up for grabs included eton mess for $7, chocolate raspberry brownies and lemon curd cakes, both for $4.

I didn't have any, but I'm just as delighted to look at them :)


Primarily residential in nature, it is great to see the joint efforts by local businesses committed to bringing Maylands' transformation into a foodie's, fashionista's and artist's hub.

Admittedly it only took under 15 minutes to wander through the whole festival, which also featured live music from local bands and entertainment on stage. I ended up eating at one of the restaurants open for business instead, after keeping my stomach empty for all the food I anticipated at the festival.
A greater focus on food produced by local businesses would have amped up the deliciousness of the festival - the most predictable foodie speak right, I know.
(Hey, I am a foodie after all, what did you expect to hear!)

Originally under the threat of cancellation due to lack of council financial support, the festival stood strong. Evidence of a supportive community spirit shone through, with philanthropic financial contributions from the people with generous hearts behind the Dome Coffees and LJ Hooker business names.

There's still faith in humankind :)

For future updates:


Monday, 10 December 2012

Spencers Village Food Court

Spencer Village Food Hall on Urbanspoon
If you can't pick, pick them all.
Whether it be food, clothes or places to work (I just do not learn).

There's one little trusted place in Perth that cures all (Asian) cravings, that brings a small slice of Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, [insert any other country here] here to Australia in the form of delicious, authentic tasting food.

All in the one central location, under the same roof, spans this global village of hawker food galore to take your pick from, similar to Cambridge Forum. Located just metres away from each other, it has never been more convenient and cheap to go country-hopping from one to the other.
Durian Smoothie - $5
Most international food courts have a token drinks stall residing in the food court, with no other stalls selling any beverages. The Panda drinks stall at Spencers Village sells a delightful range of drinks for both the Western and Asian palate - there's smoothies, then there's Asian smoothies.

Durian smoothie...tasted real, and definitely smelled as real as stink.
A pleasingly real stench that wafts of durian.
Chee Cheong Fun - $4.50
Entree is always the same no-brainer choice, and is always delivered up by the ever busy Fook Kee store selling good value for money Chinese eats. Keeping a small menu and offering less choice works to their advantage as the customer does not need to bombard the brain with overwhelming choice.

It is always exciting to prance around with a $20 note in hand, and be googly eyed at the vast range of options to satiate yourself with.
Ooh, the way that skin gleams with liberal coats of sticky sauce...
A favourite at the Fook Kee stall is its beautifully simple chee cheong fun dish, its popularity evident from its presence on just about...every one of our visits.

All their menu items are small sized dishes and tastily priced, as are these soft rice flour rolls topped with beancurd skin, and bathed in coats of sweet soy sauce before the finishing touch of sesame seeds.
Yong Tau Fu - $6
Another essential dish is the yong tau fu (stuffed tofu), which will give you a pleasant surprise if all you are expecting is stuffed tofu.

It is a collective name for a plate that brings you not only tofu blocks stuffed with pork paste, but also eggplant, capsicum, fish balls and fried tofu skin. If sharing, be prepared to share intimate bites, since you don't get many of the same food item in one dish.
Assorted dipping sauces
The yong tau fu is delivered with a trio of dipping sauces to dab or drench your food in. It includes a sweet soy sauce, a chilli sauce as well as a thin garlicy, chilli sauce.
Penang Fried Kuey Teow - $8
A satisfied his noodle craving with a plate of Penang fried kuey teow, complete with bean sprouts, eggs, chicken and beef amongst the charred aroma and flavour of flat rice noodles.

I love being able to taste that recognisable wok hei flavour in this dish, achieved by stir frying the contents in a wok over a high-heat but controlled flame.
Curry Laksa - $7.50
I was forced to order laksa from another stall when I was told that the Izyam Malay stall's laksa had finished for the night. I knew laksa was the only thing that plagued my mind that night as I shop-hopped, determined to get my soupy fix for dinner.
Curry laksa, up close and personal
This laksa was a very worthy substitute, evident in the way that I scooped and scoured my way further and deeper into the empty bowl of soup at the end of the meal, full of false hope, like I was never ever going to eat a bowl of laksa ever again.

I made sure not a single strand of noodle was left alone in that sea of fragrant coconut milky soup. Life would be a lot easier if noodle dishes came with strainers...
Laksa - aerial view
A very satisfying bowl of laksa with all the familiar goodies - your fish balls, fried tofu, chicken strips, prawns, bean sprouts and 2 different types of noodles; a mix of the standard hokkien egg noodles and rice vermicelli.

The tempting call of a ridiculously flavoursome soup is just so easy to succumb to.
Nasi Ayam - $9
I fell in love with a meal I once ordered from the Izyam Malay store that has left a deep imprint in my mind with its DELICIOUS rice, infused with particular spices that I could not identify.

I have ordered a few other dishes from them in a blind attempt to find that dish I ordered again, but with no luck. This nasi ayam dish had slightly overcooked chicken with fried shallots, and disappointing yellow rice (disappointing only because it wasn't the rice I was trying to find).

I would probably go with one of their many other chicken dishes.
Bak Kut Teh - $8.50
If there was an addictive substance that can get me hooked, it is definitely the ingredients inside a pack of bak kut teh spices. A must have, if spotted by my bak kut teh prone vision.
What's not to love?
Bak Kut Teh is a very generous offering from the Penang Cuisine store, consisting of meaty pork spare ribs, tofu skin, fried tofu, plump Chinese mushrooms and champignon mushroom buttons in a clear, hearty broth.

It is absolutely perfect when eaten over a hot bowl of steamed rice or, with my way of doing things, by emptying the bowl of rice into the goodie-laden soup instead.
That way, you are more likely to fit more in the one mouthful :)
Yong Tau Fu - $6
On a more recent visit to my favourite foodcourt, we couldn't resist another plate of yong tau fu (again).
Chai Tow Kway
Not to be confused with Char Kuey Teow, Chai Tow Kway is a different dish despite having a similar appearance and letters in its name. It is similar to fried radish cake that you can get at dim sim, with the main difference being these flour cubes are tossed with egg and bean sprouts.

Chai Tow Kway is a true hawker food and a popular, nostalgic way to eat them is by ditching all conventional cutlery and simply pick them up using a toothpick.
Chinese Donut
I have fond memories of the excitement that these would bring to me as a child, when dad would bring them home. They had absolutely nothing in them, but its chewy, golden, sesame crusted exterior would be the most satisfying treat.

Straits Cuisine has a warmer filled with these baked and fried Asian pastries, and they are all really worth a try. This particular one had a sweet filling inside and is great for sharing.
Roti Tisu - $3.50
Suzie's Prata House is nestled next to Fook Kee in the corner of the food court, and can be easily overlooked if you don't pay attention. Despite always keeping a look out, the store is always shut as their business hours do not follow the other stores. I finally had the chance to try their food on a Saturday morning.
I normally love eating roti and jumped at the sight of $3.50 roti tisu. What I didn't expect was the delivery of the Great Pyramid to the table! The eye-catching roti cone is paper thin and shattered at a delicate touch. It is served with a pool of curry gravy, but as it is dusted with sugar I preferred mine as it was. A must try :)
Penang Fried Kuey Teow - $8.50
 Same dish different day, again from the ever busy Penang Cuisine stall.
Oyster Omelette - $13
The Ya Kwang Singaporean Hawker Delights stall offers similar dishes as its neighbours, but one item that caught my taste buds' attention were their omelette versions. There is the choice of either oysters or prawns and the omelette is freshly cooked to order.

The omelette looked more like a mess rather than an omelette, but it smelled delicious with no lack of flavour. Some mouthfuls did have an unpleasant, chewy gooey texture to them which I suspect is the result of unthorough flour mixing. We also found ourselves hunting around for more oysters, believing that some were hidden somewhere (when there were actually only about 5 altogether).
Baked Pork Buns
The Straits Cuisine stall serves up Malacca and Chinese dishes and along with the chinese donut, we buy half a dozen or so of these baked pork buns to take home. As delicious as (or probably more) their steamed counterparts, these baked barbeque pork buns come with a buttery, flaky pastry; making them much more sinful.

The ball that takes the crown is a deep fried glutinous rice ball filled with a sweet red bean paste. Its other name is jian dui, literally translating to "fried heap". Indeed it is a heap of fried glutinous rice flour, but you have to taste it before you judge the name with a scrunched up expression on your face.
Tom Yum Fried Bee Hoon - $8.50
Somehow we are still not satisfied at this point and go order a plate of fried bee hoon from the Singaporean stall. I'm a sucker for the intense hot and sour flavour of tom yum, which is quite well distributed in the stir fried rice noodles.
I don't enjoy it as much as I thought I would; most likely because I've ignored the obvious sign that I was actually already full.
Soybean Milk
Soybean milk from the Panda Cafe is refreshingly cold and goes down real smooth :)
Kuih Dadar
The abundance of Asian cuisine stalls at Spencers Village means numerous Asian desserts and delicacies being sold. Kuih dadar is a rolled pandan crepe stuffed with grated coconut and palm sugar. The green tinge is a result of pandan juice that has seeped through the batter that should give it a wonderful sweet fragrance.
Kuih Dadar interior
Despite the promising shade of green on the crepe rolls, the lack of fragrant and taste of the pandan rolls is a big disappointment. The crepes themselves are very bland and hints at the use of food colouring to give it that deep colour.
A look on the label lists only three ingredients; these being flour, coconut and sugar. Hmm...
I'll have to get my authentic fix of kuih dadar elsewhere. Anyone with recommendations?
Panda Cafe (drinks stall) and Miss Saigon (Vietnamese cuisine)
The tables are sticky and there is a high chance you need to share your table with strangers, but Spencers is definitely my favourite food court.
Spencers Village food court (next to IGA)
I'm hanging out for the next visit to Spencers Village, which probably won't be for a while since the drive there costs an arm and a leg's worth in time (even though this is a compilation of 3 visits haha). I envy those who live nearby, who can get cheap, authentic and fast meals whenever they please, without losing an arm or a leg.

It may be a food court, but service is personalised a little by every stall's ordering procedure. Ordering and paying is standard, but then having your food delivered to your table is a nice touch that saves your bottom leaving the wooden bench seating (even if they are uncomfortable)!

Don't expect flashy surroundings, or even an average ambiance at that. Spencers has built up quite the reputation over the years, but in the opposite direction, attracting negative publicity regarding its food health and safety violations.

Once dubbed "the food hall from hell", it could not be any more misleading.
If this here is hell, I would love to go to hell.

Lunch & Dinner: Wed - Sun
(Imagine my rage fit when I turned up nice and early on a Tuesday after a 30 minute drive)

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