HAD ME AT ‘HARDWARE SOCIETE’

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Yes, again with the lame title! But I swear that’s the only lame thing in this post, because the folks at The Hardware Societe are serious about producing a beautifully delicious brunch for patrons (a 20-25 minute wait minimum in the cold Melbournian morning will reveal that the customers are also serious about a seriously good brunch!).

Once our names were ticked off the wait-list doily by the tall and handsome waiter, we were ushered inside to any available seat – almost exclusively communal tables there. I’m not a fan of large, shared tables as firstly, you get no privacy to talk comfortably with your dining partner, and also because it may bring about awkward situations like sitting in front of affectionate lovebirds, or needing to ask the stranger next to you to pass the rapadura sugar who only responds with a stare, or being too embarrassed to take more photos in front of them – all three of which happened to me.

Luckily the very wonderful coffee that was soon brought out to us helped to fade out the discomfort and chill in our faces and bones. The food took a while to arrive, but it was only to be expected with the crowd, and I’m happy to report that it was certainly worth the wait!

The baked eggs with chorizo and pimento came in a small, rustic cast iron pot with pieces of baguette drizzled with olive oil on the side. The longer you leave the eggs, tomato, chorizo, cream, nuts, etc in the pot undisturbed, the more the eggs cook – so if you like eggs runnier, spoon around and up into your mouth faster! It was the heartiest breakfast I’d had in a long time, and it was getting difficult to finish especially with the baguette slices. I guessed at least 3 eggs in the pot, but the waitress confirmed only 2 eggs were used. The mushroom dish also tasted beautifully buttery and perfectly cooked.

I’m unsure whether to call the place a cafe or restaurant. The food is certainly a cut above your average cafe fare, but the atmosphere (casual and homey), constant whir of the coffee machine and in-and-out affair rings true of a cafe. Anyway. I’m definitely coming back, regardless of their seating arrangements and some rude wait staff, and want to try more of their adorable desserts too!

Side thoughts: After admiring and sipping our coffees I stood around watching the baristas at the counter until our food was ready, and the guy who was adding the steamed milk and creating latte art made an impression on me. Although there were plenty of orders there, he didn’t rush. He poured the milk gently and with visible concentration, holding the cup and jug up to his eye level, almost smiling as he finished up the artwork. Wasn’t too preoccupied to flash a smile and peace sign, either. The coffee I had there was the best I’d had during my short trip, and it confirmed my belief that heartfelt passion that starts quietly in one person will manifest in their work to touch many others.

CONTACT :

Got the Manchester Press Munchies

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Mmm.. Bagelsss. Popularly thought as a quintessentially “New York” food, it certainly evokes memories of some childhood years there – toasting one to warmth, slathering it with cream cheese and devouring with a side of Cap’n Crunch or Frosted Flakes. Some Sydney cafés do have “bagels”, but that term is used loosely here as any kind of dense bread in a doughnut shape is called as such. I have been craving that unique texture of bagels for so long, and I was happy to try a beloved bagel cafe in Melbourne’s CBD. Also happy to hunt down the pleasant lane in which its located (Melbourne’s maps actually make sense and are neatly ordered unlike Sydney’s as shown here). Not ever really happy to wait in line, but it really was worth it!

The interior is decked with plenty of wood and metal, but is cosy with a vintage feel, and dimly lit with warm bulbs and a touch of sunlight. The buzz of people’s catchups, feel-good old school tunes like Rockin’ Robin, and grinding and steaming of coffee with its consequential heavenly smell reaching up to the high ceilings was uplifting.

After reading comments on trusty Urbanspoon about MP’s great coffee, I was excited to have my first coffee in Melbourne there but was disappointed. The house blend cappuccino was gorgeously presented with latte art but lacked heat and body.. my Melbournian friend also agreeing it was just “alright”. To make up for it, the bagels were fantastic – one was half coated in linseeds and the other in sesame seeds, the bread warm, chewy, and soft, and accompanied by a small green salad. The BMAT was a perfect level of salty and tangy, the layers of crisp bacon and mozzarella topped with a massive half avocado to balance it out. I wish there was a little more of the chutney – tasted so so good! It was a filling and thoroughly enjoyable bagel, and although it didn’t beat the memory of my childhood bagels, it was a deeelicious contender.

There is an interesting and tantalising variety of bagels both sweet and savoury to choose from and I’d love to go back to try them all.

Mmmm.. Craving another right. now.

Contact MP:

Manchester Press on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Magic (Photo-Diary Part 1)

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I know I haven’t even finished the previous photo-diary of my trip to the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves.. but I’m feeling motivated to post up photos from my 3 night trip to Melbourne from a couple of weekends ago!

It’s only my second visit to this wonderfully chill rival and sister city. Melbourne is an intriguing hub, blending with ease trending modern style and pop culture with timeless grace and genteel charm. In the heart of the city the beautiful and historic Flinders Street Station and shiny new shopping mecca Emporium reside harmoniously, attracting tourists and Melbournians alike. Street-side you see the endless scuffle of popular stores and eateries vying for customers’ attentions, flecked with the quiet stone church here and old Victorian building there.

Blessedly, the weather was just gorgeous! Truly the beginning of Spring, the sun shone bright despite the chilly air and sunnies were in order. Sydney was still at the end of the looonnggg wet phase and I’m glad it didn’t rain in Melb – ain’t nobody got hands fo that! One hand for food, the other for shopping bags, my camera in between somewhere, and umbrella..? Forget it.

More than a few glimpses around the city made me nostalgic for New York. Maybe it was the yellow taxis, bare trees lining the Yarra, quirky streetstyle, graffiti, buildings..

All I know is that I so adore Melbourne. And I have a few special places (read: FOOD PLACES) I’d like to share with you :9 stay tuned!

Quarter of a Century

It has been MONTHS since I’ve last blogged, and I barely recall how to navigate around WordPress (nicely updated, btw) but I’d like to thank you random trickle of people who have been visiting :)

It’s my 25th birthday today. Sometimes I feel like I’m still 16 .. mostly though I feel like I’m 50. But  it’s definitely a blessing to have lived to this milestone, and I’m very grateful. Accidents and attacks happen on the daily, as do genetically inherited diseases and sudden illnesses – it could have been me. But it wasn’t. And I’m going to make a greater, concerted effort to make the most of my life now, and what it has been, for what it will be as planned by my loving God.

I’m not sure if it’s my calmer family environment, a recent high at work (Anaesthetic rotation FTWNEVERLETMEGOPLS), my skin stabilising, exercising more regularly, or the mental preparation/acceptance of turning 25 – but I’m feeling. great. hehe :) I just.. feel like.. a normal person my age. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, and it feels like some prestigious achievement though I’ve not done anything to get to this stage.. I feel and know that I am an adult now, that noone or nothing should or can hurt or sway me unless I allow it to. Too many “or”s but you get the point.

Self-efficacy is the difference. For what can’t I do with God’s guidance and anointing?

I thought, wished, that my 24th year of life would be the best and brightest. But I’m ready for my 25th one to be. No more hiding, or denying :) Oh, and less SERIOUSNESS. Seriously ;) Time to be who am, who I want and need to be.

Photos below are from my day out with my mother and mother’s mother (visiting from Korea) – three generation celebration! None of us ever thought we’d see the day. Also the most beautiful bouquet I’ve ever received in my life plus some early gifts <3

 
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Mountains & Caves Day 2

Day 2 Photo-diary:

 
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Day 2 Schedule:

  1. Wake up and enjoy the buffet brekkie in the beautiful, old-world elegant dining room.
  2. Do the Temple of Baal Cave Tour! It was just incredible.. not much walking at all, being in awe of the ethereal formations and taking in the history of that cave and its early explorers. The names of the formations are Biblical in nature, as the extraordinary young man who discovered them was Christian and inspired by figures and events from the Bible. It was a Sunday morning, so there were only about 8 people which made the atmosphere even better, almost reverent. Highly recommended.
  3. Drive to the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba and snoop all around the grand Victorian building, transported to another era. So beautiful!
  4. Grab lunch at a local eatery and walk (the very LONG walk) down to Echo Point and the Three Sisters.
  5. Explore, explore, explore! Mindfulness. Clarity. Breathe. I adore the sounds of the birds that rise from the forests and valleys below.
  6. Back to base to unpack and change. The drinks were calling and plush armchairs inviting in the sitting room near the bar. Chat and drink, like a sir!
  7. Check out the Old City Bank Bar – wood-fired pizzas (delish!), chess, more drinks.
  8. Nightfall .. admire the Carrington, fall in love all over again. Prepare a spa with skincare and edible treats.
  9. Quiet time.
  10. ZzzzZZz~

It’s been a while since I’d intended to post this up! I have just started full-time work as a perioperative nurse with orientations finally out of the way, so things have been a little hectic and exhausting (this calls for another post).

Day 3 coming soon! ;)

100 Days of Gratitude & Happiness

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This s a new undertaking I have been meaning to do since the beginning of the year via Instagram.

I find it very difficult to get along with the world I am in, and with the people who live it “normally”, mindlessly, sensibly as expected, socially acceptably .. but that doesn’t make me any less affected by its conventions and temptations..

I just want to find balance and be at peace ..

I want to love the life I live, the life I have been given and will forge.

I ultimately want to love myself more .. and this project is a step towards that.

Here is Day 1!

I’d joined IG to document slices of everyday life, as a personal reminder of things that I was grateful for or made me happy that day. That soon gave way to first world complaints here and comparing myself or faking normalcy there.. so for 100 days I will be making a concerted, daily effort to recognise things that I am sincerely grateful and genuinely happy about/for! Feel free to do it with me or block/hide me.
D:1/100 ☆ I’m sincerely grateful that I have much in my life to be grateful about, and will discover more that I’m not yet grateful about. ♡ I’m genuinely happy that I’m taking steps to become a more positive person.
#100DaysofGratitudeandHappiness #ProjectJaneuine

Mountains & Caves Day 1

Day 1 Photo-diary:

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Day 1 Schedule:

  1. Reasonable 9:30AM-ish start and brekkie from Chatswood then head out to LOTR soundtrack (AN EPIC TRIP CALLS FOR AN EPIC PLAYLIST. A moderately exciting roadtrip also requires one to make it more exciting)!
  2. Arrive in Leura for a stroll-around and dessert at a local cafe to recharge.
  3. Drive straight to the Jenolan Caves Village!
  4. Park! Check out the cave tours timetable! So adventure! Much excite!
  5. The River Cave Tour (Strenuous Level, 2 hrs, 1271 m, 1298 steps)
  6. Have an incredible experience, all whilst juggling the dslr and phone on slippery ground and steep steps.
  7. Go for a quick walk around the large pond – home to 2 elusive platypi.
  8. Unpack from car to lodge, then attempt to get all 500 flies out of the room (staff left the door open. Still mystified as to WHY.)
  9. Unwind at the pub/bistro/bar at Jenolan Caves House. Mmmm, cider and overpriced bar food ..
  10. A brisk, long walk far down on the trail past the pond, a tiny waterfall and through beautiful eucalyptus forest, following the rivulet. Also try not to step on the lizards chilling on the track that you see every few metres.
  11. Simple dinner and drinks.
  12. Float up to the lodge, tired and dazed and radiant -> Night-time routine -> Sleep.

Pretty much how the day went! It was a perfect mix of adventure and activity with relaxation and calm. Absolutely loved it! We chose to do the River Cave Tour first because it was highly recommended to us, and I wanted a more challenging first tour. IMO it turned out not to be “strenuous” but for a simple guided tour I suppose it was appropriately warned – you do get a little breathless at some point, especially the older participants. I have much more on the tour and other components of Day 1 to post as sub-stories and photo-diaries in coming days, but I’m doing a general Day 1, 2 and 3 before that.

I can’t quite put in words how wonderful it felt, though, to experience the breath-giving (opposite of breathtaking?) flora and fauna out and unimaginably exquisite cave formations in. It was exactly what I’d needed.

Tripping Through Mountains and Caves

Last month (18th to 20th of Jan) I went on a 3 day trip with my photography friend to the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves – two of the most dominating tourist attractions in NSW. Overall it was everything I needed – part relaxation, part action, a thorough mix of discovery, all wrapped up in adventure as well as countless laughs and photos and videos! At times it truly was trippy and surreal – what I was seeing before my eyes seemed so impossibly magical.

The above video is my first attempt at travel videography/video-blogging, and I have to say it was difficult to do on top of trying to take in the reality and being mindful of the situation at hand plus taking some photos with my dslr. Looking back at this, though, I’m really glad I took the time and effort to do so. I definitely need to work on keeping my hands steady, and I had to speed up each clip to reduce total video length so the shakiness is much worse – apologies if you got a headache from that!

Highlights and exceptional memories of the trip:

  • revisiting the caves a decade later (not nearly as cold as I remember!) and being dumbfounded by the absolutely incredible wonders of the River Caves and Temple of Baal Cave.
  • seeing a wallaby (possibly a swamp wallaby?) a few times, and once up VERY close and personal. I was oblivious to it, skipping down a trail and stopping when I heard heavy rustling just behind me. We looked at each other for a few seconds, then it hopped two steps away so I bid it good-day.
  • seeing and hearing the painfully shy and rarely sighted lyrebirds and their song! The couple were quick to run up to higher ground and thicker bush when they heard us.
  • staying a night and being nosy, peeking into every room I could, at the Carrington Hotel – old world class at its finest!
  • discovering you can walk right to the edge of the spectacular Wentworth Falls overlooking the forests, mountain ranges and the Three Sisters, and even to a huge ledge halfway down to the bottom (the track down there was either closed or there was none..but that didn’t stop a bunch of tourists we saw)

I’ll be posting photo diaries in the coming days! Please enjoy and visit – I highly recommend seeing these natural gems and icons in person as no photograph or video could do them justice.

Starring: Sugar

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strawberry and watermelon cake + pistachio lemon zen garden cake

pistachio lemon zen garden cake + strawberry and watermelon cake


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That. dang. strawberry. watermelon. cake!

It was as sweet, refreshing, and beautifully presented and textured as rumoured (also as teeny and pricey) – but the hype did ruin it a tad for me. Nevertheless, I am sure as sunshine that I could eat 10 of those! I especially love the floral, rosy scent and decorations on the top. The pistachio lemon zen garden cake was also lovely, layered with the same almond dacquoise as the strawberry and watermelon cake, and strongly flavoured of tangy lemon and sweet pistachio.

Pro tips:

  • Try not to get in too late in the afternoon, lest something you’d like be sold out
  • Do take-away! The shop is not interested in catering for you to eat in (cramped and limited seating and “table” space, dirty cups and cutlery). Grab your goodies and leave.
  • Don’t even bother with the coffees and hot drinks. Just don’t.
  • The sugary sweets are the stars of the show, but I’ve since heard that their pies are amazing – shall be back for those!

Short and sweet today! The photos are admittedly more experiental than anything – it was my first time taking the 50mm f/1.4 out for a snap! :)

Sugar makes everything okay – especially when whipped into magical little creations such as these. Happy noms!

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