My European birthday

My European birthday

International birthday travel is fast becoming a tradition of mine. While last year I travelled through Japan, this year I traipsed ate my way through Europe. I loved every moment of it, and despite it being my third visit I feel as if I’ve barely scratched the surface.

I’ve commonly heard of France as being a love it or hate it city with no in between. I have to say I fall smack bang in the ‘love it’ camp. It holds a special place in my heart and I don’t think I could ever travel to Europe without a visit. On this trip we were fortunate enough to drive through the south of France all the way up to the Italian border. I loved how wide and varied the scenery shifted in such a short distance.

I think I OD’ed on cheese and wine, although can one really get sick of cheese and wine In France we ate at Mirazur for my birthday (I was sooo spoiled), which is currently number 4 restaurant in the world. I can’t stop thinking about the trolley of cheese they brought out post-meal. I spent some time in Lyon – know as the foodie capital, I ate endless quenelles and saucissons at the downtown market. We were blessed with clear blue skies for most of our trip.

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We stopped by London and Amsterdam to say hello to our expat friends that have since gone onto live fun adventures abroad. I’m a little jealous of all the European countries they have at a stone’s throw. Coming into spring, it was lovely to have the flowers (especially those gorgeous tulips) in bloom during our nordic leg of the trip.

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Take me back! <3

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Ramen, gangsters and giant coffee bowls

Ramen, gangsters and giant coffee bowls

I popped down to Melbourne the other weekend for a quick trip. Not for any particular reason, but mainly to eat. Hah. I love how Sydney and Melbourne are similar, yet so very different at the same time.

Naturally, we left behind a sunny Sydney day for a cloudy Melbourne one. But that’s OK. Our hotel was pretty swish and the food we ate was beyond amazing, so in my opinion it worked out in the end. We paid a visit to what has now become a tradition each trip – Hu Tong Dumpling Bar. It legitimately serves the best dumplings ever. The XLB’s and the pan-fried dumplings are bursting with broth. So comforting on a winter’s day.

There were multiple bowls of coffee to be had. Can I just say at $5 a bowl, that’s a bloody bargain? I usually pay $4 for my regular soy flat white in Sydney. If you’re ever down in Melbourne, I highly recommend The League of Honest Coffee. Loved it. We bought a bag of beans which reminds me, I should grind some for the aeropress.

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I can’t get over Melbourne street art. Nothing compares. Also I stocked up on some Nyx cosmetics at Priceline. Props to whomever can spot the horrible typo on the packaging. We had a peek at the Scorsese exhibit at the ACMI – they recommended 45 min to see everything, but we stayed for a few hours and took our time to watch all the exhibits.

IMG_7238IMG_7265 IMG_7263IMG_7273Of course a weekend is never nearly enough time to explore Melbourne. I’ll do another post on some other foodie places we visited soon. I’m so slack with photo curating.

I dream of Tokyo

I dream of Tokyo

So what’s with this Sydney weather? It feels a lot like inconsistent Melbourne weather to me. Hah. Today is supposedly going to reach a maximum of 26 degrees, did I mention it’s the middle of winter? Whaaaaat? Anyway. It makes dressing in the morning a nightmare.

Everyone I know seems to be overseas at the moment, so I’ve been running around tending to plants, taking out the trash, meal planning for my entire week. Who knew maintaining a household(s) on your lonesome could be so exhausting?

I’ve barely had much time to myself to do some crafting, but I did have some time to edit some of the cherry blossom photos I have from Tokyo. So delayed, but I’m keen to get some of these printed out and framed for the house.

Anyway. Happy Friday all!

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Canberra part deux

Canberra part deux

Continuing on from my last post about the nation’s capital, we stayed in the New Acton precinct which gave us a good chance to explore the surrounds on foot. Behind our hotel was the snazzy Hotel Hotel… hotel. Definitely worth a gander if you plan on staying in Canberra.

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We ate brunch at Mocan and Green Grout, where there is always a wait for a table. The coffee however is amazing. As I mentioned in the last post, we went to the Handmade Markets where I bought some matching coffee cups and some cold smoked garlic. The latter with the most intoxicating smell. I have some plans for the garlic with some fluffy scrambled eggs and potentially truffle.

We ended up in the city’s centre on the Sunday, and went to Akiba for some late lunching. I had read some reviews of them having some amazing dumplings and just couldn’t resist the allure of warm parcels of goodness on such a cold winter’s day. The beef rib dumplings were delicious and tender and melt in your mouth – everything they should be.

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On our final day we had a late breakfast at The Cupping Room, which was one of the few things open on a public holiday. After putting our name down we got some take away coffees and stood out in the sun. Once finally seated, we opted for a sweet and savoury dish, French toast and the bacon and egg roll which were both delicious. The citrus on the French toast would have ordinarily put me off, but it wasn’t too tart which made it perfection.

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All in all it was an excellent stay and Canberra was a great choice for a short road trip. I’d definitely recommend Canberra as a place for great coffee and amazing food! Also. GO NOW while it’s truffle season! The best season of them all.

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Eating my way through the capital city

Eating my way through the capital city

For the Queen’s birthday long weekend, we decided to do a road trip down to Canberra which is an approximately 3 hour drive. Let me just say that the Australian capital city has changed quite a bit from what I remember. There are loads of jobs in C-town which I guess means the foodie scene has been flourishing. We stayed in the New Acton area, which was pretty much hipster central. We made Japanese pancakes (AMAZING) before setting off on the drive down.

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We got to Canberra late in the afternoon, driving to Joe’s Bar for a late tapas lunch. No regrets. We got three dishes to share (admittedly 2 fried dishes #noregrets). I started off with a floral G+T, too pretty to drink.

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We got the burrata con tartufo, an oozy mozzarella made from fresh cows milk and cream, finished off with fresh local truffles. Did I mention it was truffle season? Oh and some arancini and calamari as well. Jokes aside, the calamari was pretty amazing. It was the most tender calamari I’ve had. You didn’t even need cutlery to slice it up, it was that soft. The calamari was paired with a black squid ink aioli, which despite it’s scary hue, was quite salty and went nicely with the seafood.

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Arancini di Riso on the left, and Burrata con Tartufo on the right.
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Calamari Fritti with black squid ink aioli hidden underneath.

We stayed at the newly renovated QT hotel, which was previously the Rydges hotel. The verdict? It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t horrible either. Each QT hotel has their own theme, and in Canberra it’s no surprise that the theme is politics.

There are multiple prior Aussie prime ministers hidden within the wallpaper in the lobby and streaming political tweets all over the walls. Overall it was a good stay, however we found the mini bar fridge didn’t work well. It was faster to chill a bottle of champagne on the balcony in the sub-zero temperatures!

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A stunning view at sunset.

Dinner that night was at the Capitol Bar and Grill at the hotel, famed for their enormous tomahawk steaks. Naturally we chose to have some truffle mac and cheese on the side. Amazing. I love truffle season. M&C didn’t look too attractive, but believe me, it was the most delicious thing ever on a winter’s night.

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The handmade markets happened to be on during the weekend we were visiting. We stopped by at EPIC, the Exhibition Park In Canberra. It was like a slightly less crowded version of the Finders Markets that they hold in the other capital cities. We ate a few things, bought a few things, and had a pretty good day.

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Cinnamon donut ice cream and a cute wall shelf stall.

I have a part 2 Canberra post lined up as we ate at so many great food places, but for now, thanks Canberra, you’re alright.

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Japan!! (Part 1)

Japan!! (Part 1)

Guys! Japan is amazing and I’m staying in Japan forever because Japan is awesome and cool and has everything I could ever want slash need. But not really, because I have work. But seriously. One month in Japan is just not enough!

Perhaps I’ll do a more thorough post as we travelled through multiple cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kobe and Nara. One regret was not going to Hokkaido (However I got to sample a tonne of Hokkaido soft serve in a delicious lengue du chat cone), but all in all it was an amazing trip. Lots of shopping and lots of culture, I think it was a pretty good balance.

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I was a little intimidated by the language barrier, having not spoken Japanese since my high school days, where the most advanced thing they taught me was how to read hiragana and ask for someone’s phone number. We survived! On the plus my pronunciation was spot on as I multiple people attempted to have full on conversations in nihongo thinking I was fluent!

We made it just in time for the tail end sakura season and were treated with beautiful blooms on our shinkansen trips. It means no traditional hanami, i.e. laying out tarps and eating and drinking sake all day. I’m not complaining! I got my fair share of sakura. The photo below is from Ueno Park.

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The other thing that killed me was all the cute, crafty Japanese wares. I wanted to take it all home, and believe me I tried. I. Bought. So. Much. Stuff. So many DIY craft instruction books that I had to pass on because I couldn’t understand them. Sadface.

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The main reason for the trip was to celebrate some upcoming birthday milestones *cough30cough* and celebrate we did. We went to a small fishing village and stayed at an onsen (WITH THE BEST VIEW EVER: see below).

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More Japan to come.

Hello accidental hiatus

Hello accidental hiatus

Well isn’t that the giant understatement of the year. Yes, I’ve had an inadvertent blogging lull. No excuse other than the combination of life slash work slash a busy holiday season got to me a little too much. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’d have seen I took a short (never long enough) trip around Europe.

In the span of 4 weeks, we visited a total of six countries and eleven different cities. Needless to say it was a jam packed trip and I’ll be the first to admit that I was ready to come home at the end of it all. My one regret is not being able to experience a white Christmas. I’m not the biggest fan of the winter season but I had grown quite fond of it and enjoyed seeing real Christmas tree trees rather than artificial plastic ones. Next time.

Louvre

Venus de Milo

Portugal street art