Friday, January 29, 2010

Bon jour, Chez Olivier

I went to a French Restaurant on Friday. Le nom est Chez Olivier.

The French restaurant is called Chez Olivier and it is located at Elsternwick with another branch in Prahran.

Friday being the end of the working days and a chance to pop out of working clothes, tempted me to flash some new accessories as well - my $5 Diva flower headband. Not forgetting the opportunity for darker eyeliner and purple eyeshadow which would prompt domestic abuse talk if worn to work. Pitoyable.

I LOVE to bits my flower hair band, comfy too! And since my impression of the French (shallow as I may be) is all flowery and elegant - I thought this was parfait. Génie is me.

Chez Olivier is a very understated place. Tucked in the middle of a quiet block of shops, it can be easily missed. The shop is small with a maximum capacity of approximately 35 people. Wine bottles line the side of the walls under the illumination of yellow lights. Their staff are extremely friendly and warm. And their French action kinda does the trick for me as well, after all people never been to France ma.

The menu is heavy in French with decriptions in English, thus appealing more to the shallow beings like me (like you too?). When we asked the waitress about certain mains in the 'Traditional Menu" section, she could only tell us they were traditional French food as we did not know any of the ingredients she mentioned. Except for white wine. Oui.

Entree: Les Escargots (Land snails)
The first time I had escargots, was with Dad in KL. When the waitress asked if we had escargots before, I was acting smart and told her I had it the cheese baked-style last time. Ooops, apparently, that is not French at all, non non non!

Escargots in (what I suspect to be) basil and olive oil with crispbread.

Super amazing if eaten this way.

Kanpai (woops not French).

The escargots were relatively tasteless as compared to the cheese-baked ones (according to Me)or as compared to lala (according to Ray, jakun).

Mains: Kangaroo Fillet A La Kobi (marinated and grilled with sweet potato mash, sauce aux cepes and Jus).

Kangaroo fillet was medium rare hence the juiciness and slight chewiness, étonnant! Oh and the sauce was thick and bursting with flavour - just the way I love my food. Mmm-mm!
Mains: Cassoulet A La Jacky (Traditional dish from Toulouse region with duck confit).

Did Ray like it? More like, did Ray love it.
I cannot describe much about this dish other than that, it was étonnant! (Zero French vocabulary and limited Translation tool at spoils my French post >:( )
Waitress: Did you enjoy the food?
Me: You see how clean the duck dish is?

We ended our French gourmet tour with the special dessert of the day - Crepes with wildberry and vanilla ice cream - it was quite good and not too sweet definitely. Hence ended une belle soirée.
. . . au revoir.
We headed to St. Kilda beach for a stroll and to spot penguins. The sky was really beautiful and the moon was full.

To the P******cy Group of 2006, do you remember this place? Remember the good OLD times? Oh and our beautiful picture in front of Luna Park? I mean, how could YOU forget.

We were lucky enough to spot ONE penguin despite being there so early. ONE. UN.

We officially ended our gourmet evening with a soft serve plain vanilla ice cream cone from an ice cream truck just before the pier. It was crazy expensive but also mad yummy! Savoureux! Aimer! Graisse.
Chez Olivier
Le Bistro
121 Greville Street
Chez Olivier
256 Glen Eira Road

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Love lessons at Borders

"There are usually five forms of expression of love:

1) Act of service (doing things for you)
2) Physical intimacy
3) Quality time
4) Gift giving
5) Talking

Different people appreciate different forms of expression"

- quoted from Raymond Tan who read it in Borders

I VALUE quality time most.
I PRACTICE talking most.
I COMPLAIN about gift giving most.
I TAKE FOR GRANTED acts of service most.
I JOKE with physical intimacy most.

Mr Tan VALUE talking (in his words: words of comfort) most.
Mr Tan PRACTICE acts of service most.
Mr Tan COMPLAIN about quality time most.
Mr Tan TAKE FOR GRANTED gift giving most.
Mr Tan JOKE with physical intimacy most.

Then comes the complicated part. My definition of each of these forms is different.

His 'talking': Words of comfort and practical information.
My 'talking': Whining, gossips, random noises with no contents.
Verdict: So while I practice 'talking' most and he values 'talking' most the contents do not match and 50% gets filtered.

His 'acts of service': Repairing computer, fixing doors, other tech-y/geek-y stuffs.
My 'acts of service': Cooking, baking, ironing.
Verdict: While he practices 'acts of service' the most, I take it for granted.

His 'quality time': Lounging around doing nothing or surfing the net in silence, as long as we are together.
My 'quality time': Doing something new, going somewhere new - together.
Verdict: I value 'quality time' the most and he complains about it the most due to this difference in definition.

His 'gift giving': For special, VERY special occasions and very random, sometimes sigh-able.
My 'gift giving': Small surprises, for every single celebration-worthy moments, quality and something he definitely likes.
Verdict: After 3+ years he began taking for granted my 'gift giving' and me more disatisfied with not getting a response, both in terms of appreciation or returning gifts.

His 'physical intimacy': All talk and CANNOT tell dirty jokes.
My 'physical intimacy': All talk and with dirty jokes recycled from high school.
Verdict: Perhaps the most peaceful component!

Conclusion: Not only do we differ in terms of primary form of expression, but also in terms of our definition of each form of expression. And you wonder why things don't work out between couples?

BUT. . . !!

"The DEAD SEA personality depicts someone who just receives but is not in their nature to give. For example, he/she might really enjoy listening to you talk but he/she just does not have any input or he/she might look sad and when you ask him/her what is wrong, he/she would say 'nothing' and really mean it.

In contrast, the BLABBER personality is someone who expresses everything he/she sees, hears, experiences or feels. *Fuzzy memory so bla bla bla*

I think I am a DEAD SEA and you are a BLABBER. And this book says we are a GOOD MATCH"

- quoted from Raymond Tan who read it in Borders

Yeah. Right.

What about the times I got mad due to his non-existent feelings, expressionless face, response in the form of a grunt?

What about the times he complained about my unreasonable whinings, random complaints about the shape of the clouds, sudden tantrums not during PMS?

I personally think - no matter how DEAD SEA he is and how BLABBER I am, we have to work together, him to be much more of a BLABBER and me to be much more of a DEAD SEA. And true - he does talk a lot more right now and not about 'how an aeroplane works' only anymore, he opens up about his 'feelings' after only 5 nudges/threats and he is a bit 38 woohoo. As for me - I have my quality ME times, keep quiet when I should and am not so impatient anymore.

Conclusion: Differences can complement, but also repel - depends on how you work at it.

"There is a way to tell whether a couple in a restaurant are dating or married.

Couples who are dating will be in deep conversation and looking at each other.

Couples who are married will not be talking and their eyes might be wandering around looking at random objects"

- quoted from Raymond Tan who read it in Borders

" . . . I think we are so used to each other we are like married couple already haha." - Raymond.


Young people everywhere, okay not only young people, but all people who are still dating - don't SETTLE DOWN like that, I mean you have all the time in the world to feel like that after you get married, so why now?

There is a reason why we are still dating, no?

At least in my dictionary, DATING does not equal to sitting on the same table as your partner and staring at the picture of char kuoy teow on the restaurant wall while thinking about your auntie in her pyjamas.

Where is the excitement/sparks/passion - even if they are in the form of fights but so what? - that is dating!

Haiyer, so frustrating.

There you go, an afternoon of love lessons at Borders.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Watch me

Watch me become very vain.
Very very vain, I tell you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Be happy

There was this time when I thought life would be smooth sailing, always. I just had to make it pass 50% for exams, stand the occassional (0r frequent, whicever works for you!) nagging from the elders, play nice to friends or frenemies alike, try to catch whatever fashion/technology/social trend is on - and voila! Life would be good.

Was there 'this time' in your life as well?

I strolled through my university years, aced some, scrapped through some, lucked out of some.

I got nagged less and talked more with all the naggers in my family.

I learnt to differentiate friends from frenemies and stand my own ground.

I caught on - fashionably: not trendy but ME; technologically: not blindly but yours truly; socially: dated, learnt and still learning.

So is life good now?

If good = perfect . . .
I guess not so.

I saw ambitions, high expectations, dreams and big money (haha, at least I am honest!) the day I graduated. I sent out resumes and cover letters - an affair I did not expect to recur day after day. The more I sent out - the less I gained. Less confidence, less positive energy, less hope of big money and it reaches infinite: loss of myself.

And with the loss of yourself, foreign particles seep into this empty shell you call body and build a new 'you' with: doubts, anger, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness and depression. It was hard on my family, my friends and more than anyone else, my boyfriend. And as selfish as this may sound, ultimately it was the hardest on me.

I learnt that as much as they help . . . .
Good academic result doesn't equate to good career prospect
Hard work doesn't equate to landing a dream job
Determination doesn't equate to less reject letters

And by the end of the day, I learnt the biggest lesson of all:
Why must I tie everything to my career?

I began to relax and really take life as it comes. And this time, things really started to fall into place. I was merely too ambitious, too impatient, too blind to see what I had around me. I failed to see opportunities around me as I was aiming too high with too little in my portfolio to offer.

Now. In terms of career, I am still at a very fresh start. I still struggle with uncertainty and lack of confidence but I learnt to leave these thoughts before I sleep every night. They waste too much of my sleep time and give me wrinkles.

Enough about career.

I realised that it really is true when people say it is harder to make and keep friends after university. Everyone is too busy with their own lives (just see how much I rambled just about my career up there), and you must agree it is inevitable when you have so much to juggle - the 400+ friends on Facebook and maybe the 100+ status updates everyday which have nothing to do with you but you just have to know?

Are we really that busy now hmmm.

Old friends, I call only when severely depressed or going back to Malaysia/them coming over to Melbourne.

New friends, I promise meetings after meetings which never quite took place.

Family, I dream of seeing again but am never quite so expressive while doing so.

I learnt a lot more about human interaction and communication - and how wrong it can go. Along with this, I began to understand the theory of giving and taking - this foundation of every relationship, no?

When I was young, I always thought my first love would be my husband. Then we would get married upon the establishment of both of our careers and have 2 beautiful children, a girl and a boy. Oh, and all these by the age of 27 (atttt mosstttttt).

I caught on socially (finally) when I started dating during the last year of high school - I thought it was forever. But the experienced would definitely have known that it was not meant to be. But it is not a sad story. We both parted ways not with youth burnt and time lost but with a bit more understanding about our ownself and maturity (to a certain extent, yes).

Biggest lesson learnt:
Love isn't always forever or constant. Love can be transient but still mean a lot.
Love is beautiful.

But what if 'good' = just happy?
Then yes, life is good.

My career is not even at a point where it 'seems' to be taking off.
My friendship network suffered a huge blow and is now still shaky.
My body fat content is rising and I am helpless.
My white puppy has just jumped from his biting phase to his barking phase.
My boyfriend and I are still finding our way around almost everything.

But I am happy. I know cause it is inside, right here :-)

There is so much more than just a single failure or disappointment being the determinant of your happiness. Life is much more complicated than a simple algebra like that, you don't know meh?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just pictured!

Shiro locked out.

MART 130

Mart 130 was named the best breakfast place in Melbourne by the Breakfast Blog in 2007.

'Mart' 130 is actually the reverse anagram of the word 'Tram', as the cafe was converted from an old tram stop, Tram Stop 130 to be precise. While not totally secluded, it is hidden from the hustle bustle of the trams and cars along Canterbury Road.

The cafe itself is really interesting with a mix of furniture old and new, customers loyal and fresh. Peoplewere friendly, service was amazing and most importantly, the atmosphere was hustle bustle of the relaxing kind!

Everyone was quite excited that morning, hence the army of cameras that arrived. Naturally I got snap-happy as well!

Mel and her food blog brought me to a lot of places lately.

The huge cameras scaring my compact Sony.

My first iced coffee in what must have been 2 years.

Lips smacking action. Oooh, look at John in the picture, so artistic right?

And the food came!

Eggs #2 -Poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, crsipy bacon and avocado on sourdough toast.

Eggs #1 - Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms on sourdough toast.

Eggs #4 - Poached eggs with smoked salmon on sourdough toast.

Eggs #3 - Poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and salami on sourdough toast.

Corn fritters.

Eggs Special - Scrambled eggs with kransky and basil salsa on sourdough toast.

According to the yolk-loving people, the poached eggs were super. The yolk was just nice and so yellow as it flows out slowly . . . . slowly . . . . urgh.

WenJi ordered Chai latte and it was quite cute when they served it with a mug of honey.

Scrambled eggs were equally super, according to the yolk-hater that is me. They were extremely fluffy inside. I loved it although the others thought it was a bit jelak towards the end. I added a nice dash or salt and pepper so it was not jelak at all!

I love eating breakfast, always a good time to talk. I am pretty sure my Mum will love this place!

WenJi Chai.

Mel: The sourdough toast hen hao chi oh . . . . . . . . !
*5 minute later*
Mel: The sourdough toast hen hao chi oh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . !

My personal favourite was . . .almost everything without yolk there. The sourdough toast were really nice and probably the part of the meal which fills you up. Egg #3 can be a bit of a meat-overdose if you are not such a carnivore, according to WenJi. But the star of the show, must be the corn fritters. It was just amazing! The texture was juicy, plump kernels and the oh-gosh sauce which was a bit sweet, not a bit sour, no a bit curry-ish. Actually, I can't describe its awesome-ness.
Despite the seemingly smaller portion, believe me, we all left with a stomach more than full. I would definitely recommend Mart 130 to others and bring visitors here for a good ol' egg brekkie.
Make a trip to this old tram stop and let me know what you think!
Address: 107A Canterbury Road, Middle Park 3206, Melbourne

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The pact for NOBU

There was this promise that we made when we were driving back from our Daylesford trip back in July 2009.

We were not in the rosiest state in life. Both were tired and disappointed with a chain of events. Both were unsure about what tomorrow held. There were too many serious things, too many important decisions with too little time and confidence at that time. We were stressed, beat up and frustrated - all in the name of career aspirations.

But at the same time, we were trying to be optimistic, to have faith in ourselves and to be happy. So we made a pact.

"If one of us land a job we desire, that person will have to treat the other to a nice dinner at Nobu".

Six tough months of more disappointments and even more hard work and faith later, we finally made a call to Nobu.

Nobu is a new-style Japanese dining place located in Crown Melbourne. While its main influence resides in Japanese food culture, the cooking style used is mainly western and the many people opt to share dishes like the way you dine with tapas. Fusion.

I really think the word 'fusion' describes Nobu best. Not only in terms of the dishes, but also the energy from the mix of international and local customers as well as multinational waiters and waitresses shouting "irasshaimase" to you over the noisy dining area.

We ordered two entries, two mains, a sushi roll and a dessert.

Entree 1 - Sashimi tacos with yellowtail, salmon, lobster and crab

Looking smug.

Looking hungry.
Entree 2 - Edamame
Snippets of conversation:
Ray: What is edamame called in English? Broadbeans? Green beans?
Me: NO. I know! I'll use the power of the iTranslate app in my iPhone to find out!
*keys in edamame, translate from Japanese to English*
Edamame (jap) ----> Edamame (eng)
Main 1 - Black cod with miso (signature dish)

Main 2 - Prawn and lobster with spicy lemon sauce

Sushi roll - House special (rolled with five different kinds of sashimi and crab meat)

Dessert - Chocolate bent box with green tea ice cream

My personal favourite (Ray's as well) is the Black Cod with Miso - it was sweet and the meat tender. Despite the perculiar way, sashimi with tacos are actually quite nice - not to mention the addition of salsa sauce. However, I find the dessert a bit too light - you know I like my flavours strong (and particularly that night given that I saw the huge chunks of creamy-rich cakes at Greco).
Nobu sent us reminiscing about the quieter dining environment in Japan, specifically Kitaoji. The place was bustling with people and laughter, making it pretty relaxing but less romantic (tsk tsk).
All in all, Nobu was great in terms of food and service. Definitely worth a go to whoever is seeking a relaxing setting for some exciting fusion food. And if you insist on my company. . .
* * * * * * * * * *
I love going around to try new restaurants, cafes or even gerai!
Tomorrow I will be heading to Mart 130, apparently the best breakfast place in Melbourne. According to reliable online sources, the Eggs No.2 are the best they offer there and all of Melbourne. I am not a fan of poached eggs (too yolk-y), maybe Ray can try that :-D
Big breakfast yay!