Thursday, 27 September 2012


When I first saw this collection I just went omigodomigodomigod. Even everytime I look at it again I still can't help going omigodomigodomigod. Can you imagine having these pieces in your work wardrobe, especially that pink perfection of a suit? The square cut of the jacket, the red detailing and the ankle-length pants are so mad I'll definitely get something like this tailored next time I'm back in Vietnam. Yes, in hot pink. Or burnt orange. Maybe both. Anyway, fell head over heels in love with Jenni Kayne's new spring collection (which has been floating around everywhere on Tumblr and fashion blogs) - sleek, timeless cuts meet rockstar/retro punch in the face. It's so down my alley I think I'll have all of them tailored next time I go home.

I know that everytime I post something new I say I haven't written for two million years. I finished college about a month ago (for good!!) and kinda went through this crazy meltdown for a while, where I was just exhausted and literally felt like doing nothing all the time - at some stage I didn't even feel like talking that much (which is weird for me). But am recovering now and made cake again yesterday, hahaha.

To conclude on a(nother) happy note, please go vote for our amazing Manly bartender friends Hayden (Hemingway's), Davide and James (Harlem) to become Australia's next World Class Bartender! (Well, only one of them can win, but let's just vote and let them worry about that later...) Apparently voters get the chance to win something too, but who cares. Manly represent!


Tuesday, 5 June 2012


I started my last term at college this week, and we were asked by one of our lecturers today to introduce ourselves, as many of them usually ask us to. Name, age, where from, what we hope to do in the future.  I gave my generic answer, and expressed my passion for the F&B industry and that I'd like to get involved here in Sydney.

During the day, I couldn't stop thinking of this photograph, which I reblogged not long ago on my tumblr. Everytime I see it, it speaks to me, gives me that breathless second.

I see grace and poise; it makes me want to be like them. I want to dance. I want to witness moments like this, shoot a moment like this, be able to call a work like this my own. I feel inspired; I feel hungry for growth, creativity; I feel there's so much to learn and see. And I realised the way I feel about this photo, all the things it triggers in me, I want people to feel the same about what I do, what I create too.

I want to appreciate people for who they are, what they do, what they expect; I want to listen, understand, and create something that both myself and others see parts of them in it, value it and think it is special, think it is what they want, lightens their day. I want people to start seeing more of the good and positive things in life through my work, I want them to feel good and positive about themselves when they see or experience my work, I want them to discover emotions they would've never expected, or rediscover long forgotten ones. I want my work to encourage and motivate others, in whatever way; I want them to feel some emotional attachment to it, appreciation and passion for it, and gratefulness for it, just because it takes their soul to a place where they know they want to be. And I hope to do the same for all the relationships I have in my life: I want to care, share, understand, appreciate, and motivate people to do the same.

I work hard, whatever I do. But for what? Well yes, to do what I want to do, to see what I want to see, to experience what I want to experience. It just happens that what I want to experience is what I feel about that photo; to listen to songs that make me want to cry, to attend classes of teachers so gifted and enthusiastic that they want to make you study more and harder, to be happy and thankful for what I am given and to strive for bigger and better things. So I want to do the same - give others that experience, whatever I do. And the most precious reward for that is to be thanked for it, be thought of for what I do and to inspire.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


Let's be honest: there are so many restaurant reviews out there I don't think I need to be the 185638524th person to, say, take a photo of Bodega's fish fingers, list its price and rave about how good it is. My love for Melbourne's wining and dining scene, however, is unable to stop me from sharing some of my favourite destinations with you, especially as a non-local. Feel free to cross check with your trusted food blogger.

* Pope Joan [77-79 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East]
Go for: that brunch you don't deserve every day because it is too good
Expect: travelling a fair bit out of the city to be rewarded with breakfast heaven. The dishes are so beautifully prepared and plated and are definitely well-portioned too, to make sure you'll roll out the door completely happy - think smoked salmon, parsnip croquettes, red slaw and slow cooked egg (all in one dish, that is). If you seriously can't stand eggs for breakfast they have a range of sandwiches and cakes and other sweet dishes that looked fantastic as well. To me it was probably the most impressive breakfast/brunch ever, and the girls on the floor make sure you're looked after too!

* Hanoi Hannah [180 High Street, Prahran]
Go for: Viet street food, Prahran style
Expect: authentic Vietnamese (REAL spring rolls! Grilled beef in betel leaves! Veeeeery loooovely pho!) and fun spinoffs of some favourites in a very cute, Melbourian setting - rustic and funky and cosy, without forgetting that trademark Viet painting on the wall and the chilli sauce and cutlery holder on the table. Get the coconut lychee slushie too - oh em gee so refreshing! It kinda felt like I was eating at home again, only to walk around the corner back onto Chapel Street. Jackpot.

* The Woods Of Windsor [108 Chapel Street, Windsor]
Go for: hunting lodge meets anything elegant
Expect: a venue hard to describe but suitable for anyone that's after anything good really: a casual drink, a proper sit-down dinner, something before or after the main meal... Similar to Porteno in Sydney, it's one of those venues that you know you can come in for all sorts of occasions and have an amazing time, while things are still done properly and formally. The big shelf along one wall stocks a whisky-focused bar, as well as books, taxidermies, and all sorts of other beautiful things to look at. Comes with a matching "forresty" and "autumny" menu - had drinks and dessert and actually can't wait to be back to try more.

* Cumulus Inc. [45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne]
Go for: the good stuff, all day long
Expect: the sleek, clean-cut Melbourian type of venue with bangin' food - serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. I've been back every time I went to Melbs so that must say a lot, doesn't it? Exciting flavours and ingredients are prepared in a very honest style of cooking, and most of the menu is to share but can be cut down into single portions - well that's pretty much my kinda style of eating. Went back last to have breakfast and just couldn't get over their bloody tasty blood sausage and smoked tomato in the English breakfast. Don't miss the canel├ęs at the little pastry and takeaway section on your way out!

* Portello Rosso [15 Warburton Lane, Melbourne]
Go for: Tapas that are, uhm, pretty crazy?
Expect: a menu the size of which you'd probably underestimate, and feeling like Julia Roberts in "Eat Pray Love" when she was eating up in Italy - I just felt so alive working my way through the dishes. I honestly don't remember everything we had - I'm sure you can order anything and you'll be perfectly fine. I guess you'll have fun at any tapas restaurant if the food is good, but as I've said that Eat-Pray-Love feeling hit me so hard that all I can say is just go already. The team was so so nice too I felt so bad not finishing my dinner (because I was so stuffed!).

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


[All photos from The Pig Hotel]

What are you, a dream?

So I was browsing the web last night (as I do most nights) and found this amazing amazing amazing hotel on Kinfolk, or well, as they say, "restaurant with rooms". The restaurant sets its menu based on what's coming from the garden, which means that it could change several times during the day, and shit did you see what the place looks like? That rustic, comfy, elegant vibe is just soooo british. Let me put on my imaginary Burberry trench coat and Hunter boots and book my flight there already.

As you may know already, I'm a huge fan of boutique hotels (see my rave about The Public Chicago), and although it depends much on the location what you can do and provide with/at your establishment, this is the ultimate concept isn't it - small number of rooms, imperfectly beautiful and comfortable, providing only essential facilities but rockin' dining and entertainment. Oh when will this day come for me...

For more drooling over The Pig Hotel, click here!

Sorry for being absent for a while again, been busy busy busy at college, been at work too, but most of my free time I've been sleeping and doing nothing heaps because it's been on and off hot and cold. That must've kinda messed with my active/lazy switch - but I'm back again now! x

(Update: The Pig Hotel has extended, now running a second boutique hotel and opening a beach venue in 2013. Check their website for the ultimate drool)

Thursday, 15 March 2012


*At Infinity Sourdough Bakery

I loooove breakfast. More so going out for breakfast. Yes of course it's not hard at all to slice up an avocado and put it on toast at home, but it's the whole sitting-in-the-sun, having-amazing-espresso-coffee, having-the-choice-to-order-anything-you-want and people-watching-while-eating kinda deal that makes it such an exciting activity. And I never have avocado nor toast ready at home for brekkie anyway because most of the time I wouldn't get to them for the second time before they go bad/become stale/get mouldy. :(

So as the weekend is coming up again, hopefully the weather will stay nice for you (because I'm going to work so it doesn't really matter to me *sobs*) and maybe we can catch up for breakfast in Manly. (Well I work in the afternoon. You can go to the beach afterwards you lucky bastard!) If you prefer to avoid my company, here are four great breakfast spots that are a little different from the usual eggs on toast joints, which you can check out for yourself. I can't promise you won't run into me though.

1- Belgrave Cartel, where you get spoiled Italian style
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and the first thing that comes to my mind is their chicken schnitzel panini (with avocado, rocket, cheese and pesto mayo, OMG). I might even smell it too, that's how much I love it. Their Bircher muesli is my absolute favourite, and I'd smash a panini and the muesli in one go. Pasta of the day, tuna rissoles and corn fritters make it really hard to decide as well when you're super hungry. It's cosy and relaxed, and the mismatching tables and chairs just make you feel so much at home (well, that would be my home). Perfect little hideaway for a rainy day too. Plus little in-house art installation!

2- Infinity Sourdough Bakery, for a simple sunny morning
If you feel like something easy (such as my beloved avocado on toast, or in this case, avocado on sourdough), this is the place to be. Obviously their breads are the highlight (I remember bringing a loaf to my relatives' with some bruschetta and nobody could stop); add Little Marionette coffee and a sneaky little pastry and you're set. It's just off the Corso, but so quiet and calm that you'd just forget about the weekend hustle and bustle one street down from you. Bring a paper and soak up the sun!

3- Adriano Zumbo + Barefoot Coffee, for a fancy little one
Both couldn't have ever chosen better neighbours for themselves - it must've been fate. As much of a superstar Zumbo has become and I've kinda gotten over the macaron hype, you just can't deny that their sugarland is damn fantastic (although their bread and pies are really good too). Grab a croissant or a berry brioche (dessert for breakfast!) and pop next door to Barefoot, where they never - and I mean never - fail to deliver a perfect coffee. If you can't snatch a seat at the ever-busy cafe (where you can eat your Zumbo purchase too), head across the street to sit in the grass and watch the ferries and boats and stand-up paddleboarders.

4- Jah Bar, for an all-day fiesta
It's the real Spanish deal. No bacon and eggs, no salmon benedict, but tortillas and breakfast empanadas, and bloody marys and breakfast martinis, just to get the morning started (and to get you stay into the afternoon ha!). This would be the place to be on a lazy weekend, when you're in no hurry to get anywhere else and wouldn't mind getting some more friends in for an afternoon sangria. Or wine. Or cocktail. The morning menu is small but definitely different and beautiful (you know my opinion on Jah Bar food already), so if you're up for some fun, go!

By the way, what I mean by breakfast is "first meal of the day". Having breakfast past lunchtime is really no uncommon ritual for me. Just can't start your day without the morning coffee hey, whatever time it may be.


Monday, 12 March 2012


Stumbled upon this video on my tumblr dashboard, and I've fallen in love - with the whole concept really: "real", artisan food, great passion and fine skills, and wonderful aesthetics. Everything that requires such beautiful craftsmanship, whether food, drinks, or anything else, should be celebrated and enjoyed to the fullest. Not only is the whole world moving towards a healthier, more organic, more "home-made" life, but also do these amazing people - who are definitely gifted, but also are just as "familiar" as your mate or your neighbour - show that with enough passion, persistency and love for what you do, you can be successful too. I wanna become one of them.

Check out Tartine Bakery & Cafe (makes me wanna go to San Francisco!), and The Makers, which documents the daily life of wonderful craftsmen in Brooklyn, New York.

Sorry for the recent lack of personal posts and photos; I actually have been spending amazing times with amazing friends but keep forgetting my camera. Sad face.


Monday, 5 March 2012


1- Jeffrey Campbell Gomez, as seen on Solestruck
2- Swedish Hasbeens Duck Toe Sandal, as seen on Asos

Oh please come to me. Although I've been having very healthy relationships with several pairs of flat leather shoes since last year (with the latest addition of Shubar's Harmony) and am barely wear heels anymore, these two pairs have been floating around my mind, and are my desperate cry trying to hold on to a very moody Sydney summer, while slowly making friends with the idea of autumn being just around the corner. I'm staying faithful to my love for brown shoes too (well, almost). The weather is rather asking for something like this though.

Been listening to a lot of Black Keys and just finished reading Boozehound by Jason Wilson, and am feeling quite cultured and even a little autumny. The book explores the stories behind a number of "rare, obscure and overrated" spirits; we've learned about the basics at college but I myself have never worked in a bar before, so it was really really interesting to get an idea of what's behind those liquors and even build some expectations of what they should taste like. The best thing about the book is that the author tells you little stories about his journeys and tastings rather than just bluntly explaining the spirits, and moreover he has a pretty cool sense of humour. Can't go wrong with a bit of fun in books.

Kinda feel like a drink now. Something a little autumny.

Monday, 27 February 2012


I've been baking disturbingly a lot recently. Valentine's Day, lunch party at relatives', second attempts because the first batch didn't turn out as expected, and simply because I was bored and didn't feel like doing anything else. I know the last one does sound quite disturbing, but don't worry, there are days that I don't feel like doing anything but staying in bed and watch movies just like everyone else too.

I usually look for recipes for cakes or other pastries and desserts that are easy to make, look fairly simple and rustic, and preferably have some sort of fresh fruit in them. I don't like icing, don't like cupcakes, don't like food colouring. Too cutesy, and I always worry I might get some sort of food poisoning when food is neon green or baby pink.

I felt like poppy seed cake the other night (yes I tend to bake at night and beat eggs for around 8 minutes, sorry neighbours), and found this amazing recipe for lemon poppy seed cake on Smitten Kitchen. Being a smartass I already bought my ingredients before I found a recipe and therefore only had oranges, but it still worked absolutely fine.

I also thinly sliced up one orange to put on top of the cake - gives it quite a festive look, and balances well with the rich cake. For those who are interested in making it, I used a regular springform pan (the cake will become hollow in the middle but who cares when the cake is so good), zest of two oranges and a whole pack of poppy seed (which would be around 1 1/4 cups). I don't mind a lot of poppy seeds at all - I kinda miss German poppy seed cakes, which are pretty much black. But anyway, this cake is absolutely lovely, probably best enjoyed with a cup of tea, and I think it tastes nicer when it's cold too. Polly's friend Marsha definitely liked it because she had it twice, and it was pretty impressive to watch Nilly have her belated birthday cake last night - I don't think she shared much of it, and the quarter of the cake was gone before she knew.

I read this article last week that says baking is like therapy. So true! You have to pay attention to all the steps and also don't want to waste time running around the kitchen to find shit, so you have to be fast and organised. But it's a really calm kind of concentration and gives you enough time to think while not getting too involved with it. I loved watching the texture of the 8 egg yolks and one whole egg for this cake change during the 8 minutes of beating. Whatever my problems were, it was pretty satisfying to see the end result, which really was "pale yellow and very fluffy", almost like whipped cream.

I guess some would really find me disturbing now.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Just us cruising around the city on a day off. We usually go out for dinner, so we thought we could do with a bit of daytime Sydney for a change and had yum cha for lunch at Zilver, shopped around liquor and kitchenware stores (so Toby, such a workaholic. Although I immersed myself in the bakeware section straight away too ha), had afternoon drinks at Stitch, and enjoyed the long walks in between. By the time the city crowd could take over the eating and drinking houses we were back at home, cooking dinner and watching a movie. Yes, that's all we need to have a happy day off.

Well that Tuesday just happened to be Valentine's Day. We both agreed on how shamelessly commercial that day can be and decided to keep it low key (I tend to say every day should be Valentine's Day and am pretty satisfied that the actual V Day wasn't much different from our other days off). It's almost a dilemma: it would be kinda weird not to think of it as "Valentine's Day" and not wanting to do something nice together, but it's just so gay when shop assistants ask if you're after a last minute gift or what your plans are for tonight, see people rush down the streets with shopping bags (just like when they do last minute Christmas shopping!), and go to completely packed restaurants to enjoy some romantic time with another two million couples sitting shoulder to shoulder to you. Like totally romantic.

My boyfriend gave me a bicycle. One that he built, with an old frame of his, and the prettiest and most thoughtful details (Brooks leather saddle! Cork handles! Shopping basket! Flat pedals so I can ride barefoot! And even one of the original wheels!). He kept it cool all morning and didn't say anything, just mentioned he had to see one of his friends at his bike shop before we'd go to the city (thanks Karl for taking part in the mission!), and there it was. I couldn't stop grinning all day. It was almost a V Day crime to make the day so memorable with such an amazing gift. On the other hand, thank God it's not memorable because he gave me roses and chocolate; I would've been so disappointed. I'm just trying to sound cool here - my heart still jumps whenever I see it in my sunroom or take it out for a spin. I'm in love with it and super protective of it, and I guess you can imagine why. Last night I didn't speak to T during our ride home from Hana and Jason's because he jokingly said I should take better care of my bike when I put my bag in the basket and the bike fell over.

It's so beautiful. You're so beautiful.

My Bumblebee (now that the black details are gone I renamed it the blonde Bumblebee) and T's Mady. They get to stay in the best room in the house!

My presents were pretty lame compared to Bumblebee. Well at least now T has a nice box to store his watch and cufflinks, and you might spot him wearing my tie at work some time. All carefully selected after raiding numerous Salvos stores. Didn't we agree on low key?



Lunar New Year, 2012

It was lovely to be at home again after another year in Sydney, especially to see my sister, who's grown up so much while I'd been gone. It was a quiet and simple new year's this year, with a lot of time spent at my grandma's beautiful house, travelling with my dad's family to Phan Thiet and reuniting with my cousins, and hanging out at home heaps (simply because it was way too hot outside), rather than preparing crazy feasts and seeing thousands of relatives and acquaintances when you really just wanna chill out with your loved ones.

I dearly miss my little monkey (who is a little too full of energy for me though; my parents have been doing well in switching off and ignoring her non-stop babbling and jumping around), however spending two weeks at home made me realise how comfortable I've been here in Australia; I can't wait for my family to come see me and get to know the life I've built in Manly. In a way it was still strange though, to come home and not feel completely at home anymore. Now I have to wait for the moment that "this is where I belong" feeling hits me again.

College started again last week so I've been a little slow with posting, sorry. I actually didn't manage to tick any of the Fast Five boxes for the last week before uni, pretty slack.