Monday, August 21, 2017

I've totally moved!

Moved to a NEW SITE!!!!

I hope you will like the new layout and all the pretty pictures I get to put up there! All the articles here have slowly been linked from the new site. I'm pretty excited about it. :-)

So CHECK OUT the latest posts at

- Alaine

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Where I ate in Melbourne

Melbourne is a Foodie city...

Queen Victoria Market
From Korean fusion to Meatballs to crepes, Melbourne has so much for foodies to enjoy. I was delighted to find there were so many different types of cuisines in this busy Australian city. I wish I had more time in Melbourne to explore the different ethnic neighborhoods and to sample the fun hipster brunch places that my foodie friend keeps raving about. There's no shortage of new places to explore and eateries to sample. The Queen Victoria Market was a block away from the hotel I stayed in and had many stalls there. When I walked in though, the smell of the meat from the butchers was a bit too strong for me so I didn't stay very long inside the market. There was a wine stall that had local wines from the region that I became really interested in. Prices of wine is fairly cheap in Australia so of course, I couldn't resist and brought home a Barbera from a winery just outside Melbourne in Yarra Valley.

Where I ate in Melbourne:

1) Supernormal
2) Krimper Cafe
3) Ca de Vin
4) Harajuku Crepes
5) Seven Seeds

Korean rice cakes at the trendy Supernormal restaurant 

There is a multitude of trendy "it" restaurants in Melbourne so if you plan on dining at a popular spot, I recommend either getting there early or arriving a bit after the popular times or booking ahead for reservations. On my first night in Melbourne, I met up with two friends for dinner and we waited about an hour for our table at Supernormal on Flinders lane. Luckily, there was a bar so we ordered some wine for an aperitif. The food offerings were interesting and fuses Korean food with experimental cooking techniques. Fusion if done well can really push the envelope on odour palate perceptions. 

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus on a brioche pesto toast with salad and poached eggs

Krimper cafe
Trendy hipster cafes are all the rage in Melbourne and they take their coffee pretty seriously. Melbournians love coffee. My Friend suggested lattes and cappuccinos at these cafes but I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to coffee. I like to drink my coffee black or espresso. A dark Italian roast is my favorite. Ever since I discovered I am lactose-intolerant last year, I've been highly observant to milk or cream used in dishes, dessert, and drinks. Luckily, I like my coffee black without milk or sugar so it's one less thing I have to worry about. 

Ca de Vin restaurant
Garlic and rosemary flat breads
Ragu tagliatelle
Little laneways and streets off the main roads offer a refuge for the passerby to stop for a meal or something to drink. I found this little Italian restaurant nestled in a little alley between shops. It was quaint to eat there. But I was a little bit sad that the meal itself wasn't exactly exciting. The food was edible and alright in my opinion. The little garlic and rosemary flat breads were really tasty though. I'm quite a picky eater so was a little disappointed by this place. I'd recommend it for the ambience, have a glass of wine, some flatbread appetiser before going to another place for dinner.  

Chocolate crepe with cookie butter!
Probably the best "street food" I had in Melbourne was from a Japanese creperie called Harajuku Crepes! That is the best name ever! If you have never had Japanese crepes, you certainly are missing out. The French crepes are good but the Japanese are creative and good. You can get creative with your fillings either for the savory or sweet crepes. I ordered Chocolate flavoured crepes but with speculoos (Dutch cookie butter!) for my filling.

A bike for decoration at Seven Seeds cafe
Fish tacos at Seven Seeds
I did mention earlier about the hipster brunch cafes with awesome coffee and food! I think Seven Seeds fit the bill for a great spot. The place is on a quiet street near the University of Melbourne and according to my foodie friend, it was a hangout spot for her. Popular among the student crowd but also young professionals, tourists, and yes a few hipster-types. I ordered the fish tacos and a iced long black. The coffee here was better than Krimper cafe in my honest opinion, it might be due to the fact they sell their own coffee (Coffee blends they sell). The fish tacos were delicious however, the amount of coriander/cilantro on the tacos were a bit overkill.

Lemon poppyseed cake
Malthouse Cooper is located at the Malthouse Theater building
I was looking for the Contemporary Art museum and found it next to this beautiful theater. The cafe had a rustic but cozy feeling that I felt compelled to slow down and take a fika paus break. I love taking a coffee break in the middle of the afternoon with something sweet to pair the black coffee. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Malthouse Cooper cafe to serve a nice brew and really delicious lemon poppyseed cake.

The Meatball and Wine bar. My giant meatball and gnocchi 
I love Meatballs! Its one of those cozy comfort foods that I crave every now and then. Whether its Asian style meatballs or Italian or Swedish or even Vegetarian. Something comforting about eating meatballs. I was pleased to find out about The Meatball and Wine Bar (Yes! Two things I love!!!) and tried my luck to go there without a reservation. I was placed towards the back squished between a few groups of diners. I have been having a challenging time with dining out since I developed lactose-intolerance (I can't digest lactose from milk and milk products). In tiny quantities, I can deal with it but in larger doses, the result is very bad. I told my waiter about my food allergy and he made sure there was no cream in my sauce. They were really accommodating and my giant meatball and gnocchi was AMAZING! I loved it! I highly recommend this restaurant if you're going to Melbourne. :-)

Overall, my trip to Melbourne, Australia was too short but definitely a yummy one! I'd like to stay a little longer next time and spend more time dancing at Chunky Move studios, eating, walking around, visiting Yarra Valley, maybe a little shopping, and also visit the coast!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Art, food, coffee and hipsters in Melbourne

Melbourne is a fantastic city with so much street art, foodie culture, hipsters, beach bums, artists, start ups, and so much more to discover! I went to visit a couple friends in Melbourne for a few days a couple months ago and wished I had spent longer in this hub of culture! The CBD (Central Business District) is a crowded and bustling hub where you can find cute little laneways filled with al fresco bars, dining options, and most importantly street art.

I signed up for a free walking tour through I'm Free walking tours to get an overview of the city on my first day in Melbourne. I like to do this when I'm new to a city I haven't been before to get my bearings. These free walking tours are available around the world. At the end of the walking tour, you donate whatever you feel the tour is worth. Typically I put in about $10-15 as it really depends on good the travel guide is with taking us to the most interesting spots in the city.

Street Art is everywhere but especially in the laneways 
The Most famous Laneway is Hosier Lane. This street is lined with street art and tourists the world over can be seen taking pics and selfies next to the art. While I was on the free walking tour, we walked by some artists hard at work with his new masterpiece. Typically the art stays up for a couple weeks and then another artist comes along and creates something over it. I wonder how much paint is on these walls...

My friends are self proclaimed Melbournites who love living there and after a few days of wandering around, I can see why this city is ranked high on one of the best cities to live in. Though not a budget-friendly destination, the cost of living in Melbourne is high but I think residents of this city do not mind it so much as the Australian dollar is very strong and minimum wage is actually at a reasonable rate of $17.70 per hour (according to Fair Work Ombudsman).

Its an easy city with a good quality of life. I can see why many people love living in this city. When I travel, I always ask myself this question: Could I live here? The answer for Melbourne would probably be Yes. I could see myself living there because of the multitude of activities that this city provides align right along with my lifestyle. Although, the sheer amount of people in the central area is a bit overwhelming for me and I'd prefer a quieter less populated area.

This city is the cultural capital of Australia and there's a lot to see in terms of arts.
I'm a dancer so naturally when I saw the Arts Centre Melbourne look like a giant Ballet tutu, I got a bit excited that a city has made one of their landmarks look like a tutu.

Arts Centre of Melbourne is lit up at night and right by the National Gallery of Victoria
Arts Centre of Melbourne
Beautiful Ballerina statues by the Arts Centre. The Australian Ballet studios and offices are just behind the Arts Centre.
The sweeping views of the city from the Arts Centre is a great place to see the sunset. The end of the walking tour concludes here as well. I'd recommend visiting the National Gallery of Victoria after the walking tour if your legs are ok after traversing the city for 3 hours. The National Gallery was hosting a special exhibition by the artist, David Hockney. I was pretty tired after the walking tour so I went back to rest before catching an Indonesian dance performance at the Arts Centre in the evening. I did eventually go to see the special exhibition by David Hockney the next day.

An evening at the National Gallery of Victoria
My friend suggested going to the David Hockney exhibit as part of the museum's evening event that happens monthly. There was some interactive art in the garden, a bar, live music in the main hall, and of course the exhibit itself. A lively evening and would highly recommend going with some friends to check out the live music but get there a bit early because tables would be snatched up.

Children were playing in and out of the interactive art pieces in the garden 
I was floored by the David Hockney exhibit as this man created a lot of his new works digitally. He's created such beautiful works on the iPad and iPhone! Check it out below:

One would assume an artist who can create this type of artwork digitally on an iPhone or iPad would be some sort of millennial artist genius. David Hockney is 79 years old! Check out the video of him perusing his work in the museum.

The architecture is really interesting in Melbourne. A modern architect's dream.

The vibrancy of the buildings and color injected to represent the artistic side of Melbournites is really apparent throughout the city. There's an air of experimentalism, creativity, and exploration. All kinds of people live here and the hipsters have taken the coffee culture by storm. I didn't get a chance to check out the Fitzroy neighborhood but supposedly that is the mecca for the hipsters of the city. Perhaps on my next trip to Melbourne, I will venture out that way and try out some yummy hipster cafes there. I do love my cup of joe paired with some beautiful people watching (beards, man buns, tattoos, moustaches, and dapper outfits!). 

Gimme some coffee and brunch!!!
At the recommendation of my foodie friend in Melbourne, she suggested Krimper Cafe for brunch as the food and coffee is supposed to be good. I did a quick search on google maps and was delighted to find out that it was within walking distance to my hotel.

I had to walk down this side street to find Krimper cafe 
Exposed brick wall
Iced long black coffee
Prosciutto wrapped asparagus on a toasted brioche with pesto, salad, and two poached eggs. THIS WAS AMAZEBALLS!

On another day, I consulted Yelp for a brunch recommendation. I kept hearing how brunch was a serious affair in Melbourne so I was reading to soak in all that good brunch food options as much as I can on the few days I was in Melbourne. 

Iced Long Black coffee

Fish tacos - Good but too much coriander and not enough chilis!
I had some awesome meals in Melbourne. I'll share that in another post devoted to eating in Melbourne next week!

The Amazon affiliate links on this post help keep this blog running. I earn a small commission when you click on the links and purchase something from Amazon through these links at no additional cost to you.