Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tsubo Bar & Restaurant, Dinner Plain

While we were in Dinner Plain, we decided to dine out just for one meal. After doing a bit of research, I decided on Tsubo Bar & Restaurant, a modern Japanese restaurant. Tired after a day of fun in the blizzard snow, we went for the omakase menu at $75 per person. There wasn't an outline of dishes that were going to be served, and we didn't ask either. We just sat there, waiting to be fed!

First up, we were served some warm miso soup. I would have liked it to be even warmer (we were feeling very, very cold!), and the enoki mushrooms were a little hard. Nevertheless, it was a nice prelude to the meal.

The next entrée was potato salad. Dressed lightly with mayo, it was a simple and comforting dish. To be honest, I wasn't too sure where the meal was headed at this point. The dishes that had been served so far were pleasant but unremarkable.

Our next dish was oysters served with ponzu dressing and garnished with red sea lettuce. I've definitely had better and fresher oysters, but these were still lovely. We were then served a simple cucumber salad that acted as a palate cleanser.

Then came the onsen eggs, and suddenly we were all paying full attention. The plating was so beautiful! The eggs, garnished with bonito and nori flakes, were served in their egg shells propped on a bed of salt. The whites were so soft, and the yolks were slightly firm yet creamy.

The next dish had two main features, one being lightly smoked and seared tuna, and the other being kingfish with karashi mayo. The tuna was just divine. My brother's exact words when he took his first bite was, "Can we please order another?". The smokiness added depth to the flavour and made it very distinct from other seared tuna dishes that I had previously had. The kingfish was a great contrast, and had a sharp and spicy taste.

Chicken karaage was next on the list. Although it was a relatively simple dish, it was still highly enjoyable. The meat was really tender, the coating had just the right amount of thickness and crispiness, and the seasonings were spot on. We were all nodding our heads in approval. At this point we were taking an interest in the serving plates. Don't you think they are so pretty?

Things just got better and better. The next dish was black octopus embellished with black quinoa, black sesame and tomatoes. It was slightly chewy, but still quite tender and delicious.

This was the dish responsible for putting us in a food coma. We received two humongous servings of okonomiyaki, thick and generously topped with an array of vegetables, seafood and mayo. It was really tasty, but we tried our hardest and we still couldn't finish it.

Imagine our shock when another main was served after the okonimiyaki! The last dish of our dinner was a medium-rare steak in a tsuyu broth. Strangely enough, I still really enjoyed it and managed to finish it off despite being very, very full. Look at that beautiful consistency!

Needless to say, it was a great dining experience. The only thing I found odd was that the omakase ended on a savoury dish instead of sweets. Then again, would I have wanted green tea ice cream or any other cold dessert for that matter, when it was literally freezing outside? For those of you travelling to Dinner Plain or Mount Hotham this winter season, this is not a restaurant to be missed!

Tsubo Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My First Snow Experience: Dinner Plain

Whenever I say, "I've never been to the snow!", I get responses like "What? Really?!" or "Are you serious?!" or "No way!". Well, it was true, up until last week, when I went on a short trip with my family to Dinner Plain.

Needless to say, I was very excited about the trip. We were tossing between Falls Creek and Dinner Plain, and after considering the fact that we weren't very keen about skiing (which has totally changed, by the way), we decided on Dinner Plain, which was much more affordable. I spent the week before shopping for jackets, thermals, pants, gloves, boots, scarves, beanies, and had to splurge a bit on all these. 

The drive was meant to be 5.5 hours, but after stopping for lunch and toilet breaks we only arrived at Dinner Plain 8 hours later. 

The scenery was magical. I think we were so lucky because there was so much snow! We were there for three days and each day we had a slightly different experience. On the first day, snowfall was very light, which was great because it gave us some time to get accustomed to it. The next day felt a lot like a blizzard as there was some wind and snowfall was nonstop. And on the final day, there was no snowfall, just sunny blue skies, which was amazing.

Here's a photo of me looking like I'm enjoying myself a little too much. (I think it was taken right after I threw a snowball at my brother.)

It was such a beautiful and relaxing holiday. We took walks around the village, played with snow, built snowmen, went on a sled dog tour and rode on a snowmobile. Naturally, we also ate a lot to keep ourselves warm.

On the last day, we decided to be adventurous and embarked on a 3km walking trail. I thought it was going to be cold and tiring, but because of the sun and the exercise, we got very warm. At one point, I had to remove my beanie, scarf and jackets because it was just too hot. It felt pretty awesome to be in just thermals and a thin sweater and pants in zero degree weather!

The combination of sun and snow is just the most enchanting thing ever.

If you are looking for a snow holiday, I would definitely recommend Dinner Plain. I don't think it is as busy as other popular snow destinations such as Mount Buller and Falls Creek, but there is still plenty to see and do. Apart from those I've mentioned, you can also ski, snowboard and toboggan (the slopes cater for beginners) or relax at the spa. There was no resort entry fee and you could either drive 10km to Mount Hotham or take the bus there. We stayed at Krystal Peaks, a three-storey property which was actually able to accommodate 8 people. We had so much space, and our backyard an endless view of snow gums and snow.

Now I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Third Wave, Prahran

Recently we were invited to try out the menu at Third Wave in Prahran. This cafe boasts a versatile menu, offering breakfast, lunch, paleo and American BBQ dishes. We dropped in one fine morning for breakfast, and immediately felt at ease with its trendy and casual atmosphere.

I ordered my staple breakfast drink, a cup of hot chocolate. While I enjoyed the hot chocolate itself, I was a little disappointed with the marshmallows served on the side, which tasted much like those from the supermarket.

Hubby ordered the combination of Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine, and it arrived complete with muffins, bacon, spinach, poached eggs and an abundance of hollandaise sauce. I had a bite, and it was lovely! (I must admit that I had a lot of sauce in that one bite).

The risotto hash brown caught my eye, and it was served with a poached egg, chorizo, mushrooms and lots of rocket. I'm not usually a fan of rocket, but the flavours of all the other ingredients distracted from it, which was good for me! The hash brown itself was very tasty and crunchy. For me, there was a little too much chorizo, steering the dish slightly out of balance, but overall, it was a very satisfying breakfast.

The food wis good, but the main factor that makes me want to come back is its varied selection of dishes. I will probably try out the American BBQ next!

Disclaimer: This meal was sponsored by Third Wave. The content of this post reflects my honest opinions. 

Third Wave on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14, 2014

Snow Pony, Balwyn

I've always wanted to have brunch at Snow Pony, Balwyn after hearing and reading good reviews regarding the food. There was no doubt that it was a very popular spot, as we had to queue for about twenty minutes in the cold before we eventually got a table.
Here's the mandatory shot of my hot chocolate (I swear I am accumulating enough photos of hot chocolate to publish a photo book).

My choice for the morning was the 'Giddy Up', a beautiful medley of brunch essentials - poached eggs, slow-roasted tomatoes, smashed avocado, buttery mushrooms and double smoked bacon, all resting on a slice of toasted bread. The dish tasted as good as it looked. What set it apart from other similar brunches I had was the bacon. Oh, the bacon. Its smokiness just made it that little bit more indulgent.

A lot of reviews on Urbanspoon raised concerns about their customer service, but I didn't encounter any problems during my time there. I would see how the cash only policy would be an inconvenience, though. On the whole, I thought it was a lovely cafe that served great food.

Snow Pony on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 5, 2014

DIY Glitter V Necklace

A long time ago I bought packets of glitter that I didn't have any use for, until recently when I was making a new necklace for myself. No one can resist a little extra shiny goodness!

What you need:

Blue polymer clay (Over The Rainbow, $4 per 57g block)
Blue glitter powder (Riot Art & Craft, $4 for 6 colour pack)
Silver chain (Thrifted from old necklace)
Jump rings x 2 (Thrifted from old necklace)
Flat nose pliers x 2 (Ebay, $9 for 4)
Clear glue

What to do:

1. Condition a small amount of polymer clay (about 1cm x 1cm x 1cm) until soft and pliable.

2. Flatten the polymer clay until it is approximately 2mm thick. (You can use a jar to get smoother results.)

3. Cut a V-shaped pendant using a penknife.

4. Create a small hole on each end using a toothpick. Then, bake in oven according to the packet instructions. Leave to cool.

5.  Apply clear glue on the top surface of the pendant.

6. Scatter glitter powder over the top surface. Flip the pendant over and apply clear glue on the other surface. Mop up excess the glitter powder.

(To get rid of excess glitter powder, go outdoors and tap the pendant gently against the floor or the wall until there is no loose powder.)

7. Attach a jump ring to each hole using pliers.

8. Add the silver chain to the jump ring using pliers.

I love it! It is so, so simple but still very pretty. You can use any colours you like, I'm thinking gold would be nice! ;)