When I get a craving for something home-cooked, but I’m too lazy to make it myself, I go to Benjarong. They have one of the simplest dishes that I absolutely love: khao mun gai. You can apparently find it anywhere in Southeast Asia with a few variations on how it’s served. But it’s basically chicken that’s been boiled until cooked, served on rice, with a side of the same stock that cooked it. I have it with lots of chili on the side and the plainness of it reminds me of dishes that my grandmother used to make… good memories.
For a runner, I think the Bondi to Coogee Coastal walk is a tough track for training. It’s such a battle with the hills. I’ve run it a few times, but never actually took my time to walk the course. Since Moses is leaving for Nigeria in a few days, and he’s never done the walk before, we thought it wouldn’t be a bad thing to cross this one off his list.
It was early enough so we decided to brunch at Brown Sugar on Curlewis. I always walk past this place every time I go to Bondi, but I’ve never actually stopped in. They have outdoor seating but the sun is usually on the opposite side during breakfast time so it’s excellent for people watching. The food always came out well-presented and you could smell the kitchen from outside – I find that that’s usually a good sign.
I’ve been craving pancakes for 6 months and finally satisfied myself when we ordered some buttermilk banana pancakes (to start!) – I really like that it wasn’t soggy (even though it was drenched in maple syrup), just a little doughy for some heft, but otherwise just right =)
And it’s real bacon! Not ham that poses as bacon. And since it’s brunch… we gotta have eggs so we opted for the Moroccan Eggs – a little spicy, with chorizo sauteed in green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Oh… and I used to wonder what made the perfect poached eggs. Is it when you can cut through the yolk, but it doesn’t run out immediately? MMmmmMMmm…
I think the only thing I didn’t like about Brown Sugar was the service… it was a bit slow, but I don’t blame them – they just switched computer systems (apparently) so they were probably just struggling to keep up with the customers. I also thought it was weird that they took back our bill so quickly – I was still in the process of tipping and a different waitress came by and just took it away. Funny that – since it took forever for the food to come out, but it’s like they were rushing us to go. No matter. It was still a good meal.
Moses and I took about two hours to cover most of the walk, but we were running out of time so we couldn’t finish it. At least we found a nice cliff to snap a few.
I’ll miss Moses… I remember when we first met and I told him I have no idea how I’ll survive without a social life in Sydney. Then he asked me what my plans are for ANZAC Day and I said, I’m attending a Rugby Union game tonight and doing a British Pub crawl tomorrow. Apparently, I’ll be fine. And so will he.
He’ll be in London for 3 days starting next Wednesday then traveling on to his final destination. He won’t have our beaches, but he’ll have family and his friends from home. He said if he ever comes back, he’ll definitely live by the beach. And for a non-beach person, that’s a very big deal.
A bit behind on posting this, it took me forever to find the few photos I took!
I called Eva a little before noon the day after Iñaki’s going-away party to see if she was going to the South American Festival at the Bondi Pavilion. She hinted on it the night before since she’s consistently gone to it the past few years. I figured she’d be good company. I went to Camp Cove beforehand for a quick swim, but she ended up getting there earlier…. it complicated things a little.
At the Bondi Pavilion, there was a long line to get in and, I didn’t realize that you had to buy a ticket for entry. Eh – $20. Sure. I went in and decided I’ll just make the most of it even if I don’t run into Eva.
They had this cute little exhibit right by the entrance and, through the exhibit, is the main square that has all the food stalls. It was yummy Peruvian and Brazilian goodies everywhere! Think donuts covered in sugar with caramel in the middle, paella, chorizo, chicha morada, empanaditas…
I worked my way through the sweet and savories and eventually spotted someone I know! I missed most of the live bands – apparently, they started much earlier. But I managed to catch the last salsa band and danced a bit…
And, to make the most of it, we also stayed around for the samba performers, the other latin dancers, and Capoeira =)
And here we are at the end of a good day…
Two hours north of the city, past Manly, the Narrabeen Lakes, and Avalon, between a massive bay and the Tasman Sea, you’ll find Palm Beach. On the long stretch of sand, you’ll come across both nude sunbathers and families, kite surfers and sea kayakers – there’s an occasional BBQ here and there, but mostly eskies. Although, despite all that – you can still just as easily find yourself a quiet spot and brave the strong waves every once in a while.
Towards the Southeast end of the beach near the rock pool, the water is shallow enough that you can walk 30 meters out or more and it still just barely touches your chest. I noticed that quite a few up-and-coming surfers (little kids) stake out this spot to practice standing on their boards. So, most of the families are down this end as well. Basically, the closer you get to Barrenjoey Head (where the kite surfers are), the quieter it is – and, probably, the less likely you’d just jump in the water.
The trip to Palm Beach was about a 2-hour ride from Wynyard Station – it’s $6.38 one-way to the beach and $6.30 on your way back. I wouldn’t arrive late for this bus, if I were you – it packs pretty quickly because it passes through lots of residential areas along the way. And it’s not the smoothest ride. However, once you’re past Newport, the driver picks up the speed since there’s fewer stops – you’ll probably pass three more beaches until you find yourself at Palm Beach.
Swimming is actually prohibited in many areas on the beach, but people don’t really pay attention to it – and there are two Surf Life Saver stations to keep an eye on swimmers in the safe zones. I guess a lot of what you do at Palm Beach is just catch waves – jump into it, get caught in one, splash around – the kind of stuff you would do as a kid (but still very much enjoy as an adult).
I only spent 2 hours at the beach and headed back for Iñaki’s going away party. (It was, after all, being held at my flat.) I got there just in time to help finish preparations until the guests arrived. I’m glad it was cooler evening (and that it wasn’t raining) – we could finally take advantage of our courtyard. I’m guessing almost 40 people showed up, if not more. They pretty much started arriving around 10PM and the last guests to arrive clocked in at around 1:30AM.
Iñaki invited all of his Spanish friends so it was an evening full of Spanish music. And when the salsa music started – that was pretty much the rest of the night. I met a few people, and recognized faces from the last party. There was Davíd – our resident DJ for the night, Khalid (Milen’s friend – the chic who said I’ve got great thighs), Sven, Gabi, Prue – there’s definitely a lot of people whose names I can’t remember – and Mauricio. A bit of a salsero. He goes with a group to The Establishment on Tuesday nights (funny, because I’ve gone there twice but never saw him before). It sounds like this group of his goes from venue to venue, and he’s pretty serious with his dancing. A good instructor too. I’ll probably try and stop by The Establishment when they’re there to see what else I can learn.
I’ve almost forgotten how much I love (and miss salsa). Dancing last night felt so good. I think it’s because, as much as I like hip-hop and R&B, I can only really dance to salsa. And the best part is that the level of skill it requires is minimal, if you can shake your hips, and then it’s just a matter of following the leader (so don’t get stuck with a crappy one).
-laughs- dancing last night reminded me of the last time I went to Bembe with Johan. There was another salsero there who taught me a few tricks. I wish I could do more advanced salsa. I can’t imagine ever turning more than once on a single beat, much less copy this girl I saw who turned four times on one beat. Crazy.
So to pick up some moves… I headed off to the South American Festival the next day…
Americans love having a BBQ – we’re all about the hot dogs, the southern comfort of baby back ribs, burgers on the grill and corn-on-the-cob… don’t forget the mac n’ cheese or macaroni salad, and definitely some coleslaw.
So this past weekend, I attended a BBQ in North Bondi; and who would’ve guessed that my first one would be Moroccan themed. I guess there were some similar fixings like beer (lots of it), I think there was also a grill at some point (but I didn’t see it), there was a crowd, and certainly ways to entertain yourself (like jumping off some rocks into pretty Bondi beach). But I think, perhaps, a BBQ, is really just a blanket term for a get-together over here.
Check out our menu from this past Sunday:
Zucchini puffs with yoghurt sauce
Hummous and pita
Bstilla (chicken pie)
Watermelon and feta
Carrot and Orange
Fig and Rocket
Lemon Cake w honey Almond
Fruit – Pomegranate, watermelon, orange
And it didn’t disappoint. I can only imagine how much money went into preparing such a large meal! They were expecting 30 people to show up… the preparation must’ve taken hours.
I spoke to my mom about it the day after and we found it amusing that we have an equivalent dish for almost every one that Anna (our host) cooked on Sunday evening. I’m thinking of cooking each one in the course of the next few weeks and document it along the way. After all, I think it’s an excellent opportunity to re-learn how to cook some very traditional Filipino dishes =)
Recipes and pictures are soon to be posted for:
Okoy (Shrimp and Tofu Fritters)
Lumpiang Shanghai (Mini Shrimp and Pork Eggrolls w/ Chili Sauce)
Katsumbo (Grilled Eggplant “Salad”)
Caldereta (Spicy Beef Stew)
Sarsyadong Isda (Fish Cooked in Garlic, Onions, and Tomatoes)