Another Year Wiser

About 2 weeks ago, I was reminded by the fact that time waits for no one, and without realizing, I was another year older wiser. I really do believe that time seems to fly much faster when you have a baby! Every day is just a mad rush in the morning and right after work. The only solace I have is actually during work in the office, where I have my own me-time, doing my own thing, without having to constantly look up to see where Little J has gone to, or whether it’s time to prepare his food, get him to nap, etc. I can do things according to my own schedule, not his, and it’s liberating, for that 8-9 hours a day. Right after work though, it’s a continuation of my hectic rush of picking him from child care, preparing dinner, feeding him and myself at the same time, doing the dishes, preparing his bath, milk and finally putting him to bed. Repeat this every day and night, and without you knowing, a week has passed, and then a month and now, a year!

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Birthday cake

Since my birthday fell on a weekday, Saucer and I decided to take the day off, send Little J to child care as usual, and have a day out, just the two of us! Yes, we have to resort to taking our annual leaves to have some alone time, now that we have Little J in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, nothing in the world makes us happier than he does, but once in a while, we need to have some adult time with each other too. And so it started with us watching a movie together in the cinemas. Gosh, almost forgot how that felt like! :) Then, we took the train to the city, and had lunch at Lowenbrau Keller at The Rocks. Being the birthday girl, I had my meal there for free! So generous of them indeed.

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Schweinshaxn / Oven-Roasted Pork Knuckle (AUD$36)

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Crispy pork knuckle skin

Upon the waitress’ recommendation, I had the Oven-Roasted Pork Knuckle that came with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. The pork knuckle was huge! The skin was mostly crispy (except for some parts on the sides which were still chewy and rubbery) but we thought it was overly salted. Yes, I know that we have to salt the skin to get it to be crispy but I would expect the chef to remove most of the salt once it’s done. Other than that, did I mention that the portion was really huge? It was full of meat and even after 20 minutes of eating, Saucer looked at my plate and said, “It looks like you didn’t even touch the dish!”.

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Jägerpfanne /Charcoal-Grilled Veal Backstrap (AUD$31)

Saucer, on the other hand, ordered something different. We were well aware of the fact that German restaurants are usually good for pork knuckles, sausages and beer, but since we’re already having 2 out of the 3 specialties, he decided to go with the Charcoal-Grilled Veal Backstrap. It was served with home made egg noodles, mushroom sauce and melted cheese in a cast iron pan. When the dish came, I have to admit that it didn’t look all that appetizing because everything was mixed up into a mush. But it did smell amazing because of the cheese, and Saucer liked the veal too. So I was too quick to judge. But would we order this again next time? Probably not. We prefer sticking to the old favourites. :)

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Saucer and his dark beer

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Lowenbrau Dunkel (AUD$12)

Having pork knuckle in a German restaurant without a beer seemed like a crime, so we ordered one. The Lowenbrau dark beer was surprisingly very smooth and easy to drink, even for my standards. In fact, it was the perfect drink that day since it was quite warm in the afternoon, and the cold, smooth and refreshing beer was what we needed.

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Pork knuckle and I

In the middle of our meal, I was faced with yet another surprise with a 2-person band walked to our table and asked if someone was celebrating her birthday today. I nodded embarrassingly and they broke into a Happy Birthday song complete with 3 cheers. :)

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Saucer and his veal

After our long and filling lunch, we took a walk around Circular Quay and visited the Museum of Contemporary Arts for the first time. It was quite impressive that such a large and spacious building in prime location is used to appreciate modern arts with free entrance. We then walked to the city to get me my birthday present but the item that I wanted was out of my size. :( I guess I will have to make do with a belated birthday gift.

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Home-cooked dinner by Saucer

When it was time to head home, we took the train back and Saucer insisted to do some grocery shopping before picking Little J up. The sweet man wanted to make me dinner for my birthday! It was nothing fancy, but just knowing that he put in the effort to make my day special was enough to make me gooey inside. After dinner, we completed the celebration with a birthday cake. I insisted on waiting until Little J was back to cut the cake, because it wouldn’t be complete without him in the picture, would it?  We had a pretty tear drop shaped cake from La Renaissance, a famous patisserie in The Rocks. It was a mixed berry mouse cake encased in almond sponge and topped with glazed berries. Tasted as good as it looked too! Yum!

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Pretty birthday cake – Larme de Gaugin from La Renaissance Patisserie

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Mixed berry mousse, encased in a decorative almond sponge and topped with glazed mixed berries

Last but not least, a family picture for the album. We managed to take this self-timer shot after less than 10 tries, which was quite an achievement seeing that Little J is always so fidgety. My birthday celebration overall – it was nothing fancy, no romantic candle-lit dinners, no late-night movies, none of that. But we have our little bundle of joy with us, and that makes a whole lot of difference. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, this year, and for many years to come. :)

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A picture of us <3

Sydney Fish Market

We have been in Sydney for about 2.5 years now, but have not stepped foot into the Sydney Fish Market before, albeit it being a popular attraction. I guess one reason was we’ve never been big fans of the fish market anyway, probably due to the notion that the place would smell fishy, be wet and crowded with people. But come one weekend, we thought we should at least give it a go before passing any judgements. That, and the fact that Saucer was suddenly craving for fresh oysters. So we took the train to the city, and walked from Town Hall station to Darling Harbour, and from there to Sydney Fish Market. It wasn’t a short walk, but the weather was clear and sunny, making it appear much shorter than it would have been otherwise.

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Lots of fresh seafood at first sight

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Saucer and a sleeping Little J

To be honest, even before we reached the fish market, we could already smell it. I was a bit apprehensive then, but hey, we’re almost there. Once we stepped foot into the compound, we saw a few standalone fishmongers outside and a huge open fish market inside. We reached there around 11.30am and the crowd was just unbelievable. There were people every where we went, and queues long enough to make you sigh. Thankfully, the place was clean and not wet as I feared.

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Outside the Sydney Fish Market

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Huge crowd in the fish market

Of course, while navigating through all the stalls, I had to take pictures of their very fresh seafood. I wonder if it was the lighting or if the seafood appeared to be fresher there. The shells seemed more shiny, salmon and cooked crabs spotted a brighter orange, and the oysters just screamed at you to be eaten.

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Fresh crabs on display

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Giant octopus and lots of different fish

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Fresh oysters

Apart from fresh seafood stalls, there were also stalls that sell cooked seafood, or stalls that would cook seafood that you purchased from them. For example, the stall below sells cooked seafood platters with different combinations. There was also a stall that was preparing sushi rolls with the fresh sashimi and seafood. It was hard not to be attracted to the grilled scallops that were prepared right in front of my eyes.

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Seafood platters

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Scallops

Anyway, as mentioned earlier, Saucer was craving for oysters so we scouted around for the best ones. Every stall had their version of oysters, but we chose the one we thought was freshest. Just like this stall below that had people shucking fresh oysters on the spot. Can’t get any fresher than that!

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Man shucking oysters

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Fresh oysters

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Pacific oysters

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Pack of a dozen oysters

So we eventually settled for oysters from Peters. We bought a dozen of them and moved to the cafe to get some food for lunch. To our horror, there were no empty seats at all at the cafe. And there were more people queuing up for food and seats. Since we’re hungry, I decided to go ahead and join the queue anyway. The ordering process was fast, it’s just the waiting for your food to be ready that took ages. Once an order was placed, we’re given a piece of paper with a number. And when your number’s called, you’d go to the cashier, collect your food and pay. We waited for at least half an hour for our order then, and our number was still not being called. And sleeping Little J was no longer sleeping then, and he was hungry! So I decided not to wait anymore and left to feed him his lunch first. Thankfully I had not paid for my order yet. When Saucer went back to check again about 1 hour after our order, we still couldn’t see our order ready for collection, and there were even more people waiting now. It was crazy.

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All tables taken

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The busy Fish Market Cafe

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Lobster thermidor

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Grilled prawns and more

I was really keen on ordering the lobster thermidor, but luck was not on my side I guess. It’s either that or my order just magically disappeared in the flurry of people. Anyway, we ended up getting some grilled octopus and fresh sashimi from other fish shops, so all was not lost. Since we couldn’t get any seats indoors, we went outdoors but it was the same. People were just everywhere. We ended up sitting down by the trees on the grass, seeing that the weather was just nice and sunny.

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Outdoor seating area

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View of the ANZAC bridge

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Saucer and his oysters :)

And Saucer finally had his share of fresh oysters. Yes, they were good, juicy and super fresh. But would we brave the crowd again in the future for just oysters? That’s a hard one. Maybe we might go earlier or later next time, instead of being there right at lunch time. Lesson learnt.

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Super fresh and juicy

Not Impressed with Temasek

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we miss Malaysian food! Cravings for Malaysian food hit us every now and then, especially during festive season like the Hari Raya or Mooncake Festival, when we see more pictures of good food on our Facebook feed. Therefore, it is inevitable that we scout around for Malaysian restaurants to visit during those times in need. A few weeks back, we decided to give Temasek a try – a restaurant that prides itself with Singapore and Malaysian cuisine. Even though we shouldn’t have, we went in with above average expectations.

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Roti Canai (AUD$4.40/2 pcs)

We went during lunch and our first thought was that the restaurant was quite busy even though it was probably close to 2pm. We managed to get a table in no time though, together with a high chair for Little J. The vibe of the restaurant wasn’t too friendly, we could feel waiters who were rushed and not smiling, as if we were not welcomed. Anyway, we ignored that and proceeded to look at the menu. My first impression was that the prices were on the high side. I can say that I have been to quite a few Malaysian restaurants in Sydney and the prices here are definitely one of the highest. I mean, $16.80 for a simple nasi lemak? We will get there shortly.

We ordered a couple of Roti Canai to share, but were disappointed that they did not come with any curry on the side. I mean, which restaurant in Malaysia does not serve curry/dal with roti canai??? Even the cheapest mamak place serves roti with some gravy for dip and yet, Temasek refuses to provide any curry to go with the roti even though they are charging an exorbitant $2.20 per piece! So much for calling themselves a Malaysian cuisine restaurant! We tried the roti and to be honest, it wasn’t too different from the frozen Paratha that we usually make at home. Definitely not worth the money spent.

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Fried Hokkien Mee Malaysian Style (AUD$14.80)

For mains, I had the Fried Hokkien Mee Malaysian Style. I was a bit excited when I saw this item on the menu. Not because I was craving for Hokkien Mee, but because I saw 2 different Hokkien Mee listed – Malaysian Style and Singapore Style. I thought if they had classified it down to such specifics, they would know what it takes to make Malaysian Hokkien mee the right way. But boy was I wrong. I was expecting noodles in thick and dark soya sauce, almost to caramelized consistency with a hint of charred smoky flavor, but all I got was watery soya sauce gravy with Hokkien noodles. Totally took my appetite away. I don’t even remember tasting Hokkien mee that had watery gravy. I was disappointed and a little angry that they were misrepresenting Malaysian food to Sydneysiders. Seriously, someone should do an audit on Malaysian restaurants before allowing them to claim themselves to be Malaysian restaurants.

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Nasi Lemak (AUD$16.80)

Last but not least, Saucer had the Nasi Lemak, one of the most expensive ones we had in Sydney. Sure it came with a choice of 2 sides (choice of chicken curry, beef rendang or sambal prawns) but the portion of the two sides add together was similar to the portion of a single side that I get elsewhere. Not only that, the main star of the nasi lemak, which is sambal, really, was measly! It was such a minuscule amount on top of a half of a boiled egg that it may as well not be there. And did you see the acar which was supposed to be served as a side according to the menu? What a joke it was! Literally half a spoon of acar does not warrant it a position as a side dish, I think. Yes, the chicken curry and beef rendang were good. But isn’t the core of nasi lemak really the sambal ikan bilis (anchovies) and rice? I’d much rather have more sambal and ikan bilis than for my rice to be smothered with curry, thank you very much. I guess I would not have been as annoyed had they not charged an exorbitant amount for what they claimed to be Malaysian food but were obviously far from it.

If I went in hoping to satisfy my cravings for Malaysian food, I came out feeling worse than before. They could be good in other Malaysian dishes but for our visit, we were not in the least impressed. Oh, and did I mention? They were only accepting cash on that Sunday afternoon. What a bugger.

Temasek
71 George St
Parramatta NSW 2150
Tel No.: 02 9633 9926
Lunch: Tue to Sun (11:30am – 2:30pm)
Dinner: Tue to Sun (5:30pm – 10pm)

Temasek on Urbanspoon

East West Buffet Seafood

It’s not often that we go for all-you-can-eat or buffet meals these days, especially with Little J around. It’s simply too ambitious to think that one could leisurely stroll up and down the buffet spread while thinking which items to try, and then sit down and eat at a leisurely pace, and repeat the process several times. No, gone are the days of our relaxed buffet meals. These days, we’ll be lucky if we can finish a proper meal (without going for seconds or thirds) in peace. So when we saw this promotion at East West Buffet having a seafood buffet lunch deal at $16/person, we thought we’d try to be ambitious this time. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? That we’d just eat hastily and leave the restaurant without making our money’s worth? We’re way past that these days. :D

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First plate

Making a reservation was surprisingly a breeze. With such a good promotion going on, I thought it would be hard to get a place especially during the weekends. We reached at around 1pm, with about 1.5 hours left to the end of lunch service. Once we’re shown to our table, we took turns going to the buffet spread while the other stayed behind to look after Little J. The first item that I attacked was the seafood. There were plenty of fresh prawns, mussels and octopus on the buffet. The variety wasn’t great but the quality was really not bad. I used to dislike eating mussels due to their very fishy taste/smell, but the ones from here were pretty decent. The prawns were also very fresh, succulent and sweet. And the best part was, they were always refilled when they  ran out. Another of our favourite item was the clams. They’re just so super juicy and plump and tasty. Saucer must have had at least 3 servings of those! LOL!

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Mussels and octopus on the seafood spread

Another area that we visited a lot was the sushi belt. The sushi belt wasn’t very long, but once in a while, there were some nice items that we kept going back for. There was salmon sashimi, salmon sushi, beef/wagyu sushi that we had a few of. Towards the end of the buffet, there were more of those sashimi plates coming out so we grabbed them too. I guess sashimi can’t stand long so towards the end, the chef decided to just finish up whatever that’s left in the kitchen? Fine by me!

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Variety of sushi on sushi belt

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Wagyu beef sushi

The pictures taken below were at the end of the buffet, so some of the plates were almost empty. There’s quite a good variety of salads around, with fresh vegetables in some, cooked meat in others, as well as the pasta salad. For kids, there’s also a buffet area filled with deep fried stuff such as fish fillets, chicken nuggets, fries, spring rolls and fish tofu. Grabbed a couple of the nuggets to keep Little J occupied while we had a few minutes of peace to munch.

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Salad bar

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Deep fried items

Next to the deep fried area was the BBQ and roast meat bar. There was a selection of BBQ pork, roast pork (Siew yoke), roast duck and soya sauce chicken. Saucer liked the roast duck and had a few pieces of those. I tried some of the siew yoke and they were not fantastic, but not too bad either.

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BBQ pork, roast duck, roast pork and chicken in soya sauce

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Garlic bread, roast beef and more pasta

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More roast meat and potatoes

Towards the end of the buffet, there were some new items introduced as well. One of the more memorable ones was the BBQ pork ribs! They were slightly charred and had a caramelized outer layer, which reminded us very  much of Malaysian-style char siew. The local char siew (BBQ pork) here is more of the Hong Kong version, where the skin is more reddish and does not have that caramelized/charred outer layer. But these pork ribs, they were just like the Malaysian-style char siew, with a sweet outer layer. Really good!

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Fresh prawn skewers, clams and siew yoke

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More juicy clams and awesome BBQ pork ribs

By now, we were so lucky to have gone through 2-3 rounds of the buffet spread. We kept Little J busy by giving him morsels of food and his plastic spoon that he could play with. While he’s entertaining himself, we quickly had our dessert fix. There’s a soft-serve ice-cream machine with DIY toppings nearby. There’s also a small spread of cakes around with choices of chocolate mud cake, apple crumble and apple strudel to name a few.

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Soft-serve ice-cream with chocolate sauce

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Apple crumble, chocolate mud cake and apple strudel

The chef must be a fan of ‘saving the best for last’ for just before we wanted to leave, we saw a new tray of deep fried sesame red bean balls being brought out from the kitchen, still piping hot and smelling heavenly! Yes, these deep-fried red bean sesame balls are similar to the ones we have back in Malaysia and they’re so good! Especially right out of the fryer. Burns the tongue, yes, but so worth it. Since the crowd was getting thinner at that point of time, there were more of these sesame balls to go around. Saucer must have had more than 5 pieces of those! So sinful but so good.

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Red bean sesame balls

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With Little J after our dessert

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Dining environment at East West Buffet

Overall, we had a great time at East West Buffet, much to our pleasant surprise. Little J was good throughout, except for a few tantrums after he was done with his own lunch, but nothing that we couldn’t manage. The food was above average, and it certainly was good value for what we paid. We’d be more than happy to make a return visit whenever we felt like stuffing ourselves crazy again in the future.

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Little J and Saucer at the end of the buffet

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East West Buffet at Blacktown RSL

East West Buffet Blacktown RSL Second Avenue, Blacktown 2148 NSW, Australia Phone: +612-9621-6077 Fax: +612-9621 4677 Business Hours: Lunch (11.45am-2.15pm), Dinner (5.30pm-9pm), Fri-Sat (5.30pm-10pm) Email: info@eastwestbuffet.com.au

East West Buffet on Urbanspoon

Happy First Birthday!

Sometimes I can’t believe it myself. Has it really been a year? 12 whole months? Since I gave birth to Little J, that is. Well, now he’s not so little anymore, and definitely much more cheeky and active. Little J officially turned ONE more than a week ago, and he was so lucky that a few of our good friends from Malaysia happen to be in Sydney to celebrate his first birthday with him. :) At first, I just wanted to have a simple lunch with our friends at home, seeing how with a baby, it’ll be difficult to organize and cook without help. But Saucer suggested getting takeaway food instead, so we decided to invite a few of my relatives over as well.

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Birthday cake

Our initial plan was to have the little lunch party at the park just down the road from our house, and we even went on site to mind map where our balloons and banner would be placed there. However, when the time came, the weather was just turning dark, windy and cold, not very ideal for an outdoor event. So we had to change the venue last minute and have it at our very own deck. Luckily we didn’t invite too many people or they wouldn’t have been able to fit! :) Thanks to the guys for blowing up the balloons and decorating our humble deck.

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Food and decoration ready

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The little boss of the day

Little J was in a happy mood that day. He woke up from his morning nap just in time before everyone arrived for the lunch. I wonder how he felt seeing so many new faces at home that afternoon. :) While waiting for everyone to arrive, we took the opportunity to take some pictures with the food still intact. :) And also while baby was still in a good mood!

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“Daddy, what big teeth you have”

For food, I made pasta with pork sausage and Saucer prepared a lovely salad of lettuce, spam, feta, olives and tomatoes. We placed some fish fingers and chicken nuggets in the oven for the little ones (Little J loves them!) plus also ordered some pizzas and bought KFC for everyone. On the side, we had some crackers, chocolate bars and of course, the cake!

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The food spread

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The happy birthday boy

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Caroline, Eric and Grey all the way from Malaysia

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 Everyone celebrating J’s birthday

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Our little family of 3

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Saucer and Little J

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Sweet smile from Little J

It was great fun to meet up with everyone that day, including my cousins and their kid/spouse. Little J received lots of attention from everyone wanting to hold him, take pictures with him or play with him. He was certainly one happy boy that day. Once everyone was done with eating, we had the cake ready and sang a birthday song to Little J. The cake was a combination of a white chocolate mud cake on top and a chocolate mud cake at the bottom. And yes, I decorated it with M & M’s to make it less plain. :) The cake itself was really yummy and moist! I especially loved the chocolate mud cake which was super chocolatey and dense.

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Birthday cake for the 1-year old

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Cake-cutting!

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Yummy and moist chocolate mud cake

Then, it was time to open up the presents! Of course, the first one had to be from his parents. :) We got him a giraffe car that he could sit on and ride. He was so excited seeing the box that he would not let go of it! We had to pry the box from him to open it and start assembling the toy car.

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First birthday present for Little J

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“Give it to me!”

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Riding on his giraffe

All of us had lots of fun that day, so much so that Little J only had his afternoon nap an hour later than usual. As he grows older, he’s becoming more fun to play with, and definitely more interactive. Here’s to many more fun birthdays to come, Little J. We love you very much!!!

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 Happy birthday cutie pie!

Fondue for 2 + 1

It’s the middle of winter in Sydney and what’s better than having a mug of piping, thick, hot chocolate to drink? A chocolate fondue, of course! We were at the Theobroma Chocolate Lounge a few weeks back on a rainy and cold afternoon for hot chocolate. After settling Little J down on his high chair, we made our orders at the counter. Both Saucer and I felt like indulging in something sweet so we decided to share a Chocolate Fruit Fondue. Well, now that Little J is part of our lives and our outings, everything that used to be for 2 will be for 2+1 now! :)

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Chocolate Fruit Fondue for 2 (AUD$19.90)

The Chocolate Fruit Fondue came with a thick chocolate dip and 4 different fruits – kiwi, bananas, orange and strawberries, plus 2 skewers of marshmallows. Little J had most of the bananas while I absolutely loved the kiwi with the chocolate dip. The combination of something slightly tart with something sweet was just yummy. I reckon this is a surefire way to get your kids to eat fruits if they refuse to eat them normally. LOL. The chocolate dip was very good too – thick, smooth and very very delicious. We were this close to licking the bowl clean when we’re done with all the fruits!

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Hot Chocolate with Warmer (AUD$6.80)

For our afternoon cuppa, Saucer had the Dark Hot Chocolate with the warmer while I had the Milk Hot Chocolate. I thought my milk chocolate was pretty good, until I had a taste of Saucer’s dark chocolate and I was blown away! Once I tasted both, the milk chocolate really paled in comparison and I kicked myself for not choosing the dark one. I guess this also depends on personal preference, and from this, I discovered that my preference is for something less milky and more chocolatey. Well, we all learn from mistakes, so I’ll know what to order next time. But on the whole, the hot chocolate was reasonably thick, smooth and delicious. Also, the warmer was perfect to keep the drinks warm for as long as we were sitting there, even in the middle of the winter.

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Fondue for 2+1 :)

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Chocolate-dipped Strawberry

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Marshmallow – hot chocolate’s best friend

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Little J munching his banana

Overall, we had a wonderful experience at Theobroma with great chocolate fondue and yummy hot chocolate. We still thought Little J was too young for the hot chocolate since we didn’t want him to get hyperactive but when the time comes, I’m sure he would enjoy the chocolatey drink too. For now, he’s happy with the fruits sans chocolate. :) We’ll definitely be back!

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Happy  boy

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Our +1

 Theobroma Chocolate Lounge
Civic Lane, Rouse Hill Town Centre,
Rouse Hill
2155 NSW Australia
Tel. No: +61 2 9836 3281
Website: www.theobroma.com.au