Sunday, December 27, 2009

Leftover Pizza... but not as you know it

This Christmas was unlike any other in my life. There is, however, always one constant: lots and LOTS of leftover roast meat. We're always trying to come up with ways of using it up. Mum and I weren't sure about this one, but it ended up working a treat.

You usually talk about leftover pizza being the pizza you didn't finish last night. This pizza wasn't pizza to begin with.

This morning I made corn fritters for breakfast and, with the batter I had left after making plenty of little ones, I made one big fritter, the size of the pan. Mum asked me what I was doing. I said we'd work out something. We did.

On Christmas Day we started lunch with some biscuits and dips. There was still some left.

Also on Christmas Day we had roasted turkey and ham. There was a LOT.

And it all had to be eaten, because we don't like waste.

So we took the big fritter, smeared some roasted capsicum dip on top, diced up some turkey and ham and threw that on with a smattering of grated cheese.

Surprisingly, it was quite tasty!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Well everyone, it's Christmas again. A lot has changed in the past 12 months, and there'll be one helluva lot more changes coming in the next 12 months.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Christmas and New Year holiday season. Take care, see you in 2010.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I can't think of a title...

Oh. Oh oh oh oh oh.

It's truly pathetic how excited I am by it, but I have a new vacuum cleaner.

It's a Dyson.

It's awesome.

In fact, it's awesomely awesome. Its awesomeness is almost blinding. It is so awesome, I can't stop saying the word "awesome", and I haven't said it this much in at least a decade. And it's starting to look like I'm spelling it wrong. Anyway. This thing is just... well, yeah, you know.

I did a quick run around half the house when I got it home the other night, it took about half the time as it normally would, cos instead of going over the same spot heaps of times to suck stuff up, I just had to go over it once. And my god, you should SEE the crap that's come out of my carpets - they haven't looked this good since they were new! (Although I'm a little embarrassed at bragging how much crap has come out of my carpets... dang).

I never thought I'd be so excited about something that I have to use to clean my house.

These babies aren't cheap, but damn if it's not the best thousand bucks (or near enough to) I've spent in a while.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Aria Sydney

1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay, Sydney 2000
P: 02 6252 2555

My trip to Sydney finished with a dinner at Aria in Sydney. We had high hopes for the meal, knowing Matt Moran's reputation. Things started REALLY well.

J ordered the pork belly for entree. He reported that it was simply divine. The pork was tender and succulent, and the croquette delicious.

I ordered the special of the night, ocean trout with big orange roe, quail egg and potato. Words can't describe how much I enjoyed this dish. It was so beautiful and so simple.

For mains J ordered the raviolo. It sounded quite nice on the menu, and in fact I very nearly ordered it myself. Alas, the real thing didn't live up to expectations - the taste of cumin was overpowering, forcing J to leave much of the dish behind.

I again went with the special of the night - roasted duck breast. The meat itself was nice, I was a little less sure about the 'stuff' it came on, but that pie you can see there at the top of the picture? I have no idea why it was there. Sure, there was duck in it, but it just didn't gel with the rest of the plate. And, frankly, it wasn't very nice. The meat inside was dry and stringy, and the pastry was unpleasant.

We plowed on, determined to try the desserts. J ordered the "banana" dessert. Artistic, isn't it? Have a guess how much banana was in it. Go on, guess. Guess!! There were just 4 itty bitty pieces. While the rest of the dish was nice enough, we just expected banana to be the main ingredient. Quite a bit of the offering was left on the plate.

I ordered the "strawberry" dessert. Again, this was a hit-and-miss selection. That panna cotta was nice enough. Sadly the slivers of poached strawberry were quite tasteless. As for that tart-type thing up the top of the picture... it wasn't particularly enjoyable either, although I loved the meringue. That globe of red on the right was a strawberry sorbet, and I can admit that it was fabulous - everything that is good about strawberries and sorbet combined.

The meal ended with coffee for J, tea for me, and a pretty tray of petit fours to share. A type of truffle ball with a vaguely burnt aftertaste, a rectangle of sponge with a weird flavour, and a square of turkish delight that was the best of the lot. J's coffee was similarly off-target. He loves his espresso, but the cup dished up was so bitter that, after a small sip, he left the rest. It even smelt bitter.

I felt so strongly about the meal that I ended up emailing my thoughts to Aria, trying to be as pleasant as possible. I received a nice response from Mr Moran thanking me for taking the time to send in my feedback (wonder what he was REALLY thinking!), and expressing his regret that the meal wasn't up to our expectations.

So in short, the high points were the entrees, the duck breast, and the strawberry sorbet. Low points were the raviolo, the pie, and the petit fours. Oh, and the coffee.

I have to say, maybe our expectations were too high going in. Or maybe they weren't. I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope we were just there on a bad night. All in all, it was a disappointing meal to have when I got engaged.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bills Darlinghurst

433 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst 2010
P: 02 9360 9631

Somewhere I've wanted to go for breakfast for, wow, as long as I can remember, is Bills. Any Bills. So long as I get me some famous hotcakes. My trip to Sydney (damn, a month ago now, I really need to blog more regularly) gave me the perfect opportunity. Although I've heard mixed reviews, I wasn't disappointed!

I was staying with R & M, and Bills Darlinghurst is just a pleasant Sunday morning stroll from their front door... lucky buggers. I may have to visit again... hahahahahahaha relax guys, just kidding!

Once we got to Bills and I saw the menu the first thing I noticed was that breakfast is served all day. I love this, especially for a lazy weekend. Places that cut off your breakfast after 11am are just cruel :-)

So, while I held fast to my hotcakes craving, J and R both ordered the sweet corn fritters. I had a little taste. Next time, I am SOOOO going these babies. Sweet corn, savoury fritter, crunchy yumminess. So incredibly good

M had the scrambled eggs, and these looked pretty damn good too. He reported success.

And these were my hotcakes. Thick, fluffy, delicious... especially when I slathered maple syrup all over them. If anything, they were too much of a good thing: I put up a good fight, but just couldn't finish the plate. I also had the sunrise drink... I was sure I'd taken a picture of this... anyway, it was nearly a meal on its own!

Bills don't take bookings for breakfast, so do yourself a favour and turn up either early, or late! Around 10am the place gets very, uh, cosy.

I'm so glad I went. I'm so glad it lived up to my expectations.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Break in Scheduled Programming....

Below is a copy of the complaint I sent to Connex this morning after yesterday afternoon's trip home.

I'm interested in hearing people's thoughts.


This complaint refers to the 4.26pm train to Werribee from Flinders St yesterday.

Passengers on the train were rudely informed by the driver that someone was forcing the doors open on a carriage. He continued rudely, saying that he could see the person, and if they didn't stop forcing the doors he would report the train as defective and make all passengers get off. As we finally left Flinders station he informed us, still rudely, that the train was running 2 minutes late due to this person.

At North Melbourne the abuse continued, with the driver threatening that "this was the last warning" and "if the doors are held again the train will be declared defective" and all passengers ordered to get off.

At one of the small stations between Footscray and Newport (I now can't remember which) the train stopped, unscheduled. We sat there for some time, until two men exited the driver compartment and walked towards the end of the train (I was in the 1st carriage, so not sure where they went). The doors were not unlocked for other passengers to get out. After a time the two men returned to the driver compartment and the train continued.

At Newport the driver, still rude, reported that the train was now being declared defective, and we were all ordered off.

Regardless of whether or not the train was defective, regardless of whether someone caused this by forcing the doors or if it was caused by some other issue, my complaint resides with the driver and his manner.

He was rude, arrogant, threatened all passengers, and was incredibly unprofessional. If I were to act in that manner in my profession I would, at the very least, be severely reprimanded, at worst fired. While I do not know his name, or what he looks like, I recognise his voice as he frequently makes use of the PA system to speak to passengers, and his manner is often the same.

This is unacceptable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


529 Kent Street, Sydney
P: 02 9267 2900

I'd been looking forward to this since mid-June... yes folks, I "did" Tetsuya's! I'm going to try REALLY hard not to gush during this post, but please excuse me if I do get a little carried away. This was an amazing meal, and a fabulous experience.

When R and M came down to Melbourne in June for my birthday we decided to go to Tetsuya's for dinner. When R rang up the earliest dinner vacancy on a weekend was, well, a long way off. Instead we settled on lunch, which happened in mid-October. You can find the menu we had (unless it's since changed). Oh wow. A four-hour food-fest, with offerings that barely ever dipped below absolutely fabulous.

The meal was kick-started with a chilled sweet corn soup with saffron and vanilla ice cream. This was fan-fucking-tabulous. Sweet and smooth and a brilliant way to prepare my taste-buds for what was to come.

The smoked ocean trout with Avruga caviar was equally delicious. Until a few years ago I didn't eat any seafood whatsoever, so the past six or seven years I've been getting progressively more adventurous, sampling first a few different types of fish, then moving to sashimi, and finally caviar-ish type things, usually the big bright orange salmon type. This was my first experience of the "black stuff", and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I chased the last few little balls around my plate to make sure I got them all. That yellow you glimpse under the caviar is a perfectly cooked egg yolk. Oh man...

I believe at this point some oysters were brought out for R and M (which I didn't try, as I just can't handle oysters). They were served in the shell with a lime vinaigrette and were, apparently, brilliant. I completely forgot to take a picture!

I wasn't sure how, or if, I'd like the marinated Crystal Bay prawn, as I really don't like the texture of prawns. This was so delicious, though, that I scoffed the lot (I just didn't chew much, thereby avoiding much of the texture problem. That's not as gluttonous as it sounds, as I cut it up into smaller pieces instead of going the one big one!). I believe the yellow pffft of stuff on the bottom was a cheese-y type flavour, but I may be remembering incorrectly (R, M, can you remember for sure? The menu on the website mentions soy caramel, but I don't know...).

And so to Tetsuya's signature dish. And it's called that with damned good reason. The confit of Petuna Tasmanian ocean trout with konbu, shredded apple and daikon, with wasabi and seasonal green salad was just... I'm trying to come up with a descriptor that I haven't used already, and not having much luck. I'm also trying to think of one that adequately conveys how damned good this was. I guess I'm kinda speechless. What does that tell you?

If there was a low point in the meal, this was probably it. I think it tells you a lot when I say that, even so, it was pretty good. It's just that, compared to what came before and after, it didn't quite deliver. The terrine of Queensland spanner crab with an avocado mousse-type puddle was quite nice, but not really something I'd go out of my way to eat again.

The minor dip was quickly forgotten when the grilled fillet of barramundi with braised baby fennel arrived. Seriously, I think I should give up trying to tell you how good each of these servings were. Despite starting to feel a bit full by now, we all finished this one eagerly, and I have to tell you it was, well, great! Delicious!

I don't think I've ever eaten spatchcock. And I still don't think I have... the menu says this course was spatchcock, but R has reminded me that this was actually duck. Either way, except for the green stuff, this was great (or insert other word meaning really really really nice here).

The final "main" meal differed from the menu currently on the website, as did the remainder of the meal, so you'll have to forgive me if I can't say as much about the following dishes, other than "yum". This was a veal (?) fillet, cooked to perfection. I'm afraid my memory has failed me on the rest of the details. Dammit. I need to start paying more attention. And bringing a notebook. And doing my blog posts sooner after the event....

The transition dish between mains and the desserts was, well, interesting. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but cannellini beans with sweet toffee-ish accompanying flavours was surprisingly tasty. Actually, one little spoonful was almost too much of a tease. I think I might have run my finger over my spoon to try and get a little more of the sauce.

Oh yes, I did, I can just spy my finger-wipe mark :-)

First of the desserts was actually an offering of two at once - a pineapple sorbet that was very nice (although not quite to my taste), and something that resembled a creme caramel, but was in fact chai-flavoured. Different! But still good.

Oh god... a couple of the pictures I've posted here have the power to make me drool just by looking at them again, and this is one of them. To be funny I took this picture with another one just peeking through in the background but... funny thing happened. After I finished my first glass of wine (a couple of courses previously to this one), when I ordered another I also asked for a new glass as there were a couple of tiny pieces of cork in my current one. Our waiter apologised, then got me a fresh glass, and also opened a fresh bottle for me. Now THAT is service, and making someone feel special. Anyway, I'm not sure if that had any bearing on what happened after we'd finished our poached summer berries Tetsuya-style or not.

These oh-my-god-that-is-so-good-i-could-die-happy-right-now glasses had a slick of vanilla custard-type something on the bottom, then the poached berries, with a dollop of light-as-air white chocolate mousse on top. When our waiter came to take them away, I laughed and said "wow, if there are any of these out the back that no-one wants, we'll take them off your hands!"He laughed and replied "no! They're the ones I eat!" I like it when people can have a bit of a joke. Well.... a few minutes later another round of these babies were put in front of us :-D And y'know what? They were just as good the second time around!

I have to admit, I was getting seriously full by now, and don't have much memory of this dish at all, except that the strip of stuff poking up was crunchy... and it was chocolate-y... I'm sorry! There's a memory flitting around the edges of my mind but I can't quite grab it... R? M? Can you help me out?

Coffee and tea were served with these babies... a sweet little sponge, a chocolate macaron, and a square of green tea marshmallow. Wunderbar! Sooooooooooooo good.

Many thanks must go to R for making the booking, and for buying me my very own copy of Tetsuya's cookbook, and one for herself. Our kindly, generous waiter also included a jar each of truffle salsa.

I can't afford to eat at Tet's often, but I'd really love to make the trip to Sydney for it once a year. Oh yeah.


Monday, October 26, 2009


161 King Street, Sydney
P: 02 9223 7000

I have long had a yen to try Jacqui Gowan's food. I've seen her quite a few times on Ready Steady Cook and always liked what she's done with the ingredients people present to her. When she left Garfish I hunted around and found out that she'd moved on to Subsolo, so I decided to make a trip up to Sydney, some time, to eat there.

The Sydney trip happened last weekend... but sadly, Ms. Gowan had left Subsolo, and is now freelancing around Sydney. Even so R, M and myself went along for dinner on a Friday night.

Subsolo offers Spanish and Portugese fare, with a range of options on the a'la carte menu. We chose a selection of tapas to share between us, and on the whole were very happy!

But first, we started with a rather large-ish glass each of sangria. Bueno!!

Ensalada a la Espanola with jamon, salami, spanish cheeses, olives, mushrooms, and tortilla got the meal off to a damned fine start. Alas, as you can see I didn't quite get the camera to it before we started digging in... and you can just spy M's fork coming in for more!

The baby squid and shaved chorizo salad with roasted garlic, heart of palm, and wild rocket was superb. The squid was perfectly cooked, the salad ingredients were delicious and fresh, and the dressing blended well with everything. Sabroso.

Pork tenderloin, wrapped with Morcilla and pistachios, on calvados spiced apples - or rolled pork tenderloins with black sausage and pistachios, on apple sauce. Y'know, I've never had black sausage before - the thought of it kinda turns my stomach a little bit. And if our waiter hadn't told us what it was, I would have probably said this was freakin' great. As it was... well, to hell with it, I really enjoyed this dish. I'm not sure black sausage is something I'll be rushing out to eat again, but I really enjoyed this. I think I ate about half the plate, actually.

R and I are both big fans of cheese-stuffed meatballs - I first made them after getting the idea from from R when she blogged a recipe for pork, thyme and cheese meatballs - so we were keen to see what Subsolo could offer with their crumbed meatballs with melting Manchego cheese centres with Romesco sauce. These were very tasty, but I think I'd kind of been hoping for a little bit more cheese. I know it melts and kinda goes through the meat, but I guess I'd just been hoping for more. Nevertheless, these were great, and there were none left on the plate at the end of the meal, despite groaningly-full stomachs.

Service was also quite good, and the bill was quite respectable. I'm already flagging this as a place to go back to, on my next trip north. Bookings might not be necessary (I'm not sure), but I'm glad I made one as the place filled up pretty quickly.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The final stop on our trip was Bangkok. I had one day to see as much as I could see, and I think I made damn fine work of it. I've always been interested in the Thai culture, and I absolutely LOVE Thai food, so for me this was a great way to end the holiday.

We were accosted at the airport by a gentleman from the Great Bangkok Travel Co. For a nominal fee he arranged a car to take us to our hotel, plus one to pick us up and bring us back in a few days. For 500 Thai baht (or approximately AUD$16) he also booked me on a tour of the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha temple, with a personal guide, car, and driver the next day.

This place was beautiful. I won't bore you with the tons of pictures I took, but this one is just as you enter the gates to the Grand Palace gardens. The architecture and history of the place is amazing.

I snapped this picture, then noticed something. You can't see it in this one, but near the gazebo on the right-hand side two young slim guards were having a chat, while third, rather portly guard, had a snooze under the gazebo. I can't really blame him - it was so hot, it just sapped your energy!

The temple of the Emerald Buddha is beautiful. I recommend, if you decide to go on these tours, to wear shoes that are incredible comfortable to walk in, and easy to slip on and off, as you have to remove your shoes before entering these temples. Also, in the case of this one, you can take as many pictures from outside as you like, but pictures are strictly forbidden inside the temple. It's a shame - it was beautiful. Every surface inside either gleams with gold or gems, or is covered in murals. Gorgeous.

The rest of the tour was taken up with a trip to a jewellery store, and a stop at a tailor's... I resisted the jewellery, but had to submit at the tailor: I got fitted for a 3-piece suit in charcoal cashmere. That was at about noon. At 5.30pm a car arrived at the hotel to take me back to the tailor to get a final fitting, and the finished garment was delivered to the hotel by 11am the next morning. All for $300. I figure I'm doing my bit to help the Bangkok economy along.

The guide I had for this first tour was brilliant - her english was pretty damn good, she was very knowledgeable, and she had a wicked sense of humour. I've misplaced her card at the moment, but when I find it I'll be sure to post it - I had a blast.

Our accommodation package at the hotel included a tour, which I made use of to go on the Temple and City Tour. Part of the tour included the reclining buddha, all 46m length and 15m height of him.

Instead of the marble temple, which was apparently overrun with tourists (sheesh, bloody tourists.... hehe), we ended up at the standing buddha. While I'd been looking forward to the marble temple, this was still an impressive feat - all 30+m of him.

Similarly this tour also ended at a jewellers. I think the jewellers didn't like me - I didn't spend a cent at them. Well, at the second one I bought a few other bits and pieces, like some silk scarves and things... but yeah, they go no significant dosh out of me.

Considering I had one day to sight see, I think I did well to see as much as I did in Bangkok. That being said, there's still so much more, and so much authentic food, that I want to try. Next time!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hong Kong

I can't really say much about Hong Kong... mainly because I didn't take many pictures!

What I can say is this:

1. If you're there on the weekend, make your way out to the Stanley Market. It's not as big as I thought it might be, but that doesn't mean that it's not great. It's a fair hike out of the centre of Hong Kong - we took a taxi, but there are also busses. Take a hat, sunglasses, cool loose clothing, and a big bottle of water. And be prepared to haggle.

2. Also make sure you check out the Ladies' Market on Tung Choi Street. I can admit, most of the presents I picked up for people came from here, and if you're prepared to barter hard and furiously, you can pick up almost anything here for only a few Australian dollars. It was brilliant.

3. There's a restaurant... dangit... off Peking Road, I think... Macau-type cuisine... DAMMIT what was it called... it didn't look like much, but WOW the food was good. There's a ton of great food to be had in so many places over there... pick one and make it an adventure.

Hm, we spent a weekend there, a lot of it either roaming the markets or relaxing by the pool. It was great, I want to go back! But nothing really to blog about. I guess all I can say is I liked the place, go check it out :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


After Shanghai we flew down to Guǎngzhōu. Once again I had a babysitter to show me around. She booked us on a bus tour of Guǎngzhōu that covered one hell of a lot of kilometres. It was a lot to cram into one day!

Being on a tour definitely has its plus sides - one being the ease of getting around (no fears of getting lost), and you get to hear a lot about what you're looking at. One down side is that you can't spend longer at a place that you are particularly interested in. I know I could have spent MUCH longer wandering around Baiyun mountain. The view of the city was amazing (well, what you could see through the smog!), and stretched for a LONG way... Melbourne in comparison is so incredibly tiny.

One really nice thing did happen while I was there. Eileen (who was looking after me) took my picure in front of this garden(above), and while she was doing this I noticed a lovely young couple taking it in turns to take pictures of each other in front of everything. Thankfully, hand gestures are more or less universal. I pointed at their camera, then pointed one hand at each of them, then at the garden, and moved my hands together. They understood. The girl was so happy, she clapped her hands together and jumped up and down, then grabbed her boyfriend and they posed in front of the garden while I snapped a few pictures off with their camera. Then something unexpected happened. The girl grabbed me and took me back to the garden for pictures of us together, then me and her boyfriend, then the three of us. So I have these lovely pictures of a very smiley me with some very smiley people... and I have no idea who they are! I didn't speak their language, they didn't speak mine, but we all understood each other. I hope I remember that story for a really long time.

How did we get down the mountain? I mentioned in my post on Shanghai that, for someone with my fear of heights, I seem to get into a lot of them. And here I was again. Yes, we took a cable car down off the mountain. It was beautiful, but seriously, I need to stop doing this to myself!

On the way out to Changzhou Island and the Huangpu Military Academy (an hour or so on the bus... it might take longer if you stop at red traffic lights...) we stopped for lunch. I'm glad that some of my favourite places to eat at Chinatown here in Melbourne aren't that crash-hot to look at, because the place we stopped at... wasn't fancy. I really wish I'd taken a picture of the outside to share with you all but I didn't. We all trooped off the bus and into an open room with quite a few tables, two of which were set with massive lazy susan's in the middle, fair groaning with the weight of the food on them.

Oh, should I mention I was the only non-Chinese person on the bus? The reason I mention it now is that the ladies running the establishment saw me as I sat down and got all in a flurry - it turns out they were worried I wouldn't be able to handle the food with the chopsticks. I managed to say, through Eileen, that I could manage, although I'm by no means proficient. Hehehe... one of the ladies had already disappeared to the kitchen to see what she could rustle up. It was at this point that she returned - with a (please excuse my language) fuck-off massive-ass kitchen knife, and a tiny plastic fork. It made me laugh so hard...

Anyway, I tasted most of the dishes in the centre of the table. There was a whole fish (which I declined due to the number of bones in it), something with salted-chilli cucumbers, also chilli tofu, something sliced and green, something brown and squidgy (which was DAMNED tasty), and this:

I don't know about the spelling, but phonetically this is "too dow" (ow as in the sound in 'loud'). Shredded potato strips lightly stir-fried with garlic, oil, and chunks of chilli. Delicious. By-the-by, I had a slightly different version of this in Hong Kong, with carrot and celery and a few different flavours, but this simple version wins hands-down for me.

From there we went on to the Huanpu Military Academy, which is now a museum with the story of how it was founded, bits and pieces of its history, and paintings of some of its staff and graduates. It was a really interesting place to visit, and also included the old Customs House. If you're like me, and have an interest in the history and culture of places, you'd really enjoy visiting these places. Just be careful where you point your camera.

The penultimate stop of the tour was the Five Ram Statue. Not much more I can say about this one... there's the statue, and a shop of souvenirs... there looked to be more here, but we only stopped here for a minute.

From the rams we went to a jade shop, where there was a presentation on the types of jade they sold there, how it's carved, and the different grades of it. Although the presentation wasn't in english, I have some knowledge of jade, so I found I could figure out what he was talking about from what he was doing. Amazing!

Final stop, the bus let us all off a short walk from the Beijing Lu. Gah. I'm NOT a shopper, but I swear my purse was itching to empty itself in some of these stores. We wandered around for a short while, then the day caught up with us so we took a taxi back to my hotel. What a great day. I can't wait to go back and explore a little further!

Oh, but speaking of hotels... The Garden Hotel KNOWS how to look after its guests. Oh wow. The beds are pretty damn firm, but I think that's the worst I can say about this place. While I've got no problem with staying at lesser establishments (hell, I've kipped in many "interesting" backpacker accommodations), I can appreciate a little luxury. And this was not a little. It was a fair stinkin' whack of it. If the entry foyer doesn't impress you, the standard of the facilities you have access to there certainly will (try their massage... you'll melt). This is another place I'd love to explore a little further (rather than just the bar).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


This pic pretty much sums up the weather the whole time I was in Shanghai!! That being said, something about the place just appealed to me. I only really had a day and a bit to explore, and probably would have ended up wasting it somehow, but I was lucky enough to have someone to show me around... and make sure none of the crazy, death-wish traffic got me!

We started at the Oriental Pearl Tower, just a short ride on the (fast, clean) subway from the hotel.

Y'know, for someone who's afraid of heights, I seem to find myself up in them quite often! Yep, that's my foot. Yep, that's the ground of Shanghai approximately 267m or thereabouts below me.

And yep, somehow Anna (my trusty babysitter) convinced me to sit down on that thing. Would you believe, as I was sitting there someone nearby jumped and the whole thing shook... and it was at that moment that the camera clicked. Ug.

After a good look around the observation deck and checking out the entertainment level, we went below the tower to see the museum. This is included in the 350RMB entry fee for the tower, and is well worth a look, as well as a nice way to spend a few hours in air conditioned comfort, learning a little about China's history. I quite lost track of time.

After all this we were decidedly hungry. Having heard of my liking for dumplings through our respective other halves, Anna and I jumped in a taxi and headed for this place (can someone please translate the name on this sign?). The queue for a table here was substantial, and for a handful of RMB I can certainly see why...

These babies were DIVINE. In comparison to the xiao long bao at HuTong on Market Lane here, these little dudes win, hands down. They were slightly smaller than those at HuTong, with a little less soup, but damn me if they weren't the most amazing little dumplings I've had in an awfully long time. Dipped in vinegar with grated ginger, and washed down with a can of Tsing Tao (which, by the way, I've become a FIRM fan of, through many and large samplings) through a straw... ah, what a perfect lunch.

But wait... what? That's just first-lunch? There's a food court a few minutes walk away that I absolutely HAVE to check out... ooohhhh... hm, ok... but I'm kinda full already...

Wow, if there were food courts like this in Australia, I'd go to one every day, I think. This was NOT like the ones we have here. This was three walls of food, where you collect a tray at the start and wander around, grabbing a plate of whatever you want, and pay for it all at the other end. For a measly AUD$20 or thereabouts, we got two trays of food, more than enough for the two of us. In fact, there was probably enough for double the number of us. This was Anna's tray, because she had the rather more interesting food, most of which she grabbed purely so I could try bits and pieces.

Including this one. When I ate it I had no idea, aside from the sweet sticky rice, what the hell it was; that had to wait until we caught up with the men at dinner that night. Regardless, I liked it. Turns out it's lotus root.

But strangely, the dish I enjoyed the most at the food court was...

... these beans. Ever so lightly stir-fried and salted with a dash of chilli. Something about these just screamed "yum" to my taste buds.

Hm, seems weird to sum up such a busy day in so (comparatively) short a post... of course I've left a lot out. Can't wait to go back!