Scott and I had our 10 year wedding anniversary on July 14th. Our first plan was to go to Fiji, but obviously that couldn’t happen. Then we changed our plan to a few days away in the Bendigo area, but that got cancelled when they announced Lockdown 2.0 [I thought waiting until 4 days before was low-risk enough to book an Airbnb and some fancy meals and spa stuff but no!]. Ah well. Hopefully we’ll celebrate our 11 year anniversary somewhere nice.

Instead we had a couple days off at home.

I decided there was NO BUDGET whatsoever and searched around and found out one of my all-time dream restaurants was doing fancy takeaway. What a treat!!

We started with Kinoko-no-dobinmushi, which had like a dozen different types of crazy mushrooms in a konbu dashi broth. There were three types of little vegetarian dumpling things: taro, tofu, and lotus root, an interesting green vegetable that I have no idea what it was, and some yuzu and lime. One of the mushrooms was hairy!!

Next we had Truffled teba-gyoza. This was insane. It had a perfectly gooey egg yolk (Scott thinks it was duck, as it was pretty large) wrapped in a chicken mince mixture with truffle, pancetta, shiso, somehow stuffed inside a de-boned chicken wing, which was then cooked until crispy. It was so rich and tasty. I don’t know how they did it, you couldn’t see any seams!

Then the main event, Chirashizushi (for two). It had 50 million tiny pieces of absolutely perfect fish on top of a bed of sushi rice and egg slivers. According to the menu we had o-toro, engawa, prawn, tamago, ikura, tuna, trout, Hokkaido scallops, anago, nori, kinshi tamago, cucumber, shiitake, kanpyo and bamboo shoot.

The highlights were the incredibly buttery torched engawa and the super sweet and tender scallops, but honestly every bit of it was amazing. Even the pickled ginger that came with it was extra delicious.

For dessert I chose the Otona banana, which had a Japanese whisky infused banana pure√©, Okinanwan black sugar and miso butterscotch, crispy wafer pieces, roll cake layers, fresh banana and vanilla custard. I usually only eat bananas for convenience… but I still loved this. Everything was super smooth and not over the top sweet.

Scott had the Matcha Pudding Parfait. It had matcha pudding, sponge and syrup, adzuki beans, strawberries, raspberry sauce, kanten jelly, mochi and whipped cream. It was very earthy. Scott liked it a lot.

All in all, one of the best meals we’ve ever had, and a very fun at-home experience. Happy anniversary to us!

Minamishima Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

One kinda cool thing about lockdown life has been all the new takeaway options. Fancy places doing cheaper takeaway, where you might have to do a little assembly at home. After weeks of not going anywhere we decided to treat ourselves with Attica at Home, somewhere we probably wouldn’t get to go to normally.

A Simple Dish of Potato Cooked in the Earth it Was Grown – a very tender potato with a tart curd and saltbush.

The Dish That Saved Attica aka Spice Crusted Lamb Shoulder – a verrry tender piece of lamb with some greens and a super rich puree.

Plight of the Bees: Trifle Version – a fairly basic trifle with very smooth cream, cake, raspberries etc.

Baby Holy Goat ‘La Luna’ cheese served with Baker Bleu ficelle and fresh honeycomb – really delicious creamy cheese with suuuuuper chewy rolls, with a delicious hunk of gooey honeycomb.

Cocktail Selection: one sweet, one dry.

Everything was quite nice. We loved the lamb and puree the most, and the cheese was sooooo good. Everything was pretty small so I’m glad I added the extra cheese course. The trifle was the least special part of the meal but it was still fine.

Attica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

“It’s Getting Hot In Here” (tequila, jalapeno syrup, mango & lemon). Pretty spicy!

Taco Tuesday $5 tacos.

I had a fish taco (with papaya slaw and jalapeno salsa) and a shrimp taco (with pickled onion, pico, sour cream and guac). Scott had a beef taco (with lettuce, cheese, pickled onion and bbq sauce) and a pork taco (with pickled vegetables, mayo, pineapple and pico).

The fish was the best part, it was so crispy and delicious. They were ok value for $5 each on Taco Tuesday but on the regular menu they were ~$15 each!!! That would be outrageously because I could very easily eat 3 for a full meal. We wondered if they make them bigger on regular days?

La Cabra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I’ve always loved Taco Bell. But I only need it once or twice a year, which is good because it’s always been hard to get (except for that brief great time where there was one on the way to trampoline lessons!). Until now… because they just opened two restaurants in Melbourne.

I made Scott wait with me for one hour for the grand opening of the one on Chapel Street. :D

I ordered a lot hahahha. A beef crunchwrap supreme, pork cheesy gordita crunch, and chicken stacked chips supreme. (They threw in a pair of free taco socks!)

Everything was good (in a low expectations T Bell kind of way). It’s not quite the same as the American version… it was more nicely put together and had better toppings. The tomatoes were actually red instead of white, the lettuce was crisp, and it even had guacamole. However, they don’t have free sauce packets so they lose some points there.

The service was excellent.

I’ll definitely go back if I’m in the area. The other one is right near where a lot of my weightlifting competitions are held so that might be my new post-comp treat.

Taco Bell Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rosemarie requested that I write about PBs, books I read, new board game reviews, and favourite recipes of 2019, so here I go…

PBs: snatch 41 kg -> 46 kg (in training), clean & jerk 49 kg -> 54 kg. The bigger accomplishment has been fixing my back enough that I can do all movements again! I think my PB potential is very good for 2020.

Books (TBH I’m not sure if I read these in 2019 or earlier but here are the last few books I read):

  • How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie – some of the chapters at the beginning were useful but then it got a bit too religious to me
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt – a long one!! About the lives of a few students. I love really long detailed books if the story/characters/world is interesting
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – again, a pretty long one about a boy who loses his mom and ends up with a priceless painting. They made a movie of it but the book is better
  • This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – about a boy who wants to be a girl, and a family that loves her. A nice book
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – pretty much the male version of Don Tillman from the Rosie Project, entertaining
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – in my opinion it’s a corny book about racism written by a white lady for white ladies. :/ I guess that’s better than no book about racism?

New Board Games:

  • Drop It – a very simple but fun game where you try to drop pieces into the right spots to score lots of points
  • Azul – very easy game to teach people, can get brutal when you get stuck with tons of extra pieces
  • 7 Wonders Expansions – fun on the ipad but a bit too much to keep track of irl
  • 7 Wonders Duel – my very favourite two player game, I’m still not tired of it 10/10
  • Agricola All Creatures Big and Small – ok two player Agricola spin-off
  • Camel Up – fun light game, everyone loves the gimicky dice rolling pyramid and the KRAZY KAMELS
  • Jaipur – two player camel betting card game that we got for Christmas… first impressions are good, Scott likes it a lot
  • Puerto Rico – not as hard as Agricola, kinda fun that you get to do stuff even when it’s not your turn
  • Sagrada – quite simple game with NINETY dice, tricky fun
  • Terraforming Mars – very complicated game with lots of pieces, a bit hard to play well but still fun to play even when you don’t really know what’s going on

Great recipes of 2019:

Praline Almonds – I used the recipe in my ice cream book but it’s basically the same as this (except I used almonds). This was one of the craziest things I’ve ever cooked! It magically goes from a pot of watery almonds to a pot of sandy almonds to a pot of candy almonds. Sprinkled with a bit of salt… so delicious.

No Knead Bread in the cast iron pot – so easy!!! I use this recipe. I did try whole wheat once but it didn’t turn out as delicious as pure white.

Dutch Baby! – so visually spectacular, so easy! I’ve made sweet ones with fruit and ice cream toppings, and also savoury ones with smoked salmon, rocket and parmesan. This is my go-to sweet recipe.

Fish Tacos – Coles just started selling corn tortillas so we can make delicious tacos at home, like this easy Pinch of Yum recipe. I’ve made it with basa or shrimp. I love the garlicky sauce.

Adventures:

We didn’t leave the country in 2019. Actually we barely took any days off at all. The good news is we have enough holiday to go to North America in May 2020 AND possibly Fiji for our 10 (!!) year anniversary later in the year too! 2020 is gonna be gooooooood.

We did check out some new places in Victoria/Australia, here are a few highlights:

A very windy 90 Mile Beach in Gippsland.

A relaxing and fun few days of camping/day hiking at Wilson’s Prom.

On platypus watch in the Otways.

Day off at the Peninsula Hot Springs.

Whale watching on North Stradbroke Island.

Final thoughts: 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020.¬†

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