Restaurant Week Part Three: Lily & Bloom

Lily & Bloom is a contemporary American restaurant situated in Lan Kwai Fong, Central… and really, you had me at the name already! (Yup, I’m like that.) This was where we had our third and final Restaurant Week meal.

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The usual complimentary bread, with not-so-usual spreads: hummus and guacamole. As an ardent avocado aficionado, I affectionately approve. (Also, alliteration win!)

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Oysters! Three pieces freshly shucked oysters, classic mignonette, and a homemade cocktail sauce. I love my oysters with LOTS of lemon juice and nothing else. You?

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Slow-cooked market scallop with mango herb salsa and micro greens salad. Look at the size of that thing!

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Lobster Mac & Cheese, prepared in a wheel of 36 months aged Parmigiano Reggiano with cognac, basil breadcrumbs, and three cheeses. So. Much. Yum. (Even then, it still falls a little short of the best Mac & Cheese we ever had, which was in House of Blues in Downtown Disney!)

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Fried Chicken & Waffle, with coleslaw and watermelon. I can’t remember when this started, but for maybe the past year I’ve been obsessed with chicken and waffles. It isn’t surprising, really. Fried chicken? Yes please. Waffles? Yes please. Fried chicken and waffles? YES PLEASE.

In any case, I loved everything on the plate board, including the grilled lemon and the zingy coleslaw. The watermelon was a perfect palate cleanser before our desserts arrived!

And the desserts, oy. (More foodgasms approaching.)

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Yellow peach crepes with cointreau-spiked peach and mascarpone filling, almond crumble, and salted caramel ice-cream. *eats spoon by accident*

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Skillet chocolate chip coookie with hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice-cream. If you look really closely (and try not to lick the screen), you’ll see the little specks of vanilla bean in the ice-cream, and the sauce seeping into the cookie… Heaven.

Alright, we’ve come to the end of the Restaurant Week series! Hope I haven’t made you too hungry. Till next time (or my next meal)!

Lily & Bloom
33 Wyndham Street, Hong Kong
Tel: 2810 6166

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat: Old Gold Town

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Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum (and theme park of sorts) in Ballarat, a city north-west of Melbourne. It’s got historically-recreated buildings to give us an idea of what Australia in the 1850s might have looked like, complete with antiques, machinery, and other paraphernalia of that era. (Here’s the Wikipedia link for more info.)

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You can mine for actual gold, but I doubt you’ll find more than a speck or two.

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Main Street. It’s no Disneyland, but it still has a certain charm.

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Hope Bakery serves sweet and savoury pies! Bought an apple turnover for Mum and a beef and cheese pie for myself. There’s also a modern cafeteria off Main Street, where Mum bought a cup of coffee.

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Gorgeous houses. I don’t think we were able to enter though. Oh well, happy to admire from afar.

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Since Sovereign Hill is well, a hill, you can these stunning views.

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There’s real livestock too!

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If Mum had an Instagram account. #coffeeaddict #seetheworld

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There probably weren’t any recycling bins back in the day. Just sayin’

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Some of the activities that you could participate in include nine-pin bowling. No extra charge, but it’s quite popular and you might have to wait quite a while for your turn.

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Ye Olde Fire Brigade.

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(Singing) ~ Going to the chapel and I’m… already married.

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You could also ride on a carriage, but it would cost extra.

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Waiting for the mine tour, which is underground. Yes, we had to pay extra, and no, we could not climb that tower.

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The mine tram would go down at an approximately 45 degree angle and the tunnel was PITCH BLACK. Even with the lamps at the end of the tunnel, the underground mines were really dim and it took some getting used to.

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The show that we watched was a tale of two Chinese brothers. Yes, there were Chinese miners in Ballarat 150 years ago. The Chinese went to distant corners of the world for gold, and The Land Down Under was no exception.

Our tickets also included admission to the Gold Museum. There were gold nuggets, gold trinkets, tools for mining gold, and of course lots of history lessons, but the exhibit that really caught my eye was this one…

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“Chinese Fashion Design Students Re-imagine the 1850s in the ‘New Gold Mountain Street Style’ Competition”. Apparently the costumed characters in Sovereign Hill fascinated the Chinese visitors and so Sovereign Hill had a fashion design competition to strengthen its ties with the overseas Chinese community. Interesting.

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One last photo for the road: one of my favourite displays in the museum. Golden chalice, anyone?

http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/

臻 Zhen Restaurant Contemporary Dim Sum

Discovered this little gem while exploring Shek Tong Tsui… I was looking for this cafe that I had read about, only to find that they were closing for the day. But then I saw the the bright lights of Zhen Restaurant from a distance, and decided to check it out. So there’s always a silver lining!

We (Edwin and I) enjoyed the food, and the service was lovely. Two weeks later, we actually headed back with a couple of friends in tow! The dishes below are from two separate visits, so brace yourselves for the slew of food pictures ahead…

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Lotus Paste Puff 籠相思

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Foie Gras Spring Roll 鵝肝醬蝦春卷

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Hand-pulled Chicken with Cucumber Salad 胡麻手撕雞

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Fortune Golden Pot 黑松露燒金窩

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Shrimps & Cheese Dumpling 墨汁芝士蝦餃

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Signature Lobster Bisque 龍蝦湯蝦餃

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The piggy and panda buns were new, so I don’t have the names for them.

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Osmanthus Poached Pear 桂花燉雪梨

The words “fusion dim sum” might turn some people off, but I generally don’t mind giving fusion cuisine a try. After all, these days our palates are influenced by so many different cultures, is fusion really so out there? Also, I’m a sucker for cute dim sum. I especially liked the lotus paste “birds” and the lobster bisque “shrimp”, and the dessert was AMAZING. One of my absolute favourite desserts, and I’m usually a chocolate and ice-cream kind of girl.

Alright folks, till next time!

臻 Zhen Restaurant Contemporary Dim Sum
Shop C, G/F, Nam Cheong Bldg
48-52 Hill Road, Sai Ying Pun Hong Kong
Tel: 2811 2568
http://zhen-restaurant.com.hk/

The Story of Red Shoes

Warning: frivolous post ahead!

 

Between bags and shoes, I’m definitely more of a shoe-loving type of girl. It’s miraculous that I have <20 pairs of shoes, and that’s including running shoes, winter boots, and flip-flops. I suppose it’s a sign of self-control (plus I live in a teeny tiny apartment), but then again, half of those shoes are heels, which don’t suit my lifestyle, to be honest. I’m not required to wear them at work, in fact flats are preferable when teaching little ones.

Sure, there are special occasions, but those only come by, well, occasionally. Even then, one only needs two pairs at most – maybe black pumps and sandals with a metallic sheen. And in case you’re wondering, I do have such shoes in my collection, along with a few others. So I’m definitely guilty of buying shoes, especially heels, just because they’re pretty.

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Source

One particular weakness of mine is red heels. I bought my first pair of red heels when I was 18 or 19. They looked something like the pair in the picture. Initially they hurt like hell, but I felt like a million bucks in those shoes. I wore them everywhere, but mostly to classes, tottering up and down the millions of stairs, cursing at the hillsides that made up the landscape at NUS. Those shoes gradually became bearable, then insane comfortable, and then they fell apart.

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My second pair of red heels were peep-toe pumps with crystal embellishments in the front, like the ones in the picture. They screamed “fancy” and I didn’t wear them as often as I did the first pair. These were the shoes that I was wearing when I met Edwin, and when we danced together for the first time. Since then, they became known as “lucky shoes” in my mind. The shoes eventually wore out, but here’s hoping my luck never runs out.

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Perhaps it is fitting that my third pair of red heels were a gift from Edwin, who went on a shopping spree during his training in London, way back in 2010. I actually preferred the nude heels with the lace bow (I even wore them with my cheongsam on my wedding day!). Still, I felt like my shoe closet would be lacking if I didn’t have red heels.

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Needless to say, the shoes haven’t survived till present day, but at least photos are forever.

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Now here we are, at my fourth and current pair of red heels. I’m reaching an age where I actually prefer comfort, so these shoes hadn’t been worn in a while. I thought I’d give them a whirl today, and subsequently spent 10 hours in shoe-limbo. While taking the bus to work I considered retiring them, but oh, they were so pretty! Plus an unexpected 80 other people apparently think so too.

What do you think I should do? Should I give these heels another chance? Or do you know of any comfortable high heels that come in red?

I wanted to end this post with a quote about red shoes, but I found so many gems it was impossible to pick just one. So here are the Google search results instead – enjoy!

XOXO

Solo Trip to Disneyland

This was back in July, when I decided to be spontaneous and made an unplanned trip to Disneyland. This also happened to be my first solo trip to a Disney park, and yes, I was a little apprehensive at first. However, I soon got over it, because it’s Disney, after all!

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I spent around 3 hours in the park, and unfortunately didn’t get to watch the fireworks as I had dinner plans. As short as the visit was, it was quite fun nonetheless. I might even make more solo trips in the future, armed with my camera and everything, while my annual pass is still valid. We shall see!

5 Outfits for Fall

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so let’s dive right in!

Cozy

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Leggings are so going to be my go-to piece when the temperatures drop.

Edgy

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I don’t own any leather clothing, but that skirt is calling to me. Actually, the entire outfit is calling to me.

Fierce

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Burgundy in the fall never gets old.

Prim

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Confession: I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte, but I plan to try one later this year. (Having a Starbucks across the street from my place of work certainly helps!)

Sassy

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Couldn’t resist sneaking a little #minniestyle into the outfit.

As you can see, there’s also a leopard-print element in every outfit, because why not? I was initally apprehensive about this print, but it’s begun to grow on me. So I guess the style lesson is never say never, and just give it a try.

Alright, till next time!

XOXO

Dinner at Plaza Inn, Hong Kong Disneyland

I don’t know why, but for the longest time I thought that the Plaza Inn served a Western-style buffet, which was it never crossed my mind to give the place a try. I must have confused it with similar-looking restaurants from the other Disneyland Parks, because it turns out that Plaza Inn in Hong Kong Disneyland actually serves Chinese (Cantonese) cuisine!

There’s actually a story behind why Plaza Inn looks Victorian on the outside but is all chinoiserie chic on the inside: an American couple traveled to China, fell in love with its food and design aesthetic, and decided to open a Chinese restaurant once they returned home. At least, that’s the Cliffnotes version… you can read more here.

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The table settings and interiors were indeed very pretty. The restaurant got really busy as the evening progressed, although I doubt anyone was there for the story. “We’re here for the food… save your tale for the gweilos.”

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Peanuts and crispy whitebait. It was my favourite thing that night, so you can see how this is going…

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Broccoli and mixed mushrooms. Oh you know, trying to be healthy. Taste-wise, nothing out of the ordinary, but the little Mickeys were a nice touch.

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Tofu and roast meat. This had to be the most underwhelming dish ever. It tasted as bland as it looked. Ugh, next!

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I can’t remember what soup this was, but I do remember that it tasted alright.

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Spring rolls with wasabi mayonnaise. This was one of the better dishes, and also the first time I’d ever seen spring rolls in this particular shape (longer and thinner than traditional ones). Curiously, all other spring rolls I’ve come across since then were all shaped like these!

To be honest, we did make the mistake of ordering too much food. If we had ordered just three dishes instead of four (the peanuts don’t count), it’d probably have turned out to be a better overall dining experience.

However, this is my gripe: given that this is Hong Kong, the standard of the Chinese food served here really should be much better than this. Alongside Crystal Lotus at Disneyland Hotel, the dishes we’ve encountered haven’t been particularly impressive. Why is that so?

While the Disney dim sum has a “cute factor”, there isn’t much about Plaza Inn that stands out. The only time I can see myself returning is if we’re in Disneyland on a cold winter evening and nothing but a bowl of piping hot Chinese soup will do. Otherwise… nope.

As mentioned in the previous post, Edwin and I will be heading to Disneyland next week, and I’ll be on the hunt for Halloween-themed food-items. There might be a Jack Skellington burger, orange and purple drinks… pumpkin spice churro? Now, wouldn’t that be something.