Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sydney Markets

If you know me, you know I *love* markets.

For some time now I have been meaning to visit the Sydney markets in Homebush and I finally got around to it last week.

The markets open at 6am (5am for flowers) and I wanted to be there then, so I woke up at the unreasonable hour of 5 on a Thursday morning, to hop on a train for the markets (flemington station, on the inner west line).

The first thing you will notice when you arrive, is that it is quite loud for how early it actually is. There are lots of trucks moving around and unloading produce, innumerable and loud-beeping-reckless forklifts everywhere. There are huge crates of fresh vegetables all around you and it looks a little something like this:

And that's just the parking lot.

My first stop was the Sydney flower market. There was so much variety and the prices were fantastic! Even better, you didn't have to buy a truck load of flowers to get that price, almost everything was sold in bunches.

And just like there were people specializing in flowers, others specialized in greenery, wild flowers, and succulents (all personal favorites).

And of course you couldn't miss the orchids.

I also visited the growers and produce markets, which consisted mainly of big hallways with big farm names on both sides selling fruits and veggies. Beautiful and plentiful fruits and veggies, like the ones you see here:

But unfortunately the market itself was less romantic and looked more like this:

Everything was neatly packed in stackable crates and boxes, which suggests that people don't come here to buy just one apple, they come here to buy several kilos of apples, so mainly restaurants and retailers I guess. There were also no prices anywhere to be seen, so perhaps the prices change throughout the day and/or vary according to quantity?

I was a happy girl among so many flowers and veggies, not so much around the vicious forklifts and noises, but it was an interesting visit overall.

And on the way out, I ran into this:


(and then I went home and took a nap)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I ate soup today that had a bug in it.

I spotted it right at the beginning of my meal and somehow convinced myself that it was a baby shrimp (I was eating Tom Yum). So I pushed it aside and ate away. Upon further examination I realized it was not a baby shrimp, but a small creature with an exoskeleton.

I don't know what it was, if the fact that I was really hungry, or that the soup was tasty, or the fact that maybe I just didn't think it would kill me, but I ate away and finished the soup without complaint. And no, I had never seen that bug before so I am not sure what it was.

I have been thinking about this a lot, and the truth is, I don't know what that makes me.


In other bug news, remember this post?

Check out the laundry I had just brought from outside:

Now look closer...

That my friends is a young male yellow flower spider (I'm no expert but it is a good guess, females have bigger abdomes me thinks). It was actually really cute and I was trying to gently get it on a stick so I could release it outside. I'm sad to report that he didn't survive the transition.

We also have one of these in the backyard and I am just boggled at how clever that spider is, with its little leaf protecting it.

I used to hate bugs, but now I am slowly making my peace with them...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Maximum wattage

DIY electric mixer!

Courtesy of my friend JM Custardcrusher*.

Supplies: a power drill and a fork.

Insert the fork into the power drill as if it were a drill bit. Make sure it fits snug so it doesn't come out at all when you pull it hard. Turn on the power drill and durrrrrrr.

Disclaimer: this should probably not be attempted by anyone. Instead you should get an electric mixer ;-)

*That's the alias he chose.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gift ideas

Our cool neighbor friend celebrated a birthday last weekend and we discussed many a gift ideas for this chap. We know he enjoys wine and cocktails, but M and I (mainly I) decided that that was too cliche. We thought of many other nice things available for purchase but didn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable about "buying" something... so instead I thought I could make something!

The gift receiver likes spicy food, he is also Australian born and raised so he likes barbecuing (that's a given for most Aussies), so I thought I could combine both likes into a single spicy, sweet and tangy homemade barbecue sauce!

I have made barbecue sauce before, it is ridiculously simple, but I personalized it and gave it a kick by adding two chopped up chipotle peppers in adobo, plus a little extra of he adobo itself.

We bottled it up and I scribbled some letters on a brown paper bag to create a personalized label (the pixelated area said "from [our address]".

I included the recipe in that little piece of paper that I tied to the bottle, you know, in case he wants to refill it.

This is another excellent reason to always keep your glass bottles and mason jars around. Now you go make something for someone.

PS. The original recipe is here, but remember I added some chipotle peppers in adobo for spice.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My first Opera: The Barber of Seville

I forgot to tell you guys! We went to our first Opera EVER last Thursday at the Opera Theater in Sydney's famous Opera House.

We weren't sure if we were classy enough for the Opera, but it was a smash hit! We loved it! We went to see The Barber of Seville, and purchased two of the cheap box tickets at $65 per person.

The set was beautiful, the props were clever, the costumes colorful, it provided English surtitles and this particular production of The Barber of Seville was actually VERY funny.

If you live in Sydney and have yet to go see an opera, do give it a chance, it might surprise you!

Here is a good review of the show.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wagatail review

While we were away in San Francisco we left our precious fur ball in the hands of Carmen from Wagatail.

We didn't feel comfortable leaving the cat in a boarding house because ultimately it came down to her personality, we knew she would hate being left alone, but even more she would hate being put in a small cage with a bunch of other noisy smelly animals around. She is a young and playful cat and she loves being around people and laying outside in a shadowy spot with fresh air.

We researched our options for pet sitting services in Sydney, and sadly, there weren't many. In fact there were only 2: Carmen from Wagatail and Richard from Petcare. Richard has been in the business for (according to his site) 23 years and he and his family run a dog and cat boarding facility out of his own house (at least this is what I understood from our communications). Carmen has only been doing this for a couple of years, but she was recommended by a colleague of M. Both people offered to provide references and basically the same services for pet minding at home. Richard charged $27/hour while Carmen charged $25/hour.

Ultimately we went with Wagatail because 1. She was recommended by someone we actually know, 2. She offered to come twice a day for 30 minutes each time, as opposed to 1 hour once a day, 3. She may be young and less experienced than Richard, but sometimes you have to give those people a chance.

Ultimately the experience was very good, and I'll break it down into the good and the bad:

- I had asked Carmen to send us photos of the cat every few days, which she punctually did every other day, and would briefly inform us on the progress of their friendship.
- She came in twice a day, which is great because that is how often our cat is used to being fed. Otherwise she would eat an entire huge bowl of food in less than an hour.
- She fed the cat, cleaned the litter tray and played with her at every visit (at least she was supposed to!, heh)
- She picked up our mail.
- She watered the plants.
- She returned the house keys personally on the day we came back.
- She kept a diary detailing the things that went on during that day. Example 1: "Murka is very vocal, and also a friendly cat, she has quickly opened up to me." Example 2: "Today we played outside with her favorite toy and then she let me brush her and pat her for a while, she purrs all the time!" Example 3: "Murka leaves very big poops for such a small cat."

- We found a dirty toilet seat. There were some unpleasant stains on it and I don't want to think about what went on in there.

- On her diary she noted that she had vacuumed the living room and kitchen on her last day, however I didn't see any evidence that she actually did. Of course we never asked her to do that, so just the mere intention of her meaning to do it was nice, I suppose.
- Nothing was missing from the house, I guess this is a normal concern to have when you decide to trust someone you never met before.
- When she came to drop off the keys Murka was excited to see her, which is a good sign that she wasn't mistreated by this person.

Overall the cat looked happy and healthy, and we would probably use her services again if we leave for any long period of time.

And a cute sleeping cat photo to end this post.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

San Francisco and food (yes, again)

We're back in Sydney everyone!!! *the crowd goes wild* *roars* *applause*

In one of the recent posts about food someone commented "food? again?!", and the answer to that is yes, food, AGAIN!

Both of my parents are amazing cooks and growing up even the left overs were always tasty (except for that time my dad cooked capybara*), so food to me is not just sustenance and guilty pleasure, but equally important is what happens around the table and the people who are with you. So in short, this is my blog and I write whatever I damn well like.

We had an excellent time in San Francisco, I got to see my brother a ton, heaps of old friends and even made some new ones. We ate very well, drank homemade ales and cocktails, walked incessantly (when the weather allowed), did a little shopping, baked cupcakes with a friend and even helped create a music video for someone.

Having a full time personal photographer with me, it is difficult to bother to take photos of the travel experience. So It is no surprise that when I looked at the shots I took with my phone, they are mostly of food :-) Enjoy!

Black bean and smoked cheddar tamale with the fixings. From Donna's Tamales stand at the ferry building farmer's market. Best meal I ever had for $3.75
A perfectly cooked soft boiled egg inside a savoury cheese, ham and rosemary muffin. By Tell Tale Preserves also at the ferry building farmer's market. It was a tasty novelty, but at the hefty price of $6 I am not sure I will be trying it again.
1 Gingerbread cupcake with cream cheese buttercream from Miette. 2 Chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream from Miette. 3 beet cupcake with bood orange jelly and mascarpone cream from the ferry building farmer's market, cannot remember the stand's name :( 
Sunday brunch at the Linares-Krumme household, featuring black beans, cheddar and cottage cheeses, crepes with honey, cantaloupe, sliced avocados and tomatoes, homemade beer bread and soft boiled eggs. No joke.
* One Christmas my father decided to cook capybara, which is not commonly eaten in Venezuela however some people do, especially if they live in the regions where the animals roam. He purchased and cooked too much of this fibrous, chewy and not very tasty meat, so much that we resentfully had to eat capybara for weeks after.