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afternoon tea palace

The Palace Tea Room is a wonderful Victorian experience in the heart of Queen Victoria Building (QVB). The gilded gold chandeliers and mirrors, the delightful period décor and the impeccable service all makes this an afternoon tea to remember. Oh, and they also have a separate drinks menu with *over 30 different kinds of tea*!

the palace tea room

I was quite chuffed when I heard that we’ll be having afternoon tea here. Contrary to my image, I do like the occasional dainty finger sandwich and I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Palace Tea Room. They only use Royal Albert – 100 Years of Royal Albert, 1950s Festival and Wedgwood Harlequin fine bone china!

tea room

The décor is meant to awe but the friendly service makes this feel like you’ve gone back to the Victorian era and you’re having tea in your own drawing room with friends, which the wait staff pulls off with aplomb. The picturesque scene of quiet congregation (everyone seems to talk in whispers here, I felt the same urge) was only broken with the oohs and aah of satisfaction with their afternoon tea offering.

palace waiters

You can choose a Devonshire Tea (AUD 20) if you’re not particularly hungry or go for the full experience of The Palace Traditional Afternoon Tea (AUD 38). I highly recommend the latter, it comes with a fully loaded 3-tier platter of dainty delights!

tea menu

I asked the waitress for a recommendation, since I couldn’t decide after browsing through six (6) full pages of tea. She suggested the Paris Vanilla Tea, which is one of the more popular offerings but I noticed something called Indulge Chocolate Tea and asked her about it. She couldn’t decide between the two either, since both are good in their own way, so I asked what she would order if she were in my place – and Indulge Chocolate Tea it was!

indulge chocolate tea

I was very happy with my choice of tea. It’s indulgent, smooth and rich. The menu describes it as “wicked” and I very much agree. You can smell the chocolate when the tea is steeping and everyone wanted a cup of my choice (each order of tea comes in a pot). It has strong highlights and afternotes of chocolate, which I found delectable. The Indulge Chocolate Tea is an extravagant choice that you won’t regret (but everyone else will, and want a sip of yours).

wedgwood harlequin china

The manager personally came out and explained each of the beautiful creations on the 3-tiered fine china platter (each edge is gilded with *real gold* banding and highlights – from the teapot spout to the plates) – there’s scones, crab coronets and crust-less finger sandwiches on the bottom tier and the first two tiers are filled with sweet cakes and pastries.

traditional afternoon tea

I loved the cone shaped crab coronet – it was so tasty I wish it didn’t disappear in a bite. There are three kinds of finger sandwiches too – egg salad on white bread, tuna on brown bread and Chicken Caesar sandwiches on brown bread. There’s also a tiny morsel which looks like two biscuits sandwiching a salmon roe paste – it turns out to be a little cheese shortbread sandwich filled with creamy red capsicum mousse. It was my favorite bit from the savory offerings at the bottom tier.

finger sandwiches coronet

I absolutely loved the scones and demolished them with hearty helpings of clotted cream and raspberry jam (since no one else wanted them). There are two scones – one plain and one filled with fruit. The blowtorch finished mini lemon meringue tart and tiny vanilla cupcakes topped with lemon sour cream are delicious! I think the only bit that let me down was the coconut macaron since Adriano Zumbo Patissier is just downstairs.

macaroons scones

However, the chocolate macaroon (with double o’s) dusted with toasted coconut and filled with a sweet passionfruit filling was spot on. I also liked the lamington (it’s an Australian cake) but the most wonderful item on the platter is a marvellous creation of white chocolate, raspberry and basil (!!!) mousse layered sponge cake.

palace me

The flavors works so well together and it’s just too bad that there’s only one (1) of some items in this 2-person sharing platter so you’ll have to cut a tiny pastry into half. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful experience and if you appreciate the subtleties of tea, you’ll be pleased to know that all their teas are proprietary house blends. The owner told us they’re always so full that reservations is a must and also divulged that they’re bidding to buy over the opposite establishment so they can renovate it and take it over, which says everything about how popular The Palace Tea Room in QVB is.

the queens letter

Interesting tip: There’s a sealed letter from Queen Elizabeth II in QVB (Queen Victoria Building) which was written by Her Majesty in 1986 to be opened 100 years in the future in 2085 by the Lord Mayor of Sydney at that time and read aloud to the People of Sydney. It’s at the top floor and worth a detour before you head for afternoon tea, even if you can’t read the contents of the letter. I just love the idea.

queen victoria building

The Palace Tea Room
Shop L1 20-22, Level 1,
Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

berts jr

Bert’s Jr. Gourmet Burgers is just a stone throw away from where I live but I’ve never eaten there, despite going to a lot of different places during the “burger craze”. We were craving burgers over the long weekend and since a lot of shops weren’t open, we decided to eat here. The different thing about Bert’s Junior is that they *don’t* serve pork – so don’t expect a nice juicy oink patty coz they’re a halal outlet.

berts jr gourmet burgers

I am wary of places like this, since some Muslims mistake myoglobin in cooked meat (the juices in a steak when it’s not rested properly) for blood, and since since blood is prohibited, a lot of halal steak houses and burger joints have very little in the way of customization – the meat is only served well-done e.g. you can’t order a blue steak or have it medium rare.

berts junior

Thus, I steered clear of the steak offerings (Bert’s Jr offers that on their menu too) and went in for the burgers. I asked for a recommendation and got Dark Vader (char-broiled mozzarella infused Australian beef patty topped with beef bologna cold cut, cheddar cheese, shiitake mushroom, green leaves, peeled tomato, caramelized onions) and Baa Baa Black Sheep.

dark vader

Bert Junior has burgers available in both small (100 gram) and regular (200 gram) patty sizes and I went for the larger one for my order. My better half went for a chicken burger since she doesn’t really like beef (Dark Vader) or lamb (Baa Baa Black Sheep). The burgers can also be made into a meal for RM 5 more – affording you a drink and a side (curly fries, French fries or croquette with coleslaw). It’s cheaper than most premium burger outlets in town.

Baa Baa Black Sheep (RM 21.90)
Char-broiled mozzarella infused Australian lamb patty topped with chicken mushroom, cold cut, cheddar cheese, Shiitake mushroom, pineapple, green leaves, onion & tomato salsa

baa baa sheep

I honestly can’t say I enjoyed my burger. I thought the combination of the lamb patty with the tomato salsa (which tasted more like a poorly executed Marinara sauce) was strange – it seems like the ultra strong tomato salsa is meant to cover the gamey taste of the lamb. I like the taste of lamb so I didn’t enjoy the overwhelming taste of tomatoes, which was ALL I could taste after a while.

lamb burger

I did like my side of croquette and coleslaw though – the latter was very refreshing. This is the most ordered item, according to the waitress.

Hot Chick (RM 19.90)
Grilled chicken thigh marinated with black pepper sauce topped with chicken mushroom, cold cut and cheddar cheese, egg, green leaves, peeled tomato, caramelized onions

hot chick

My dear went for the chicken option and she commented that the chicken thigh was rather dry. She did finish her burger though, but we couldn’t make a dent in the curly fries. I had a bite and thought it was mediocre but I do like the incorporation of a cold cut from the deli in their burgers.

berts jr us

I felt that our trip to Bert’s Jr. Gourmet Burgers was rather disappointing. The burgers we ordered were really underwhelming compared to other burger joints in town. However, the service was friendly and efficient and they also have a steamed cheeseburger on their menu, which I am keen to try next time.

black sheep

Bert’s Jr Gourmet Burgers
Jalan PJU 5/3, Dataran Sunway,
Kota Damansara

newtown graffiti

The grungy-turned-hip neighborhood of Newtown in Sydney has some of the best graffiti and street art in town. Interestingly, a lot of the graffiti is not removed but protected under a provision of the city council laws, which aims to preserve “historically significant” pieces of street art.

footpath

I first heard about the graffiti around Newtown and Surry Hills after Green Day’s “21st Century Breakdown” album – some of the pieces were commissioned for the album.

surry hills graffiti

There are a couple of established crews working with full kit and filter masks. I got a chance to talk to one of the guys in his mid-30′s (who didn’t want to be photographed – technically what they are doing is illegal) and he lamented about how young teenagers nowadays are tagging *over* the existing graffiti with their own crew tags.

graffiti in progress

I don’t know how I feel about that. What he alleged is true – I saw a couple of kids whitewashing space over existing beautiful murals and putting their own crew tags (which is basically a stylized name) over it.

crew tags

On one hand, I feel it’s disrespectful but on the other hand, the kids needs a place to practice to hone their skills but spray painting over someone else’s hard work, even if it’s in the public domain, isn’t very kosher since there’s heaps of space for them to practice.

graffiti newtown

It was a damp and rainy day in Sydney and we went to a lot of the hotspots around the Surry Hills and Newtown area to check out the graffiti.

stencil street art

Check out the B&W stencil art in the middle of the wall!

play that funky

This piece of graffiti spans across five different surfaces. I love how a door is painted over the real door.

graffiti artist

It was fun and the guy I talked to let me check out his gear. It takes a lot of time and effort to do a really big mural and this one is my favorite:

orang utan graffiti

This 1 ½ storey mural is an intricate piece of art depicting a female orang utan carrying a baby and the alpha male baring his teeth. It’s done primarily in orange and you can see the sheer detail from the skin and fur of the animals, as well as the tropical sunset background. This was taken in May Lane/Caroline Lane in Newtown.

Magnum 5 Kisses

I love how Magnum regularly has a series of very creative limited editions with a theme. I first wrote about it in the *first month* I started blogging – April 2002. I was in Melbourne, Australia and the 7 Deadly Sins just came out, with a flavor for every sin. There was also a wonderful 9-ice cream series called The Sixties Nine that came out the next year and I reviewed every single one!

Magnum No3 Passionate Kiss

We were in Paris, France earlier this year when we spotted the new limited edition 5 Kisses series. There are five (5) different Magnum ice creams in total and we got some to eat. The Magnum 5 Kisses is a range inspired by French Patisserie flavors and it came to Australia recently (although we ate ours in France).

Magnum 5Kisses Limited

1. First Kiss
Crème Brulee

2. Loving Kiss
Meringue Et Fruit Rouges

3. Passionate Kiss
Tiramisu

4. Flirty Kiss
Gateau Au Chocolat

5. Stolen Kiss
Tarte Aux Pommes

5 Kisses Magnum

Magnum No. 4 Flirty Kiss Gateau Au Chocolat is the full-on chocolate flavored one. It’s a chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate brownie pieces, all coated with a layer of crackling milk chocolate. Each of the Magnum 5 Kisses retails for €4.19 at the local Monop’ which isn’t very cheap when converted – almost RM 18 per Magnum!

Magnum Passionate Kiss Tiramisu

However, some of them are very good. We liked Magnum No. 3 Passionate Kiss Tiramisu – it had a distinctively authentic taste, with mascarpone flavored ice cream (!!!), coffee sauce, chocolate chunks and sponge pieces, all coated with a layer of crackling milk chocolate.

Magnum Tiramisu

Both of us thought it was awesome! The boxes that contains the Magnum 5 Kisses are made well, with sturdy cardboard and a perfect ice cream inside. The construction of the Magnums are spot on too – every single element can be seen and tasted!

Magnum Kiss Tarte Aux Pommes

The best in the series though would be the last one – Magnum No. 5 Stolen Kiss Tarte Aux Pommes. This is made with a vanilla ice cream interior, apple sauce and pastry pieces, all coated with a layer of crackling white chocolate dusted with cinnamon.

Magnum Stolen Kiss

It’s the only one of the 5 Kisses that has a white chocolate exterior and it tastes exactly like an apple pie!

Kisses Us

Keeping with the theme, here’s a happy one of us at The Louvre, one of the most iconic places in Paris! :)

I’ve read a lot of articles on the net trying to explain what the term “Wakudoki” mean – they range from “heart pumping, adrenaline racing” to “sprained neck” (haha wtf?). I’m here to tell you the official meaning of “Wakudoki”:

  • Waku-Waku” is a term in Japanese used to describe when your heart is pumping with joy and you can’t sit still
  • Doki-Doki” is Japanese for the sound of your heartbeat

Okay, I know that second bit from my college years watching anime.

Thus, “Wakudoki” is the creative expression for the joy you feel when your heart is pumping with excitement…and you can win a trip to Tokyo just by dancing the Wakudoki dance! :)

wakudoki

Thinking about winning a trip to Tokyo is giving me the “wakudoki” feeling. I’ve been wanting to go for ages! It’s one of the few countries where I haven’t been to, and it’s so close nowadays and since the visa requirements have been reduced (it’s now visa on arrival) we’ve always planned for our next trip to be to Japan.

Did you know that Japan has the most Michelin star restaurants after France?

Just thinking of eating at Sushi Saito by Takashi Saito or Ryugin by Seiji Yamamoto gives me the “Wakudoki” feeling. :)

There are 13 Michelin star restaurants in Tokyo alone as of 2014!

It’s time to WakuDoki Your My Way to Tokyo. I love the Wakudoki dance! It’s a fun way by Toyota to engage the youth of the world. I’ve seen dance covers on YouTube and I thought they were hilarious! I think I can make this work since it’s quite simple.

waku doki

Still confused? Don’t worry! The site will guide you through the steps of the Wakudoki dance!

wakudoki dance

It’s so easy everyone can do the Wakudoki! Just use your smartphone or notebook so you can access the front camera/webcam and start with the “Beginner Mode”.

wakudoki toyota

You’ll be given a tutorial video where you can simulate the Wakudoki dance simply by following an animated silhouette of the dance moves.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the steps, check out “Expert Mode”! This mode doesn’t have a guide to help you out so you have to memorize the steps!

There are two rounds to the Wakudoki Your Way to Tokyo contest! The user whose video gets the highest number of views will win a “Beats by Dr. Dre” earphones at the end of each round. There will be one winner from each country! :)

The most remarkable dance video wins a trip for two to Tokyo!

wakudoki japan

Yes, there will again be one winner per country so every country (including Malaysia) will have a grand prize of a trip for two to Tokyo! Join the Wakudoki dance at www.wakudoki.asia to do the hottest dance in town now!

Pierre Herme Macarons

The macarons from Pierre Hermé are the best macarons I’ve ever had in my entire life! It was the first place my better half wanted to go to when we were in Paris earlier this year. We went to two of his shops – the original one is at Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé Paris in Bonaparte but their Macarons & Chocolats Pierre Hermé Paris boutiques at Galeries Lafayette has seating arrangements!

Macarons Chocolats Pierre Herme

Pierre Hermé also sells a wide variety of fantastic chocolates and pastries but we were here for the macarons so we got a pack of 7 macarons and opted to eat at the beautiful rooftop with an amazing 360 degree view of Paris instead of at the boutique itself.

Lafayette Roof

My dear liked the Les Incontournables De Paris (The Essentials Of Paris) box so I got that for her. It costs €18 for a box of 7. The friendly attendant was even kind enough to let us pick the flavors (it’s supposed to be a fixed box set) and even include *limited edition macarons* from the Pierre Hermé Paris ‘Les Jardins’ Collection 2014!

pierre herme france

Pierre Hermé has a total of 23 (!!!) flavors of macarons at any time. However, most of their box sets have a theme e.g. the Initiation 20-piece Assortment (€59) only has 4 different types of macarons. There’s no set price per macaron, it depends on what you get and the price can range from €2 – €3 per macaron. We got ours for slightly over €2.50 each (about RM 11 per macaron).

pierre herme chocolates

The French guy serving us allowed us to choose anything (including limited editions) from the 23 different flavors for the 7-pack, so we took turns choosing macarons:

pierre herme les jardins collection

HUILE D’OLIVE & VANILLE
Olive Oil Fruite Vert, Vanilla & bits of Green Olive

CRÈME BRÛLÉE
Vanillas & Caramel bits

MOGADOR
Milk Chocolate & Passion Fruit

MILÉNA
Fresh Mint & Red Berries

MONTEBELLO
Pistachio & Raspberry compote

JARDIN DES 8 TRÉSORS
Lotus Seed, Red Date, Wolfberry, Rosebud, Dried Orange Peel, Dried Longan Fruit, Chrysanthemum and Osmanthus

INFINIMENT ROSE
Rose & Rose Petals

Les Incontournables De Paris

I just love how weird and quirky the flavors are! It’s not just for the “wow factor” too, the combinations works very well! My first choice was the delectable Huile d’olive & Vanille with bits of *real* green olive!

olive vanilla macaron

I’ve never had an olive macaron (with REAL olive pieces inside) before and we both loved it!

Pierre Herme

My dear went for the Crème Brûlée which actually tastes remarkably like the real thing! I couldn’t believe it.

rose petal macaron

The delicate Infiniment Rose is made from rose and has rose petals (!!!) in the macaron!

milena macaron

We loved every single macaron – there were no duds or mediocre ones in the box, every single macaron was balanced well, not the sickly sweet macarons we get here but an amazing symphony of perfection.

Jardin des 8 Tresors

The other highlight was Jardin des 8 Trésors – the April 2014 monthly limited edition macaron from the Pierre Hermé Paris ‘Les Jardins’ Collection 2014 with 8 different Asian treasures packed into 1 macaron – lotus seed, red date, wolfberry, rosebud, dried orange peel, dried longan fruit, chrysanthemum and osmanthus with incredibly complex flavor and texture profiles.

mogador macaron

We were munching on the macarons in a sky park on top of Galeries Lafayette on a sunny spring day with lots of other locals camped out to enjoy the fresh air and the amazing panoramic view of Paris.

pierre herme us

It was one of the highlights of our trip – enjoying good food, each other, and the Parisian experience!

montebello

I have never had a better macaron than Pierre Hermé in Paris! Adriano Zumbo comes close and Ladurée is a distant third. I highly recommend eating the original ones from France in France, you can’t keep it for more than 4 days and I dub Pierre Hermé the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life and my dear agrees! :)

zumbarons adriano zumbo

I have heard about the wonderful macarons from Adriano Zumbo in Australia for quite a long time. Thus, I took the opportunity to purchase the entire range of macarons (affectionately dubbed “Zumbarons”) from Adriano Zumbo Patisserie when I was in Sydney. smirk

mylo can

Adriano Zumbo is also credited with making the Zonut, and his version of the croquembouche – the Macaron Tower (available in 65 and 95 pieces). He also makes a lot of beautifully quirky and delicious pastries and cakes like the mylo can.

i heart zumbo

He’s been regularly featured in MasterChef Australia and I’ve wondered just how good his macarons taste compared to Ladurée at Champs-Élysées, Paris and Pierre Herme – both of which we tried during our trip to France earlier this year.

passionfruit honeycomb

I actually went to two of his shops, the bigger of which is located at The Star. The shop also doubles as a cafe and carries 12 different flavors of his macarons. I bought a 12-pack which comes in a nice sliding box with one each of the entire Zumbaron range in the shop:

zumbarons

  • salted butter caramel on toast
  • hazelnut praline
  • malted milkshake
  • francesco brownie
  • passionfruit & honeycomb
  • caramelized white chocolate
  • fingerbun
  • berry brulée
  • lime & mandarin
  • caramel au beurre sale
  • salted butter popcorn
  • toasted marshmallow

zumbarons macarons

Adriano Zumbo’s two most popular (famous?) macarons would be the salted butter popcorn (with real popcorn covering the shell of the macaron) and the malted milkshake (a rather interesting blue hued macaron).

adriano zumbo macarons

Each Zumbaron retails for AUD 2.50 and there are *no bulk discounts*. You can get a nice 2-piece box of Zumbarons for AUD 5 and the 12-piece long box costs AUD 30. That comes up to almost RM 8 per macaron!

adriano zumbo

It’s worth every cent though! I had two of them fresh and bought one to eat on the spot too. There’s a sign that says Zumbarons don’t travel well and I made sure to keep a gentle hand on mine since I wanted to bring the 12-piece sliding box with every single Zumbaron flavor I managed to find back for my better half to try.

adriano zumbo star

Adriano Zumbo actually has 40 different Zumbarons that rotates seasonally but those are only available with a pre-order. I visited a couple of his shops and found that the one with the most variety on offer is at The Star at Sydney with 12 different flavors on offer.

salted popcorn malted milkshake

We both liked it and we thought it was way better than Ladurée and slightly better almost on par with Pierre Hermé in France. I particularly liked the salted butter caramel on toast (which actually has toast) and the francesco brownie (which actually has bits of brownie). My dear also liked the lime & mandarin which packs a refreshing, zesty bite.

zumbarons pack

His malted milkshake Zumbaron is pretty good too and the salted butter popcorn is just pure genius with bits of popcorn on the shell – no wonder it’s the two most popular flavors. His macarons are made for the adult palate and doesn’t have excessive amounts of sugar – some of them even taste slightly salty!

zumbaron kit

I also bought a bake-at-home Zumbaron kit so we’ll be making our own salted caramel macarons soon! :)

zumbaron range

You can find Adriano Zumbo Patissier in Melbourne and Sydney. Adriano Zumbo at The Star is their latest exciting concept store and carries their full range of cakes, pastries and Zumbarons. It’s the main one I went to and you can find them at:

Adriano Zumbo Patissier
The Star
80 Pyrmont Street, New South Wales

poppy seed bread

Yup, I went out and did a little shopping at the local baking supplies shop yesterday to make my own Poppy Seed Bread! This recipe requires:

baking supplies

  • High protein flour (250 g)
  • Poppy seeds (28 g)
  • Milk powder (6 g)
  • Salt (4 g)
  • Granulated sugar (12 g)
  • Egg yolk (1 yolk)
  • Vegetable oil (2 tbsp)
  • Water (170 ml)
  • Instant dry yeast (¾ tsp)

even bread

I had this freshly baked and still warm – the thick slices were slathered with organic macadamia butter (it’s just 100% crushed macadamia nuts) and it was so delicious!

taking loaf

(and it just took me 2 hours to bake)

baking water

I did not need to knead or proof the dough coz I had a Panasonic Bread Maker. Haha! I just:

1. Dumped all the ingredients into the loaf shaped bread maker

yeast dispenser

2. Measured out the yeast and poured it into the automatic yeast dispenser

menu

3. Selected “Rapid Bread” and “Medium” crust

perfect bread

4. Sliced the bread

poppy seeds

It was sooo easy that we wanted to make a second batch immediately. However, one minor issue with the bread maker is that it’ll come out with a U50 error code if you try to do that without waiting 1 hour (officially) for it to cool down. However, I managed to achieve that in 20 minutes by putting it under a fan in a 16 degree Celsius room (my living room is air-conditioned).

egg yolk

I have always heard that baking was a very exact science and you cannot mess around with it. Ingredients are supposed to be measured out to the exact gram or milliliter – no more, no less. However, I wanted to make another Nutella loaf since I thought the kids will enjoy eating that. I also forgot to put in the salt (!!!) the second time around.

nutella

My better half told me that the bread will not rise, but the Panasonic Bread Maker prevailed! Even though yeast requires salt and sugar to proof, I used honey in lieu of the sugar in the second loaf and poured in 2 heaped tablespoons of Nutella. It really made the bread fragrant and taste of hazelnut.

knead nutella

Even better, the bread came out fine despite me forgetting the salt (and no, Nutella does not contain sodium) and I didn’t put any vegetable oil in (we used canola for the first batch) since I reckon it’ll have enough hazelnut oil to and I was right!

bake

The poppy seeds are spread so evenly throughout the bread too! It’s unlike other bread makers which can have uneven ingredient distribution. I really like the ambient temperature sensors of the Panasonic Bread Maker for optimal proofing too!

nutella bread

There’s nothing quite like eating freshly baked bread without any preservatives or artificial additives coz you control what you put in. It tasted absolutely fabulous!

It’s just so convenient to have my own Panasonic Bread Maker at home and we look forward to a lot of baking in the future. I love bread! I love eating it, I love baking it, and I love looking at it. You might call that a tad obsessive but I’ve even come up with lots of weird recipes for sandwiches. smirk

julies girls

You remember the Julie’s biscuits that we all grew up with? I fondly remember eating lots of these when I was a kid, it was one of the staples of growing up. I absolutely *loved* their Cheese Sandwich back then, I couldn’t have enough when it came out. It was revolutionary at the time. Absolutely fabulous!

julies cheese sandwich

This is what it looked like! This is the box with 18 convenient individually wrapped packs which wasn’t available back in the early 90′s, but I would have happily eaten the entire box when I was a still growing boy! :) There was a media launch event for the unveiling of a new product dubbed Julie’s x LINE on the 4th of July and true to the name, it’s a collaboration between Julie’s and LINE (the app).

juliesxline art

I was quite surprised coz this isn’t a usual collaboration – there’s not much in common between a confectionery manufacturer and the developer of a communications app for smartphones – at least that’s what I thought at first.

juliesxline mascot

It turns out that the popular characters from LINE – Brown and Cony – is a collaboration between Julie’s and LINE for this season’s Oat 25 cookies range.

cony brown cookies

The first collaboration came out with Brown, the popular character from LINE and this second launch is to add one new character – Cony!

juliesxline registration

Interestingly, we received instructions to either dress in brown or pink. I didn’t quite get it at first until I realized that they were the colors of the popular LINE characters!

juliesxline me

Brown is the color of the the LINE character Brown (the bear) and Cony the rabbit/bunny is the pink bit! I have a pink shirt, which I don’t wear a lot (but I hear looks good on me), so I thought I’ll go with that to the launch of Julie’s x LINE.

juliesxline cookies

The Julie’s x LINE OAT 25 Cookies are limited edition. It’s available in these cute little metal boxes which has Julie’s oat biscuits inside and either Brown or Cony from LINE on the cover.

juliesxline

The Cony and Brown variations aren’t purely superficial though – the chocolate and strawberry flavors in Julie’s x LINE Limited Edition cookies are specifically chosen to match Brown’s peculiar characteristics and Cony’s sweet attributes. On top of that, Brown is known for his love for chocolate cookies while Cony looks adorable in pink.

juliesxline cony brown

I thought it was a stroke of pure genius, at least when the Julie’s mascot came out with both LINE’s popular Cony and Brown! You can get the limited edition Julie’s x LINE Oat 25 Cookies in any AEON, The Store, selected Popular outlets and many more hyper/supermarkets nationwide!

juliesxline media launch

There’s also a Snap, Tag & Win photo contest going on with the hashtag #JuliesLINEcookies, so if you’re a fan of both LINE’s cute characters and Julie’s biscuits, head on over to the Julie’s Facebook page for more information about this Facebook and Instagram contest! :)

juliesxline event

underage smoking

Yeah, I’m talking about tobacco! I was watching this expose on cigarettes in an episode of VICE on HBO and realized that the place they’re talking about (Indonesia) could very well be in Malaysia! I’ve actually spent a couple of years in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and the trade in illegal cigarettes there is really bad.

It’s causing a lot of young kids to smoke…just like in the documentary, children as young as 6 years old are starting to smoke on a daily basis and no one stops them coz illegal cigarettes are not regulated! A lot of these cigarettes are sold by vendors with no operating licence anyway so they don’t care who they sell to.

kids smoking

Small children can afford the price of these illegal cigarettes since they’re so cheap compared to the premium legal brands. This causes health problems as well as social problems. The Ministry of Health’s Dr. Chong has also talked in length about the danger of kretek (clove) cigarettes in this New Straits Times article.

The predominant brand there at the time is JOHN (RM 2.50) but there are others like GG, Manchester, Canyon, Luffman etc. It’s usually sold by immigrants and those cigarettes tastes nasty. I was in a facility at the time and this was all that they could get.

I think I did more damage to my lungs in that time than ever before. These illegal cigarettes are not made to the exact specifications of the premium legal brands like Marlboro, Dunhill etc and some of them, I hear, are scraps of tobacco and other detritus just packaged together and sold as is – caveat emptor!

Any pack of cigarettes that is sold below RM 7 is illegal. That is the minimum price set by the government and crime syndicates brings in these illegal cigarettes for sale via various points around Malaysia. I know that Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is a large distribution center and this leads to a lot of illegal activity, gangs, and the revenue from this funds a huge criminal enterprise and there’s an article on NST that ties the illegal cigarette trade as a smokescreen for gangs.

Crime syndicates nowadays rely on a lot of revenue streams and besides the classic triad of prostitution, drugs and racketeering, the “lower risk high reward” items are still illegal alcohol and cigarettes (besides gambling) which can really bring a lot of harm to society. I come from a small town with a large gang problem (which was helped somewhat with the original Operasi Cantas Kenyalang) so I know first hand what crime syndicates will do to a town.

I’ve never the urge to purchase illegal cigarettes as they taste foul but I know some people do it coz of cost concerns. However, there’s a nationwide crackdown on illegal cigarettes now and not just retailers, but consumers i.e. YOU can go to jail if you’re caught buying illegal cigarettes.

smoking cartoon

Don’t support criminal enterprises – just like I never buy illegal lottery tickets (there’s the risk of not getting returns) I don’t ever buy illegal cigarette brands like JOHN, GG, Manchester, Canyon, Luffman etc. It’s not just coz they taste bad but smokers can be jailed up to 2 years and/or fined RM 10,000 if caught in possession of illegal cigarettes.

…and that’s no joke!

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