Australian Yee Sang Dinner @ Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial KL

Australian Yee Sang Dinner

I just came back from my second yee sang dinner of the year. It was a Tourism Australia event for partners and media and this is a dinner I try to attend every single year. It’s always a blast to meet up with the tourism reps and the food at Celestial Court is good. This year had an ingredient for every dish (usually seafood) brought over all the way from Australia.

Abalone Yee Sang

I thought that was a brilliant idea!

Prosperity Yee Sang with Tasmania Ocean Trout with Truffle Sydney Green Lips Abalone

Prosperity Yee Sang with Tasmania Ocean Trout with Truffle Sydney Green Lips Abalone
The highlight of the yee sang is the Sydney green lips abalone (something I’ve been seeing a lot in yee sang this year) and the Tasmanian ocean trout. The plum sauce and acidity of this raw salad is spot on. I’ve never really enjoyed yee sang for the sake of it, it’s more like a tradition for me, but Celestial Court’s yee sang is quite yummy.

Double Boiled South Australia Mini Abalone Soup with Fresh Ginseng

Double Boiled South Australia Mini Abalone Soup with Fresh Ginseng and Wolfberries
I love abalone, especially in poon choy, and this year we’ll have another abalone filled poon choy too. The double boiled soup was done really well, with lots of ginseng goodness and a nice baby abalone in the clear broth.

Jasmine Tea Marinated Northern Territory Barramundi with Melbourne Vegemite

Jasmine Tea Marinated Northern Territory Barramundi with Melbourne Vegemite Soya Sauce topped with Fruity Dressing
This is my favorite dish of the night. I’ve had barramundi in Australia before and it’s always with crispy skin. However, barramundi cooked Chinese style with soggy skin is even more fabulous! I like the umami sauce, it’s made with Vegemite and goes very well with the flaky tender barramundi. I saw an extra piece on the table and didn’t hesitate to help myself to seconds. The hint of smokiness from the Jasmine tea marinate is just irresistible. smirk

Wok Fried Queensland Scallops with Celery and Flower Fungus in Premium Scallop Sauce

Wok Fried Queensland Scallops with Celery and Flower Fungus in Premium Scallop Sauce
The fresh scallops were really awesome too. There were two Malay guys sitting beside me (this is a pork free restaurant) and one of them told me this is his favorite dish due to the spiciness. The scallop sauce is actually a hot sambal and it goes surprisingly well with the soft and moist scallops. Very nice.

Stewed Bean Curd and Bean Puff with Dried Oyster Sea Moss and Darwin Broccoli

Stewed Bean Curd and Bean Puff with Dried Oyster Sea Moss and Darwin Broccoli
I am usually not a huge fan of soy bean and tofu byproducts but I was quite hungry tonight since I skipped lunch (was too busy and had to rush to make dinner in time). It turned out that this was quite pleasing to my palate, but no one could finish it, unlike the other dishes.

Five Grain Rice with South Australia Kinkawooka Blue Mussels and Barbeque Meat Topped with Bonito Flakes

Five Grain Rice with South Australia Kinkawooka Blue Mussels and Barbeque Meat Topped with Bonito Flakes
I ate every single mouthful of this individually portioned dish as well. It was the standard filler but I enjoyed the mussels from South Australia. I generally enjoy all types of seafood and would prefer it to any other protein.

Victoria Frost Berries with Chinese Nian Gao

Victoria Frost Berries with Chinese Nian Gao
The nian gao (sticky glutinous rice cake) is usually eaten around Chinese New Year. This was sliced and pan-fried and it tasted good with the tartness of the Victorian frost berries.

Chrysanthemum Ice Cream topped with Western Australia Macadamia Nut Crush

Chrysanthemum Ice Cream topped with Western Australia Macadamia Nut Crush
Wonderful stuff! We were all wondering what the ice cream flavor was since it was very mild when contrasted with the toasted macadamia nuts. I finally got a hint of chrysanthemum and thought it was ingenious to make a chrysanthemum flower flavored ice cream. It’s a very adult dessert, not too sweet with plenty of texture.

Tourism Australia Koala

There was a picture under the ramekins when they served up the ice cream. It’s either a hot air balloon or a tower and the latter was limited to 68 pieces. You can redeem it for a Tourism Australia koala soft toy while the default door gift was a gold wire mesh kangaroo with two Mandarin oranges. I got the first one but they were kind enough to give me one of each. The kids would love it!

HB Shamila

Thanks for the wonderful dinner Shamila! I really enjoyed all the seafood from Australia.

Adelaide: Foodie mecca and top wine destination!

Adelaide Central Market

Adelaide has one of the best food markets in Australia with the Adelaide Central Market. I’ve always been very impressed with the amount of fine fresh local produce there. There’s all sorts of artisanal products like farm-to-table speciality deli meat and craft bakeries producing delicious bread.

Wild Loaf

I even brought home a whole 1 kg loaf of fig and walnut sourdough bread when I was last there! This is from Wild Loaf by James & Emanuel Katsarelias and they’re renowned for their handmade artisan sour dough range.

Lucia Fine Foods

Lucia’s Fine Foods is one of the most popular coffee houses in the Central Market and I had a very nice chai latte while I was there. It’s one of the places you must visit when you’re in Adelaide, just sit and relax with a brew in hand while people watching (and there’s no shortage of that for the Central Market is vibrant and packed with visitors).

Barossa Gourmet Weekend

However, if you’re the sort who prefers a nice glass of wine and you’re going to South Australia this year, you’re in luck! The Barossa Gourmet Weekend is going to be held on the 14-16 August 2015 and it’s located in the world famous Barossa Valley. This is an amazing opportunity to enjoy Barossa wines matched with food from Adelaide’s leading restaurants at cellar door events throughout the Barossa.

Barossa Gourmet

There will also be “Winery Days” where you can enjoy world renowned wines, fresh produce and live entertainment (as well as a good dose of Barossa hospitality). If you’re looking to visit the Barossa Valley, keep this in mind as this will be the absolute best time to go – there will be events every single day, including long lunches and dinners, cooking classes and wine master classes showcasing the best of the Barossa.

Winery Days

If fine local Barossa wine and decadent degustation menus are your thing, you have to make it down to the Barossa Valley in the third week of August to see what’s what. Check out barossagourmet.com for more information before you head off to this celebration of wine, food and life!

Chai Latte

I’ve also had the pleasure of walking down Gouger Street, which is one of the most well known eating streets in Australia (kinda like how Hardware Lane in Melbourne is to cafes and weekend brunches). Unfortunately, I only managed to have one meal there as my visit time was limited but I’ll like to go again since there are so many restaurants offering modern Australian cuisine there.

Gouger Street

Adelaide has seen an explosion of fine restaurants as the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide (Australia’s answer to the Michelin Red Book, without the politics) illustrates. One restaurant I’ve always wanted to try is Magill Estate. It’s helmed by chef Scott Huggins who used to work at Tokyo’s three Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin. It offers an 7 course degustation menu for AUD 425 (with the Icon and Luxury wine pairing option, which features Penfolds best vintages) and it’s located at the home of Penfolds.

Magill Estate

Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations at the time but I’ll be sure to make one before I go next time. It’s one of the best restaurants in South Australia and a look at their 2015 Seasonal Menu offers a peek at the simple contemporary Australian food philosophy they have – “Partridge, Jamon, Last years pickled peach”. It’s definitely a must visit if you’re heading to Penfolds. I’ll go again just to eat at their showcase restaurant.

Polenta

That’s just one of many examples that the food revolution that’s swept Australia, in part due to TV shows like MasterChef Australia. Andre Ursini (Season 3 finalist) opened an award winning restaurant in Adelaide called Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar that I’ll love to visit again. It has a “Consigli” menu written on the board with daily specials that’s mouth-watering to read and I couldn’t try more than one main last time I was there!

Artisan Cheese

I’ve always considered food as an important part of travel and you won’t go wrong by ensuring your travel plans are in sync with Tasting Australia. It’s Australia’s premium eating and drinking festival and it’s been around for more than fifteen years! This biennial event will be held next in 2016 and it’s the perfect time for foodies to go.

Tasting Australia

There was more than 80 free and ticketed events over the course of eight days in the CBD and Tasting Australia is perfect for travelling foodies to enjoy and learn more about food and wine right in the heart of Adelaide. I’m really excited about this and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before! I would really love to go back to South Australia just for the chance to attend the various Tasting Australia events.

It’s going to be an annual festival starting from Tasting Australia 2016 so if you’re planning to go next year, find out the dates from the Tasting Australia website.

Australian Cuisine

There’s just so much to eat, drink and do in Adelaide that planning in advance can be part of the fun too! I’ve always enjoyed browsing potential festivals, events, restaurants and wineries and talking about it with my better half before we actually go on a trip and southaustralia.com offers plenty of good food and wine, in addition to amazing festivals dedicated to cuisine and vin. You’ll love the festival scene in Adelaide if you’re a true foodie!

Dolphins, Adelaide Hills and the beauty of South Australia

Wine Tasting South Australia

I was first introduced to the charms of South Australia when I was studying in Australia. I was based in Melbourne then and Adelaide was just a short 8 hour drive away. I didn’t think there was much to do there at first, but I was seduced by the sheer beauty of South Australia and loved it so much that I went back again 3 years ago.

Barossa Valley

I love food and wine and the latter is very abundant here. South Australia is home to Penfold’s and Jacob’s Creek! You can have wine tastings all day long and even if you’re not studying to become a Master Sommelier – if you truly are a foodie, you’ll love wine country. That alone is worth a trip here.

Wine Tour South Australia

I shall not bore you with details like how Adelaide has free transportation throughout the city – let that be a pleasant surprise when you come here. Chances are, you’re not going to stay in the CBD much anyway – most of the attractions are just a short distance away and I sure hope you didn’t come to South Australia to shop (nothing wrong with that, there’s just better things to do).

South Australia

Like I said earlier, you’ll not be disappointed with what South Australia has to offer in terms of wine tours. There are 18 wine regions in the state alone! Yup, I got that figure from a brochure but you have to admit it’s pretty amazing. I’ve been to wine tours and tastings in Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, and Barossa. The Barossa Valley is said to have the world’s best Shiraz. Make sure to take some time to cycle along the Riesling Trail at Clare Valley, it’s truly a wine lover’s paradise and it’s the best way to get to the next flight of wines!

South Australia View

Of course, there are other things to do besides wine tours. Adelaide has a warmth and “smaller city” vibe which you can feel from the locals. People are generally less hurried and more helpful. I have a lot of friends who loved it so much that they stayed on and started families there. It’s also home to the World’s Biggest Rocking Horse! :)

World Biggest Rocking Horse

I’m not kidding, you can actually climb up and enjoy the fantastic view from the Horse’s head. I was told that in the past, the Horse was used as a lookout by the local South Australian Country Fire Service! It’s located in Adelaide Hills and is also home to The Toy Factory (largest in Australia) and a park and picnic area which have animals from kangaroos and wallabies to alpacas (the ones that look like llamas) to emus.

I also visited Hahndorf, a small town in the Adelaide Hills region. It’s a very beautiful place which has a strong German heritage – someone asked me at a dinner recently about my favorite place in South Australia and I had to struggle to remember the name because it’s so unusual.

There are a lot of restaurants serving German food in Hahndorf and if you love architecture, the fachwerk timber construction and the old heritage buildings would make this place a priority on your itinerary. It’s the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia and art and culture enthusiasts would be spoiled by the museums and galleries in Hahndorf.

Horse Drawn Tram Tickets

Victor Harbor is another beautiful destination I wholeheartedly recommend in South Australia. It has some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen in Australia. There’s something for everyone too – The Horsedrawn Tram takes passengers from the mainland using the wooden causeway to Granite Island every 20 minutes.

Victor Harbor Tram

Granite Island is where you can immerse yourself with a bit of nature and get some exercise done at the same time!

Kaiki Walk

I highly recommend you take the time to wear comfortable shoes and walk around the island – it’s worth your time and effort! The Kaiki Walk circumventing Granite Island take about 40 minutes and the various lookouts provide for beautiful scenes. Be sure to pack warm weather gear if you’re going in autumn though.

Victor Harbor Horsedrawn Tram

Eyre Peninsula is where nature aficionados would want to be – there’s everything from wildlife parks where you can see animals in their native environment. This is where I went swimming with the dolphins! It’s a really interesting once-in-a-lifetime experience that just cost AUD 150 (at the time). You can also spot sea lions! The dolphins are friendly and would come up and rub against you – this is perfectly normal behavior so don’t freak out. Dolphins are very social creatures and it was one of the highlights of my trip. Anyone can go – even if you can’t swim, since the provided wetsuits are naturally buoyant! It was a dream come true for me and my only regret is not having a waterproof camera. I strongly suggest you invest in one (even the disposable ones) if you go.

Dolphin Cruise

South Australia is also home to the popular Port River Dolphin Cruises. There are a few operators departing from this location and the best thing is that it’s just 20 minutes away from Adelaide CBD. You’re also guaranteed a dolphin sighting! I managed to see several pods of dolphins swim right up to our ship!

Dolphin Pod

The dolphins are very friendly and they’ll actually break the surf to try and be close to you. I loved the experience and I’m sure you’ll be charmed by our mammalian friends in the sea too!

Dolphins

South Australia is an often overlooked destination but to both the new and seasoned traveller it can offer up a lot of exciting experiences. There are direct flights to Adelaide from Kuala Lumpur and the best thing about the city is that it’s compact, with most attractions within close proximity of the CBD. Visit southaustralia.com for more details! Your Malaysian driving licence is valid in Australia too!

There’s Nothing Like Australia!

Interesting fact:
This blog was started on the 19th of April, 2002 when I was living in Melbourne

kangaroo

I’ve lived in Australia for 4 years while doing my college and uni. I’ve also stayed in other places while growing up but nothing beats Australia in my heart. I’ve always loved the place and have been back three times since graduating! :)

It’s a great country that has a bit of everything due to its unique location – you’ve got the temperate climates to the north to the infamous 4-seasons-in-a-day weather in Melbourne, towards the south. This makes it the perfect place for adventure lovers – there is a wide variety of activities to suit all tastes.

surfing byron

…and the things to do!

carving

I like to travel around and experience new things and I did a lot of that while I was there. Hands down my favorite is snowboarding – Mount Buller in Victoria is where I learned skiing and snowboarding when I was there.

sea kayaking

There’s also sea kayaking in Byron Bay, New South Wales where you power over the surf and get to watch dolphins and sometimes even whales migrating. I thought that was a lot of fun!

katoomba

If you love running, don’t miss the Six Foot Track 45 kilometer super marathon from Katoomba to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. It’s Australia’s largest 100% off-road running event.

bridge climb

Australia also boasts of having two of the three legal bridge climbs in the world. Well, you can technically climb bridges anywhere but you’ll be liable to a fine or jail time. Heh. Or you can do it legally at Sydney Harbour Bridge and Brisbane’s Story Bridge.

camels

Highlighting the pure diversity of Australia, there are also camels in the “outback” – the desert interior. These are the only feral herds of their kind in the world. You can have a camel safari right at the outback! Bet you didn’t know that about Australia! :)

sand dunes australia

The Stockton Sand Dunes near Port Stephens are some of the largest sand dunes in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It can go up to 1 kilometer wide and 30 meters high at some places.

There’s also an abundance of nature activities and magnificent vistas in the Land Down Under:

It’s a very beautiful country – there’s the Great Ocean Walk between 12 Apostles and Apollo Bay. It’s Victoria’s (the state Melbourne is in) premier long-distance walking track where you get to see the tallest cliffs in mainland Australia, waterfalls cascading down limestone walls, ancient shipwrecks, Aboriginal middens and manna gums with resident koala populations.

I’ve heard that the 12 Apostles (rock stacks in the ocean) are steadily getting eroded so it would be a good idea to go visit soon!

12 apostles

Of course, there’s also Phillip Island with its unique population of little penguins. You can see the cute little things landing on Summerland Beach every evening during the “penguin parade”. Photography is permitted but no flash is allowed coz you’ll scare them off.

Lake Eyre in South Australia is another popular destination – it’s one of the world’s largest salt pans and since it only fills up a few times a century, it’s drying up fast so this is another one to go for before it completely dries up. There are scenic flights over the lake.

sydney

There’s really something for everyone in Australia and while I’m talking about adventure and the outdoors over here (it’s what I’m into) there are a myriad of other activities for those who have interests that lies elsewhere. I haven’t touched even a tiny portion of what’s available for adrenaline lovers Down Under.

crab

Shopping, dining (the best crab meal I’ve had was on a chartered river cruise in NSW), or just plain sightseeing, there’s a newly revamped portal at australia.com for you to browse through and decide what you want to do before you go.

uluru

The amazing thing is that every article in that extremely detailed website is also translated into perfect Bahasa Malaysia! There are also other language options and I found the new tourism video to be very aspirational – it’s the one that I titled this post after and you can see it right at the main page of australia.com

aboriginal dance

Cheers and I hope that you’ll come to love the country where I spent about 1/3 of my adult life living in as much as I do! :)

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