Sunday, 23 October 2016

Mukashi mukashi... MOS Burger!

Once upon a time, in a land far away (Japan) there was a gaijin girl living in a small town that got very quiet on Sunday nights. Yup, you guessed it - that girl was me, and that Sunday night was actually my Saturday night (I worked Tuesday to Saturday) so damnit I wanted to DO something those days! What's a girl to do?

We'd hit up MOS Burger, that's what!

MOS Burger is a Japanese burger chain selling a wide range of regularly bunned, rice bunned and unbunned burgers (aka burgers with a lettuce bun). They're pretty cheap, good value and taste good to a western palate. When I heard there was one in Brisbane I was hell-bent on paying it a visit - even if I couldn't eat.

I got there and the customer service was EXACTLY like it was in Japan. The staff greeted everyone who came through the door, and farewelled them as they left. They did do it in English, but the same pitch and speed - it was quite uncanny! The counters were clean, the benches unsticky and the serviettes and straws stocked up.

To hell with it, I thought, and ordered a fish natsumi (lettuce bun) burger and an iced macha (it was actually hot enough to have that there - wonders will never cease). My burger came out in a basket, just like in Japan, and I proceeded to deconstruct to see what I could eat. I ate the cheese, and the special sauce, and tried a mouthful or two of the fish pattie, because I am stubborn and wanted to feel normal for just a few seconds... and also just to see what would happen (I will not elaborate on that part except to say I REALLY, INTIMATELY appreciate the high standard of cleanliness MOS Burger maintains in their bathrooms...). The burger was crunchy in all the right places and had plenty of colour and flavour. AND THE ICED MACHA TASTED JUST LIKE ICED MACHA SHOULD! I don't like mine too bitter, nor too sickeningly sweet (which is what mostly happens here in Australia). This one was right smack bang in the middle. PERFECT.

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Bunless burger

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Iced macha that actually tastes like iced macha!

And so, feeling as though she had accomplished a mighty MOS Burger mission, the girl lived happily ever after and headed off to Roma Street to begin her journey home.

MOS Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Moderately Stellar Performance by Stellarossa

Over the holidays I bailed to Brisbane for a few days for a professional development course. The course was great (language nerdery abounded, and pleased my word-loving soul no end), I found a brilliant Airbnb to stay at... the food situation? A little tough... but I was up to the challenge.

Hunting for breakfast near the West End, I happened upon Stellarossa. While they were curious and a bit confused as to why I'd order a side dish and a juice and no main meal for breakfast, they were polite about it and said no worries. Love courteous staff, especially when I'm still waking up.

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Behold, the wonder that is fresh avocado

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CHECK OUT THIS MEAN GREEN FIGHTING MACHINE

The avocado had that slight solid and stringy texture that tells you IT IS THE REAL FREAKIN' DEAL, MAN but it was very well mushed up and in its little white ramekin it was the perfect serving size to both satisfy me and prevent me from being sick. I added a little salt and pepper (I like my avocado with substance and bite!).

The Green Machine juice was a beautiful balance of sweet and zesty in its flavour. It was a pretty decent size, too. The texture was somewhere between a smoothie and a juice, so quite substantial without being too thick an inconveniently blocking your straw (hate it when that happens). I was only sorry not to be able to finish everything as they must have thought me a very odd chicken!

There are other places around that do a maybe more imaginative breakfast but for solid food, solid service and a solid surround, Stellarossa hit the mark. Gets a tick of approval for VSG patients as well.

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

Friday, 14 October 2016

Never Come Back from Copperface Jack's

I love that song Copperhead Road so every time I walked past Copperface Jack's in Brisbane's West End it would start playing in my head. Who am I to deny my inner Steve Earle fan? I had to sit down and try it.

At first I hit them up for a cider late-ish one evening. It was not-quite-closing-time, but pretty quiet so I ordered a cider and charged my phone (they have many strategically placed powerpoints which regulars/people needing powerpoints take advantage of) while people watching the street outside. The cider was fine (you can't really stuff up a cider), the service pleasant and the surroundings tres ambient for late in the evening.

Holidays

The last morning I was in the northern state I hit them up for breakfast - obviously what they are known for in the area as they were doing a brisk trade by the time I showed up a bit before eight. They had a yummy-looking offering of avocado and feta on toast which I asked for without the toast (which they were fine with, no weird looks today). The avocado was diced (an interesting effect on the texture) and the goat's feta crumbled on top (quite a dry one, but a good contrast with the soft avocado). It was served with rocket and lemon. I got about a third of it down, and the rest I was able to pack into a takeaway container and pick at during the day. Also got a small chai latte which was fine, but not a stand out in the world of chai. Fairly standard.

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Mmmmmavoandfetammmmmm

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Standard Chai

Loved the atmosphere here. The morning staff greeted every regular by name and had a personal comment for them; the regulars were comfortable enough to josh around a bit with the staff - the sign of good relationships being built despite a recent change in ownership. I'll definitely be looking out for a reason to visit again next time I'm in Brisbane!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Kimchi and Bab With Baby

Over the holidays a friend from my Korea days visited Melbourne and I FINALLY managed to get together for lunch with her and her more-than-gorgeous (AND BEAUTIFULLY BEHAVED) baby. Did we (all) want Korean? Hell yes we did, so onto Zomato we flew, and upon Kimchi and Bab in Caulfield we happened.

Now at the moment I'm still not eating much. We figured soup would be safe, so we got budae jjigae (army soup) which contains a bit of everything - kimchi, sausage, spam-like meat, bit of veggie stuff, noodles - in a thick, spicy broth. It was rich and packed full of flavour and texture, and came with the usual assortment of banchan (side dishes) which I could have totally gone to town on as they looked and smelt amazing. As it was, I got a couple of small ladle-fulls of the broth down over the hour or so that we were there, and a few small pieces of the sausage. BONUS! I totally recommend this to anyone struggling with the rigours of a miniature stomach.

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Banchan before the...

Holidays
BUDAE JJIGAE BOWL OF HEAVEN

The restaurant is not huge but it was big enough for us to fit Kat's pram between two tables, and ourselves around it. The food was EXCELLENT value for money and could easily have fed us for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days for $30ish dollars. They have a decent range of available-in-Korea soft drinks in the fridge (I had milkis - it's been a while and it was a SWEET reunion). The servers were lovely and generally very helpful (assisting us with the gas burner to heat the soup), well presented and neat.

As at the holidays, there were two restaurants labelled as Kimchi and Bab on the road. If you are facing the station with your back to the Princes Highway, the one on your left is the one currently in operation.

Kimchi and Bab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Sleeve Lyfe - How You Doin'?

These posts are hard to write. Bear with me, cos baring my soul online isn't all that easy or my usual MO on this blog.

Last week marked three months living with the vertical gastric sleeve - an operation that removed a very large portion (80-90%) of my stomach.

Most common question: how are you feeling? My answer (with people I count as acquaintances): 'Good, but tired. Thanks for asking.' My answer (with people I know well): 'Tired. But today I got a whole cup of tea down, and I only threw up once. F£%&ing bonus. Thanks for asking.'

Yup. Still not quite on solid food. I should be taking out shares in Kraft, because cheese sticks are about the only thing I haven't thrown up at least once of the things that count as solid food that I've been able to eat consistently post-surgery. I've had a few weeks here and there where I've been able to eat small quantities of normal food and I've stuck to protein first, as told by the dietitian - meat, omelettes, etc - and I've made the most of it by going out then so I still have SOMETHING to write here. Three gastroscopies and a barium swallow (ugh) later, they're not sure why it all keeps falling in a heap - all they can suggest is that some people's bodies heal slowly, and it looks like I'm one of them. So I'm still taking it easy. Soup, cheese, Gatorade, yoghurt = my favourites.

Other common question: any regrets at this point? That's hard to answer. Yes, throwing up and not being able to eat much at all is a pain in the butt. Yes, being bone tired, irritable some (more) of the time is less than ideal. And for a foodie not being able to enjoy food in the same social, hypersensorial way I used to is enough to make me pout - BUT I love being able to sit cross-legged with my class on the floor and not needing to wriggle. I like being able to cross my legs at the knee instead of the ankle. I like being able to walk the furchild without my hips and ankles complaining. I'm enjoying exploration of my aspiration suitcase (where smaller clothes than what I could fit have resided since I outgrew them).The weight loss? No regrets there. That's lots of fun. I'm not going to reveal how much I currently weigh, but I will say I've lost more than this:

ilostsausagedogs

That's my favourite graphic so far from ILostWhat.com which provides me with hilarity whenever I reach another weight-drop milestone and check in.

So, short answer: I'm doing okay. Not perfect, and my journey is far from over, but I'm getting by. Thanks to those of you who've asked after me, those who checked in when I went AWOL from SwapBot, or who have supported me on Facebook. I'm getting where I want to go more easily because of you. If you're a fellow sleever, how far out are you and how are you doing? If you're not a sleever, but you have questions about sleeve lyfe - what would you like to know? Leave me some love below and I promise to answer.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Rice Workshop Knox

When I lived in Japan it was a tradition for the gaijin (me and the American teacher I worked with) to go to Yoshinoya once a week for a beef bowl - shaved beef and onion, cooked with some kind of broth and served with rice and sometimes other stuff like veggies if you were feeling splurgey. It had a very distinct taste, sweet and salty at the same time, and the beef was always very long and thin and soft. I missed it when I left.

When I saw that Rice Workshop had opened at Westfield Knox AND they were offering entry into a draw for a trip for two to Japan I was like OH YES I'LL BE IN ON THAT. At the time I could eat a little, but still no rice, so I ordered the beef bowl with extra veggies and a poached egg (why not pack a bit more protein into it?). They really meant it when they said extra veggies to make up for it! It was like a dense foliage of greens with a generous scoop of beef and a runny egg on top. Authentic and yum!

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CHECK OUT THAT RUNNINESS

I couldn't eat heaps of it at the time, but it made three decent meals for me over two days - plus the Khocolateman tried some and decided it was pretty good. I went back and got the tonkatsu with Japanese curry for him the next time I was there, which he unfortunately devoured before I got to take a photo of it but he seemed to think it was pretty good (and for a guy who MAKES CURRY IN A BIG WAY this is BIG PRAISE). I got that in a combo with their takoyaki (picture perfect, a little tough on the outside... but oh, those tasty little octopus balls!).

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See? Picture perfect in glossy hi-def detail

I think I have a new favourite in the food court!

Rice Workshop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Foreigner, Ivanhoe

While where I live is very much the eastern suburbs, I have friends scattered across the city and when it's time to catch up I much prefer to go to them rather than having them come to me (unless they live close by in which case all bets are off and we go to Knox!).

One of these fabulous amazing friends is a teacher buddy from old school who suggested we meet at The Foreigner in Ivanhoe for a coffee over the holidays. What a lovely space! AND IT HAD PARKING OUT THE FRONT! The staff were laid back and entertaining (there was an impromptu dance going on at one point which was very engaging) as well as really knowing their stuff about the menu items.

Being as it is I couldn't eat, I ordered a chai latte. Imagine my surprise when they asked 'Leaf or powder?' I pounced on that - a rarity - and was presented with a lovely pot of PROPER chai latte. The flavour was distinct but not overpowering and the milk not too frothy and not too boiled but just right. It was the Goldilocks of chai tea latte.

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Mmmm proper chai for the first time in forever!

My teacher buddy had a coffee but also ordered the ricotta and honey pancakes with a side of bacon. They came out with a generous scoop of ice cream, a fairy floss garnish and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios - a beautifully presented plate full of colour and different textures. I am assured it was just as tasty as it was pretty - and it was very, very pretty.

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FLOOFY

If I was closer to the area I think this would become my regular haunt. As it is, I can guarantee I'll be back during the term at least once - it's too good not to have a repeat visit!

The Foreigner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 26 September 2016

Badda-Bing Boy!

This post was a long time coming! A while back I visited Bing Boy at Wantirna as I'd heard lots of different things (both good and bad) about their omuwraps (omelette wrapped around fillings) from different people, and I wanted to try it for myself before passing judgement. I ordered a prawn wrap with extra meat (who wouldn't ask for extra meat if given the opportunity?? except maybe vegetarians...).

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CHECK OUT ALL THE FILLINGS
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MOAR FILLINGS

I didn't mind it! The prawns were juicy and tender, the omuwrap was warm and not too dry, and the sauce was simultaneously sweet and salty - a good combination with the multitude of different sliced, diced and rolled veggies they packed into the wrap. The price was reasonable for the large-ish serving, and the staff were quick, polite and well-presented. I don't necessarily think I'd go out of my way to do it every day but it certainly wouldn't be my last choice of place at Knox either. I'll be watching out for them wherever else I end up too!

Bing Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A Match (& Co) made in heaven..!

Earlier this year I was a bit despondent as I couldn't find somewhere to get my chai from in the morning that rivalled any of the joints I'd enjoyed while I was working in Mitcham. Mona's Bakehouse was okay, but their specialty is baked stuff - their chai was okay but not something I'd go out of my way for.

Imagine my happy when I noticed Match & Co had opened their doors.

Chai contains enough sugar and milk to get me going for the day, and it tastes awesome into the bargain. It's hard to find good chai - and while Match & Co use powder it's pretty good - definitely not a generic one, not too sweet but not weak either. It's a very reasonable $4.50 for a medium one. I've picked up coffee for my co-teacher as well - she likes a skinny cap with sugar - and I am assured their coffee is amazing too.

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Oooh, pretty!

Their displays are always picture perfect - croissants, petit fours, biscuits, slices... sniffle - they look so good! While I can't enjoy their sweets, I've bought one of the chef's fresh breakfast muffins and eaten the middle out of it. There's something I can't quite put my finger on - I think it's that they use some kind of special sauce on it that adds a real zing to the bacon, egg and cheese.

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Mmm, proteinfull muffin innards

The only down side to their amazing operation is that they don't open on Monday and I REALLY NEED A CHAI BEFORE SCHOOL ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. Still, you can't blame them - they need a break after being busy over the weekend! If you're in Dingley Village, this is THE place to hit up for your hot drink and brunchy stuff fix.

Match & Co  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gold Leaf

We visited Gold Leaf in Burwood for Yum Cha a while back (pre-surgery for both the Khocolateman and I... so a really long time ago!) with two of our friends (the owners of two of Dalek's best doggy friends, Toebes and Theo). I'd been there once before for an end of year function and I liked the food then, but their yum cha put that to shame!

My favourite yum cha dish is always the chicken feet. They get done a couple of different ways for yum cha at different restaurants - at Gold Leaf it was savoury (though it didn't taste like a black bean sauce as you usually get though) and they were very sticky, but not so much so that the texture of the meat was lost. Yum. The Khocolateman REALLY likes the steamed BBQ pork buns and went through several plates, much to the amusement of all watching, and reported that they were satisfying and adequate. Nothing to be given Michelin stars over, but certainly very edible.

NOW USUALLY if we go out together we steer clear of seafood as the Khocolateman has a nasty allergy and we like him alive and kicking. On this day, though, the seafood lovers outnumbered him three to one - so dumplings with scallops, and dumplings with prawns, and tofu thingies (sorry I don't know the actual name... I will pay more attention next time) with more scallops were the order of the day. There were a lot of them.

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ALL OF THE SEAFOOD THINGS

All up, a very satisfying meal for a very reasonable price. It does get very busy so I do recommend booking ahead, especially on weekends.

Gold Leaf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 19 September 2016

Kumamoto

I hit up Kumamoto before work on a Saturday. I was in a hurry, I didn't want to cruise the food court at Knox looking for something else that may or may not exist - something high in protein, small enough to fit into my stomach and easy to eat on the way to work - and the Khocolateman had found something yummy there the previous week.

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Yakitori skewer... sticky goodness

Yakitori skewers are a Japanese food. They're pretty basic - chicken and onion basted with a thick, sticky marinade and grilled until they're cooked through. Usually, they're soft and squishy, sweet and salty, a post-beer snack or izakaya/Japanese pub food or something you grab from a street stall before jumping on the train to commute home.

This one didn't exactly disappoint - the flavour was good, and at $3 per chunky skewer it hit the mark for value. The chunkiness told a story of the lean chicken pieces making a protein-packed snack. The texture was a little dry but overall, not bad - especially for food court food! I'll be hitting them up again for another skewer soon.

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

Pappa Rich - the father of fish soup!

I caught up with the lovely Bu Glenda for an impromptu dinner of Malaysian hawker food at Pappa Rich in Ozone at Knox a little while back. Most of the menu is off-limits to me now - no rice, no noodles, no bread - so I gravitated towards soup. At the time, I wasn't able to get much solid food down so when I saw a soup that had silken tofu in it the 'DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER' lights and sirens went off in my head, and I knew what I was getting.

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Fishy! Why are you so yummy?

This enormous bowl of fish fillet soup (minus the noodles) landed on the table. It was a clear broth that I was worried on sight might be too oniony - but I was pleasantly surprised, as it was salty and fishy (funny that). The fillets were crispy but sogged up the soup after a bit, and the tofu was almost infused by the broth by the time I got it. The veggies in the broth were fresh and provided a point of contrast in the taste and texture of the other elements.

I liked Pappa Rich before, but now I like them even more. They're happy to change some of their menu items so they're sleeve-friendly (remove the noodles from the soup, for example) and are prepared with copious varieties of take-away containers so the leftovers can be accommodated. To top it off, they're very inexpensive and if you choose right from their ENORMOUS menu their food can be healthy and high in protein.

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

Monday, 5 September 2016

Happy hotpot to you...!

We celebrated my brother in law's seventeenth birthday not that long ago, and for something different Akki suggested we try a place in Abbotsford that I hadn't heard of before but boy am I glad I have now!

FOF (Full Of Food) Rotary Hotpot is like a combination of a shabushabu restaurant and a sushi train. Each place setting has a hot plate where you warm your personal soup (you can choose from four), and then you choose the meat, veggies, noodles and other yummies from the 'train' and cook to your heart's content.


Not my video - made by the eminent Youtuber Katerina Kotsakis - skip to about the two-minute mark to see how the actual hot pot train works!

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Meaty hot pot select-for-yourself goodness

The Khocolateman and I decided on the Chinese spicy hotpot. We chose a couple of 'special' items from the menu to be served with it, and once the soup was served went about adding what we felt like to it. The Khocolateman was definitely in the mood for red meat - ox tongue, strips of beef and pork, quail eggs, etc. On my other side, Malli (my brother in law) had chosen a miso soup base and was loading it with noodles and veggies.

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Oh dear Lord. It killed me.

They also had fridges of sushi and bain maries of hot food. Imagine my OMGWTFBBQ reaction when I found they had takoyaki! I wasn't quite game to try noodles or rice, but the little fried dough octopus balls absolutely made my night.

The cost of the evening came to $28.80 per adult (all you can eat! nice!), plus drinks, however I showed them my VSG card and explained I was not long out of surgery, and they agreed to charge me kids price as I'd only be picking at other people's food. They were very obliging and very sensitive and I would highly recommend them as a VSG-friendly venue.

VSG note: The Chinese spicy soup was not a good fit for me, and ended up losing quite a lot of it about half an hour in (even after going for a walk... and maybe playing a spot of Pokemon Go... trying to get my stomach to settle). The miso soup was a good fit, and a little of the broth thickened after the addition of other yumminess like meat and noodles was definitely a win. This place deserves massive kudos - even as a buffet they are VSG friendly - but I would recommend going with others as they do have a sign that says they charge for wasted food and I don't think it's the kind of thing that would take-away well.

FOF Rotary Hotpot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Republica at the St Kilda Baths

A few weeks ago we celebrated a friend's birthday at Republica, a lovely restaurant on the St Kilda foreshore. It's located in the same building complex as the St Kilda Baths, just underneath Captain Baxter.

Side note: as a result, walking from the carpark is enough to freeze your tootsies off if you are not dressed warmly for a Melbourne winter's night. Do dress warmly for that short walk in. I did not.

Once you're inside, the space is warm and inviting with a fire up one end, flat screens unobtrusively mounted in strategic positions (showing AFL instead of the Bledisloe the night we were there but really, who could blame them) and a well-appointed bar between the two ends of a sort of L-shaped dining area. As a large group, we were seated closest to the door, but it was an easy table to get into and out of, and the fire being next to us kept the area cozy and comfortable.

The Khocolateman and I decided to share the entree of fried chicken with jalapeno and lime-infused mayo/creamy dipping sauce of yumminess, and a side serving of the eggplant chips with salted ricotta. The birthday girl and I also ordered a pitcher of traditional lemonade to go with the meal.

The meals came out quickly and together (always nice when you're with a large group), only a short while after our drinks. The lemonade was the ideal palate cleanser - not too sweet, but with the bitterness of the vodka masked with an even balance of sugar and lemon. I had only a little - maybe two half glasses - but it was well worth it. The chicken deserved a clean slate, as the coating was crunchy and smokey, with some of the flavour filtering down into the tender meat below. The mayo was a good pairing - the jalapenos were really finely minced and well-mixed into the sauce. I couldn't taste the lime so much but I didn't mind - I prefer jalapeno anyway.

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Mmmmchicken

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Oh dear lord they're huge.
And excuse the shonky lighting. Not my best shots.

The eggplant chips were ENORMOUS. Delicately crumbed and fried lightly, they would make a good side to most menu items. The salted ricotta was drier than I expected, and kind of shreddy rather than crumbly like you usually get. The flavour was good though, and I have to admit to eating it separately to the chips.

While they don't split bills, Republica is sensible enough to have an ATM right next to the cash register so you can sort out bills effortlessly. What a good idea! More places should do that.

VSG note: I got in one piece of chicken, a tablespoon of mayo, and ate one chip cut into eight pieces... and lost almost all of it half an hour later as this was the beginning of my sleeve kinking on itself again and me not being able to eat solid food again. Man was it worth it in the meantime though! Highly deserving of praise and you should definitely try it as their portions are small and resonabley priced!

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

Friday, 2 September 2016

Hiatus and The Bet

In the month between posts I've had a second revision to Patrice (my newly sleeved stomach) and moved house - as well as having the longest stretch of 'busy' weekends in a row that I can remember! Weddings, birthdays, family gatherings, work - it's that time of the term.

The busyness of my life gets in the way of being good to myself sometimes, and one of my favourite easy ways to unwind is to read. I have an undergraduate major in literary studies and I think books tend to sense this... and breed on my shelves when I'm not looking. Personally, I love it. Surround me with good incarnations of the written word, and I'm a happy little Vegemite.

Mind Blown

heh.

Unfortunately, the Khocolateman gets lumped with shifting boxes of these books every time we move, after I've lovingly packed them into styrofoam crates to stop their corners getting dinged or their pages torn.

This time around, this manouevering took place at ten thirty on a Sunday night, after two solid days of moving furniture and other badly packed boxes (and still no breakages... hell yeah, and touch wood!). He was tired, hot and cross. I was tired, hot and cross. Debate ensued.

HIM: Do you even need these books? Have you even read any of them in the last twelve months?
ME: Of course. I pick them up and read the bits I want to remember whenever they come into my head.
HIM: REALLY? *meaningful look*
ME: REALLY! *level stare back*
HIM: Okay. Here's the deal: you have to read fifty of these in the next twelve months, or I get to chuck the lot!
ME: *about to protest, then remembers that in 2008 I read a hundred adult fiction books in ten months and then got started on the children's fiction library at work... and reconsiders* Okaaayyyyy... and if I do it, I get to keep them?
HIM: Deal.

SO. That's how The Bet came about. How shallst I make myself accountable? First thing I did was tell my class at school. They like a challenge. A few of them have read more books than me this year (lucky them!). Now I have about five coming to tell me whenever they finish a novel. They keep track of theirs and pay me out when they're kicking my butt - HOWEVER I also feel the need for some adult accountability - so here is my first month's efforts for the benefit of my blogging family:

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Mmmm hallucinogens

Of that list, I have decided I can part with four.

The unintended consequence of The Bet is that I've realised I may have... outgrown? grown away from? some of these old friends. I may need to pass them on to others who will give them a second much-loved home. From the 27th of next month, I'll start sharing the list of books I'm going to give up, and if anyone reading this would like them, I'll cover the postage to get them to you. It'll make me feel much less guilty about saying goodbye to them.

Side note: I'm not planning on giving up the food blogging, but it is going to be a little less frequent while my stomach sorts itself out. I hope you'll forgive me and go back and feast your eyes on older posts, and look forward to having you join me at the metaphoric table again soon!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

20 Days Post-Op - The Hard Yards

Hello, blog world.

Apologies for the (more lengthy than usual) absence. I've been doing my impersonation of a koala and sleeping for seventeen hours a day (on some days - no joke). It's eaten up quite a bit of my three weeks of recovery.

I have individual posts coming on my hospital bag, hospital stay and some recipes for the fluid stage and the puree stage.

This post is a little whinge about the stuff that has been hard since coming home. NOTE: Not everyone finds it hard, and I'm aware my 'hard' is not that bad compared to many.

1. Drinking. I've always been terrible at getting my water in every day. Part of it is the whole teachers-can't-leave-the-classroom-to-go-pee-for-a-hundred-minutes-at-a-time thing. Part of it is I never really felt thirsty. Now I feel thirsty all the time, but because my stomach is so freakin' tiny, I can only sip. I spend most of my waking day sipping whatever I can lay my little mitts on. It's a full-time occupation.

2. Sleeping on my side. For ten days I had external stitches so sleeping on my back was the only option. Then my stitches came out and WOOHOO - fetal position once again. Then I put my classroom back together on Friday and ow. I was reminded that my internal stitches still have a ways to go before they're healed.

3. Taking medication. Oh boy. So I'm on thyroxine, nexium, calcium citrate, hair/skin/nails liquid and a chewable multi-vitamin. I'm also meant to have a berocca every morning. I'm seriously on struggle street with this - in the morning I feel quite unwell, and trying to get all that down is tough when it feels like it's going to come back up. Pair that with not being able to gulp fluid to get everything down... not pleasant.

4. Being tired. I'm exhausted, almost all the time. I have been getting up at 7 to make his breakfast and say goodbye to the Khocolateman, then going back to sleep for a few hours, getting up and doing something, then having a siesta in the afternoon, doing something in the evening, then going to bed at my normal time (about 10). Rinse and repeat. God only knows how I'm going to get through 6am starts and full teaching days this week.

5. Food. This was bound to be hard. I'm theoretically still on puree. Unfortunately - and I'd kind of forgotten this - I'm not great with puree as a texture. I've really struggled with this. Fluid was easier - lots of milk, some juice, berocca, soup. I was HANGING for puree but after the first day I've had a run of bringing back up quite a bit of what I've eaten. So far, I have ruled out tomato soup, Aldi pate and soft cheese (but Woolies is fine? go figure), spinach dip, mushed up fish cake, and pot-set yoghurt. Things my body has liked include avocado and feta smash, palak paneer, scrambled eggs, normal yoghurt (?!), custard, hummus, taramasalata, the gravy out of the Khocolateman's chicken curry, the broth out of his liver stew, bombili (a Sri Lankan fish dish), potato anything, soft crackers, caramel, tea and pumpkin soup.

So there you go. That's where I'm at. As soon as I feel like I'm sort of back to normal there'll be other posts coming. Til then, eat something yummy on my behalf and comment with it below!

Friday, 24 June 2016

WHAT DO WE WANT? LOTS OF LIQUIDS!

When do we want it? Well, I'm assuming after surgery - I won't want much else!

When the Khocolateman came out of hospital he was on liquids only for a week. I made chicken and veggie soup and strained it (Dalek and I got the veggies and the chicken). We made pumpkin soup. We made miso. We made stock out of Vegeta. I knew some of the things I wanted to have in the house - but my gastric sleeve support group on Facebook had some great suggestions too:

...stock, Benefiber, pear juice, icy poles, jelly (jell-o for Americans out there), milk... that we had already.

This is what ELSE in the cupboard for when I come home:

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PRETTY THINGS

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

V8 veggie juice because I know the Khocolateman got REALLY bored of sweet drinks. Plus I like V8 juice, especially the original flavour. It's taking all my will-power not to drink it before I go in.

BULK PACK OF SIPPAH STRAWS - thanks Costco! I picked it up on my food funeral weekend. It has honeycomb flavour in it too, which the ones from Woolies don't have. They're for when I have to drink plain milk, in case my sense of taste changes. Some people say it does.

Sliced Australian peaches for blending into a yummy high-protein peach smoothie as recommended in the gastric sleeve recipe book from LapSurgery.

Apricot nectar for doing something similar, because let's face it, apricot nectar is awesome. I'm not a fan of the fruit, but the juice, whoa mama. Yup. Bring it.

Tom Yum Goong soup. I love this stuff. The real thing would be better, and when I'm feeling up to it I may go and purchase one or two from my favourite Thai place, but for while I can't drive, and in case I want something with some bite (and to see how my new stomach goes with chili).

ANNNND Greek yoghurt. Full of yummy probiotic power, natural style, and some calcium, and some different flavour (tart but a bit sweet too).

I also have pea and ham soup, veggie soup, potato and leek soup and tomato soup in the freezer.

I think I'm set!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Public Service Announcement

DON'T BELIEVE THEM WHEN THEY SAY IT WILL BE EASY.

Oh, I'm not talking about the sleeve yet. I'm talking about the damn body wash!

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Observe the Chlorhexidine 4%. It's an elusive beast...

Hospital told me, Chlorhexidine, it gets you clean. Get some. Use it. Twice. Before you come in.

When the Khocolateman went in, I did the emergency dash to the hospital the day before because we forgot about it til we were going through the pre-op paperwork. It was too late for the pharmacy, so the admissions nurse hunted some down for me. This time, we thought, we'll be really organised. Cue the hunt to begin five days before admission.

This little sucker was harder to find than I was anticipating. I am very lucky to live close to a late-night pharmacy (I know, right? In the middle of the suburbs!) which stocks just about everything - except Chlorhexidine, it turns out. For people living in Melbourne, the following places do NOT stock Chlorhexidine 4% pre-op/pre-surgery body wash:

Amcal Stud Park, Chemmart Rowville, Pharmore Knox, Terry White Knox, Chemist Warehouse (ANYWHERE INCLUDING ONLINE), Amcal Wheelers Hill, Amcal The Glen (Glen Waverley), Nova Pharmacy Waverley Gardens, Brady Road Pharmacy Dandenong North. They have the handwash in abundance. The body wash, not so much - it seems to have been a recent thing to have been struck off the list.

For people living in Melbourne, the following place DOES stock Chlorhexidine at $9.95 for two tubes - Slade Pharmacy at The Valley Private Hospital. Yup, those suckers have the market cornered. Good job guys - and thanks for not price gouging.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Slow Cooked Roma Tomatoes

This recipe is pre-op diet friendly for Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy and Roux En Y Gastric Bypass patients according to Lap Surgery Australia. Please check with your surgeon and nutritionist that it conforms to the pre-surgery diet THEY recommend. I hope they say yes for your sake. These are delish.

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ohsogood and ohsohealthy

YOU WILL NEED: 6 Roma tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, dried thyme and dried rosemary.

HOW TO MAKE: Slice the tomatoes in half, sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary and cook on low (about 150) in a tray brushed with your two tablespoons of oil for the day. Keep an eye on them but they should be okay to let just sizzle for ninety minutes. Enjoy!

Makes 12 halves, or enough for three meals.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Sorta Salsa

This recipe is mostly pre-op diet friendly for Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy and Roux En Y Gastric Bypass patients according to Lap Surgery Australia though I'm not 100% sure about the jalapenos. Please check with your surgeon and nutritionist that it conforms to the pre-surgery diet THEY recommend.

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Ole! Look at all those colours!

YOU WILL NEED: A bunch of coriander (washed), three red capsicums, three medium sized tomatoes, a small onion, minced garlic, lemon juice and jalapenos (optional).

HOW TO MAKE: Dice the coriander, capsicums, tomatoes and onion and toss in a salad bowl. Add a heaped teaspoon of minced garlic and about two to three lemons worth of juice (or a really big squeeze if you're lazy like me and using the bottled kind), salt and pepper to taste and toss until mixed thoroughly. Add the jalapenos before serving - do not leave in with it or the salsa becomes quite bitter.

Part Eggplant Parma, Part Ratatouille

This recipe is made up of ingredients approved by LapSurgery Australia for patients about to undergo the Roux En Y Bypass (gastric bypass) or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (gastric sleeve).

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It's like two recipes in one...

YOU WILL NEED: An eggplant (sliced into 1cm rounds), a zucchini, an onion, eight button mushrooms, 1TBSPN of extra virgin olive oil and a cup of passata.

HOW TO MAKE: Salt and drain the eggplant (lay the rounds on a plate, salt them, then elevate one side of the plate) for about half an hour. Cook it on about 180C for about twenty minutes. Dice the zucchini, onion and mushrooms and fry in the oil until the onion goes brown and the zucchini is soft. In two ramekins or individual-sized pie dishes, cover the base with eggplant, spread it with a layer of passata, then a layer of the fried veggies. Repeat until the containers are full. Place in the oven for another ten minutes so it is warmed all the way through (cold passata = not great with warm veggies).

Serve with a side of wilted spinach for a flavour contrast.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

PREPARE THE LIQUIDS! Part 3 - Making Water Less Watery

I know, I know - living in a developed country I am very lucky to have access to fresh, clean, healthy, more or less unlimited drinking water. And I'll preface what I'm going to say next by saying - I've lived in drought-stricken areas. I know I'm lucky. I know not everyone has this commodity that I, living in a city in a very wet part of the country, am priveliged to have. Don't shoot me for saying this - but I really don't like drinking water.

I talked a bit about why drinking three litres of water each day is not feasible for me in PREPARE THE LIQUIDS! Part One. But I'm nine days from crunch time, and I know my life of being able to skate by on just a little bit of water each day is running out. I've watched the Khocolateman force himself to drink two litres of water at home each day after drinking Coke most of his adult life. It's a hard change to make.

SO. NOW I MAKE IT PALATABLE.

Behold my infuser, in all its majesty

I've been hunting one of these babies for a while. Apparently I'm not the only one as they always seem to be sold out at Stud Park Woolies (and I'm too lazy to go to Wantirna just to get one). I did find them in other places, but quite often they had parts made of glass - and I'm a) crazy clumsy and b) in a profession where breakable (and sometimes theoretically unbreakable) stuff does actually break. This plastic one = 100% right for me in that way.

Allow me to demonstrate how it works.

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Step one....

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Step two...

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Step three...

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Ready to go!

The night before, you stuff the middle bit with whatever you want the water to taste like. I like lemon and lime chunks, but I know people who put cucumber, berries or stone fruits in it too. Then you snap the filter into the top of the water bottle, fill it about 3/4 of the way up with water, screw the top onto the bottle and let the infusey bit do its thing (I usually leave it in the fridge). Voila - the next day you have yummy healthy tangy water to drink. Refill during the day, though it may be a bit diluted taste-wise. Rinse and repeat (literally) when you get home.

Experiment number two - Cottee's Squirt Flavouring

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My Dad picks the fruit that goes to Cotteeeeeeee's... to make the cordial - that I like best!

Theoretically, this should work a bit like cordial - but with less sugar. I chose the blackcurrant one as I have a bit of a love affair with Ribena (mmmmm ribenaberries) and I was hoping it might taste like that. SUCCESS. And with a bit of warm water in there as well it's perfect for the cold mornings we're having here in Melbourne at the moment.

I'm aiming to get through a bottle of either of them each day to start with. Wish me luck!