Archive | February, 2014

White Night Melbourne 2014

28 Feb

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Melbourne CBD braced itself on Saturday night for at least 300,000 people showing up in the city centre for White Night Melbourne 2014, following last year’s attendance, but the turn-out was overwhelming as about half a million people flocked to the city for the 7 PM to 7 AM festivities. The yearly festival, which originated from Nuit Blanche (White Night) in France, is free of charge, and is a 12-hour all-night extravaganza of arts, dance, film and music. It is only Melbourne’s second year holding this event, and with the overwhelming response this year, the city is exploring the option to make it an all-weekend event.

Law and I arrived at Flinders Street a few minutes before 7 PM, hoping to get on a tram to quickly get to Melbourne City Baths. I wanted to get to the Moonlight Synchro precinct to watch the synchronized swimming which starts at 7 PM. But to our dismay, we didn’t realize that they were stopping tram operations on Swanston Street at that time.

So we ended up walking up Swanston. Along the way, we can see crowds beginning to gather and people stationing their cameras in front of Flinders Street Station and the state library. There were several points of interest lined up along Swanston and queues were already forming.

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It felt exciting to see a lot of people turn up for this event. When we finally arrived at the City Baths, it was about 7:20 PM and there was an insanely long queue already. Thinking that the long line meant it was something really worth watching, we decided to queue up anyway.

So after a 45-minute wait, it turns out that this is what was in store for us –

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The presentation took about less than 5 minutes. I’m not sure about your thoughts on the photos above, but for me it wasn’t worth almost an hour of waiting.. Although I must say that I’m proud to have come up with a few decent photos from it, anyway 😛

By this time we were getting hungry so we headed off to the Gypsy Pig for a Japanese kurubota pork dinner. I had the crumbed breaded pork (tonkatsu) and Lawrence had their spicy pork ribs.

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Forgive the resolution of the photo, as it was taken outside the restaurant since we were only able to get a table outside because we didn’t book in advance 😛 Law frequents this place and would always have their crumbed pork. He tried the ribs for the first time and he liked that it was soooo tender that you can also nibble on the bone coz it was even softer than the actual pork. Seeing the red spice powder in his meat, he expected it to be spicy but it actually wasn’t. I liked that I didn’t have to put a lot of sauce in my tonkatsu, and the dressing for the shredded cabbage was quite good.

After dinner, we were then able to walk along the length of Swanston again, which was now packed from the State Library all the way towards Flinders Street. It was really a massive crowd, and somewhere along the way we even have to push our way through the jam-packed chaos.

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There were a lot of precincts scattered throughout the CBD, which cater to everyone’s interests. But the highlight of the night are the light displays. Different landmarks were transformed into works of art. The normally earthen-colored old bricks of facades came to life bursting with bright colours. There are multiple designs for each landmark, you have to spend a few minutes staring at each one to be able to see what themes the light designers have come up with.

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There were performers both indoor and outdoors, and dancing in the streets –

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As mentioned earlier, there were a lot of precincts to go to, and you could probably cover most of them throughout the night until the wee hours of the morning. But by about midnight, Law and I were so tired already so that all we can manage is to take one last souvenir shot of ourselves 🙂 –

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Again, forgive the resolution please as this was just taken using the front camera of my phone and it was so dark in that area that we actually used the iLights app on Law’s phone to light our faces up 😛

But to give you a glimpse of what other things were in store for people that night, I’ve grabbed a few photos from the White Night Melbourne Facebook page –

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Train service was extended until the morning so there is public transport going home at any time. But trains were jam-packed as well, and there were some pushing and crying that night (it was a scary, tiring night for little kids not used to big crowds)..

So there, hope I was able to help you decide if you want to go next year or not..  For someone like me who gets thrilled by events and don’t mind the crowd, it’s a yearly event I would surely go to.

An Afternoon in Chocolate Heaven

24 Feb

Yarra Valley is not just about wineries, but it is a haven for good produce and fine food as well.

My husband and I keep coming back to Yarra Valley, not only when we have friends or family visiting Melbourne, but when we feel like going for a relaxing drive around greenery or when we want to have a break from the usual places we go to in the city or around our suburbs.

We would go to the farmer’s market once in a while, and lately, we found ourselves going back to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, a relatively new place in Yarra Valley.

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To people’s delight, when you step foot inside, this is the sight that will greet you : three big bowls of free chocolate you can help yourself to –

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As you can see, you can sample their white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. So everyone’s tastes, no matter what type of chocolate you prefer sinking your teeth into, is well-catered for. It’s free, so you can nibble on some chocolate while finding something to buy inside the store.

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Aside from the wide range of typical flavours you can choose from off that chocolate wall down that far end of the photo above, they also have a garden line of chocolates below, where flavours such as celery, lavender, curry leaf, fig and fennel are incorporated into the chocolate –

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This makes chocolate sound healthy, don’t you think? 😉

They also have a chocolate therapy section, which offers chocolate or sweet infused lotions and other body products.

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Chocolate flavoured lip balms, anyone? 🙂

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Chocolate body therapy soaps should provide a relaxing and interesting bath, huh?

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For hard-core chocolate lovers out there looking for the chocolatier type, their three-meter signature truffle cabinet will not disappoint.

What’s good about this place is that it’s not just a store but it’s an activity hub for the family.

They have a viewing window for their chocolate machinery so you can have a look and observe how the chocolate is made –

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They have a cafe that serves breakfast and lunch,  and the greenery outside provides a nice ambience (where you’ll normally find both kids and adults hanging around).

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Although I’m not sure if the lying around as shown in the photo above is allowed, since there is an actual sign that says no picnics allowed 😛

For lunch, I had smoked salmon on rye toast with rocket, red onions, capers and lemon myrtle cream cheese. The salmon tasted fresh (thank goodness, as we hate a fishy taste) and the rocket and capers go well with the salmon. I couldn’t quite place what the cream cheese and its supposed flavour brings to the dish, though.

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Lawrence went for their chicken, bacon and barbecue sauce pizza. They have their own homemade pizza sauce. We liked it at the beginning but then towards the end we found it too sweet already (would have been nice if there’s a bottle of Tabasco nearby 😉 ).

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The coffee, as expected from a Melbourne cafe (yes, I’m a newly converted Melbourne coffee junkie), was great. I didn’t even need to put sugar on my coffee (as I always do!).

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Of course I wouldn’t miss mentioning that aside from the chocolate, it’s the ice cream here that majority of people who come here would queue up for –

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To cap off our afternoon here, we chose to indulge in one of their oh-so-yummy-looking desserts on display below (which by far outshines all the dessert places I’ve come across with here in Melbourne).

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Our choice of dessert was the raspberry macaron delight (note the massive size :D). It’s served with cream on the side and their couverture chocolate. There is a lemon filling along with the fresh raspberries you can see in the photo, which neutralised the sweetness of the dish.

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So there you go. I’ve practically listed everything you can do in your visit here. I think you will agree with me that you can easily spend a whole afternoon here like we did 🙂