Spring came early for me when I went to Auburn to visit the Cherry Blossom Festival. Made me feel nostalgic of the memories from Japan & Taiwan, but I am happy for Australia’s multicultural society that I am able to be surrounded by the beautiful Sakura trees once again. The beautiful Sakura petals snowing down so elegantly is a surreal feeling.

Where: The Cherry Blossom Festival
Website: http://www.auburn.nsw.gov.au/Welcome/whatson/Pages/Cherry%20Blossom%20Festival.aspx
Address: Chiswick Road, Auburn

Because Sakuras are so delicate & fragile, it’s full bloom only happens for a temporary period, usually for 1 or 2 weeks. This weekend was the last weekend of the Sakura festival, so I am lucky indeed to be able to witness my favourite tree & flower at its best – its show time for these Sakuras! Pink is my favourite colour if you didn’t know. ;)

So here are some of the highlights from the trip.

First stop: Food! The line to the takoyaki & sushi bar was too long, so we had this Russian dish instead. I forgot the name of this dish, haha.

Beautiful Sakura Tree. I want to grow one on my backyard, haha.

Beautiful Sakura Tree. I want to grow one on my backyard, haha.

Beautiful Sakura Tree near the entrance.

Beautiful Sakura Tree near the entrance.

The details of a Sakura flower.

The details of a Sakura flower.

The garden had other beautiful types of flowers as well.

The garden had other beautiful types of flowers as well.

Have you ever watched a duck trying to bathe and wash itself? It's quite amusing.

Have you ever watched a duck trying to bathe and wash itself? It’s quite amusing.

Although it's looking like 'Angry Bird' - I think it was trying to dry itself. Haha, so cute.

Although it’s looking like ‘Angry Bird’ – I think it was trying to dry itself. Haha, so cute.

Beautiful Camelia flower.

Beautiful Camelia flower.

These flowers are too cute for words.

These flowers are too cute for words.

Beautiful lake.

Beautiful lake.

More Sakura flowers.

More Sakura flowers.

Sakura flowers.

Sakura flowers.

So much love for these beauties.

So much love for these beauties.

Bumble bee.

Bumble bee.

Busy bumble bee on to the next flower!

Busy bumble bee on to the next flower!

These beautiful pink magnolia tree gave me a flashback on my childhood. Mulan Disney :) So last night, after I went home and before my sleep, I watched this awesome movie. :)

These beautiful pink magnolia tree gave me a flashback on my childhood. Mulan Disney :) So last night, after I went home and before my sleep, I watched this awesome movie. :)

So pretty!

So pretty!

The lake was not only big & beautiful, but interactive. There were few paths where you can walk on to the other side using rocks as steps and these lovely wooden bridge.

The lake was not only big & beautiful, but interactive. There were few paths where you can walk on to the other side using rocks as steps and these lovely wooden bridge.

Interesting dangling flower.

Interesting dangling flower.

I see trees of green and pink Sakuras too. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. :)

Keep smiling,

Astrid

So this weekend was the first weekend of the August month. And you know what that means? The Winter Harvest Market is on at the Grounds of Alexandria. 

Where: The Grounds of Alexandria
Website: http://www.groundsroasters.com
Address: Building 7A, No 2 Huntley St, Alexandria NSW 2015

Lucky me, I ended up attending the market both days of the weekend and it was definitely a worthwhile experience. The first time we stepped foot into The Grounds on Saturday, my friend and I were welcomed with the upbeat music of the DJ, the combination of different smells and flavours of savoury and sweet, the buzzing energy of the lively crowd, the unfamiliar noises of farm animals and the beautiful sunshine on our faces. What topped it all off were the friendly staff offering us with free samples of food: spicy almonds, mud cake served with greek yoghurt and berries, ice blocks made with fresh fruits. We loved this feeling and we were assured that we will have a great time.

The second time I visited The Grounds on Sunday, it was no different. We were welcomed with the exact positive atmosphere and ambiance. I went with my three cousins, mother, aunt and brother. Since I went with more people than the previous day, I get to taste more food the market had to offer.

Enough of me rambling, I bet you want to dig in to some photos I took over the weekend. Below are some of the highlights of my experience. Enjoy!

Beautiful purple flowers.

Beautiful purple flowers. The flowers were really fresh and authentic.

More beautiful flowers. Just looking at these make me so happy, love them.

More beautiful flowers.

Stunning roses. Which colour is your favourite?

Stunning flowers. Which colour is your favourite?

Lamb on a bun.

Sliced BBQ Lamb with pesto on a bun.

This was at one of the stalls they had in the area, the Brazilian style BBQ. The beautiful smell of the BBQ meat was a great temptation and left us to purchasing the two kinds: lamb and beef. I much preferred the lamb over the beef as I found the beef too chewy, whereas the lamb was more tender and closer to perfection.

Price: $10
Rating: 7/10

Beef.

Sliced beef in a bun.

Price: $10
Rating: 6/10

Slicing the beef.

Slicing the beef.

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Beautiful strawberries on display.

Chocolate mousse with strawberries & lemon tart.

Chocolate mousse with strawberries & lemon tart.

Price per dessert: $6

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I am not much of a sweet tooth. However, my mum is one and so she bought two pastries for us to try. I must say the strawberry mousse was amazing. That base was baked with perfection and homemade goodness. It was great. The lemon tart was also good, nice tinge of sourness of lemon and balance of cream and lemon.

The coffee at The Grounds.

It would be silly to come to The Grounds and not have what they are famous for, their coffee.

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Cheese burger with bacon.

Cheese burger with bacon.

Fatty goodness. How many kilometers do I have to run to burn all these calories?

Fatty goodness. How many kilometers do I have to run to burn all these calories?

Price: $13
Rating: 7/10

More beautiful flowers.

More beautiful flowers.

The dessert kitchen.

The dessert kitchen.

Free samples of mud cake with yoghurt and berries. Yummilicious.

Free samples of mud cake with yoghurt and berries. Yummilicious.

Smashed avocado with tomato and feta cheese on toast.

Smashed avocado with tomato and feta cheese on toast.

The lunch box.

The lunch box which consisted of lamb, falafel, roasted vegetables, pita breads and quinoa with tzatziki sauce.

Price: $13
Rating: 7/10

I shared the lunch box with my friend, and it was a perfect split. It was if the lunch box was made for us two. There were two servings of the lamb skewers, falafel, and pita, as well as a generous serving of the roasted vegetables and quinoa served with tzatziki sauce. The lunch box can be customised to your preference, as they provided the choice of meat: chicken, beef or lamb and also choice of sauces. We thought the tzatziki sauce would complement well with the lamb.

I really love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern type food, so I was pretty satisfied with this dish. The closest food option from where I work is the kebab from the Myers’ food court, haha. However, it was not the best that I have had before. If you are keen on Mediterranean style food like me, please click here to read my previous post on Kepos Street Kitchen. Their falafel is like heaven in your mouth. It’s ahh-mazing!

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The strawberry dessert on display.

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Chocolate base strawberry tart with cream topped with a layer of jelly and a sprinkle of pistachios

My friend had the strawberry tart with cream. She was really happy with her decision. I can only comment on the presentation as I did not try it, but as you can see from the picture, the flower patterned strawberry dessert is very beautifully created. Also, I thought the chocolate base biscuit was very unique and interesting, so kudos for their creativity!

The beautifully decorated lemonade stand.

The beautifully decorated lemonade stand.

The types of lemonade on offer.

The types of lemonade on offer.

I love it, I love it, I love it. I loved how they have decorated and organised this lemonade stand so beautifully. I am really amazed by how well the markets were so organised and executed.

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Rose petals lemonade.

I decided to try the rose petals lemonade. I drank half way when I realised that I forgot to take a photo, haha. :)

Price: $5
Rating: 6.5/10

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Organic vegetables on sale.

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They were selling $10 per box down from $20 per box.

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Pathway leading to the florist – very cute.

Kevin Bacon the pig.

Kevin Bacon the pig.

Thanks for making it this far in reading my post, I understand it was a super duper long one. But there were so many things happening in the market all at once! In conclusion, it was a very well thought out event – which brought great ambiance and energy through the combination of entertainment (music, free samples, farm animals, playground for kids), food (there were two food options outside, the takeaway menu, the seated menu at The Grounds), market like setting (there were all types of stalls available to cater everyone’s needs (from flowers, to meat, to cheese, to olives, to honey, to jewelry, to chairs) and the beautiful decorations which cannot be explained by words but was indeed value adding to the positive experience we had at The Grounds.

Until next time,
Astrid

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

So here I am…. Back again, for the third time. Exact place, exact trail walk. First time, I visited this place with my family back in 2010. Second time, which was earlier this year, I went with my four cousins, older sister & her husband. And the third time, I went with a few of my close friends in which some I have known since high school.

It amuses me how even though it’s the same place, same walk, I come back with something different. A different journey altogether. All three experiences were all unique and good. So, let me tell you about the last trip I had to the valley of the waters track.

Every time I visit this place, my amazement for nature & God’s creation becomes more deep and I always come back home with great awe.

Where: Valley of Waters Track
Website: http://infobluemountains.net.au/map/w-falls_sth.htm
Address: 88 Fletcher St, Wentworth Falls NSW 278 (Around 1.5 hours drive from Sydney)

Here is the story in picture format:

On the way.

On the way.

The cafe we went to. Good food, however very pricey and bad customer service experience. (www.conservationhut.com.au)

The cafe we went to. Good food, however very pricey and bad customer service experience. (www.conservationhut.com.au)

 

Who will take the picture of the group when there are no people around but only trees? A tree branch.

Who will take the picture of the group when there are no people around but only trees? A tree branch.

 

See how amazed they look?

See how amazed they look?

 

Taking a break during our walk

Taking a break during our walk

 

As we got deeper into the forest and closer to the waterfall, there was minimal sunlight and became very cold.

As we got deeper into the forest and closer to the waterfall, there was minimal sunlight and became very cold.

 

Finally, we reached our destination.

Finally, we reached our destination.

 

I climbed to the bottom of the waterfall. A different perspective.

I climbed to the bottom of the waterfall. A different perspective.

 

So grand.

So grand.

 

Astrid Tj Astrid Tj

Practicing my kung fu.

Practicing my kung fu.

 

See the waterfall in the background? My God created that. Isn't he amazing?

See the waterfall in the background? My God created that. Isn’t he amazing?

 

Be careful, these rocks are slippery!

Be careful, these rocks are slippery!

 

On the trail.

On the trail.

 

On the trail. Waterfall on one side, the great mountains on the other.

On the trail. Waterfall on one side, the great mountains on the other.

 

The trail.

The trail.

 

Ah-mazing!

Ah-mazing!

 

Astrid Tj

Under the Australian sun.

Under the Australian sun.

 

Leaping over the mountains.

Leaping over the mountains.

 

Keep Calm and Eat some Froyo.

Keep Calm and Eat some Froyo.

It was a very fun day trip away with a few friends. We ended up spending 15 hours together that day from breakfast, through to lunch time, through to snacks by the sunset, to dinner and dessert.

Keep smiling,
Astrid

I am blessed to experience the many unique cafe style experiences Sydney has to offer. It’s calming, relaxing, cozy and I enjoy eating out with the sun as I rarely get to do so during the weekdays at work. Every now and then, I love to catch up with friends over good food and experience one cafe at a time. After seeing post after post on Instagram and people raving about this particular cafe to me, I decided to try it for myself.

So, off we go on an adventure. I went with a friend who I experienced university life with and even got the opportunity to graduate together. She’s special to me because we have similar values and were on the same road in starting work life out of university. However, it was the last time we would go on our cafe adventures together as she decided to go abroad for good. It was really lovely spending her last day in Sydney together: we explored many things from sunshine to dawn, we saw many things, and we even ate many things.

Before I keep rambling on and get side tracked, here is the story board of my experience at Devon Cafe. Enjoy!

After minutes of deciding what to order, we finally chose our two dishes to share. The crab pasta & the ultimate devon toastie.

Crab pasta.

Crab pasta.

What stood out for me with this dish was the freshness of this pasta. The moment I bit into this pasta and tasted it, I knew instantly it was made fresh with perfection. Everything about it was perfect, probably the best pasta I ever tasted. It had a great subtle taste about this dish, however there was no ‘wow’ factor about it either. Overall, it was a great dish and I would definitely want to eat it again.

Price: $25
Rating: 7/10

The Devon Ultimate Toastie.

The Devon Ultimate Toastie.

Wow, I did not imagine nor expect such delicious dish! I really loved the creativity with the flavours and different ingredients which really complemented well together to create a great dish. There were a combination of different types of mushrooms in there, cheese, egg and topped with seaweed.

The Devon Ultimate Toastie.

The Devon Ultimate Toastie.

Here is a close up of the inside. Yum.

Price: $25
Rating: 8.5/10

The cupcakes on the counter.

The cupcakes on the counter.

More sweets offered on the counter.

More sweets offered on the counter.

Macaroons.

Macaroons.

Looks good, just look at that splurge of chocolate.

Looks good, just look at that splurge of chocolate.

Don’t the sweets look so beautiful that you just want to buy it all and eat it all too? Unfortunately, I am not so much of a sweet tooth, but I am a very visual person and they look so amazing!

Definitely a cafe to try. Great location, just minutes away from Central station. Friendly atmosphere, friendly staff and unique delicious good. A letdown for me was that the service was a little slow, however I didn’t mind since my friend & I likes to talk. Another letdown was that I found it a little pricey, however given the portion size and quality of the food, it’s worth it.

Until next time,
Astrid

Devon Cafe on Urbanspoon

It’s that time of the year, again. Hello July. Hello Mandarin Season.

I came home one Friday night one day, and mum said to me “Want to join Mandarin picking with us tomorrow?” A definite yes for me. Yay for my mum the spontaneous planner! I was so excited to go with my mum, dad, little sis and I. The four of us – off we go on a road trip!

Where: Watkins Family Farm
Website: www.watkinsfarm.com.au
Address:
Hawksberry Harvest (Around 2 hours away from Sydney)

Pictures speak louder than words, and I agree. Hopefully these pictures tell you how much fun we had as a family.

Mandarin Picking1 Astrid Tj Astrid Tj Mandarin Picking6 Mandarin Astrid Tj Astrid Tj Astrid Tj

I would recommend this place to anyone looking to go on a weekend day trip  with friends & family. This place had a beautiful mountain backdrop and it was a beautiful drive going to and from Hawksberry River. I would definitely be back again!

Keep smiling,
Astrid

One of my favourite cafes in Sydney: Kepos Street Kitchen.

Delicious unique food, great service, lovely atmosphere, relatively good value as well. What more can you ask for?

I have been here three times, with different groups of people. And all three experiences were all great. Loved it!

Where: Kepos Street Kitchen
Website: www.keposstreetkitchen.com.au
Address: 96 Kepos St, Redfern NSW 2016

Falafel

Falafel

An example of great customer service was when we were waiting for the line for a seat to Kepos Street Kitchen and a friendly waitress offered us some falafel to try. It was so delicious. What a great start to the overall experience.

Welcome to Kepos Street Kitchen

Welcome to Kepos Street Kitchen

And finally. We’re in.

Their signature dish. Woodsmoked salmon salad, olives, kipflers, soft boiled egg, za’atar. DELICIA!

Woodsmoked salmon salad, olives, kipflers, soft boiled egg, za’atar.

A close up of the salmon salad.

A close up of the salmon salad. A signature dish.

I could not help myself but order this dish every time. I just love every element of this dish. The soft boiled flavoured egg. The beautiful texture and taste of the woodfire smoked salmon. The potatoes. I could not stop putting it into my mouth, I was so so so full by the end of it all.

Price: $18
Rating: 8/10

 Zucchini fritters with salmon and poached eggs. Amazing. Carrot and orange juice on the side. Very fresh.

Zucchini fritters with dill, smoked salmon, poached egg.

This is one of my friend’s order, so I only had a bite to try this dish. It was very delicious. I love their creativity with the zucchini fritters.

Price: $18
Rating: 8/10

Dad’s favorite breaky - falafel, hummus, labneh, dukkah, hardboiled egg, tomato salad,  schiacciata bread.

Dad’s favorite breaky – falafel, hummus, labneh, dukkah, hardboiled egg, tomato salad,
schiacciata bread.

You must try their falafel if you get the chance to go here. It’s amazing.

Price: $16
Rating: 8/10

Strawberry salad, pomegranate pearls, mint, rosewater yoghurt.

Strawberry salad, pomegranate pearls, mint, rosewater yoghurt.

This was a standard yoghurt dish, nothing beyond my expectation. I was expecting more from it to be honest.

Price: $13
Rating: 6/10

Wagyu burger with chips

Wagyu burger with chips

I didn’t get to try this dish because I am not a burger person. But looks good!

However, I did get to try their chips, and it was perfect!

Soft baked eggs and tomato shakshuka, coriander tahini, sourdough.

Soft baked eggs and tomato shakshuka, coriander tahini, sourdough.

It was an overall good dish. However, I found this dish a little sour for my taste buds.

Price: 
$15
Rating: 7/10

Our breakfast.

Our breakfast.

Dessert.

Dessert at the counter.

I am not so much a sweet tooth kind of girl, so not planning to try these sweets. But I must say, they look so pretty. :)

Kepos Street

Kepos Street

Kepos Street

Kepos Street

Kepos Street.

Kepos Street.

The beautiful autumn leaves at Kepos Street. It’s so pretty isn’t it?

The overall experience was very splendid. I loved every bit of it and I would recommend anyone to visit this place, it has everything to offer a great experience: great food, great service, great atmosphere.

Keep smiling,
Astrid

Kepos Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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