Brief Gold Coast getaway

Last weekend we had a little getaway to the Gold Coast. It was only for one night, but it was nice to get away even for this short time. We booked it before we realised I had extra homework and an assignment to prepare for uni. So I had to bring some of my work with me to the beach and didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. I thought I would still share some of the highlights from our little trip.

When Brisbanites want to go to the beach they usually head to the south to the Gold Coast or north to the Sunshine Coast. The Gold Coast is only about an hour from the centre of Brisbane, so it’s a popular choice. There are quite a few neighbourhoods in the Gold Coast region, so you can always see a different beach and discover a new restaurant.

On this trip stayed at the Sheridan Grand Mirage Resort at Main Beach, Southport. This strip of coast features SeaWorld, Marina Mirage Shopping Centre, Federation Walk Coastal Reserve and theirs a stack of touristy activities and restaurants there.

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Kampong Glam: eclectic, spirited Muslim Quarter

On day four of our Singapore trip, we went to explore the eclectic and colourful neighbourhood of Kampong Glam. It is named after the Malay words for ‘village’  ‘gelam tree’ (Paperbark tree), since these trees used to grow in the area. This neighbourhood was formerly the home of the Malaysian aristocracy, prior to British colonisation. However, after the treaty was signed it became the designated settlement for the Sultan and his court as well as the Malay and Arab communities. Today it remains the Malay and Muslim enclave a and is known for being a trendy neighbourhood, rich in history and culture.

We arrived in Kampong Glam in the morning to have breakfast. Then visited the Sultan’s Mosque, did some shopping at Bussorah Street and Haji Lane and later returned for dinner and dessert. In my next post, I will detail our visit to the Rocher (Bugis) area, which we also did the same day.

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Tanjong Pagar: Koreatown

Last time I left you we were at the Singapore Zoo (day 3). Well after a big day out,  we decided to do a low key dinner in the trendy in the neighbourhood Tanjong Pagar. This is a historic area within the Central Business District. Its name means ‘cape of stakes’ which references the wooden stakes that held up this former fishing village. Today it is a colourful thriving area where you can find great nightlife at Tras Street, best Korean food in Koreatown, great hawker food at Maxwell Food Centre and Tanjong Pagar Plaza Market and amazing views at the Pinnacle@Duxton.


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Chickpea pasta with Cherry tomatoes and Pecorino rind

Today I bring you another 15min meal, which is easy to put together. I used one of my favourite ingredients that I recently discovered, pecorino cheese rind. I remember reading a while ago to keep Parmesan rind for sauce and soup. It’s meant to give great depth of umami flavour.

I try to stick to sheep and goats cheeses since I have an intolerance to cows milk and cheese.  So my cheese of choice is always pecorino, which is a hard Roman sheeps cheese. I buy the imported cheese from Costco, rather than then Australian blends that usually have cows milk in them. I have been saving my pecorino rinds for a while and adding cubes of them to red pasta sauces. I recently found they are delicious to add to fresh tomato or olive oil to coat the pasta. They melt a little and have a chewy texture and nice cheesy taste.

For this dish, I also used Chickpea fusilli pasta, which has extra protein and fibre, then regular pasta and gluten-free. Semolina fusilli pasta would also work fine, which is my usual go-to. I had organic cherry tomatoes, which were so full of flavour. Cherry tomatoes are usually sweeter and delicious then regular tomatoes, but you could always use diced tomatoes instead.  For the vegetables I just used some zucchini and silverbeet, which complement the pasta. You could use your favourite veggie combination to add to this dish or no veggies at all if you prefer.

Chickpea pasta with Cherry tomatoes and Pecorino rind

(vegetarian, gluten free, nut free)


200g Chickpea Fusilli Pasta (I used San Remo Pulse Pasta)

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 zucchini, diced

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered

1-2 garlic cloves (optional)

5x5cm piece pecorino rind, cubed

3-4 silverbeet leaves, spines removed and sliced

Sea salt & Black Pepper to taste


  1. First, boil the pasta water and cook according to packet instructions. To cut down time boil the water in the kettle first. Add sea salt to the water. Drain when ready.
  2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and saute the zucchini, cherry tomatoes, garlic Cook for a few minutes or until they start to soften. Add 1/2 a ladle of pasta water to make a little juicy.
  3. Add the pecorino rind and cook another couple of minutes.
  4. Add silverbeet leaves and allow to wilt, before turning off the heat. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
  5. Add pasta to the hot pan and coat with ingredients. Serve immediately.

*Serves 2


Restaurant Review: Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers

Recently we visited one of my favourite restaurants and Brisbane’s first gnoccheria,  Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers. They first opened in Paddington about a year ago and are still one of the best and busiest place to get homemade gnocchi. We have visited them a few times, but I haven’t been often enough since they are usually so busy that without a booking you need to get takeaway. Unfortunately, they are a little too far from my place for UberEats, but Marco orders their food to his work all the time. I actually first came across Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers when they had a food stand in the city. The gnocchi was delicious and the cannoli was so good. So I was thrilled when they established a permanent restaurant.

So we visited Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers recently on a busy weeknight with a friend, who hadn’t tried them before. We did make a booking, to ensure getting a table. The restaurant is actually very small, with a limited amount of tables outside and some bar stools inside. I have noticed that they seem to have added more tables since the last time I visited, which is good to see. The menu itself is also quite limited since the star ingredient is gnocchi. However there is a good selection of sauces that you can order, so there is something for everyone. I have also noted that they run special sauces for a limited time. Each gnocchi dish does come with a slice of ‘Italian mopping bread’, which you can always order more of. They do offer a few sides, which look like some nice complementing dish.  Additionally, they have a great selection of desserts (which I’ll get to later). I usually don’t comment on prices, but I have to say their prices are very reasonable. Especially since most Italian restaurants in Brisbane charge between $20-30 for a main sided pasta or gnocchi dish.

Since we already had a late lunch we thought we would just share a few dishes. Last time we visited we had ordered the Bolognese, Duck Ragu and Wild Mushroom dishes. The stand out for us was the Bolognese sauce. So this visit we decided we had to order that one as well as a couple others dishes we had yet to try. Those were the Creamy Pesto and Prawn and Cherry Tomato Sauce. The boys love their bread, so we had to order a few more for them, but like I mentioned each dish came with a slice of fresh Italian bread.


Gnocchi with Traditional Slow Cooked Bolognese
Gnocchi with Prawns and Cherry Tomato Sauce
Gnocchi with Genovese Style Basil Pesto


The food was just as good as I remembered. The gnocchi were so fresh and pillowy and the sauces were each so full of flavour and really complemented the star ingredient. You can just taste that it is all freshly prepared with love and using traditional recipes. I can’t say which was my favourite this night since I really enjoyed all of them. I did quite like the butterflied prawns, so definitely will order that one again. Octavia was just loving the Bolognese and polished off most of the dish.


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Book Review: Colouring The Lion City

When I travel I try to find colouring books that are unique to that country. Sometimes I  don’t have any luck, however, while I was in Singapore I came across a quirky book that represents this country very well. Colouring The Lion City: A Sophisticated Activity is illustrated by the Singaporean artist William Sim.

This colouring book is full of whimsical line drawings of Singapore, portraying popular places, cultural icons, and everyday life of this island metropolis. William uses his unique style and imagination to bring these drawings to life. Each drawing features a little robot man and his cat. Some drawings include mechanical flying fish ships and others depict futurist machines fused with iconic landmarks. I imagine that the little robot man is travelling around Singapore and enjoying the sites. I also assume that the futuristic machines represent the unique combination of technology and natural beauty that Singapore has to offer.

The author and illustrator, William Sim, is known for his distinctive drawings, paintings and sculpture. His paintings are dreamscapes that explore the unique blend of nature verse mechanical objects. He artwork has been displayed and several exhibitions. One of the most recent was the Happiness Private Limited 2017: Memory Houses. You can also see his artwork on his Facebook page.

William Sim has authored a few colouring books and postcard colouring books to date.  He also released Colouring the World: A Sophisticated Activity (2015) at the same time he released Colouring the Lion City. He later released Colouring Chinoiserie (2016), Colouring Singapore Postcard: Book 1 (2018) anColouring Singapore Postcards: Book 2 (2018). I believe all the colouring books are formatted and illustrated similar in style and all feature the little robot man and futuristic machines. I assume the postcard books are images from Colouring the Lion City, but I haven’t seen them in person or seen a flip through video.

This colouring book is about A4 in size and has a soft cover displaying one of the images and gold foiling for the title. There are 96 line drawings to colour in the book that are all one-sided, so its idea other mediums such as watercolour and markers, that may bleed through. All the pages are fixed to the book, so you can’t remove any of the images unless you are very careful. The paper is high quality thick bright white, very smooth and has a bit of a shine. The selection of images really is quite a variety of landmarks and natural scenes and other manmade structures. As far as I know, all of these images are unique to this colouring book, as I didn’t come across the exact same image when looking up the artist’s other artwork.

I actually really like this book. The imagery is very different to any other books that I have and perhaps the closest book that it reminds me is Lizzie Mary Cullen’s The Magical City. So if you love colouring with Inktense and watercolour in that book, I’m sure you will appreciate this book as well.  I love that the pages in this book are one-sided, as I often get a little worried about using watercolour mediums in my books. I found that that the pages didn’t buckle much at all, so I think it is ideal for this usage. I only have a couple of cons for this book. I would have loved to have the names of the places and landmarks in this book written on the page somewhere. Although my visit to Singapore is still fresh in my mind I was not able to tell exactly where all of these images were representing. I also found the paper had a shiny quality, which was a little annoying at times when using pencils. Perhaps this is because I am a harder handed colourist, and I had to be careful that I didn’t leave the images looking a little streaky. You can probably see from the images that I coloured with pencils that I did struggle with this.

The images below have been listed in the order in which I coloured them. I chose images that were quite different from each other and used different mediums for each to see how they reacted on the paper.


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Turmeric Spiced Couscous Ratatouille with Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki

What do you do when you’re so hot and hangry and there seems likes there’s nothing to eat for lunch. Well, nothing except some leftover couscous and a few veggies in the fridge. Salad would be my usual go-to, but my little girl doesn’t eat salad. I thought about a warm salad with beans and veggies, but I had no canned beans. So this lunch was created in 15 minutes using whatever I could find on hand.

I spiced the veggies with Turmeric Latte spice blend, which has been neglected lately in back of the cupboard. The Coconut Yoghurt Tzatziki was also a nice refreshing side that helped cool the meal down. Octavia won’t swallow cucumber, so she got yoghurt and with a dash of honey on the side, so everybody wins.

What is your go-to dish that you can whip up in a jiffy in times of hangriness?

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Serbian Slava Celebration

Over the weekend Marco’s sister’s family celebrated their annual Slava. This is a Serbian Orthodox tradition, which venerates the family’s patron saint. We were invited to a family lunch to celebrate the day. This year we are unable to attend their big Slava, that they will host for their friends. The date and day change every year, so if the family can’t make it to the big party, there is always usually a small family lunch.

I have been attending most of their Slava’s for nearly 10 years now and I always look forward to this special lunch. The last time I wrote about this celebration was in 2013 (on Live Blissful), so I thought it would be nice to give you guys a bit of a taste of what it’s all about.

Although I have been attending these celebrations for a long time I really don’t know much about it. I am not Serbian Orthodox and Marco doesn’t really follow the religion either. Similar to being an Italian Roman Catholic,  you are kinda born into the religion, typically baptised when your little and it’s up to the individual to keep the faith going. I usually ask the same few questions every year and then we start talking about what we are going to eat. So I thought I would ask some questions to Marco’s sister, Maria directly so she can explain to you all about her Slava.

  • Why do you celebrate Slava?

We celebrate it because it is Milan’s [my husband] family tradition and a great excuse to get together. Every slava or saint has a little story as to why people started celebrating them. People then like to make a big feast and invite friends and those people they go to slava to during the year.

  • Who is your families patron saint?

Milan’s family patron saint is Saint Theodore. The date of the Slava is by the Orthodox calendar, which can change depending on when Easter will be.

  • What are the rituals that you follow for your Slava?

We make the bread and zito (boiled wheat flavoured with nuts, spices and honey) and take it to the Serbian Orthodox priest, on the morning of the Slava. He blesses the food we made with red wine. After we spending the day with our closest family and friends and remembering the good that the particular evangelist did. 

  • What are some typical dishes served on Slava?

Typical dishes are sarma, pig or lamb on the spit, bob (broad bean paste), prebranac (baked lima beans), punjene paprike (stuffed peppers) or anything really, there are no rules about that. If a Slava falls in one of the fasting periods in the year, the Easter or Christmas fast, then you have to eat and serve only vegan on that day but if not, you can serve anything you like. Our slava is during a fasting period so we can’t use any animal products, except fish. So we make similar dishes but veganised. 

  • Do you hope that your kids will continue celebrating your Slava?

We hope Stefan continues to celebrate with his own family when he is older. The girls can too if they wish, there are no specific rules about that.

  • Can Marco and I pick a Saint and start our own Slava or is that against the rules?
You can pick up a Slava. I think it would be great to keep the tradition going. Marco’s slava is St Luka, that Victor’s father (Marco’s grandfather) used to celebrate. Zoran (Marco’s uncle) in Serbia celebrates St Luka as the oldest son and Dusan (Marco’s cousin and son of Zoran) will continue on. Victor (Marco’s father) could have here but he never really thought about it. It is on 31st of October and it’s called Luke the Evangelist in English, you can search it up
  • How many other Slava’s do you attend during the year? 

We attend a few in a year, almost all our friends celebrate a Slava. The slava outside the fasting period is usually the best. 


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Singapore Zoo: animal wonderland, rainforest oasis

On the third day of our holiday, we planned to have a break from site seeing in the city and visit the Singapore Zoo instead. The weather was meant to be perfect and Octavia was really excited to see all the animals.

Before we made our way to the zoo we thought we would have breakfast close to our hotel. I found it hard to find any cafes that were opened before 10am. Luckily attached to our hotel there an arcade with some restaurants and cafes. This is where we found the cafe Killiney Kopitiam.

This Hainanese coffee shop was originally opened in 1919 in Killiney Road, in the River Valley district of the city. It was known for its famous charcoal- grilled toast and hot coffees and teas. It was bought by a regular customer, Mr Woon in 1993, renamed and later franchised in 2001. You can now find Killiney Kopitiam locations throughout  Singapore, Asia and even in Melbourne, Australia. They offer classic Singaporean breakfast sets, such as kaya toast, french toast, soft boiled eggs and chee cheong fun. They also offer classic dishes including Chicken Curry, Mee Siam, Laksa etc.

For breakfast, I had a Kaya Toast set which included soft boiled eggs and Chinese Tea. Marco had the French Toast set with eggs and Kopi. This was my first time ordered kaya toast and I really liked it. The kaya was delicious and tasted like a coconut custard and the butter was nice and thick and melted nicely between the toast. My Chinese tea was also very nice and tasted like English Breakfast. Marco also liked his French Toast which is a nice variation.


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Restaurant Review: PappaRich, Garden City

Since I got back from holidays I have still been craving Singaporean food like crazy. I love the flavours and variety of the cuisine. Kway Teow, Laksa, Satay, Nasi Lemak, Roti, Kaya, Kopi…all so good. So when I discovered a new Malaysia restaurant serving all of my favourites I was over the moon. PappaRich recently opened a restaurant at Garden City Shopping Centre in Brisbane.

Pappa Rich is a Malaysian chain restaurant. They have locations in Wintergarden (Brisbane CBD) and Gold Coast. They have more locations across many cities in Australia, New Zealand, United States and Asia. Although PappaRich is a chain,  it doesn’t serve mass produce food. From what I could gather,  they are consistent with their quality and authenticity of Malaysian cuisine and the food is all cooked freshly on site.

The menu consists of multiethnic dishes from Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cuisine “with a twist of South East Asian flair”. So there are many of the classic dishes that I saw in Singapore, which also features all of these cuisines. The menu is broken into breads (eg. kaya toast), dim sum, noodles (eg. fried noodles, noodle soups), rice (eg. Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Lemak), roti (pastry with curry), satay (sticks), sharing (meat and vegetable mains), vegetarian, signature dishes (best sellers), desserts (eg. puddings, iced kacang), and beverages (eg hot or cold teas and coffees).


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Chinatown: preserving the heritage of yesteryear

Our next destination in Singapore was the vibrant, historical (and touristy) district of Chinatown. This was actually one of the places I was most excited to visit. That is because we were visiting close to the time of the Chinese New year and this is the year of the dog (Octavia’s favourite animal). I was also excited to try some good-quality Chinese food and visit the old temples.

Chinatown is historically a Chinese ethnic-centric area in the Outram district. It was actually named ‘Chinatown’ by the British. However, it was originally known as Niu che shui (Mandarin), meaning “bullock water-cart”, because the water supply was primarily transported by animal-driven carts in the 19th century. Chinatown features post-war historical shophouses, street hawking scenes and markets of yesteryear and is the only district in South East Asia that houses three different religious places of worship (Hindu, Muslim and Buddist). Although it is a very touristy place, where you can find plenty of souvenirs, it is also a part of the city where the heritage of yesteryear has been well preserved.


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Valentines Day: Double Shot Espresso, New Farm Park

Happy Valentine’s day friends! I hope you had a wonderful day and spent it with someone you love.

Did Valentine’s Day sneak up on you this year? It snuck up on us. I was aware it was coming but I didn’t get a chance to organise anything special for the day. Instead, we decided we would go out for brunch as a family. I actually wanted to start doing brunch somewhere different every week with Octavia (and Marco when available) and post my experiences on here, so this was the perfect opportunity to start today.

We decided to visit the cafe Double Shot Expresso in New Farm. This is one of my favourite areas of Brisbane and it has many lovely cafes throughout this affluent neighbourhood. What I really liked about this cafe was the almost alfresco dining and the extensive brunch menu. They also have an amazing array of sweets and pastries in their cabinet. If you have a canine companion you are also welcome to bring them along as well. Our dogs are no cafe-friendly dogs, but Octavia got a kick out of seeing some canine customers.

We started off with coffee of course, which was quite good. We are a little picky with our morning cappuccino, so it was nice to be treated with a nice one. Marco ordered the Eggs Benedict special with bacon, I had the Caramelised spicy mushrooms with poached eggs and sourdough and Octavia had the fresh baked croissant. All the dishes were nice and definitely above average in care that it took to prepare and generous in size. Marco really enjoyed his dish. I didn’t mind mine either, as everything was cooked well. I just wish I knew the mushrooms were going to be spicy and sweet. I should probably have checked what seasoning they were going to use before ordering since I made noodles the night before with sweet chilli sauce. I probably go with something else next time. Octavia really enjoyed her butter but did not want to eat her croissant. I don’t know what her problem was because it was delicious. It wasn’t the perfect French croissant but it was warm, with soft layers of flakey pastry and had a nice savoury flavour. So it was a pleasant experience at Double Shot Espresso so I would recommend them for a well made, satisfying breakfast or brunch and great coffee.


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