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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Age Run Melbourne - 27 July 2014 - 10K

I'm extremely lucky to have a job that allows me to travel to fantastic cities around the world.  And this year, with my resolution to compete in and complete at least one quarter/half/full marathon per month, I am even more grateful that, due to my work commitments, I get to participate in races in destinations that my bank account would not permit me otherwise.  Case in point: the Sussex Coastal Marathon back in March, and more recently, my July race at The Age Run Marathon in Melbourne.

My daybreak view of the assembly area at Federation Square from my room at The Langham, Melbourne.

Seeing that my past runs this year have been under mostly soggy and gray skies, I was kinda expecting the same in Melbourne as that was what I had been experiencing since I'd arrived three days prior.  And since it was winter (averaging about 6 to 8 degrees Celsius each day,) I braced myself for a cold, damp slog through 10 kilometers along the Melbourne streets.  Therefore I certainly wasn't expecting to see that, on the actual race day itself, the sun shone brilliantly above a stunning cloudless blue sky. So double and triple yays for that.
Our starting point across the street from The Arts Centre.

Getting in my stretches at Queen Victoria Gardens - something which I definitely don't do enough prior to my races

These are my best cheerleaders and supporters - the fantastic trio of Evelyn, Alex and Annabel - who patiently waited and hung out with me till the official start time.

Our pre-race huddle for good luck - my favourite photo of the race.

And we're off!  Despite paying AUD50 for the entry fee, the organizers did not give out T-shirts or any sponsored freebies, making it the stingiest (or most expensive, depending how you look at it) race I've taken part in.  But no matter, I got to rock my Emma T-shirt as a tribute to my goofy bull terrier who died last year after spending nearly 12 extremely well-fed years on this planet.

Refreshments (water and electrolytes) near the 3K mark.
The Clematis Pavilion at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne - as seen around the 4K mark.

Now, one of the best things about this race is the course outlay.  Getting to run on the fringes of several famed Melbourne parks and landmarks such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Flinders Park, Rod Laver Arena (home to the Australian Open,) and AAMI Park, not to mention along the banks of the Yarra River, was a super highlight.

Crossing the Yarra River between the 5K and 6K markers.
As seen at the footbridge right after the 8K marker: I love, love, love this sign more than any of the others I've ever seen along my races.  It's exactly what I ask myself as I pound each and every kilometre, and it's what keeps me trudging sprinting along to the finish line to collect my (finisher's medal) prize each time.

Next race: The Angkor Empire Marathon in Siem Reap, Cambodia - 17 August, 2014


Monday, July 14, 2014

Behold - The Breakfast Pizza

I might be coming a bit late into the game and I know it's not for everyone, but I just love this Breakfast Pizza that's served at Oolaa Petite.  Maybe it's because I have an egg fetish, but this pie - which is smothered in sausage,bacon, tomato, spinach, home friggin' fries, and yes, scrambled eggs - just absolutely nailed it for meon a hot Hong Kong summer's day last week.  

Blasphemy or pure genius? 
#WhoCares #Yummers

Oolaa Petite - 9 Star Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong. Telephone +852 2529 3823

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What's Your Perfect (Instant) Ramen?

Ramen is such a quintessential and ubiquitous part of the Asian culinary life; it's our comfort go-to food from childhood well into the present day.  Even after we have sampled more exotic and sophisticated dishes and ingredients in our adult years, time and again, we come back, like a bassist to a familiar chord, to the unassuming deep-fried instant noodles, in packet or cup form, complete with the MSG-laden soup mix and freeze-dried petrified "vegetables" (or, worse in some cases, "seafood.")

Even in this recent New York Times article about Roy Choi's own instant noodle recipe (and of course Momofuku's David Chang has often rhapsodized about ramen as well, and in fact, aguably built his career empire upon those noodles,) this dish can be served in a multitude of ways.  This was brought home to me when, during a casual chat my friends and I were having about how we cook our instant noodles, it became a passionate discourse on the intricacies involved in making the broth, to the complexities of the noodles' density and firmness (or lack thereof,) to the palatable advantages (or blasphemy) of adding certain condiments.

To settle our arguments in the tried and true put-up-or-shut-up fashion, we decided to have an instant ramen cook-off last weekend.

Our weapons of choice.

Each of us prepared our own noodles in our own special way and had a sample of everyone else's creation.  In the end, whilst there were some shows of appreciation and expressions of incredulity ("you put spam, egg and soy sauce in yours?") everyone, not surprisingly, declared their own as the best.

Here's what we made:

My Aussie friend Betty's perfect ramen recipe involves seafood flavoured noodles from Nissin (the pioneering mother of all instant noodle companies,) generously garnished with a can of spam, two whole eggs, soy sauce (because luncheon meat doesn't have enough sodium??), Chinese cabbage and enoki mushrooms.
Betty's creation.  I have to admit, that spam was a deliciously hedonistic touch.  And yes, it was salty as hell.
Evelyn opted for the same enoki mushrooms and Chinese cabbage, then added a whole whisked egg and prawn wontons to her Thai-based Mama-branded clear tom yum soup broth and noodles.

Harvard-bound Sarah kept it simple with egg and beef balls with her chicken-flavoured Nissin noodles.

This is, by far, my favourite condiment for instant noodles.  Heck, it's my favourite condiment for everything.
So this is my own instant ramen creation - a combination of brown and white enoki mushrooms, pork balls, and a whole lot of choy sum. My noodle of choice: Koka, made in Singapore, with allegedly no MSG.  

"Me and MEE" x 7

So it's true what Chef Choi said; making your own instant noodles is truly "your own personal journey."  Here's his take on his own favourite instant noodle recipe.

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