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Top 20: Best things to pack for a holiday …

Top 20: Best things to pack for a holiday …

DSC_00641. Noise cancelling head phones – Boarding a plane is like Russian roulette – you never know who you are going to sit next to. If you are next to a screaming baby or a heavy snorer, these will become your best friends.

2. Notepad & pen - Technology is great, but nothing beats pen and paper to write down tips you hear along the way, exchanging details or drawing diagrams for those large language barriers.

3. A printed itinerary – Customs is becoming more and more strict and many places require you to have printed itineraries and hotel bookings. I have learnt that lesson the hard way and trying to find an internet cafe with a printer after a long haul flight is not a great way to start or end a trip. Don’t think showing them your iphone will work!

4. A camera – this one might be obvious but with smartphones becoming more popular, people are becoming less inclined to pack a quality camera. Good luck trying to make that ‘totz amazeballs’ instragram photo look good blown up in the pool room.

5. Extra memory cards – don’t be left with no memory on your camera, better too many photos than not enough

6. Paw paw ointment – this little red tube is full of goodness – a lip balm as well a an insect bite, burn and rash cure all in one. It even cures nappy rash… hey, you never know.

7. Multi vitamins – there is one thing worse than being sick, and that is being sick while travelling. Berroca is a good way to start the day as it is packed with vitamins so you can get on the front foot to avoid getting sick and it even helps with self-inflict illnesses (hangovers).

8. A book – ipads and kindles might be convenient, but when your battery is flat or your stuck on the tarmac, you’ll regret not packing a good old fashioned paper back.

9. A rain coat – Good weather is never a sure thing, so be prepared and don’t use rain as an excuse sit around complaining that it rain ruined your holiday.

10. Warm socks – Even if it is the Middle East in summer you’re travelling to, you don’t want to be caught on a plane unable to sleep because you’re so cold. They can also double up as a good camera bag or to put delicate new purchases in.

11. Travel money cards – Credit card fees suck as do currency conversion fees and they can add up quickly. Save yourself the money and hassle and get some prepaid travel cards that act like credit cards without the ATM withdrawal fees, try and buy them then the exchange rate is in your favour.

12. iPad – long lay overs or planes without entertainment can become bearable with an iPad loaded up with TV series and movies.

13. Snacks – plane food sucks and I have a theory that is clogs your digestive system. Do you think airlines want 200+ people all needing to go to the bathroom on a 14 hour flight? I think not…

14. Small bag – a long day of exploring a city can be a drag with a huge handbag, pack a small one so you can travel as light as a feather. For the mean reading ñ all normal rules about the man bag go out the window when travelling, embrace it.

15. A Turkish towel or sarong - These are the perfect travel companion as they are light, take up minimal room and can become everything from a scarf, pillow, towel, sheet, or something to wrap yourself in when you’re going to temples or mosques.

16. Hand sanitizer – to sanitize your hands, obviously..

17. Face wipes or wet ones – hand cleaners, face cleaners, toilet seat cleaners, everything cleaners.

18. Tissues – Sad goodbyes to emergency toilet stops, tissues always come in handy.

19. A watch – Travel is one time that punctuality is completely necessary, don’t miss a flight because your phone died.

20. A large lightweight bag – make sure it can be folded into a tiny ball. It is always unrealistic to think you won’t go shopping at least once on a holiday. Save yourself the hassle of the last day rush around trying to buy an extra bag to carry all your new purchases home.

Oink oink,
Truffle Pig.

P.S. I am assuming you are all smart enough to remember a passport and tooth brush!

Spicy Chicken & Veggie Bowl ….

Spicy Chicken & Veggie Bowl ….

Quick, easy, healthy and tasty – those are usually the pre-requisites of mine when cooking at home. This recipe is like fried rice, without the rice, excess oil and weird looking prawns. Gluten free, grain free, fat free but not fun free.

What you need:

  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Half a brown onion, fined chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopping into small cubes
  • 2 large celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of bean sprouts, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful of green beans, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 400g of chicken mince
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of peanut oil
  • 3 birds eye chilli
  • 1 generous gulp of tamari sauce

What you need to do

  • Put the mince and garlic in a woke on  in the peanut oil and once cook, put to the side
  • Throw all the veggies except half of the bean sprouts and shallots into the wok with the tamari and a splash of water
  • While the veggies are cooking, lightly beat the eggs and cook in a saucepan on low heat to create an even, thin omelette then remove and chop it into strips
  • Once the veggies have softened place the chicken into the veggies along with the omelette for a minute or two while stirring until they all combined
  • Serve into bowls and top with bean shouts, shallots and fresh chilli then enjoy!

Oink ink,

Truffle Pig. 

Sydney’s Best Food Markets ….

Sydney’s Best Food Markets ….

 

Sydney is home to some amazing restaurants and cafes, but sometimes the best way to eat is straight from paddock to your pallet. Here is a list of the best fresh food markets in Sydney:

Bondi Farmer’s markers
Chai latte, beef pho, corn fritter, biltong, freshly cracked coconuts and produce from local farms – sound up your alley? Well head to Bondi state school on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm and enjoy food from one of the many food stands while picking up groceries for the week.

Perfect for: a lazy brunch in the sun


Everleigh markets
During the week this huge industrial space looks abandoned but it comes alive on Saturdays with local farmers and celebrity chef Kylie kwong selling food, flowers and everything in between. These markets are super popular so get there early.
Perfect for: the best quality produce

The Rocks Foodie’s Markets
Friday should always be celebrated with a good lunch to ease into the weekend. Instead of heading to the pub, the city’s corporate crowd are heading to the rocks every Friday to to enjoy a relaxed lunch and possibly the best gozleme in Sydney.
Perfect for: a cheap lunch.

Chatswood organic markets
These markets are undercover, so they are perfect for a rainy day. There are endless fruit and vegetables as well as fresh breads straight from the oven, beautiful cheeses and much much more.
Perfect for: certified organic produce.

Sydney Fish Market 

This fish market is the second largest of its kind in the world! You can see the markets in action from 5:30am when seafood buyers arrive to get ready for the auction. 52 tonnes of seafood is sold here per day but you can come here to enjoy a fresh seafood meal by the harbour.

Perfect for: Seafood, obviously.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

 

Buffalo Dining Club Review …

Buffalo Dining Club Review …

imageWhen I heard the name Buffalo Dining Club I immediately assumed there would be buckets of American style buffalo chicken wings, not mozzarella. But that is exactly what this hole in the wall specialises in – the white, plump, spongy cheese famous for making pizzas delicious.

The menu is small but that is usually a tell tail sign of a good restaurant that have become experts in perfecting their limited dishes. To start, you can choose from two cheeses which are then accompanied with your choice of sides like sweet honeyed carrots, crunchy tempura cauliflower, potato croquettes and broccoli teamed with a cured meat (my recommendation is the Jamon) and fresh bread. This is a fabulous, more robust take on the old fashion cheese board but be sure to leave some room for what’s to come…

The main menu consists of three options – all of which are pasta so gluten, paleo and fun-free dieters beware. I tried two of the three pastas, firstly the orecchiette lamb ragu which was rich in flavour with a favourable pasta to ragu ratio.

But the star of the show was the specialty spaghetti – garlic, olive oil, cracked pepper and cooked pasta thrown in a wheel of parmesan cheese and tossed around until the cheese melts and crumbles into the spaghetti which is then served onto your plate. Yep, that’s right, pasta prepared in a wheel of cheese right at your table. A hot tip (excuse the pun) – try this with their amazing homemade chilli sauce.Buff

Fresh, simple, rustic and delicious – the way Italian food should be. No wonder that have a loyal following and up to a two hour wait for walk ins. Book ahead.

The Bitter: The wait
The Sweet: I think that part is obvious – it begins with wheel and ends with cheese
The Damage: $140 for a sharing plate, 2 pastas and a lovely bottle of Shiraz.

Oink Oink

Truffle Pig.

A Guide to Vietnamese Street Food ….

A Guide to Vietnamese Street Food ….

Before visiting Vietnam I already loved the cuisine thanks to the exploding popularity of Vietnamese food in Australia. Although there are many good places to try here at home, nothing beats the real thing and I spent my 10 days in Vietnam eating my way through the country the best way possible – on the street. My suggestion is to ditch any restaurant reservations you have and eat like the locals do, you will have some of the best food you will ever taste.

How to find good street food:

  • If you see small plastic table and chairs – gravitate towards them. No, this isn’t a set up for a kids party, this is just how to eat in Vietnam. If you see local people gathering around them, join in. If they look at you funny, this is a good sign, it means they don’t accommodate for tourists and their food is authentic.
  • If you see people standing around or visiting a glass box with a lady standing behind it, line up. This usually means she is preparing delicious food, like banh mi, made to order.
  • If you see a congregation of scooters on the street, it usually means there is a congregation of locals enjoying lunch. Where ever the locals are eating, you should be eating.
  • If you want a coffee, listen for the loud pop or techno music and look out for lots of people sitting around – this is usually a good sign of a great coffee shop.

The best Vietnamese street foods to try:

Phở bò (beef noodle soup) – This is the bacon and eggs of Vietnam and the breakfast of champions. Pho (pronounced ‘fur’) is made from thinly sliced rare beef thrown into a steaming soup with rice noodles. Add chilli, bean shouts, lime and fresh herbs to suit your taste and enjoy.

Bánh mì (sandwich) –Thanks to the French influence, the Vietnamese have become masters at making the perfect baguette. You can fill our banh me with any combo you like – my favourite being the traditional roast pork with pate, chilli and fresh salad.

Cà phê (Iced Coffee) – Coffee in Vietnam is made with condensed milk and the results are phenomenal – icy, sweet and strong coffee make for the perfect combination.

Cao lầu (pork noodles) is a regional Vietnamese dish made with noodles, pork, and local greens, that is only found in the town of Hội An, in the Quang Nam Province of central Vietnam.

Cháo vịt-(duck noodles)- This dish is light, refreshing and made from shredded roasted duck with noodles, fresh vegetables and fried noodles for an extra crunch all swimming in a sweet sauce.

Cơm tấm (broken rice) – perhaps one of the most famous street foods is made from small rice, pork chops, fried eggs, sliced cucumber and tomatoes all brought together with a chilli flavoured fish sauce.

Gỏi cuốn (rice paper rolls) – another very popular dish in Australia which originated in Vietnam – fresh sheets of rice paper filled with vermicelli noodles, prawns and vegetables dipped in a sweet peanutty soy sauce.

There are just a few, there a millions more and I would love you to let me know which are your favourites so I can try them next time if I haven’t already.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Review of Capella Lodge – Lord Howe Island

Review of Capella Lodge – Lord Howe Island

Capella is the perfect example of relaxed luxury – spacious but cosy, private but social, simple but sophisticated, friendly but professional and absolutely perfect without being pretentious. Lord Howe has become one of my favourite places on earth, helped by the fact I got to stay in one of Australia’s leading luxury hotels, and there are many reasons why I will visit time and time again, here are just a few:

The food
With views overlooking the towering Mount Gower dropping into the beautiful blue sea, the restaurant itself is enough to make you enjoy your meal before you have even tasted it. Thankfully, the food just makes the experience a whole lot better. Guests are spoilt to a colourful, healthy breakfast buffet with the option of a hot dish from the changing daily menu.

Lunch can be served in the restaurant or in your suite, but it is best enjoyed at your favourite part of the island. There are picnic locations scattered all around the island, you can just let the friendly staff know where you want your lunch served and when, and they will do the rest. One of the highlights of my trip was finishing off a hike and snorkel on a secluded beach with a Capella hamper filled with garlic prawns, eye fillet with paris de butter and salad teamed with a crisp glass of Pikes Reisling… did I mention this place is heaven?

Dinner is just as enjoyable, there are daily cocktails and canapés which provide the perfect opportunity to meet other guests and exchange tips on activities so you can fill up the itinerary for the following day. Be sure not to fill up though because the dinner menu includes three courses and a changing menu. There wasn’t a bad meal served, but the highlight was always the seafood caught fresh from the lagoon only moments away.

The suites:
Whether you’re staying in the huge Lidgbird Pavilion spanning two levels with or a Capella Suite, you will feel like you’re living like a King. All rooms are beautifully furnished with postcard worthy views of the mountains, ocean and rolling hills. All suites have an outdoor area to enjoy the sunshine and plenty of room inside to make yourself comfortable.

The facilities:
The front deck which is home to arguable the best pool in Australia is the perfect place to do absolutely nothing which is a mandatory activity while on holiday. Or, you can enjoy the steaming hot tub under a canopy of tropical trees, perfect for unwinding after a day of snorkeling, hiking and riding. For some pampering you can also enjoy a range of beauty treatments, just make sure you book ahead. For when (if) you actually want to leave Capella to explore the island, you can cycle using your very own bike, or take one of their golf buggies for a spin.

The Service
Year round Capella is managed by the Grants, an incredibly hospitable couple who make you feel right at home. They are supported by a team of friendly staff who will help you with whatever you need – choice of wine, tea recommendation, picnic packing or photo taking.

Add Capella to your bucket list – so far it has been one of the best places I have ever stayed and the perfect place to enjoy Lord Howe Island. If I haven’t convinced you yet, perhaps this video below will….

The run down:

  • Price – very expensive but everything is included
  • Food – exceptional
  • Perfect for – honeymoon, special occasion

Oink oink,
Truffle Pig.

Getting there: Qantas fly direct daily from Brisbane and Sydney

For more information visit the Baillie Lodges website here.