Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Swissotel Sydney






My trip to Sydney was planned, it was decided ahead of time because I had wanted to attend the Night Noodle Market as I had never been to one of those event. Every now and then, you gotta treat yourself, this was why I booked myself into this luxury hotel. "Damned the cost, I said !!!" Hahhaha ;) Might start saving now for Sheraton on The Park for next year ....lol

So it was only natural that I would choose and book into a hotel closest to Hyde Park, which was within walking distance to the event. It was also right next door to Westfield Shopping Centre and across from Topshop which had the longest line. It would seemed that everyone in Sydney was queuing to get into the clothing store on the first day of opening.

The shuttle bus from the airport dropped me right outside the hotel. The entrance was via the concierge, to get to the lobby, one has to get into the elevator and take lift to the 8th level.

OMG!!! I just remembered whilst writing this posts that I did not checked for Fire exits out of building as one cannot use the lifts during a fire. It had just occurred to me right now, that I should have checked. Oh, how silly of me! You should ALWAYS checked your FIRE exits when you checked into a hotel. {Smacked} I think I left my brain behind as I even forgot to go to the newly opened Laduree in Sydney. I only remembered Laduree when I got home to Wagga. Sigh!

I was early getting into Sydney, so my room was not ready when I arrived. Check-in time is 2 o'clock. The nice receptionist checked me in and said she will call me on my mobile when the room was ready. It was noon so I decided to go for a drink and a wander next door, Westfield Sydney. I had lunch at the food court and had Thai food for lunch, it was yummy. And would you believe it? I forgot to go to Laduree!!! Argh!!!!


When I came back, I found that I had been upgraded to the Premier Room and my suitcase had been delivered upstairs. I booked a Classic room but I had joined the Swiss Circle members club when I did my booking. I was told that as a new member, I was given a free upgrade. I think this was only a one time thing like a Welcome gift. It was a nice room with balcony and I had the city skyline view. My room was at the corner of the hotel, so I had view of both directions.

It took me ages trying to work the Nespresso out because I am an idiot. The room does have a a kettle for tea facilities. When I did worked out how to use this thing, the coffee was so good! I am going to miss the Nepresso machine.

This was in my closet, there was two of them. I love hotel robes, so warm and fluffy and great to wear when going to the pool. There was also a couple of pool towels in the closet, should you feel inclined to go to the pool.

My room was actually a Premier room at the corner of the hotel so I had the city view of both directions. I forgot to take an evening photo of my room but feel free to check out their website for a gallery of images. Not quite sure why I took a pic of my messed up bed the next morning..... which I am not going to share here, LOL

I went to the pool in the afternoon. The Amrita Spa is just next door to the swimming pool on Level 10. There was also a gym on that level but there was no way I would go into there ;) This was my foodie weekend trip!

My favourite part of staying at most hotels are the pool, then the toiletries set in the bathroom, then the lobby bar. All in that order. Yes, I judge you in that order too ;) These are pretty amazing. I love the scent. The pool was a little small, but then that is normal for its location. I was not expecting beach resort style free form pool. This was inner city in a shopping complex.

See, they even give you a toothbrush/paste set just in case you forget to bring that along ;)

My gorgeous bathroom and shower. It was a pity that the shower head was not a rain water shower head but it was powerful and it didn't run out of hot water. I thought that the power point to the hairdryer was at a ridiculous spot. It is not suitable for the oldies ( like me...heheh ) to get down on our knees to plug it on.

I especially love the turn down service and it was accompanied with a chocolate on your bed and it was nice that housekeeping had adjusted the air-conditioning and turned on the soft music with the service. The room was nice and cool and look so romantic in the evening and I am still kicking myself for not taking a pic of my entire room.

Would I stay in this hotel again or recommend it to friends? Yes, I would. Totally. Your best assets are your crew. They are not intrusive, everything was done and thought of. Really appreciate your hospitality and many thanks to the concierge, reception and housekeeping and bar staff.





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The writer stayed at Swissotel Sydney at her own expense and this is not a paid advertorial.

Swissotel Sydney is located at
68 Market Street ▪ Sydney 2000 NSW ▪ Australia

Tel: +61 (2) 9238 8888 ▪ Fax: +61 (2) 9238 8899 ▪ sydney@swissotel.com



Friday, October 12, 2012

Qantas, Wag to Syd

To be honest, I have never liked Alan Joyce since he gave himself a pay rise amidst all that Qantas troubles, and so I was surprised that I booked myself on a Qantaslink flight to Sydney. I had sworn that I would never EVER fly them after my very bad experience flying with them in the 90s.

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I was not expecting much from this flight. An hour, each way, what can go wrong? I said to myself, "OK, no eye contact and no interaction, just get on the plane and get off." I think I was a little surprise when the cabin crew greeted and smiled genuinely at me when I was boarding the aircraft. It wasn't one of those, yup smile, next, smile, next, smile... kind of smile. Her eyes actually sparkled!

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I went to my seat, thinking " Meh, that can't be right.. they are usually grumpy, maybe this girl is from the country, not an uppity city girl at all and she is genuinely warm". Still unconvinced, I told myself, in any case they are QantasLink, so it doesn't count, they are not really the other QF crew.

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I was so wrong. On my return trip, I had gone to the wrong terminal. I spoke the "other Qantas" person and she was really friendly, polite and nice. She gave me directions to get to T2. So, a lesson learned here, I had one bad flight in the 90s, I still wouldn't spit on that stupid steward if he was on fire but I am thinking, I am going to give Qantas a chance to win me back. After all, everyone deserves a second chance, right?

Bad, so bad of me for painting them all with the same tar.

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Overall, the service was okay. I did enjoy the banana cake and cute little water bottle given.

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The flight was smooth, the sky was blue and Sydney was waiting for me. It was a great flight. Although, coming back from Sydney was another story, I had this big-assed lady that practically squashed me to the window screen, she hogged the armrest and coughed all the way without covering her mouth. I had to force myself to go to sleep just to shut her out from my world. True story!!!

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The landing was so smooth. I was impressed! Hardly felt a bump. Landed in Sydney on time, yay!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Night Noodle Market Hyde Park, Sydney


It was a very warm Spring evening when hundreds or even thousands descended into Hyde Park for this pop up event, Night Noodle Market which is part of the CRAVE Sydney International Food Festival.

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Meals are cooked to order and only the freshest ingredients are used by JackieM Malaysian Restaurant. I can see a lot of other stalls are prepping up for the rush, and the vendors are cooking their meals away whilst hungry and patient patrons line up and wait to order their meals for the evening. For some, the aroma reaches the nose before the foods can reach the mouth. It must be quite torturous, the waiting.

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For me, it was worth the wait. After tasting every morsel of the char kway teow which was a generous portion by the way with its fine wok breath, one can almost feel like one have been transported back to the street stalls of Malaysia. I also visited Mamak stall, for my all time favourites; satay. I could happily lived on satays alone if I were to give up carbs...but not tonite ;) because that char kway teow is just stupendous!

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And this is exactly what Noodle Night Market is all about. The park is transformed into a Street style hawker center,  just like ones, you see in Asia when you traveled. Here are the various stalls that are participating this year.

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NNM_map-stalls.pdf

Every year, for the month of October, the beautiful City of Sydney brings you CRAVE International Food Festival and the Night Noodle Market has become one of the regular event. Because of its success in the past, this year, the event has been extended to thirteen nights.

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I love this event and was sad to leave. I am already planning my next vacation, October next year and I will be staying longer to visit with this beautiful city of Sydney.

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*** To note, something quite different for this year; is the Noodle Lounge. For $79.95 per person, this includes your drink on arrival plus full menu – entrée, main, dessert and you get to lounge around and catch up with friends after work and eat fabulous hawker fare without the lines. How good is that? Drinks are provided by The Morrison Bar and there is a live jazz music to keep your feet tapping.*****

Where: Hyde Park North

When: October 3-5, 8-12, 15-19; 5-10pm

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Flavour of Malaysia, The Grace Hotel Sydney


Disclosure: Jackie and friend dined at the Flavours of Malaysia, Food Festival as guests of The Grace Hotel and Malaysian Kitchen Australia.

First of all, I just want to say how excited I am to be blogging about the Flavours of Malaysia, brought to you by Tourism Malaysia and The Grace Hotel, part of CRAVE Sydney International Food Festival in Sydney.

Malaysian cuisine is a melting pot of different cultures, the many regions of the country, spices and ingredients used makes it a truly a unique and amazing flavour. Yes, I am biased. I was blessed to be borne in that country and had the opportunity to live and eat there till my adulthood. Coming to Australia and years of living overseas has made me missed home, friends and families even more and more each year. I am lucky that I can fly home whenever I get homesick.

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How does one describe Malaysian food to a visitor or a newcomer to the taste?  To understand the  flavours of Malaysia, you would have learned from your History lessons in school, that Malaysia was colonized by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Then came the Asian immigrants from all over  Asia. It's ideal location, Peninsular Malaya, made it a good trading post for many things, one in particular, being the spice trade. It brought in all those beautiful aromatic spices, that you can now find in any Malaysian cuisine. And so it began, the flavours that were influenced from multi-ethnic groups. Our melting pot consists of Eurasians, Chinese, Indians, Peranakan (Chinese and Malay),  Mamak (Indian Muslims) etc. just to name a few. And we sure know how to put on a big feast ;)

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The chefs for this event, Flavour of Malaysia, was specially flown in from The Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. This event will showcase some of Malaysia's finest and much loved recipes ranging from famous hawker foods to authentic Nyonya dishes and more from the Northern region of Malaysia. This buffet is great opportunity for all to savour all those delightful favourite dishes among Malaysians. It is truly a gastronomic feast!


Ask any Malaysian and they will tell you that you don't say no to Malaysian food, let alone a Malaysian Buffet. I dream of Malaysian buffets every night. (True story, I really do.) I change my pillowcases often from the drooling alone. So for me, this invite was a great opportunity to get my Malaysian cravings fixed, plus to share this experience with you, my readers, about the Malaysian food campaign during the month of October for CRAVE.

Many of my regular readers will know that I live in country New South Wales, and sadly, I have to say that there are no Malaysian restaurants in the regional area. To get my fix, aside from my cooking Malay food myself, I would have to travel to the nearest cities such as Sydney, Melbourne or even Canberra.

And who doesn't love Malaysian food? Have you seen the line outside Mamak in Sydney? How about all those Malaysian restaurants in Sydney? JackieM in Concord, CintaRia, Nonya; they are always full with happy customers eating away. I'm so envious of Sydneysiders, as they have all these yumminess, right outside their doorstep.

Here are some mouth watering photos to give you an idea of what was at the buffet. If you are interested in more photos, click on this link My Flickr


I started off my lunch with an old favourite, Rose Bandung. I used to buy this at road stalls back home in my schooldays after school. It's basically rose syrup mixed with icy cold milk. Very tasty and sweet. I enjoyed the roti jala and roti canai, everyone's favourite for breakfast or snacks in Malaysia.

My all time favorite salad, Pasembur, especially ones from Penang. You add all the salads and condiments and topped it up with peanut sauce, similar to gado gado in Indonesia. Malaysian food has its similarities to Indonesia because of its close proximity and inter relations. A Malaysian pickle, also known as Achar. It is a mixed vege pickle, sweet, tangy and spicy. Great as a side dish to any mains.

Look at my plate of salad. I had the Squid Sambal, Achar, Pasembur and I tossed my own Rojak as well. Who's a clever gal?

Mixed veges; sauteed okra and eggplants on the left and Daging Masak Hitam, which basically translates to beef cooked in dark soy, heavily spiced of course, with cardamon, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and fennel and most likely to have chillies and brown sugar as well. Sort of like your Chinese Black Beef Pepper but Malay style.

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This is what I had for lunch. I had the chicken rendang, mamak goreng ( noodles), chicken satays and roti jala. I love satays and could have happily live on satays alone. The was sambal prawns as well, I was a little dissapointed that there was no stinky beans (petai) with the sambal prawns. Gotta love those sambal udang with petai beans. Example on the book cover below, green petai beans.

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This is my favourite snack. You grab all the fruits and mixed and tossed it with shrimp paste and topped it off with peanut crunch and sesame seeds. Crunchy and yummy. Another Penang favorites of mine. Various fruits can be used;
Green mango
Pineapple
Cucumber
Jambu air, not sure of the English translation.

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These are various types of sambal sauces, aka love of my life. I could drink these. Can you tell I am from Kedah state? We sure can handle our hot chillies.

To cool your burning tongue, you can try this dessert; Ais Campur. Basically, it means to add everything to shaven ice. Also on the buffet are various nyonya kuihs like ondeh ondeh, kuih talam, kuih bingka, kuih lapis. Kuih lapis a favourite childhood teatime snack of mine. I like to eat mine by peeling them a  layer at a time by layers. How do you eat yours?

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It was definitely a delicious lunch, I was amazed that I could walk back after all that food. It certainly was good to meet up with foodie friends and enjoying this wonderful spread. I could have taken many more photos of the main dishes but it wouldn't be fair to the other diners trying to get to the wonderful dishes.

Many thanks to Grace Hotel Sydney and Malaysian Kitchen Australia for this opportunity.

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Grace Brasserie at the Grace Hotel
Level 2, 77 York Street, Sydney

Flavours of Malaysia
Dates: October 5-21, 2012
Times: Lunch Monday-Friday and Sunday 12pm-2pm
Dinner Friday and Saturday 6pm-9pm

Cost: Lunch Monday to Friday $38, Lunch on Sunday $48, Dinner $48
Bookings: +61 (02) 9272 6636
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