Monday, June 30, 2008

Krispy Kreme Drive

Smoking baffles me to this day. I don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would actually pay good money and buy something they know can only do them harm. Smoking gives one bad breath, stains teeth, and just makes the smoker stink, literally. Those are minor compared to where smoking would eventually take ones health. There are lots of studies sighting smoking as the cause of (certain) cancers. So, why do people still do it? I just don’t get it! Society seems to be moving in the right direction though with the implementation of smoking bans in some public places.

What connection does smoking have with Krispy Kreme you might ask? Well, to me they are both addictions. I don’t smoke but you might say I have an irrational liking for this glazed deep fried dough from Krispy Kreme. I know it’s not good for me but I do not care! I’ve always had a liking for donuts but Krispy Kreme changed that to something akin to a love affair.

Krispy Kreme in the new chocolate themed boxes

Ever since I moved to Australia I was always in the quest for good donuts. There’s Donut King, Mister Donut and a quick appearing/disappearing act of Dunkin’ Donuts. Donut King can be found in most major Australian shopping centres. They serve really good cinnamon donuts. There’s Mister Donut. They only have one branch in all of Queensland that I know of, at Surfer’s Paradise. They serve good donuts but the drive to the Gold Coast to get them is not justifiable. The donuts are good but not great. Then there’s Dunkin’ Donuts! They serve a really good selection of donuts but their appearance in Brisbane was quite short lived. Too many branches too quickly with lots of money spent on advertising (I think…). The company didn’t even last a year.

And then there’s Krispy Kreme! They used to be available only in the southern states which made them a lot more precious. I could only get them whenever I travel to Sydney. I would specifically request a stopover in Sydney (if possible) regardless of where I’m going just to get a box (or 10) of these little tastes of paradise. Yes, I am crazy…for Krispy Kreme! I don’t care if I had to take the red eye flight or delay my arrival an extra couple of hours. I DON’T CARE! A bite of these little clouds of heaven was more than enough to make everything seem alright.

He's making a list, and checking it twice... (Brendan, not his real name)

The best news is they are now open in Queensland! I do not have to wait a month or so to get fresh Krispy Kreme donuts. I can get them everyday if I want to!

The List

My devotion to Krispy Kreme must have rubbed off to some of my work colleagues! You might call it “second hand Krispy Kremeing”. Just last week one new devotee (we’ll name him Brendan to keep his identity a secret) embarked on a Krispy Kreme drive at work. It’s not for charity, silly! He just took it upon himself to get everybody’s orders and go to the nearest Krispy Kreme shop and buy them for his colleagues. My kind of hero!

covert distribution of "the goods" (Peter & Tramy, again not their real names)

my share of "the goods"

BEWARE, “second hand Krispy Kremeing” does not last very long. Soon enough one becomes a definite addict! *evil laughter* BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lunch Club

The 1st rule of Lunch Club is, you do not talk about Lunch Club…

For anyone who’s seen the movie Fight Club you’ll know what I’m talking about otherwise…..don’t worry ‘bout it.

We’ve finally come up with a name for our lunch group. Yes, it is called Lunch Club as you’ve probably inferred. It’s simple and yet at the same time clever and catchy!

There are four of us in Lunch Club meaning four great lunches each week with a free day for eating out (or consuming leftovers).

Who are we then? Well, there’s me, of course. We’ve got a lady from Vietnam, a male colleague from the Lion City. And last, but not the least, an English Rose.

What brought us together then? It’s simply for the love of good food. Lunch is usually sacrificed as the meal where “you just grab what you can” part of the day and just continue on working. I didn’t feel that was right and I’m glad I’ve got at least three workmates who agree. And so, Lunch Club was born.

One common trait among us is the willingness to try anything. Lunch Club would allow us to explore not just the food we are used to but more so the food we are not used to. It’s an adventure everyday at 12.30pm…

Conversations mainly revolve around food but no topic is off limits (as long as you can manage to eat and talk about the subject at the same time!) Just today we’ve moved from talking about pig skins to status anxiety as discussed by Alain de Botton. Wow! How sophisticated!

Anyway, it was our English Rose’s turn today. She has brought couscous salad with fresh tomatoes (our Miss Saigon didn’t care too much for fresh tomatoes, btw).

tomatoes being added to the couscous

There was also lamb that have been marinated in a Moroccan style spice mix then grilled.

grilled marinated lamb fresh from the microwave

The lamb was served with a very tasty bean/spinach/tomato/onion/spice sauce. Have a look at the photos and drool…..

our table

Welcome to Lunch Club!

my plate

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Office "Group Lunch"

workplace dining tables

They say “necessity is the mother of all inventions”. I wonder who “they” are but “they” are probably right. It’s very cliché but “necessity” is exactly the reason why I “invented” (with a lot of assistance from my work colleagues) this “group lunch” thing we’ve got going on in our workplace.

pretty well equipped kitchen... with 2 working espresso coffee machines (and 2 microwaves and 2 fridges)

This week is the third week running of this “group lunch” thing. I think I should come up with a cleverer name for what we are doing…………………………………… *still thinking*………………………

bar area?

The rising price of petrol (and everything else, for that matter) had a lot to do with me helping to start a lunch group in the office. The other major contributing factor is the fact that good (read: cheap & edible) eateries are quite a distance away from my workplace. How do I get around this dilemma then??? DING! Why not start a lunch group! Perfect! You’ll get to eat edible grub (almost) everyday of the week and at the same time spend less (I spend at least $60 a week on lunch). A good curry for four cooked at home costs less than $60 I guarantee you.

my green curry chicken w/ freh herbs

The idea is one member would bring a dish that is plenty enough to feed four hungry, hardworking, dedicated, good-looking Mono’s (name of company) employees once a week. Each member has chosen a day to cook. Although the schedule has been set there is always a “provision” to change days ‘cause as you know all of us are hardworking, dedicated, good-looking Mono’s employees. There might be days when our chosen “cooking day” will not be suitable due to “work” commitments.

jasmine rice, cucumber salad, green curry chicken

Today being Thursday is my turn to bring my food. For lunch today we’ll be having:

Fresh Lebanese cucumber salad (dressing optional)

Steamed Jasmine rice

Thai green curry chicken

I’m not commenting on my own cooking. I’ll leave that to my colleagues.

I’m looking forward to lamb and couscous tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Qantas – Engineering Industrial Action part 2

I am writing this piece in Gladstonia. My flight early this morning (6.20am) was not affected by the industrial action. The Qantas engineers are demanding a 5% pay rise but the management is only willing to give 3%. Hopefully it’ll be clear by tomorrow. I don’t want to be stuck in Gladstone for another night. Also, I’ve already got appointments set for Thursday.

no tarmac for De Havilland DHC-8 400 Series (QF2300)

A colleague of mine just advised me that things might get worse as Qantas engineers are planning to have a nationwide strike tomorrow.

Because of this industrial action even the Qantas website was slightly affected. I didn’t manage to check-in online as that facility was not available for my flight. I had to be extra early to go through the whole check-in process. But thankfully, as mine was quite an early flight Brisbane airport was not yet that busy by the I got there. But I was quite surprised to see when I checked-in (using the check-in kiosk) that there were only two unallocated seats left in QF2300. It’s either the online check-in was made available again last night or everyone else on the flight were at the airport much much earlier than me.

boarding pass printed by the check-in kiosk

Anyway, thanks to my Gold frequent flyer (GFF) status, I always get my seat preference allocated to me (window on domestic flights) most of the time.

The flight was quite uneventful (which is the best kind, if you ask me!). We were served muffins, orange juice, water, tea/coffee, and some sesame seed snack that was quite tasty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take any photos this time as I had no other camera with me apart from the one in my phone. It was a total “mobile ban” on this flight.

SWAINs Fish & Chips, Tooloa St GLADSTONE

Fish, chips, calamari, lemon wedges all in one box (the beforemath)
SWAINs Fish & Chips Toolooa St, GLADSTONE
1 sweet lip battered & chips $9.90
1 calamari crumbed $2.50
1 Lipton Iced Lemon Tea $2.80
1 Tartare sauce $0.20
Lemon wedges

Swain’s is quite an unassuming fish & chips shop. There is no big signage proclaiming the name of the place or how good the food is. You actually wouldn’t know what the name of the shop is unless you look really closely. The front of the shop simply says “Fish & Chips”. It’s quite easy to miss, actually. It just looks so ordinary you wouldn’t think something extraordinary can come out of it.

the main signage

the other signage with a tiny strip that says Swains

Gladstone is not really my favourite destination. But knowing I’ll be able to visit Swain’s always makes the trip a little more enjoyable. Thanks to my boss who introduced me to the joys of meals at Swain’s. I almost missed the opportunity as when I first visited it with my boss it was actually closed. Note to all, Swain’s is closed on Mondays! So, we tried again the next day and from then on I was hooked (pardon the pun)! If I’m in Gladstone all week I’ll be visiting Swain’s all week (except Monday, of course!).

I like my fish battered. I want none of those low fat grilled crap. I believe there’s no other way to have fish & chips but battered. Swain’s batter was light enough to just coat the fish and keep it nice and crisp. It has just enough flavour not to overpower the taste of the fish itself. And the most important thing of all, the fish is always fresh! How do I know? It does not taste fishy at all, that’s how I know! It tastes of the sea not fish saucy!

Who would have thought that frying chips would be so hard? It’s such simple food that if not done right it turns out to be a disaster! My idea of the perfect chip is like this. It has to be right size. It has to be about 5mm in thickness and approximately 10mm to 15mm wide, no more. And that’s exactly how Swain’s chips are. And the best thing…they are fried to perfection. Crunchy on the outside, soft and on the inside. The inside has to be like freshly mashed potato with nothing added yet. None of those al-dente chip crap. My chip has to have no bite at all!

The calamari was a bit of a disappointment though. I think it would be a lot better if fresh squid was used. The calamari has to be just the right size (not huge ones which tend to be tough). To get around this Swain’s common practice is to cut the main body of the calamari into “tentacles” rather then rings. It turns out alright most of the time. But it was just a bit tough today.

Nevertheless, the whole meal was still excellent! I’m giving it an 8.5 rather than a 9 because of the calamari.

the aftermath

Monday, June 23, 2008

Qantas - Engineering Industrial Action

It had to happen to me, eventually!

With the amount of travelling I do every year I have been lucky enough to avoid being stranded due to industrial action. I’ve had flights cancelled/rescheduled/delayed etc. but not due to industrial action. But tomorrow might be my lucky day as Qantas engineers will walk off the job again for the second day this week.

Qantas 767 that regularly flies the BNE-DAR route

Honestly, I am not too worried as I am still in my home town. If the flight is cancelled I would just have to go back home. It’s a totally different story if I’m in some war torn land with no more available flights till…..the war is over!

View from my seat

What is industrial action anyway? Well, it’s “welga” in Filipino. The engineers are demanding higher pay than what Qantas is willing to give kaya may welga. With the ever increasing price of petrol not just in Australia but around the world the company used it as the main reason for the rejection of the workers demands.

Anyway, I’ll tell you what actually happens next time I get the opportunity to write again.