Netflix Recommendations- Archer seasons 1 – 3

Can you ever be too old to watch animated TV shows? Not when it’s naughty, like seriously naughty like this!

I was starting to run out of stuff to watch on Netflix, resorting  to randomly asking Google to play this or that, working my way through my list of 471 shows to watch. But to little success (finding that many programs were no longer available on the Australian Netflix library). Boo! But what Google did locate was Archer.

Oh boy, this animated series contains adult themes. Like really bad, can’t be repeated jokes in public kind of bad. And after the first couple of episodes, my wife told me that she was out. It was too crude for her.

So I resorted to watching it in secret, before she came home from work each night. Guilty!

Until one night when she came home earlier than anticipated and caught me watching cartoons which make   Futurama, American Dad and Family Guy seem utterly family friendly!

The premise of the series focuses on Sterling Malory Archer, a self-obsessed but highly capable secret agent; his mother who runs the spy agency he works for; and his fellow spies and support staff who keep the International Secret Intelligence Service running. It’s like James Bond meets ‘The Office’, it’s as much espionage as its workplace shenanigans.

The themes are all inappropriate, politically incorrect, and offensive to many……. But it is humorous though.

After being found out (due to kick-starting an episode later than usual, and wifey coming home earlier than anticipated), But I only had 5 minutes to go so I continued watching, aiming to get to the end of the episode before I had to explain myself…… But as she was going about her own business I heard her chuckle from hearing some of the dialogue (you find yourself laughing, even though you know you ought not to).

But to cut a long story short, let’s just say we’ve now finished season 3 (of 10), but I’ve heard from season 4 onwards it’s not as funny as it used to be so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep following………..

But if you haven’t watched Archer before, and you’re curious to know how bad can it be (and how inappropriately funny), check it out at your own risk- just ask your smart speaker to “Play Archer on Netflix”.

Lana: “Don’t say it Archer!”

Archer: “Whoo!!”

Macchiato- Sydney CBD

From ashes, rises a phoenix?

It had been such a long time since we’d last been to Macchiatos, methinks we haven’t been back since the renovation after the small kitchen fire which closed them down and sparked (both figuratively and literally) the shop’s face-lift? And sitting down, it struck me in how large this place really is (for Sydney CBD standards at least), it’s spacious and airy, but anything it’s not is bright (dim mood lighting).

Throughout the week I was longing to come back to Macchiato, surprisingly able to recall each time we’ve been here – once when we ordered the set-menu for 2 (I think it was only $70) where we received a large bowl of salad, a garlic bread (in the form of a medium sized pizza), 2 plates of pasta, and 2 New York cheese cake slices (that was year 2012); another time when my wife had just returned back to work that week after a brief career break and we had this awesome pizza with a dollop of lemon-y mayo on-top (that was 2013); and the last time it was with colleagues for a team lunch, it was memorable because that year I was working so close to home that our team lunch was closer to home than it was to work (that was also in 2013). So it has been a while since we’ve been back to Macchiatos.

But little remains from the old Macchiato store – the interior feels completely different, the menu is utterly extensive (and expensive), and even the front door has moved streets! Previously opening out onto Pitt Street, but now you enter via Liverpool.

Even up to this morning I had toyed with the idea of ordering another set-menu for two just for old-times-sake (although the first time we were seriously full even after the starters), but no surprise….. A $70 set-menu was no longer on the menu. But also craving Lasagne all week long (we don’t have a working oven so can’t make our own), I naturally ordered that ($25). My wife ordered the Grand woodfire panino ($23), and a Tiramisu milkshake to share ($12).

I was just starting to get a little impatient with the wait time (it was more than 10 minutes but probably less than 15) when the milkshake finally arrived, but literally a minute later our meals also arrived – it was a seemingly long wait for drinks, but a really short wait for food though!

For $12, we had expected something larger (perhaps in an old school milkshake glass)? And we had also expected something thicker and more indulgent? But instead it was in an averaged sized jar mug, it was thin like milk, and just tasted like store-bought flavoured milk- no sign or residue of any tiramisu cake being blitzed into the drink. Boo!

For $25 we had expected a large wedge of Lasagne, but instead we were served a medium narrow slice (bordering on being described as small), but a decent serving of side salad though.  The lasagne was creamy, rich, and moreish! But there just wasn’t more to hit the spot. And the salad, perhaps it was just because I happened to get a mouthful of raw onions? But it was so intensely raw onion-y that I had that same feeling of a nose rush when you’ve just consumed too much wasabi! And I was left with the taste of raw onion for hours afterwards. Yuck.

And for $23, the Grand Panino was the only dish which met our expectations, as it was pretty huge! The Panino was crunchy on the outside, but soft and fluffy on the inside; the filling wasn’t that equally distributed though, so within my half I had heaps of rocket and only a thin slither of aged meat, when my wife had too much of the meat and the other corner was just all caramelised onions; and the feeling of fullness from the meal was largely due to the hefty carbs from the Panino. Along with the sandwich, it came with a large serving of hot chips – it was probably the oil it was deep fried in (methinks it hasn’t been changed in a while), but each fry tasted like calamari rings. Which isn’t a problem if your chips taste like seafood when you’re having fish & chips, but a little weird when you’re not.

Our end verdict, 2.5 from 5, which is a below average score (1.5 from 3.0 for Food (everything we had was ok, but after every positive element of a dish I found myself saying  ‘but’ as there was always a negative to each dish); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (as the staff were all polite); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the venue actually reminded me of restaurants in the States, being large and spacious); and 0 from 1.0 for Value for Money (Look, it is expensive to eat out in the city I get that, but $12 for flavoured milk? And $25 for a small serving of Lasagne?)).

In conclusion, Macchiato looks and feels way more up-market now, compared to how it was prior to the fire and subsequent renovations – but we’re simple people and for us the old Macchiato held something special and memorable for us. Today we’d probably remember our lunch at Macchiato for all the wrong reasons, and I’m sure give it a couple of months we’d forget the entire experience. Unlike the previous 3 times (over 6 years ago) where I could recall exactly what we had and what was going on in our lives at the time. Sadly, I can’t see us ever coming back. Yes, from the ashes a more aesthetically appealing Macchiato did re-emerge, but today it just didn’t do it for us.  

Macchiato- Saturday 15 June (2.5 Stars).

https://www.macchiato.com.au/

Ph: (02) 9262 9525

Shop 2 /338 Pitt Street, Sydney

Mon – Fri 7am – 12 midnight

Sat – Sun 8am – 12 midnight

Product Recommendation- Dyson filter

Do you remember the very first time you turned on your brand new Dyson vacuum cleaner? Remember how strong the suction was? How it gripped onto the carpet (and anything you passed over- intended or unintended)? And how grunt-y the engine and the whirling head sounded?

Now think back to the last time you used your Dyson. Was the suction as furious as you remembered it to be that very first time? If your answer is “no”, it’s not because you’re desensitized to the power suction of a Dyson, but it’s because the suction power of your Dyson just isn’t as strong as it used to be when it was fresh out of the box.

But you can regain that incredible sucking power!!!!! This is how!

Ok, it was an unintended outcome. We basically purchased a new Dyson vacuum filter because after having our Dyson for 4 years, we noticed that our filter smelt really bad! Imagine the smell of a wet dog? But multiply that stench by 10 times! And that was the level of odour coming out of our vacuum cleaner. Yuck! We were so annoyed by it that we purchased a new filter online.  

And the outcome……the very first time I turned it on, I had the smile back on my face again, that very same smile I had 4 years ago when I first used the Dyson – feeling that incredible suction for the first time. So it seems the key to the Dyson’s power is the filter! So for less than $30 (including shipping) our Dyson has been restored to its prior glory, where you can hear all the dirt and particles of sand being sucked up the rod only after a single pass over. It saves time and effort, and most importantly minus the stench!

So if you would like to return your Dyson back to levels of performance which made you first fall in love with cleaning? Just Google around to locate a replacement filter right for your style of Dyson. It’s definitely worth the relatively small amount of money!

Note:

Filters should be washed (and properly dried-out in the sun) once after every 3 uses.

And be prepared to replace your filter at least once every 4 years.

Podcast Recommendations- Tech Guide

First there was Jeff, then there was Mario, but here to stay is Stephen Fenech!

I’m subscribed to over 24 podcasts, but the podcast which I eagerly await the most is Tech Guide, when the latest episode is uploaded after midnight on a Monday night, here I am listening to it on a Tuesday morning at 5am. Hot off the press, as they say!

Tech Guide is a weekly Australian podcast which covers Tech news, Tech reviews, and answers listeners’ tech questions. It’s a quick 40 min weekly dose of all-you-need-to-know in tech – so that you’re up-to-date with all that is going on in the tech world.

The podcast attracts an older crowd (so I’m not their target audience) but I’m there for the information, not just there to be entertained. And it’s rare to find a locally produced tech podcast, there are many American tech pods out there – but what is the point of being informed about products which may or may not ever reach Australia’s shores? I used to listen to the pod on a Saturday morning while I had my breakfast (like the Saturday paper) – the blue ribbon podcast time-slot of the week! But even listening to it 5 days after it’s been uploaded, some of the news has already become old news! Yes, technology does go out-of-date that quickly!

Our host Stephen Fenech literally attends every launch and media review; he tests and uses every product he talks about; and would even go in and bat for listeners if you’ve been stuffed around by a company! He’s like a Tech journalist super-hero! And if 40 mins a week isn’t enough for you, you can read his news, reviews and tech support articles in full on his website TechGuide.com.au

Because I listen to Tech Guide, it’s enabled me to have “intelligent” tech conversations with colleagues at work; I sometimes have ground-breaking tech recommendations for friends; and on the odd occasion we even buy the latest tech product which I had heard of, being at the head of the line as an innovator (beats being the late majority- where I used to be with tech adoption).

So if you always like to be in-the-know with technology, and you like to be spoon-fed your information, check-out Tech Guide the podcast! Drops every Monday night! Enjoy!    

A Weekend of Happy Returns

What are long weekends all about? Chilling out and eating! And boy did I eat and eat this weekend!

Hong Kong Kitchen– Sydney CBD (Thursday dinner)

It all started as soon as I downed tools for the long-weekend (taking Friday off to make it a super long weekend!). I was catching up with my folks, so considering that they were from the ‘old country’ and hadn’t tried Hong Kong Kitchen before – I thought it would be a nice treat to take them to an authentic Hong Kong Char Chaan Teng. I didn’t need to study the menu as I already knew what I wanted, I naturally went with my fave – the Baked Pork Chop Rice with a cup of hot Góngsīk náaihchà to warm-up my freezing bones. My dad had the baked fish pasta dish, while my mum ordered the Corn and Chicken Rice. I think they were pleased with their Chinese-Western style dishes, while my pork chop was an inch thick, but yet so tender! And being covered in melt-y cheese and tomato sauce…..come to think of it, it actually reminds me of the good old Chicken Parmigiana. Needless to say I went home very satisfied- while my parents kicked on to check-out Vivid on their own.

Belles Hot Chicken– Haymarket (Saturday lunch)

And after some retail therapy on the Saturday morning (basically getting warmer clothing to ward off the cold) we finally got a chance to head back to Belles Hot! I had been craving chicken and waffles for weeks and weeks now, so it was a no-brainer that I elected the 3 pieces of chicken drumstick with waffles! But the only thing I had to toss-up between, was the level of heat which I thought I’d be able to tolerate (on a 1-6 scale). And since I’d tried ‘Hot’ (Level 3) and survived, I thought it was time to up the ante- electing ‘Really Hot’ (Level 4), while there were still ‘F-in’ hot’ and ‘Sex Panther’ levels awaiting me if I was man enough. My wife elected Wings and Fries at the ‘Hot’ level and to wash that all down we ordered the Arnold Palmer house drink which was a blend of homemade lemonade and homemade ice tea. Yum!

‘Very hot’ was definitely a level reserved for guys & gals with a good spice tolerance. I knew I was in for a battle when after the first 2 bites my lips started to swell up, my mouth was in physical pain (anywhere the chilli powder/oil had touched), and each of my facial orifices were leaking its respective fluids (not a pretty sight). After drumstick one, even placing the fluffy soft waffle with its moreish sticky syrup into my mouth, caused physical pain on contact. And I love my wife so so much! She offered to swap me one of her Hot wings, for one of my Really Hot drumsticks, to save me from my self-inflicted torture. She said the look on my face, reminded her of the time when I took on the hottest burrito challenge and almost died from it. Haaha.

In the end, we were both suffering with burning mouths. And when we looped back to eat the milder ‘Hot’ wing, in comparison the wings tasted like child’s play! You could almost gift the drumlet to a toddler to teethe on! Haaha. But we survived to eat another meal….. Only a handful of hours afterwards. Hehehe.

Golden Century– Haymarket (Saturday dinner)

As my wife’s uncle from the States was visiting Sydney for the first time – the proper place to dine at was at Chinatown’s best Seafood restaurant- Golden Century! With my folks along for the ride, it was lucky that we had made a table booking for 5, although with the reservation we still had to wait for at least 10 minutes before our table was ready. And as my dad is a planner, he had already devised a list of dishes from studying their online menu, which he dictated to the waitress to take-down.  We had a good variety of meats (pork, duck and chicken), a good selection of veg (broccoli, asparagus, and tofu), and of course seafood (scallops and crab).

After the waitress had taken our orders, the food literally came out faster than we were seen to our table! In less than 10 minutes all 6 dishes were served-up, just as we finished our complementary soups. All of the food were tasty (although a little bit temperature cold), and there was so much food that we each had to take it for the team to clear the plates. The scallops were the highlight for me, they were large and fat, but you could tell that they were originally frozen (Mr. Wong being the Scallop bench-mark where they serve their’s fresh). But on the whole, the food was still a notch above your usual Chinatown Cantonese restaurants – and we liked the complementary desserts, which included fresh fruit, sweet soups, and baked/deep fried goods. And after our dinner together, we headed out to watch the 9pm Darling Harbour fireworks.

Sydney Pork Rolls– Haymarket (Sunday lunch)

As we were planning to have all-you-can-eat hotpot for Sunday dinner, we thought we’d better have a lighter lunch. Our go-to budget light lunch venue is Banh Mis from Sydney Pork Roll on George Street! Their shop has gone through a bit of a refurb, as the service counter is now almost pushed right out onto the street, now like a hole in the wall where you place your orders and watch your banh mi being created from scratch (the ladies asking you if you want chilli in your rolls). The humble pork roll has gone up in price to the round figure of 5 bucks, but where else can you be completely filled for $5? Today we just went with their traditional pork rolls without chilli (still a little traumatised from Belles Hot) and we took these babies back home to have.

We have to admit that the Banh Mis seemed to have less filling within them, compared to their $4.70 days. In the past shallots, coriander and pickled carrots would be falling out of the roll. And the paper-bag in which it came in, would be soggy from all the soya sauce and mayo which would leak out of it. But oddly this time our paper bags were dry and drippings-free. Despite the price hike and seemingly less ingredients, they still hit the spot!

Munich Brauhaus– The Rocks (Sunday Dinner)

After showing our uncle around the city on the ‘I’m Free Walking Tour’ which lasted from 2.30pm to 5pm, the tour finishing up at the Rocks – so it didn’t make any sense to try get back out of Circular Quay with Vivid about to start in a matter of minutes. So we decided to ditch the plans for hotpot back in Chinatown, and we ended up having Bavarian at The Rocks! But I have to admit, I was pretty devastated to find out that the iconic Lowenbrau Keller was gone, taken over by ‘The Bavarian’ chain of restaurants- the Lowenbrau replacement, named Munich Brauhaus. The signs which you could tell that they’re not the same, is when you hear the staffs’ Aussie accents and the music they played was just popular pop-music. But we tried not to let these changes dampen our night, so best way to combat disappointment was with a platter consisting of 5 different ways to consume pork (sausages; slow-cooked with crackling; the whole knuckle; braised with smoky sauce; and inside a fluffy Chinese Bao). And for good measure we ordered sides of sauerkraut and red cabbage, and as starters we had a soft pretzel each.

The food was soo good! The pretzel hit the spot after an afternoon of walking and building up a healthy appetite- the pretzel was quite salty from the large grains of salt and the salty melted butter. And the pork in all its forms were tasty! The star being the pork belly bao, while I’m sure the table next to us were able to hear us crunch into the pork crackling from the slow cooked pork belly.

The set menu for 3 was so large that we didn’t even attempt to tuck into the star of the platter, the pork knuckle, which was larger than my fist. In the end we had to doggy bag the pounds of meat, hopefully the once crunchy crackling wouldn’t be too disappointing after a night of refrigeration and microwave-ation. And when we were done, we shuffled our way along Circular Quay, following the seemingly hundreds of thousands of people who had also elected this night to check-out Vivid.

Now that’s some crazy 72 hours of eating! Now what I have to look forward to, is to squeeze back into my work pants on Tuesday morning. *Cries into hands*. But that’s a true ‘Weekend of Happy Returns’!

Exploring Sydney- ‘I’m Free Walking Tours’

It’s fun being a tourist in your own city! I have to admit it gave me a great sense of pride, and I’m sure it’s this same sense of pride which motivates young people to become a ‘I’m Free Walking Tour’ guide – tours departing from Town Hall Square twice a day at 10.30am and 2.30pm, rain, hail, or shine.

Today we joined our first Sydney City walking tour, as my wife’s uncle was visiting from the States and what better way to see Sydney – but by foot! On this somewhat warm winter’s afternoon, at 2.15pm we found the guides in their light green ‘I’m free’ T-shirts, and we hung about until 2.35pm when the group was adequately large enough to set out walking.

The tours are in theory free, but in practice you’re encourage to pay what you deem the tour is worth to you at the conclusion of the 2 hour 30 minute walk. Once you arrive at the meeting point, you’re provided with a free colour map which marks out the stops along the way, and on the flip side there are handy tips which would enhance any tourist’s stay in Sydney.

At the time when we set-out, our tour group ended up being around 30 people in size. First we walked past the Town Hall – then into the QVB – before snaking our way down to Pitt Street Mall – and then onto Hyde park.

Then from the Park we walked to Macquarie Street and checked out the old Rum Hospital – before crossing back over to Martin Place where we  followed the mall down to George Street – ducking down some alleyways – to pop-up back on Pitt Street where we walked to the Gateway precinct for the half-point toilet break (it was 4pm by then).

We continued on to Circular Quay via Customs House, then Cadman’s cottage – and following the guide’s expert footsteps, we got to see the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from a vantage point which we’ve never seen our iconic landmarks from before (a lookout in the Overseas Passanger Terminal). And the tour ends in the Rocks, the time being 5pm by this stage.

And if you enjoy the Sydney City walking tour, at 6pm departing from Cadman’s Cottage every night (for an hour) you can join The Rocks walking tour offered by the same company.

The highlights:

One. The guide – he had an absolute passion for his city and an enthusiasm in re-telling all of his historic tales of Sydney. I learnt a number of stories which I was previously unaware of, and had a better sense of the limits of old Sydney township, i.e. that where the Town Hall sits today, was actually the Western outer limit of Old Sydney Town. Which emphasizes to me, how much we’ve grown as a city/nation in the past 200 odd years.

Two. Discovering unknown parts of our city- another highlight was walking down Angels Place, and experiencing the “Forgotten Songs” art installation for the first time. I was completely unaware of this place’s existence! It’s quite tranquil and relaxing, hearing all of those bird songs, I’d imagine it would be a nice way to de-stress if things are getting a bit too much at work.

Three. Random facts- And along with the handful of random facts which we learnt, the most handy random fact we learnt was that Opal card fares are capped at $2.70 for unlimited travel on Sundays! This is a random fact we ought to have known, but didn’t.

Four. Smiles- And it was a joy to hear my wife’s uncle laugh at some of the guide’s better antidotes; and seeing him enjoy himself as he saw our famous Sydney landmarks for the very first time.

Ideal time:

If you’re just a Sydney-sider who wants to better understand your city, you have the luxury to pick the perfect time to take this walking tour. As you know Sydney, it could either be too hot or too cold to be walking around for 150 minutes. Autumn or spring would be my best guess for the ideal time to take the tour. Or in the winter months it wasn’t that bad, just make sure you have a nice warm jacket and comfortable shoes. I personally think it’ll be a bit unpleasant to do the tour in the summer months.

In the end, the walking tour should be re-named as:

“I’m Actually Not Free Walking Tours”

As it’s not really free, at the beginning of the tour they hint that other similar tours which last half the length of their’s cost $30 pp, but don’t be influenced by this. In the end just give the guide how much you think the experience was worth to you. Before the  tour we had in mind just giving the guide $10, but after the tour we felt that it was worth more than that and we  ended up giving our guide $20 (which seemed like the going rate as each representative from their respective groups came forward and handed him $20).

If you’d like to learn more about the Sydney ‘I’m Free Walking Tours’, click HERE!