Album reviews- Taiwan Top 50

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve come across a really good music album, but I’ve been listening to some pretty good Spotify playlists though! The most recent playlist which I’ve got on a constant rotation on the Google Home has been ‘Taiwan Top 50’ by SpotifyChart.

I’m not sure if this playlist actually reflects the current Top 50 chart in Taiwan, but either way it’s a great cross representation of the popular Mandarin and popular English songs currently playing on the airwaves!

The playlist is almost a perfect 50/50 split of Mandarin to English songs- I’ve actually analysed the 50 songs and it’s a 26 Mando V 24 Eng split- so a pretty even representation hey? So best of both worlds! And what best encapsulates this perfect bilingual marriage is the Artist OSN- a Mandarin rap artist who seamlessly blends mandarin rap and hooks with English lyrics! It’s so seamless that sometimes you can’t even tell if he’s spitting/singing in a language that you can or cannot understand. Haaha. Currently OSN has 4 tracks doing the rounds on Youtube e.g. ‘Without you’, ‘Why you gonna lie’, ‘the last time’, and ‘Be alright’.

And the notable English tracks which have made it into the  Taiwanese Top 50 are- Memories by Maroon 5, Dance Monkey by  TONES AND I, Circles by  Post Malone, 10,000 Hours by Justin Bieber and much much more….. Well, 20 more songs at least.

So if you want to treat your ears to a pretty cool and eclectic playlist, click HERE to check it out! 

Lamb chop and Spiced Cranberry Couscous Recipe

Lamb chop and Spiced Cranberry Couscous Recipe

A quick and tasty 15 minute mid-week dinner recipe!

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

8 Lamb chops

2 Cups couscous

½ Cup Dried cranberries

Spices

100g Bag baby spinach leaves

Directions:

Step 1: Boil 1L water in a kettle and pre-heat frying pan.

Step 2: In a medium size mixing bowl place 2 cups dried couscous, spices of your choosing (e.g. 1 teaspoon each of Cajun spice, Paprika, Cardamom etc.), and dried cranberries. Then add 2 cups boiling water from kettle. Allow sit for 10 minutes, until all liquids have been absorbed.

Step 3: Meanwhile fry lamb chops in 2 batches (3.5 minutes each side), and remove and let rest while dividing couscous into bowls.

Step 4: Line bowls with baby spinach   leaves, then divide spiced cranberry couscous mixture among 4 bowls, and serve with 2 lamb chops per bowl.

Sydney Gig Guide Jan – Mar

This is only a very small taste of the live gigs which will be touching down in Sydney in the months of January –March 2020. But we will be uploading new posts on a monthly basis to give you some advance notice in what hot live gigs will be arriving in Ol Sydney Town!

Live music

Jay Chou Carnival World Tour

Giants Stadium, Edwin Flack Ave, Sydney Olympic Park  

Saturday 14 March 2020, Jay Chou, Asia’s undisputed Pop King will be returning to Sydney for his 8th World tour! The Carnival tour will be Jay’s first outdoor stadium tour in Australia, and he’ll be rocking 20 years’ worth of his hit music- plenty of tracks to choose from when you’ve got 14 studio albums to leverage from!

Tickets have already sold-out for Jay’s Sydney show, but to track announcements of any additional ticket releases or shows, click HERE!

Musicals

War Horse the Musical

Lyric Theatre, 55 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont NSW

Sunday 8 March 2020, book your tickets to see the internationally acclaimed production of war horse! See a stage of war horses come to life by the way of puppetry, War Horse is a story of courage and friendship between a young boy and his horse Joey set in the back-drop of the First World War. With 20 puppet horses stamping their feet, heavy breathing, and tossing their heads, with stirring music and songs, be moved by this impactful story and production! For blind or vision impaired audience members, the Sunday 8 March show will include the feature of audio describe- when booking your tickets mention the need for audio describe to reserve your audio describe receiver.

For more details and to book your tickets, click HERE!

Classical/Contemporary Music

Barber and Poulenc Cocktail Hour

Utzon room, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point Sydney NSW  

Friday 27 March – Saturday 28 March 2020, is the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s woodwind section’s chance to shine in ‘Barber and Poulenc Cocktail Hour’ featuring only woodwind instruments! The performance will include Australian master Paul Stanhope’s oboe trio; Francis Poulenc’s duo sonata for bassoon and clarinet; Samuel Barber’s Summer Music for wind quintet; and a folk sounding performance of György Ligeti’s Bagatelles. So if you appreciate the playfulness of the flute, clarinet, obo, and bassoon, check this unique concert out!

For more details and tickets, click HERE!

      Comedy

Twilight at Taronga- Comedy Gala

Taronga Zoo Sydney, Bradleys Head Road, Mosman NSW

Saturday 7 March 2020, rounding out the Twilight at Taronga season, the Zoo’s stage will play host to a comedy gala night featuring Aussie’s Kitty Flanagan, Luke McGregor, The Stevenson Experience, and international comic Randy! One tick buys you 2 hours of laughs at a unique venue from 5 comedians at the top of their comedic powers!

For more details and to purchase tickets, click HERE!    

Community Theatre

Singin’ in the Rain- Rockdale Musical Society

Rockdale Town Hall, 448 Princess Highway, Rockdale NSW  

Friday 6 March – Saturday 14 March 2020, recently we haven’t had much to sing about in terms of rain in Sydney, but the show must go on! So check out the Rockdale Musical Society’s performance of the classical musical ‘Singin’ in the Rain’! Watch and hear the transitional days when silent film actors were ushered into the technological advance days of 1927 when talking films came to Hollywood! Come out and support your local talent, here at Four Senses- Touch Smell Taste Sound we love supporting Community Theatres!

For more details and to purchase tickets, click HERE!

Podcast Recommendations- Kochie’s Easy Steps To Financial Success

Would you like to see more $$$ in your bank account? If your answer is yes, then you’d better check-out this podcast!

No matter if you find David Koch a little bit annoying or not, but he does have his heart in the right place, as he wants to see you and your family achieve financial success in your lives! Free advice with no strings attached! Gold!

Kochie has recently released an 11 episode podcast series called ‘Kochie’s Easy Steps To Financial Success’ walking the listener through 11 easy steps in how you can maximise your dollar to help you achieve your financial goals and ultimately make your retirement years more enjoyable!

Each episode is around 15 minutes in length, where Kochie speaks in simple understandable terms at a steady pace, so it’s super easy to follow, digest and to take notes if you’re the note taking type. The 11 episodes literally cover off every financial topic under the sun, from more introductory topics like developing your financial goals, developing a household budget, managing debt, cutting costs, how to earn more money, to the more complex topics which we don’t like to think about like taxation, investing in shares, and insurance. *Shudders*. The most thought provoking of the 11 episodes was the topic of ‘To buy or to rent’, and Kochie floated the idea that perhaps renting might actually make more financial sense? Only if you’re diligent and you take the difference between the cost of rent and the potential cost of mortgage repayments, and invest that amount in something else? This approach I have to admit I’d never considered before. And I’ve never quite grasped the concept and when to use Negative gearing, and thanks to Kochie he has helped me finally understand when it’s a good idea to invest in property for its positive tax implications.

I’ve read some of the iTunes feedback to the podcast, some were glowing while  some were pretty scathing 1 Star reviews. But I guess Kochie’s steps is targeted at Middle income Australia, so it’s an absolute privilege if you’re in a position to even consider implementing any of his financial suggestions. And I think his final episode resonated with me the most, in the end it comes down to your financial habits which are often developed when you’re a child. If you’ve always been frugal, naturally it’s a lot easier to save as an adult, regardless of how much money you’re making. But if your nature is to be generous to the people around you, and if you enjoy the finer things in life- then naturally the changes you need to make to squirrel away more of your salary will feel more difficult and feel like more of a sacrifice.

But I think it’s still worthwhile to just check out Kochie’s podcast, there are many gems in there, even if you’re only able to take away one or two suggestions which you can implement and maintain? Methinks that’s a pretty good outcome from a totally FREE podcast!? Yea?

If you want to check-out Kochie’s Easy Steps To Financial Success? Just click HERE! And if you’ve already enjoyed this pod, you can supplement what you’ve already learnt with content from Kochie’s web-site- Your Money Your Life, which has new content/articles uploaded there on a regular basis! 

Socials- Sydney Staycation 2019

You don’t have to always spend the big bucks and go away to have a good time on vacation- enter Sydney Staycation 2019!

With our bunch of friends, we weren’t able to find a mutually available weekend to getaway up or down the coast, so we made sure that we all blocked out our calendars for a Friday night and the consecutive Saturday – and this is what we got up to:

Friday night dinner

Korean BBQ @Jang Ta Bal  

L1, 73-75 Liverpool Street, Sydney

After work we all converged on Jang Ta Bal, a Korean BBQ joint known for their use of white-hot charcoals to heat your hotplates thus ensuring your food had a ‘smoky’ tinge.

We ordered a pretty impressive spread of meats to be barbequed (Wagyu beef, marinated and unmarinated non-wagyu beef, and marinated chicken), selection of mushrooms, and a great variety of pre-cooked Korean classics. My favourites were the marinated chicken- they were very tender (thanks to our group’s designated cooks) and tasty. While my favourite dish from the kitchen, was the Japchae glass noodles- imagine instant ramen noodles with a bit more of a spring to them, and it was served in a tasty sweet and salty sauce. Mmmmm.

As we were a group of 12 catching-up, the Korean BBQ concept i.e. cooking for each other and sharing all of your spoils, added to the fellowship of catching-up with friends! And part way through the meal, for an unexplained reason, the waiter gave us all a can of complementary soda each, ranging from Cokes to Calpis- which was pretty crazy as that’s a $36 RRP of freebies! And the entire meal totalled to only $460 which wasn’t bad, $38pp after tips.

Friday night dessert

Desserts @Darling Square Precinct

And after our tummies were filled with savoury treats, it was time to fill our second stomach with desserts! I have to admit, I love love bringing people back to the space which used to be the old Entertainment Centre, as I love hearing people’s surprise in finding here the newly developed Darling Square Precinct. It was after 8pm but all of the shops were still open in the laneways, from the food vendors to the non-food vendors. It had a real Asian night-market vibe about it all! And after checking out the laneways, we went off in our different directions to find and meet each of our own sugary cravings. People came back with purple rice and yoghurt drinks from Yomie; bubble tea from Bubble Nini Tea; and gelatos from Messina. We were one of those who returned with gelato- Apple pie bounty (scoop 1) and PBJ (peanut butter and jelly – scoop 2). Surprisingly two scoops in a cup was quite large and well portioned, so $6.80 for 2 scoops was quite good value actually, when shared between two. The apple pie had large chunks of crumbed biscuit base, while the PBJ was peanut butter, toasted bread and jam – but we didn’t find any pieces of bread in our scoop though.

And we sat under the trees, under the stars, enjoying our various sweetie treats. And then we parted company at 9.30pm, to do it all over again tomorrow!    

Saturday lunch

Vietnamese @Phu Quoc

Cnr John Street and Hill Street, Cabramatta, Sydney

As our Sydney Staycation 2019 continued on to the next day, we all met up at Strathfield station and trained it to Cabramatta. Talk about 30 minutes on a train and being transported to another country!? I think getting out to Cabra was the cheapest ticket to an entirely different world!

If you’re adventurous, just go down every alleyway, poke your head into every arcade and shop, and you’ll find something which catches your attention at every turn! Just as long as you keep your bearing’s and can always find your way back to the train station, you’ll be fine! There are food shops everywhere! From the best sit-down Vietnamese restaurants you’ll ever find in Sydney, to snack stores, bakeries, drink vendors, and fresh produce markets! And oddly there were heaps of pharmacies, toy stores, mobile phone accessory stores and jewellery stores, methinks more per square kilometre than anywhere else in Sydney!

And when we were hungry (although we had eaten so much the night before) we touched down at Phu Quoc for lunch.

Just when you think that Phu Quoc only serves all the usual Vietnamese staples you can find at any other Viet restaurant- just peer closer at the menu or check out their specials, and get ready to find dishes you’ve never heard of! For me, I’d never had the stewed beef in tomato soup with bread roll (bahn mi bo kho – $13.50), and my wife had never tried the pork leg, prawn, tofu, and blood jelly noodle soup (bun rieu – $13.00).

OMG, just when you think it’s the usual Banh Mi roll, so that you’d better dunk it well in the soup as it’s going to be dry? Think again! The bread roll which accompanied the stewed beef in tomato soup was next level! It was crunchy on the outside, but so soft and fluffy fresh on the inside! And it had been brushed with oil before it was baked, so it was oily and greasy, but oh so tasty! I could have easily eaten it all by itself, without dunking in the soup. However there was so much thick tasty tomato soup to soak-up that I just had to dip, before I devoured! And eventually when I got to the chunks of stewed beef, I found it to be so soft and tender- it didn’t take much chewing to breakdown the meat in your mouth, and it had nice melty tenderous veins! Mmmmmmm.

My wife’s noodle soup was tasty as well, with large chunks of pork leg, 2 large squares of pig’s blood, a king prawn and tofu. The noodle was vermicelli, and it came with a plate of fresh vege (bean spouts and cabbage) and a lemon, salt and pepper dipping sauce. *Drools*.

Saturday dessert

Desserts @Kayson Sweets

Shop 4, 59-61 Park road, Cabramatta, Sydney

And after lunch and walking around some more, searching for various snacks that we had once consumed in Vietnam, or recalled from a long-ago childhood trip to Cabra- we satisfied those sweet tooth cravings with a Durian and Avocado smoothie ($6.00 med, $7.00 large) from Kayson Sweets. And a box of green mango with accompanying pink salty, sour & spicy dipping salts from a street side grocer.

Then it was back on the train, back to Strathfield for the evening portion of our Staycation. But the one thing which stuck out to us whilst on the train was that, how easy and close it was to get to Cabra by public transport! We will definitely come back in the near future, and not allow another 10 years to pass before we do so.

Saturday night dinner

Dinner from Metro One and Taste of Shanghai

UberEats

And then we converged on one of our friend’s homes and played board games and card games (devouring some of our Cabra purchases), and just when we thought we couldn’t possibly have dinner as we were too full from 2 days of eating? The messaging of hunger pangs from our stomach to our brain override any thoughts of restricting further calorie intake! So we had to meet those needs by ordering snack packs and gozleme from Metro One in Ashfield, and dumplings from Taste of Shanghai Burwood – delivered to our door courtesy of UberEats! And as we ate, chatted, and played games with each other, it marked the end of an epic 24 hours of eating and the end of Sydney Staycation 2019! If aspects or the entire experience has piqued your interest? Just follow our gastronomic journey, as you have all the details now to replicate our 2-day feast! Bon Appétit!

Product Recommendation- Pro-Live Mango Lassi

I’m sure there is a time and place to consume Lassi – the tasty thick yoghurt drink found at most Indian restaurants. Methinks it’s usually consumed as a drink to cool your burning mouth when you’re having a particularly spicy curry? But we’ve taken to drinking it whenever we’re looking for something sweet, and when we want something healthier and less guilt-ridden then with ice creams and other guilty pleasures.

Australian producers Pro-Live stock their Mango Lassies to Costco Australia, known for its bulk purchases, although a 1 Litre bottle of Lassi didn’t seem like such a bulk buy? But I’ve been told, compared to the usual volume in which Lassi is usually sold in, 1L is quite a lot of tasty drinkable yoghurt. But being us, 1L is never enough so we always get 2 bottles when we’re at Costco.

To be honest with you, the taste of Pro-Live Lassi Mango Drink reminds me much of the mango flavoured tubbed yoghurt by Nestle. So it’s a very common, pure taste, which I’m sure appeals to all tastebuds. It’s creamy and smooth (be sure to shake well before pouring), while liquid enough to quench any thirst. And it’s quite filling as well, so if you’re in a rush a 250ml glass of Lassi could easily serve as a light breakfast on the go! For $4.50 Australian dollars for a 1L bottle, it’s much more economical to buy in bulk and consume at home, than to purchase when out. The only philosophical question which is left unanswered, is….. Which came first? The tasty yoghurt drink? Or the popular American TV show which aired from 1954-73? 

If you’re interested to purchase the Pro-Live Mango Lassi drink and not a Costco member, click HERE!