Netflix Recommendations- Fastest Car (Season 2)

Whoo! Fastest Car is back on Netflix for another season of drag-racing down the quarter mile! Yay!

If you’re a car nut like me, you’re literally shaking in excitement to get a second dose of fast metal screaming down a straight stretch of road! But Fastest Car is much more than just fast cars and pedal-to-the-metal for less than 15 seconds – it’s the people behind the wheel! And if you enjoyed the human side of the first season – then you’ll love season 2, as it’s even more about the backstories of the competitors, and oftentimes the car takes a back-seat to the driver.

Hey, I’m a bit of a granite when it comes to emotional stuff, nothing can get this boy teary-eyed. But I have to admit, there were a couple of times even I almost teared up from hearing the life stories of these gutsy drivers. So if you’re thinking to yourself “I don’t give a, about cars”, but if you like Reality TV, I guarantee you’ll still enjoy Fastest Car S2.

But for the car guys, there are still all the sleeper cars, there are still all the American V8 muscle cars, there are still all the inappropriate vehicles (a Toyota Hilux) with big motors dropped into them – powering down the straight like a chubby fella doing a 100m sprint; and of course there are still all the Supercars with everything to lose – lined up against these Frankenstein home-jobs.

The improvements we’ve seen from season 1 to season 2 have been: introducing rules to pre-race, thus eliminating a repeat from last season when a dude did a pre-race burn-out trying to warm up his tyres, which then cause the other cars who were patiently waiting on grid to over-heat – resulting in one heat being a fizzle-out. And the second improvement was in the championship race, they allowed each car to perform a test run, giving us a chance to properly hear each car tear off down the track! And allowing us to hear the other drivers comment on what they thought of their competitor’s start and car performance. This was good, as otherwise the actual race is over way too quickly!

The slight criticisms I have, is that the Supercars which rolled up for season 2 lacked variety. I think 4 of the 6 Supercars this year were all McLarens, which didn’t sound all that crazy compared to the high pitch whine of a V12 Lamborghini or a V8 Ferrari. And as mentioned before, the actual drag race just doesn’t have enough of a build-up to it. So after sitting through almost 40 minutes of lead-up to the race, the race is then all over within 60 seconds – so the ratio between build-up and race just don’t add-up. If they could extend the Championship format to each of the heats, i.e. allowing each car to do a test run? I think that would do the trick for Season 3 (fingers crossed that there is a Season 3). Vroom Vroom!

And the aspects which we enjoyed from Season 1 and were still present in Season 2 were, the diversity of drivers, the diversity of sleeper cars, and there was a healthy representation of female drivers! Which assists all viewers to be able to imagine themselves behind the wheel of a fast car. “See babe! It’s completely normal to be a chick driving a heavily modified sleeper car. And for this reason, why you should let me further modify our Beast……….”

Ok, if I’ve injected some gasoline into your veins, you can check out Fastest Car Season 1 and Season 2 right HERE!  

Bad Hombres- Surry Hills

Vegetables have never tasted this good!

Ok! I’ve finally reached episode 62 of the Mitchen podcast- dated 16 May 2017! Now see, this is the problem with listening to the back-issue of foodie podcasts- as many restaurants have since closed down in the intervening years. And one of the restaurants I’ve been fruitlessly hunting down to date has been ‘Ghost Boy Cantina’, and finally today we’ve caught up with one of their derivatives which is still in business! Bad Hombres!

Located on Reservoir Street in Surry Hills, we didn’t care that their restaurant only served a vegan menu (although we’ve never knowingly elected to dine at a purely vegan restaurant before), as I personally was just so eager to try Sean McManus and Toby Wilson’s Mexican Asian fusion restaurant, we didn’t care that we weren’t going to have any meat tonight!

Although we didn’t have a reservation, the staff were so kind to make room for us on this Saturday evening. Not wanting to impede on their later evening  trade, we quickly made our selections ordering the Tortilla chips and salsas as a starter ($10.00), King mushroom Peruvian ceviche as our second small dish to share ($16.00), and The Cauliflower as our one large share plate ($26.00).

After we had our orders all squared away, we leaned back and took in the ambiance of the restaurant- it had a cool Surry Hills vibe to it, my wife compared it to the ambiance of Ze Pickle, you know that dark youthful vibe? Although it wasn’t even 6pm yet, the restaurant was still 75% at capacity and tonight’s music playlist (70s – 80s Aussie rock) reminded me of my high school days-  when one of our mates was old enough to drive, and used to pick us all up and we’d spend the day at the beach enjoying a good-old summer’s day in Sydney. *Sigh*.

Within minutes after placing our orders our Tortilla chips arrived. The chips were served in a large and deep bowl, while the 3 dips were served in a porcelain dipping line-up.

The Tortilla chips were unsalted, and the flavour came from the trio of dips. My wife’s favourite was the Salsa Verde (top), my personal favourite was the roast jalapeno guacamole (centre) due to its thick creamy avo, while the pico de gallo (bottom) was very good as well, nice and chunky and substantial! The serving of chips were so large that right to the very end, we were still munching on them.

The next to arrive was the King mushroom Peruvian ceviche. This was when we were reminded that we were at a vegan restaurant after all. But as Sean McManus mentioned on the Mitchen pod, just because a dish lacks meat, it doesn’t mean that it has to lack flavour. And oh boy, the Peruvian ceviche packed a flavour punch! I can’t remember the last time the flavour of food alone tasted this intense! The dish contained “leche de tigre”, with sweet potato, coriander, onion, corn and red chilli. Every element played their part to lend its flavours to the dish. Yeah, the ceviche was pretty sour with a healthy amount of lime juice, but I think it only primed the tastebuds for the sweetness of the sweet potato, the earthy flavours of the mushrooms, and the love-it or hate-it flavours of the cilantro. Personally, from the 3 dishes we had tonight, this was my favourite; while my wife found it a little bit too sour for her liking.

And the final dish to arrive, was the Cauliflower. The elements arrive deconstructed, so getting in with fingers you were able to construct your own tortillas, making them as jumbo or as lean as you wanted them to be.

Before constructing our first, we chose to try the cauliflower on its own, as we were so curious to see what it tasted like as it didn’t look like what you’d usually expect a cauliflower to be (it was pretty brown). But it was really tasty, the seasoning reminded me of this Chinese grilled fish dish my mum used to make, and again we were amazed in how flavoursome they were able to make veg to be! When we did construct our own tortillas we made sure each contained all of the elements i.e. cauliflower with seaweed salt, cashew cream, salsa verde, coriander and onion-  all wrapped up in the corn tortillas. And a special call-out of the texture of the corn tortillas, it had this tougher/chewy texture I hadn’t come across in tortillas or wraps before, and from a textural point of view this pleased my teeth. Haaha.

And as hard as we were trying to be in-and-out (so whoever had originally reserved the table we were hanging off weren’t impeded by our presence), there was honestly so much food that it still took us over an hour to finish our meal. And who knew you can feel this full and satisfied from vegetables alone?

Our end verdict, 4.0 Stars from 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (everything was so tasty, and in the end to ensure that all elements did not contain any trace of meat, poultry or dairy, Sean and Toby had to think outside of the square- so big ups that they were able to make the food so tasty while we never felt like we were lacking in anything); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were very kind to accommodate us as walk-ups, and our waitress was really cheery although it was a pretty busy night for them); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (a cool relaxed Surry Hills vibe was the feeling I left with); and 0.5 from 1 for Value for Money (we could have easily given it the full 1 for Value, but knowing how much the per kilo price is for mushrooms and cauliflower, it’s hard to disconnect your mind from thinking how many heads of cauliflower you can buy for $26)).

In the end, Bad Hombres was a real nice change-up for us, where we’ve been so used to eating Asian food down in South CBD/Chinatown. I’m so glad that we got out of our comfort zone and tried something new for a change, and super glad that I finally managed to try one of Toby Wilson’s creations! I’ll def be spreading the word to my vego friends… that matter….. To anyone who cares about food that there is this awesome Mexican Asian fusion place in Surry Hills serving up tasty vegan dishes! Veg has never tasted this good!

Bad Hombres- Saturday 2 November (4.0 Stars).

https://www.badhombres.com.au

PH: 0410 191 441

40 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills

Tues-Sat 5pm – 10pm

Sun-Mon Closed

Sydney Gig Guide Dec – Feb

This is only a very small taste of the live gigs which will be touching down in Sydney in the months of December – February 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

Queen + Adam Lambert Tour

ANZ Stadium, Edwin Flack Ave, Sydney Olympic Park  

Saturday 15 February, experience the folks behind the hit biographical film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, fronted by Adam Lambert! Yes, it’s the legendary band Queen! Touching down in Sydney for one night only! No cover band here, just the real deal from the original Queen, watch them perform all your favourites live!

For more information and for tickets, click HERE!       

Musicals

Waitress the Musical

Lyric Theatre, 55 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont

Coming Soon in 2020, Waitress the Musical! Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s film, Waitress is a tale of hope for a new beginning, friendships, romance, and some good old American pie! The stage production features an all-female creative team, and original music by 6 time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles!

For more information and to get onto the wait list, click HERE!

Classical/Contemporary Music

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience

First State Super Theatre, International Convention Centre Sydney, 14 Darling Dr, Sydney

Monday 10 February, will be the last time for Sydney-siders to experience a Game of Thrones a fresh! For one night only, hear the award winning Game of Thrones score performed live by an international cast of solo performers, an orchestra, and singers. All the while having scenes from all 8 seasons beamed onto the big screen! Don’t miss the last traces of summer from Game of Thrones!

For more information and ticket details, click HERE!

Comedy

Comedy on Edge!

The Chippo Hotel, 87 Abbacrombey St, Sydney

February 2020, weekly on Tuesdays (for 20 weeks, check listing) the Chippo Hotel plays host to the funniest night $10 can buy you! Each week is a different line-up of laughs, from stand up, improv, sketch, roast battles, live podcasts and more! Nothing going on, on a Tuesday night between 7.30-9pm? Head on down to the Chippo for some cheap laughs!

For more info and to get your $10 tickets, click HERE!

Community Theatre

Honk! – Sydney Youth Musical Theatre Company  

Hornsby RSL Club, 4 High St, Hornsby   

Thurs 21 November – Sun 24 November, The Sydney Youth Musical Theatre Company (cast made up of youths aged 10-18 years) will perform Honk! An adaptation on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale ‘The Ugly Duckling’. Not fitting in, the little duckling leaves home and goes on a bunch of adventures, meets a bunch of unique characters, and learns a life-lesson along the way! A true show for the whole entire family!

For more info and for tickets, click HERE!   

Product Recommendation- Google Home Mini

I love Google Assistant so much, that we’ve invited it into the private sanctity of our bedroom!

On the weekend we invited a new member of the Google home assistant into our lives, that being the Google Home Mini (chalk), at $55 AUD, it was truly a no-brainer decision!

The justification for this purchase was that I’m now on a 2.5 month career break, and the plan is to spend a lot more time in bed. Haaha. And being able to get Google to play my music, news updates, podcasts, and radio  stations is all and fine in the living room, but being totally unconnected and devoid of our Google assistant when in bed felt like we were stepping back in time each time we left the living room. Like, what the?

So a quick stop to our local JB Hi-Fi and after handing over $55, we quickly resolved this first world problem.  The advantages I’ve seen thus far with Mini in the bedroom has been:

Music throughout the apartment– with more than one Google speaker now, we have grouped them together so they both now sing from the same song sheet, and with a small apartment the entire home is now filled with our beats wherever we go! Not to mention our music sounds more stereo now! And positioned correctly (in a corner), the sound quality of the Mini isn’t that bad actually.

Declutter– now that I have a versatile device like the Mini on my bedside table, I was able to decommission my old school bedside alarm clock/radio. So now my bedside table is very spartan, maybe too spartan…

Bluetooth speaker– in the past to listen to my audiobooks and podcasts in bed, I had to remember to take my portable Bluetooth speaker with me to bed. And there has been many times when I had to jump out of bed in winter, as I had forgotten to bring it with me (the portable speaker still sitting on the shelf in the living room). But now with Google mini always there, I just have to ask Google to turn on Bluetooth- within seconds it’s paired to my phone, and magnifies the volume of whatever I’m listening to in bed. And when I’m done with it, I just have to ask Google to stop playing and to disconnect the Bluetooth. Too easy!

Night mode– And when it’s time for bed, I just have to say “Good night Google’, and it’ll put in place all my pre-set night time rituals, e.g. inform me of tomorrow’s weather, ask if I would like to set an alarm, and then turn on the ambient noise (chirping crickets- which I currently have on, I’m curious to hear when do the insects pack-up shop and they too call it a night- 40 mins on, and they’re still chirping…)

Randomness– and of course when my wife is almost asleep, and if you’re a funny bugger like me, you can now ask Google to tell you a joke and wake her right up! Haaha. Now that’s an example of 2’s a company, and 3’s a crowd! 

Say hello to the home of the future!

Audiobook Review- China Rich Girlfriend

Even more polarising than the first?

I think it’s a sign, when you can’t be bothered to blog about something and you literally have to force yourself to do it, 2 months after the fact. Yeah, I’m talking about my review of the second book in the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ trilogy- ‘China Rich Girlfriend’ by Kevin Kwan.

From what I’ve read online, all the reviews have been glowing and the second book has received critical acclaim- some even saying that it’s even better than the first book!? What the? Have they even read the second book?

You see, the first book was revolutionary! A book which depicted Asians as something cool, something non-Asians could be envious of. The story was of romance, there was intrigue like how would Rachel respond when she finds out that Nick is from a filthy rich family? And the story-line was universal enough, that a global audience were able to embrace the characters and the storyline. But on the other hand, China Rich Girlfriend is fragmented, the story doesn’t really go anywhere, and introducing the China rich into the mix – I don’t think it has much global appeal? All I know is that the China rich are buying up our land and resources, pushing up property  prices around the world – which has made it hard for average you and I to afford a place anymore, and seeing these excesses play out – I didn’t develop any emotional attachment to those characters.

In a nutshell, China Rich Girlfriend picks up the Crazy Rich Asian story 2 years down the track. The book follows 3 main plots- Rachel and her discovery of her father and paternal family; Astrid Teo, Nick’s fashionable cousin and the deterioration of her marriage to Michael Teo; and the mostly pointless story of Kitty Tai (aka Kitty Pong), and her exploits while she attempts to be accepted into Hong Kong’s elite.

My largest criticism of the book is that just when one of the three stories gain momentum, the novel cuts over to one of the other two narratives, thus it always seems to be choppy and the book just doesn’t flow all that much. And the annoying thing is that the three stories by-in-large are stand-alone tales, thus the constant cutting back and forth between the stories isn’t necessary. But the stories do finally cross over at the very end, which sets up for the one and only interesting twist in the book. And the second annoyance I had with the book is some factual inconsistencies from the first book to the second? I know that it is just a minor aspect, but oddly it really, like really annoyed me! In the first book we were led to believe that Kerry Chu (Rachel’s mum) fled to America and on her own raised Rachel to adulthood. But in the second book, we’re introduced to a large extended family from Kerry’s side, which was contrary to our perception of them as a mother-daughter duo who only had each other to rely on. And I don’t understand why Kevin introduced Rachel’s extended family, as with their presence it didn’t add to the story, but it only placed into question the factual inconsistencies between the books.

In the end, the book didn’t draw us in, Nick and his rich-ass family were    relegated to minor characters in the book; the introduction of new characters Carlton Bao and Colette Bing were annoying characters who were given too much air time; and Kitty Pong, a minor character, from the first book, was given a lead role – which was probably the most boring of the 3 sub-plots.

In my opinion China Rich Girlfriend is an easy miss! Don’t tarnish your positive memories of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ by reading book 2! The silly thing is that we purchased books 2 and 3 immediately after we finished book 1 – so because we’ve already spent the money on it, I feel obligated to read/listen to the final book of the trilogy. I wonder if it gets worse. Or can Kevin Kwan turn this Asian let-down around?

Cafe Rumah- Surry Hills

Come on down! There’s plenty of room at Café Rumah!

A couple of months back my wife was catching up with a girlfriend for brunch and they wanted a café recommendation from me – so I naturally whipped out my ‘Dining List’, a spreadsheet of all the restaurants  and cafes I’ve yet to try, and sent her a list of 5 to choose from. The one which they opted for was Café Rumah in Surry Hills, and after they came back, they were both raving on about how good it was – my wife eager for us to go back so I could try it for myself.

So fast forward 2-3 months and stuck for a lunch idea we headed into Surry Hills (it’s just crossing Elizabeth St), where I had my first taste of kopitiam meets café.

As we were walking up the hill, I asked my wife “Is there going to be room for us?” Being a Saturday lunch-time and all, and we didn’t have a reservation. But although they were doing a swift trade, there was still room for us, as the café occupied two front rooms of a converted Surry Hills terrace home. Seated on round wooden stools we studied the menu and ordered:

The 1AM Ramly Special ($12.00 +$3.00 to make it a double beef patty burger) – $15.00; Tom Yum Chicken Congee- $15.00; Rumah Special drink- $6.00; and Madeleine’s- $6.00.

Taking in the atmosphere of the place, it definitely felt like Surry Hills, we were definitely no longer in da city. As after all, we were sitting in a cafe which was located in a converted home. There was a lot of wood, wooden floor boards, wooden stools, wooden tables, and there was a long wooden staircase which led upstairs to the clothing store. Yeah, it was a café/clothing store. Eavesdropping on the conversation between the boss and her friends who occupied the table behind us, it sounded like Café Rumah had just opened up a clothing store in the Darling Square precinct, a female clothing store- while the one above us was purely men’s fashion.

The first to arrive at our table was our Rumah Special.

Rosewater syrup, milk and soda were the elements which made up our drink. It was nice and sweet from the rosewater, nutty and creamy from the milk, and effervescent from the soda. Mmmmm. It was nice, and quite a lot of drink in the end. We were passing it back and forth saying “No, no, you have the rest” but there was always too much for one to finish.

Then it was my wife’s Tom Yum Chicken Congee which touched down on our table. The last time, my wife’s friend ordered the congee and in a possible case of ‘food envy’- my wife ordered it for herself this time.

And in a deep bowl, she was served up a thicker style of congee, filled with chicken pieces, black fungus shreds, spring onion, and ginger. It was a little spicy – my wife ranked it as a 2 from 3 chilli level dish, but it was just at the right levels where it got the nose running a bit, but not to the extent where your tongue was on fire. All in all, a tasty home-style congee.

I was craving burgers today, as it had been a while since we’ve been going around Sydney doing our Burger Vs Burger challenge. And the Café Rumah burger looked like the ideal bun-stack to break the drought!

It presented itself as a cheeseburger-like stack, but where it differed from your regular cheeseburgers was the sauce – described as a ‘House seasoning’, but methinks it was a mayo which had a home made chilli sauce mixed through it. Everything was a bit compressed together, so it was a little difficult to tease out each element of the burger. But there were 2 slices of beef patties – each well-seasoned and tasted flame-grilled; a crunchy slice of cheese- which tasted like it had been deep fried; a really thin layer of omelette- almost paper thin; two thin slices of pickles- a bit lost in between the layers; a generous smothering of the previously described house sauce; and two thin layers of milk bun. It was served inside a paper bag- which it def needed as it was quite messy. But I had never eaten a burger which was so freshly constructed, have you ever seen a burger which gave off steam? All in all very tasty indeed, and very moreish!

And just as we were finishing up the last morsels of our mains, our madeleines were served up.

3 for $6, they were baked to order! Again steaming hot from the oven- with a smear of kaya jam on top to give it the South Asian make-over. They were good; not too sweet, buttery, and crispy on the outside!

Our end verdict, 4.5 Stars from 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (Everything was very tasty, cooked and brought out to us piping hot, and I can’t wait to try more of their regular lunch menu!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff were all efficient and friendly); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (there’s something charming about eating in a converted home- it just feels so homely); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (everything was priced at a level we were happy to pay for)).

In the end, it’s a strong indicator of something special when someone dines here and they immediately want to bring back their friends (or significant other), or when you’re still eating and you’re already thinking about when can you come back and try more things on  their menu. They have an all-day breakfast menu, a lunch special menu (which changes all the time), and a regular lunch menu. And it’s a bakery as well, so a whole selection of baked treats for you to try! Plenty of room at Café Rumah- where you can experience for yourself what it means for kopitiam to meet café i.e. where East meets West! And after having your tummies filled, you can mosey on upstairs and check out 15sheets, the men’s clothing store- everything was 70% off today, pretty funky Ben Sherman -like clothing.

Café Rumah- Saturday 26 October (4.5 Stars).

http://www.caferumah.com.au/#cafe-rumah

Ph: (02) 9280 2289

71-73 Campbell Street, Surry Hills

Mon – Fri 7.30am – 4pm

Sat 9am – 4pm

Sun Closed