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Time sure flies really fast and it's been more than a year of me living in Melbourne. Through all the culture shocks, series of bewilderment & much of rants and happiness in the course of 1 year, one thing I defenitely enjoy here is the coffee and the brunches. Yes, Mebourne is well-known for its coffee & cafe culture. There are rows, tons and gazzilions cafes for you to choose to fill your tummy. From neighborhood or practically in the middle of nowhere to the smack in the middle of CBD, there will be amost always a place for you to go for a cup of coffee and brekkie food. You'll feel that there're just too many options out there, and mind you, they serve almost similar type of menu, I mean, how much variety you can have for brunch-style food, but, you'll be surprise that none of these cafes serves exactly the same thing. There's always a tweak with the same dish. For example, the basic, egg benedicts, it will come out different on your plate at different joints. Some will use horseradish hollandaise sauce, plus shredded apples, some will go for the classic hollandaise sauce with spinach side dish, and some will just dump bacons on your plate (I hate it when they do this LOL).

So, it's a no brainer that if you google Melbourne cafe, there'll be tons of listings for cafe, some will title it as 'best cafe' like this onefor click baits, some will just simply do a listing. For tourists and even some locals, they will hold on to this kind of list and swear by them. I did go to some mentioned in lots of those types of listings, such as, Hardware Society, Top Paddock, Chez Dre and The Kettle Black. These are cafes with long queue (average queueing time is 1 hour plus) and big names. You'd want to go there to experience and taste what's the hype all about. From these visits, I learned that I'd rather stick with hunting for the neighborhood cafes, save the travel and queueing time (especially if it's windy and cold), save a couple of bucks (I don't believe in over 20$ for brunch food menu items), enjoy the food, the coffee and the cafe experience alltogether and most importantly, receive the customer treatment that I deserve (not being thrown the bill just after I finish eating, I understand if it's HK cafe, but not Western cafe, nope, not acceptable).

Every single neighborhood will more likely to have joints which are frequented by the nearby peeps and hence, these cafes have more friendly and welcoming atmospheres, not simply serve the food and pressure you to leave the moment you finish your meal for the sake of high customer turnover. Even if these cafe are bustling busy, packed with people, there are still some people with their laptops and books and left undisturbed (I'm one of the examples here because I like to eat, sip my coffee, read my books and do people watching), and the wait staffs look happier and not in rush for everything. Their menu is heavier towards the gluten free and vegetarian dishes or the sweet stuffs like pancake or french toasts. Very seldom it has meat mixed together in the menu, and most of the time it's just smoked/cured salmon. That's the most meaty stuff you can get. If the cafe has lunch menu, then meaty menu is still scarce and it's likely to be a burger or sandwich, the rest of the menu will be salad, smoothies, and other green leafie stuffs. Most neighborhood cafes that I visited has price tag of below 20$ for their menu items, some of them will have 1 or 2 reaching the range of 20$, but that's still very rare and they're on the lunch menu, not the brekkie menu.

I live in St Kilda area, and there're already lots of cafes in this area alone to be tried and tested, even after 1 year living here, I still have lots to try because I ended up frequenting the same joint over and over and over and forgot about other places that I want to try. Most of the time, I just walked into them without reading the review (because they're all subjective and the best way is to just find out by yourself anyway). If the food or the coffee doesn't live up to my expectation (very uberly subjective), then I'd just move on to another joint, afterall they're plenty out there and the competition is fierce! Having said that, the below are a few cafes that I've been visited and frequented as examples of neighborhood cafes.

Really, a few... )

If you happen to be visiting Melbourne, do try to visit just any cafes nearby the neighborhood where you stay or ask the locals where the good coffee joints are. You will likely to get a totally different answers from those listed in 'best cafe in Melbourne' postings. Instead of swearing by those listings, use them as a guide or reference on what to expect when you visit a cafe. You'll get a totally different experience and a story to tell. I know I do.

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Remember Sakuraiba date in Himitsu no Arashi-chan Ep 144? In this episode, dear Aiba-chan cooked the Shirasu pasta for Sho-chan, and me: drooling at the pasta. Granted Aiba-chan screwed up his cooking, but it doesn't make the pasta less mouth watering, and since then, I've been wanting to cook this pasta at least once. Tried Shirasu pasta in a restaurant as soon as I saw the episode but get slightly pissed off because it was an oily pasta and shirasu (not cooked, raw) on the top. Taste OK, but it doesn't look appetizing as the one I saw in HnA. So, this time, I just made my own. There are some difference in presentation because I didn't buy nori, I put fresh chili because I like color, and lastly Aiba-chan put relatively lots amount of shirasu in the pasta which I can't really afford. Shirasu may be cheap in Japan, but it's definitely not cheap when you find it in Japanese supermarket here.

*for 1 person
100 gr pasta - boiled until al dente - put in 2 pinch of salt in the water (the part that Aiba-chan forgot to do in his :p)
1/2 red chili - sliced thinly and seeds removed
3 cloves garlic - chopped coarsely
35 gr shirasu
2 tbsp olive oil for stir fry

How to:
1. in the frying pan, add in oil, garlic and chili and saute until fragrant (don't let the garlic burned)
2. add in Shirasu, stir fry for about 1 minute
3. add in pasta, stir the pasta until the shirasu is well mixed

Tips:
1. add sunny side up egg, it'll taste better (there's no egg in the pic because I had too much eggs lately :()
2. if your budget is accommodating, add more Shirasu, the the more the merrier
3. Shirasu by itself is already salty, so don't add too much salt when you cook the pasta. I roughly only add about 2 small pinch of salt and it tastes just nice, not overwhelmingly salty
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Totally non drama related, but it's food and it's Arashi related LOL...

I think I know Vermont Curry from House brand for quite some times already and I know I like this brand because it's sweet, BUT little did I know that even this curry brand cannot escape from Arashi's claw. Yeah, I just realized Aiba-chan is endorsing Vermont curry when I flip on TV channels during my stay in Fukuoka. For the fun of it, this is what I saw back then *just learned how to use the embed feature in LJ, so embarassing LOL*




Dou? So so so mouthwatering right? )

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