Busy, busy, busy. That was all I can say. Long weekend. Today’s public holiday in Hobart. It’s the Royal Hobart Regatta Tasmania – only for Hobart and the south of Tasmania. It’s also Valentine’s Day. So happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers.
Early in the week, my team leader sent a meeting cancellation for today that occurs every Monday. I looked at the calendar – February 14. What The?? It’s Valentine’s Day, so when is Valentine’s Day ever become a Public Holiday. That was when I looked up public holiday in Tasmania and realised that it is the Hobart Regatta. I have never been to one of the regatta in Hobart. I enjoy having the extra day off from work, and having a 3 days weekend. How I wish we only work 4 days a week.
Well, this past weekend was no exception for me. It was busy and fun at the same time. Time to switch off from work, which was extremely busy last Friday, developing a detail project implementation plan for my project. I think I am beginning to get the “shit” from the project. But I need to get my head together so I won’t loose it. It’s not easy to manage a project when you don’t have the right skilled resources from the business to assist in the implementation. Anyway, I had to quickly popped over to my gym for an hour workout to help ease my frustration after a long week.
I got home about 6:30pm Friday and my partner was already in his pajama! Yes, in his pajama resting and had two rented DVDs. I was hoping to go out – for a dinner or maybe for a movie at the State Cinema. But, after an hour on my MacBook, I decided against that. So what to have for dinner?
That was the question our friend from Rita’s Bite asked me on Saturday. We went to visit her for a cup of tea, except there was not cup of tea. LOL. She forgot, but she did buy Lemongrass and Ginger tea to serve us – that was what she told us on Sunday when we caught up with her again for dinner at Sapa Rose.
I described to Rita and her friend that I did what I could with what I got in my kitchen. There was a whole free range chicken that I bought the night before. That was supposed to be poached for “Bonnie” – our 15-year old dame scottie. Instead I chopped up the whole chicken into 2 pieces thighs, 2 pieces drumsticks, 2 pieces wings and 2 pieces breast into 3 sections each. I marinated them with 2 teaspoons turmeric powder and a sprinkle of two of cooking salt.
Then I going through my kitchen to see what I can make for spices – 1 red onion, 4 cloves purple garlic, 1 thumb size fresh turmeric, 1 red chili, 6 dried chilies, 4 kaffir lime leaves – blended into a paste with my small handheld grinder. Then a star anise, 3 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick.
Then I heated my wok with half a cup of vegetable cooking oil. Tossed in the dried spices at medium heat, and later added the blended wet spices. Fried them until fragrant. Then added half the chicken pieces with bones – slowly added one at a time. That was when I thought that was enough. Had a few pieces left that I later added some caramalised thick soy, wrapped in glad wrap and left in the fridge for another night’s dinner.
After all my chicken pieces were nicely coated with the paste, I added a bowl of tamarind juice. Slowly simmer the chicken until cooked, then added some vegetables. In this case, I added what I have got from my fridge – chopped carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Added some fresh basil leaves from my fridge, a bit of fish sauce and later garnished with coriander leaves.
Unfortunately no photo was taken. Too hungry to think about taking pictures. Both of us enjoyed the spiced chicken. But next time I will leave the dried spices and try cooking with seafood.
Rita then asked, what are you going to cook tonight. That was a Saturday afternoon when we visited her. I told her with what I have got left of the chicken pieces that was marinated the previous night with added caramalised thick soy. I am going to pan fry the chicken pieces until they are browned, then add some turmeric juice with curry leaves and onion rings and slower simmer until chicken is cooked, the sauces thicken and caramlised.
I took a picture this time after plating. A chicken thigh on top of some baby rocket, spinach and kale salad, a bit of leftover steamed rice and a leftover Thai green curry drumstick cooked by my partner a couple of nights ago. It was not a glam-up restaurant dish, but a home cooked meal.
Earlier in the day before we dropped in to Rita’s place. We went for a light brunch at a nearby cafe – Jackman and McRoss Bakery in New Town. It is within walking distance to our place. J&McR is one of my favourite cafe in Hobart. They have a 3 outlets and each of them are quite different in style. The one in Victoria Street caters to the business lunch crowd. The one in Battery Point is extremely popular with well healed Battery Point’s residents and tourists. Then there is the one near our place in New Town, which is catered more towards the locals in the area, which has a more relax, casual and friendly atmosphere. I don’t think J&McR has a website. But if you do know there is one, please add the link in this post. Thanks.
I ordered a rabbit pot pie with couscous on top. My partner had a lamb shank pie and we both shared a salad. We bumped into our friend, Freddie who was there with his friend for a cup of coffee. Another couple who was about to leave and said we have met somewhere. It took us two minutes before we figured out where we have met. At a neighbour’s new year party 3 or 4 years ago! Then they said that they heard we have moved back to mainland. In Tasmania, we refer Australia as mainland. And, yes Tasmania is part of Australia. It was hilarious when CNN news had the map of Australia on their news a couple of weeks ago reporting Cyclone Yasi that was about to hit Queensland, and had Queensland as in Tasmania! That was a powerful cyclone to have swept and blown the entire Queensland state to Tasmania!
There were several major events happening in this past weekend for a small place like Tasmania. In the north, there was the Festivale in Launceston. I have never been to a Festivale. But friends of ours go there every year without failed, and they pre booked their accommodation for the following year. We bumped into them at the Wooden Boat Festival on Sunday. Wooden Boat Festival is another major event this weekend held in Hobart. We have not seen them for a couple of years. They told us that this year at the Festivale was not as great as the previous years. Seem less food stalls and more wine stalls, and food was not that great. Nothing exciting or innovative. The same old stuffs – tempura mushroom, burgers and more burgers. Nothing gourmet. I asked my partner why we have never been to Festivale. We both agree that it was a 3-4 hours drive depending on traffic to drive up north for a food and wine festival. Tasmania being such a small state that most of the stalls are generally the same as The Taste in Hobart. The stalls seem to rove around the festivals in little state of Tasmania. The only difference – Festivale is held in a nice big park with trees and greens. The Taste has the beautiful waterfront and the Sydney to Hobart yachts and The Salamanca.
The Wooden Boat Festival – first time I have ever been there. In previous years, there was a cover charge. This year, for the first time, it was free. Not that a small cover charge is going to stop me from going. But, I was not sure why a wooden boat festival can be that interesting to draw me there. But, curiosity is the word. I was drawn there to see what is so great about the festival. It was not just for boat enthusiast, but anyone. It was great! It was interesting. There were wooden crafted boats everywhere on every small space in the Hobart waterfront. I am not going to pretend that I know what I am talking about boats. So I won’t use any boatie technical words to refer to any of the boats.
This was huge. There were life size boats on the water, on the land, miniature models, art exhibitions, Japanese village showcasing Japanese artworks, sand castle building, pirates and children face painting, stalls on wooden boat building, old motors, tall ships, kayakers, floating stage, food and drink stalls. There were thousands of visitors – local, interstate and international tourists. It was massive for Hobart and great for the economy.
It was funny that both my partner and I agree that Hobart comes alive between late December and March/April, then everything slowly drifts off for the winter and all hibernate for 6-8 months in the state. That is when locals travel north to Queensland for their yearly getaway from the winter chill. For some reasons, the locals love Queensland for winter.
After spending almost 4 hours at the boat festival, we walked back to our car parked in a residential street in Glebe. It was a nice walk back with a view of Mt Wellington on a stunning Hobart weather.
A couple of hours to rest at home before we meet Rita for dinner at Sapa Rose.
There are very few places in Hobart that is opened on Sunday for dinner. It is indeed nice to have a new restaurant in Hobart. Not just any restaurant, but a Vietnamese restaurant. Opened on Tuesday last week. It is opened 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and also do a takeaway.
There is a separate menu for lunch and dinner, and a takeaway menu. It is a fully licenced restaurant.
We arrived early for our 7 pm booking. There were already a few tables of four and two. Huang, the owner, greeted us with a friendly and warm welcome as we entered the restaurant. The lighting was subtle and moody with soft music but loud enough to create a nice, uplifting and vibrant atmosphere. I could hear the kitchen behind with the the wok going. In an Asian restaurant, I simply love the sound of the woks. It creates the right ambience with nice balance of yin-yang energy.
The dinner menu is extensive. The wine list according to my partner has a good selection but under priced. Too cheap for a restaurant standard. Dishes are all well priced to be competitive in a very competitive market in a small place like Hobart with a small population who can eat out. Sapa Rose is not in an ideal location for dinner as far as food places is concerned. It is located on Harrington Street, away from busy eating street like North Hobart, Sandy Bay Road and Salamanca. However, it is a great spot for lunch crowd in the CBD.
We looked through the menu and decided to order three entree to start off to share – vietnamese spring rolls, papaya salad with grilled beef, and vietnamese pancake.
Vietnamese spring rolls – as good as we can get in a Melbourne’s Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond. Fresh and crispy. The lettuce leaves unfortunately was not as crispy and crunchy as I like. The spring roll is wrapped with a bit of mint and lettuce leaves, then dipped in the traditional vietnamese dipping vinegary and fish sauce, which has been toned down. But overall this is a good starter to the main meal. A definite must if you love a great spring roll.
Vietnamese pancake. My partner loves a good vietnamese pancake, and had to order one when we are dining at a Vietnamese restaurant. So without fail, he had to order this one. We both agree it looked and tasted different from the ones we had in Sydney or Melbourne. It was mild in flavour. A bit dry. Less oily which probably is a good thing. A bit too much flour that there was a bit of an after taste. It is best eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves and herbs and dip in the same dipping sauce as the spring roll. It is good for those that have never tried a Vietnamese pancake. After food is an adventure and an experience especially of a different culture.
Next, we had to choose our mains. We decided on mushroom stuffed with prawn meats fried in oyster sauce, duck wrapped with prawns and toasted sesame seeds, and king prawns with herbs and spices. Huang, the owner, suggested to change one of the dish for something else because all three mains has prawn as a key ingredient. We left to him to substitute one of our selection with his choice – beef cooked in spiced coconut cream served on top of thin vermicelli noodles, a southern dish of Vietnam. Huang is also a trained chef and owned another place in North Hobart, the Noodle Box. Sapa Rose is his dream and biggest adventure into a fine wine and dining restaurant scene in Hobart.
Duck wrapped with prawn meats with toasted sesame seeds on top. The dish was served on hot plate. Then the slightly spicy and sour sauce was poured over the top of the dish. I could not remember having a sizzling plate dish at a Vietnamese restaurant. But, westerners love the sound of a hot sizzling plate. It was a good dish – nice full flavour and great combination between the tender duck meat and prawn meat.
Beef cooked in spiced coconut cream served on top of vietnamese vermicelli noodles. This had to be my favourite dish of the night. It was Huang’s recommendation. It has a mild curry flavour. A new experience for me at a Vietnamese restaurant as I never associate Vietnamese dish with a curry or coconut dish. There is a bit of cross border influence from Thailand as a popular southern dish. But it was good and went well with the vermicelli noodle, which is quite traditional in a Thai and Vietnamese dishes, especially cooked in a claypot.
Sapa Rose salted king prawns with herbs and spices. It was similar to a salt and pepper king prawns served in most Chinese restaurants. One of our favourite dish that we usually order at a Chinese restaurant. The dish was good. The right amount of saltiness and spicyness.
Overall, Sapa Rose is a wonderful addition to the dining scene in Hobart. There are so many dishes to choose from. I have to go there a few times to know which dishes taste best for my palate.
Both my companions have put up their own reviews in their blog. You can read Rita’s Bite on her own personal account of her experience at Sapa Rose. And, later The Fork n Food blog on my partner’s own personal account. As an individual and food lovers, we have our own individual taste and opinion. You have to go to Sapa Rose to experience something new and different in Hobart.
I am glad we have an extra day off today, which is reserved for some chores around the house and garden.
Now for the Ten Days on The Island festival in March before the state goes to sleep.