Over the last few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to see a couple of great musicals. I saw Singin’ In The Rain, and also The Sound of Music. Both were great, and you should take the opportunity to see them if you can! This also meant that I had to find options for quick, pre-show dinners in the city and we managed to find some good offerings.

Down on Swanston St there are a couple of Asian restaurants that I like to put in the cheap and cheerful category. Your Thai Rice and Noodle Bar is located just near the Lonsdale St intersection and is spread across two levels. There is counter, a small amount of seating and the kitchen downstairs, and upstairs there is more seating. One the night we went, I was starving, and I was willing to settle for anything that was affordable and had vegetarian options so I was more than happy to give Your Thai a go.

The menu is set up like a typical Asian menu, with lots of pictures, and very affordable prices. Myself and the other half both decided to opt for rice options. I chose to have the vegetarian tom yum with Rice whilst the other half went for a beef massaman curry.

True to the cheap and cheerful tag, both meals were served on plastic melamine dishes that were sectioned into to compartments for the rice and the curry. Tom Yum is one of my favourite flavours, and true to expectation, my dish packed a good amount of punch. It was also quite generous with the amount of vegetables and tofu through the sauce so I was happy.

The other half was also reasonably pleased with his dish. Again, there was a generous amount of meat through the sauce and a good amount of flavour so he couldn’t complain.

Your Thai Rice and Noodle Bar is not a restaurant you would go to for a fine dining experience, or to impress a date, but it definitely does a decent meal at a good price point. The service is quick, the décor is basic, and the quick turnover of tables means that there are a lot of Melbournians who appreciate what they have to offer.

Your Thai Rice and Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
This sponsored post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Singin’ In The Rain. 

We often forget how lucky we are in Melbourne. We have some of the best restaurants, an awesome laneway culture, great shopping, and these days we are also privileged to have some of the world’s great musicals play here.

I was fortunate enough to go and see Singin’ In The Rain last Friday. After a sold out West End season, four Olivier Award nominations and a major UK tour, Singin’ In The Rain is set to delight Australian audiences starting with Melbourne, and following with seasons in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the musical. I had never seen the movie, and my entire knowledge of the show revolved around the title track, after all who hasn’t seen a clip of Gene Kelly singing and splashing about in the rain?! I could have done some research and read up on the story before I went to see the stage show, but I decided to go in blind so that I could get a genuine experience without any preconceived expectations.

Her Majesty’s Theatre is one of Melbourne’s grand theatres, and as we walked in to the hall, I thought of all the hundreds and thousands of performers who had graced the stage there. Like I said, we are certainly lucky to be in Melbourne.

Singin’ In The Rain tells the story of two silent movie stars, Don Lockwood played by Adam Garcia, and Lina Lamont played by Erika Heynatz, whose careers coincide with the cusp of the sound being introduced to the movies. Don and Lina are famous as the ‘it’ couple of the silent screen, but alas, Lina’s grating voice and inability to sing means that their time as a duo is looking shaky. Enter Kathy Selden played by Gretel Scarlett who is enlisted to be Lina’s voice behind the camera, throw in a love triangle and some comic relief from Cosmo Brown, played by Jack Chambers, plenty of 1920’s glitz and glamour, and you have yourself a great musical!

Adam Garcia draws on his dancing skills that led him to being one of the founding members of the Tap Dogs, and in Singin’ In The Rain, he is given the opportunity to showcase his talents. The star of the show is however, Erika Heynatz. She perfected Lina’s grating voice to a tee, and when the other half turned to me and said, ‘man she’s annoying!’ I knew she had mastered her role!

The trademark scene where Don Lockwood is singing and dancing in the rain is done superbly. 12000 litres of water are used each show (don’t worry, the water is recycled and reused!) and the first three rows of the theatre have been dubbed the ‘splash zone’ with patrons being given ponchos to protect themselves from the splashes! It certainly makes for a fun experience, and a word of warning, the splashes travel further than just the third row!

Playing for a limited season in Melbourne, Singin’ In The Rain is definitely not to be missed!
Given the warmer weather was still hovering late into April, perhaps it is not surprising that my kitchen was still full of garden produce.

Firstly, the avocado tree at my parents’ place was fruiting like crazy this year. I think there was about a hundred fruit picked in total, with the tree still full. It’s just that the fruit was way too high to reach, even with a ladder. The thing about avocados is that they don’t ripen on the tree. They need to sit in a bowl for about a week until they are ready to eat. This means, that you will go from having no avocados, to having a bowl full of avocados that need to be eaten ASAP! Having said that, avocados are worth close to their weight in gold, so when I started handing out avocados to my work colleagues to ensure nothing went to waste, I ended up being very popular!

My parents’ chilli plant is also full of fresh, and super hot chillies. I have been packeting these up and giving them to family friends who I know love hot food! In the Bengali culture, we have a superstition that chillies should not be gifted to anyone. The story goes that if you give someone chillies, the heat and fire from them will translate into the relationship and the friendship will be in jeopardy. To circumvent the superstition, Bengali aunties ‘sell’ their chillies for a small fortune of 5 cents. The monetary transaction means that it is no longer a gift, but a sale, and the friendship is not risked! It’s funny, the logical part of me knows this is completely ridiculous, but yet, it is something I have seen since I was very young, and so the practice is almost inherent in me! I still have lots of chillies left for myself, so I’m thinking about turning them into a chilli paste or chilli sauce.

At the start of the year I spent a whole month strictly shopping local. Whilst I can’t say this practice has continued 100% (it’s just not always financially practical), I have made some changes to some of the products I buy. One of these products is milk. I did a lot of research, and came to the conclusion that milk from St. David’s dairy was the best choice for me. The cows from which the milk is sourced are located mainly in Eastern Victoria and the dairy is located in Fitzroy where the milk is processed and bottled, which means there are very few food miles. It is not a cheap milk, at $3.80 for 2L, but given that it lasts me about 10 days, I feel like it is worth spending the extra money on. On a side note, it is also bloody delicious. I can definitely taste the difference between St David’s and the el cheapo supermarket milk.

This post is part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by Maureen from the Orgasmic Chef. Head over to her blog to see what is going on in other people's kitchens!
I pride myself on knowing the dedicated vegetarian restaurants around Melbourne, so when a friend suggested we have our regular catch up dinner at Sister of Soul, I was blindsided! I had never heard of Sister of Soul, and a little Zomato research revealed that it was a vegetarian restaurant! I had been blindsided! But on this occasion I was happy to have been blindsided, because I love discovering new places!

Located on Acland St, just across the road from The Vineyard, and on the diagonally opposite corner to the newest vegan café, Matcha Mylkbar, Sister of Soul is named so because it is a run by some of the team from the previous vegetarian institution, Soulmama.

We were there on a Wednesday night, and when we got there, the restaurant was relatively empty. I had a quick peruse of the menu, which read very much like a fusion menu. The dishes were a mixture of Thai, Indian, Mexican, a little bit of Italian, and some American. I’m usually wary of menus that are so diverse, I feel like if they do too many things, they end up doing none of them properly. Still, I took a plunge and ordered a Thai sounding curry, the Jungle Madness, which was served with rice.

The first thing I noticed about my dish was how generous the servings were. I was super hungry, so this made me very happy and my first box was already ticked. On the surface the dish looked hearty and wholesome, filled with lots of vegetables, big chunks of tofu, and lots of chilli. There was also a wedge of lime which I squeezed for added freshness and zing. When I tasted the dish, I knew I had made the right choice. It was full of flavour, and the sauce was thick and creamy. The ratio of sauce to rice was also appropriate, and it was clear that nobody was skimping on the curry. Overall I was very satisfied with my choice, and my meal made me very content.

My dinner date also made an Asian choice, The Green Sister Stirfry. This dish was filled with all the standard Asian green suspects, gai lan, wombok, bok choi, as well as tofu and cooked in a choice of sauces - satay was the sauce of choice on this occasion. Rather than being served with the standard jasmine rice, this dish was served with brown rice, making it a very healthy option. It was declared to be delicious, so it was evident that Sister of Soul definitely do Asian food well.

We decided to indulge and share a dessert between us. I am not a big fan of vegan desserts, especially when they try and replace the dairy component with tofu (think tofu cheesecake – gross), so we decided to try the Not So Rocky Road. This dish came out as a deconstructed rocky road, and looked gorgeous on the plate. There was a scattering of house made vegan marshmallows, cherry jelly, fresh strawberries, dark chocolate ganache, salted chocolate dirt, toasted almonds and coconut. When we put a little bit of everything on the spoon and into our mouths, the flavours combined beautifully together. Dessert was definitely a big hit!

Overall I was quite impressed with Sister of Soul. Having never heard of it before, I will now be adding it to my list of go to vegetarian restaurants! I have also dismissed my initial reservations about the diverse menu. Perhaps next time I go, I will have to try something from a different culture!

Sister of Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
This product talk is brought to you by Circa Homes and Nuffnang.
Gratitude. It is an often forgotten aspect of our lives, and yet, we have so much to be grateful for. There is so much in my life that I take for granted, but so much of it is not available to many around the world.

I am grateful that I have a healthy body. I am able to walk, to run, to drive, and to move without restriction. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food to eat whenever I am hungry. I am grateful that I have friends and family that I can depend on. I am grateful that I live in a country where we assume the right to freedom. I am grateful that I live in a country where gender is no barrier to what I can achieve. I am grateful for the simple human values that my parents have imparted to me, because without them, without the basic principles of love, truth, righteousness, non violence, peace and happiness, life would be meaningless.

I have so much to be grateful for and yet, I rarely take the time to acknowledge all that is good in my life. So I have decided to start a new ritual. I have started writing in a gratitude diary. Every night before bed, I am going to take a minute to write down one thing that I am grateful for that day. It might be something small like that fact that my new body wash makes me happy because it smells like rosewater, or it might be big like that fact that I am fortunate enough to be going to Mongolia in a few months to experience a new landscape and culture. Either way, both deserve to be equally acknowledged, for they both play a part in making my life happier.

Every day may not be good, but it is important to remember that there is something good in every day.

Circa Homes has brought out a limited edition Honeyflower and Sandalwood collection, just in time for Mothers’ Day. I am so grateful to have my mother in life, and I know I wouldn’t be a quarter of the person I am if it wasn’t for her. She has imparted her love of food to me, she has shared with me her fetish for clothes, she has helped me realise the importance of fulfilling my responsibilities, and most importantly she has showered me with unconditional love.

This Circa Homes candle that I am so grateful to have been gifted, is just as warm and inviting as a hug from my mum, and this Mothers’ Day, with my mum overseas, I will take any sign of my mum possible.

Circa Homes is also giving you the opportunity to win a limited edition Honeyflower and Sandalwood Collection pack, including candles, a fragrance diffuser, soy melts and an electric wax warmer. All the products have the comforting smell of honeyflower and sandalwood, and evoke so many feelings of gratitude. To enter, head to the Circa Homes competition page and see if you are lucky enough to win the pack, either for yourself, or perhaps your mum!

On Saturday, I rode for 12 km, ran for 5km at parkrun, and then walked for 3.5 km (and then back for 3.5km) to get burgers for dinner. Given all the exercise, the burgers, fries, milkshake and frozen custard (more on that later) were completely guilt free. People often ask me why I do crazy things like run 5 times a week. The answer is so I can eat ridiculous amounts of food. I’m not willing to eat any less, so the only option is to exercise more.

Melbourne is most definitely on a burger craze. Burger joints are popping up all over the place and competition is rife. This is a good thing if you are a burger lover like I am. A few months ago, Royal Stacks opened up its first branch in the CBD, and it wasn’t long before their second store opened up in Brunswick.

We got to Royal Stacks at about 6:30pm on a Saturday evening. It was peak time for a restaurant, so it was no surprise that there was a line outside, and we were told that there would be a twenty minute wait for a table. We decided that waiting was not an issue, and before we realised it, we were called inside to sit at a communal table. For those that didn’t want to wait, there was a takeaway option, which was also doing a roaring trade.

When we got inside, there seemed to be lots of empty tables, so it seemed that they were a bit haphazard in getting people seated efficiently. There was also not table service, so you had to make sure you had someone at the table minding your spot whilst the second person was lining up at the counter placing the order. Not a big issue, unless your spot gets stolen, which was happening a fair bit.

The other half was responsible for the ordering, and he did good. He got the Double Stack for him, and the Queen Bee for me.

Royal Stacks only offers one form of protein for their burgers, beef, with the exception of the Queen Bee which is made with a home made chickpea patty. The Queen Bee also had the basic salads of lettuce and tomato, American cheddar, a special burger sauce which tasted suspiciously like it was based on tartare sauce and one of my favourite ingredients – pickles. I felt the bun was a little too sweet for my liking, I prefer a more bready bun, rather than the sweet brioche bun, but that’s just me. What I really enjoyed was the patty and the way the sauce complemented it, and of course I loved the pickles. Over all it was a good burger, but not amazing.

The other half had a similar opinion of his Double Stack. He commented that everything was done well, but there was no wow factor.

We also got some cheesy fries to share. These were actually my least favourite item. When I order chips, I want thickly cut chips that are crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. The Royal Stacks chips were French fries, McDonalds style, thin and with very little fluffiness. Being so thin, it also meant that they became limp very quickly. The cheese sauce was also nothing to write home about, almost replicating plastic cheese.

But from this part of the meal it was all uphill. First off, the salted caramel milkshake. YUM. The saltiness was perfectly balanced with the sweet caramel, and it was amazing. I don’t usually get drinks, but this milkshake was definitely worth it.

Then, as we were finishing off our meals, a waitress came and told us that they would like to offer us their signature frozen custard to try. I decided to try the pistachio flavour, and the other half went for another round of salted caramel. Both flavours were amazing. The salted caramel frozen custard was also the basis of our previous milkshake, so needless to say, it was perfect, but the pistachio flavour was also a winner. I struggled to tell the difference between frozen custard and ice cream, but regardless, it was smooth and creamy and a great way to end the meal.

Royal Stacks has definitely made a big impact in Melbourne after being open for a short time and the long lines outside the premises are testament to this. Was I impressed? I wasn’t so impressed with the burgers, but I will definitely be back for some more frozen custard, that’s what it was all about for me!

Royal Stacks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
I have a thing for good bread. Freshly baked loaves of warm, soft sourdough, with a crunchy crust, perhaps scattered with grains of some sort, and lathered with butter is one of my many weaknesses. Cheese is my other weakness, but let’s not start with that…

Rustica Sourdough has long been on my list to try. Social media has been full of people raving about not only their bread, but also their delicious breakfasts. Located on Brunswick St in Fitzroy, is the original Rustica branch, where we decided to indulge on Good Friday morning. We got there relatively early, as early as one should wake on a public holiday, and headed down there only to be faced with a queue. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long, as long as we were happy to sit on a communal table. This was no issue for me, infact I quite like the communal table because it means I can perve on everyone else’s meals!

We started with the usual coffees, a latte and a flat white. It important to note that the other half’s flat white was served in a cup that had a handle large enough for his index finger to go through and get a firm grip. It’s the small things that make us happy.

Given that a long weekend was ahead of us, I decided to go for a healthy option of sautéed greens served with a poached egg on sourdough. The other half went on a completely different tangent and ordered the cheesy, béchamel filled goodness of a croque monsieur.

As per the description, my meal really did come with lots of greens. There was brocollini, beans, snow peas and sliced avocado,  all served with some grilled haloumi, almonds, and some salsa verde to tie it all together. It was presented with a poached egg, and sat on top of a thick slice of Rustica sourdough. This meal definitely worked. All the flavours blended well together, although, the cheese lover in me would have loved a little more haloumi. The bread was most definitely a highlight, and I was very satisfied with my meal.

The other half was equally impressed with his meal. Of course the bread was a standout, the croque monsieur was served on a pumpkin brioche which was rather unusual, but very much appreciated. It came with ham hock, gruyere cheese, seeded mustard béchamel and pickles on the side. It was also a winner.

Our breakfast that morning was a successful one, and we left very full and content customers. Rustica also have another couple of branches in the CBD and Richmond, infact I have a girls’ breakfast planned for the CBD outlet, so I hope it will live up to my expectations again!
Rustica Sourdough Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato