I love Japanese food. If I could, I would eat it all day, everyday. I don’t usually go for bentos or ramen because I love trying and eating every other option available! Alternatively, I would religiously have my bowl of miso soup in between plates of sushi and sashimi. It’s a must-have in every of my Japanese meal. So when I got an email from Miso Tasty inviting me to celebrate their launch, I immediately wrote back to say I was attending!

I met up with Emma earlier for a short catch up and some good coffee & cake at Kahaila Cafe, a non-profit cafe at Brick Lane. For a decent price, you can have yourself a lovely cup of coffee (or tea) and a large slice of very delicious cake. We had a slice of red velvet cake and my, it was delicious. I am quite wary when it comes to red velvet cakes because I have had my fair share of overly sweet, icky red velvety cakes – and I actually really love red velvet. So when I spoon in my first mouthful, I know that I have found one place (at least) that have gotten it right! So, thank you Em, for the lovely recommendation, we must come back and try the other cakes!

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

 

We made our way to the event, and when we arrived we were greeted by a friendly bunch of miso-lovers all seated around the table and a personalized space for me with my name attached to a dainty soup spoon! Almost immediately, we were served with this amazing glass of sparkling sake (this is so good, I need to find out where I can get this stuff) and we were then welcomed by Bonnie, the founder of Miso Tasty! She then proceeded to tell us (while we help ourselves to a lovely miso snack spread) about how Miso Tasty was started up, the obstacles, the successes, and how the miso was produced. It was a great educational session, I have to say, we now know the fermentation processes of the miso, why and how each miso tastes differently. We were asked to pick our favourite but darn they all tastes so good, each in their own way.

DSC_0456

DSC_0452

DSC_0454

We got to sample our chosen miso soup, my first choice was the spicy miso soup. Accompanied by a spread of fresh ingredients such as spring onion, seaweed, prawns, meat, noodles, tofu (the list goes on actually), I realized that miso doesn’t have to be all plain Jane – creative pimping can liven up the bowl!

DSC_0463

My second bowl, I had the classic Shiro miso. For me, this can be as simple as it originally is and it still tastes just as yum!

DSC_0470

As we chat around the table, Bonnie got into action and seemed to be cooking quite a storm in the kitchen.

DSC_0477

Lo and behold, not too long later we were presented with these amazing dishes cooked with miso.

DSC_0486

Aubergine-miso & coleslaw made with miso and tahini

DSC_0490

Saikyo miso grilled black cod and smoked salmon

These dishes were absolutely amazing! It had never occurred to me to come up with such creations with miso! Bonnie has so kindly agreed to put up some recipes on the website so I’ll be looking forward to that! My personal favourites are the aubergine-miso & and grilled black cod. Bonnie mentioned that it was really difficult to get the black cod but the outcome is well worth the money spent! The black cod has completely taken my heart, I most certainly will keep a lookout for this particular fish the next time round.

And when we had had our fill, guess what? We had desserts! You heard me right, dessert made with miso!

DSC_0497

Freshly baked gluten-free miso cookies! Yum! With chocolate chips too! Bonnie has posted up the recipe for this, so I’m looking forward to try it out soon!

 

The evening ended with gales of laughter around the table as well-fed happy people exchanged stories and contacts. We were each given a rather heavy-laden goodie bag and it did include what seemed like a month’s supply of miso (yay!), a bottle of juice from Organic Miracles and skin care products from Ren. Thank you so much!

DSC_0505

As I sat on the bus on my way home, reflecting on the evening’s event, I realised that this could be part of a solution for work hunger issues. As a nurse, we barely have time to go for a full lunch/dinner break and most of the time we end up eating at ridiculous hours or not eating at all. Miso Tasty might just be a life saver! With only 37 calories per serving, we don’t have to worry about stuffing ourselves with unhealthy snacks to keep our hunger at bay when this is so easy to make. Hot water, miso pack, and maybe pre-prepared tofu or boiled egg that we can pack into a small tupperware and bring to work. How awesome is this?! This makes light, nutritious lunch/snack/pre-dinner and I’m sure my body will agree. I am going to be known as Miso-Missy. Missy is what folks back home call the nurses. LOL.

 

Miso Tasty isn’t shipping internationally yet, but to all my dear healthcare professionals that may be reading this back in Malaysia/Singapore – what do you think? Sure it may not solve everybody’s problems but it’s one step! Hopefully Miso Tasty will be able to branch out internationally real soon, but until then…I’ll be smuggling A LOT OF MISO back for survival. 😛 Also, sharing is caring so friends back home are certainly going to be receiving some miso gifts.

 

Thank you so much Miso Tasty, for the wonderful evening!

 

You can find Miso Tasty in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Whole Foods. Or, make an online order at Miso Tasty!

 

If anyone of you have tried it, leave me your thoughts? 🙂

 

Toodles. ♥

Last Saturday was Nuffnang UK’s very first birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NUFFNANG UK!) and yes, I got invited to the party along with all the other Nuffnang bloggers! I was looking forward to it the past whole week because it would be so lovely to finally meet the other bloggers whose blogs I have been stalking for months now!

The party was held at Netil 360 Rooftop Retreat  with an amazing view of East London.

Netill House

Netil House, right before we reached the entrance of Netil 360. This looked scary already.

 

Don’t be fooled by its’ dodgy looking entrance (it was really creepy, if I were alone I’d have freaked out) because as you climb up the stairs to the rooftop, you will see some adorable and interesting graffiti on the walls. For instance,

Graffiti

 

When we stepped out onto the rooftop, we were greeted by some great music, a burger and taco bar, not to mention the lovely view and of course….balloons!!! Almost immediately, we were served with Pimm’s (never had it before, didn’t know it’s alcoholic and DAMN it was delicious! I thought it was some fruit punch or something!), and lovely Jesse came to distribute our name stickers.

 

Balloons-2

 

It seemed like we had it all for a wonderful photoshoot – the location, the props and the people! So that’s what we did!

 

DSC_0084

DSC_0082

Cute & vivacious Honey from The Girl Next Shore

 

DSC_0090

DSC_0095

DSC_0097

Lovely Emma from Bloomzy

 

DSC_0099

Yours truly, no need for introduction. 😛

 

DSC_0126

DSC_0127

Our beautiful and amazing organizer, Jesse from Hecticophilia. Loving the pretty jacket, Jesse! 😛

 

DSC_0146

DSC_0149

 

I also met a number of fantastic bloggers (some which I have been stalking for a while now, hehe) and got to engage in wonderful conversations with them. It was an afternoon well spent with lovely people, yummy Pimm’s and oh them vegan tacos!

I met Marlene from Chocolate Cookies & Candies and Steph from Faiiint, both had so many interesting stories to share with us it seemed like an afternoon simply wasn’t enough!

Not forgetting the dynamic duo Jason & Chiara from goantolondon! 

It was unfortunate that I only had very brief contact with Holly from Petite Promise, Tom from Day Dream In Blue, Kylie from Little Outdoor Kylie, Sara from Hello The Mushroom (we managed to squeeze in a selfie, though!) and Emily from Emily Jayne. It was still very nice to have met them all! But I think it was such a shame that I didn’t manage to speak to a lot of other bloggers! Good thing for Twitter (and blogs!), we are still able to keep in touch! Here are some bloggers I didn’t get to say hello to: Francesca from Fall For DIY, Afra from Mad Mum of 7, Diane from Nomad Seeks Home. I’m pretty sure there were more D:!

 

 

 

Pimms

THIS DRINK! WHAT IS IN THIS DRINK YUMMMMM.

 

Tacos

These tacos were really good!

 

Victoria Yum

Headed down to Netil Market to scour for some sweet treats by Victoria Yum!

 

Besides the joy of meeting new people, it was also wonderful to see some familiar faces again! Angela from The Awkward Blog was there, Iris from Whatever Gets You Through The Day was sporting a lovely blue top to support Italy in that evening’s football match, and of course prosecco loving Sarah from The Prosecco Diaries who posted a lovely write up of the birthday party as well (featuring moi in some awkward laughing and props handling in the photoshoot).

 

 

All in all, a big thank you to the Nuffnang UK team for such a wonderful party! We had so much fun, we wished it didn’t have to end so quickly! Most certainly, I will be looking forward to more future events and catching up with fellow blogger buddies! Until then, we will be Twittering and blogs-hopping. 😀

 

 

Toodles! ♥

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

 

 

Venice is beautiful. And I don’t just mean in plain sight.

There was just something about the dark, lonely alleys cutting across Venice like a maze that caught my breath.

The first time I laid eyes upon the canal, the bridges – I was all “Wow”. A water city, indeed. No cars, no motorbikes. I don’t even remember seeing bicycles. I think it’s forbidden, if I’m not wrong.

Lovely Kris booked a lovely room for us on AirBnB and it was a quaint little place in the middle of…uhh…some alley? We met our host upon our arrival and she took us on an interesting path – turn left, turn right, cross a small bridge, turn left again…- man I can’t even remember now. I can see it in my mind, if you take me there again, I’m *almost* certain I’ll find it. But I cannot describe to you the directions right now. Oh, I’m terrible with directions alright. I get lost all the time, if you’ve been following me on my misadventures you’ll know that. 😀 But I always get to my destination, some way or another. Before I rattle on and on about just how lost we were in Venice, allow me to show you just how whimsical our accommodation was.

 

DSC_0613

1240 – I have to say, it was an interesting door.

Enter and ye shall find…

DSC_0606

More flight of stairs which led us to our pretty little flat? Apartment?

DSC_0505-2

DSC_0514

 

Very princess-y, what with the mosquito net covering and all that. Not that we needed the netting.

After we were done squealing at the quaintness of our room (and the whole place), we set off with high hopes that we would somehow find ourselves back by the end of the day.

Well, it seemed for Kris, those hopes we harboured came crashing down 5 minutes after we left our comfort zone. Because the minute we started venturing along those alleys, we were already lost. We didn’t exactly have a map, and no Wi-Fi so our smartphones were pretty much useless. The road signs weren’t helpful…AT ALL.

 

DSC_0609

DSC_0529

DSC_0531

 

Apparently, Kris was having internal breakdown/panic attack because we were completely lost. I, on the other hand, had to hold my jaw up because I was in awe and very excited at the fact that we were wandering the streets of Venice! And I was oblivious to her suffering, how insensitive of me! But she got over it. I am almost certain she was having fun after that. We got the hang of it after awhile, maneuvering ourselves around. Don’t get me wrong, we were still mostly lost. Lol.

Ah, Venice. We can SMELL you. No joke, there IS some odd odour that is rather off-putting but we heard it’s worse in the summer. Good thing we went in the winter.

DSC_0520

DSC_0545

DSC_0546

DSC_0532

DSC_0814

DSC_0557

 

Ah, the Grand Canal. Wowed me, it did.

Although here’s a funny story. We somehow, somewhat found ourselves at the Ponte di Rialto. One of the four famous bridges spanning the Grand Canal, and it is the oldest – according to Wikipedia.

 

DSC_0559

So here was what Kris and I were bantering about:

K: This IS the famous bridge right? The Rialto bridge?

Z: I think so?

…Wait, if this is the famous bridge, why is EVERYONE ON it and not snapping crazy photos OF it???

K: LOL.

 

We found out why in a moment.

 

DSC_0831

IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL, I CRY.

My heart skipped a beat and the view left me breathless. You would think I was having some sort of heart attack right there and then. It was simply amazing. For the 2 evenings we were in Venice, we were on that bridge appreciating the beauty of the sunset and of course, doing our usual nonsense that threw us into fits of giggles and probably drawing strange looks from other tourists. This is definitely one sunset view that I will never forget. I almost didn’t want to leave the bridge, if it wasn’t for Kris pulling me away and reminding me about how she had to do this the last time we were at Niagara Falls and I wanted to take root there as a plant.

Reluctantly, we left to discover other secrets Venice has in store for us.

While we managed to navigate ourselves to our intended destinations (the most important being the port where we took a water bus to the island of Burano, and second most important was getting back to our lodgings), we picked up a lesson or two (more, definitely) on the way. Wise words from Kris sprung somewhere along the lines of “All roads lead to home”. Or was it “Rome”. Hehehe, joke indeed, we were in Italy anyway! It was only appropriate. 😛

My take-home message was not being afraid of getting lost. Especially when you are in a foreign land whose people speak a foreign language. Sure, we have to take precautionary measures and be wary at all times, but opening your heart to possibilities would show you new roads, new discoveries. You discover more when you don’t overly focus on getting there, after all it’s about the journey and not the destination – I’m sure you’ve heard/read that a thousand times over. We never know for sure what we’ll find, it’s almost like a treasure hunt. Sometimes, it might just be as unexpected as a pretty little souvenir shop. I have to be honest, I didn’t have time to fully research on Venice before the adventure began so basically I had no idea what to expect. Which I thought was somewhat a brilliant way to start an experience. Well, it could also be the death of me but let’s not get too negative here.

 

DSC_0583

DSC_0543

 

Maybe I wasn’t afraid because I had Kris. Come on, if I was alone, trying to find my way back in the dark what with the maze of narrow, lonely pathways AND with my almost hopeless sense of direction, I might just be scared out of my wits. On another note, if I was thrown into that situation, desperate times call for desperate measures wouldn’t it? Perhaps my survival instincts would kick in and take control. A very interesting experiment for me to consider in this journey of self-discovery, which I am sure I will regale you with, once I’ve gathered my courage and go on a solo trip some time soon. #YOLO, they say.

 

Right, so where were we?

Ah yes, we mustn’t forget Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco and Campanile di San Marco. Venice’s tallest bell tower, the basilica and the square of St. Mark’s.

And then there is Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health), and Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).

Much to my dismay, we didn’t have enough time to enter the basilicas. I would have love to take a peek at the interior – I have a thing for cathedrals, basilicas and the likes. And the serene feels I get whenever I enter these sacred places.

 

DSC_0876

DSC_0855

DSC_0883

Can you hear the sighs?

They say Venice is one of Europe’s most romantic cities. The famous (and expensive) gondola ride that almost everyone would go for and rave about. Now they’ve got all the gondolas dolled up and looking very posh indeed but it is such a shame that the gondoliers don’t sing while you cruise along the Grand Canal (do they even sing to begin with or have I been deceived all this time, can someone please enlighten me). While I am not entirely sure how much it costs to get a ride in the gondolas, friends have mentioned different prices so I am guessing it depends on how many people are taking the ride with you and perhaps some negotiation took place? But I might be wrong. Either way, if you’re into the whole romantic notion, you might consider giving it a go. Personally, I thought it has become rather overrated and the price is ridiculous for a poor student like me. And if the gondolier isn’t even singing, heck! Kris felt that if she was going to pay that sum to go on the ride, she’d make the gondolier sing “Dayuuunngggg sampannnn ♪”. LOL. For those who are not familiar with this, it’s an Indonesian folk song that literally meant “row the boat”.

For some reasons, I cannot appreciate the whim of taking a gondola ride at night. Again, this might have to do with whether or not you think/feel that Venice is a romantic city. But from what I’ve seen, Venice gets really dark once the sun dips below the horizon. Sure, there are some warm lights here and there but I can barely see the canals, much less trying to gaze into my lover’s eyes while on the ride, lol. We took the water bus (Vaporetto) on our second night and I was trying to figure out our location if we were on foot, at the same time attempting to tell these buildings apart. Maybe it is just me. I guess I can say I prefer Venice during the day where I can see everything perfectly. Or maybe I need to return to Venice with a man who has clearly swept me off my feet and everything might just fall into place by then, hehe. Regardless of my thoughts about Venice during the day/night, I must say that I might have somewhat fallen in love with this city. 🙂 Dark & mysterious at night, surprises and spontaneity in the day. Sounds like the perfect man to me. 😛

Food-wise, there are lots of restaurants and eateries around so you won’t starve. While they weren’t the best, they were good enough for both of us, we’re not entirely picky. Our plan right from the beginning was to try the gelato in each and every city we were going to and OH THE COFFEE. Not to mention to eat all the pastas and pizzas there are until we get sick of them. And I did eat all the gelato (in the cold!) and drank way too many cups of coffee than I have EVER drunk in a month.  Oh, and of course, Venice is famous for its carnival masks. You will definitely find masks in almost every souvenir shop you chance upon. Prices vary, so do the designs. Got this beauty for €13. 😀 There were many cats’ masks as well, I would’ve gotten it but this one is so prettyyyyyy!

 

photo

 

This post isn’t going to help you much – in terms of real information – if you are looking to travel to Venice anytime soon. You are better off researching the facts and catering that to your needs and preferences. But what I intend to achieve by sharing my travels is the hope that this will inspire you to make that trip happen, for real. 😀 I can’t give you exact locations of all these places because half of it was pure accidental discoveries. The other half are famous landmarks that you would be able to pin on the maps beforehand, however because it is Venice I will wish you all the best in your attempts to find them. It’s not that hard, really. Once you get the hang of it. 😉 Here’s MY advice for you, for Venice:

 

Forget the map. Let your feet take you wherever the labyrinthine paths lead.

Cross those bridges, count the stairs.

Peer into every small canal that you WILL come across; but remember, while they look similar, they are not the same. Appreciate that.

Also appreciate what the daylight can do to Venice, and how the city changes once it gets dark.

Buy yourself a mask (only if you are interested, of course).

Drink good Italian coffee and devour gelato in every gelateria you chance upon!

And most importantly…just get lost. 🙂

You won’t regret it. You might even fall in love, like I did.

 

Unless you are a perfectionist, through and through and you need to have everything planned out in advance…perfectly. Or if you, for some reasons, cannot stand the idea not knowing where exactly you are. But I am sure it is an experience you won’t forget. 😛

 

DSC_0834

 

Venice, I miss. How you have mystified me.

 

Next on the La Dolce Vita series: Isola di Burano.

 

 

Toodles. ♥