About woo

The World of Woo is my outlet to provide little snippets of my life to the world, hopefully the most interesting bits.

Around the Bay in a Day: A First and Final Update

Ok so I got a little freelance work, but that no excuse for my complete neglect of this blogging space. Noticing that the last time I provided any update of the Around the Bay in a Day cycle event was the 7th Sept, and that was only a measly tweet, is embarrassing. I had intended to give training updates, weight updates and general fitness feelings throughout the three month lead up, but failed miserably.

Could I have been any slacker?

Needless to say the event is now over and I am happy to report I survived. There’s no point in pretending that the entire of the three month lead up and the event itself wasn’t very hard work. It was nothing but very hard work. An average training week involved cycling 30-40 km Tuesday to Thursday, with much longer rides at the weekend. In the final few weeks the training peaked at 100km during the week and over 200km at the weekend. I was living and breathing cycling and some points felt more comfortable with feet on pedals than the ground.

Losing Myself

The whole experience presented a few surprises: I was nowhere near as fit or as skinny as I thought. Dropping a dress size and somewhere around 6 kilos was something I didn’t bargain for and when jeans are only being held up by ever increasing monster legs it’s time to go shopping – a definite perk.

The Big Day

Having cycled 180km in training I lined up with the confidence that if I were to remain accident free the finish line would eventually come into sight. With thousands of other riders, rolling over the start line was exhilarating and daunting. So much so that I had to run into McDonalds only 5 minutes in, though I wasn’t the only one – doubtful they have ever had so many people through the doors who were certainly not buying food.

The next 12 hours involved plenty of pedalling and not much else. There were fast bits, there were slow bits, but ploughing on was the order of the day. There was waiting for the ferry, there was drinking, eating energy gels and peeing a whole lot.

The End in Sight

Over the Line

Over the Line

Turning the last corner and spotting the finish line presented a huge bag of emotion in a murky cloud of exhaustion. Not only was the event day over, but the training was over, the strict routine, the healthy diet and the staunch determination were no longer needed. A fist pump and a high five ended three months of slogging and honestly, I’ve never been as proud as punch of an achievement. 210km (130 miles) in one day – done.

Some Final Thoughts

As much as I’d love to add this to my yearly calendar I’m not sure I’d do it again. Obviously the majority of people had road bikes, but as the event was advertised for everyone I didn’t expect to be in such a minority without cleats (shoes clipped to pedals) and a fancy carbon bike. A total of three hours for a  half hour ferry crossing was crazy and the event was all but packed up with no finishing medals left when I crossed the line. It was a real disappointment when I’d put in everything for three months. It felt like only the faster people were valued, even though I was working twice as hard on my standard bike with trainers and am certainly no athlete. Now I’m getting increasingly paranoid about piling on the pounds without a goal, perhaps I’ll have to find some new crazy event to keep me busy – watch this space.

Pho Mee I love Pho: CBD

This tiny Vietnamese joint is hidden away at 108 Bourke Street in an extensive and largely empty mall. The first sign that this place wasn’t going to stack up to the competition was that their opening hours have recently changed to exclude weekends, now only opening for weekday lunches.

Something Tasty?

Hoping for something tasty I opted for a fish Laksa, a spicy noodle soup with its origins in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. After waiting twenty minutes a waitress came over to inform me that they had no fish, so I was switched to chicken. A few minutes later I spotted another waitress running to a nearby coffee shop and grabbing a milk carton from the fridge. Now as far as I could tell no menu items contained milk and they didn’t serve coffee, so I could only assume the worst. I was about to suffer a coconut milk to cow’s milk switch up.

Cow’s Milk? Seriously?

Now I’m no curry connoisseur, or indeed knowledgeable regarding Asian cuisine, so correct me if I’m mistaken, but cow’s milk for curry? Seriously?  Needless to say this Laksa had been thrown together in a hurry, I had almost been waiting half an hour, but chucking some chillies in milk and adding chicken isn’t the way to entice me back for more.

Hunger Strikes

I should have complained, turned over my bowl and kicked up a momentous fuss, but when tum starts a grumbling there’s not much else to do but eat. Upon further inspection the chef had decided to chuck not just thin rice vermicelli, but thick egg noodles. This was weird. The egg and milk combo was not good, just creamy on creamy with not much else, which left me feeling like a might soon re-fill the bowl.

Pho Mee no love for Pho

I’ve had the chicken and beef Pho soup here before, which was better and more towards what I expected for a quick lunch at this price point. That said there are much better places to grab a bite in the city and I would not eat here again.

Pho Mee I Love Pho on Urbanspoon

Woos Winter Warmers: Soup

It’s pretty wintery at the moment in Melbourne, so I thought I’d share my recipe for butternut squash soup. I use the word ‘recipe’ very lightly, as I really just throw it all in and hope for the best. I keep making big batches, probably around 6 portions and freezing what I can’t eat on the day into plastic zip bags.

This soup is so easy to make, and is really tasty with some crusty bread, or just licked straight off your hand. Get started by buying a butternut squash. They can be found for around £1 per kilo in most markets, or up to $3 per kilo in supermarkets. If you don’t know what a squash looks like and can’t pop on Google, it will probably be next to the pumpkins.

Image

The hardest part about cooking this soup is chopping up the squash. I attack the outer skin with a peeler then hack at it until it is in block like shapes of around an inch long/wide/thick.

Next grab a couple of medium sized brown onions and chop them up too. Grab your biggest pan and throw in some olive oil, I’d estimate my average chuck is about 3-4 table spoons.

Fry off those onions until they smell perfect for hot dogs, but try not to burn them. Next throw in all the Butternut Squash and coat it in the oil. It’s about this point I throw in some chilli flakes, a good wad or them, or any other spices you have lying around to give it a little heat.

Boil the kettle and add water to just cover the Squash, add 2 chicken stock cubes and get it all simmering. Give it around half an hour, then poke the squash with a knife, if it’s soft it’s cooked. Take it off the heat, grab a potato masher and squash that Squash.

Image

Threw in a couple of potatoes too!

When each chunk had been squished, grab a stick blender to get the soup super smooth. Finally have a taste, you can always add more spice, a bit of black pepper, or whatever takes your fancy.

As there is no dairy in this recipe it will keep in the freezer. I’ve defrosted some after two weeks and it was fine. A word of warning: when defrosting, it doesn’t look great, but keep heating and you will get some delicious warming winter soup that looks just like it did the day it was cooked.  

The Wayside Inn: South Melbourne

Popped in here for lunch after some serious recommendations and left shortly after feeling very full and underwhelmed.

First up let’s start with the good points. This corner pub looks like any other on the outside, but with its light, fresh decor and friendly service, every diner seems to feel immediately at ease making for a relaxed atmosphere. I was dining as a duo and we both plumped for the Wagyu Burger, which is perhaps a little unexciting, but for $18 a pop we expected something more than your average meat in a bun.

Wagyu Burger

Each burger element was delicious expect the main event. The beetroot relish was sweet and finger staining, the bacon smoky and the melted cheese creamy. Even the bun was supremely buttery brioche which really complimented the other elements, but the let-down was the patty in its centre. Tasty yes, but dry and over cooked, this thick burger sucked the moisture from the tongue and was quite a chore to get through. The fast that the waitress had asked if it was ok to have the meat a little bloody, to which we replied a resounding ‘yes please!’, only hastened my disappointment. I’m sure they cook these perfectly every other day, but not today.

The burger is served with the chunkiest chips I’ve ever lain eyes on, but with only a mini portion of tomato sauce these soon begin to dry the mouth. The chip makers of at this joint should be reduced to herbs, as with only salt and sauce quickly expiring, these walloping chippies soon get tiresome.

I’m sure this place is great when it’s great, but today it let me down after much anticipation. Perhaps I should’ve sent the food back and stuck my hand in the air for more sauce, but at $36 for two burgers ‘n’ chips, I don’t think I should have to.

Wayside Inn on Urbanspoon

Gânache: South Yarra

Last weekend I wanted to buy a yummy pud to take along to a friend’s place for dinner and found myself in Ganache. Their staff were friendly and patient when I just couldn’t decide, they answered all my questions with a smile and the whole place felt very relaxed. I opted for a Brownie Moose Cake after some deliberation, and goodness was it good. Smooth chocolate gânache on a bed of gooey brownie finished with a luxurious glaze and topped with golf leaf and a chocolate twirl. The chocolate flavour was so rich, yet the mousse texture of the gânache made it light. Needless to say it was a hit with everyone who tasted it, and could have easily fed 8 rather than 6.Brownie Moose

I’ve seen this place so many times, but never went in as I was afraid of snooty staff and ridiculous prices. I should not be so judgemental, not judge a book by the cover and a shop by its window. That said the prices are high, but lower than other similar stores in the area who charge $40 plus for a similar sized cake.

I’d love to visit the café and indulge in a hot chocolate, and try more of their beautiful delights. I’m sure some day I will have worked my way through their entire menu.

Ganache Chocolate on Urbanspoon

The World’s End: The latest offering from the Peg and Frost combo

I own around 6 DVDs and Shaun of the Dead is one of them. It’s gone down on my list as a classic apocalyptic comedy from the makers of Spaced (cheer here) Simon Peg and Nick Frost. Then came the likes of Hot Fuzz and Paul, both of which I never quite saw eye to eye with. They were entertaining, but lacked that spark that makes me want to watch again and again. Their latest venture slots neatly beside their more recent work; it’s entertaining, there are some good comedic lines, but it feels like there is little substance.

I suppose substance is wanting from many of the ‘end-of-world’ movies. So caught up with running away and bashing everything over the head, there is little time for character development and engaging the audience on an emotional level, rather than just the basic blood thirsty one.

**Spoiler Alert**

At World's End Movie Poster

Pegs Character, Gary King, is an alcoholic waster who drags his five school chums on the pub crawl they were unable to finish some twenty years ago, hoping to rekindle his sense of invincibility and hopefulness he felt on his last day of school. The plot takes a twist when the first fight scene ensues and rather than humans, their opponents are blue-blooded robots. As the pub crawl continues we discover, along with our pub crawlers, that the majority of the town have been genetically copied and are now non-human. Rather than fleeing, the troubled Gary King insists they continue with the crawl to the final pub The Worlds End, and so the chasing, beating and general dismemberment commences.

The final scenes at The World End are entirely expected, a conversation with the alien which results in them leaving Earth to its fate. Refreshingly, the Earths fate isn’t all green and smelling of roses, as is explained is Frosts final monologue.

The plot, characters and setting are not entirely unoriginal, but cannot be described as ground breaking. Many of the plot ‘twists’ are expected, and although the film is well written, the gags are more amusing than full-blown stomach churning hilarity.  If you’re expecting something new and exciting then don’t, this movie is Shaun of the Dead packaged in a new wrapping with a different coloured bow. It’s entertaining, but that’s about as far as it goes.

The Way Way Back; A Few Thoughts

The Way Way Back

The Way Way Back is a typical ‘coming of age’ tale about a teenage boy who is struggling with the break-up of his family and the introduction of the step-relations. The film begins by introducing our protagonist Duncan (Liam James) as the tormented geek, and the supremo jerk step-father Trent played by Steve Carell whilst driving to his holiday home by the coast for the summer. It’s clear from the off that Trent is the embodiment of everything that can go wrong when families collide, with snide comments and power struggles abounding. Audiences with experience in step-families will instantly identify with the trying-to-please-everyone mother, the apparently-overconfident-but-secretly-insecure-and-jealous step-father, and unaccommodating step-siblings.

The plot gets a needed kick in the right direction when Duncan discovers the nearest waterpark and its owner Owen played by Sam Rockwell. Owen instantly takes a liking to Duncan, taking him under his wing and giving him employment for the summer. Duncan now has a retreat from the forced family happiness and space to discover himself, gain confidence and grow as a character. Owen is perfectly played by Sam Rockwell, friendly but not forceful, confident and comedic, care-free but with an underlying desire to achieve happiness for those around him.

The plot thickens when Duncan witnesses Trent cheating on his mother. It takes a few more days, but his new stronger, more confident self is enraged by the betrayal and his mother’s inaction. Exploding with rage at a garden party, Duncan forces his mother to confront her partner’s infidelity, resulting in them packing up and abandoning their holiday early. Duncan escapes the car and flees to the waterpark with his mother following in confusion close behind. The final scenes draw together Duncan’s two worlds, his escape and those he is escaping from, for final words and final moments.

Combining comedy with realism, the Way Way Back is a worthy watch, with some stellar performances and great scripting.