Tag Archives: food

GastrOnn Delights in Penang

I thought about naming this Fun, Fitness & Food in Penang but really, none of that occurred without our dear friend, Onn who brought us into his family, friends, and some amazing experiences with food, fitness, and fun!

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Old souls give thumbs up to life!

Branson Buds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onn & I are high school friends that stayed in touch over the past 30 years mostly via fb but occasionally in person when our paths crossed. I’ve seen him as a newlywed, a father, and a friend; on every facet, he is nothing short of a classic gentleman while also being a kid that loves to have fun! So enjoy this blog ride…

One of the blessings of travel is food. A mere 25 years ago, I recall eating the spiciest pepper EVER at a Penang hawker food stand with my good friends, Eustace, Randall, and Onn’s father. No surprise that my return is just as spicy and memorable only this time we had an expanded familial experience.

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Georgetown Wines

 

The photo above is one of our big nights with our families bonding at Mee Lyn’s restaurant wine bar in Georgetown. We enjoyed a feast this night of steak, bruschetta, and of course churros – the best I’ve ever had! More important are the people in the photo: behind Leticia is Onn, his wife, Mee Lyn, and his father who hosted me 25 years earlier. Onn’s mom is next to Louisa and myself and she can do ropes (more to come in fitness) like you won’t believe! Behind us is Wilson and his wife – he’s a jazz musician that adheres to the classics when he’s not sharing his knowledge of wine. An entertaining night was enjoyed by all.

Before we connected with Onn, we trooped around the historic area of Penang which is pretty cool. Onn’s father eloquently described it as, “The only place where you have a church, a temple, and a mosque all on the same street.” He is absolutely correct and they are not far apart; what’s most impressive is the fact that “these places of worship have never once in all of their history fought nor attacked each other.” And Onn’s father could not have explained it any better – Penang is a diverse and peaceful place. If only the rest of the world understood!

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Red & Black – Georgia colors! At Onn’s garage

A hawker market is an open area with food stands; think of it as a mini food trucks area with anywhere from 10-25 or more trucks. They started in the 1950s so if you thought the food truck thing is new, then you’re a bit behind. Regardless, you should feel jealous because they are awesome.

Before we met Onn, we went on a hawker search and failed – it was closed! But that didn’t stop us because our mistake discovered Passion of Kerala where we feasted on southern Indian food with our right hands (ok, just me). Then life changed when we connected with Onn. It really started to blur over time, especially with the hawker food, but I’ll give you my best recollection of the dining smorgasbord.

Zealand’s was the sight of our first feast with full family eating around a fast moving round table. To me, it was a reunion seeing Onn, his parents, Mee Lyn, and Wilson – all of whom I had not seen for years. I can only recall some delicious noodles, fish, stews and fried chicken that was extra crispy with Asian spices as I wobbled out! Another highlight evening was what I call the VIP dinner at Green Ocean which included stuffed crab (see photo) and great friends.

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Zealand’s Family Lunch

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Stuffed Crab

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entertainer of the night was none other than Onn who broke a chopstick in half…with a paper napkin!

Chopping chopsticks!

Chopping chopsticks!

Mee Lyn’s Georgetown Wines restaurant was the home base for the week. We met friends, family, and many glasses of wine with great food.

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Churros

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Bruchetta

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Cheesecake

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Durian

Did I mention hawker markets? One morning I hopped on the scooter with Onn to buy breakfast for everyone. The entire trip took 20 minutes and included 6 different food stallsfor noodles, dessert cakes, fruits, and Chinese snacks as well as a speedy ride to the market and back. Whirlwind! The kids love eating sweets in the morning!

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Another night we ate out with Onn and friends at another hawker area that really gave us the feel for the eating culture of Penang which is that you get to eat whatever you want quickly! Leti and the kids love pork buns so they got them; I ate shrimp curry noodle. And for dessert, Sebastian and I enjoyed flavored ice with strawberry ice cream on top; you mix it all together with beans and other ingredients at the bottom of the bowl to give it a delicious taste. Are you starting to get the picture? Yes, overwhelming in a gastronomically awesome way!

To work off all that eating, we trained with Onn and learned some awesome workouts. The two highlights are definitely the ropes that I mentioned earlier. Basically, you take a 50-60 feet rope 1-2 inch diameter and use it to workout; sounds easy peasy??? NOT!!! I guarantee in one minute that you will feel the burn! The second learning point was Onn showing the kids how to defend themselves; the only downside was that I was the dummy bad guy that he used as a target!

We also did what many tourists do including the cable car up Penang Hill, Butterfly Farm which is the best in the world, Snake temple, Spice garden, 3D Museum, Peranakan museum, and of course Onn’s family temple to name a few.

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3D Capture!

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Me & My snakes

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Buddhas

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Photo Bombed at Penang Hill

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Olympic Gymnast Leti! At Escape, Penang

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Yoha!

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Ziplining Crew

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15 years strong! At Penang Hill

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29 years Strong!

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George Town, Penang

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And then there was Escape: pronounced like Dory: ehs-cap-ehhh but I’ll let Sebastian share that story for you. Yes, Penang is a truly diverse place for religion, food, and experiences – I will be back only this time it will be less than 25 years from now!

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Climbing competitors unite!

Sorry but carried away with the photos this time around…hope you enjoy a few more to end:

Ladies Night

Guys Night or maybe this should be Ladies Night or Cool babes with Dork Night…

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Family Night @ Georgetown Wines

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Team Es-caw-peyyyyy!

save us

Da Boyz

 

Singapore is a fine city!

After the 3 weeks we spent in Indonesia we flew on AirAsia to Singapore. Already at the airport you start to get the feel for how organized and clean everything is. We headed to the Holiday Inn Atrium for a (almost) free stay thanks to our hotel points. Kids were all excited to be in a nice and comfortable hotel and they had their own room down the hall from us. A bit of independence and separation after 4 months of travels is certainly positive. We unpacked and relaxed, while everyone got connected to the super fast wifi and then headed to dinner at a nearby food court with plenty of food stalls to choose from.

To my fellow Brazilians who love shopping malls, Singapore must be a dream destination. I have never seen so many malls in my life. It is one next to another with plenty of shopping and amazing food to please any taste. I also thought I had visited some foodie places already (i.e Melbourne) but Singapore is right up there with a diversity of restaurants to please anyone from anywhere.

We spent a day around Marina Bay, which has incredible views of the city. The Marina Bay Sands is quite remarkable and we all loved the Gardens by the Bay. Also had some delicious dim sum nearby and visited the very interesting Da Vinci: Shaping the Future exhibit at the ArtScience Museum.

The following day we had lunch at The Tanglin Club, which is the sister club to the Olympic Club in San Francisco. From there were walked to the Singapore Botanic Gardens (separate blog post to follow) and all the way to the famous Orchard Road (more malls!) and watched some street performers and the city lights.  Did I mention how amazingly organized and clean Singapore is? Quite impressive to see. It is indeed a fine city – you get fined if you litter or smoke in public, or even if you do not flush public toilets after using it.

Our stay in Singapore felt short, we could have easily stayed for an entire week as we were quite impressed by the city, the food, the sites and the diversity of cultures. Unfortunately it is also an expensive city but we found that the food and transportation (mainly taxis) were very reasonable for us, budget travelers. Most definitely a place to visit again in the future.

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Gardens by the Bay

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Marina Bay Sands

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Marina Bay

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Chinatown

 

Adelaide and the Barossa Valley

We have not been able to update the blog in a while. Between our trip to Adelaide, the Australian outback and the kids sprinting to finish their school term before we leave Australia, the blog got a bit neglected unfortunately. We will catch up on the places we have been in the next few posts.

We arrived in Adelaide on Thanksgiving day, which is our favorite holiday in the US. As a Brazilian, I learned to love Thanksgiving throughout these years as it is such a nice, relaxing holiday eating great food and being with special family and friends. While this year we were not following our traditional Thanksgiving with the Houchin cousins, we managed to find a nice pub in Adelaide – The Highway – serving typical pub food while we watched the 49ers get beaten by the Seahawks, argh!

We stayed at an airbnb during our week in Adelaide. Mel was our hostess, she is a vegan chef and was really great to us. The kids enjoyed playing with her 10-year old son, Liam. We enjoyed Adelaide, the weather was very nice and the “flat as a pancake” city made it easy to walk and bike around. Our place was just outside CBD and we spent a full day biking around the main sites. Adelaide is very bike friendly and offers a great service – free bike rentals (and free wifi in downtown). We took full advantage of it and enjoyed the Botanic Gardens and biking around the river. Also spent a day at the State Library, kids studying while Chris and I checked out the Art Gallery and the South Australian Museum next door.

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Free biking in Adelaide

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Adelaide Botanic Gardens

The highlight of our week in Adelaide was the day trip to the Barossa Valley. Mel was very graceous to take us on a tour of some of the best local wineries. We started with delicious coffee and gourmet tastings at Maggie’s Beer Farm Shop (loved the burnt fig jam, the vino cotto and the patés)  and then on to 2 wineries before stopping for a light lunch at Fino, a new restaurant at the beautiful Seppeltsfield winery. Then on to 2 more wineries before returning to Adelaide in time to get the kids for an Ethiopian dinner and Belgian crèpes for desert. If you are still reading this you can imagine how full we were by the time we went to bed..

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With our airbnb hostess, Mel

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Wine tasting at the Barossa

 

 

 

 

We departed Adelaide for our next adventure at the Australian outback heading to Flinders Ranges National Park. This time we did well in upgrading to a 6-berth campervan, much more comfortable than the one we had in New Zealand. We did learn our lesson! More to come on the outback trip…stay tunned.

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Quorn, on our way to Flinders Ranges National Park

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The Apollo, our upgraded campervan