Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

Hello Everyone! Before we jump into a new fruit theme for the month, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of my Auguesters for sharing, not only their deliciously enticing recipes, but for also sharing their story and passion for food. Thank you to the new faces, and of course to the recurring guests over the years since I started the series. I hope that I can call everyone together again next year! If you would like to know more about the series, and possible hop on the bandwagon for next year, check out the ‘Auguest’ tab above and feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions, or if you are interested in being a part of the series for next year. Yes, I will take bookings as early as now *cheeky grin*.

Moving forward, the theme, or shall I say, fruit for September is none other than the Queen of Fruits herself – Mangosteen. Mangosteen is a tropical fruit that is in season from May to September; widely grown in the eastern, central, and southern parts of Thailand. Mangosteen is known as the ‘Queen of Fruits’ because of its unique crown and deliciously sweet taste.

Mangosteen Fruit

The fruit has a thick reddish-purple-brown rind with a green petal-like crown. The juicy white pulp is made of segments of varying sizes – usually 4 to 8 pod-like fruits. The number of hard brown petals at the bottom of the fruit indicates the number of segments. Among the pulp segments, only one or two are big and have almond-like seeds in them.

Here are some pointers on how to select the best of the best mangosteens:


When the fruit starts to ripen, the rind turns reddish-purple. At this stage, the mangosteen has a sweet and sour flavour to it, and it can be stored longer than ripe ones which have a dark purple rind to it and is sweet.


Choose fruits that still have fresh, green stems. Dry stems indicate that the fruits are old.

Skin Appearance and Feel

Good mangosteens have firm yet flexible rinds. You want to avoid those with cracks and bruises since it is likely that they have fallen from the trees, and are generally bad. Bruising also causes the skin to harden.

Additionally, mangosteens that have a smooth and shiny skin usually means that they have been sprayed with chemicals. On the other hand, fruits that have brown stains are often organic and sweet.

Hardened yellow drops on the skin is dried-up sap. If it’s just on the skin, it has no negative effect on the fruit, however, once it enters into the fruit, it often spoils the pulp and thus making it inedible. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know before opening the fruit.


Choose fruits that are heavy for light fruits often mean that they are old and its pulp may be dry. If you are able to, it’s a good idea to sample the fruit first before buying it. Fruits from the same batch are more likely to be of the same quality. However, it is quite common in some markets that different grade fruits are mixed. Therefore it’s worth the extra effort to check out several fruit stalls and buy from the best ones.

Mangosteen Fruit

How to cut open a Mangosteen Fruit

Take a mangosteen fruit and insert a knife about half an inch into the rind (outer thick skin). Slide the knife around the fruit so that it does not touch the inner white fleshy pulp part, and without cutting the fruit in half. Another method would be to firmly press down on the fruit until the rind tears open. Twist and tear until it opens apart. Once open, scoop out the fleshy white fruit and discard the rind.

The recipe that I will be tackling tonight, is a simple yet refreshingly exotic cocktail drink to quench that weekend thrist. Or hey, maybe even a midweek-midday stress reliever? Your choice. I won’t judge. I’m probably the latter. Feel free to substitute the booze for any other alcoholic beverages such as vodka, or completely leave it out for a mocktail drink instead.

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail Ingredients


* Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. to serve 2, 3, or larger groups.


  • 4 fresh mangosteen fruit
  • 2 shots tequila**
  • 330ml soda water
  • 1 sprig basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • Basil leaves, to garnish
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon slice, to garnish

* 1 shot = 2 tbsp


  1. Add the fleshy white fruit (pitted)*** of the mangosteen into a blender and blend well until it becomes a smooth fruit paste.
  2. In a pitcher, add the soda water, lemon juice, and sugar together. Stir well. After the sugar dissolves, add in the mangosteen fruit paste and shots of tequila. Stir.

Note: Add half of the lemon juice first. Taste then add/adjust if needed. If you add all the lemon juice in one go, it may become very tangy and you may have a hard time in adjusting the flavours. Diluting the juice isn’t a good idea.

  1. Transfer the juice to a salt-rimmed glass, and garnish with a lemon slice and basil sprig. Add ice cubes if you wish.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

Mangosteen, Lemon, and Basil Cocktail

*** While other choose not to eat the seeds of a mangosteen fruit, they are actually are soft and edible. In some cases though, the seeds may be hard and bitter so you might want to discard them if so. Only the larger pulps of fruit contain seeds.


– Ally xx

Red Wine & Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks

Red Wine & Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks

Hello Everyone! I know, I say this every time we come to an end of a blog series – but sometimes it actually does come to quite a bit of a shock when the realisation hits you that another month has passed by and we are that much closer to Christmas and the New Year! It really does at times make me wonder, where did the year go? How was it that it felt like only a few months ago that I was complaining about it being a long way to go before the end of the year, and suddenly in the blink of an eye it will be November soon. I also have that same feeling when it comes to the day after my birthday – where I think about how I have to wait another 364 days until I have a reason to celebrate another year of life – and now look! I’ll be 25 in exactly two weeks!

Anyway, tangent aside, tonight’s recipe has been one that I have been wanting to make for a very long time. I can’t stress enough how much it saddens me when I have such high expectations for a lamb shank dish whenever I order it off a menu. Don’t get me wrong, flavours were nice, and definitely fall-off-the-bone tender, but, my expectations dissipate when a tiny piece of lamb shank hits the table, knowing that it’s definitely not worth the price. So how do I fix this? Well, why not I buy a worthy enough size of a lamb shank that will only cost me $8.00 max. and cook it myself? Not to mention, I can throw in a whole bottle of red wine too to really bring out the flavour *cheeky grin* For my readers who aren’t from Brunei, or aren’t Muslim, you can’t find lamb shanks that have been braised in red wine here in Brunei as if not all, but most Western Restaurants here are Halal. Actually – don’t pour in the whole bottle of wine for your shanks, reserve some for a glass or two to drink while devouring the lamb!

Before I move on to the recipe, please check out the original over on Taste Australia.

Red Wine & Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks Ingredients



  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 x 400g cans Italian diced tomatoes
  • 3 lamb shanks, french trimmed
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 brown onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Ground salt and black pepper, to taste.


  1. Preheat oven to 170C (325F or gas mark 3). Heat the olive oil in a large flame-proof casserole dish over medium-high. Season your shanks with salt and pepper. Depending on how big your casserole dish is, cook your lamb shanks if batches if needed, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining shanks. Set aside.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then add in the onions. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onions soften. Return the lamb shanks to the dish and pour over the red wine, deglazing the brown residue at the bottom of the pan for extra flavour. Bring to a boil, cooking for 4-5 minutes, or until wine reduces by half.
  3. Remove from heat and add the canned tomatoes and rosemary sprigs to the dish, seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake, covered, for 1 & 1/2 hours or until lamb is almost falling off the bone.
  4. Serve the lamb shanks on a generous bed of rosemary & roasted garlic chunky mashed potatoes and some pan-fried baby asparagus. Enjoy!

Red Wine & Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks

Red Wine & Rosemary Braised Lamb Shanks


– Ally xx

Bœuf Bourguignon with Potato Gnocchi

Bœuf Bourguignon with Potato Gnocchi

Hello Everyone! It’s week 2 of Cooking with Alcohol month and today I will be cooking with one of my favourite bevvys to have when I’m out with friends or just socialising with – well, this was back when I was in Australia and I don’t do it now; only if a friend throws a party and there’s red wine being served *cheeky grin*. Of course, using red wine in your cooking is just as good as having a glass or two (whispers: or more) on the weekends.

“Secondary cuts of meat are my favourite and I love to use them in this dish. Remember, you’ll need to start this the day before so the beef has time to marinate overnight in that gorgeous red wine. You really do need to use a bold red wine for this recipe, it makes all the difference — just make sure you buy an extra bottle to drink with the meal!” — Manu Feildel

Bœuf Bourguignon Ingredients

Okay, so a little bit of a tangent before I move on to the recipe, this morning at work, my colleague asked me a question after she had seen the ingredients shot that I uploaded just minutes before she asked me this: “I have one question… Whenever you cook, do you always buy new ingredients?” At first I was confused, because obviously I buy meat and veggies when I need them so it’s always fresh, and then she pointed out that my block of butter was new as seen in the photograph below, and went on to point out a new tube of maple syrup in another photo, and a new jar of something which I can’t remember. Well, to answer your question, especially to the particular photograph that she pointed out this morning, yes, most of the stuff were new there because I didn’t have those ingredients in my pantry at that time. Then she saw another photograph that had the same tube of maple syrup that looked new. I then told her that I gently move it around so that the maple syrup sticks to the sides of the tube to make it look full. Also, in terms of butter, I always, and I repeat ALWAYS have a new block of untouched butter in the fridge for my photos, especially if it’s less than half a block already. I eventually use it anyway within the next couple of weeks – it’s not like it sits in the fridge for months/years.

Anyway, one last thing, but not a tangent – before I head on to the recipe, please visit Manu Feildel for the original recipe! I once made Manu’s recipe for Bœuf Bourguignon, while I was still studying in Australia. I made this dish during my second year of studies, and when I come to think of it, that was 4 years ago! I can’t believe how long ago that was! Well, I decided to whip it up again for this theme since I really enjoyed this dish the first time I cooked it. So don’t forget, as the man Manu said: you need to start the recipe a day before so that your beef cuts have enough time to soak in the marinade overnight. And of course, make sure you leave some wine behind, or buy an extra bottle to have with your Bœuf Bourguignon!

Bœuf Bourguignon Ingredients


*If you didn’t read above, the beef needs to marinate overnight to soak up all the yummy flavours before cooking.


  • 2kg beef chuck

For the marinade

  • 1L red wine (Burgundy or Shiraz)*
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary**
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, roughly chopped

*I used Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet.

**Manu’s recipe used thyme, but at that moment I couldn’t find fresh thyme in the stores and I really didn’t want to use the dried kind – however, I had some sprigs of rosemary in the fridge leftover from another recipe I whipped up before this, so I used that instead.

For the stew

  • 250g brown mushrooms
  • 200g bacon, cut into bits
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 3 brown onions, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

To serve

  • Fresh parsley
  • Pasta, mashed potato, gnocchi, or crusty French bread***

***I first paired my Bœuf Bourguignon with soft pillows of potato gnocchi, and any leftovers we had, we paired them with fettuccine pasta.


  1. Place the chopped carrots, celery, and onions in a large bowl (or deep pyrex dish like I have) together with the minced garlic, rosemary sprigs, and bay leaves. Cut beef into large 4cm/1.5″ cubes and add to the dish with the aromatics. Pour over the red wine to submerge the meat and vegetables, then cover with some cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove beef from marinate and season well with salt and pepper. Strain out the marinade herbs and vegetables and discard, but reserve the liquid as this will be your sauce!
  3. Heat the butter and half of the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add in the meat and sear on all sides for a minute or two. Do this in batches if needed, and once done, set the meat and any pan juices aside.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil in the same pot, and add onions, carrots, and mushrooms, cooking until golden and caramelised on the edges, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the bacon bits and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  5. Return seared beef and juices to the pan and sprinkle over the plain flour. Stir well, and then add in the red wine liquid to the pan.
  6. Cover the surface of the liquid with a cartouche (baking paper lid), and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce it to a simmer and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours until the beef is tender enough to pull apart with your fingers.
  7. Once tender, spoon the Bœuf Bourguignon into a dish, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and serve with fresh pasta, mashed potato, potato gnocchi, or even a big wedge of crusty French bread. Enjoy!

Bœuf Bourguignon with Potato Gnocchi

Bœuf Bourguignon with Potato Gnocchi


– Ally xx

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken

Hello Everyone! I really want to start of with a Green Day classic, but I realised just how lame it is and how overdone the joke is in the past years. For the non-Green Day fans or just those that have been living under a rock, Green Day released a song on their 2004 American Idiot album, a song titled Wake Me Up When September Ends – and I was going to go on this tangent about how it’s already October and that I wasn’t woken up when September ended. I told you it was lame *cheeky grin*

Anyway, mini tangent aside; as per usual, a new month calls for a new theme on the blog! This month, I will be sharing recipes that incorporate the use of alcohol into the dishes. Okay, how I came up with this theme was because I have a full bottle of Jack that has been sitting in the living room collecting dust for almost 3 years now, and I also brought back a bottle of red wine from my recent trip to the Philippines. For those of you who know me personally, you’ll know that I am not a drinker – so why do I have these beverages lying around the house if I don’t drink? Well, I mean the fact that my bottle of whisky has been sitting around for years speaks for itself. I don’t even know why I bought it in the first place; the only reason I could think of was so that I could use it in my cooking – and here we are now! I guess, with these two alcoholic beverages, you can tell when the month is going to predominantly feature *cheeky grin*

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken

Tonight’s recipe was one that I whipped up a while back, during the long weekend in the middle of September. I brought it for lunch in the office the next day back, and my colleague asked me what I had brought in for lunch today. I replied “Bourbon and Maple-glazed Chicken with Chunky Mash and Pan-fried Asparagus.” She then laughed and continued to say “it sounds so Masterchef – like usually if you ask any locals what they had for lunch, they will just say ‘Buttermilk Chicken’.” I too laughed when she said that, referring to the fact that one would normally have a simply-named dish for lunch, but not me apparently. My lunch’s name was Masterchef worthy hahaha – yes, just the name, the overall dish is still maybe a bit too simple for Masterchef level. Maybe if I cooked it in liquid nitrogen to give it the Heston Blumenthal touch then I could be in it to win it… As if hahaha! Anyway, the original recipe for tonight can be found over on Simply Recipes.

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken Ingredients



  • 6 pcs chicken whole legs, cleaned thoroughly
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or about 2-3 tsp of dried rosemary)
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon whisky
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Prepare the chicken by placing them skin side up in a oven-proof dish. Set aside.
  2. Bourbon Maple Glaze: Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high and melt the butter until melted. Add in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then add the diced onions, cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes further.
  3. Add the bourbon whisky together with the maple syrup, tomato paste, rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and bring the glaze to a low simmer.
  4. Coat chicken with glaze and roast: Pour half of the glaze mixture over the pre-prepared chicken and toss to coat well. Place in the oven, and then roast the for about 30 minutes, then turn the chicken over and roast for a further 12-15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Lower the heat or remove from the oven if the chicken whole legs start getting too dark.
  5. Simmer remaining glaze until thickened: Meanwhile, as the chicken roasts away, simmer the remaining sauce in the medium-sized saucepan until it thickens slightly and can coat the back of a spoon. Once done, remove from the heat and then set aside. Tip: if it is taking too long for the sauce to reduce, pour it into a wide shallow pan and bring to a boil. The wider pan will make sauce evaporate more easily.
  6. Coat cooked chicken in glaze: When the whole legs are done, remove from oven and dip them into the saucepan with the reduced glaze.
  7. Serve on a bed of chunky roasted garlic mashed potatoes and some pan-fried baby asparagus stalks – of course, whatever you fancy with your chicken will do the trick. Enjoy!

Bourbon & Maple Glazed Chicken


– Ally xx

#youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 02

#youcalltheshots (2014).

Project Background

“Growing numbers of youths are heading towards adulthood without drinking at all, let alone binge drinking, and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre says this may be partly because teenagers now spend much more of their social time on the Internet.” — Brad Crouch, Medical Reporter | The Advertiser

Alcohol is the second largest contributor to substance-related abuse in Australia. In 2008, the Australian Government funded the National Binge Drinking Strategy where the ‘Don’t turn a night out into a nightmare’ campaign was first launched in result. Subsequent to the 2008 campaign that ran until the end of January 2010, follow up campaigns were introduced. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, in 2010 (via Australian Drug Foundation, 2011):

  • 87.9% of Australians aged over 14 years had drunk alcohol at some stage in their life
  • The average age at which Australians first tried alcohol was 17
  • Among 12-year olds, around 49% of boys and 38% of girls admitted they had consumed alcohol at some stage (ABC News, 2013)
  • Among 17-year olds, it was 89% of boys and 90% of girls (ABC News, 2013)

Contemporary media is changing the way we interact with people and our surrounding environment. Studies show that teenagers today are drinking less, and even opting out from drinking at all, and this may well be a result of the influence of the time spent on the Internet. It was speculated that the age group’s love for the Internet such as, social media and online games, is taking up so much of their time, and in result, not enough time left to find themselves in drinking situations.

Another reason for the decline in teenage drinking, as pointed out in this article, is a theorised explanation of the immigration of youths from different cultures where which drinking is uncommon. “The shift in drinking behaviour is likely the result of broad cultural factors,” Dr Livingston said.

There are many factors that lead to teenage drinking. If you ask a teenager why they drink, responses vary from (via Lohmann, 2013):

  • “I was bored.”
  • “Everyone else does it.”
  • “I like how it makes me feel.”
  • “People like me when I drink because I act different.”
  • “I just wanted to see what it would make me feel like.”
  • “My parents do it so it must not be a big deal.”
  • “It helps me escape reality.”

Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to short-term and long-term effects, ranging from immediate harm such as injuries and accidents, to chronic harm. For teenage girls especially, when intoxicated, they are more likely to indulge in risky behaviour such as unsafe or unwanted sex, which can then lead to teenage pregnancy.

Campaign Strategies

Print vs. Online

Instead of using print media, the focus of the distribution of the campaign will be through online platforms. Not only is this a sustainable strategy, it also addresses the target end user and how they will interact with the campaign. Posters would be irrelevant in a sense that most teenagers would not want to be caught looking at a poster on anti-binge drinking as chances of being stereotyped by peers and society on a whole, that she is an individual with a drinking problem.

Through an online-based strategy, teenagers are able to view the campaign in the comfort of their own homes and in the privacy of their own rooms. As pointed out above as well, teenagers are spending more of their social time on the Internet. These social media platforms will communicate with our target audience by providing information about the campaign such as advice on drinking responsibly and how a night out is always better when you’re in control, and helpful contacts. All of this will then be tied together with various Social Events – using social media to inform audiences of upcoming social events and where to find us, as well as photographs of our social events.

Project Aims & Objectives

  • To create an prevention campaign for teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 17 years old who are actively involved in binge drinking.
  • To promote safety awareness amongst these teenage girls, like making bad decisions that leave them vulnerable to dangers like date rape.
  • To then educate these teenage girls in the risks involved with excessive drinking, risks involving an unstable mindset, and wilfully agreeing to unsafe or unwanted sex, even if it was not their intention.
  • To encourage them to make the right decision when on a night out with friends, to stay safe, and to stay in control.
  • To provide guidance to these teenage girls through Raise Foundation’s mentoring program, allowing for them to feel supported through tough times, especially when dealing with alcohol abuse and sexual health.

Conceptual Framework

The concept for the campaign is based on the ideas of Proverbs, a campaign that contains wisdom, truth, morals, and is memorable so that it will be spoken about amongst teenagers for a while (making the campaign go viral over the Internet i.e. #yolo). The campaign will not make the decision for them, but will provide advice between what is right and what is wrong. Approaching the campaign this way will allow teenagers to think and reflect on their habits, and are eventually able make to their own decision. Imposing the right way onto them may cause a ‘who are you to tell me what to do’ attitude as some teenagers do not like being told what to do. Hopefully the campaign will then encourage young teenagers to postpone the age at which they first start to consume alcohol, and for those teenagers who are already consuming alcohol, to promote responsible drinking.

Environment/Spatial Design Aspect

Social Events

#youcalltheshots Event Booth

Apart from the campaign launch party, #youcalltheshots will be making appearances at various social events. An information booth will be set up so that event/festival-goers will be able to know more about the campaign and participate in activities such as carnival-themed games, giant twister, obstacle course, trampoline bungee, photobooth, etc.

Where the booth is located is an important factor to consider. As you can see, by having a corner booth, it allows one of the sides to be open, therefore allowing the ease of flow for visitors for easy access and making the booth more spacious.

Photo Booth

#youcalltheshots Photo Booth #youcalltheshots Photo Booth #youcalltheshots Photo Booth
#youcalltheshots Photo Booth #youcalltheshots Photo Booth #youcalltheshots Photo Booth

Everyone, especially teenagers, love to take photos, or get their pictures taken. There is a growing culture of this idea of needing to take photographs and uploading them to social networking sites as a way of proving to others that you were there at that particular event, at that particular day/time – as the lingo goes, “pics or it didn’t happen”. So what better way to grab the attention of those festival-goers into our photo booth?

Graphic Design Aspect

Branding & Logo

#youcalltheshots Branding & Logo
The final logo does not have a black outline around the speech bubble, this is just to make clear the shape of the speech bubble that is coloured white.

Through the development stage, I have changed and refined the branding and logo for this campaign multiple times, not just in terms of design, but also in terms of choosing the right colour scheme for the whole campaign. I ended up choosing the colour pink as it stereotypically represents the female gender, teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 17.

I came up with a variety of tag lines to piece together the message of the whole campaign. I then took my tag lines and did a small survey to see which got more of a reaction, and it appeared that the tag line ‘You Call The Shots’ appealed more towards the targeted audience as it is a clever play on words. ‘You Call The Shots’ is an idiom which, figuratively speaking means, to decide on the course of action; to be in charge; to make the decisions; to decide what is to be done. ‘Shots’ also referred to a series of alcoholic beverages served in succession, usually served in small amounts in ‘shot’ glasses. So by you calling the shots, you get to decide for yourself whether you should take the shot or not.

Besides the colour and messaging, the design of the logo is based on a speech bubble which ties in with the concept of ‘advice giving’. If you can see it, the left side of the speech bubble is a profile of a person’s face, as if speaking out into the speech bubble. The person is also smiling, indicating that they a putting forth a positive message unlike the demonising of people and negative connotations associated with binge drinking in previous campaigns.

USB Wristbands & Digital Cards

#youcalltheshots USB Wristbands

#youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 01

#youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 02 #youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 03 #youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 04
#youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 05 #youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 06 #youcalltheshots Did You Know Cards 07

Besides getting your photograph taken at the event, we will also be giving out free USB wristbands, which is essentially the digital version of a flyer or information booklet. This way, it will be easier for visitors to hold on to, or wear, while enjoying the festival and will definitely keep them for later use instead of throwing them out.

The USB wristbands are also personalised in a way that the photographs taken at the booth will be automatically uploaded into the wristbands. Visitors can then upload the photographs onto social media sites or print it out themselves. Besides the photographs, the USB wristbands will also contain posters/postcards with ‘Did You Know’ alcohol facts that they can later print as well if they want to. There is also a card with all the social media links for those who want to follow the campaign online.


#youcalltheshots T-Shirt Mock Up Designs

#youcalltheshots T-Shirt Design #youcalltheshots T-Shirt Design

T-shirts are also available for purchase at these events. I have also added two extra colours besides the colour theme of the campaign. The black ink shirts are essentially for those (particularly targeted towards guys), who do not want to wear the colour pink.


#youcalltheshots Website Design

#youcalltheshots Website Design Info Page #youcalltheshots Website Design Events Page #youcalltheshots Website Design Contacts Page

Social Media

#youcalltheshots Social Media

Public Prank Video

#youcalltheshots YouTube Public Prank Video

The idea behind this video campaign was inspired by movie producers merging movie trailers with public pranks to advertise their upcoming movie i.e. the Telekinetic Coffee Shop prank used to promote the movie Carrie, it sparked a lot of views and went viral in an instant.

For this campaign, I wanted to go along the lines of creating a public prank to promote the campaign by making the video go viral. The concept of the prank is as follows:

  • A new, unopened, chilled bottle of beer glued to the walkway as part of a public prank.
  • A person walks by and spots the bottle of beer.
  • Curious, they bend over to pick up the bottle of beer but then struggle to actually pick it up.
  • The person is confused, and then maybe realising that they were just pranked.
  • The person may snap a picture and upload it to Facebook, Instagram, etc. and #totallyjustgotpranked #youcalltheshots #ycts2014 #icalltheshots #alcoholfree, etc.
  • The person walks away without the bottle of beer, and the tagline ‘You Call The Shots – preventing teenage binge drinking’ implying that you left the beer behind and didn’t need it after all.

For the purpose of this project, the prank will be partly scripted and acted out by my peers – they will be told what to do, like walk towards the beverage, pick it up, and walk away, but they won’t be told that the beverage is glued to the ground or table to capture their raw reaction.

I have uploaded the videos privately on YouTube, but if you wish to watch them, click here for the first video, and here for part II (ps. I had to tell some of my peers to fake pull the beer off the ledge because it wasn’t glued on properly). Enjoy!

– Ally xx

Garlic Butter Flame Clams

Garlic Butter Flame Clams


Hello Everyone! So I made these clams a while ago when I was still in Sydney; I was shopping around the Sydney Fish Markets one day with some friends and came across these lovely clams. I remember the lady who was assisting me as I was choosing the clams; I wanted to pick out the pretty looking ones, the ones that had nice brown and white patterns on their shells as opposed to the ones that we all white (which were the ones the lady was putting in the bag for me). When she wasn’t looking, I’d replace the ones she put in my bag for the ones I picked – I know, I’m insane. Anyway, so without the lady noticing what I did, I got about a dozen of the ones that I picked.

Garlic Butter Flame Clams

I think I was too excited to get home and start cooking with these clams that I completely forgot to shop for the extra ingredients to accompany the clams. Well, to be honest, I didn’t even have a dish in mind when I bought them; also, I was too lazy to go out again to buy more ingredients so I scavenged the fridge and pantry to see what I had to turn these clams into a delectable dish for dinner that night. I had an unopened bottle of white wine that I was definitely going to use for the clams, and then I kind of just envisioned garlic butter clams when I saw the butter in the fridge, and onions and garlic in the pantry. I even had a small bunch of afro parsley to decorate with and add some green to the dish. In the end, I had everything that I needed which made me even happier.

Garlic Butter Flame Clams Ingredients

I’m about to go off on a slight tangent here so if you do not wish to read this non-related part, you can skip ahead 🙂 Anyway, I was just about to say Wow, I actually wrote quite a bit today considering I’m not well today (you can read more about it below after the recipe). My brain is a little bit all over the place now as it’s difficult for me to concentrate on writing when I’m feeling sick. But yes, I guess the whole point of this paragraph is me realising that I’ve written a fair amount even though I keep writing and stopping every 5 minutes.

Garlic Butter Flame Clams Ingredients



  • 1 dozen flame clams, washed and cleaned
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium-sized brown onion, diced
  • 3 heaped tbsp unsalted butter
  • Bunch of afro parsley
  • Pinch of sea salt


  1. Heat a medium-sized frying pan (preferably with a lid) over medium-high. Melt the butter and then sauté the garlic in the butter until fragrant. Add in the onions and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
  2. Once cooked, add in the white wine with a pinch of sea salt and leave to cook for about 2-3 minutes, allowing the alcohol to evaporate a bit from the sauce.
  3. Add in your clams and cover your frying pan with the lid to allow the flame clams to steam-cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with a bit of afro parsley. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garlic Butter Flame Clams

Garlic Butter Flame Clams


– Ally xx

PS: I actually had this written out at the beginning of the blog post, but I thought it was a bit dismal to begin with so if you’ve made it all the way to the end of the post, here’s a little story for you. I’m feeling a little bit under the weather today; I could sense a sore throat coming down on me last night before I went to bed and then woke up this morning not feeling too well. Let’s just say that have a terrible and painful cough that has somehow disabled me from speaking. I took what was supposed to be a 10-15 minute turned 1 hour nap and woke up slightly feverish. I only knew it was going to get worse from here and I know that because what I have now is just the starting point of a full blown sickness that is to last for another couple of days, probably all the way to the weekend *sad face* Hope everyone is having a better start to the week than I am and see you’ll again with another post on Thursday!


In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Hello Everyone! Yes, I know it is a Sunday which for those of you who are new to my blog, I don’t normally post on a Sunday – but I wanted to get all the Noche Buena recipes up before the New Year because I’ll probably have another batch of recipes to post from a New Years Day Lunch (maybe dinner depending on how energised I am to cook after a long day/night out the previous night) that I am planning to host – a small one though with probably 2-3 dishes maximum. Noche Buena was hectic and I don’t want to have a repeat that’s a week apart from each other. I won’t be doing Media Noche because I will most likely be camping out the whole day/night for a good spot by the harbour to view the Harbour Bridge Fireworks at midnight.

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Anyway, tonight’s recipe is from our Noche Buena dinner that Jialing and I hosted on the Eve of Christmas. This Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake is one of the many desserts we had on the menu for the night. When deciding on a cake to make for the festive dinner, we found it difficult to decide on a cake that felt festive – besides a Yule Log. Even though I wasn’t too fond of a Black Forest cake, that is what we decided on. The reason why I am not fond of it is because every time I indulged in a store bought Black Forest cake, they ALWAYS use those horrible canned/tinned/jarred Maraschino Cherries that I absolutely hate. Not for our Black Forest cake NO! I was determined to use fresh cherries and if I had to use cherries from a can, at least not the maraschino ones!

Before Jialing and I went to do our groceries for the dinner, we talked about how we haven’t been seeing any fresh cherries at the local supermarkets. But when we got to Coles, we saw that cherries were on special and looking very fresh! I was so happy! Also, please do check out the original recipe over on Taste. Like how I’ve probably been describing over and over again in my previous posts, the recipe says to use a little more than 1/4 cup of Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon, but I didn’t want to buy a 700ml bottle for $30 for that amount. So from the leftover vodka I had from the East Orange Frosting I made for my Gingerbread Men, Jialing had the idea of infusing that into the cherry syrup for that boozy touch. Also, our sponge didn’t rise that much to be able to cut it into three layers, so we ended up having a two layer cake.

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake Ingredients



For the chocolate sponge

  • 1 & 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 200g dark cooking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large free range eggs

For the cream-jam filling

  • 1 can (425g) pitted black cherries in syrup, drain and reserve syrup
  • 300ml double cream
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 1/2 cup black cherry jam

For the choc-cherry ganache

  • 100g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • 60ml thickened cream
  • Vodka-infused cherry syrup*
  • Fresh cherries
  • Chocolate curls

*Add the reserved syrup to a small sauce pan together with about a tablespoon of vodka to the reserved syrup and bring to a simmer to infuse the flavours. Use this to brush onto the sponge cake layers and in the chocolate ganache.


  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Grease the sides of a 20cm round springform cake pan with melted butter and line the base with baking paper.
  2. Chocolate Sponge Cake: Sift the flour, almond meal, and cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl. Whisk until combined and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar using an electric handheld mixer until pale and creamy. Beat in the melted chocolate and eggs, and fold in the dry ingredients and buttermilk until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside to cool slightly before transferring the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Choc-cherry Ganache: While the cake is baking in the oven, stir all the ingredients (leaving about 1/4 cup of the vodka-infused syrup for brushing) for the choc-cherry ganache in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Set aside cool slightly.
  6. Cream-jam Filling: Using an electric mixer, beat the double and thickened cream in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Then fold in the jam to create a swirled effect.
  7. Assembly: Cut the cake horizontally into 2 (or 3 if you can) even layers. Place the cake base on a round cake board and brush the cut surface with half of the vodka-infused syrup and spoon over the cream-jam mixture. Dip each pitted black cherry into the ganache and place on top of the cream filling. Brush the vodka-infused syrup on the cut surface with the other half of the cake layer and top over the base. Pour the choc-cherry ganache over the cake and decorate with fresh cherries and chocolate curls. Sprinkle with a bit a icing sugar for a Christmasy finish.

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake

Cherry Ripple Black Forest Cake


– Ally xx