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I’m getting married!

April 20, 2012 6 comments

I’ve had a draft of a post written for a week now, started while in Queenstown, entitled “Some quick food & drink reviews of Queenstown”. So when I came to make this blog entry I had to decide between writing a post about my recent engagement or completing the one on food and drink. This was no easy decision. I’ve recently somewhat come into a smidgen of this annoying thing known as ‘maturity’ and that small portion of my being decided to take the reigns and prioritize the news of upcoming nuptials over the news of an awesome steak. Don’t fret – I’ll post of the steak and other amazing foods and foodspots soon enough.

Okay then – back on track. Yes, Puneet and I are engaged. Yay! I proposed to her on our last night in Queenstown but it isn’t official until it’s on Facebook, Twitter and my Blog – right? right. Without getting  too mushy gushy about it all I’ve chosen to document the evening via photography:

Walking to duckies

After an amazing day spent in Glenorchy, Kinloch and Paradise we get back to Queenstown and decide to feed some duckies. We buy some food and head down to the lake

View

Seriously, what an amazing place. We walked out onto the rocks and were loving life, the ducks and the scenery

Especially happy

Someone seemed especially happy. I had been carrying the ring with me all day (the box is not an easy thing to conceal on your person!) looking for the right time/place and when I didn't find it in a place literally called "Paradise" I was a bit worried. Then we were here and it was perfect so I popped the question, she almost fell into the water, but didn't, and said yes

Champagne

We headed back to our hotel room and called the families then went down to the bar and ordered two glasses of some fine champagne. The hotel decided to just give us the bottle. Thanks Sofitel Queenstown! 🙂

Drinking Champagne

*clink* Cheers!

FIRE

After our drink we headed over to the Bunker for dinner. When we arrived wouldn't you know it but the concierge from the Sofitel had called ahead and organized another glass of champagne for us. What were they, trying to get us drunk or something? I unfortunately didn't get any photos of the place which is a shame because it was spectacular - very rustic with several fireplaces and an indoor/outdoor setting for their upstairs bar. Trust the one photo I did take to be of fire though - I love fire - but the food was excellent and I highly recommend the place either for a cocktail upstairs or food in the restaurant.

And there you have it. The next day we flew home. The perfect end to a perfect trip.

SNE Completed & Yearly Recap

January 2, 2012 5 comments

SNE 2012

I finished off SNE about a week before the end of the year, allowing for a pretty nice break from the tables. Unfortunately pretty much as soon as I finished I came down with the flu and have only just started to overcome it — so most of my break was bed ridden and medicine fueled. It was great nonetheless and Xmas/New Years was spent quietly in and around home without much extravagance.

The month of Dec poker-wise was pretty bad and I lost money pre-RB, but it’s crazy how difficult it can be to actually show a net loss when you add up all those yummy yummy FPPs.

Looking back over the year I must pronounce it an overall resounding success. Aside from being my most profitable year at the tables and re-achieving SNE I was also able to have somewhat of a balanced life and enjoy many holidays and activities away from the tables. Here’s a quick recap of my year through blogging:

The first major thing to occur was obviously what has come to be known as Black Friday — The day online poker left the US market. Since then things have taken a bumpy ride for online poker but when all is said and done we’ve come back to a fairly happy place. Online poker regulations in the US continue to proceed positively and hopefully in 2012 we will see the game become regulated and spring back into action.

May saw me head over to Madrid, Spain for the EPT Grand Final. The trip was a lot of fun and mildly successful in terms of poker results. I look forward to heading back to Europe for another EPT event this year — which one is so far undecided.

July was another overseas trip – this time with Puneet where we headed to the US and Mexico for the WSOP and a holiday. The highlight of the trip was definitely Playa Del Carmen where the weather was perfect, food amazing and we got to swim with turtles. Turtles! TURTLES!

Some of the more avid readers of this blog might remember my excitement when I created a little pot plant herb garden for myself shortly after returning from Mexico. Well, I am sorry to report that about half of the plants have since succumbed to death. It was quick and painless for Mr. Coriander who never stood a chance. Dill and Parsley hung on a lot longer and were able to provide many meals worth of refreshing herbtacular help until they too finally saw the grim bright light of death. The worst was Mr. Black Russian (the heirloom tomato plant). He hung on the longest. He was staked and re-staked and was looking really healthy for a while but eventually the small pot and broomstick handle stake took their toll and I had to pull the plug only a few weeks ago. The rest are still going strong and will hopefully continue to serve their country (ie this household) well for the foreseeable future.

Throughout the whole year I was continually cooking and expanding my culinary horizons, and reporting many times in this blog. There are far too many to post but two of the highlights would definitely be my Bone-In Steak on a Cast Iron Pan and my Thomas Keller Style Roast Chicken. I’ve recently acquired Heston Blumenthal‘s cookbook and am excited to try new recipes over the coming year — many of which I’ll be sure to post ITB (in this blog — I just coined this acronym, probably not the first to but it’s the first i’ve heard of it).

Lastly I have to mention my beloved Wine Fridges. They are still going strong and edging closer and closer to capacity. I’ll need some people to help up the consumption rate — any takers?

All in all it has been a fantastic year. I have much more to say but this post is long enough as it is. I’ll be looking to make a few more posts over the coming days on our recent house redecoration and furnishing, my thoughts on the new Stars rake system (now that it has been made official), goals for 2012 and also some restaurant reviews (something I plan to do more of in the coming year).

I hope everyone had as great of a 2011 as I did — here’s to another great one ahead.

Labor Day Long Weekend Pt. 2

October 9, 2011 3 comments

Picking up where I left off a few days ago.. Sunday was more of a rest day than anything else. We woke up late, went grocery shopping, and had the idea to make some home made pizzas.

Rolling out the dough

Rolling out the dough

First up is a garlic pizza

First up is a garlic pizza - Some crushed garlic + EVOO + Chopped parsley. We added some mozzarella cheese to one side

Finished garlic pizza

Thrown onto a pizza stone in the oven at max temp for 6-7 mins and you get one delicious garlic pizza

Next up is a margarita pizza

Next up is a margarita pizza - a tomato sauce base we made beforehand, a few basil leaves and some mozzarella cheese on top (to protect the leaves from burning)

Finished margarita

Margarita out of the oven

Pepperoni Pizza

Last up was a pepperoni pizza. Exactly the same as the margarita but we replaced the basil with pepperoni

All in all it was some of the best pizza we’ve ever had and one helluva tasty dinner!

On Monday we decided to get out of the house and do something. We left home driving towards the city with no real plan of where to go or what to do. I jumped on my phone and looked up “what’s on in Sydney” for the weekend and there wasn’t a whole lot. A couple of art exhibits that didn’t seem too interesting and that was about it. In the end we wound up driving down to the Royal National Park – The world’s second oldest national park after Yellowstone in the US.

We didn’t know what we’d find or what there would be to do there but it was only an hour away and we had all day, so why not? It turned out to be a day of driving. We spent an hour driving through and around the park and probably still only saw a tiny portion of it. There was a long stretch of driving through beautiful rain forest-esque scenery and when we came out the other side this is what we saw:

Tasman Sea

After driving through the park we had made our way down to the eastern coast of Australia and were looking over the Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea 2

It was an awesome lookout point

So we were now three quarters of the way between Sydney and Woolongong and thought what the heck, might as well make it all the way. The rest of the drive was wonderful and scenic and reminded us of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. We made a few pit stops at random beaches along the way and I snapped some more photos:

Beach Shot

I don't remember the names of all the places we stopped but this one was in Woolongong and alongside a huge park

Random Beach

This was a stop between the Royal National Park and Woolongong. It was a small beach with both sides blocked with rocks and the tide was going crazy

Some Random Beach

And this was just some random beach, I can't remember where

We never ended up actually doing anything in Woolongong other than driving straight through. It was getting late now and we were ready to head home, but we had one more stop to make. Puneet mentioned there was the Nan Tien Temple nearby. An amazing Buddhist temple & monastery  that she had stopped at before so we thought we’d go check that out while we were in the area. The photos I took from my iPhone don’t do it justice so here are a couple of snaps of the place I found on the web:

Nan Tien Temple 1

Main Temple Entrance

Nan Tien Pagoda

Eight story pagoda

We spent an hour or so at the temple before finally getting into our car and heading on home. The trip back took us just short of 2 hours. We had some dough left over from the night before and decided what would be better than more homemade pizzas?! I won’t bore you with a repeat of the photos but they turned out just as delicious as the night before. Puneet also took it upon herself to whip up a delicious chocolate mud cake:

Chocolate Mud Cake

Yummy!

 

It has since hardened and turned into more of a chocolate brownie but it’s nomnomalicious and we’re picking at it every day.

So there you have it – a long weekend spent away from poker and thoroughly enjoyed. My next update will be poker-related and I’ll talk about how Sept was and what Oct and the rest of the year has in store for me.

Labor Day Long Weekend in a (not-so) Sunny Sydney

October 4, 2011 1 comment

After a tumultuous week at the tables I was looking for a break and a long-weekend was exactly the excuse needed to take a few days off. It started out slow with a quiet Friday night with a couple of glasses of wine and few episodes of The Shield (wow, what a show btw) followed by an awesome dinner at our local Italian joint.

Saturday was more eventful. Puneet and I went to see Crazy, Stupid, Love — as far as chick flicks go this was one of the better ones (read: I didn’t fall asleep).Crazy, Stupid, Love We had dinner reservations with another friend at Spice Temple – Neil Perry’s take on modern Chinese cuisine. I’ve heard amazing things about this place from people whose opinions on food I respect greatly so we were super excited. Before dinner we made a pit-stop to have a cocktail at Sake (the ‘nobu’ of Sydney). We ordered a couple of starters and everything was excellent. Buzzed and happy, off to Spice Temple we went.

Soooooooo, you know how sometimes a restaurant will open a sister restaurant right next door to the original? It turns out that’s what happened with Spice Temple; it was opened next door to the infamous Rock Pool Bar & Grill. Long story short we ended up there instead of at Spice Temple. Not a bad thing at all, the place makes an outstanding steak. Before our meal we had a drink at the bar. A super chill atmosphere. I gave the drinks list a cursory look over. I usually know what i’m getting whenever I sit at a bar. An olive martini or a beer. I’m not a big cocktail person and I like to leave wine for the table. But I always look through the menu. Just in case. In case they have it. And they did. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon. Probably the best liquor I have ever had. This was only the 2nd place in Sydney I have ever seen it at (and only the 3rd in Australia). I had to get some. And I did. And it did not disappoint. It never does.

Pappy Van Winkles

Moving on. The rest of the meal was super good. Great starter, great steaks, great sides, great wine, great great great. Great. I’d love to tell you the name of the wine we got but we couldn’t pronounce it at the time of the meal let alone remember it two days afterwards. The rest of the night was pretty blurry but i’m pretty sure it involved getting home and going to sleep. Well, I woke up in bed. Seems logical right?

I’m heading out now to play a live dealers choice game with some new Sydney mates but I will return to post a new update tomorrow of the rest of our weekend. It involved home made pizzas made from scratch, a chocolate mud cake, 5 hours of driving scenic routes through and around the Royal National Park and more pizza. omnomnom!

Khan Academy – A great learning tool

August 17, 2011 2 comments

This post is more of a PSA than anything else. Some months ago I was turned onto the website Khan Academy from someone/somewhere (quite likely 2p2) and it is one of the most amazing websites out there. The general premise is that this one guy, Salman Khan, creates and publishes lectures on literally hundreds of topics. The topics range from the most basic (basic addition in math) to far more advanced (physics, chemistry, finance, history). His method of discussing and teaching is extremely simplistic and he makes it easy for anyone to understand even the most difficult concepts. But enough of me trying to explain what’s on the site, here’s a video where Salman presents an overview of the Khan Academy:

I’ve been watching videos from photosynthesis to cosmic background radiation to the radius of the observable universe and can’t get enough of the site. I highly highly recommend checking it out; it’s great for when you have 10 minutes to spare while waiting for something or you want to brush up on a particular topic for whatever reason, or if you’re just plain bored and want to do something to enhance your mind.

Pot Plants & Poker

August 9, 2011 7 comments

For those of you scratching your head wondering what on earth basil has to do with poker you can wipe the confused look off your face — the two parts to this entry have nothing to do with each other.

I’ll start with the pot plants and then move onto the poker. A recent bout of obsession with Jamie at Home has seen me wanting to start my own garden full of herbs, fruits, vegetables and everything else imaginable. Alas we live in a townhouse with a paved courtyard so any big ideas I had met a swift end before they had a chance to begin. Not one to give up too easily (actually I am, I just didn’t in this situation and am gonna milk it for all its worth) I thought I’d grow as much as I could get away with in pots. Turns out you can do a lot with pots.

Pot Plants!

Left to Right - Back Row: Dill, Oregano, Coriander (cilantro) | Middle Row: Black Russian Heirloom Tomato, Perpetual Lettuce, Mint, Flat-Leaf Parsley | Front Row: Thyme, Chives

A couple of years ago I went through a similar phase where I bought some herbs, potted them, and then neglected them and they mostly all died. To help avoid another thoughtless bout of herbicidal genocide and give myself another level of accountability I decided to name my tiny friends. So without further ado, I introduce to you:

Dylan the Dill. Owen the Oregano. Corey the Coriander. Cleatus the Lettuce. Clint the Mint. Tim the Thyme and Clive the Chive.

I’m struggling with parsley and the black Russian heirloom tomato plant, though I feel like that one has a lot of potential – suggestions are encouraged!

Moving on to poker — I’ve still got grind on the mind and have racked up 36,452 VPPs so far this month. My goal is 150k so i’m a solid 24.3% of the way there. Running hot helps. A lot.

MTD 8 August 2011 BBs

I’ll leave this entry short and sweet. One last thing: Puneet and I have recently started watching Parks & Recreation and I highly highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new comedy. Ron Swanson is my new hero.

Ron Swanson

Non-Writers Writer’s Block + Another Overseas Adventure [cliffs]

July 26, 2011 8 comments

That’s the best excuse I can come up with for the lack of posts since my last entry. You can throw “traveling a lot” into the big bag of excuses but if anything that should sway me towards more posting and not less. I’m not much of a writer (hence the non-writer prefix) however the little that I did write was blocked by something inside me. Probably my inherent laziness. My whole life I have “left things to the last minute” – school assignments, studying for exams, etc etc. So when you put something with no official deadline in front of me (like, say, writing a blog entry) then once it gets beyond the point of being routine I continue to push it further and further down the list of priorities until oops 6 weeks have passed.

I’m home now though and have a bit more free time than while we were away (that seems backwards..) so here’s to hoping this was the last time my blogging desires went wayward.

A lot has happened since my last post. Both poker-wise and outside of poker. The short version was a lot of poker in June (including a large downswing, throw that into the excuses bag too will ya). A friend, fellow blogger and SNE legend Andrew Li aka azntracker moved to Sydney so we hung out a bit — it included some fun BBQing, drinking and silly poker games. What else do poker players do when they get together anyway? At the end of the month my brother and his gf came to stay with us for a few days and we had a blast.

July saw Puneet and I head off to the US for a semi-holiday semi-poker trip. First stop San Diego where my sister lives with her husband and my 5 year old niece. The day we arrived was her birthday so we had amazing fun opening presents with her and enjoying the wonderful weather by/in the pool in their beautiful new home. Unfortunately we could only stay one night as the next day I was playing the 5k PLO8 event in Vegas. Long story short for that event is that I made two dinner breaks but didn’t cash. The only other event I played was the main which I’ll write up separately but I was out of that in about 5 hours. The rest of Vegas was amazing fun — the group of people we had to hang out with couldn’t have been better. I’ll go into more detail of Vegas stories in another post too.

After Vegas was Mehico! We flew into Cancun and took a trip down to a small tourist beach side town called Playa Del Carmen. It was AMAZING. Again, I will go into more details in another post (gee, I have a lot to catch up on) but as a sneak peak here’s a photo of the view from the roof terrace of our room:

Panoramic View from Mexico Room

The whole Mexico trip was unreal. From the food to the snorkling to the pools to the beaches to the people to the weather to the Mayan ruins to the resort. Incredible.

After Mexico we had a one day layover in LA before our 15 hour flight back to Sydney. Not to miss out on another day worth of adventuring we met up with one of our friends Gavin and stayed in Santa Monica. Had a great time in LA and now we’re home. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling — on the one hand we miss being on holidays but on the other it’s definitely good to be back to normality.

I’m now back in grindathon mode. I want to make SNE by the end of November to keep a cruisy December – unlike last year where I hit the millionth vpp with hours (if not minutes) to spare. The will require a solid 50hrs a week for the next 4 months — doable, for sure, but draining. Especially if you include a few days off here and there it quickly adds up to 9-10hr days which any poker player will tell you is no easy feat.

My next several updates will include (in no specific order): a poker update, a Sydney update, a Vegas update, a Mexico update, an LA update and maybe a couple of random things mixed in. So as not to burn myself out (see Roy, this wasn’t that hard) I’m going to end this here and leave you all with one of my favourite photos of the trip:

Turtle w/ fishies from Akumal Bay

Snorkling in Akumal Bay, Mexico, we saw this sea turtle underwater. He had under him two yellow fishies that followed him wherever he went - whether it be to eat some sea grass or head to the surface for air.

p.s I just saw that this was meant to be the short version! god knows what the long one will look like.