Drink: Best Summer Drink (non alcoholic) - Shirley Temple with a Twist

One of the great things about Cambodia is the proliferation of happy hours.  One of my all-time favourite happy hours is at the Victoria Angkor hotel in Siem Reap.  I'm sure I'll get around to doing a post on  the Victoria Angkor eventually. But, it was there that I first discovered the Shirley Temple with a twist.

I actually hadn't really heard of a Shirley Temple until a few years ago, which surprises me as a little girl I was mildly obsessed with Shirley Temple for a few years - so why did it take me so long to find out there was a drink?

Anyway, I have to admit that, when I finally did become acquainted with Shirley Temples in later life, I wasn't that impressed.  But the Victoria Angkor Shirley Temple changed my mind and so I was anxious to recreate it when I got home.

If you want to make it yourself you will need:

  • Ginger Ale
  • Grenadine
  • Limes

Or, if you want a more grown-up version, you can also add some Bacardi or Vodka.

Squeeze a dash lime juice into a glass (2-3 teaspoons, make sure there are no pips!); add some rum or vodka, if desired; fill with ginger ale; then pour in a dash of grenadine, and voila!

The lime gives the Shirley Temple a refreshing tartness and takes the edge off the sweetness, and the grenadine should give your drink a 'sunrise' effect.

The perfect summer drink after enduring the Cambodian heat.  Enjoy!

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Eat: Gasolina Bar & Restaurant - An Oasis in BKK

Although Phnom Penh has countless options for eating and drinking, every time I hear about a new cafe or restaurant, I hear myself saying, "Great, I'll have to try that some day", but some day never comes, and I find myself at the same old places week in week out. 

That was one of the reasons I decided to start blogging about Phnom Penh.  If I want to keep writing new things, I'm going to have to keep trying new places, right?

So today, the Boy and I decided to head to Gasolina for lunch.  I'd heard of Gasolina a couple of times and driven past a few times but hadn't really heard whether it was any good.  Only one way to find out then!  

Gasolina is just around the corner from Boeung Keng Kang market on Street 57.  Once you enter, you'll find that the whitewashed walls are hiding a spacious and sunny oasis.  The perfect spot to chill out after a morning navigating the market.

When I saw those daybeds I almost wished I had a novel to curl up with.

We ended up settling down on the shady terrace.

I just ordered a starter, as I wasn't very hungry.  The boy ordered a barbequed beef steak, which they barbeque in front of you.

My starter was huge!

Well, at least I thought so until I saw the Boy's BBQ.  When he ordered we were debating which side to order, but we needed of worried because it comes with ALL the sides.

And the main event, barbequed beef filet on a bed of barbequed eggplant, barbequed garlic tomatoes and barbequed fresh mushroom skewers.

And three sauces (the garlic pepper one at the back was awesome!).

It was a feast and all for the grand sum of US$8! (My fried potato starter was $3.50)

We were both stuffed at the end of it, but couldn't resist the Chocolate Mousse, so we managed to squeeze this bad boy in too!

It was totally worth it!

If you haven't checked out Gasolina I would definitely recommend a trip.  The menu is simple but the bbq is good value.  In addition to beef there's chicken and seafood on offer.

I would especially recommend going if you have kids.  This place is fabulous for kids, with plenty of room for them to run around, swings and a sandpit, not to mention a great kids menu. 

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Drink:Mobile Cafe Phnom Penh

I spotted this roadside cafe outside a Pagoda in suburban Phnom Penh.  I don't normally frequent roadside stalls, preferring somewhere shady and cool, where I can sip my drink and read a book away from the dust.  But something about the table, teapot and huge collection of brightly coloured bottles is very inviting... maybe next time. 

PS:  Note the fine example of the Cambodia obsession with putting crushed building rubble everywhere to 'even' everything out making it nice and smooth...
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Go: Escape the city in Kep

I'm longing for a little break from Phnom Penh. Don't get me wrong, I love living here, but every so often I just feel the need to get out and have a break from the pollution and traffic and just chill. Unfortunately circumstances don't permit it at the moment, well at least not for another couple of months. But, if I could, I'd be spending my weekend reading a book in the hammock on the balcony of this bungalow.

This bungalow is in Kep, the perfect place to escape from Phnom Penh. Its only a few hours drive and the trip costs only a few dollars if you take the bus, or a bit more if you want splurge and get a taxi. If you're after great beaches, bars and parties then this is not the place for you. But if you want a quiet place by the sea to chill out and go for a bit of a wander, without being hassled by touts then go to Kep. (Last time I was there I actually saw the tourist police tell a tuk-tuk driver off for calling out to me!)

There's not a whole lot to do in Kep, but normally I go there because I don't want to do a whole lot. Maybe a bit of a wander around the mountain...

...lunch at the crab market

where you can watch someone fetch your lunch from the ocean when you order it.

Explore some abandoned villas and imagine yourself in the Kep of the 1960's, when it was the premier destination for Cambodia's elite.

Wander along the beach.

Or take a dip in a pool with ocean views.  (If your accommodation doesn't have a pool, you can always grab lunch somewhere that does, many resorts will let you use the pool if you eat there.  Last time I was in Kep we had lunch and a swim at Kep Lodge.)

And, at the end of busy day, doing not much, curl up in your hammock, and watch the sunset over the ocean.

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Shop: Central Market

Today I needed to pick up a few bits and pieces for the kitchen, so at lunchtime I popped into my favourite market.

Lunchtime is my favourite time to shop, as the markets are quieter so you don't have to compete with as many other tourists and shoppers.  Plus, most of the sellers are either eating or resting, which means they're not really interested in you and you can peruse their wares without the incessant "you want... you buy...."

Central Market, or Psaa Tmey (literally translated New Market) was originally constructed in the 1930's and its gorgeous Art Deco dome was recently restored.  Not only does it make for a beautiful building, but it also means that inside the market is lovely and cool (well at least comparatively).

The magnificent central dome is home to all manner of sparkly items.  Usually guarded by sleepy policemen.  From this point you can choose one of the four internal wings, or one of the four doors to the external sections of the market depending on what you're after.

This is a great market for wandering, the paths through the market are very spacious so you don't feel like you're tripping over other shoppers, sellers etc.  Most of the market is shady and undercover but still light and airy.  Plus there's so many stalls bursting at the seams with things to buy!

Apart from the usual tourist offerings, this is, in my opinion, the best market for buying household items, including kitchen, bathroom and laundry items.  All my crockery and glassware came from this market.

This is also one of my favourite markets for fresh food.  There's a great selection of vegetables, including some of the harder to find items such as zucchini, red capsicum, asparagus and leeks.

But my favourite spot in the market, by far, is the fresh flowers. Regardless of what I've come to the market for, I always make a point of walking through the fresh flower aisle, inhaling the beautiful fragrance and admiring the fresh cut blooms, and if I can come up with an excuse I'll walk out with a large freshly made up bouquet.

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