Sunday, March 09, 2014
Couldn't stop laughing when the bff said to meet at My Awesome Cafe. The cafe kept the facade of the old Chung Hwa Free Clinic and simply revamped the interiors. Forgot if there's a signboard. Didn't notice. I don't think so. Newly opened, this cafe operates from morning till night. They're crazy. They'll be flat out even if they're taking shifts.
We couldn't be persuaded to try the upside-down pineapple and banana cakes and all. You know me. The bff's more inclined towards sweets, but in the evening, she shuts down and prefers savory and alcohol. So she went for the platter of cold cuts. I wanted the bread and brie. Good stuff.
There was a rather strange shot of chocolate-milk-and I forgot-what-alcohol there was. Not rum. It was thin but easy. I'd prefer stronger flavors though. The bar's still experimenting. Don't think they do cocktails. They had a few flavors of Edinburgh gin. Didn't mind the elderberry. Our gin came with ice cubes and a can of Schweppes tonic water. Been a while since I had that. Too spoiled by The Spiffy Dapper. I HATE SCHWEPPES TONIC WATER. Bad memories. Ever played a drinking game with a full jug of that and had to down it? There you go. Gins go so much better with Fever-Tree's offerings. Yes, I'm biased.
My Awesome Cafe hasn't evolved into a cocktail bar yet. There's wine. But I don't care about wine. No craft beers on the offer for now either. Whatever's available doesn't tickle my beer buds. On tap was Stella, and Hoegaarden. No, no and no. I went for a bottle of Little Creatures Bright Ale. The other beers weren't attractive. Not so sure if it has defined its identity for the evenings or it even wants to have a firm one. I hope it evolves. In the day, it's a cafe with decent coffee, freshly squeezed juices, small eats and hot food. Haven't stopped by in the day. Meanwhile it remains as an easy after-work chill out venue. Shaping up to be a great place to hang out. Service was of course awesome.
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Oh, my old love, Caspian. Thrilled that I'm watching them as my first gig of the last Mosaic Festival presented by the Esplanade. Two weeks of music gloriousnesssss. I'll savor this.
Esplanade has bravely paved the way for all these bands to come through and helped grow an almost non-existent scene to the vibrant calendar we now have. It has room for independent promoters and production houses to stage even bigger festivals and gigs to rock the scene even more. Thank you, Esplanade, and for keeping ticket prices cool these 10 years of Mosaic. Ahhh Singapore, I'm quite in love with you this quarter for hosting so many good bands. Stay this way okay? Let's not go back to the 60s and 70s when you banned rock bands and ostracized men with long hair. Not quite my era, but goodness, the unbelievable stupidity of our country's then-leaders in social stereotyping.
These touring bands work so hard. They hit a city every two days with precious little time to rest. Caspian came down from Manila where they rocked out last night with opening act ASIWYFA. Awwww. Post-rock fabulosity. I last saw Caspian in London, 2010. Then the bassist Chris Friedrich sadly passed away last August. Can't believe they've made their way to Singapore this year.
I enjoy listening to bands that don't sing, especially when they play live. There's something about that wall of sound that hits you like a sonic wave (over-used phrase I know). The band played two sets at the Black Box. Saw the set list for the earlier gig. They did all the songs I like. Well, they have only three albums and about one EP. Heh. 'ASA', a newer 'Halls of the Summer'. Ended the night with 'Sycamore'. Made me teared. All the angst, all the love, all the pain. For everything unexpected in life. Such loveliness.
|March 2014 at the Esplanade, Singapore.|
Friday, March 07, 2014
|From left: Wuyi oolong Rou Gui (武夷肉桂), |
Wuyi oolong Lao Shou Xing (武夷老寿星),
and a 2011 Mengku, Yunnan raw pu'er (生普洱，勐库云南).
The tea partner zipped into Malaysia to check out teas from Hojo and Purple Cane, and bought me gifts. Hurrah! Not many people dare to buy me tea. The tea partner does that best. She knows. She's probably the only one who is confident of picking five teas that I'll like.
There're the tea certification courses all over. I think I'll pass. The internships over last two years have indicated that Pekoe & Imp is the only way I want to be involved in tea that provides some sort of commercial transaction with no profits. I've always been certain that I'm not keen to be involved in bigger outfits, plantations, consumer sales, cafes and shops. Neither do I foresee a career in the industry that way. Nothing has changed. What I want, is to continue to be a discerning consumer of teas and whenever possible, share the love with a few.
(This is the point where I want to spew a tank-load of vile about the ex-tea-teacher. But I shall hold my tongue since it's Lent and also, I've roundly dissed her twice on this blog.)
Brought a few packs over to the tea teacher for his perusal during one of our weekly chats. He also likes discovering familiar flavors re-interpreted by tea companies, and how production affects the flavors year on year. Different estates produce varying roasts and ultimately, how a cup of tea will taste. Prices are an indication of quality but not the be-all.
Very glad to have found this one in a good friend's father. Not an owner of any teashops or with strong ties to the industry; he's simply a lifelong student of tea. But he's not showy. I respect that. Being a man of science, he dissects it down to specifics, equations and formulas. It's like his, serious hobby. :) Fantastic. He's always happy to talk about tea, but I've never dared to ask him like...if he's willing to talk about it more erm seriously. Finally did so, and he was happy to accede to my request. HURRAH.
|At 2 years old, the 2011 raw pu'er is still young. But it promises to taste fruitier. |
Shall keep it for a bit and see how it goes.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
And Lent begins. Also Purim arrives next weekend. Before we know it, it'll be Passover and Easter in a month.
Well, I've never tried fasting, not if water is out of the equation. Highly doubt I'll survive. The abstinence portion, is of course, selectively done with minimal pain. Which really isn't the point. Going completely meat-less (no soups done in meat stock or fries in duck fat) is no sweat. Not giving up cheese or eggs though. I love them both. If you take away those, I've pretty much nothing to eat. So there. But I'll strive for the spiritual thought behind it.
So. Can't give up social media. Perhaps I can. Dunno. My news feeds are tied up on all social media platforms. 40 days. That'll be something to consider for uh next year. Maybe not utter a peep on social media and just absorb the news and information. Anyway. For this year, I'll learn to hold my tongue. Had intended to learn patience as part of the new year resolutions. Not doing great. But I guess, passably. The bit about cursing less might be a lost cause. Perhaps more creativity is required in that aspect. But, intent...ahhh. Dear God, please let me have the wisdom and grit to not pick a fight with people over issues I know there's no chance to agree to disagree. Amen.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
~ Matthew 6:21
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Was at a complete loss as to what to get Y for her birthday. I can't bake or cook anything yummy for shits. So it would have to be sadly, a bought meal. She rarely has that much time freed up to sit down for a meal between work and coordinating Lil'Missy's schedule. Managed to fix a lunch date at Tatsuya with Y while Lil'Missy's at school. Wheeeee.
Between mine and other good friends' birthdays, Tatsuya has seen my face every week of February and for most of March too. Hahaha. No surprise there. I don't deviate very much from the usual orders of a dependable chirashizushi and a soup. They're items I like most from Tatsuya. I no longer have stomach space to do a full 10 to 12-course omakase meal unless the dining companions request for that in advance and I've got time to prep the stomach for it.
Chef Sasaki offered to make our chirashizushi bowls today. He saw my nervous face and came to check on our bowls later. MUAHAHAHAHAH. Assured him that they were fine! He remembered to add negitoro. Wasn't sure about the soup for Y. She's not so interested in clear soups. But I figured a double-boiled tuna soup wouldn't go too badly. She could just have the chunks of tuna, tofu and mushrooms, and skip most of the soup.
Happy birthday sweet thoughtful Y! May the year bring a truckload of joy and laughter to you and your loves.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
If you ask us what works for us in London, like how we're perpetually at Chipotle in the States, it's gotta be Hummus Brothers. Always satisfying everyday real food that keeps my stomach very happy.
In Singapore, we're thrilled to have Guzman y Gomez. Happy to also get Pita & Olives. It's currently one of my all-time favorite convenient lunch nooks. On week days, go after-hours. Located at 100am mall next to Amara Hotel in Tanjong Pagar, it can get crazy during lunch. Weekends don't seem to have much crowds. Good.
The hummus and baba ghanoush at Pita & Olives are items that keep us coming back for more. Next to dhaal, these are cooked items we usually stock in the fridge at home on a weekly basis. For supper, snacks or whatever. Great with bread or farro or whatever the man decides to crown the grain of the week in our kitchen. These dips can be easily made at home. But we still like checking out other versions. Good hummus isn't commonly found.
The other thing I strangely don't mind is their version of meat-less dolma. There're many versions of dolma. It simply means 'stuffed thing', which could be just a huge zucchini hollowed out and stuffed with whatever. It doesn't necessarily mean stuffed and wrapped within cabbage, grape or vine leaves. Really not fond of those. When Pita & Olives showed me their dolma in vine leaves with a dash of lemon, I was like, eioowww. They persuaded me to try it. Not too bad. Not as 'leafy' as other eateries' versions. Don't love it, but I've come to not totally mind it. One piece will do though.
Monday, March 03, 2014
Total sucker for titles and absolute fiction. So Andrew Nicoll's 'When You're Reading This, I'm Already Dead' called out loud. Didn't know what to expect though. It sounded surreal. While I like fantasy, I'm not so keen about surrealism. (Reviews here and here.)
Written in first person narrative, it's first set in Berlin towards the end of WWII as Allied bombs fell, recounting the rather amazing life of a young Otto Witte who was a circus acrobat in Hamburg and impersonated the King of Albania. Apparently, there's a real Otto Witte in history who managed to briefly crown himself as King of Albania in 1913 before being discovered in five days.
It felt as though I was listening to a friendly elderly gentleman talk about his life. Otto Witte was convinced that he would die very soon from the bombs, and hence wanted to tell the story of his life once upon a time, before his eventual death. His story began in Budapest and from thereon branched out into many stories. Many more characters came in and out of his exciting life.
In my humble opinion, everybody ought to run away from home and join the circus at least once in their lives. It is an education. It broadens the mind. It equips a person for taking his place in the world. Of course, me taking my place in the world meant running away from the circus to become a king but, on solemn reflection and after some years of careful thought, I can tell you, if you're running off to become a king, then a circus is a great place to start. They've got everything in a circus: talented people, tools, rope, chain, clothes for every occasion and, if you wrap them all up in a big bundle, then a camel is ideal for carrying the whole lot around with you.
Sunday, March 02, 2014
I wasn't too hot about this gig. Taking Back Sunday's brand of rock rose from hardcore punk to combining everything from pop-punk to modern rock. Whatever I know of them now isn't enough to make me enthusiastically want to attend a show. Unless you want to throw in that word again- nostalgia.
Singapore never had it so good with so many gigs this year. More to come next week. Esplanade's last presentation of Mosaic Festival, yo! In fact, it's like, of late, I make a conscious effort to be in town for the first quarter of the year because all the gigs are happening back home. No need to chase down anyone in another city.
Adam Lazzara's experimenting with folk rock now. He has a solo song out and I like it- 'Because It Works'. Apparently Taking Back Sunday's upcoming sixth album will contain elements of folk rock, more diverse instrumentation and dunno-what-else. They've got quite a range. But the man is a fan. So I got dragged to the gig.
Okay. Taking Back Sunday live on stage is rather sizzling. Obviously a band who's been together touring for a while, knows how to work the acoustics, the crowd and give it their best. Always awesome to see live bands who're clearly into the music and the people. Adam Lazzara's mic-twirling were kinda cute. Because of the poor ventilation in the packed-out venue, I was lurking really near the exit/entrance and wasn't standing at the side where I could see Eddie Reyes. Never mind, in clear view, were John Nolan, Shaun Cooper and Mark O'Connell.
There were old songs rehashed and new tunes played. Kinda cool that they covered Straylight Run's 'Existentialism on Prom Night'. Heh. Wasn't expecting that, but LOVE. One of those teenage songs from another favorite band where I can still see their faces in a new format and sound. Thought I also heard the beginning notes of a Sigur Rós track in between some talking. Too many favorites around. It was a surprisingly good night.
|March 2014 at *SCAPE Warehouse, Singapore.|