Saturday, February 06, 2016

迎春送冬 :: 吃火锅

'Reunion', designed by Leng.

Took the old folks on my roster out to lunch. I do that once a month anyway. So this is like an additional makan session since it's the festive season, same same for Diwali, Hari Raya Puasa and the January 1st New Year.

Steamboat it was. The easiest thing to match all diets. The servers were able to come around and help out, to minimize accidents, and the old folks didn't have to handle all that hot soup and pots by themselves.

I see these old folks often, but less so last year. I was caught up with a flood of work and traveling. Also, after a few deaths, I wanted to take a step back to reset my mind before getting so involved again. The team kept me updated and luckily we had enough volunteers to go around. I'd like to get back into the pace this year. The old folks have given up trying to sneak me ang pows. NO NEED. What they keep doing, is to give me little bottles and tubs of food! AIYOH. Okay lor. That I gratefully accept. Especially if they've taken the trouble to prep, fry or marinate/ferment/preserve. I'm now looking at five tubs of udang krupuk and laughing. Shouldn't have raved about krupuk to them. There's going to be a constant supply of that all year.

Of course the old folks were given ang pows. Not so miserly lah. Not just from me, but from the team, rather. They've got food packs too, distributed by various corporate donors. Hesitated for a bit before deciding on giving them a plate from Supermama's 'National Collection' as well. I pushed for that.

The recipients were intrigued by the little icons on the plates. They aren't really sure they should be eating off them. Hahaha. Yes, you can! Bought the plates in a few designs. 'Jiang' (将), which depicts a Chinese chessboard like those seen on tables at void decks of HDB flats was well received, along with 'Jia' (家) which shows a stylized block of HDB flat. Leng's 'Reunion' has plenty of steamboat stuff that fascinated the folks, along with the Pearlyn Sim and Lim Ting's 2015 'OneSingapore'.  Quite surprised that they love the designs. Thought I'd be roundly scolded for 'wasting money' on 'useless things'. Heh.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Table for Three

Ah I miss sitting down with these two women! I see them a fair bit separately and they see each other often enough. But to get together as a trio, that's tough. Tougher so for dinner. What a lovely evening together at La Ventana. The heavy rains that blanketed the island all afternoon stopped in time so that none of us were drenched getting to Dempsey Hill.

Chose the 6.30pm slot so that we could have a longer night out. Time simply flies by too fast when we hang out. Ordered in moderation. The portions were fine for two, on the average. But we don't eat much, so three to share the food was perfect.

The omelette with onions and tomatoes was great! Fluffy and juicy. Heh. The slow-roasted octopus with Spanish smoked paprika was surprisingly delicious. Loved the black rice. Squid ink, slipper lobster and clams. Loved it! I can never say no to paella. Plenty of food to share. There were meats of crispy suckling pig with strawberry salad, and an Angus-fed Josper roasted 'chateaubriand' tenderloin with loads of potatoes. Grinned at the menu description for the beef. They had to state it's a Josper grill/oven. :P

We were too full to consider dessert at the restaurant. Kinda too fancy and too many flavors going on. Considered a cheese platter but that was a tad filling. BUT, apparently there was space for ice-cream at The Daily Scoop. *cue major eye-rolling* Opted for red sangria instead of wine. That was effectively my dessert. Sangria is sweet!

What fabulous company. Thank you for the awesome presents. And this crazy happy card with its monsters from an illustrator I'm very fond of, and the most touching words penned. Much love, S and A, thank you for the gift of friendship.

Illustrated by Dana Zemack.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Whampoa Keng

The BFF wanted to check out Whampoa Keng (黄埔庆) for fish head steamboat. The shop apparently has been around since 1990. None of us have eaten there. There're now two outlets run by two wives of the owner, Keng. Hmm. One at Balestier Road (by Doris) and the other at Rangoon Road (by Sharon). Made a reservation for dinner at Baluster Road.

The pomfret was sold out when we sat down at 7pm. Wah. So we took the grouper as the fish in the steamboat. Drank so much soup. It was really good! Wondered briefly about the MSG. But the stock in the steamboat was chockful of ingredients and seaweed. It wouldn't be too bad, methinks. The throat and chest felt fine after. Whatever thirst was induced by the salted egg yolk squid. Heh.

Didn't go overboard with the food. Ordered an omelette with chai-poh. Wheeee! The stir-fried dou miao was wonderfully not oily and crunchy. Skipped all meats and shellfish but couldn't resist the salted egg yolk squid. Tiny lethal cholesterol bombs! Hahaha. Their zi-char items are pretty legit too.

The man and the BFF claimed to be so stuffed, and yet immediately after dinner, enthusiastically zoomed off to dessert of ice-cream at Creamier. They even contemplated having a plate of waffles. Zzzz. Well, we had done major workouts that day. The man went skating, I went climbing, and the BFF went diving and finned so hard against the strong local currents in murky water. I suppose the exercise justified the calories consumed.

Whampoa Keng (黄埔庆)
556 Balestier Road Singapore 32987
(Nearest hassle-free parking at Ramada Zhongshan Park Hotel)
T: Doris +65 91276550 / Office +65 63567371
Reservations necessary

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

All About The Core

Holidays in my world don't equate piling on the pounds. In fact, holidays are perfect for getting those abs that I have neglected to maintain during the daily grind where exercise sessions are shortened in favor of work obligations or social commitments.

The man has been doing planks for years now. Never knew what the fuss is about. All my life I've done gymnastics, ballet and figure-skating, and even now in the form of parkour. My core has been built solid. I never thought about it. Over the holidays, I randomly decided to plank too. By golly, it's the most boring thing ever. To simply plank for four minutes without a distraction. No, my thoughts aren't loud enough. The next day, I took the iPad and flipped it to an article to read while I planked. Much better. To level up, instead of just lifting arms and legs or whatever, simply tweet or type emails or something.

The holidays have increased my capacity for exercises. Am back to the usual routine of alternate days of pilates and swimming. So that means a proper workout is done daily, although the intensity has increased. The one-hour stretches on the machines are upped to 90 minutes, and the slow 25 laps breast-stroke to a longer pool session by doing a fast 40 laps front crawl. That addiction to feeling the slight muscle ache after. Ahhhhh. And of course that slight thrill of completing these sessions with ease.

The man can't run (knees lah), and I really dislike running. He has taken to dragging me out at 10pm or so for walks in the neighborhood, exclaiming that he needs another 3000 steps to 'hit the quota'. Zzzz. He and the Microsoft Band. So we've been doing brisk walks lasting between 45min to an hour. Those usually give him an additional 10,000 to 12,000 steps to bust all quotas. Dohhh. I'm not as fixated on counting steps or sleep cycles. Neither piece of information appeals nor helps me in any of my fitness goals. Oof.

Still not keen on joining gyms leh. Not even Virgin Active which looks so good. Mainly because I'm not into classes of any sort. Not bothered about treadmills and such. I still prefer spending time in a pilates studio. Or get out there to walk/skate/cycle and feel the sun.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Potluck and A Jam Session

Potluck is always such a good idea for gatherings. Less stress for the host and guests feel slightly less 'pai-seh' for crashing a pad. Best if the hosts have a dishwasher. Even less guilt about cleaning up. Heh. We hit up J and L's for dinner. Everyone brought something, homecooked chicken curry and vegetarian lasagna, as well as store-bought awesome deep-fried prawn-paste chicken wings, braised duck and tofu. The hosts did a tasty lor bak with quail eggs (Teochew braised pork belly in dark soy sauce).

The man and I had just gotten back; he had papers to review and couldn't do food prep. That left me to sort out the dishes to contribute to the potluck. *GULP* I did the easiest items. Marinated pieces of chicken in curry powder, spices and yoghurt. Then threw them into the oven. Tandoori-inspired chicken. A total no-brainer. Didn't even use any recipes. Hahaha. The second dish was even more champion- Asian fried rice. Didn't even need to think! 750grams of brown rice had been cooked a day earlier. I only had to wok-fry them with silver fish, eggs and onions. LOL. I assure you it was edible. #impieCooks2016

That night at J and L's lovely space that's seriously sound-proofed, we stayed till 2am. The guys were creating such a racket on the guitars. It's almost a given that the hosts of any potluck in our group owns many guitars, amps and thingamajigs. Took turns to head out to check the noise volume. Couldn't hear a thing. Whewwww. Luckily the singing wasn't off-key because the drinking was fairly moderate. By and by, N finished her whisky, swopped out to water, eyeballed me and whispered, "It's 1.30am and these guys don't seem to want to leave!!!" Tsk. We rounded up everyone and kicked them (and ourselves) home.

OMG. Poor J and L must be so exhausted by these guests who refused to get out and kick up such a ruckus with three guitars and two amps. We roundly terrorized the dog. It was a beautiful night of food, friendship and songs. Happy memories made and kept. #TheWeekOurChildhoodMusicHeroesAndSnapeDied

Monday, February 01, 2016

読み :: ハローキティのニーチェ 強く生きるために大切なこと

Was already cackling like crazy when I picked up this book for a cursory flip. Bought it anyway. I know too many Hello Kitty fans to give it to. 'Hello Kitty X F.W.Nietzsche' (ハローキティのニーチェ 強く生きるために大切なこと (朝日文庫)).

The front cover of the cat holding the book seems to indicate that this take inspiration from Nietzsche's 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' (composed in four parts and published between 1883 and 1891). At the bookshop, there's a whole range on the shelf- of Little Twin Stars (キキ&ララの『幸福論』 幸せになるための93ステップ, like 93 steps to be happy like Kiki and Lala), My Melody (マイメロディの『論語』 心豊かに生きるための言葉), Keropi (けろけろけろっぴの『徒然草』 毎日を素敵に変える考え方, essays in idleness), etc. I picked the most cheem-sounding book that happens to be exhorted by the cat with no mouth.

To sort out Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche's almost austere, depressing and very critical of religion (okay, Christianity mainly; 'On the Genealogy of Morals' and the concept of 'slave morality') and morality philosophy to a more positive take, this is proudly illustrated by Hello Kitty and friends. -_- I was like.... really? Really?!  REALLY??? Nietzsche's quotes are generally dark and non-life-affirming. I've always remembered his quotes here and there, especially those that switches on the imaginary worlds, like this one, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." (from 'Beyond Good and Evil', 1886.)

On a page titled「友情というものは、恋よクもっと複雜」, it talks about friends as competitors, the value of truthfulness towards those who are friends and not enemies, and how friendly competition spurs excellence.

It was a surprisingly easy read, and not really crappy. Yes, in spite of the colorful animals dancing across the pages. It's not easy to ignore the cat. It's quite in-my-face. I did wonder if there's a subtle comment about man being the bridge between animals and the superhuman (of the Übermensch). Which then, totally makes this little book ironic and true to the irony of the original. So you know, Hello Kitty can do literature too. :P

“No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.” Well, Nietzsche's pretty obsessed with man and his weaknesses of loneliness and lack of self-mastery. He stresses on independence and strength of will. I don't know how far this is applicable to contemporary society. He then suggests that one person's virtue is another's vice. That took some time to wrap my head around. As with each philosopher and their views, we'll all find something to object to. That's half the fun. These two quotes are from 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' (1883-1891).

“But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?” 

Towards the end, a page touches on loneliness, and how that doesn't have to eat you up. It suggests that loneliness is a positive result of a strong mind and one should not mistake solitude for loneliness. Once anger and anxiety are controlled, then it isn't a rational excuse to be lonely.

孤独と向き合うのも大切なこと。でも余計な事を考えて、自分や誰かに牙を向けないように気をつけよう。 孤独と戦える強い心も大事。でも無理をすると、不安で攻撃的になりがち。自分の弱さを押し殺すのではなく、時には不安を打ち明けてみよう。憎しみや怒りは、人をより孤独にしてしまう。

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Odette :: Singapore

The man was eager to dine at Odette. I'm not so hot about this genre of food. Also not a fan of Jaan when it was under Chef Julien Royer, and am certainly less keen on Odette. But a contemporary take on French cuisine interests me more than its traditional fare which is too heavy and way too rich. Importantly, I've always preferred giving sushi restaurants priority when it comes to 'fine-dining' in Singapore. There, I said it.

The man went for the full eight courses with meat. There was Japanese clam à la Française with smoked bone marrow, grenobloise (browned butter, parsley, lemon and capers) and meunière. The white meat of Kushiro flounder was gorgeous. Done in two ways with red kuri squash and Thai velouté, I stole many bites. He liked the medium-rare barbecued Plounéour-Ménez pigeon. Also, he merrily ate all the sweets and petit fours, including mine.

I opted for the eight-course vegetarian menu. Half of the menu was good. Unfortunately the use of velouté is heavy, and I dislike velouté because it's kinda nauseating. So whenever the sauces appeared, I left it aside. Like how in my first course of edamame velouté, I picked out edamame from the foam. The le Puy lentils Retour d'Orient with cumin caramel, yoghurt and hummus was a total winner. Those flavors were exactly what I love in my food.

The chef's signature pine smoked organic egg was firmly on the menu, of course. Nobody could fault its presentation. The humble egg when treated right, is delicious. It was broken over root vegetables, Patrick Duler pancetta and mushroom ketchup. That was awesome. Mine didn't hold the pancetta of course. I love eggs, and this was a fantastic dish. It's probably the only dish I really fancied at Jaan and now Odette.

My palate leans heavily towards lighter flavors. If there could be a bit more Pacific Northwest and Nordic influences in the food, I'd be more in love with Odette. :p It was an excellent dinner. The man and I enjoyed it very much. A quiet evening. I'll return for its service, expected quality of food, and quiet time with friends. Service was attentive and excellent. The staff are so well-trained. Impressive. In fact, it's one of the few restaurants in Singapore that's so well-staffed both on the floor and in the kitchen.

Tried very hard not to roll my eyes when asked if I wanted wine. NO NO NO. Don't people drink other things besides wine at the table? ARRRRGH. Whisky and beer make me happier, and at supposedly fine-dining restaurants, I'm much more willing to spend on beer than bottles of wine that I don't care for. Odette's beer list is uninspiring. The whisky selections fared better.

The servers quickly caught on that we were more into whisky than wine. Appreciated them showing us the whisky available; even bringing us samples. That definitely encouraged us to drink more. Heh. Began with The Auld Alliance's independent bottling of a Caol Ila. Then we moved on to more. Very impressed by The Auld Alliance's single cask bottlings. The 1988 Irish single malt was so fruity on the palate. I was enchanted. The aged small-batch American rye from Willett in its XCF Exploratory Cask Finish Version 1.0 was rich and full-bodied. Loved them.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ed The Bear Comes Home

Ed the Bear went on a staycation with Missy for almost two months! It seemed mean to remove the bear from the little girl in the immediate days she returned to school. But I wasn't in town anyway. So the bear accompanied her for the first two weeks of Primary Two, the year when tests and exams set in.

Y also sent me like...two photos of Ed the Bear hanging out with Missy. LOL. Okay, not like one photo a day. I'm not insane. It's a teddy bear, an inanimate soft toy. But I always personify my bears and am tickled that Missy still does that. There's something magical about bears. I've loved them since I was a little girl and never quite lost it. Sometimes, the man thinks I'm a stark raving lunatic for talking to teddy bears and formulating their replies. Well, he does that occasionally too! I'm not interested in all soft toys okay. Only bears.

Retrieved him from Y over breakfast the other day. I actually texted her the night before to remind her to bring Ed, and she humored me by replying, "All packed!" Hahaha. We're quite mad. :P It was a precious morning with Y when she had a break from the hectic January work grind and before I began mine.

Missy took so much effort to color a card and write a little note along with the bear to be sent home. The note asked if Ed could come stay with her again. Of course, my dear. Anytime. So long you still want Ed the Bear, and he has all his fur intact, he'll be most thrilled to come play.