Monday, October 31, 2005

Dining Out - Au Petit Salut, Sun With Moon (again) and Food Republic

So what do two girls do on a Monday when one of them's off and the other's on leave?

Eat.

Eps and I had the set lunch at Au Petit Salut. Good food, pretty good prices ($22 for three course lunch with coffee/tea)

The selection available for the set was definitely better than decent and far better than previous such lunches I've had not too long ago (with the exception of Sebastien's).

I went for the mini cheese ravioli with mushrooms and herbs and a tasty sauce that hinted of balsamic vinegar. Eps' snails in garlic and butter were good and we lapped up all the good garlicy butter with the slices of baguette.

My main of veal was interesting, it wasn't just a slab of meat, instead, the pan-roasted meat had been sliced and rolled up within were what looked like mushrooms and some vegetables. It was nicely done, with the ends of the slightly crispy! A mound of salad vegetables came along and helped with the slightly salty gravy.

Eps had risotto with scallops. Very creamy, very tasty.

But the best was yet to come...

I had chosen the chestnut souffle as my dessert, which the waitress said was an "excellent choice" haha! And it was such a dream. So light and fluffy, and hinting, not overpowered by, chestnut. A dollop of dark chocolate in the centre offered a nice temporary distraction from the sweet fluffy dream I was devouring. Heaven!

Eps' dessert didnt fare that well though, I didn't really read the description because well the chestnut souffle - the first on the dessert list - made me not want to look any further. But it was some stewed plums and cherries with a rosemary chocolate ice-cream. Ice-cream tasted as good as it sounds but the stewed fruits just weren't.

After doing some shopping at Far East, where I ended up with a new dress, we popped by Sun With Moon to rest our feet and ended up with more dessert.

We shared a green tea warabi mochi and a walnut fantasy ice-cream - which was ice-cream with walnuts and mochi all mixed up. Yummy. The warabi mochi was good as usual.

And then the last stop for the day - after more window shopping at Wisma Atria - was Food Republic on the mall's fourth floor, where we shared an orh luah and a hokkien mee supposedly from some famous stall. Not bad but not fantastic though. The place was packed and there were some other pretty promising stalls like the dim sum one and the Sergeant chicken rice!

Au Petit Salut
Blk 44, Jalan Merah Sega,
#01-54, Singapore 278116
Tel: 6475 1976

Sun With Moon Japanese Dining & Cafe
03-15/16/17
Wheelock Place
Tel: 6733-6636

Food Republic
Wisma Atria 4th floor

Now playing: Interpol - NYC (live in New York)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

that's all i'm saying

As the streetlights fade away

Concave Scream - Driven
thanks j

Thursday, October 27, 2005

daydream believer

As the year draws to a close, I've been wondering, did I possibly make the biggest mistake of my life by attempting to be logical and practical when the rest of me was just screaming against it?

I do see some usefulness of my decision but I just feel like this year has been a bit of a downer for me, especially having ridden on the high of last year. It was hard to pick myself back up again and I didn't exactly make an attempt to, in the first place.

What's the use in regrets, sings Beth Orton, they're just things we haven't done yet.

And in a sense, in my case at least, she might be right.
(Yes, brilliant me, taking advice from a song)

listening to Amandine - Blood And Marrow
(Swedish band, check out their website for two mp3s available for download)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

sconed

On Tuesday, on my way back from the pool, I dropped by the supermarket to pick up some bread.

I left with two cans of tomatoes, two cans of tomato paste, some celery and lemons and no bread.

Well we weren't in desperate need for bread yet, and I had been hoping to get my hands on some multigrain bread, which unfortunately seems to have once again disappeared from the supermarket shelves. First Bonjour then Gardenia. Is it because people don't like multigrain bread? Or is it just at this crappy neighbourhood supermarket that it does not exist?

I like multigrain bread cos it tastes good and at least has an interesting texture and it might possibly be healthier than the other types of bread. I still do eat white bread but its shiny brightness somehow makes me feel uncomfortable. It just looks like it's been bleached, and in a way it has. I don't mind wholemeal bread but it's just kinda cardboard-ish, especially if eaten untoasted. Then again that's because toast is just one of the best things in the world to eat, especially when its topped with butter or grilled cheese or peanut butter or strawberry jam. Or some combination of the above, except I suppose cheese with peanut butter/jam...

Anyway, I left the supermarket with all those items, not really knowing what I was up to. But I'd remember reading someone's blog about tomato soup with rice. So I thought, I'd throw some things into a pot and hope for the best.

In went two cloves of garlic, about a quarter of an onion, two cans of whole tomatoes (chopped up roughly), chopped celery, sliced mushrooms, some cabbage leaves as an afterthought and some rice. Of course I fried the garlic, onions and the rice first, threw in the tomatoes and later the rest of the vegetables, also adding in various spices like oregano and chili flakes and of course salt and pepper.

While the pot was simmering away, I sliced some fresh button mushrooms, tossed them with salt and pepper and garlic olive oil as an appetiser. And then later discovered I'd made tomato porridge. Wasn't too bad I suppose, although would've tasted better if I'd thought of making some stock first. But it was already close to 1pm when I reached home and after that swim, I was pretty damn hungry.

And today, after checking out food blogs as usual in the morning, I googled 'lemon scone recipe' and out popped one that looked simple enough.

Basic Scone Recipe


Although I realised a bit late that because I was doing the lemon variation, adding the juice of 1 lemon to the recipe really meant that I should reduce the amount of milk. By then I had already poured some milk into the mixture and could only put about 1/2 the lemon juice, which resulted in a less-than-lemony scone.

So in an attempt to make up for that mistake, I made a lemony icing, essentially the remainder juice with icing sugar, which helped to gloss up the scone a bit I guess.

Result
However, the scones didnt turn out to have that nice crunchy crust that I love in scones. Maybe more butter was needed? The recipe called for 3 tablespoons, which to me sounded a bit little. I'll have to try it again and figure out what went wrong, or maybe try another recipe! I'm so envious of all those people who put up such beautiful pictures of their treats on their blogs, then again, I'm sure they've had their disasters...

I think one reason I've been doing this baking is that besides being interested in food, and having a sweet tooth and just being a glutton, I like to know what goes into my food.

I realise I don't really like manufactured cookies that much - and I've always hated famous amos cookies that come in a packet, those bought from the stores are still ok - they leave a bit of an unpleasant taste and really, cookies aren't meant to last that long, so all kinds of preservatives must lurk in them.

Yes I know that plenty of things have chemicals and all other nasties, from shampoos to soaps to pesticides in vegetables and all that. I'm not about to go make my own soap or anything, but I guess when it comes to eating, I figure that why not make some stuff I'd like to eat, rather than just buy them? So what if my scones don't turn out perfect and my cake not as fudgey as expected! It's all part of a learning process, which happens to be a pretty fun one at that.

The measuring of the flour, sifting it, beating the eggs, melting chocolate, mixing things together, watching it take shape and popping it into the oven. Watching it rise, just like magic.

Then the best part, the smells that waft through the kitchen when you open the oven door, oven mitts at the ready, and that first bite when it's still warm.

Heaven!

Made while listening to songs from bands that start with the letter A: Arcade Fire, Ambulance Ltd, American Analog Set

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Weekend eats

Saturday after-lunch: things that begin with the letter L

I finally sat down to have a bite at Corduroy and Finch.
It's a short bus ride - or a quicker drive - from my house, yet I've never been there. Somehow, proximity to a restaurant/cafe/bar just doesn't do it for me. I like to have to travel a wee bit for my food/drinks. There was an attempt to have lunch there one Friday but there were no tables available at that time.

I'm sure tons of people have written about this place, I know I've read (and heard) various people's opinions of the place, which tend to run in the not-so-good sector. But here's mine, albeit a short one about teatime, where I had
a lemon tart and a latte

I kinda liked the tart with its er.. tart lemon curd. Yet I finished it extremely dissatisfied. It was quite a small portion and was shaped like a bathtub. I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of Marmalade Pantry's lovely slice of a lemon tart, or even Bakerzin's round little pastry. Not something resembling a bathtub.

And the dollop of cream on top did nothing for me. It was effectively tasteless and useless and only ended up on the side of my plate. Maybe a bit of a meringue would've be better, to balance out the tartness with a hint of sweet. I was quite fond of the candied peel - probably the best part of the tart.

It was a gorgeous place though - I loved the high ceiling and the dark wood of the tables, chairs and shelves. And how the floor-to-ceiling shelves were stocked with all kinds of fascinating products. But it was all a bit cluttered and squashed, with the shelves at the corner seeming to get in the way of people wanting to check out their deli section, or get to the tables further inside.

Service was also quite iffy. If a waitstaff is serving a sandwich that has a salad on the side, wouldn't utensils be required?
Saturday was the somewhat extravagant dinner that never happened.

Dinner was supposed to be at Ember but the chef decided to skip town so there wld not be any chef's table menu available. Too bad we only just knew about it... otherwise we could've made alternative plans earlier and not send smses back and forth the three parties, trying to figure out where we should eat. After throwing up ideas such as Kalinka-Malinka and Nadezhda, we ended up at Hanabi for a far less pricey meal than I had budgeted for. It was after all, only $30++ and as we devoured our way through plenty of sashimi, handrolls, tempura and more, I realised that this was probably less than half what we'd have spent at Ember, which probably would've included a bottle of wine. So it was off to the Bullfrog next door for a cold pint of Erdinger.

Sunday lunch: in the mood for pho

I happened to be in the mood for Vietnamese on Sunday.
So it was off to Killiney Road.
With Pho 31 closed for a private function, there was only one thing to do - walk along the row of shophouses to the next Vietnamese place, The Orange Lantern.
An order of chili beef noodles got me sniffing away - I really hadn't expected it to be that hot.
(I'd order some spicy pork noodles at Mai before and ended up throwing in almost all the chili available into my soup)
But it was good and the beef was tender. The beef balls were more like beef pyramids but still yummy.
A order of grilled chicken with vermicelli salad and some spring rolls was also a delight. But

While the service at C & F was iffy, the service here was just flighty when a strangely bashful waitress took our orders and later handed us the wrong bowls - mine wasn't supposed to have brisket.

Sunday dinner: veggie delight

homemade dinner at the office
- baby carrots
- a banana
- an apple
- potato salad - we didnt have any relish in the house and so i suppose potato salad purists might scoff but i threw in some herbs, salami and grated some cheddar cheese over it. (is there really some kinda true potato salad recipe anyway? I suppose it'd be with bacon and chives. But then I hate chives.)

And with the weekend over, another week of eating begins.

Hanabi
559 Bukit Timah Road, King's
Arcade, #01-03, Tel: 6465-5525

Corduroy & Finch
779 Bukit Timah Road Tel: 6463-8038

The Orange Lantern
73 Killiney Road, Tel: 6732 8032


And with that cheaper-than-expected Saturday (didn't even need to pay for a cab ride, since I just had to walk there), I won't feel too guilty about spending more money on my day off tomorrow where the plan is Mortinis and something for dinner/supper after, hopefully HK this Friday after work and Saturday at lunch at Wild Rocket. Although this might mean I shouldn't make too many excuses about exercising.

Listening to Okkervil River - Black

what do you know

That's all?


My blog is worth $3,387.24.
How much is your blog worth?



I like the Morning News. Always something up their sleeves

Recently, Time magazine published a list of the 100 best novels. But the praise of professional critics hardly matters to the book-reviewing readers at Amazon.com. A compilation of the best of the worst¡­ about the best.
The following are excerpts from actual one-star Amazon.com reviews of books from Time's list of the 100 best novels from 1923 to the present.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)
Author: C.S. Lewis
“I bought these books to have something nice to read to my grandkids. I had to stop, however, because the books are nothing more than advertisements for “Turkish Delight,” a candy popular in the U.K. The whole point of buying books for my grandkids was to give them a break from advertising, and here (throughout) are ads for this “Turkish Delight”! How much money is this Mr. Lewis getting from the Cadbury’s chocolate company anyway? This man must be laughing to the bank.”




Friday, October 21, 2005

Fridge-it

How did people ever live without fridges?

I suppose marketing was then (and for some it still is) an everyday affair. Wake up, go to the market, pick out some fresh produce, fresh seafood, fresh meats, for lunch, dinner, supper. And I suppose snacks and what not. Breakfast would probably have been leftovers from the night before.

But these days, who has the time to take a trip to the market everyday? My mum goes on Sundays and stocks up for the week. Perishables get thrown into the freezer and fridge. If we need anything else, there's the little dump of an ntuc within walking distance. Cold storage jelita's also a quick drive away.

The fridge was in a mood the past few days.

The freezer was hardly one. It felt more like Singapore on a rainy night. Barely breezy. The fridge was of course far worse.

Butter was turning liquid, cheese getting runny, chocolates were warm and cloying. Luckily the usual supply of ice-cream had not been replaced.

I decided it was time to finish the last piece of my now warm fudge cake. The fudge is still in the fridge though, ready for any emergency. (I highly recommend stocking up chocolate fudge in the fridge - highly satisfyingly sweet and horribly bad for you, it's saccharin equivalent of a good many shots of your favourite alcohol, without the next day hangover. And it's easy to make. Just make sure you use plenty of good quality dark chocolate.)

When I got home last night, I opened the fridge and a gust of cold wind poured forth. The milk was once again chilled and the fruits crisp and cool.

So thank you repairman, whoever you were.

Woxy is playing Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Dark

Thursday, October 20, 2005

pass the mp3

While dragging my ass to work today, what song should pop up on the iPod but Hellodrama by What Made Milwaukee Famous.

An upcoming band hailing not from Milwaukee but from Austin, Texas, they've got such a great catchy sound.

So forgive their name and go stream some of their songs at MySpace.

oh what the hello. here's
hellodrama

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I love a rainy night

Rainy days are ideal for sleeping in, pulling the covers up around you and hearing the rain slash at the windows.
They're perfect for a hot cup of tea and a hot bowl of soup, sipped slowly while watching your favourite rerun or DVD.
It unfortunately wasn't an interesting thundering event where the wind whips and whirls, and the tree outside bends and sways, and the lightning gives you a quick warning of when the next loud clap's gonna send shivers down your spine.

It was more of a drizzly rain.
Drizzle drizzle drizzle.
Out pops the sun.
The skies cloud over again.
And cue the rain once more.

I hope the cool temperatures will last through the night, so that when I get home after having worked on some mighty boring stories, I can pull the covers up around me while I read by the light of my ice cube lamp.


Listening to Kings Of Convenience - Toxic Girl

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

i'm sure you've heard it all before on a tuesday evening

I can never resist reading Giles Coren's restaurant reviews. I know I've said this all before, but a guy who starts off his article - this time on actual cooking instead of just eating - with this, is definitely someone to keep reading.

The three questions people ask me most often are 1) How does one become a journalist? 2) Do you ever get bored with eating out all the time? and 3) Can you cook?
To these the answers are: 1) You fail at everything else first and then it just sort of happens.

the rest you can read here.

It's only 1817 and I'm mighty sleepy. It seems to be raining outside so it's likely that dinner will be, horrifyingly, upstairs.

This afternoon I bravely ventured into town before work. A solo trip into town is always a dangerous affair for my wallet but this time I managed to make it through without actually buying any of the usual temptations - clothes, shoes, books, magazines, CDs. Just some moisturiser, which was something I was running out of anyway.

Made a quick stopover at the library today and got some Books I've Been Meaning To Read But Other Books Keep Getting In The Way, which included Mimi Sheraton's Eating My Words and Salman Rushdie's Step Across This Line.

For a Tuesday afternoon, Takashimaya and its neighbour Wisma were pretty crowded. Don't these people work? Don't these kids have homework to do?

They might have been asking themselves the same thing about me.

Listening to: Bloc Party - Two More Years
Recently watched: Dark City by Alex Proyas and remembering what a great film that was! Here's some Dark City trivia.

Monday, October 17, 2005

bring it on

What's a fashion show without models? A LocalBrand one!

Instead of gaunt models, young and upcoming bands and some not so new ones (Livid Fawn, Public Eyez, Raindogs, Ger) showed off the new collection. Performances were interspliced with short films. All this in one hour at the packed Playden at the Arts House last night.

I er missed the first 10-15 min of the show but the rest of it was fun, especially the closing act Freaky Z.

Oh and the new t-shirt designs look great too. And I'm not just saying it because annabel pops by here now and then.

Listening to: The Playwrights - 21st century

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Worst part is almost over

Homer Simpson gives up beer and bacon and moves to the Middle East.
(via the morning news)

The dashing Mr Darcy tops a literary heroes poll.

But Carl MacDougall, an author and presenter of the BBC's Writing Scotland, was unimpressed. "The fact that Mr Darcy is number one says more about Colin Firth than it does Jane Austen.

The Skinny Epicurean tries out a Hokkaido restaurant in Joo Chiat Beef sashimi looks good.

Listening to: Elliott Smith - High Times

Dining Out - Gordon Grill with guest chef Michel Rochedy


Three tastes still linger in my memory of the dinner at the Gordon Grill on Saturday.

The seaworthiness of the scallop tartar (a bed of sliced raw scallop mixed with some chopped onion) and its generous topping of oyster and caviar. It just had such a fresh taste of the sea. Nothing fishy at all.

The sweet and crispy honey and chestnut dessert I shared with my sister with a slight kick from the ginger juice on the side. Soft here, crunchy there, rightly sweet all over. The only disappointment was that the chestnut ice-cream didnt have enough of a chestnut flavour.

And strangely, a delightful little surprise at the end of the meal. A sort of fruit gum, the kind you might find at Marks and Spencers I guess, but handmade (I'm guessing here), with a lovely springy gummy/jelly texture bursting with hints of peaches and champagne. Part of a trio of little sweets to end the meal, its neighbours were a caramel candy wrapped in cellophane paper and minute chocolate sponge cake with pistachio.

I have to admit not being too taken with my main.
The lobster was beautifully cooked, just the right amount of bite to it, but the spiced herb butter it was smothered in takes some getting use to. It reminded me a bit of the spices that go into Christmas snacks (some call them treats, but that's hardly the word I'd use) like mince pie and Christmas pudding. The type of spices which I presume are meant to warm you and make you all toasty from your head to your toes. The pumpkin compote I wasn't too fond of - the citrus oil tended to overpower the pumpkin taste and made me feel like I was eating an orange custard. But the lobster claw tempura was crispy on the outside, slightly soft on the inside, lovely.

I was a little jealous of my dad's starter of duck foie gras and smoked tuna terrine. The instructions from the staff was to cut a sliver of the terrine, place it on the spoon, add a bit of the roquette sorbet, down that and follow with a slosh of the cappucino (served in a shot glass). I love foie gras but the layers of tuna interspaced within layers of foie gras sent this dish skyhigh on my approval list. And pairing it with the strange salty green sorbet gave it an extra, intriguing dimension.

Since no one else was having any wine, I could only order myself a glass of Gewurztraminer from Domaine Ringenbach Moser in the Alsace region, which was a slightly sweet wine and something I quite liked. (I never know how to describe wines so I'm not going to start.)


There were plenty of other tempting dishes on the a la carte menu, which had two soups, eight starters, eight mains and eight desserts, which seems a highly extensive menu for a visiting chef in town for less than two weeks. I could only wish I were able to try them all....

Mr Michel Rochedy helms the kitchen (and making the occasional appearances in the dining room to chat with diners with the help of a couple of staff who are able to translate for him) at the Gordon Grill until Wednesday. Otherwise, he cooks at his two Michel-starred restaurant at the ski resort Le Chabichou in France, which The Observer named among its top six ski hotels two years ago.

My dinner
Scallop tartar with prune seed oil, oysters and Aquitaine caviar in a dandelion vinaigrette sauce.
Roasted lobster with spiced herb butter, lobster claw tempura and pumpkin compote with orange oil.

My dad's
Duck foie gras and semi-dried smoked tuna terrine, roquette sorbet and mustard leaves cappucino
Tenderloin of Australian Black Angus beef cooked in a wine reduction, foie gras "creme brulee', canneles of mushrooms and orange braised chicory.
Soft semi-baked guanaja chocolate cake, banana ice-cream stewed rubarb flavoured with Indian wood, crisps

My mum's
Celery royal and Dublin Bay prawns in a mushroom and herbs emulsion
Oven-roasted lamb fillet and cutlet, with garlic jus and small stuffed vegetables

My sister's
Grilled Atlantic cod with olive oil, green vegetables, shellfish risotto and Parmesan cheese emulsion
Mountain honey crisp dessert, potimarron and vanilla mousse, pumpkin ginger juice, caramelised pepins, toffee-pumpkin biscuit, crispy chestnut crisp and chestnut ice-cream

The cost? Steep yes, but worth it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Chocolate Fudge Cake




This was a terribly not well-planned cake.

Of course I had to run out of vanilla essence, so I only had 1/2 tbsp for the cake mix and none for the frosting. Then I almost forgot about the chilled water only to wonder why the mix seemed so dry. I used self-raising flour instead of the plain flour plus bicarb and all, mostly cos I didn't exactly have plain flour around the house. Then I nearly had to run out to the nearby NTUC to buy icing sugar until I dug around the pantry for a bit and discovered a forgotten (but still usable) pack. Most of the ingredients from Bake King.



Recipe! (Once again taken from Nigella Bites)

For the cake:
400g plain flour
250g golden caster sugar
100g light muscovado sugar
50g best quality cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
3 eggs
142ml/small tub sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil
300ml chilled water

For the fudge icing:
175g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
250g unsalted butter, softened
275g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Butter and line the bottom of two 20cm sandwich tins.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended.
  4. Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed.
  5. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. And actually, you could easily do this manually; I just like my toys and find the KitchenAid a comforting presence in itself.
  6. Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave – 2-3 minutes on medium should do it – or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.
  8. In another bowl, beat the butter until it's soft and creamy and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy.
  9. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.
  10. Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.

Made to the tunes of Ryan Adams' Gold on a Thursday morning

Looks like I'll need to go to the gym on Sunday

Why do I love reading Anthony Bourdain? Lemme count the ways....

Turkeys drown, sometimes, looking straight up into the rain, forgetting to close their mouths (kind of like Bon Jovi fans).

This just before he chops the head off one.

"I should put reindeer on our Christmas menu," I mused out loud. "Can you picture it? All those crying kids, wondering if that's a chunk of Rudolph or Blitzen lying on their plate?"
"I take it you don't have children," observed Zamir.


I'm so looking forward to Saturday! It'll be a gastronomic adventure for the family as we attack Goodwood Park's Gordon Grill as they present
two-star Michelin guest chef Michel Rochedy of Le Chabichou!

And just for my dad, I made a double-layered chocolate fudge cake before work today.
A bit of a rush job though so wasn't able to let the cake cool down as much as I'd like, before frosting it. Hope it'll turn out good. Pictures soon (in case you don't believe me)

Listening: Faker - Bodies

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

would you spit back?

He picked me up in his car, wearing a Linkin Park T-shirt.

My stomach did a double flip, not in the 'butterflies in your stomach' way, more like the 'better not be in the path of projectile vomit' way.

I was tempted to make him turn it inside out and wear it that way for the rest of the night.

But settled for averting my eyes and pretending to be distracted. A couple of drinks also helped take the blinding pain from my eyes.

Then just a few weeks ago, I had supper with a friend who had on a Korn T-shirt.........

......

A couple of weekends ago, after too many drinks during happy hour at Cafe Iguana, an ex-colleague admonished me for being too hung up on indie.
"Name me something mainstream you like" he asked
Er... erm.... hmmm....
"I mean, I think Beyonce has a great album. Can't you think of anything?"
Now I can't really remember if I'd said anything or how the conversation turned to something else, or for that fact, what it turned to. But I really never know what people consider mainstream anymore. I mean, I like old U2. Is that mainstream? Is U2 mainstream? Or is it just the new U2 that is?

I just like the music I like. I guess a teeny part of liking it is because it's not always played on the radio, which I never listen to, apart from the occasional snatches when in a taxi or a car, which probably add up to what, 1 hr a week?

I like it because it's good music, most of which have great lyrics. Better still if I get to see the band live, which puts a whole new perspective into their music.

I admit that I have a tendency to force my music tastes onto people, lending out CDs, burning copies.

Then I ask, so how? Didja like it?
Half expecting them to be a new convert, which of course will never happen.

Most of the time the answer is, yeah it's not bad. And then the conversation switches to something else.

These are friends so they're relatively forgiveable... but ..

Then I read this:

You have before you a wonderful, funny, smart, attractive person and you're ready to dive into the fray, intentionally collide your two worlds, and suddenly you realize that getting into that person's car means you're going to have to endure a mix tape with tracks from Smashmouth, Black Eyed Peas, and Phil Collins.


And it made me wonder...could I ever seriously date someone who loves Nickelback? Creed? Hoobastank? Good Charlotte? Or any other band in my "I spit on them" list, aka my "making my ears bleed" list? Enough to buy their paraphernalia? At this point of time, I'd say no. I'm willing to forgive past follies and would be appreciative if the guy would be willing to have a listen to what I like, just to have an idea of what I'm talking about when I say I want to go see Interpol in concert, and not have them ask, Interpol? As in, in benefit of the the largest international police organisation?

Ken Napzok ends off his rant with:

This is why it is such a beautiful thing when you can walk through a record store with the person you are totally crushing over and watch as they stop at all the sections you were going to stop at. Sure, there might be some differences, but that's OK. That's part of the whole difficult relationship "thing." Compromise does extend to the CD player. I'm just saying that when the genres sync up, when the interests and appreciations are on the same page, it is a wonderful moment. A sigh of relief. A breath of fresh air. One more reason to keep on searching for love in an iPod world.

Something to think about this week, maybe while I bake a cake tomorrow, and eat to excess this Saturday at the Gordon Grill (it's me dad's birthday) and next Saturday at Ember.

Listening to Snow Patrol - Downhill From Here

Monday, October 10, 2005

It takes time to build

it's 6pm and i'm now feeling the effects of having woken up at 830 this morning.

it wasn't intentional.
all i'd wanted was to wake up before 10.
then i open my eyes and see the hands of my alarm clock barely creeping towards the 9.
damnit!

i try to go back to sleep but the ratatataatatataa of the demolition work going on opposite the road drills itself into my head.

the building's almost completely gone now.

it was where some family friends lived, in a townhouse with small rooms.
where my sister and i had run across to swim in their tiny pool.
where i'd jogged past in more recent years, the houses all vacant, the driveways and yards covered with dead leaves, the letterboxes stuffed full with junk mail, the signboard announcing the new property put up seemingly in vain.
now it's on it's way to becoming a mountain of rubble.
its dust gathers on our patio, layering our table and chairs which sit there, unused, dusting our plants, our shoes, the car.
soon the noise will end, only to be replaced by yet another noise - construction.
gee, i can't wait for that to happen.

Listening: Weezer- Freak Me Out

Sunday, October 09, 2005

hungry?

I've never believed that food writing is any more of an art than eating and cooking, and that to try to elevate the craft to the exalted level of serious literature, music and painting is a naive attempt by dreamers to transform a quite ordinary discipline into a complex process by which true masterpieces are produced.

- James Villas, Between Bites

I like the way Villas is unabashedly unapologetic for the food writer he is.
He is honest and essentially no-nonsense about his food.

Much to the nervous horror of my peers, I refuse to drink wine at cocktail parties. I smoke, I spurn salsas, sushi and the food processor, and at table I much prefer the company of an expert pig breeder or hungry whiskey distiller to that of a fatuous foodie waxing ecstatically about Peruvian peppers or some young hotshot chef's latest fusion concoctions. I do not show up at ceremonial dinners to claim my occasional awards and schmooze; I consider it unfair and immoral to review a restaurant that's been in the business less than three months.


Villas, the former food and wine editor of Town and Country and contributor to Esquire and Gourmet, was not a chef to start with. He was an academic who somehow fell into the role of food writer.

He writes of meeting MFK Fisher for an interview at her home in Sonoma, where he ends up throwing up in her bathroom - food poisoning from his dinner the night before.
And instead of feasting on the lunch of prawns, plum tomatoes and zucchini tobbed with mild chillies which she had prepared, he sups on milk toast and Coca-Cola, because as she explains "There's no palliative like milk toast and Coke, and you'll have your strength back in no time."

And with many food books, this comes with recipes, like Bananas Foster, QE2 caviar pie, and milk toast, of course.

I would buy the book just for the opening chapter and the closing ones. Everything else in between is hardly arbitrary though. Highly entertaining rather.

No wonder that he was named best food writer at Bon App├Ętit’s sixth annual American Food & Entertaining Awards last year. Although I doubt he actually showed up to collect his prize.

James Villas
Between Bites: Memoirs Of A Hungry Hedonist

ah it's already early monday morning...

Nobody dresses well any more. It's all too casual and too little effort. Except for Singapore Airlines. I love that uniform.
- Model Linda Evangelista, as quoted in the Observer Magazine

And the
new Observer Food Monthly
is out.

Listening to M83 - On A White Lake Near A Green Mountain

Saturday, October 08, 2005

makes the world go round

I've been discovering the magic of music blogs!
Unfortunately I can't seem to link my list of bloglined blogs, but you can always start with one eg youaintnopicasso.com and then click on the others listed there.

Live covers, rarities, samples, tracks from upcoming bands and more!

Arcade Fire's cover of David Bowie's Five Years
(via Gorilla vs Bear)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

running to stand still

I like the ache after a jog. There's something pleasant about the pain.
But I do not like the ache in my knees. It simply makes me feel old.

I like to run in the mornings, before the sun bears down its intense heat.
I cannot do that anymore, as the earliest I'm willing to wake up is 930.

Instead I jog, when it's hot.
Too hot.

It makes the route seem a little too long and makes me feel tired and hotheaded.

I pick up the pace to reach the scattered spots of shade and slow down there to drink in the cooler air. But all too soon it's time to move on again.

I could easily go to the office gym to do my exercise, but running on a treadmill in an airconditioned room is always less fun.

There's something about being outdoors, outside, breathing in the fumes from the cars and motorcycles, weaving through the human traffic, running up and down from the pavements, running up and then down the slope on sixth avenue, ducking into side lanes, looking back to make sure no cars are turning into the lane, checking the traffic before crossing roads, sneaking peeks into the houses as I jog past them, picking up speed on a good song, slowing down when it just gets too much, breathing hard, breathing fast, the heat of the sun on my arms and legs, my ipod in my left hand, keys in my right.

I don't run far, I don't run fast.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

sing it with me

Dictionaroke!
Vocals of your favourite songs provided by audio pronunciation samples from online dictionaries.

(from shaken & stirred)

Rising to the occasion, somewhat...

Thankfully Corpse Bride didn't turn out to be a dreadfully frightful movie. I expected nothing but the best from Tim Burton and while a thoroughly enjoying movie, it paled in comparison to Nightmare Before Christmas.

It didnt have the life and vivacity of Nightmare, which had the brilliant fascinating Jack Skellington, sad Sally, Evil Scientist, the cunning Lock, Shock and Barrel, and oh the vampires! I loved the vampires...

Instead it's got the sombre Victor, the sombre Victoria, the vivaciously dead Corpse Bride, the hilarious Elder Gutknecht (who like the Evil Scientist lives in a tower), and instead of Lock, Shock and Barrel, there are two little dead kids. How sweet.

Corpse Bride's underworld set also wasn't as fascinating as Halloween Town's and the humour a tad more corny... especially the stuff that the maggot sprouts.

"If I hadn't just been sitting in it, I would say that you'd lost your mind!"


So while you'll still see Nightmare Before Christmas paraphernalia being hawked at pasar malams for a few more months now - more than 10 years after the movie was originally released - I doubt there'll be Corpse Bride bags and dolls and keychains coming up soon.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Dining Out - Sun with Moon

I was caught in a bit of jam at Newton Circus, trying to get to town, where I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch at the new Japanese cafe Sun With Moon, at Wheelock Place, at 130 on a Saturday.


He called at about 130. I was still on Bt Timah Road, he said to take my time as the wait for a table was about 20 minutes. I finally reach the bus stop at Far East Plaza, brisk walk my way to Wheelock and rush up the escalator to discover that the table still wasn't available.

Another 10 minutes or so later, we finally got to step into the place.

My sister had been raving about it, especially since she reckons Singapore has been devoid of a place which has Japanese desserts - and by desserts we dont mean green tea ice-cream or mochi ice-cream. Those you can easily get at any convenience store these days.

I liked the way the cafe is divided into different sections, all decorated in a unique way. Unfortunately we were seated in the less interestingly done-up area, but next to the window - which was always why I'd liked Olio Dome, which Sun With Moon is replacing.

I settled on the Hime Chirashi, ($21.50) which came with some udon soup and beef rolls with enoki mushrooms. It was a good variety of sashimi - including the sweet ebi, scallop, salmon, yellowtail, swordfish and roe. The sauce covering the beef rolls was a bit sweet but tasty, although the beef could've been a bit more tender. I liked the udon, which had a good bite to it.

His beef sukiyaki and tomato salad set ($17.50) was given the thumbs-up, although the tomato salad wasn't really worth highlighting as it was just a simple side salad with tomato slices on top. The sukiyaki was hearty and chockful of ingredients, but I thought it was a bit too much on the sweet side. (correct me if i'm wrong yah)

We also ordered a softshell crab roll, which came after we were more than halfway through our sets. The table was barely meant for more than two dishes, so the waitstaff had to pull over a side table to place the sushi, which came on a really large glass plate. Pretty yes, functional no. The softshell crab in the sushi tasted like it had been left out a bit too long though - no longer was it crunchy.

The sets came with a choice of Suzuki coffee or Earl Grey tea. And we decided to order a dessert. As it was past 3pm, they'd switched to their afternoon menu - which had a wider variety of desserts.

The Kyodango and Warabi Mochi ($7.80) looked ohso pretty with its pink, white and green Kyoto dumplings but they were accompanied with a shockingly bad-tasting syrup which really is an acquired taste. It tasted like a syrupy soy sauce, with maybe some sugar thrown in - a little like the sugar/soya sauce mixture I used to love eating with jambu, but seriously worse.
The warm squishy squares of yellow bean that were part of the dessert had a slight jelly-like texture and were very tasty.

I'd love to go back and try their other desserts and ice-creams, like the black sesame pudding I'd been eyeing, and having a relaxingly sinful afternoon staring out at the passers-by below, much like what I occasionally did at Olio, except without good coffee...

Sun With Moon Japanese Dining & Cafe
03-15/16/17
Wheelock Place
Tel: 6733-6636

(Here are some pictures of Warabi Mochi)

Monday, October 03, 2005

one cupcake at a time

Somehow, this morning, after having woken up at 8, then 9, I dragged myself out of bed at 945. The demolition going on across the road was just getting a bit much for me. Plus, I hadn't gone to the gym yesterday so felt a bit guilty, especially since I had some of ben's giant peanut buttercup thingy last night. So tried out a different route today, that takes me out to sixth avenue and back round to bt timah road. Now just have to figure out how far that is...

Since I'd gotten up too late to do any baking on Saturday, I decided I might as well whack some out this morning. So I made a batch of 12 cupcakes, using a recipe from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites, but making it with chocolate ganache instead of the coloured icing. The ganache was far easier than I thought (for some reason always thought it would be complicated, maybe cos it's got a fancy name).

So that was my first attempt at cupcakes. Very long overdue. Will put up a better picture soon - it was terribly dark and about to rain when I took this one.




Chocolate cupcakes

125g of self-rising flour
125g very soft unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Few tablespoons of whole milk
12-cup cupcake pan

Preheat oven to 200° C.

Mix all the ingredients for the cupcakes (except the milk). (For chocolate cupcakes, replace one tablespoon of the flour, after you've weighed it, with one tbsp of cocoa powder)
Then pour in the milk and mix again until you have a smooth batter. (I didn't have full-cream milk so I put in some low-fat milk and some cream, which probably resulted in a heavier batter than if I had used just full-cream milk)
Divide the mixture into the cupcake pan.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

Chocolate ganache - which is essentially equal parts cream and chocolate
150g dark chocolate buttons from Bake King (buttons are easier - they don't have to be chopped up)
150ml cream

Pour both ingredients into a small saucepan and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted and it looks glossy and thick.
Spoon onto the cooled cupcakes, wait for a few minutes to let it set.
Eat.
Share if you have to.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

weekend update

Friday
- got some ex-colleagues together for long-overdue drinks and a belated birthday celebration.
- learnt that Cafe Iguana has happy hour after midnight and that their "guest tap" isn't too bad at all
- remembered why I shouldn't mix drinks, but yet I always do, mostly cos while I like it
- was good to see people and do some hazy catching up
- we finally slouched out of the place, only for someone to ask "what's the time?" and then realise holy crap its 530am

Saturday

- wake up to strange knocking sounds outside my door at 1030am. figure out its the pest control guy. go back to sleep and then get woken up some minutes later by an sms: "let me know when you wake up" eh...
- go back to sleep and wake up at 1230, get ready to leave the house in record time and head to Sun with Moon (more later) at Wheelock Place. Didn't think to make a reservation so had to wait for a table.
- Do some shopping or more like some browsing
- At about 4 something, I run out of steam and start feeling like a cranky little kid who just wants to go home
- Nap (or try to)
- Head out for North Indian food at Race Course Road. Wish I could remember the name of the restaurant as the food was pretty good, except for radioactive-looking mango lassi. But I know where it is and know how to get there! Excellent tandoori chicken and butter naan... yum.

Sunday
- PSLE's next week. Hope my favourite 12-year-old's gonna do alright!
- hit the library for new books
- hit the office and do the usual
- learn to draw pages
- caught the midnight transport home


Listening to Doves' Caught By The River