Tuesday, August 30, 2005

the great book hunt

I was at Borders before work today, trying to find a present for my mum, who's turning 52 on Thursday. Was thinking of getting her a book on watercolour painting as that's what she's been up to these days, taking lessons and all.

Had checked out Kinokuniya last week but had been unable to find a suitable book.

So this time I found something. It was indeed a suitable book, a nice introduction, clean layout and full of good pointers, or at least it seems to me. So I flip to the back cover to check out the price and discover that the plastic coating of the back cover was peeling off. Quite unsightly.

I asked a sales staff for help. Very polite, very efficient so two thumbs up for service today. But he checked and told me that was the ONLY copy in the whole bookstore. I thanked him and browsed a bit more, having to resort to some other book which had some paintings by Vemeer. At least that book was intact.

I later wondered if he would put the damaged book back on the shelf or order in new stock.... Hopefully the latter.

Anyway, Kino's art section was so much better looking. Neat, well laid out, but somehow I just couldn't find that perfect book. (And anyway I ended up with a second-rate book so eh).

And I realised today that Borders has a far better cooking section than Kino, especially their food writing books. Kino pales in comparison there. And Borders often has a copy of the various cookbooks unwrapped, for browsing, unlike Kino which is just lined with plastic-wrapped cooking books.

Yet somehow I'd still rather buy from Kino, especially from the Lit section. Its just far more tempting to gaze at their bookshelves and spot something I've been coveting, especially during their storewide sales. Plus my sister's got the privilege card which gives a discount for books and magazines - always important.

But I must say, the service at Borders was a pleasure - polite and efficient and the gift was nicely wrapped. So bravo!

Reading wise, I picked up the two books I reserved from the library last week. Tender At The Bone and The Historian. And oh are they both turning out to be great reads! Especially The Historian - didn't want to put it down and go to sleep last night.

I had some time to kill so killed it at the Orchard library where I picked up Layer Cake by J. J. Connolly. which was made into a movie directed by Matthew Vaughn. Suppose I'll have to try to watch that, if possible, after I finish the book.

Monday, August 29, 2005

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

So I take the Times' test to determine which Jane Austen Heroine I am, and to my horror, I am Jane...

(Pride and Prejudice) — sweet and straightforward; you see the best in everyone. You need someone as happy, open and easygoing as you are. Be careful — someone who plays games will really mess with your head, as you tend to be very trusting about what people tell you. Your best matches are: Henry Tilney, Mr Bingley, Colonel Brandon.

I really don't think so. Plus I never liked Jane. She's just too cardboard-like. But I suppose she did manage to achieve her happy ending!

Please note that this test requires one to actually take down your answers, get your points from the next story and score it. that is, it will take you some time, so either you're really dying to know which heroine u are, or u are just very very free.

(Three posts in one day, my god, you must think I'm such a slacker. But hey I've already subbed 4 stories, including a monster of an MYB one on salt.)

nothing standing in my way

After reading DSD's lovely entry on what would make a perfect day for her, I, of course, began to wonder the same for myself.

A perfect day would start with
1) waking up and realising I don't have to go to work later in the day, that I have the whole day to do whatever the hell I like
2) opening the curtains and seeing that it's a clear sunny day
3) putting on some happy weekendish music (Jack Johnson's always a good bet) to listen to while brushing my teeth
4a) pouring myself a glass of cold milk and another of OJ
4b) cracking two eggs and beating them with some salt and pepper
4c) the sizzle as the pat of butter hits the pan
4d) scrambling the eggs, toasting the bread and
4e) sitting down to enjoy my breakfast, with a good book or magazine. or if it's a sunday, the comics.
5) Knowing that I've got a full day ahead of me - meeting friends/family for lunch/tea/dinner/drinks
6) Sometime in the day, having a nice hot cup of coffee
7) Later in the day, a nice bottle of wine, preferably with a mindblowing dinner
8) And of course, dessert, preferably with chocolate as a main ingredient

The perfect day could also include....
9) Going for a drive in the new car with the windows and sunroof down and the music loud
10) Watching one of my favourite shows on DVD, preferably a comedy, and munching on popcorn
11) Going for a swim
12) Going shopping and actually finding things I want to buy (and can afford)
13) Reading a good book
14) Trying out some new restaurant/cafe and discovering that I actually want to go back there again

15) It should end finally with a good night's sleep (the kind where you just drift off into slumberland and not toss and turn, waiting for sleep to knock you out) And happy dreams, knowing that somewhere, somehow, I'll have another 24 hours to do this all, and more, again.

Although, with so many things to do, I think I'll need more than 24 hours for my perfect day.

Listening to Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes

Sunday, August 28, 2005

new week

i am so glad last week is over.

kept feeling like i was out of sync with the rest of the world. wasn't as detailed as i should've been at work (i'm not very good with details so i really am not suited to this job, where spotting minute mistakes is key). but i've been trying to make up for it, by trying to pay as much attention to each task as i can. (which i realise is a bit tricky cos i have a need to do as many things as possible at once. could never write one story on its own. i'd work on one, open another and work on that one as well)

so hopefully this will be a better week at work.

stomach-wise, it was a good week.

Friday lunch at Sebastien's where they do a $25 two-course or $30 three-course. Had pork chops with truffle mash and a chocolate-banana tart. Way too much for lunch but oh so good.

Saturday brunch at Cafe Rosso at Holland V. Delighted to learn that they serve all-day breakfasts and that on weekends they do two special brunches - one they call a Tuscan breakfast with sausages and eggs, the other a three eggwhite omelette with toast. I had the omelette and it was so light and fluffy. And with toast, oj and a cappucino... lovely. The hotcakes are also quite divine, except that they're really thick and come in a pair so it's really filling. We also tried their cakes which were very yummy. And marvelled at how simple, clean and well put-together the design of the cafe was. They even have this great little take-away boxes, that look like little handbags, as well as a gorgeous glossy red paper bag. Just looking at those makes you want to buy something for takeaway.

Dinner was at Yet Con at Purvis Street. Despite having a grandma who's Hainanese, I've never been to one of these Hainanese steamboat places before. This one was packed. Food was alright. Cheap though. About $55 for steamboat, chicken, sio bah, chicken rice, beef/kailan, drinks for 5 of us. Wandered into the nearby National Library which was about to close. (I still don't like that building much) And after some indecision, ended up at Villa Bali for a drink, and more food in the form of mozzarella balls and samosas.

Had to work the next day, but family was kind enough to take me out to dinner so we popped over to Novena Sq for Ichiban Boshi where I had this bento with chicken, tempura, agedashi tofu, and an interesting half-grilled salmon dish. I still cannot forgive this place for not have pork katsu though.

Today I just want to leap into a swimming pool and stay there until my fingers get prune-y. But I'm too fucking lazy to take two buses to Holland and then walk somemore to get the pool. Plus I seem to lost the bottom half of my bikini. So it's time to do some shopping. But first I have to wait until next month, since I promised myself not to buy anything else this month.

Listening to Juanes - Suenos

Friday, August 26, 2005

your title here

As you well know, I can never resist taking online personality quizzes etc etc etc.

So here's another.

This one's really easy. No difficult brain-sapping questions to choose from like "would you rather kill a puppy or a kitten?"

Just type in your name and out pops your answer, your future, your life path, your entire meaning and existence in the universe.

Here's mine.

Strong and womanly : Teutonic

Your calm manner and maturity belie a fierce determination to be at the top where you can exercise authority and get things done. Although somewhat of a rebel you attract much support through treating others with kindness and friendship. You have a broad scope and are naturally drawn to travel or projects which can expand your knowledge and understanding. Your talents and generosity bring you emotional and material contentment.

Get your own

mm i need a holiday.

Listening to the Flaming Lips' Waiting For Superman

Thursday, August 25, 2005

a dose of reality

I'd gone into the minimart below the block of flats opposite the office to get my staple of Fisherman's Friend mandarin ginger, and hoping to get a stamp for a letter I'm about to send off to Melbourne (but failing which, because I'd thought the SAM machine was the kind that would let me weigh the letter - it's not).
As I was leaving the store, an old Malay lady reached out her hands to me and said something in Malay.
I don't understand Malay, unfortunately, so I had no idea what she was saying.
She grabs my arm and then I understand - she needed some help to step up onto the ledge so she could get into the store.
She muttered something in Malay - which might have been 'that damn step!' - and said thank you and ambled off.

Most of the time one never thinks about how other people see things. How a little step up to get into a store can be an obstacle, and perhaps, how a packet of sweets that costs less than $2 is a luxury to some. How we often take things for granted.

what's on thursday

I tried to make full use of my free hours today.

Somehow I woke up, thinking I'd overslept, that it was already past 10. Then I reach for the clock on the bedside table and look at it. It said 730.

I rub the sleep from my eyes and stare at the face again.


Can't be.

Then I wonder if the battery went wonky again, as batteries are wont to do.
And so I look at the time on the iPod.

Crap. It is only 730.

I closed my eyes and drifted back off to lalaland.

Woke again at 945, decided I'd better get up and go for a jog. Because the last time I'd done that was Sunday. Too long ago.

I spent the rest of the time watching one of my favourite movies Amelieand reading Sideways, which unfortunately I never got to see in the cinemas.

It's an entertaining novel about two men making their way through the Santa Ynez valley in California, a week before one of them is due to be married. They get high, drunk, drink more, buy plenty of wine, muse about life and marriage and work, get shot at, beaten up and scratched, almost lose the wedding bands... Some roadtrip.

Makes me think back to last year, when I was lucky enough to be in Margaret River for three days for the first International Wine Tourism Conference, taking the place of my editor who'd been invited by MasterCard to attend the event.

I didn't get shot at or beaten up if that's what you're thinking.

Instead it was three amazing days of gorgeous scenery, lovely weather (it was in May, so crisp and cool, with glorious sunshine was the weather of the day), tantalising food and wine and a suite of my own to fall asleep in.

There were so many wineries we sampled at, including Vasse Felix, Evans and Tate, Brookland Valley Vineyard, the Voyager Estate, Xanadu Wines and the Leeuwin Estate.

And the food! (At which point I shall stop myself now from thinking about the food further than that because I later have to eat dinner around the office and it's no point thinking of good food but when I'm not going to be getting any!)

But I would like to have some wine, although I really don't know much about it, despite having attended the conference (and several tasting sessions at the wineries) as well as having covered two wine masterclasses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

fuck spam

Second time it's happened so I'm giving blogger's comment verification thingamajig a try. It's a bit inconvenient but fuck.

Monday, August 22, 2005

i like watching the puddles gather rain

After having resolved to not watch TV when I get home from work (there's nothing much showing anyway and I tend to watch bits and pieces from various channels) I slept at two, having scooted out of the office to catch the 1230 transport.

So instead of zoning out in front of the TV I read Maile Meloy's Liars And Saints which I quite adore. It's a novel about four generations of a family, from WW2 to the present time. About 1/3 through so far.

And so I wake up this morning at 9, note that the sun's out so decide to go for a swim after breakfast. But as I sit with my cheese-on-multigrain bread sandwich, I notice the room growing darker. NO!!

I grab the paper and flip to the back of the foreign page where the weather guide is. There's that damn picture of dark clouds with a lightning bolt on the top right hand corner. It's supposed to rain over much of the island in the morning.

And then it begins.

And it's still raining.

For a while there, there was some hope of sunshine. While it continued to rain, the sun shone bright lighting up the room. But after those few seconds of happiness, the sky clouded back over again.

I don't think I'll be doing any swimming today.

(As if on cue, the drizzle turns into sheets of rain)

Listening to Nicolai Dunger's Dr Zhivago's Train - love this song!

Dear Mr President,

My wife and I are expecting a baby girl soon. We haven't decided on a name yet. She's due sometime around Thanksgiving. I'm very excited, but a little scared, too. My son likes the name Emma. When I was little, I wished my name was Steve. Sometimes it's just fun to say the name "Steve."


McSweeney's got more of Gabe Hudson's Dear Mr President letters here

sitting and waiting, might as well do some reading

The Independent has an article on broadcast news and its on-air figureheads, who are "the human imprint of trust, and at terrible times they say, hold on, it will be OK, television is handling this".

"Are we equipped to survey all the news sources and make up our own minds? Or is the variety of news services just a sign that we have elected to ignore the news or treat it as just one more show?"

This of course stems from the recent death of Peter Jennings, who stayed on-air for 60 hours during Sept 11, 2001.

And in an old issue of Believer, Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler interviews Jack Black. And they talk about weddings for some reason.

DH: Do you dance at weddings?

JB: I don’t like to dance but I do end up dancing a little bit. That’s part of the duties. You have to get out there and try to force some merriment. But I always feel self-conscious dancing.

DH: So people grab you on the floor to dance, or you feel self-obliged?

JB: I feel obliged. Whomever I’m dancing with I’m thinking, “Am I doing the right thing?” They’re looking at me to see my moves. When you’re dancing with someone there’s a feeling that you guys should both be doing a similar dance, but I can never really settle on any one dance. It’s this constantly changing, exhausting experience for me. Do you like to dance?

DH: I do, I do. I will enjoy the occasional dance. Have you always felt this way about dancing? Was this your sixth grade, first boy/girl-dance feeling?

JB: Yeah. I feel like whenever I’m dancing that it’s a performance so there’s all kinds of performance anxiety. If it was just moving to the music... but I feel like I’m being judged. [mockingly] “God, Jack’s really doing a boring dance. So much for Mr. Comedy.”

DH: Is that why? Because you feel obliged to be the wackiest dancer on the floor?

JB: I don’t know. It doesn’t come naturally. Let’s just leave it at that.

Listening to Wilco's When You Wake Up Feeling Old

apple of earth

Work ended late last night. Missed the second last bus at 2am, the next transport's at 315 and like hell i'm staying for that. So at 215 I find myself along Braddell Road, nary a taxi in sight.

Luckily one came along soon after and he was familiar with the Bt Timah area so I didn't need to bother with directions.

Finished reading (or more like skimming through) My Kitchen Wars - parts of it were interesting but other bits only worth a quick scan - before hitting the pillow, only to be woken up at 9am by an SMS.


After reading that article in The Observer, I decided to reduce my TV time! I'm very guilty of using the TV as background noise - I turn it on when I flip through the papers, read my books and magazines. And I definitely do way too much of that these days - veg out in the living room.

But I am weak... I cannot resist the temptation of that screen and the blaring noise and the crap that flows forth from it.

So I watched The Apprentice and Without A Trace. I managed to stave off channel-surfing, although when changing back from VCR mode to TV mode, it just so happened that Oprah was on.

Now I don't watch Oprah, it's just that she had just given away brand new cars to some people, who looked like ordinary folks, standing on the stage! I had no idea why they deserve a new car, but that Oprah sure knows how to win over her fans. Then she launched into a spiel about how fabulous this car was and I had to turn it off.

Before that while trying to stay away from the TV, I decided to make some potato salad. Hadn't had that for a while.

But as I was boiling the old new potatoes, I realised we were out of dill. I love that stuff in potato salads! Since the potatoes were already in the damn pot, I fished around in the fridge and discovered a lovely little jar of mustard, which even came with mustard seeds.

And decided, since I always make my potato salad with dill, mayo and salt and pepper, why not try something different?

So here's what I tossed in with the potatoes:
A teaspoon of mustard
Some bits of jamon
Half a chilli, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

I would've taken a photo but
(1) I'm too lazy
(2) Camera battery's not been charged for a while
(3) I tend to write entries at work
(4) I don't think potato salad would show up nice in a picture

Anyway it turned out okay. Although would've been far better with bacon instead of jamon. And wanted to throw in some celery but couldn't find any.

Listening to: B Quartet's -

(And for some reason The Smiths' Panic has been stuck in my head for ages. I catch myself humming it from time to time...)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

back again

An article in The Observer where the writer turned off her telly for good six months ago, makes me wonder if I should watch less TV.

A great deal of research has been done into the effects of watching television and the results are alarming: the more a person watches TV, the poorer they believe themselves to be, the less happy they think they are compared to others and the more they feel compelled to spend - on one estimate, £2 extra for every hour spent watching tv.

I watch TV after getting home from work and sometimes before I go to work. No wonder I spend so much money.

I know, I know, it's serious

Mel got to meet (and have her picture taken with) Douglas Coupland at the Melbourne Writers Festival. She managed to get him to sign her copy of Eleanor Rigby and the copy of Girlfriend In A Coma she got for me! (Unfortunately, he spelt my name with a C... ah well... not the first time my name's been spelt wrongly) So thanks Mel! Read her blog entry here

Meanwhile, it's a Sunday evening and I'm in the office so I'll probably write something a little later. I can't think of anything to write about now. So I'm just copying some CDs to this computer (Hot Hot Heat and Aimee Mann) and reading other blogs. Although I just realised its Rally Day so I just hope it's not going to be a late night.

Oh and had lunch today at this pizza place along Bt Timah Road. Can't remember the name but its in between Wine Culture and the Hyundai showroom. Pizza kinda sucked. The dough was just all wrong. Toppings were ample though. Can't really say anything else about it.

Now playing: Hot Hot Heat's In Cairo

Friday, August 19, 2005

Don't bother

There's the saying 'don't judge a book by its cover'.

Today I learnt, you also shouldn't judge a restaurant by its appearance.

I'd read a review of Aioli, located in one obscure corner of Boon Tat Street, which described the place as serving rustic Provencal food.

So I arranged to meet dimsumdolly there today for lunch, as it's not too far from her office.

It was a gorgeous place, with walls of various hues of fuschia, turquoise and amber. A little pond sat at the back of the restaurant, with sunlight streaming in from above. It was clean, classy and also welcoming. It's got a fabulous look.

The $19 set lunch options looked quite decent.

* A soup of the day - French onion or seafood - or a stuffed tomato with pesto sauce.

* Fettucine with pesto sauce, couscous d'agneau (a lamb stew with couscous), seafood pasta and a charcuterie (cold dish platter of parma ham, saucisson, cheese)

* Dessert of the day

I had the seafood soup and platter, DSD went for the stuffed tomato and lamb.

The soup was presented in a lovely shell-like bowl. The stock was flavorful and there were clams, a prawn and squid. However, it needed more salt.

The tomato was stuffed with couscous and raisins. Not too bad, except that DSD said the waitstaff should've mentioned there was couscous, since that was to be part of her main course as well.

While waiting for our next course, there was a stench of old socks in the air. We couldn't figure out where it was coming from, then I noticed a dish of mussels at the next table. God it smelled like it'd been sitting in a trashcan full of polluted murky seawater for days. I'd never known mussels could smell that bad. Amazingly, two of the women at that table ate several of the shellfish before they asked the waitress to remove the dish from the table.

Thank god we didn't order the seafood pasta, which came with mussels!

Main courses were a huge disappointment.

DSD said her lamb stew tasted like soup kambing, but bland. And while it was chockful of vegetables, there was only one miserable piece of lamb, as well as a sausage.

Mine was worse. There were two slices of parma ham, five slices of saucisson, TWO slices of cheese and plenty of pickles. It would've been a better meal if perhaps more cheese and parma ham were provided. When the waitress placed the plate in front of me, she even asked if we'd like more bread. Of course.

And then dessert of the day.

It was a fruit platter.

I was well, a bit speechless. I still am. A fruit platter?

There were several things that could be learnt from this outing.

* Service areas should be hidden away. Customers don't like to see where your extra cutlery lies, don't like to see where the waitstaff slices the butter for the bread. Absolutely unnecessary.

* Serve all the parties at the table at the same time. Don't make me wait for my starter, main course, dessert, while my dining companion gets presented with hers. It then becomes a question of: should she eat first and let me watch or should she wait until my meal comes, by which hers might get cold?

* If your shellfish smells bad, don't think your customers won't notice.
It also made me wonder if the cook had a cold. Or perhaps he doesn't bother tasting dishes that exit his kitchen.

* Being charged $3 for slices of baguette and only finding out about it much later.

* Offer something other than fruits for dessert. Unless you're in Japan, where fruits can be a luxury. Even ice-cream would be a better choice.

However, there were also some things I like about the place

* Plenty of water by the table. I hate to keep hassling waitstaff for water/tea refills.

* Presentation of the food was good.

* The design of the restaurant, as previously mentioned.

* Service was quite good, despite there being only one waitress and about 5/6 tables to handle.

Aioli is a beautiful restaurant in a quaint location. Pity about the food. Very unsatisfying. See photos and DSD's take on it here.

(I think I have to head to Sebastien's soon. And have some of their beef bourguignon or duck confit. It's been too long!)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

under the table and dreaming

After reading Stephanie Klein's blog entry on about what's on her bedside table, here's what's on mine.

One of those ice cube lamps from Ikea which unfortunately doesn't really cast good light and I suppose will eventually wear my eyes out since I read before I sleep; my iPod in its dock (and hooked up to the crappy hi-fi that's on the dressing table); an alarm clock set to go off at 10 but I never turn it on cos hey, I don't have to get to work until 4 so what's a half hour more; and whatever it is I'm currently reading.

At the moment its the July issue of Gourmet and Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and until this morning, Seabiscuit. Since I've picked up Nell Freudenberger's Lucky Girls to read at work, I suppose that'll go on the pile next.

This bedside table has a couple of drawers too, which hold a couple of journals, some pens, some jewellery, sunglasses, various souvenirs from recent concerts eg the setlist of My Morning Jacket's concert in Melbourne (which I didn't see but it was a gift) and a Radiohead concert ticket. There's also a little jewellery box I got as a birthday present from a primary school classmate as well as this cute butterfly bookmark that another classmate had given me - too nice to use. (plus nowadays I tend to use my namecards to mark my place in books)
Along with that is a gorgeous blue spectacle case I've never used and if I'm not wrong was a gift from an ex. And in another case, my first pair of spectacles, which I got when I was 12 and probably wore for a couple of years before ditching them for a nicer looking pair and then contacts when I was in Sec 3.

Speaking of which, I had been rummaging another drawer for a pearl necklace I remember my grandparents had given me, and came across my Sec 4 class photo. Made me wonder where my classmates are doing now, since I kinda lost contact, unfortunately, with most of them.

I go pearl-hunting and I end up finding teenage memories.

if wishes were horses beggars would ride

I don't know anything about horse racing. And the closest I've come to the turf is enduring the horrific traffic jams along Bukit Timah and Dunearn Roads every weekend when the turf club was still located there. (Now it's the horrific decaying mess called Turf City).

But I do know that I quite liked watching the movie Seabiscuit, starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper. It was a fun, dramatic, underdog-emerges-victorious type of movie, based on the true tale of probably America's best racehorse ever. And I thought that was that.

Until I read Laura Hillenbrand's book, Seabiscuit: The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse, on which the movie was based.

It's a book on horseracing, but somehow it is able to transcend that genre - it's a great book, not just a great sports book.

This ugly duckling of a horse went on to capture the hearts of a nation that was downtrodded in the Great Depression, a time when a hero, an inspiration, was needed to once again stir up the people.

I suppose the true tale itself is fodder for a great story. It's serious underdog material.

*A man who travels out west to set up a bicycle repair shop that fails miserably, becomes a self-made millionaire, raking in the big bucks with his cars.

*A trainer who hardly says a word.

*A rider who is half-blind.

*A horse that's too small.

Hillenbrand not only brings to life the story of this runty horse and his people, but also sets the scene for the reader - what the racing world was like back then. The horrific accidents the jockeys faced, the desperate ways they fought to keep the weight off for eg resorting to diarrhoea pills just before weigh-in time and avoiding liquids as much as possible.

It's well-paced, much like a race, pausing at the right moments and speeding on at other moments. The last few chapters are especially gripping, when Red Pollard and Seabiscuit are riding out the last race of the horse's career.

I knew I couldn't put it down before I was done, despite having to head off to the office, I just had to finish the book so I stayed put in my room and devoured it before racing off to work.

Listening to Jayhawks' Save It For A Rainy Day

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Burger day out

Yes MT of course I had to blog about this! (maybe i should change the name of the blog to the burger blog, although there's already A Hamburger Today)

It was a towering sight. (sorry no pics - my camera's unfortunately old and not slim enough for my bag, plus I never understand how anyone can just whip out their camera and snap photos in dining establishments or well, pubs)

The Dubliner's burger ($22) with the works.

Fried egg
Crispy onion (eh)
Sundried tomatoes
Back bacon

However, I wasn't asked by the er.. oompaloompa how I'd like the burger done, which to me, is a no no.
It ended up being a little more done than I'd like it to be.
Plus I wasn't entirely fond of the bun. It seemed to me a larger version of those you get at your hawker centre western food stall.
The side salad was quite good, with a slightly tangy lemony dressing. (tried to find the name of the salad leaf but i havent a damn clue)
The fries were good. Crispy but soft on the inside and not the stringy type you get at McDonalds but the slightly fatter type.
Paired with an Erdinger. Lovely.

The sandwiches which my friends had come with scarily thick bread.
The last time I had that was in Hong Kong (no not that one in East Coast Road) but HK HK, some french toast thing.
It also reminds me of the bread in Tokyo, impossible to make a sandwich with.
I like my bread sliced thinly thank you. Unless it's walnut or sunflower seed bread. A thick slice would suffice, with butter.

I did like that Dubliner offered a Build-yr-own burger and had interesting toppings ($2 each) like horseraddish, falafel(!) and different types of cheese like Ricotta and Emmenthal.

Plus it's a nice location, despite the screech of buses as they stop to let passengers off just outside the building, just a couple of minutes walk from Somerset.

Yet another burger down, too many more to go.

How about this for a burger? Thought a quarterpounder is enough? How about a 35-pounder? Can you say heartburn?

Currently listening to Grandaddy's Lost on Yer Merry Way

Monday, August 15, 2005

I don’t know what to do with those tossed salads and scrambled eggs

What better way to start off a Monday morning with scrambled eggs on toast and a glass of milk?

(Ok so it would be better with sausages, bacon, tomatoes on the side but c'mon people it's a Monday not a lazy Sunday brunch)

Ever since this 4pm to 1am stint, I've not been too interested in breakfast, partly feeling guilty about eating past midnight when I get home. I usually just have something to drink or at the most cereal and then launch into lunch a bit later.

But somehow I woke up at 830 today. Ok so I wasn't working yesterday, but I still slept at about 2 something.
Shut my eyes for a bit more, but no use, I couldn't get back to sleep.

So I made myself that breakfast - sprinkling some cheese on top of that egg - and settled down to watch three straight episodes of Will & Grace Season One. Well, so not that straight.

I need to get my hands on Season Five soon... which I saw at HMV in HK but it was just too expensive. Devil!

Meanwhile, yesterday had lunch at the lovely Bunalun, (Chip Bee) where I had a salmon brioche sandwich with wakame salad and shared a tomato soup - very sweet. And a coffee to finish. Yummy. Oh and organic too.

Dinner was with my parents at Shunjuu (Robertson Quay).
We'd wanted to go to Liang Kee, but it was bloody packed with people. So a few doors down was Shunjuu, a place that specialises in Sumiyaki, which is the charcoal grill style of preparing foods.

When we sat down, some appetisers were laid on the table.
A head of cabbage leaves with a miso paste, and a serving of a something that might've been topshell.

We had:
A vegetable salad
Sashimi Moriwase
One order each of - enoki wrapped in pork, chicken with cartilage (love that cartilage) and roasted Japanese sweet potatoes.
An onigiri with cod roe for my dad
Agedashi tofu
A tempura udon to share

Not bad, not bad at all.

I suppose it was a bit of a Japanese dining weekend for me, as I'd had supper at En on Friday night, after having checked out Vino Vino.

The grilled stuff at En were a little less smoky, which I prefer.

But one thing I notice about this place is the way it screens very random movies.

The first time I was there, with my sis and my cousin, they showed My Neighbour Totoro, followed by Michael Jackson's music videos.

This time, it was Shanghai Knights.

Oh and speaking of Owen Wilson movies, saw Wedding Crashers last night. Quite entertaining. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson! That's a great team. And throw in some Will Ferrell? Great!

I always love Ferrell when he plays Alex Trebek on SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy. Especially when Sean Connery's on!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

me? really?

Here's one of them online personality tests i took.

Get to know yourself better
Your view on yourself:

You are down-to-earth and people like you because you are so straightforward. You are an efficient problem solver because you will listen to both sides of an argument before making a decision that usually appeals to both parties.

well i definitely listen, but i'm not an efficient problem solver.

The type of boyfriend you are looking for:

You are a true romantic. When you are in love, you will do anything and everything to keep your love true.


Your readiness to commit to a relationship:
You are ready to commit as soon as you meet the right person. And you believe you will pretty much know as soon as you might that person.


The seriousness of your love:

Your have very sensible tactics when approaching the opposite sex. In many ways people find your straightforwardness attractive, so you will find yourself with plenty of dates.

not sure about that one

Your views on education
Education is very important in life. You want to study hard and learn as much as you can.

oh that's true. i want to be a student forever!

The right job for you:
You have plenty of dream jobs but have little chance of doing any of them if you don't focus on something in particular. You need to choose something and go for it to be happy and achieve success.

now doesn't that just hit the nail on the head

How do you view success:

You are afraid of failure and scared to have a go at the career you would like to have in case you don't succeed. Don't give up when you haven't yet even started! Be courageous.

What are you most afraid of:
You are afraid of having no one to rely on in times of trouble. You don't ever want to be unable to take care of yourself. Independence is important to you.

damnit. that's true.

Who is your true self:

You like privacy very much because you enjoy spending time with your own thoughts. You like to disappear when you cannot find solutions to your own problems, but you would feel better if you learned to share your thoughts with a person you trust.

well now, how the hell did it get from answering a few silly questions to this??

deal breaker

Perhaps my expectations had been too high.

But then, so much has been said about Garibaldi that surely one would step into this Purvis Street restaurant with high expectations, no?

The thing is, the quality of the meal was good. I have no complaints about the standard of the food, as well as the service. But the selections for the $28 set lunch was quite disappointing.

The good news is that the starters were not bad - a salad, a soup and a salmon carpaccio.

I was quite fond of the soup of the day - a clear porcini mushroom broth. Very tasty and also, for me the first time I had a non-creamy mushroom soup. Very refreshing.

When it came to the mains, however, I had a hard time choosing.

There were three types of pasta - one with pine nuts and pesto, another with a creamy prawn sauce, and the third I forget. There was a deep fried fish (sole I think) with a zucchini sauce. There was also a chicken stew.
The two non-pasta dishes, to me, screamed 'this fish and chicken aint too fresh' so I decided to steer clear of that.
I had to narrow it down to the pesto pine nuts pasta, because I'm not too fond of creamy sauce (although it did look quite good on the plate across from mine).

Pasta was good but just uninteresting.

I guess I should've gone with instinct and tried one of the specials the waiter announced to us - pappardelle with rabbit. Something I've been meaning to try.

Dessert turned out to be coffee ice-cream, which I didn't finish. Was more interested in drinking the coffee that came with the set lunch..

Despite this, I still am keen to try other restaurants' lunch deals. First to convince people to join me for lunch...

Currently playing Ron Sexsmith's Nothing Good

don't order fish on mondays

While I do profess an admiration for various chefs, the one person I would love to sit down and have a meal with is Anthony Bourdain.

I admire his tenacity and the way he unabashedly hurls himself into things - be it gulping down a snake's still beating heart, taking bicycle rides down the streets of Tokyo, trying various unrecognisable delicacies from all around the world.

I like that while he owns a restaurant - Les Halles in NYC - his TV show isn't all about that, but rather, his travels around the world.

I vaguely remember the ep in Singapore where Seetoh brought him to Geylang for the crab noodles.... but last year when I went to Singapura restaurant at Selegie (love the cold crab and their foo chow cuisine!) there was a picture of Mr Bourdain smiling for the camera.

I'm sure he must have enjoyed the cold crab. Sometimes I think that's the best way to enjoy a fresh crab, rather than slathered underneath the sweet chili sauce or worse still, black pepper!

Anyway, I've taken to reading Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential again. The first time I read it was during the fking long plane ride to Toronto so I think it deserves a reread.

And on the bus to work, I read this lovely passage about his first experience eating an oyster.

"This, I knew, was the magic I had until now been only dimly and spitefully aware of. I was hooked. My parents' shudders, my little brother's expression of unrestrained revulsion and amazement only reinforced the sense that I had, somehow, become a man. I had had an adventure, tasted forbidden fruit, and everything that followed in my life - the food, the long and often stupid and self-destructive chase for the next thing , whether it was drugs or sex or some other new sensation - would all stem from this moment."

Eating is an adventure. He definitely knows it.

Plus how could you not like a guy who says this:

"I'm not afraid to look like a big, hairy, smelly, foreign devil in Tokyo," Anthony Bourdain explains, "though I do my best not to, I really do."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Eaten by Alsatians

It seems that my grandma has been worrying about me, specifically about my being unattached. She's apparently told my mother to let me go out more. (!)

I hereby put the blame on my cousins!

The one who's my age has been with her boyfriend since godknowswhen... secondary school I think.

One of them, the oldest of the grandchildren, got married a year or two ago and produced greatgrandchild numero uno this year.

And I believe that some of my other cousins also are settling into some sort of comfortable relationships of their own that might be going somewhere... If not wrong, met one of my cousin's gf's earlier this year (and meeting extended family usually means relationship has progressed quite far)

My sister also has been in a serious, long-distance relationship for a few years now.

I suppose my grandma's gonna have to worry a bit more about me then.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

There's Something About Snail Mail

I really hate that term - snail mail. I suppose it's a fitting one, in a world where e-mails get zipped off to the recipient in a matter of seconds, postal mail does crawl along at a snail's pace, only reaching a day later, or when sent from another country, days or weeks even.

But I just received a letter in the mail the other day, sent from a friend in Melbourne, whom, I suppose, prefers to do things the old-fashioned way.

It was a delight to tear open the sealed envelope and sit down to read the letter - composed on foolscap paper from a school he used to teach at, no less!

To hold a letter, to read someone's handwriting - that's something I have not done for a long time.

But I have sent letters recently!

I occasionally send some to family friends in Sydney - this lovely retired Aussie couple. But even they have entered the digital domain and sent me an e-card for my birthday, instead of something through the mail! A tad bit disappointing!

I recently read she bakes and she cooks' entry about blogging by mail where she received a parcel from the US with all manner of candy - molasses candy, bubblegum, and hardtack even. What a treat that must've been to open up the parcel and reveal the goodies within.

My sister and I used to receive birthday gifts from Sydney and from family friends in Wellington, New Zealand. The parcels would sometimes arrive weeks early, sometimes weeks late. Once, even a few months late as they had sent it to the wrong address - putting Street instead of Road in the address. The gifts would be packed in bubblewrap and then giftwrap so it was fun to tear open both layers. The gifts were usually small - maybe a writing pad, some jewellery (usually opal cos that's what NZ's famous for!)

In return, we'd send my penpal (who recently got engaged I hear) and her brother little gifts from here. I can only hope that they too enjoyed receiving parcels from us!

It was fun to have a penpal. And I guess I now sorta have one again!

Currently playing The Velvet Underground's Oh Sweet Nuthin


Monday, August 08, 2005

fondue and fondon't

so it was our first attempt at chocolate fondue.

i think things turned out alright, despite needing some additional help from dimsumdolly's mum to save our chocolate sauce!

we had some nice strawberries, kiwis, marshmallows and banana for dipping into the melted chocolate, and just for fun, a mini campfire (more like tealights) to roast the marshmallows on. (although some of them caught fire leaving burnt crisps that looked hazardous)

and though it was some work chopping up that gigantic kg block of dark chocolate she bought, it was worth it.

I reckon dimsumdolly will be putting up some pics soon.

today's dl:
Bic Runga's Good Morning Baby
(Just because I woke up before 10 today,decided to turn on the TV instead and watched MTV Cribs to find out the Craig David's got a great London flat and that Chicago White Sox player Jermaine Dye (i think) has a typical American celebrity mansion - a hugeass house but done up with absolutely no taste whatsoever, that is, with a lot of wood panelling in the kitchen, very boring beigeish colour tones, uninteresting furniture. That's what I've learnt on MTV Cribs. Huge monster mansions but absolutely no style. What a waste!).


feasting not fasting

I decided to cook some linguini carbonara today. While I've always been more of a tomato-based sauce person, I do occasionally like the creamy ones. And since I came across the recipe, which looks and is remarkably simple, I gave it a go.

So after stumbling out of bed at 1030 (horribly, I slept at 2 something) and a glass of Milo, I glared out at the window until the rain stopped and then ventured out to the bloody small NTUC near my house.

Besides buying pasta, it was my assigned task to buy fruits for tonight's fondue party at dimsumdolly's . Was meant to get strawberries, mangoes, kiwis, marshmallows. But the stock of mangos was pretty pathetic, gave it the onceover and decided it would be a waste of my time, money and stomach to buy them. But the strawberries from Australia looked pretty good so into the basket went two punnets, along with some kiwis and a bag of marshmallows.

I suppose I'll have to update this blog when I actually get back from the fondue pot baptism later!

Anyway, it was back home to cook my brunch.

I have no clue whether this is the right way to cook carbonara but it still tasted good to me!
Essentially, while the linguini or whatever pasta you have on hand cooks in boiling water, fry up some bacon and then throw in a garlic clove or two. Fry some more, just before it gets crispy. Toss the garlic. Crack an egg into the bowl you're gonna serve the pasta in, add some pepper.
Then drain your pasta, dump into the bowl with the egg and pepper, stir. The heat will sorta turn the egg into a sauce, throw in the bacon, and some grated parmesan cheese (and i don't mean the pre-grated stuff, which I can't stand). Stir, toss on some more pepper to taste, and if you must, salt. (bacon's already salty enough for me)

Then raise your fork, twirl the linguini on and enjoy!

All food needs music to be cooked along to. I was listening to Nirvana when fixing the linguini. Maybe it would taste different if I'd played something else...

Today's dl Ben Folds sings 'an old american standard'

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Eleanor Rigby

I read most of Elenor Rigby at work. It was a slow Saturday and I'd started on the book a couple of days ago. It was fairly intriguing - about a woman in her 30s who was unmarried and as she admits, fat. She works in a normal job, nothing too interesting. Her family treats her the way she's described that weird spinster no
one can really put a finger on. The one who has nothing in her fridge except chocolate pudding.

So one day, she takes time off work to get wisdom tooth surgery, and while resting at home, gets a call from the hospital. Someone called Jeremy, who listed her as the person to call in case of emergency, is in the hospital.

She doesn't recognise the name. But later she realises who he is - her son, the one she gave up for adoption just after he was born, and whom she has not seen
since then. He is now 20.

So she goes to see him. And takes care of him. At first uncomfortable with sharing her space with someone, she grows to love him. Unfortunately he has multiple sclerosis and his condition's deteriorating. So it's a bit of a sad one.

Unfortunately while the storyline was interesting enough, and both Liz and Jeremy great characters, Coupland has this way of pulling the narrative in so many different directions that my eyes glaze over in certain parts (especially these visions
that Jeremy gets, which I'm sure have a bigger philosophical meaning but really just bore me to bits). And I find myself skipping over bits and pieces, until an interesting piece of dialogue snaps me back to attention again.

I loved the cover of the book.
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And yesterday while watching part of X2 on Star Movies, realised it's quite a bit like the part where Professor X operates Cerebro, trying to find all the mutants, all of them!

Also interestingly, the title of the book is a little misleading. I thought that would be the main character's name. But Eleanor Rigby is the title of a Beatles song, and well, here are the lyrics. Fitting.

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie, writing the words
of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks
in the night when there's nobody there
What does he care

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt
from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

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Friday, August 05, 2005

living beyond my means

after discovering how much money I unknowingly spent last month, i spent the afternoon doing some shopping.


i think i should not go out. should stay home and repent. and spend as little money as possible.

Or maybe I should try to find out how to meet this guy:

The 18th Earl of Pembroke.
He's 27 and worth 125 million pounds.
one of the world's most eligible bachelors?

Besides lunch and shopping, I popped by the new library to find the shelves in the basement mostly empty. So I went upstairs to the reference section where there are plenty books (although when I think about how this is The National Library, the collection is still a bit pathetic - there were very few books on media) but
as I've previously mentioned, i don't like reading in libraries so it's of absolutely no use to me. I just spent time browsing the shelves, looking at the various magazines - including the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Review of Books (although somehow the latest issues seemed to be that of May)

It was amazingly busy for a Friday afternoon and I was getting a bit bored (also cos I filled up my book quota at the library a few days ago) so popped over to Bugis Junction where I bought this top
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from a local store called tien
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and these shoes from Americaya.

and I've got shoes that I bought a few months ago that i've only worn once! Ok I have an excuse, sorta - they're just not shoes to walk ard in. Like I had to explain to a guy friend once, there are shoes I buy so that I can wear to work, wear to go out shopping, to catch buses with. And then there are shoes I buy cos I just can't resist them and they're only good for walking from, say, car to restaurant.

I realise I started out talking about saving money and ended up musing about my latest purchases. I really have to not spend so much and save more!

iTunes is playing Nirvana - Come As You Are


And in honour of tonight's concert, here's the dl for today. The Bravery - Swollen Summer

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

and i said all y'all go take a walk

There's something about jogging around the neighbourhood in the evening.

People rush home in their cars to, hopefully, a homecooked meal...

Other joggers run on by... making me wonder how anyone can jog without listening to music...what do they think of? (maybe: hmm..maybe i should get myself an mp3 player)

Jogging past some houses, you get a hint of what food might be laid on the table.
Going past one house, the smell of fish being fried...
A few more houses down, the tempting smell of garlic, tomatoes and perhaps a hint of seafood stock... marinara sauce?
Down another street and I distinctly smell fragrant coconut rice. I wonder what else is in store for that family.

It made me think of what awaits me at home - some soup with daikon, beef stew, broccoli and carrots, a porkchop type dish, and my leftover teriyaki chicken wings!

Jogging in the evening is such a nice change from the mornings.

Before this stint, i used to have to drag myself out of bed for a quick jog, as early as possible before the sun gets too hot and before the kids clog up the pavements and their parents' hugeass cars block up most of the road, before I have to breathe in the exhaust of all these vehicles, and before i end up being late for work.

And yet somehow I still hate to jog. I'd rather be swimming. I like the cool water on my skin on a hot day. I like being underwater, doing lap after lap. Ironically, while I need my music on a jog, I like the silence of the pool. It gives me a chance to think, to wonder. I guess it's also partly cos I grew up swimming, I think lessons began when I was 6?

Every Saturday would involve a long drive down to Tanah Merah with my sister to have lessons at 4pm. It would begin with 10 laps with the board, freestyle. Then we'd do sprints across the breadth. And some sorta diving lessons - as in being taught how to plunge properly into the pool, not the other kinda diving. The coach - Uncle Vincent we called him - would always offer an award before the last sprint of the day. The winner would get an ice-cream or some treat like that at the clubhouse. Of course, it usually went to the guys. Then it'd be 10 more laps to cool down.
We did the usual - survival swimming and long distance swimming tests and took part in some competitions, within the club, that is. I remember the first one I took part in, when I was... 7? 8? ... it was a 25m breaststroke and I kept turning my head to check how the competition was doing. It was nerve-wracking but somehow I got used to it, standing up there, looking down at the pool, ready to plunge in and kick my way to the other end.

Then I went to secondary school, and decided I didnt really want to swim anymore. Kids do silly things.

I've been thinking of taking up a new sport. It's been a while since I've done something new like that.

Today's dl: Spoon - Take A Walk

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

just can't stop

I was reading this Image hosted by Photobucket.com and to my surprise, I devoured it in one day. I guess it has partly to do with the fact that it was my day off yesterday.

Food Of Love was something I picked up on a whim in a teeny bookstore in Chiang Mai. It cost me only 350 baht and I thought it would make a good vacay read. But as usual I was overly ambitious in my reading, and didn't start on the book at all during my time in the Thai city.

Instead, yesterday, after finishing the four borrowed items from the library, I was searching for a nice easy read to bring along with me to the swimming pool.

I was very absorbed by the book, despite it's rather simple and quite obvious storyline:
Boy A spots Girl. Likes Girl but being a Boy makes up some story about being a chef. (He's only a waiter)
No worries, cos his friend Boy B, is actually a chef and does the cooking for his dates.
But Boy B falls in love with Girl, but would never admit that because (a) she's Boy A's girl (b) he doesn't think he's good enough....

You can see where it's all going really...

But what captured me was the way Capella weaves food into the story. Food is used in courtship and also very much a part of their everyday lives. They drink espressos at the neighbourhood cafe - never cappucino after 10am. And you drink it standing by the bar, not sitting down.

The way Bruno (Boy B) goes to the market and spots some gorgeous white asparagus, expensive but just perfect for his meal. And his beautiful ice-cream with chilis... mmmm...

Even when he talks about cooking offal and brains and various other body parts, I just can't help but wonder what they all taste like.

This was a book of fiction, not a cookbook with fancy glossy artful photos, yet it made me want to eat, want to cook and feast on something absolutely sinful.

But it was already 2am and no way was I going to do that... so instead I feasted on the book.

The more I read, the more I wanted to eat. Somehow I managed to push the overwhelming temptation to raid the fridge, finished the book with a sigh, turned off the light and went to sleep. This entry would ideally end with blissful dreams but it was a rather weird one that had me all confused.

Reading this book also made me want to travel to Italy. Not to Rome, where the bulk of the story is set, but up to the little towns and villages, where Bruno stays for a few months and of course, does more cooking.

I never thought I'd like it, with its rather flighty name and cover. But Food Of Love is sensual and has its charm.

and on a Tuesday

Royston Tan makes the New York Times in
On the Set With Singapore's Not-So-Dangerous Bad Boy

altho the author decides to call his alma mater "Temasek Polytechnic University", i liked how the article ended:

It was nearly 8 p.m., and the production meeting was about to start. Mr. Tan, dressed in a shirt, jeans and well-worn Nike sneakers, walked past the suite's supply of food for the crew: chicken-abalone-flavored instant noodles and chocolate biscuits. A story-high sculpture of a durian, the odoriferous Southeast Asian fruit, adorned the manicured lawn of the refined English colonial-style hotel, painted like a Wedgwood teacup.

Currently playing: Radiohead's Go To Sleep