Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Always wanted to find out what tastes good with communion wafers? Now you can It's not french onion dip or Cheeze-Whiz. The answer's probably not that surprising.

Did I ever mention Chronicle Books? They've got a great selection of unique journals as well as books. I especially like this set from the Imagineering Company.

Welcome to the freakshow

I was quite disturbed by one scene in Capote - the hanging of a man. I didn't expect to see the entire thing. That loud bang as the floor opened up and he dropped, hanging by that noose around his neck. He struggles and kicks for a while, and then all is still. He hangs in mid-air, feet tied, head encased in a black sack. hands bound behind him. This scene disturbs me more than the point-blank murders shown earlier. I cannot get it out of my head.

It's quite natural isn't it, to want to watch something that freaks you out. Isn't that why horror movies and thrillers reap in at the box office? We all went to see The Ring knowing what would happen yet we still watched it. And me, I like to watch plastic surgery reality shows like Dr 90210 on E! I watched as the surgeons insert a long metal tube under the skin of the patient - who's still conscious, having been given only local anaesthetic - and jiggle it and pull it and push it, to suck out that last bit of fat. I watched as a woman came in to have her pendulous breasts reduced from a cup size I to a D. An I! I watched as they cut a small incision under another woman's chin, to insert a jaw implant. I even watched when surgeons did reconstructive surgery to a man's forehead, which had been shattered in an accident. After that episode, I realised what freaked me out more was that this had actuallly happened to someone - that his forehead shattered, and the pieces had to be removed, and that brain tissue was leaking into his nose cavity, and that his eyeballs were asymmetrical. And I muttered thanks that I've not been through such trauma - and I hope I never will.

maybe i can do it if i put my back into it

I made cornbread today
It came out better than my last attempt where it was a bit harder than supposed to be. I think I baked it for too long.
This time though, I missed the graininess of the cornmeal, as this recipe called for the cornmeal to be soaked in the milk for 5 minutes. But having sprinkled some cornmeal onto the greased baking pan, it still had a slight crunch to it.
The bread also needed far more salt as it was too bland.
I think I can do better. Although I suppose I'll have to wait a while first before making another batch, my family will kill me.

Ah crap. Sondre Lerche has a new album out. Not that it's crap. It just means I'm gonna have to buy said album.
On top of the albums I've already picked to deepdiscount - which I'm still trying to whittle down.
And that's on top of the other pair of shoes I bought on my day off - effectively making it the fourth pair in less than a month. Had also been tempted to get something from the Nine West sale but I made it out of the store without getting anything.
And also on top of the money I owe for the Threadless sale.
But no - I didn't buy books this time. Good on me eh?

Listening: American Music Club - Queen Jane Approximately

Monday, February 27, 2006


There is one reason - and it's a very good one - to catch Capote.

Philip Seymour Hoffman.

He's brilliant. He really is. He's absolutely disappeared under the skin of Truman Capote and brought him to life. You just can't help but to hang onto his every word, watch his every move.

I've never known much about Capote, just like in the last biopic I saw - of Johnny Cash's life in Walk The Line - but I have adored his books Breakfast At Tiffany's and In Cold Blood.

The film tells the story behind the writing of that book, which is based on a true crime - the murder of a family in Kansas.

Having read the book late last year, I found myself caught up in the movie, after which I realised I might have to rethink the book.

For Capote had such great conflict within himself about this book, as he had said he wouldn't publish it until the killers' executions so that it wouldn't affect their appeals. He so wants to finish the book, get it over and done with, get the public's and critics' acclaim. Yet he cares for one of the killers. To put it bluntly, he would like them to be executed so the book can be published but at the same time, he doesn't want them to be executed.

I have to admit that at the end of the movie, I looked at my watch and realised it was slightly less than two hours long - I'd presumed it was longer. It's quite a slow show, its got a rather relaxed pace and yet is constantly tense. I did feel that they dropped the character of Harper Lee a bit earlier than necessary, as she brought some saneness into Capote's life. But I don't know, maybe that was the start of his downward spiral.

Go see Capote because of what it is - a film about the life of one of America's greatest writers, in one of the best performances I've seen in a very long time. I hope he wins the Oscar, I reckon he blew away the competition.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

sunday's my funday

The printer (the one that churns out proofs) has gone a bit mad, kicking up a fuss and making all sorts of noise as the sheets of paper spool out. It sounds like a Magimix, whipping up some egg whites for a souffle.

Mmm souffles... the best one I've ever had was at Au Petit Salut. It was a delicately light, and yet bursting with flavour, chestnut souffle. And just yesterday, while I was lazy about watching TV, on the Asian Food Channel - which has sucky interstitials - Cook Like A Chef, this Canadian show which features real chefs had one fella from Calgary doing a chestnut souffle (gasp!) and a er, well I dunno what the other one was except that it had cheese and bechamel sauce... I deduce from that that it was a cheese souffle. It didn't look that difficult - ok so he had an assistant whip up the whites for him - but the chestnut one looks doable, I think! Although my guess is that it will probably fall. And then my face will.

Oh and in case you haven't ever checked out the list of food blogs I read via bloglines, let me recommend: Kitchen Appartment Therapy - a gorgeous, clean site that's got great links to recipes and products you just want to lay your hands on.

And this makes for good, light, Sunday evening reading.
A Guardian writer goes on a Body Holiday in St Lucia and lives to tell his tale

There's archery too. I amaze the tutor with my idiosyncratic bowstring action, which involves missing the target with every arrow while skilfully removing a layer of skin from my arm.

This is why many Japanese people would rather not watch Westerners eat sushi: it's not just gross, it's wrong.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I also go to cheaper places to eat ok

Porridge isn't just for when you're sick.

Yeah so it goes down easily and all but I think you're thinking of those really plain and simple porridges where it's just flavoured with some meat or some fish. Hospital food.

The porridge I'm talking about is Taiwanese porridge - hearty stuff, with all kinds of yummy dishes that can be ordered alongside it. And I just found a place I finally am pretty happy with - and it's not too far from where I live either.

I used to make people go to Stadium Close, Tanjong Pagar and even Goodwood Park Hotel for Taiwanese porridge. For Teochew porridge there's those usual kopitiams... but that's a different type of porridge, with different dishes available, like goose meat and steamed fish.

But today, I was wanting Taiwanese porridge - the porridge that comes with pieces of sweet potato, which I think adds a little something to the watery rice. I suppose it harks back to wartime days for some people (and I don't know why I just said that) but hell I like it. And if anyone doesn't want theirs, I'll gladly take it! The trick is to smash it up in the bowl, so that it turns the porridge slightly orange and thickens it a bit.

Besides the porridge, we ordered the minced pork er cake-like thing that comes with some salted egg on top, two plates of clams, sambal kangkong and that great dish of little fish I absolutely love - the fish are deepfried till they're crispy (and till you can eat them bones and all) and cooked with a slightly sweet and spicy sauce. The dishes were all $4 each. And porridge is freeflow at 80cents. What more can you ask for?

Plus they even have kongbahbao on the menu. No wonder there were people waiting for tables outside when we left. I'm so coming back here.

Prince Taiwan Porridge
9 Cheong Chin Nam Road
(off Upper Bukit Timah Road)
Tel: 64670289

Going Tex-Mex

I've not eaten at Holland Village for a while, mostly cos of problem parking, but today, remembering the new carpark that's been built, my mom says "let's go!" So we went.

The carpark isn't exactly very big but we managed to find a space after some waiting around. And finally we were seated at Cha Cha Cha.

I love Tex-Mex food - but all those beans and cheese just screams of Fat Bastard so it's a once-in-a-long-while thing. The family's favourite Mex restaurant was the good ole Chico's and Charlie's at Liat Towers but it shut a long time ago, although it recently got resurrected as part of the Harry's chain and can now be found at Orchard Hotel. I wasn't too impressed.

Cha Cha Cha got a bit of a makeover, giving it a more modern, less tacky look. And more space for tables. Overall, it looked great, except for what seemed to be an absence of airconditioning (it was a really hot day).

The nachos and dip arrived. The nachos were great of course but the salsa, although very tasty and had a good heat to it, was quite watery.

I ordered the spinach enchilada, which I know isn't exactly what comes to mind when you think Tex-Mex but it was good nonetheless, with a nice amount of spinach and mashed potato. The two enchiladas were coated with some melted cheese and accompanied with Mexican rice, which my mom reckoned tasted more like it had Indian spices in it.

She went with the prawn enchiladas which I'm glad I didn't order as they were stuffed with onions. I am not a onion fan.

My sister took the good-ole favourite of beef burrito, served with chili con carne on top and a side of refried beans. Yum.

After lunch, it was a quick stop at Provence for my favourite cream cheese buns - nobody makes them like this place does! (then again, it's more like I haven't seen it being sold anywhere else)

Cha Cha Cha
32 Lorong Mambong
Holland Village
Tel: 6462 1650

Friday, February 24, 2006


"If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine the Cantonese will eat it."
Said Prince Philip at a World Wildlife Fund meeting.
And more (off TMN)

This year's Oscarsare the gayest ever

Chewbacca's blog (off Torture Garden)

An Aquarium Drunkard's got some Kathleen Edwards mp3s.

Mr. has a new Flaming Lips track.

Music For Kids Who Can't Read Good has a nice load of covers, including Ben Gibbard doing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Hungry? Try out Heston Blumenthal's sandwich recipes

Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos gets local food names wrong in his Guardian article (sorry, link's been fixed)
I'm considering writing to him.
Dear Alex Kapranos, I'm glad you enjoyed the food in Singapore. But I don't think the Mormon state would appreciate being called "a paste of coconut, chilli and fish, wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted'. The correct term would be "otah".
I hear from friends that you guys rocked Singapore, I wish I could say that myself but I can instead only say that you guys rocked Bangkok.
However, if you guys ever return to Singapore (and I hope you do!) I will gladly volunteer my services as a resident foodie to take you... er... out.

Listening: Kaiser Chiefs - Oh My God

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Foodie news

The Rubino brothers of Rain in Toronto will be making their way down for the World Gourmet Summit. Apparently they will be filming an episode of Made to Order

Oh and of course plenty of masterchefs will be in town as well, doing their thing.

Dinner at the T Room

Met DSD for dinner on Tuesday at the Turquoise Room. It was 730pm and she was the only customer in sight. There were later to be 2 1/2 other tables of customers (I count one of the tables only as a half as they had just dessert and coffee). So when she said that she wouldn't write about it in her blog, (because I'd previously said I'd never write a review about my favourite Japanese place, wanting to keep it to myself), I told her she'd better, cos what if no one else knows about it and it closes down soon!

I'm not sure how new the place was but that was very few customers. Yes, it was a Tuesday night and maybe they do better business on the weekends!

And I do want this place to survive, because it's a darling cafe, reminiscent of cafes in the Bondi area, except that it looks out onto a forested area, instead of the sea. It's all in white, except for a wall with turquoise swirls. And the outdoor dining area is just a lovely, quiet place to have dinner or drinks and conversation, and occasionally, to look up and admire the stars above. Oh and those worried about mozzies, it was quite ok. I didn't get bitten and the staff lit some mozzie coils, which didn't stink up the place.

The food was simple, but good.

We shared a starter of bread and dips - three types of warm bread with a pesto dip and another of sundried tomatoes ($8). A little too much carbo for two girls, but then we had been expecting YC to come along after work, until a last-minute press release got dropped on her lap and she didn't leave the office until midnight.

With all that alcohol over the weekend, I decided to stick to cold water. And anyway their bottles were a bit steep, with only a few below $80. So I'd consider bringing a bottle of my own the next time - yes, there will be a next time!

I ordered the pork loin, which came wrapped with proscuitto and a slice of apple ($18). The extra layer provided a bit extra saltiness and sweetness at the same time - although I think they would've done better to have chosen a sweeter type of apple as it took me a while to figure out what it was. It came on a bed of asparagus, although they were the skinny type not those fab finger-sized ones.

DSD had the prawn and arugula linguini ($18) which was rather tasty although I thought it could do with a hint more chilli. Coincidentally I had made this for lunch, minus the arugula.

They seem to have a nice selection of pizzas and salads, as well as about six or seven other mains.

We ended the night with an espresso chocolate mousse, a rather small portion to share, but for one person, would be quite enough. It was good and had a hint of something we couldn't quite put our tastebuds on - lemongrass?
And this coffee fan just couldn't resist a flat white, although it was decaf cos caffeine kinda fcuks up my system if I drink it too late at night.

Service was friendly. (See I don't always complain about service!) And that's always good. Sitting outside means you might have to wave your hands around a bit to attract some attention but it's alright.

Also check out DSD's take on it

The Turquoise Room
7 Lock Road
Tel: 64733655

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Postal service

I've said it before, but I love receiving real mail!
So when I came across Postcrossing, I just had to join.

This one's from Finland.

And one from Spokane, Washington.

Listening: Furniture - Now I'm Gonna Take A Vacation

It's in the details

As I was flying to and from Bangkok on my own, I came well prepared - a copy of the latest Elle (the US version) and one of the library books from my recent haul Troll: A Love Story.

It was a lighthearted read, simple and funny, which is always good for a holiday book. But it also bordered slightly on the dark and weird - it was sad, it was thoroughly mesmerising. A very good read.

Mikael aka Angel - a very blond, almost white-haired, skinny and fair young man with piercing eyes, who is older than he looks - comes home after drinks and flirtations to find a group of thugs taunting some kind of animal outside his apartment building. He manages to shoo them away with some help of another tenant. And cowering in the darkness is a small black hairy troll. He takes the troll home, and takes care of it, giving it the name Pessi, taking the name of the troll from a Finnish fairytale.

When I think of trolls, that story about the three billy goats comes to mind. That troll that lives under the bridge is foiled by the three goats that come traipsing above him.

But it seems that trolls are a large part of Nordic mythology. Apparently they like to steal away people to live among them as slaves or prisoners, and sometimes take babies. Most often keeping to themselves, trolls were said to be human-like in appearance, but having a tail. This information is introduced in bits and pieces Angel delves from the Internet and various books.

Then things take an interesting turn as he becomes obsessed with his new friend, who secretes pheremones which smell like juniper berries. Angel becomes hot property but he only feels for Pessi. But of course this is not just about a man and his troll, the author works in the other characters well - their jealousy, their lust, their fear.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The devil made me do it

When I got back from Bangkok - hungry because it's a budget flight and just wanting to bypass all the fast food at the airport and hop in the cab home - I had a hankering for some cake. But we didn't have any cake at home.
And since I was off the next day, I made this Devil's Food Cake, essentially two chocolate cakes sandwiched together with a frosting made of whipped egg whites and sugar syrup.

During the trip I realised that although I love Thai food - that amazing blend of hot, sweet, sour, salty - I can't go too long without some bread/pasta. Eating rice and noodles for four days straight isn't for me, no matter how good the pad thai/beef noodles etc is.

Today I had to make a stop at Tierneys to get some turkey breast and brie for a sandwich for lunch. (NTUC is nearer the house but its deli meats just aren't any good)

Monday, February 20, 2006

What's it all about

The last day in Bangkok and I had only one thought on my mind - this wasn't a long enough stay. I didn't feel like I had the chance to hang out much in this city. Didn't do enough shopping. Didn't go to Vertigo, one of my favourite places to have a drink at.

However, I did find a new - ok not new lah, but new to me - stretch at RCA with some very gorgeous clubs (including one with a massive bathroom with an area for performances - yes, in the ladies' toilet!)

I also ate far more street food than before and found a very cheap but good kopitiam-like place near Asia Hotel, with excellent tom yum and snakehead fish curry.
And late night, also near the hotel, pad thai and beef noodles.

And because I just adore cafes, Greyhound Cafe at Siam Center and those in the spanking fancy Siam Paragon - although I still cannot forgive them for providing a sachet of coffee creamer with my cappucino. (And on that note, why do they all sell cappucinos but not lattes?)

Oh and thanks to Asia Hotel for the upgrade to a deluxe room!

But this trip was just about the music - everything else was secondary. And it was just such an experience. Sorry lah, I've never been to a music festival before so it was just a thrill being there... driving out to this area in a minivan, meeting new people and getting into arguments about Snow Patrol - cos yes, they are quite a pop-ish band and tend to attract mostly girls but I just love 'em!, haggling with the locals over the price of a can of beer (although it was already damn cheap without bargaining), getting hold of media passes and then finding out that our paid-for tickets offered us a better view than the media section, smuggling beer into the arena in pockets, going to the toilet bus (literally, a bus - a bus! - with cubicles for ladies and another section for men), getting stepped on in the mosh pit during Placebo and deciding to bail for the safety of my feet (and better view) nearer the centre, queueing for coupons to buy drinks and food and then learning later that the beer had all run out, marvelling at the girls who had come in high heels, trying to keep away from the half-naked sweaty crazed angmohs, dancing, clapping, singing along to the songs I knew - yes, even to Oasis, heading back just so tired, attempting to go to the after-party at the Metropolitan and then having one of the guys denied entry because he's wearing berms (but honestly, I wouldn't have stayed long if we had all gained entry - I was just flat out tired!)

Going to Bangkok is a lot like being here in Singapore, in some ways. After all, I'm not interested in doing touristy things there (although I kinda liked the Grand Palace, which I visited the last trip, as well as taking the boat up the Chao Phraya but Bangkok is instead about chilling out, doing a bit of shopping, eating some good and authentic (hopefully) Thai food, marvelling at their sense of aesthetics, hitting some drinking joints (and moaning at how early they close) and just maybe, feeling not like a tourist at all.

Listening: Snow Patrol - Grazed Knees

bangkok rocked

what can i say?
For now...
Ian Brown and his pink tracksuit and the "ian brown shoulder shrug", Franz Ferdinand who were absolutely the highlight of day one, and Oasis... Oasis just bored the hell out of me. Yes, they have their anthemic hits but Liam is quite an asshole isn't he.. the way he stands and stares at the crowd and stalks off the stage. Some of us got bored and went to sit down at the side after a while, others went to get food.
And then there were the Futureheads, who tended to sound the same after a while, Maximo Park... well didn't see them as we were outside getting more beers (you couldn't bring in alcohol, it had to be bought at the venue, but beer ran out before 7pm. there was plenty of whisky cos 100 Pipers was a major sponsor, but eh, whiskey at a rock concert, you have got to be kidding me. But plenty of enterprising Thais plied the streets just outside of the arena, selling cans of local beer, and some Heinekens, for between 30 to 50 baht each. So all the drinking happened outside, as they were fond of patting people down just before you entered the actual staged area - and confiscating any bottles) and then Snow Patrol who were fun and too too short a set. (they played several new songs, which will be out... in a few months I think) I love Snow Patrol! The crowd obviously was there for Placebo who were great.
But for me, Franz F and Snow Patrol hit the spot.
More next time..
(Hopefully this won't be the first and last Bangkok Rock festival.)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

guess what

The addiction is getting worse...
I popped into Lucky Plaza for the sole purpose of
changing S$ into baht, and ended up buying five
Granted, they were cheap - $30 for 5 books.
But still!

So I lugged a bagful of:
Martin Amis - Yellow Dog (was thinking twice
about this one, but eh $5)
Chuck Palahniuk - Non-fiction
Italo Calvino - Hermit In Paris
Julian Barnes - Lemon Table
Alice Munro - The Moons Of Jupiter

I decided to not exceed five, although I saw a
couple of others I was kinda interested in.
It's not about the money, it's more about the
It's about the number of books I buy and still
haven't read.
It's about the accumulation of books on my shelf
and my other shelf, and my other shelf, and my
It's about buying, and buying, and still buying

I was just watching that ep of Sex And The City
where Carrie evaluates her financial non-status
and realises that she's got $40,000 worth of
Well, all I can say is thank god books don't
cost $400 each.

Sigh.. Must Not Buy Books in Bangkok....

I fly off to bkk tomorrow, for the third year
in a row. This time, it's not
just to eat and shop but also to catch the rock
festival. Will fill y'all in later.

have a good weekend and wish me good weather

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


was a bit early for my lunch with a friend at Bugis Junction so I took a slow walk through the mall, noticing several men in the perfume section buying last-minute Valentine's Day gifts. The store was abuzz with life, despite it being a Tuesday early afternoon. Couples gazed adoringly into each others' eyes over $22 VDay set lunches, young couples strolled hand in hand, the girl often cradling a small bouquet of roses swathed in a multitude of crepe paper used to make the bouquet look larger than it really is. A good number of people were doused in pink. One girl even wore a pink tube top (with the most hideously dead-looking faux fur trim on the top), carried a pink bag and had a thick layer of pink eyeshadow. I had to quickly walk away before I upchucked my lunch.
Even more strange I find is that friends wish me Happy VDay, like its new year or something. One of them explained that it's a day for friends to express friendship as well.
I'll say it back, just don't expect me to actually wish you first!
I'm a VDay cynic.
I'd like to be the antiCupid, shooting my black arrows at those love bubbles above adoring couples' heads.

Anyway, new haul:

1. Oliver Sacks - Seeing Voices: A Journey Into The World Of The Deaf
(Wanting to read some nonfiction, I was trying to find his other book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, which wasn't available at the library.)

2. Rudolph Chelminski - The perfectionist : Life and Death in Haute Cuisine (which DSD recommended)

3. Johanna Sinisalo - Troll: A Love Story (Translated from Finnish, this book is a recommendation off Powell's)

4. Nathanael West - Miss Lonelyhearts, and The Day Of The Locust
(West died a few years after writing these two books, then virtually unknown. Today they are considered American classics)

I was also tempted to get several cookbooks but decided that lugging them around until I got to work would be too much of a pain.

And so I did it again. Added more books to my (Too Many) To Be Read pile. I should actually write up a (TM)TBR list so that I can live up to reality and admit I have a problem.

now playing: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Let Me Know

Monday, February 13, 2006

one more for the road

My fingers were itching to type something (but still minus my left index finger... amazingly the other three fingers have filled in for it quite nicely... only a few extra Backspaces needed from time to time) blog-wise at work today so here's the post, e-mailed to myself and copied and pasted just for you.

On the bus to work, riding down Lornie Road, I realise how much I enjoy this journey. The tree-lined roads, the joggers from various schools making (or giving up on) that agonising last stretch, the first-aiders and teachers stationed at the bus stops, fanning themselves in the heat. The road winds slightly, making it a nice easy drive, although most of the times I'm on this road I never get to do the driving - always being chauffeured around in that big ad-plastered bus, sometimes packed with teens headed to the reservoir, talking at the top of their voices, their sweat and heat filling the bus... when they finally get off, the air clears and cools and it goes back to normal again. And after midnight it is a different road. It is quieter, more calming. Hardly anyone walks these pavements at night. Passing the Japanese club, with its odd statue in the garden I can never quite figure out - from the back it looks dressed like a warrior but the stance looks like he's carrying a violin. Passing the hawker centre, its carpark always filled to the brim. And going by Bullfrog, I always like to see how many people are out and about, having drinks past midnight on weekdays. Usually it's a good number. Oftentimes I am tempted to tell the minibus driver to stop and let me out. But I go home, I take a shower, I pour myself a glass of cold milk, I turn on the TV to watch some rerun and let the brain dissolve into a sticky goopy mess...

And that nice goopy mess of a brain had 2 thoughts this early Tuesday morning:
1) The person who does the music for Grey's Anatomy (or is it Gray? I never know) sure likes Tegan & Sara a lot. This is the third ep I remember hearing their songs on. (btw they are a great band, and they have downloadable songs on their site)
2)Why in the world are we getting live telecasts of the Winter Olympics?

Walk The Line with me

Gee whiz! Does Joaquim Phoenix sound like Johnny Cash in Walk The Line!
And here's another shocker... no one's phone started ringing during the show. So bravo bravo to the audience at the 1030 show on Sat at GV Plaza. And I must say, an especial bravo to one fella I saw rushing out of the theatre to answer his call, instead of blatantly answering it while seated. (Or maybe it was from his girlfriend, and he didn't want his date to hear)
While I didn't leave the theatre feeling absolutely wowed by this movie, it was very enjoyable. Reese Witherspoon, as usual, is very likeable, Joaquim Phoenix is always broodingly brilliant.
In a review, Roger Ebert said he had been convinced that it was the Man In Black himself singing - this was before it became common knowledge that Phoenix and Witherspoon did their own singing in the movie.
If you're not convinced, listen to Johnny Cash as the credits run. It's a dead ringer.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

not another one

No no...The Moomba doesn't serve African food. It's an Aussie place, although it's missing the prerequisite kangaroo steak.

I'd read about The Moomba's Level 2 in BT (if I remember correctly) and was kinda interested because... well... because it's reportedly a nice wine and finger food place. So us girls decided to go but somehow we ended up at The Moomba instead. I suppose it was the desire to have something meaty, although the menu has some lovely sounding vege offers as well.

It was a rainy Thursday, but the rain had slowed to a teensy drizzle by the time evening came along. But the rain made it a nice night for a good warm main course and a hearty bottle of red.

I get there first and the polite waiter places two red clothed menus in front of me. I open the first one and look suspiciously at the list of wines by the glass. Do I not look like a drinker? If I were a guy would he have given me the "wines by the bottle" list automatically? I call him over and request for the bottle menu. He looked slightly taken aback. I decide to ignore that and settle down to peruse the pretty extensive (although description-less) list.

The others arrive and we eventually decide on a Voyager Estate Cabernet 1999. I'd visited the Voyager Estate, which is in Margaret River, for an event a couple of years ago and have fond memories of food that was good and wine that was freeflowing...

It was a nice wine - fruity, supposedly chocolately although I can never taste chocolate in wines, although a bit tannic. (anyway we're the people who like to go: mmm. grapey... so you should never trust my descriptions of wines. I just know what I like and don't lah)

We started with the parmesan spinach bread ($4). Didn't look like we expected it. Was thinking it'd be more pizza-ish eg some crusty cheese sprinkled on top, with maybe even bits of spinach visible. But no it was an ordinary-looking bread with a greenish tinge. But quite tasty.

We shared the squid cakes ($16) adding $2 more for an extra cake, to make it three. It's breaded and deepfried, like a crab cake, and very yummy. It's accompanied by a spicy nutty mango salad. Highly recommended.

Then both J and I went for the kurobuta pork($35) with sauteed Japanese pumpkin and haricot verts, and topped with two grilled tomatoes on the vine, which were just bursting with red tomato-ness. The pumpkins (I don't know how different a Japanese pumpkin is from an unJapanese one) were done just right, bringing out the sweetness yet leaving a slightly crunch. But the pork, mmm how I love a piece of kurobuta pork! A nice juicy hefty cut (none of those rubbishy thin slices) with a nice piece of er... crispy fat around the edge. (If I'm not wrong kurobuta pork is known as the pork equivalent of kobe beef.)

Eps had the red snapper ($27), which came on a bed of a very yummy mash of daikon, potato and carrots on which rested "pea shoots" or dou miao (cheh...)

I was so stuffed after that piece of meat, so the three of us shared the bittersweet chocolate thing - a profiterole stuffed with brandy ice-cream, encased in a frozen chocolate mousse and topped with berries. Delicious. (It's not on the menu online though)

We were the second last table to leave. Another group, also of three women, continued to chat and dine away. All of them, boringly, had the same desserts.

Eps: That's gonna be us in 10 years
J (or maybe it was me): Nah.

But what if she was right? What if 10 years from now we were like them? Three women, still single, wearing their age on their faces and bodies, sitting at a nice restaurant sipping rose champagne and savouring identical chocolate desserts? (Ok, I dont know for sure, they might all have husbands waiting for them at home or something) Some people will make the comment: what is so wrong with that? Nothing really I suppose. 10 years down the road I would be grateful to still be friends with my friends, and be able to eat out at nice places. But something would be lacking.

All I can say is: we're not getting any younger. And yet I don't feel any wiser.

(Here at olduvai's, you don't just get restaurant reviews.)

The Moomba
(website's not firefox-friendly)
52, Circular Road
Tel: 64380141

Friday, February 10, 2006


i have learnt that it's not easy to type without
the use of the left index finger. The left hand
can hardly keep up with the right. And it's a bit
tricky using the mouse too - I had to switch to
the left hand a couple of years ago because of a
problem with my wrist and ended up getting used
to it so haven't switched back.
Here's what happened - was happily chopping up
some chilli to add to this tomato soup thing i
was making for lunch and then i realise i seem to
have sliced into my finger. Fortunately I didnt
actually cut into any flesh but managed to slice
off some of my nail, leaving quite a bit of the
flesh under it exposed, raw and red. A bit
freaked out, I didnt dare look at it and just
stuffed my finger under some running water,
cursing away. Luckily due to the bigass blister
on my left heel, I had picked up plasters the day
Pain lah.
I think I shall write about the yummy dinner at
Moomba another day.
(ok so i've never had anything happen to me in the
kitchen before)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Who am I?

Something I've been thinking about for quite some time now - how am I Chinese?

Am I Chinese because of my black hair, black eyes and the sallow colour of my skin when my tan fades?

I don't feel Chinese.

I don't speak Chinese, unless I am forced to - usually to cab drivers or at hawker centres. And don't even ask about Hokkien or Teochew.

While I like to eat Chinese food, it's not something I'd cook at home, unless my mum asks me to stirfry some veg, cook rice or some fish for dinner. When I'm cooking for myself, I like to make pasta or if I'm lazy, a sandwich. Making something Asian would be instant noodles, I suppose.

While I like music, all the music I listen to comes from people living in Canada, UK, US etc. Like right now, it's Elliott Smith. I do like some local bands though - but they all sing in English. I did listen to some Chinese music back in JC - in an attempt to fit in I suppose. (It didnt work, people still called me a banana or kantang.)

I've never owned a traditional outfit since well, I think my mum did dress us in a Chinese top before when in primary school. I do like, however, to buy local brands (and also Local Brand.

And then today, I came across this article in Newsweek, Turning Un-Japanese by Christian Caryl, who writes about how Japan is no longer challenging to westerners, how it is becoming like the west itself - "an Asian nation that would not feel out of place if it were suddenly dropped inside the borders of Europe".

This country is the same isn't it. Perhaps even more so. And for longer.
But I wouldn't think of it as becoming "Un-Singaporean" because this is the way Singapore is. This is what it is to be a Singaporean. At least to me. To feel a lack of heritage, identity. It was a little better when my grandfather was alive - he had strong roots back to the "jia xiang" although he was born here. He was a very active member in the Boon Cheong Keng (the clan for the ....er... village? our ancestors came from. In Chinese that would be wen zhang I think) and also in the Eng Choon Hway Kuan (which would be the... er... district? someone help me out here). I suppose knowing all is already quite good though)

I always remember meeting some Cuban-Americans, who when introducing themselves to the group emphasized that they were "second-generation" Cuban-Americans. And when I heard that I started thinking, doesnt that make me third-generation Chinese-Singaporean? (although when it comes to this I am never sure how this works. I'm counting the first generation as my grandparents, who were actually born here, as compared to my greatgrandfather, who was born in China) But I feel no ties to China, despite having living relatives there.

So I am Chinese, yet I'm not Chinese.

listen up

What is indie music? God I hardly know anymore.
Some people think I say "hindi music" but nope. Wrong tree there.
Other people think it's stuff that's unlistenable. That's not radio-friendly. But the truth is, a lot of it really is quite pop-ish. I like music that's got a good beat, and a great melody, and if they can throw in good lyrics, hey all the better!
Anyway, a lot of the "indie" is no longer independent anymore, is it.

So forget the radio, turn off that chatter (or at least tune into Woxy) and have a listen to some of these that I've been listening to recently. (available for 7 days)

Elbow - An Imagined Affair (off their latest album Leaders Of The Free World, Elbow's music just envelopes and leaves me breathless)

Shout Out Louds - The Comeback (Big Slippa mix)

The Lovemakers - Prepare For The Fight off Times Of Romance(with thanks to biao for this one!)

David Berkeley - Fire Sign off After The Wrecking Ships
(This one I first heard on an ep of Without A Trace and went to look it up)

Laura Veirs - Magnetized off Year Of Meteors
(great lyrics...what a song)

Mofro - Blackwater off Blackwater (I dled this off a music blog one day in the off-chance that this was a good song. It is.)

Queens of the Stone Age - I Wanna Make It Wit Chu (live) off Over The Years And Through The Woods

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


For those who enjoy reading NYT's Weddings & Celebrations as much as I do, here's it all in figures!

I woke up with a start at about 3plus in the morning. The room seemed all bright, and I was disoriented from being wakened (it even felt like someone had shook me awake) just as I was headed into deep sleep. Strangely, across the room, the study table lamp was on and cast a white light across that half of the room. I quickly glanced around. Everything else seemed in place. I was half tempted to leave the light on and close my eyes but I got up and turned it off. I wondered for a sec if this was some kind of sign for me to look at something. A bright light, shining suddenly onto my mess of an unused table.

Then I remembered that I don't believe in these things so I stumbled back into bed.

The Guardian's Tim Dowling bakes
a Snickers pie<, and wouldn't you like to know more?

I made a pasta salad with chickpeas and tuna today. Cooked the pasta, opened the cans and then glared at the fridge's invitingly cold shelves as there was no mayo in sight. I had to make do with some old-ish Japanese mayo (which I dont really like) and some olive oil. Tossed in some bits of frisee and rocket into the warm pasta and zapped a corn on the cob in the microwave. And that was lunch. Relatively healthy for a change.

Guy Browning's How To... columns in Guardian Weekend always make me laugh. But there's always some truth underneath that humour. Like this one, about how to find love.

And BT decides to review Saint Pierre and Table 108. (Not sure if this is accessible to all so if you're just dying to read it, email me.) Otherwise just read my visit to Saint Pierre lah!

Listening: Andrew Bird - Sovay
Feeling: hungry
Made the mistake of: Reading Chubby Hubby's latest post
Wondering: what recipe in the new cookie book to try next. Although the question really should be When? Because the house is just overloaded still with CNY cookies. Although I quite like these Heartbreaker butter cookies - just in time for Valentine's Day.
Realising: I will probably try to deplete some of that CNY cookie oversupply when I get home from work later. Hopefully before 1am today

Monday, February 06, 2006

feed me

I love food. I suppose you probably know that about me by now.
I also love books.

So of course I adore Jim Crace's The Devil's Larder (available at the National Library, that is, when I return it)

I was a bit sceptical when I saw the blurb - 64 short fictions.
It's a very slim book - which was partly the reason for picking it up that day, the other reason being that I'd loved Being Dead - so how are 64 short pieces to fit in there, and be a satisfying read?

Well it is a very satisfying read. It is a collection of short pieces which need to be savoured slowly, like a fine bottle of red, or that DVD box set of your favourite TV show - watch too many at one go and there's nothing to look forward to anymore.

Crace's shorts range from hunting razor clams in the sand, to a chemical-laced bar snack that makes those who eat it laugh uncontrollably, to a woman with an allergy to aubergines but who just cannot resist eating them.

Just as you finish one story and turn the page for the next one, Crace takes your hand and leaps with you right into a different world to meet a grandmother who leaves out a piece of dough for the angels, so that her bread will rise.

This book is about food and it's also not about food. Food is ever present but it is used as a medium through which things are said.

My favourite piece at the moment is number 18, where the narrator is having backward-running dinner party on his 27th birthday.

Which ends with:
"I'm twenty-seven years of age today. Life is uncertain. Leave the soup till last."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

what a treat

Sunday lunch was a Chinese New Year lavish spread of yu sheng, some five varieties of dim sum, roast duck, claypot rice (with choose-your-own toppings) and more at Man Fu Yuan at the Hotel Intercontinental. But I managed only a serving of yusheng, a siew mai, har gow, prawn roll and half a charsiewbao before giving up. I hadn't had any breakfast save a glass of milk. I was just too full from Saturday's dinner.

I should start from the beginning.

Promptly at 1 pm on Saturday, my family made our arrival at the Goodwood Park Hotel's Tudor Ballroom, where my sister and I were to help out with reception duties at a cousin's wedding. It's the first time I've helped out at a wedding, save for being a flower girl twice at aunt's weddings eons ago.

It was to be a small 12-table hi-tea wedding, so hard to screw it up lah. Thankfully nothing went wrong. Everything looked lovely, there were no squabbles over any seating arrangements (except for two unnumbered VIP tables), although with all the glitter scattered on the reception table and on the dining tables, people left rather sparkly.

The happy couple looked happy and I must say that was the longest "and now you may kiss your bride" kiss I've ever seen. That was a first.

Another first was having mee siam, laksa, scones, sushi, sandwiches and more at a wedding. And right at the end, each table was served a platter of the hotel's famous durian puffs, much to my dismay.

A band played, mostly oldies - which I realised I knew most of the words to. Some danced on the tiny dancefloor in front.

And then the dreaded call for "all single ladies" and I had to drag my ass over to the area just in front of the stage, to once again siam the bouquet. This time though, the single men were also afforded some stage time, with the groom tossing the garter at them - At least it's not just the single women who have to be forced to play along for tradition's sake.

So from an assortment of food, a fake cake, two glasses of a nicely chilled white wine, and two take-home gifts of honey and "wildflowers" - tea? potpourri? I'm still not sure - we headed home. And I headed out a couple of hours later for the feast at the newly renovated Saint Pierre. (Although it being my first time there, I cannot comment on the newly renovated premises)

It was my fault really. It was my choice to have the degustation menu ($95). And the wine tasting thingy that goes along with it - although for an additional $65 for 10 tasting glasses of wine, it was a nice price. Then there was the addition of foie gras classic at $12. I shrugged and said, "You only live once." And the decision was made. It was really made the moment I was passed the menu the side of a boogie board - the degustation menu was on the front page and I never really made it any further past that.

(Of course, I've been listening to The Strokes. dl here)

So it was an 11-course meal. Plus petit fours and tea/coffee. I don't know how I made it out the doorway after that.

Here's the
official long list

Here's my shortlist:
I adored the tomato soup which was so intensely tomatoed. I could almost see the tomatoes being plucked from the vine, ripened in the sun and blitzed to make this lovely orange-red liquid sitting in its stark white bowl. Tempura of zucchini and baby corn was dunked in the soup and added a light crisp crunch to the juicy soup. Can I ever go back to canned tomato soup after that orange-red joy? (The answer is obvious: I cannot afford organic tomato soup and sometimes, a girl just needs a meal that's ready in 4 minutes)

The pinot noir risotto came a bit too cold

The foie gras was well, foie gras. What can I say? It melts in your mouth. It's very rich very sinful. It made me happy.

And even before that I was already happy. It was a simple foie gras terrine that came with a refreshing pear reduction and poached lobster.

The first main course of cod was good but I felt that the wine accompaniment managed to play up the fishiness of it, leaving a strange, slightly unpleasant aftertaste. Pity, as I love cod. It's probably my favourite cooked fish.

The second main was of duck, which was not fantastic and made me think of roast duck, but was accompanied by olive toast and celeriac mash, which were so tasty and so comforting I wish I had space for more.

Oh and then there was desserts.

The best part about creme brulee is that moment when your spoon hits the caramelised sugar, cracks the golden brown top and sinks into the subtle cream below. Everything from there then goes down the hill. The act of eating a creme brulee, to me, is always far better than the eating itself. Don't get me wrong though, this was a fine vanilla-bean one. And accompanied with a gooseberry and caramelised chestnut, as well as a lemon macaroooon (I always thought this word deserved a couple of extra "o"s) it was a great Dessert Number One.
Best of all it was paired with a gewurztraminer. I love that. Despite its unpronounceable name. Sweet like honey. And better than honey, cos it's alcohol.

Dessert Number Two was a green tea chocolate cake. I could imagine enjoying a large slice of it with a steaming cup of tea as I sat on the verandah in a dress, fab shoes, and strangely, a hat. I'm never too fond of green tea desserts but this had just the right delicate touch of macha flavour and it was all combined well together, although I thought the cake was a bit dry.

Chocolates were offered along with the coffee and tea. But by that time, I was oversaturated. And I knew if I were to put any more food in my mouth, that would be it for me. So I had to sadly leave my piece on the table and bid farewell to it as I stomped out of the restaurant in my new green shoes (that I would later have to curse at when it started being too friendly with the skin of my left heel - threatening to take it out and all), carrying on me the welcome extra baggage of 11 courses, 10 tasting glasses of wine, and a half cup of tea.

However, I must say that service was quite inconsistent, with a hardly attentive sommelier who had forgotten to pour us the accompanying wine on two of the courses. He also rather curtly showed us the bottle each time, not bothering to say anything at all. The order-taker/server guy was far better.

Friday, February 03, 2006

music for the not so painfully alone

The Torture Garden's got some Radiohead rarities and demos, and some covers (although not by Radiohead) including a nice one of the Beach Boys' God Only Knows.

Over at mocking music, get your dl fix of Death Cab, The National and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone.

Oh and over at NPR, Laura Veirs and Colin Meloy do solo acoustic concerts. very nice.

Listening: Arcade Fire - In The Backseat

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Office thoughts

As Wake Up partyshuffled its way onto the iTunes, and as I waited for work to come in, I gave in to temptation and opened the jar of cookies on my desk. Its not a good idea to have cookies within reaching distance.

I have given up wearing mascara to work.

I always tell myself that I should stop borrowing books from the library and start on my growing pile at home. I can't.
I always fail.

The only way I can stop myself is to hand over the borrowed books to a kind soul (any volunteers?) to return them for me. So that I cannot step into the library and spot something I want to read.

I make lists of books I've read.
I make lists of books I want to read.
They're written on scraps of paper, in a small mauve notebook, on an excel spreadsheet, on a blog, and on Reader2.

I check the online catalogues before I hit the library, and write down those books available.

I request online for books to be reserved.

I read.

I read.

I seldom leave the house without a book in the bag. If I am to be on my own for the day, I make sure I have a book and I sip my latte and read. A book sits by my bedside table. More books sit on the footstool by my lounge-y chair. Books doubleline the 3 shelves from ikea and on top of those books are more books that don't fit into the shelves proper. I need a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf although that would mean I'd need a little ladder to go along with it.

Listening: Ryan Adams and The Cardinals - Blossom
Liking: Having lunch with my sister (who was off on Wed) at home, where we had 1 1/2 pancakes with honey/golden syrup, grilled/fried shitake mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes and sausages. There's nothing like breakfast for lunch!
Reading: delicious: days' fun with pink pasta
Just finished: Subbing tons of stories as I was one of only two text subs working on Wed

Once more with feeling

(I thought I was done with CNY posts but my sister mentioned on her blog that my post was all about food, and that it never mentioned some interesting discussion topics brought up during those CNY visits with relatives. Since she wrote about that, I will write a bit about something else. Something maybe a bit less trivial. )

Many people can't stand CNY - the thought of being in the clutches of ruthless relatives who ask those dreaded questions: When are you getting married? How come no boyfriend/girlfriend ah?

I haven't really been asked those questions. Maybe it's because those relatives I see during CNY tend to be those I see over Christmas and a few other occasions throughout the year so they don't see the need to ask.

Maybe they've just given up hope.

At any rate, I cannot imagine CNY being any different.

Some people take the opportunity of the long weekend to venture overseas. Others just hibernate at home.

I think about CNYs of old.

I remember how reunion dinners would be at my grandparents' house in Haig Ave. The kids (and some of the mums) would sit at the table set up specially in the living room. The adults would be at the dining table. The steamboat would be bubbling merrily away on a table laden with food. Our table had the special ingredient - beef, as my grandparents didn't eat beef. So the adults would pop over once in a while to steal some of that meat.

Later in the night, boxes of cakes would arrive almost magically. If I'm not wrong they were from a Malay customer of my grandfather's baking goods store. I just remember sneaking peeks at the cake and holding my nose at the durian one.

And on the next day, all dressed up in brand new clothes, we'd make our way back to Katong to bai nian.

There would be liang cha to drink (which of course I wouldn't bother with) and plenty of snacks. And then a hearty lunch that probably included jap chae and my favourite kong bah bao.

We never stayed long enough to catch the lion dance. I think that only happened a couple of years. It was always fascinating to see the lion step back and ta-dah! on the floor were the peeled orange segments forming the character fu.

The day would always be blazing hot. And the cars would have to be cooled down before we climbed into them, ready to head off to the next stop. On the way, counting, not so secretly, the money in the angbaos.