Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Get your fix right here

So there was a tub of cream in the fridge.

My mum had mistakenly bought it, although she'd wanted to get sour cream for this strawberry dessert she was making.

What to do with that cream then?

I looked in one of those slim little recipe books and came across a recipe that called for 3/4 cup of cream. Perfect. And better still, it was for a chocolate cake.

It was one of those food processor type recipes but I was a bit lazy to dig in the cupboard, find the mixer, take it out of its box, wipe it down, hook it up, plug it in. So I just did it by hand. You can use any method you prefer. Doing it by hand though gives you some arm exercise. Plus it's very therapeutic to cream butter and mix more stuff in. That way I feel like I'm actually making a cake - sometimes when using a mixer I feel like I'm just opening a premixed box and mixing that together.

Here's the recipe:
Basic Chocolate Cake (from FamilyCircle's Fabulous Fast Cakes)
125g unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup cream

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Brush a deep 20cm round cake tin with melted butter, line base with paper. Grease the paper.
2. Using electric beaters, beat butter and sugar in small mixing bowl until light and creamy. Add egg and vanilla essence; beat for 1 min on medium speed or until well combined.
3. Add sifted dry ingredients and cream to bowl. Beat 1 min or until just combined. And beat another two minutes on high until smooth.
4. Spoon mixture into prepared tin; smooth surface. Bake for 55 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when inserted in centre of cake.

Not much to look at though it tastes pretty good (if I may say so myself)

Ran out of icing sugar and cocoa powder so couldn't finish it with frosting. It would've made the cake look better though.

The cake has an interesting texture - quite moist inside but the crust is a little crumbly. I had added slightly less sugar than the recipe called for and also broke up some bittersweet chocolate chunks into the mixture. But that also resulted in the cake being less sweet and more bittersweet. Might not please those with a very sweet tooth. Although it would go pretty well warmed up and topped with a scoop of good vanilla ice-cream.

So that's my Tuesday morning in the kitchen session for you.

For lunch, we hit Seah Street Deli, where I had the Seah Street burger, minus the onions, but with additional toppings of bacon and cheese. That hit the spot. The patty was just right - nice and juicy. And I must say, it's been a while since I've had a burger. So this definitely filled the burger pangs. Although after that and a coffee, I couldn't eat much at dinner, and that was after walking around most of Marina Square.
And then I catch V For Vendetta and despite the presence of Natalie Portman, a rather engrossing show that is relevant to this day and age. Go see!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

hardcover, paperback, pda?

he other day I had an email conversation about reading books via PDAs. A friend does that - buy ebooks and then read them on his PDA. He says its convenient and saves him from having to find more space for his overflowing book collection. And that he can also highlight passages, check meanings of words if he has to.

But I feel that reading is not just about the book, about the words the author has written but also about the medium. I can barely stand it when reading some mass market paperbacks - where the quality of the paper is so thin, and almost grey. Worse still are those books released for reviewing purposes - those are usually on blindingly stark white paper. Whereas I just adore it when the paper is of a good thickness, is slightly creamy in colour and with a good font. It also helps if the cover's a nice one, of course. I'm a sucker for a gorgeous visual cover.

A PDA however, I'm not sure. I guess it's also because I'm just not a fan of the PDA. I can see the merits of being able to store many ebooks on this one device but it just seems to take all the romance out of reading. I can't see myself whipping out a PDA to read books in a cafe. Although I suppose it could prove useful on a bus or MRT, or at a meeting.

Meanwhile, found an interview with Truman Capote in the Paris Review archives. (warning: PDF) Interesting statements he makes...
I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette or coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping.

good ole pete's

After a late lunch with my mum at good ole Pete's Place.

I know DSD doesn't like this place but for me, it's like going to those old kopitiams which still have some flavour to them, although the flavour's probably sweat, grime and dust accumulated over the years.

Pete's Place has plenty of sentimental value - it's a place my mum occasionally took my sister and I to, ever since we were young, for their soup and salad buffet. Many of the staff have been here for ages (which my mum always likes to point out) and the basement restaurant has always looked the way it does - its checkered table clothes, its brick walls and dim lighting.

It is after all, Singapore's oldest Italian restaurant. Founded in 1973, it's older than me! And while the hotel has gone through several renovations and introduced new dining destinations, I hope they never change Pete's Place. Things move and change so fast here, I'd just like some things to remain as they are.

It did change its menus many years back, but I remember how it used to be - designed like a newspaper, and you'd have to unfold it, although it was only once when we'd actually ordered from the menu, as it was always just the buffet for all three of us.

Their bread is always fabulous - a nice selection of bread sticks, dinner rolls, walnut bread, rye, sunflower, etc...
The salad selection has improved over the years - long ago lettuce used to mean just iceberg, but today there was a nice assortment and even some baby spinach leaves.
The soup was rather disappointing today though as it was goulash and minestrone, which taste somewhat similar. But the goulash was good.
The dessert was a delicious tiramisu as well as a ricotta cheese tart, which my mum declared as pretty good.

And best of all, with the UOB credit card, we get a one-for-one deal, so lunch was only $22 for the both of us.

Pete's Place
Grand Hyatt Hotel
Tel: 6416-7113

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Popped by Ichiban Boshi - yeah conveyor-belt sushi, but still far far better than others like Sakae Sushi - for lunch on Wednesday. A long-ago arranged lunch with a somewhat ex-JC mate whom I'd bumped into at an event at The Arts House a long time ago. He revealed during lunch that his wife's very into Japanese food, so I felt a bit bad about making him eat more Japanese food (plus not the high class type), but he seemed to like it.

And so do I. I like Ichiban Boshi, I'm not afraid to say it.

They do a nice half-bowl of udon - just plain with a sprinkling of green onion (ick), a slice of beancurd skin and a piece of fish cake. But the soup is light, and not over salted or overly sweet. Plus the udon never fails to be springy! (I can't say the same for the last time I had noodles - at Akashi at Tanglin Shopping Centre) We also got some sushi - decent stuff, for its price - including my favourite lobster salad on a crispy rice roll. There was also a special we shared of butter scallops - now that I liked a lot. Served on its shell and with that soft buttery orange roe still attached, it was a little sweet and a little garlicky, and the scallops were really fresh. Plus I love it when they leave the roe on. A scallop is not just a plain white disc, it's a white disc with that gorgeous bit of red/orange sunshine attached. And the dish of four scallops was... what... $5? Something like that. Lunch with the noodles, scallops and several plates of sushi was $15 each.

Am not gonna give the usual contact details cos it's not exactly a place you make reservations for, but more like a quick, not too expensive bite at Wisma Atria, when Food Republic's too crowded and er well, Wisma really doesn't have anything else anyway - that pizza place (don't look that great), Din Tai Fung (not a fan), Crystal Jade fast-food style (still not sure about that one).

Going wild

I finally gave Wild Rocket a go, on Tuesday, which was probably the first rainy day we've had here for a while.

I was a bit surprised at the place. I knew it was ulu and all, but this was really tucked away.

Plus from the descriptions friends had given, I kept thinking it was a rooftop restaurant. And I couldn't see any al fresco area, except for these sad chairs under large umbrellas near the hostel's main entrance. (We later asked the waitstaff if there was anything on the rooftop and went up to the seventh floor to have a look. Nice view, would be quite nice for a drink at night.)

The restaurant was simply done up, with unfortunately, wooden chairs that weren't cushioned - and didn't make for lounging after a nice meal. The service was friendly and prompt, so that's always good.

We shared the tuna rocket salad - which had three thick slices of fresh tuna, seared just right, resting on a bed of rocket leaves, with a rather faint dressing. Liked it but now that I think of it, the dressing could've been jazzed up slightly. (For some reason, I'm recalling this rather citrusy dressing on a salad at Ember, but I believe that salad came with scallops).

I went with the braised veal cheek penne. Not too bad. Must say I've never been a fan of penne, preferring linguine/spaghetti or at the most fusili, but the braised meat was tender and tasty.

And to end off the meal, the dessert special of the day - a kueh buloh tiramisu. Thankfully it was tiramisu in a glass and not those blah sponge-cake like ones that seem to magically stand on their own. This one was not bad, not bad at all. Not too much mascarpone, the amount of coffee was alright (then again, I can always do with more coffee).

I was amazed that this place, not exactly conveniently located, was quite full on a Tuesday lunch hour. There was an assortment of diners - a table of Indonesian ladies, a table of local businessmen whom I'd expect to find in a Chinese restaurant not at this modern western/fusion one, a young couple in their early 20s, and some other table seated behind me I couldn't really get a view of. (Yeah I like to check out fellow diners, discretely, that is. The purpose of course is to find out what they're eating, and try to judge if it was a likeable dish.)

Wild Rocket
Hangout Hotel,
10A Upper Wilkie Road,
Tel: 6339-9448.
(Closed on Mondays)

wine and dine

While I will be stuck in the office this Saturday - this month being the time when people are attempting to clear some leave before hell (re: elections) sets in, so no choice - the Saturday after that I'll be sampling several different types of wine, savouring some (hopefully) good food, catching with friends, and who knows, making some new ones.

DSD (who won't be there cos of work) put up the details on her blog, if anyone's interested in going.

Hankering after a burger. And not the ittybitty fastfood type. A large juicy one, preferably with bacon and cheese, and served with thick-cut fries. Then I'd add a good lashing of ketchup and mustard. And served with an ice-cold fountain Coke. Or a vanilla milkshake (ok a bit overkill there) or an ice-cold (non-American) beer. I have to get my hands on that soon before I falter and walk into a fastfood joint...

Can't stop reading...
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, a coming-of-age story set in at the prestigious prep school, Ault, in Massachusetts. The lead character Lee Fiora is this insecure scholarship-holder from Indiana, intimidated and also fascinated by her fellow students. At times you want to shake her into seeing that she's not as clueless as she thinks she is. Other times you just admire the way she observes life in the prep school - and remember the way things were back in secondary school, and even JC, worrying if you fit in, worrying if you were cool enough, smart enough, sporty enough, fun enough.
I do not like the cover of the book - a green/pink belt on the cover, it's very girly, very prep, yes, but it makes me not want to carry around this book as it seems rather juvenile, which I guess is what the book is about - not juveniles that is, but on people's perceptions of you, and the constant search to be hip, to be cool.
So read this book. You can hide it under more intellectual-looking books if you like, but it's a good read.

Feeling that I'm not alone in my book collecting, and grateful that I haven't yet hit this woman's rather scary-sounding collection, where her own living space has been reduced to narrow paths winding past groaning shelves and grocery sacks filled with secondhand books. There's advice on weeding out the collection, such as giving them to friends or donating.
But like me, ""Avid readers consider such advice heresy, preferring instead to grapple with storage, from basic bricks-and-board shelving to exquisite, and exquisitely expensive, custom cabinetry."" (Of course in my case, it is more like short Ikea pine wood shelves.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The dumbing down of recipes

"Why is it okay to be stupid when you cook?"
At a conference last December, Stephen W. Sanger, chairman and chief executive of General Mills Inc., noted the sad state of culinary affairs and described the kind of e-mails and calls the company gets asking for cooking advice: the person who didn't have any eggs for baking and asked if a peach would do instead, for example; and the man who railed about the fire that resulted when he thought he was following instructions to grease the bottom of the pan -- the outside of the pan.

don't skip town

Had been meaning to have a look at Townhouse since J mentioned it sometime ago. Located above Molly Malone, it offers bar food as well as a proper sit-down dinner menu.

I climbed the stairs and peered into the room at the right, where there was a smattering of noises and voices, half-expecting T to be there. Then I hear someone call out my name and turn around to see a waiter gesturing to follow him into the room on the left. It was quiet - a stark contrast to next door, dimly lit by star-clustered light bulbs and tealights on the tables, dark plushy seats lined the walls, and intimate little tables for two. A nice place for a romantic dinner. Too bad I was meeting two girlfriends. Still it was like having our own private dining room, that is, until two guys were seated in the room as well.

While waiting for the third person in the party, T and I started on a tapas platter ($15) and duck rillettes with baguette ($12). The warm bread arrived in a little basket, and the olive oil was to be slathered on with a brush. Cute.

The wine we had originally selected, a pinot noir from France, was out of stock - the waiter explaining that they were to unleash a new, probably equally hefty winelist soon - so he recommended another pinot noir, from New Zealand, from a vineyard called Matua ($75). Very light and fruity, very drinkable. Quite an enjoyable wine that one.

We shared two mains - a rabbit stew and a beef bourguignon. The rabbit was delicious - accompanied with a creamy herb sauce and a dab of mashed potato. But the beef chunks were a tad bit tough. I definitely preferred the wee rabbit. I just wanted to soak up all the sauce with the bread - pity I was feeling so full.

Although somehow managed to find a space for dessert - then again, there's always space for dessert - and we shared the lemon tart. The tart base was hard. Hard as in, it required a hard stab and a violent twist before the desired piece could be dislodged. Too bad. It was looking so pretty and all. The lemon layer was nice though, not too tart.

Service was polite, efficient and I like that he would occasionally pop his head into the room to check if we needed anything, so there was no need to get up from the seat and wander across to find some help.

I really liked the cosiness and the warmth of the room, but it was really quiet. No music played at all and when conversation ends, as conversations do, it is met with stark silence.

Townhouse Wine Bar
56 Circular Road.
Tel: 6236-5724

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Missing Pieces

Rotiboy's leaving Singapore! And I've never ever had one. I've never actually wanted to have one.
So, effect on me: zilch.

Anyway, there's a gem of a story in The Observer, where Douglas Coupland (whee!) talks to Morrissey (double whee!). This is Coupland's first ever interview - of someone else that is - and after all, this is the man whose book is title Girlfriend In A Coma.
Although after reading it, you realise, hmmm this isn't very much of an interview is it? But then again, it is Douglas Coupland who is writing this, in the same way that Nick Hornby writes about music in that book of his favourite songs, whatever it is called. 29 Songs? 31? 30?
He does, explain that Morrissey is interview-proof. And adds: I believe that the only way to learn about an artist is to examine their work. Be realistic: people paint the flowers, not the stem of the plant. People are remembered by their flowers and seeds, not their mulch. Fuck interviews.

And well, he's right. All too often, when interviewing musicians, writers, other celebrities, you get what, at the most half an hour, if you're lucky. What do you know about someone from that short span of time? In the end, you have to refer to other interviews, past interviews, gleam facts from past articles. And scrunch them together, with some flowery language, for a story about the latest hot act.

Btw, the same issue of OMM has a story about the Thai music scene, including Futon. Oh and the Guillemots. Good issue!

listening: Weezer - No One Else

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How old?

I have a mild addiction to the -ist blogs. Oh you know those, the urban blogs, like Torontoist, Londonist, Gothamist. There are slightly less obvious ones like Miamist and Houstonist. But they've all got great links and interesting bits and pieces to save me from staring into space and allow my fingers and wrist some exercise while sitting on my ass staring at the computer.

This is a bit freaky, not in a horror-movie sorta way but still freaky.
The sleeping pill Ambien seems to unlock a primitive desire to eat in some patients, according to emerging medical case studies that describe how the drug's users sometimes sleepwalk into their kitchens, claw through their refrigerators like animals and consume calories ranging into the thousands.

Went to the xbox 360 launch on Wednesday. I suppose it was a bit wasted on me lah, being a non-gamer except for my brief obsession with The Sims sometime back. But you know, free beer. I like. So there I was in my green top (not thinking, I had worn green) with a green beer in hand, in the green-lit Red Dot Design Museum, being offered a cupcake with a green swirl on it.

After the party, dropped the car back home and met up with KT for a drink at the nearby Bullfrog where he decides to try a Black and Tan. But they don't do half-pints of that anymore, so he gives up that idea and joins me with an Erdinger. A Black and Tan btw is a Guiness mixed with an ale. And in this blog, I don't just tell you these things and leave it like that, I point you to other places where you can find out about more stout drinks, such as the black fog, and the miner's lung (don't you just want to know what that is). It is after all, Saint Patrick's Day.

I spent the next afternoon before work shopping for some presents. Spot a lot of things I'd like for myself but I am on a no splurges month because of the splurges in April, what with the Hawaii trip and the girls' (getting sloshed) weekend at Indra Maya.

Anyway for the first time ever, in two different stores in Far East, I get asked by the salesgirls: And how old is your friend? I wondered what they're expecting me to say. 70? 17? 7? I know they were just trying to be helpful. I was just a bit surprised lah. It's not like I was in the baby department and looking for clothes to fit a 14-month-old baby. I was looking for some stuff for some 324-month-old adults.

Listening: Wolfmother - Pyramid

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Que pasa

Flipping through the free copy of The New Paper at the office, I was surprised to spot a review of Juanes' Mi Sangre.

Not because it's a Spanish-language album, but because well, it was released in 2004. It's been around for quite a while, fellas. But yeah I suppose some distributor must have decided to bring it in, maybe there's some new interest in Spanish music.

All that said though, I love his music. I might not understand it all, but it's all good. Except La Camisa Negra, one of his hits. I don't like that song. It's kinda irritating.

So here's one I like
Nada Valgo Sin Tu Amor
, which means I am nothing without your love. Like it? Go buy it, Borders seems to be stocking it, although I'm not sure of the price.

Also, please go read Richard Ford's Women With Men, a gorgeous book of three long short stories. I admit being drawn first to the picture on the cover, a grainy black-and-white of a couple in an embrace, beside what looks like a train. I wonder what the woman is thinking - sometimes the expresion on her face looks a mix of surprise, despair and yet othertimes, I think she just looks distracted. I'm not sure. Maybe they are lovers saying goodbye, or hello. He seems to be kissing her on the cheek. Maybe she doesn't know what to say. Maybe she's just so full of emotion she can't say anything.

I've never read anything else by Richard Ford before, although I suppose I should read his Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day sometime soon. I do like the way he captures relationships.

His first short, The Womanizer, is of a man, Martin Austin, who meets a woman while on a business trip to Paris. He persuades himself he might have a future with her, and can't get her out of his mind. He returns home, to Chicago, to his wife, who leaves him. He picks up and heads back to Paris where he tries to start life anew, and tries to make something with Josephine, the Parisian woman who enraptured him the first time, but now he realises she's a bit different from what he remembered.

My favourite passage:
Sitting at his tiny, round boulevard table, removed from the swarming passersby, Austin thought this street was full of people walking along dreaming of doing what he was actually doing, of picking up and leaving everything behind, coming here, sitting in cafes, walking the streets, possibly deciding to write a novel or paint watercolours, or just to start an air-conditioning business, like Hank Bullard. But there was a price to pay for that. And the price was that doing it didn't feel the least romantic.

This book really isn't for reading at home. It's a book that calls out to be read somewhere in the city. At a cafe. With a cup of coffee. And a slice of cake. Just don't spill anything onto that book. It's a keeper.

(However, that is not to say that the other two shorts are set in Paris. I'm onto the second one now and that is set in a small town, somewhere in the mid-west I believe. The only mention of a city is that 17yo Lawrence is headed to Seattle, where his mother lives.)

I am quite liking this London band called the Guillemots. Check out their myspace or you can download Made Up LoveSong #43 at Sixeyes

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Keeping the carnivores happy

Thanks to both kartaly and the Travelling Hungryboy, dinner on Saturday was at Aburiya at Holland Village.

I'd been past the branch at Robertson Quay several times, noting the packed restaurant and that tantalising smell of grilled meat. And then a post on the Travelling Hungryboy's site alerted me to the branch at HV - next to Cafe Rosso, which I'd always presumed was a closed restaurant as it was empty during the day.

And for some reason, I'd always thought it would be a pricey meal - it looked like one would have to order many plates of meat to be satisfied. It didn't help that Aburiya's website wasn't listing any prices.

Yet seven of us found ourselves seated on the black benches on Saturday, browsing through the many types of meat and veg available to barbecue. The place was packed, so luckily we had made reservations - especially important for a big group as it's a rather small place. I was a bit surprised that it wasn't as smoky as I'd expected - they must have a pretty good ventilation system.

YC and mej, seated at a table separated by a little armrest-like block went for Set Menu C, which provided a good mix of meats - some pork, duck, lamb, and even some salads, soup and dessert. The other five of us went a la carte.

I can't remember everything we ordered, as it was quite a bit but...

Pork belly (one dish with just the Shio (salt and pepper) seasoning and another with a miso marinade) - so sinful, so fatty yet so good
Tontoro (pork cheek) - recommended by kartaly. When grilled till crispy, it is almost like bacon, yet still keeping a softness, unlike bacon which can sometimes be done till over-crispy.
Foie gras - this was grilled in a little metal container, with a pat of butter. Foie gras is always good! :P
Tongue - a little tough for me, as I prefer meat that's more of the melt-in-your-mouth sort.
Karubi- I think we ordered this with a marinade, but honestly by this time there were so many plates of meat I couldn't really tell what was what anymore.
There was also mushrooms, leeks, bibimbap, tomato salad nd I believe, some beef. I also tried some duck from the set menu but it was a bit tough. mej recommended the lamb, so I'll have to try that the next time I drag more people to this place.

The bbq here is nothing like Seoul Garden in case you're wondering. There is no buffet, no strange little bits of meat soaking in odd marinades. Instead you get dishes of meats, you get a little circular pit full of red hot charcoal and a crisscross grill on top where you place your meat and other barbecueable food.

Service seemed a bit hectic, with wait staff rushing about quite a bit at the beginning, but they were generally polite and prompt about topping up the water jug they plonked on the table.

The bill for the five of us came up to about $27 each. Quite reasonable. A nice variety of meat, seafood, veg available. Quite pleased with dinner.

Can't say the same for after-dinner drinks though.

The point of eating at HV was to pop by One Rochester after. Unfortunately, they don't take reservations on Fridays and Saturdays. We got there 10ish, and left our names with the guy at the front. They didn't have a bar area where you could stand and wait and get a drink first, so we got distracted and wandered off to the neighbouring house, North Border.

We stand around, nobody seems to want to acknowledge us so kw goes and talks to the manager. We finally get a table outside, not too far from the swing and the horse and its miniature man. Thankfully they stopped with the texmex look there and went with plain uniforms for the staff.

Chairs were comfy, but the trees above keep shedding little bits of leaves and flowers - luckily not into the drinks. And somehow, a caterpillar made its way onto my shoulder. But you know, these things happen, it's not the fault of the restaurant.

But it is the fault of the restaurant when they serve their chips and salsa, and their chips turn out to be stale. And then the waiter says, I'm sorry, we'll heat it up. And you wonder if he knows what lau hong means. Surely they could just open another bag of chips up? And then he comes back again and apologises, saying that he's cancelled the order and leaves, not really explaining anything or suggesting something else on the menu. How odd - did they really not have any more chips?

There seemed to be quite a few problems in the kitchen, as a couple seated near us complained about the time it took for their meals to get to them. Drinks they could manage, but food... well I'm not so sure. I like the occasional texmex (burritos, enchiladas, salsa, guacamole etc) but I'll just stick to places like Magarita's and Cha Cha Cha for now. I know it's quite unfair to write this without having eaten anything here, but maybe a few months down the road, I'll give it another shot. For now, no thanks. They do, however, have a rather extensive wine list, as well as quite a few wines available by glass.

The restaurant was pretty packed, mostly a spillover from those like us who couldn't be bothered to wait to get into OneR. It was a rather long wait as OneR only called us more than an hour to let us know the table was ready after we put our names down - by then we were reluctant to head over, and went off instead in search of a midnight movie. Perhaps a visit on a weekday (when reservations can be made) would make more sense.

17E Lorong Liput
Tel : 6464 6536

North Border Bar and Grill
2 Rochester Park
Tel: 6777-6618

Saturday, March 11, 2006

killing boredom on a friday worknight

hucks tagged me with this music meme. Where you have to find various songs.

1. A song by a Beatle:
Give Peace A Chance - John Lennon

You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one

2. A song featuring piano as the main instrument:
Brick by Ben Folds.

off the coast and I'm headed nowhere

3. A song with a man's name in the title:

John Wayne Gacy Jr by Sufjan Stevens

Running far, running fast to the dead

4. A song with a woman's name in the title:

Song For Myla Goldberg by The Decemberists
Colin Meloy wrote this song about writer Myla Goldberg because she didn't remember ever meeting him.

I know New York I need New York I know I need unique New York

5. A song about money:
Money (That's What I Want) by... er... well it seems that tons of people have done this song.

Now gimme money (That's what I want)

6. A song with weather in the title:

No Rain by Blind Melon

I like watchin' the puddles gather rain

7. A song with parentheses in the title
(I Am) What I Am Not by Idlewild

You learn from the mistakes that I taught you

8. A song made by a punk band:
1977 by The Clash.

No elvis, beatles or the rolling stones

9. A song with the word song in the title:
Oh! Placebo's new one - Song To Say Goodbye

You crying, tragic waste of skin

10. A song you love so much you stop and listen whenever you hear it put it on repeat mode and never get sick of it:

Er, I do this for a lot of songs leh, but Maps by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

They don't love you like I love you

Since you've read it this for, I know you're just dying to do one of your own.

So tag, you're it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Chicago Dreaming

A girl can dream.
The Intonation Festival will be at Chicago's Union Park on June 24-25.
Lollapalooza happens at Chicago's Grant Park on August 4-6. Lineup released March 16.
Austin City Limits is at Austin's Zilker Park on Sept 15-17.

Meanwhile, in reality.
The Observatory will be at the Arts House on March 19.
Concave Scream will launch their new album at Zouk on April 1.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

making my way down Club Street

The Ann Siang/Club Street area seems to have a French bistro every corner you turn.

But today, I was there for one specific one - Chez La Mamy, which sits right opposite, you guessed it - another bistro, I think owned by the same people who own L'Angelus a bit further down.

To work up an appetite, I decided to do some window shopping at those stores in the neighbourhood where things look great and prices will break my bank account. So I saved the money for my stomach, as usual.

The bistro is a cosy, and rather tiny little space - it probably can seat only about 14 to 16 people indoors. The walls are lined with picture frames of well, rather odd things like menus, magazine articles, ads - stuff I suppose the owner likes. It gives a rather homely feel to it. The chairs though could use some improvement - I felt that the backs curved in a lot and just weren't something to be relaxed in. It felt like it was meant for a cafe - the kind of place you have a quick bite at and leave, where you wouldn't stay until the chairs start feeling odd.

It was a quiet Wednesday night, besides our table of three, there was another table of four, who had a rather early dinner while J and I waited for eps to finally leave the office - she eventually reached at about 820 and we'd gone ahead with the starters as the stomachs were just grumbling.

The waitstaff served as a basket of warm toasted dinner rolls and a couple of pats of butter first - a very welcome sight. Then about 1/2 hour in, as we were still waiting for eps, along came a fresh basketful of rolls and another plateful of butter. How nice. And when eps arrived, along came yet another basket of hot toasty rolls and butter - just for her. So I must say, excellent service. Very attentive.

All of us went with the three course set dinners at $39.

A complimentary starter of grilled leeks served satay-style on a bed of greens began the meal. It was only recently, at my aunt's tuanyuanfan nazi steamboat that I discovered how sweet leeks can be. So I quite enjoyed this.

I decided on the warm goat's cheese that came with a salad with walnut oil dressing. Not bad although the salad had a touch too much oil for me.

The others went with the chicken and foie gras terrine that came with an artichoke salad.

The main courses offered were a duck confit served with potato gratin or a tuna steak, which I didn't really er, bother reading about when I saw the duck confit.

It is served on a plate by itself, and is a small portion when compared to the one at Sebastien's (although it's been a while since I've had it there, so maybe they've shrunk it) but has that crispy skin and tender meat that a duck confit should have. The potato gratin that came alongside was creamy and very tasty.

I had a bite of eps tuna but didn't like it. I suppose mainly because the sauce that was served with it tasted strongly of spring onions - which I despise, but which the other two seem to like. !

Onto dessert - they had run out of the third choice available which was a baked pear (everyone on the other table had ordered it, strangely and rather boringly) so I had the creme brulee and the other two had the flourless chocolate cake.

The creme brulee was not served in a bowl or a cup like some places do it, but on a very flat flan dish. So there was a larger surface area for the caramelised sugar - which is after all, the best part. The flourless chocolate cake was served warm and accompanied with a vanilla sauce and cold raspberries. Very nice.

It was a satisfying dinner. The wine we picked was unfortunately not that fantastic - something from the Rhone Valley. Although it was a few years old, it somehow tasted like it was from last year - a very young wine. And kinda tannic as well. So that kinda brought the dinner down a little.

I'm not entirely sure if I will go back as there are so many other bistros in the area I will have to try out first. But it was a good meal, with excellent service.

Chez La Mamy
14 Ann Siang Road,
Tel: 6438-1998

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Don't look at me

Come Pick Me Up! Great blog, and I'm a sucka for covers so here's the link to one that includes Copeland doing Another Day In Paradise, Howie Day doing The Drugs Don't Work

Snow Patrol played some of songs of their new album at the Bangkok rock fest. Stream some new tracks here. Yes, especially you!

Snooze you lose? Not any more! Or at least you won't miss your stop with these "Please wake me up at...." stickers Although the big winners will be the creators of the stickers which go for five pounds a set!
(via Londonist)

And here's one about some nutjobs who wake up at 7am, wait around for 9 hours, just to see celebrities some distance away
"I see him, and I just want to touch him. If I wasn't having sex with my husband, it would be Gary Busey."
Who the hell is Gary Busey? I don't know, I had to google him. And this is what he looks like He's done a shitload of shows, including the ever-popular Lethal Tender, Livers Ain't Cheap and The Gingerdead Man. And this guy gets invited to the Oscars? Did they give out invites based on the number of movies one stars in?

And Hawaii is the US' Spam capital, with varieties that are not sold in many other places--teriyaki Spam, garlic Spam, barbecue Spam.

On that note, has anyone been to Hawaii and has any recommendations?

Monday, March 06, 2006

office affairs

A colleague, who's here at subs for a stint, and who is the same age, and who is getting married soon, was talking about the late nights here and then asked if that meant I was going to look for a partner in the office.
My mother, who still remembers that spread on the four bachelors who are alone on VDay (!!!!!!!!), has asked me twice already - why not someone at the office.
Why not?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

take a walk

Ever so often, I get rostered to help out with a food delivery by the Slumbering Gal. It involves a bit of a walk down to this fishhead curry stall in another lorong of Toa Payoh, pick up a takeaway portion of fish curry, and a walk back towards the office to a nearby HDB block to send off the food to its waiting recipient, Mr Jai.

I like the walk. It gives me some time to clear my head, breathe in some relatively fresh air and have a look around the Toa Payoh estate. And watch as the evening light fades and shadows grow long. I like to look out for the cats that wander one of the blocks - I've seen this delightfully tubby white one and yesterday there was a jet black cat gazing out from its hideout among a few pots of flowering plants.

And I usually leave the fishhead curry stall amused.

I stop by the curry counter, and ask the Malay stall assistant for a takeaway portion. He dishes it out and I hand over $10 to another worker behind him. The young guy brings it over to the cashier but doesn't give me my change, instead this Chinese guy, forehead always glistening slightly with sweat, walks over from behind the other counter to personally hand over the change. Sometimes, if he spots me in time, he will call out my order to the guy dishing out the curry. Sometimes he even comes over to collect the money from me. Always with a slight smile on his face.

As I waited for Mr Jai to open the door, I wonder: If election forms were to allow space for voters to write down their reasons for voting opposition, perhaps Toa Payoh residents would write:
-"Because your HDB painted my block fuschia and lemon yellow! I look like I live in a damn playschool!"
-"Because when I was driving home, I almost got into an accident as I had to swerve when temporarily blinded by the clashing colours!"
-"Because I almost fell out the window when hanging out the clothes, having gazed momentarily at the violently painted block opposite!"

Yes, I am very free. Yes, I should expend my energies elsewhere. But wouldn't you miss me?

Listening: Brendan Benson - Pledge of Allegiance

not their week is it

And the NYT does it again. This time it finally stumbles on the Brokeback spoofs. And get this - attempts to explain them.

In the scene that the parodists borrow, Marty introduces Dr. Brown (Christopher Lloyd), saying, "This is my... uh... Doc. My uncle. Doc!" In the new framework, this introduction sounds like the confused, stammering introduction that a closeted young man might make of his older boyfriend, whom he's trying to pass off as a boss, an associate, an uncle.

Um ok, gee, thanks. I suppose this story came from the big guys up there, who eavesdropped on their granddaughters and decided to make someone write this story, in their attempt to appeal to the younger readers, but really all they are doing is educating the older folks so that they can communicate with their grandkids.

GP: Hey grandson. I just checked out Brokeback To The Future. It was really funny.
GS: Oh, you've been reading the New York Times again.

One of my favourite food blogs is The Traveler's Lunchbox. She's got gorgeous photos and an easy writing style. And I just had to put up this link to her post on feeding her cookbook addiction.

Listening: The Hold Steady - Modesto Is Not That Sweet

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

We're open 24/7, but we close at 4am

In the NYT's story on BKK's 'social order' affecting its nightlife.

In March Q Bar is opening a branch in Singapore where it can stay open 24/7, though closing hour will be 4 am