Friday, January 23, 2009

Tell-A-Tale (Part 28): Home

There is a place where we never grow old. Where the flowers in the garden smile a perpetual spring. We drink from the river where we swim. The endless days of games and a little mischief we remember ever so fondly.

There is a place where we meet. We eat to our hearts content and we never run out of teasers and desserts. There are times when life moves at the speed of light, yet we still find our way here. Simply because we want to. And we love to.

There is a place where we breathe. There is nothing more suffocating than the way we live our lives these days. I wish we are all young, ambitious, sexy and silly again, for we will breathe better and have more time for each other. We will tell tales of what we want to be when we grow up. Again and again.

There is a place where we hang our family portraits. I can still remember the photographs of you lying in bed with your favourite magazine. The sounds from the speaker blasting across the kitchen as you sway to their beats. The pictures of us fighting over everything stupid faded with time but you know fragments of New Years and Christmases and birthdays and breakfasts and dinners always stay beautiful and young.

There is a place our friends come to. Warm greetings and cold wines are all we need. We will talk from dusk until dawn. It does not matter what the topic is. There is a game we like to play. It is called true and dare. And there is no secret strategy to winning. Just some honesty and lots of affection.

There is a place I come back to. God knows how exhausted these feet are. I often speed a pasta dish while the television entertains itself. It is always the second run of the new comedies. That shows how I have missed primetime. There is leftover tong sui we made the night before. Unlike wine, sweetness sours with age. But I gulped it up as enthusiastic as I was while making it yesterday.

There is a place where I raise my white flag and call it a day. I surrender to the night, despite the endless calls that beg this body to smoke, drink and dance. Curling up beside the window with a cup of tea and a good book is what I truly desire. And I fall asleep, thinking about this place that I miss ever so much.

There is a place where I dream of the sweetest of dreams. Where my family and friends are together with me again. Where we will eat, drink, play games and hang new, wonderful portraits before the sun sets its shine upon these smiling cheeks of mine.

Yes, there is a place. And I’m home.


This post is inspired by Lifeforbeginners and dedicated to the wizardry Kenny Mah as he enters his third decade on 23 January this year.

Pictures were taken at Delicious @ Dua Annexe. The food was good in general while my smoked salmon pasta with caviar was just alright. The cream taste was milder as compared to Marmalade Kafe’s. A great alternative to the overcrowded Delicious at Bangsar Village.

Other birthday wishes:
Lyrical Lemongrass
A Lil' Fat Monkey


May everyone find their way back home safely this lunar new year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tell-A-Tale (Part 27): Energy And Matcha Shortbread

From the law of energy conservation, we know that energy can only be transferred but not destroyed. In general, it starts with a potential energy, follow by kinetic energy and subsequently, transforms into sound, light and heat, among others.

As the night falls, the level of energy is greatly reduced, with light being the most obvious of them all. So, in accordance with the fundamental law of physics, in where and how is it conserved?

It’s amazing how an instrument consisting of six strings of different diameters and a hollowed wood body is able to produce some of the most interesting harmonics the human eardrum can resonate to; in the 70 to 1000 Hz range. In the case of an acoustic guitar, the beating of the soundboard adds to a more diverse range of Hertz.

In the reversible cycle of energies, the sequence of energy transfer must have been as follows:

Potential energy <---> Kinetic energy <---> Sound <---> X

“X” is rather complicated, I must say. To the tune of Eleanor Rigby, one may feel a need to tap one’s feet. That’s kinetic. I imagine a surge of kinetic energy if Nirvana’s Come As You Are and Lithium are played. Ballads usually result in an overflow of emotions that go beyond quantifiable energies. So, how do we measure that?

As complicated as it sounds, these are just complexes of fundamental energies such as heat, kinetic, electromagnet and sound. But of course, there is more to this and it requires good knowledge in biology in order to interpret the different emotions human reacts to, at different levels and types of energy.

Here’s a simpler equation that everyone can relate to:

Kinetic energy <---> Sound + Heat + Chemical energy <---> Potential energy

In other words, eating.

A layer of orange marmalade sandwiched between two pieces of matcha shortbread. Use castor sugar instead of the coarse type (chop nuts instead for a crunchy texture). Eat when it has completely cooled off. Apply more dense flavours like coffee or chocolate instead of matcha in the next attempt. Top it with a layer of icing sugar for extra sweetness.

I imagine a warm, windy night, with pieces of shortbread and amazing audiological spectrums. Energies will not be lost. In fact, they will be very much contained. And will lead to a something called wonderful.




The basic shortbread recipe was provided by the fantastic FatBoyBakes. He really makes baking fun and interesting. Thanks, man!

Click here for his shortbread recipe.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yan Ting @ St. Regis Singapore

Yam And Radish Cakes

Home-made X.O. Sauce

Nine Fishes Year Cake

Prosperity Yu Sheng With Salmon

Double-Boiled Shark's Fin with Three Treasures

Prosperity Oyster With Braised Sliced Abalone

2007 Dorsheim Goldloch Riesling Kabinett, Schlossgut Diel

Steamed Coral Trout 'Tong Sing' Grouper accompanied with Wok-Fried Glutinous Rice with Wind-Dried Sausages.

Crispy Glutinous Rice Cake

Traditional Azuki Bean Paste

More desserts.

Deep-fried Sesame Ball and Deep-fried Dumping filled with Nuts

With a theme like Treasures of the Sea, one can expect nothing short of opulence, from the presentation to the ingredients used. The Chinese New Year element was represented by the auspicious names designed for each dish.

The Yu Sheng, with its light and flavourful dressing, which combined the usual plum sauce with a selection of fruit juices, was appetizing. The whole dorsal fin that befitted the bowl of the second dish was cooked to perfection, complete with a subtle savoury taste from the broth. The three treasures (dried scallop, mushroom and bamboo pith) hidden beneath the fin added to the aroma of the broth. To pair the sweet 2007 Dorsheim Goldloch Riesling Kabinett from Schlossgut Diel with the fresh taste of abalone was nice. The side of oyster scored high with its creative use of both eastern and western ingredients. Soft black moss, crunchy julienned onions and oyster covered with mild-flavoured, creamed cheese. It was fantastic, both taste and texture wise. Portions of the coral trout and glutinous rice were large but fortunately, still left a slight space for the desserts which came in form of Crispy Glutinous Rice Cake. The crispy batter complemented both the soft, sweet rice and water chestnut cakes well. Tangerine peel provided a touch of zing to the azuki bean paste.

Presented were the yam and radish cakes as well, which had a soft, almost melting texture and enhanced with a smoky aroma from the waxed sausages. The home-made chilli sauce added sweetness to the savoury morsels. Other dim sums on sale include the deep-fried sesame balls and dumplings filled with nuts. The dumplings, which consisted of sugar-coated peanuts wrapped in a crispy layer of fried pastry, were nice.

Having won numerous awards, this restaurant certainly scores with its creativity and style. Perhaps a little more subtlety in the taste and texture will push it even further. Overall, a fantastic meal with the pleasure of meeting new fellow food bloggers; Camemberu, DimSumDolly, MissyGlutton, NinjaHelloKitty, Superfinefeline, Bossacafez and Kelvin whose organized dinners I've attended before. This dinner was made possible by the hotel’s marketing communications group and Flickr/Yahoo! Thanks for the invite!

Yan Ting
The St. Regis Hotel
Tel: (+65)6506 6866



Yam And Radish Cakes: S$22.80 each
Home-made X.O. Sauce: S$30.00 per bottle
Deep-fried Sesame Ball: S$18
Deep-fried Dumping filled with Nuts: S$18
Nine fishes Year Cake: S$68

Abundance 6-course Set Menu (S$108++ per person) includes:
Prosperity 'Yu Sheng' with Salmon
Double-Boiled Shark's Fin with Three Treasures
Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Pan-Roasted Rack of Lamb Scented with Uigut Spices
Prosperity Oyster With Braised Sliced Abalone
Steamed Coral Trout 'Tong Sing' Grouper accompanied with Wok-Fried Glutinous Rice with Wind-Dried Sausages
Traditional Azuki Bean Paste with Crispy Glutinous Rice Cake

Treasures Of The Sea by Yan Ting set menus:

Abundance: 6-course at S$108++ per person
Golden Jade: 8-course set at S$128++ per person
Fortune & Prosperity: 8-course at S$218++ per person

And are available for lunch and dinner on the following dates:
25, 26-28 January 2009 (11:45 am – 2:30 pm (lunch), 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm, 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm (dinner))
1 February 2009 (11:00 am – 4:00 pm (lunch), 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm (dinner))

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tell-A-Tale (Part 26): Tube Days (Part 2 of 1)

On the Piccadilly line, somewhere between conversations and congested stations, I realised that I was wrong this time. Pretty much convinced that the immigration officer at Heathrow would give me a tougher time (thanks to my Malaysian passport) than the almost sub zero temperature, I was surprised to find my entry into the city of London a breeze. The cold city wind, on the other hand, was not that welcoming.

Changing to the District line to East Ham, I was led to a piece of warmth no burger or chips could provide. Yes, my first meal upon landing in London was a vegetarian thali, complete with a delicious rasam. Strolling along the main street of East Ham with its mostly subcontinental community, I recalled the usual days at Brickfields sans traffic jams and talks of yet another comedic day in Parliament at our usual banana leaf rice restaurant.

Sunset along the coastal line parallel to Galle Face Green in Colombo must be at its most beautiful now, I told myself as I looked out the window of my friend's dormitory in Docklands. At 4.30 pm, London was already dark.

As the tube came to a halt at Hyde Park Corner, one could feel the excitement of the alighting passengers, especially children. The holiday week in London and most parts of Europe had the people enjoying themselves at the many festive markets, like the German Christmas Market, a fairground filled with rides, fashion accessories and food, here at Hyde Park. Well, and drinks of course. Piping hot mulled wine and cider were perfect for the cold night but not before a mustard drowned bratwurst and the almost perfect doughnut, with just a humble sprinkling of sugar or chocolate dipping that would put the overhyped ones to shame.

Our starting point was always the Cyprus station on the DLR. Waking up daily to an awesome view of the Royal Docks, which run along the River Thames, was truly inspirational. With the London City Airport located just minutes away, sights of planes taking off or landing were of norm, among others like the flocks of birds and the occasional rowers and joggers.

At the edge of the District line, just before Richmond was Kew Gardens. Not many enjoy a stroll in the park, well in the cold winter months at least, or are fascinated by the display of tropical plants which are as common as slippers back at home. But the landscape was beautiful and I can only imagine the colourful tulips in spring or the golden fall of autumn leaves. A good place for photography, this.

In preparation for the next Olympic, specific tube lines are closed for upgrades from time to time. Longer trips, confusions and delays are just some of the problems commuters have to face until then. Untangling oneself from the complex tube system is a subject of urban study that requires much logic and sometimes, a little fate. Fun for tourists, bad news for the millions of daily commuters.

From the tube map, you look for your starting point, followed by your destination. You then count the number of stops and transits before reaching and finally, decide on the shortest route. Yes, fairly simple. But there were no shortcuts to the Tower of London. The long queue with average waiting time of 30 minutes to purchase an entry ticket at around 5 degrees Celcius was a drama itself. Being told of the short queues during winter months and the necessity of reserving the ticket in advance at the same time, I chose to believe the former and there I was in the cold, regretting the kiasuism I left at home.

To stand before the Crown Jewels of the royal family in the castle, complete with explanatory videos, was an educational experience but to apply the practicality of these objects of status in today's society is something that I reflected upon. Perhaps growing up with the rapid advancement in science and technology had added a practical sense in us. Not forgetting a touch of humour from the Simpsons. We respect and awe at the majestical and colourful colonial traditions such as the inaugurations yet we can't help but to snigger at the red tape, grandeur and pace of it all. An interesting educational B-side trip altogether. That aside, with the towers starting from St. Thomas' to Martin's, the ravens and Beefeaters, it is not hard to understand why the Tower of London has become the number one tourist attraction in the whole of London. It is a good preview of English history filled with drama, mystery and love. The architecture of the formidable fortress itself is a piece of art.

Getting to the Borough Market requires a change to the Northern line, alighting at Borough station. It was a place that I looked forward to. Remembering the fantastic Campo de' Fiori in Rome, I hoped to see more of the local eating culture and perhaps, purchase a few interesting foodstuffs here. And indeed, the market was a fantastic European assembly of food, both cooked and uncooked. From Spanish tapas to English pork pies to French pastries, it was the place to be for a taste of everything (at a fraction of the price at Harrods). With the purchase of bottles of boar terrine, olive confit and white truffle sauce from a French shop at the market, it almost felt like viewing Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa at the Lourve. The irony of it all just seeped in, for some unexplainable reasons. The coffee at Monmouth's was everything described in the tourist guide. Yummy. Despite the closure of many stalls, due to the Christmas week, it was still an enjoyable and definitely less crowded trip.

Hours before the new year greeted London, we traveled on the Northern line to the Chalk Farm station with bottles of beer in hand. The plan to celebrate the new year at Trafalgar Square was scrapped for fear of the enormous crowd. Climbing Primrose Hill with the rest of the Londoners (and tourists) while singing, dancing and doing everything silly warmed my coldest night in London. Overlooking the city of London, I spotted St. Paul's and the London Eye among others. In the final hour of 2008, lanterns much alike those found in Thailand or Taiwan were flown into the air. Concerned over air traffic confusion with the release of these lanterns, police officers had to stop the activity but the deterred braved them all.

At the stroke of midnight, the usually Auld Lang Syne was heard across the hill, in different languages and beats. Strangers were hugging and wishing each other while me, in trying not to over-analyze the moment, believed in the sincerity of it all.

There was also the fabulous Les Miserables. Not forgetting the frenzy post-Christmas sale on Bond Street/Oxford Circus and the National Art Gallery. Food-wise, there were the infamous pies and the extensive selection of both local and international eateries. All things I missed from Part 1 of 1.

These few days of tubes were like meeting an old friend. This English speaking friend has not changed much since we first met in 2005. But I did. I've met other friends of very different interests who spoke of different languages. I've learnt about co-existence, changes and independence. And that pride and glorification is nothing short of shame.

My real, dear old Malaysian friend, who hosted my visit, while pointing at the Canary Wharf across the River Thames from the University of East London, said the working population there was drastically slashed due to the on-going economy crisis. As the major sporting event draws near, coupled with the very pessimistic outlook on the earliest recovery date of the economy, it will be an uphill task for this historical and influential city to regain control of things, just like in the past.

London remains as one of the most vibrant and fun cities I've ever been to. A visit to Europe is incomplete without a stop at London, even for a few hours.

Best of luck and see you in 2012.