Loving Life

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Entertained at dinner - Crystal Mirror

Jin gave me a treat on Sunday night by buying us tickets to the Crystal Mirror - a dinner cum show event. Although we got the cheapest (S$160 per pax) tickets, our booth seats were perfect! Bcos there were only the 2 of us, we got the whole private booth to ourselves vs people who bought more expensive tickets but had to sit at shared tables with strangers. The booth seats were also elevated so we managed to get a good view of all the performances.

The 4 course dinner specially designed by World class Michelin Star chefs met our expectations..we had 3 versions of scallops, lobster bisque and risotto, foie gras quail and 4 kinds of Viennese desserts. Can't go wrong having scallops on the menu :).

The show itself was entertaining although admitedly a bit kitsch at times - we saw acrobats, singers, comedians and some amazing skating , hula hooping and the bubble blowing man (this guy was really good)! My only gripe was that the show was really long (4 hours!!) but I guess that's how people used to be entertained in the roaring 20's (before they had TV, internet, PS2 and mobile phones :) Here's a pix I took of Jin while waiting to enter the tent - I love this shot :)

It was a good end to the weekend - having worn myself silly by attending my 1st dragon boat attempt. Met up with some colleagues at 10am on a Sunday at the Kallang Sports Centre and spent the next 3 hours trying to play our part in moving the long boat (don't know who we were trying to kid..I was more concerned about how good I would look after the time under the hot Spore sun!)

However, despite the heat, lots of sweat and hard work, an aching back and butt - I had fun and it was a nice way to spend Sunday morning looking at the Spore skyline from a different view on the (dirty) Kallang river. of course there was a lot of eye-candy for me - Jin even commented that Sporean men in general have nice bods (editor's note: comments like these should not be widely disseminated) ;)..would I do it again? ask me after my butt and back stops aching :P

Monday, March 26, 2007

Desmond & Jeraldine tie the knot :)

Our couple friend who we met during the Egypt trip 2 years ago got married on Sat at Marina Mandarin. Jeraldine such a radiant bride - she mentioned that her wish was to look like a princess and that she did..i loved her blue dress! It was also good to see part of the group again and the first thing most of us said was that it felt like we were back on the Egypt tour as we sat on a round table overindulging just like on many of the tour meals :)

The one addition to the group is of course, baby Francine...who has grown so much since we last saw her before Christmas and super well behaved

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Finally, a trip to the spore zoo with Chloe Luthi

When we found out that we have to move out of our Cuscaden home by end March 07, I informed all our close friends that "Hotel Cuscaden" was closing down so that they could take the final opportunity to stay :). Olivia and family finally made it down this weekend and they have the honor of being the last guests before the end of the Cuscaden era..(sob sob!).

Anyway, it was fantastic to see everyone again and Chloe, being 3.5 years old is at the perfect fun age..Friday night saw us introducing them to Spore's pepperish version of 'bak kut teh' which Olivia really liked. Steph and I drank too much of the pepperish soup and paid for it when our stomachs started protesting big time not long after after :p (editor's note: let's skip the gory details here)

I had promised Chloe in August last year to bring her to the Spore zoo should she visit her Ah Yee Cindy..The spore zoo is small but really a world-class attraction with some of the best exhibits like the polar bear and orang utan open home. Was quite dissapointed that the penguin exhibit was closed and had to tell Chloe that when the penquins get back from vacation, she will have to come visit again :). Here are some great shots taken with Steph's super high-tech Nikon SLR.

And here's a shot of Steph taken with my baby camera ..heehee

Last night, we satisfied Liv's cray fish craving with dinner at the newly renovated Newton Circus hawker centre. I have not been here for ages and was pleasantly surprised with the nice change after the reno works. We ordered a variety of typical Newton fare : 2 kinds of cray fish (black pepper and garlic), 1 chilli lala, fishball noodles, popiah, maggie mee goreng and fried oyster. The maggie mee goreng was close to KL standards..yay, found a place to come to to satisfy maggie goreng craving! Finished off the meal with a durian ice kacang - introduced durian to Chloe and she clearly liked it :). ..Liv was not all too happy about this as she hates durian. haha!

This morning, we managed to convince Steph to play a game of tennis with us..he claims that he has not played for like 8 years but I guess Steph's one of those guys who is good at every sport cos he managed some really good shots and that left both Lin and me impressed :). Lunch was at YhingThai at Purvis..food's always good but a tad pricey (avg $40 per pax).

Our last Cuscaden visitors just left..and I am already missing our guests and feeling a twinge of sadness that we will soon have to move out of our wonderful city home of 4 years. Must remember to take some final pix of our 1st home in Spore before we move. Here's a pix of Chloe taken on the way to the zoo yesterday..,say Cheese :)

Su Korean with korean gal Inya :)

I usually try not to mix work and play especially with the good folks from the agencies (after one really bad experience!)..but have always made an exception with Inya cos' she's one cool agency gal and she's hip korean :D

Anyway, we have not seen each other since last year so some catching up time was required. As with all things Inya, korean's our favourite type of meal together so she recommended Su Korean located at Far East plaza (they hv another branch at boat quay). The wed night crowd was not bad - a good sign that this place probably serves pretty decent korean food as the prices were not exactly for one with a budget.

We ordered the beef galbi, some really yummy bean soup and topokki (korean rice cake with chilli sauce). The beef which we chose to barbeque ourselves was well marinated and tasty (cos it did not have the marbled fat everyone else loves :p) but what was really memorable was the appetizer small dishes..it had a marvelous range of vegetables - I like!

The topokki was not as good as the ones I have had in korea - chilli was too sweet. The soup was very tasty and came with a generous amount of ingredients. All in all, not a bad place to visit if one has korean food cravings.

After dinner, we adjourned to Hyatt - the Bar, for more girl catch up time and delicious cocktails at expensive prices..Inya treated so that made the evening extra nice :).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Brown Sugar Cafe Bistro - just the right amount of sweetness

We celebrated Myra's bday at Brown Sugar Cafe this week. Tucked away along in a non-descript section of River Valley Road, Brown Sugar offers 2-course and 3-course set lunches at $23++ and $27++ respectively. We ordered to share and went with the Penne carbonara, Ribeye sandwich and lamb chops for our mains choices.

All of the selections turned out very well. The Penne was cheesy but not over powering and nicely al dente-d to perfection. The lamb and ribeye sandwich were also very decent. Appetizers were a grilled squid salad and grilled tiger prawns salad. Although they were both yummy, I wished the the prawns were bigger :)

We made excellent choices for dessert : toffee sticky date pudding and bread pudding. Neither was over sweet - just the way all good desserts should be. All in all, Brown Sugar's a great place to visit for a decent good meal with no hassle finding parking :)..very important for people who drive :)..it was Myra's first time tasting toffee date pudding so am Happy that she enjoyed her bday treat! Mental note to self to come try out their Sunday brunches.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend with Shih Tzu puppy - Muji

Invited Anne and VB, Ed and Liliane for a simple dinner on Friday night and got to meet Muji, a 5 month old shih tzu puppy that Anne's doggy-sitting for the week. Muji's a real sweetheart - very loving and hardly barks and best thing is, does not shed much hair :). Baby Lucas was not too happy with Muji's social skills and made a fuss each time Muji tried licking him..hahaha :)

Also had a weekend visitor - Keat dropped over for 2 short days to attend a concert at Esplanade with his cousins. We took him for dinner on Sat nite to Uncle Leong's crab stall at Ang Mo Kio. Mellban (the more famous one next door) was as usual super packed with a long wait queue outside even though it was only 630pm..thankfully Uncle Leong had ample seats and honestly, having tried both places before, I personally find Uncle's preparation at least on par, if not better than Mellban.

We ordered the black pepper crab bee hoon and curry paste crabs. The waiter must have taken a liking to us cos he gave us the crabs with the most amount of eggs I have ever seen (editor's note: the curry paste version is to die for..simply superb)..it was soooo plentiful that even the greedy guys could not finish it (sigh..wasted!)..we hid the remaining eggs under the crab shell so that the cute waiter boy wouldn't feel offended..heehee.

Sunday morning was spent running off the crab calories with 2 hours of tennis. But all the calories were replaced with a fabulous lunch at Royal China. The char siew soh was just as good as we remembered it to be..flaky pastry that just melts in your mouth wrapped delicately around succulent honey char siew...yumyum such blissful happiness!! everything else was also really good...We managed to leave space for dessert and discovered that the glutinous black rice with coconut ice cream in pumpkn puree was excellent. I also tried the orh nee and it's not bad..not too sweet, just wished they did not add the almond paste as well :p

Friday, March 02, 2007

Vietnamese coffee to perk me up!

Upon hearing of my interest to try the local coffee, Ms Mai picked me up for breakfast early yesterday and took us to Highlands Coffee, Vietnam's answer to Starbucks. They have chains all over and nice deco based on dark warm wood - personally a bit blase for me as the shop concept was done up by Fitch designers who I have worked with closely over the last 3 years :)

I ordered the fruit yogurt and black version of the Vietnamese Coffee. Ms Mai also chose the fruit yogurt and ordered the french baguette set for taste. The coffee was really aromatic and a true caffeine fix. I like! The strawberry jam which came with the baguette set was good as it smooth and was not overly sweet.

L’Olivier at Sofitel Ho Chi Minh delivers outstanding French food :)

KT had previously mentioned that the French restaurant at the Sofitel Ho Chi Minh (L' Olivier) was good. I had to convince Mark though as we were initially planning to eat at the Vietnamese Pho chain – Pho 24..everyone who has been to HCM raves about the pho here. Mark relented (prob due to my insistent whinning :)) so off we trotted to try out the place.

We got ouselves a nice seat in the 'false' alfresco area. The menu was a simple 2-pager listing the soups, starters, fish and seafood , meats and dessert. We ordered 2 starters to share – an eggplant salad and fish soup. The salad was really yummy – I thought the grilled eggplant was done just right as it did not taste squashy and the emmental cheese which accompanied the salad was delightful . Quite disappointed with the soup which came at the recommendation of the nice waiter..it had a generous helping of seafood (huge prawn and mussel) but the stock tasted bland :p

I stuck with a safe main of grilled scallops and it came beautifully served on top of turnips and accompanied with some asparagus. It was just delicious. Shared 2 scallops with KT. KT went for mushroom risotto..that guy can really eat. He had already consumed 5 bread portions before his main arrived and yes, the risotto was good – albeit a bit rich for my liking :p

Mark's beef steak and it was huge! Came with a stack of french style French fries..I tasted a bit and it was not bad..Mark said his S$40 steak at Esmirada (Orchard Parade hotel) was the best he has had but this one here was pretty good too.

We were too stuffed for dessert although KT kept on saying that it was really a must try..oh well, guess this will have to be left for the next visit :)

Ho Chi Minh for work and play...

Was in Ho Chi Minh (HCM) couple of days this week to attend the Commercial Bootcamp summit. Stayed at Caravelle Hotel centrally located in HCM's prime District 1. Hotel was so-so..at USD160 a night, a bit pricey but then again, Vietnam's economy is doing really well. Here's the view of the mighty Mekong river taken from my 19th floor room.

The first night, Ms Mai, my vietnamese colleague, along with Mr Tanth brought Mark and I out for a local Vietnamese meal. We had shrimp cakes, grilled pork, river fish, spring rolls and Mark was given him own bowl of noodles to satisfy his picky taste buds.

Day 1 of the event saw us taken out for team building sports. We were transported to the games venue through a boat journey down the Mekong..scenery was tranquil most of the way..but we started to feel the humidity soon into the hour-long boat ride..worse still, event organisers forgot to provide water on board..could it be they thought we could drink the lovely brown river water? :p

The boat docked at HCM's version of the spore botanic gardens..actually the setting was more reminiscent of Lake Titiwangsa in KL. Upon arrival at the playing field, we were greeted with the welcoming drums of a full brass band. Quite cool :). The team games were quite intense as there were 6 teams and everyone was quite competitive (in spite of the heat :P). I took part in 2 food challenges: Challenge #1 had me stuffing the most salty preseved egg which I honestly could not even bite much less swallow. Challenge #2 was less daunting - eating raw prawns topped with a LOT of vietnamese wasabi. I now know how potent wasabi can be..don't play play with the vietnamese version is my advice to anyone who thinks of trying it on.

In the end, Team Black - my team, got 2nd place..am proud we beat both Mark (red) and Cheryl's (blue) team :)))

That night, while walking around the streets near the hotel, we got to witness the Vietnamese Chinese New Year celebration. The streets were filled with tons of spectators and motorbikes..very atmospheric.

My taste for expensive cookies :)

During Christmas last year, I got to sample some madeleine cookies from the V tea room located at the Esplanade. Have not gotten the taste of the rose floral cookies out of my mind since. It's so fine and delicate..visions of me sipping tea and relaxing in the countryside pops up with each bite :)

Anyway, last weekend while grabbing a late dinner around that area, I decided to indulge in a tin...what I didn't know was that it was going to set me back S$26 bucks..ouch..it might just be my last time buying these cookies..for now, I get to readily satisfy my cookie craving with each piece of delicate, very fine English Rose floral cookie. On the packaging it says : A lovely snow-white pure rose cookie made of fragrant edible rose petals that leaves a very soft, lingering, lady like scent...Reminds one of classic love stories ..I can't agree more! Yum!