Saturday, October 31, 2009

La Petite Cuisine (French Food) @ Serene Centre

First and foremost, i am so full!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The most common review on internet about the above mentioned small eatery at Serene Centre was that it is correctly named; the portions were really petite. Due to these scary reviews, i decided to order 'slightly' more.

2 Entrées, 2 Mains, 1 Dessert, plus 2 Soups (4 entrées!!) for 3 pax.

Boy did i ENJOY REGRET it! That served as a very important lesson that we should never believe EVERYTHING on the internet.

More on the petite eating house below!

Food
For such limited space (cooking and seating), they provide quite an extensive menu. Items include:


Soup De Masion
(btw, it means Soup of the House)

Both our Onion and Potato & Leek tasted really light yet flavourful. This is one key advantage that Western soups have over Asian, which always tend to be rich and complicated.

Onion soup

Potato and Leek soup


Escargots in Croissant With Salad
Land snails are never considered part and parcel of my normal grazing habit although it was not my first time trying it. Truthfully, the escargots were nothing to scream about. The croissant, however, was the highlight with the unique, tangy sauce smeared all over it.


Ravioli of Prawns & Foie Gras
Before i tried this, i have no idea what it is. My first thought was that it is some kind of pasta. I know i am not tat far from the truth, but i didn't know it comes in pouches, like xiaolongbao!

On one hand, the dish was an eye-opener for me (it was good too!). On the other hand, i could not enjoy it much due to its Foie Gras content (click HERE for more information!!). Guilt factor...


Confit de Canard with Gratin
First look: crispy skin!! Yes, i know it was fats fried to a cackling... but so nice okay!?!?! The gratin was delicious; sliced, cooked in and smeared with creamy butter. Unfortunately, the duck meat was rather gamey.


Tarte Tatin
Translated literally as an upside-down apple tart, the caramelised butter with the flaky pastry made a very good match. Regrettably, the slices of apple decreased the marks of almost perfect dish; they seemed drained of all flavours except bitterness.

The bitter apple

Price
Economically priced for French cuisine. My damage totalled $69 and tap water (with lemon pulp) is provided FOC.

===========================

In all, i enjoyed my food trip but i miscalculated the portions, resulting in a fullness not experienced for quite a while. Service was quite good and the chef (a French man) was a really humourous guy! He demanded cheekily that i should pay him money for taking pictures of his food. wahahaa.

La Petite Cuisine is located at 10 Jalan Serene, #01-05, Serene Centre (very near to Adam Road Food Centre). 

Bon Appetit.

Another Two Saviors (for my China Trip)

Further to my post HERE, there were two other kind of biscuits (one strawberry, one milk) that saved my thundering stomach back in Hunan, China.

They were good enough for me to bring back 5 boxes each from China. Crunchy, thick, full of flavour and not sweet at all! Plus, as usual with environmental-never-friendly China, each comes with individual packing!

The only shortcoming; half of them were spoilt!!!
Soft, chewy and absolutely yucky!!

Invisible Man

No, this is not about a comic character like Wolverine or Superman!

A real person okay?!?!!
You can pinch him, molest touch him and even hold him!

Courtesy of my friend, Teck Lee, who sent me an email full with pictures of this invisible man, Mr Liu Bolin.

Judge It Yourself!

Fine, he was not really invisible but he managed to blend himself really well with the environment. Was it a special power, or was it photoshopping at the highest level?

NO!

He used paint (yes, my dear readers, normal paint) to integrate himself or others with the surrounding. The following two pictures will show how fantastic he is with this unique skill.

For more information, please use google; the best search engine in the world world!! At least for the moment. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tiong Shian Porridge Centre (长城粥) @ Chinatown, Singapore

I have absolutely no idea what the big hoo-ha is all about for this particular porridge place located at New Bridge Road, Chinatown. Hm... Or is it congee? Porridge? Whatever! I will use porridge!

To some of my starhubber colleagues, family members and recently, some of my NUS colleagues, it is just porridge!!

Maybe i am clueless about porridge; to me, plain porridge with pickled chye sim (lettuce) and sunny side up is fabulous, normal sold-in-hawker-centres minced pork porridge with a raw egg is delicious, home-made fish porridge with loads of fried onions is irresistible!! 

Menu for 长城粥! Click for an enlarged view of its prices!

Fine, 长城粥 has a big range of variety (besides fish and pork, there are prawn, cuttlefish and the yucky frog)! Fine, they may taste heavenly to YOU! Fine, they are popular! That's not fine! Popular does not mean the stuff is good!! And their service is really..... to the point; you order (no smile), you pay (no smile) and someone will deliver the porridge to you, full stop.  

Regardless of what i typed above, i have patronised this particular shop for at least 5 times although there are numerous hawker centres around the area with better food and chirpier staff!!!

Contradictory with valid reasons below.

Firstly:
My mom loves porridge, know how to differentiate them and adores this shop. The worse thing, we frequent Chinatown.

Secondly:
We believe porridge is less fattening than other Chinese meals. Especially in times like this, when i need to cut down on fats intake.

Thirdly:
I really like porridge, anyone of them!

Fourthly:
Peer pressure to visit this shop!! Hahaha. I have a choice though.

If you have never tried the porridge here, it's high time you do so. Crowds and unavailable seating will definitely deter me from entering the shop. Got it? Please also note that the second floor is available for dining! Take the lift or staircase next to the drink stall.

The second floor. Don't bother waiting for tables on the first floor!

By the way, anyone remembers a chicken rice stall in Chinatown where the chicken was served ice-cold? Anyone knows where it moves to? Tell me!!!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Boring Sentosa? Sentosa Flowers (春节花会), Luge & Skyride

Another almost-forgotten post; drafted since Chinese New Year (CNY) 2009!!

From my distant memory, Sentosa was always an expensive expedition for my family; it was easily a few hundred dollars for the whole family to spend a day in Sentosa back in the 1980s. For most of us borned in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sentosa has gone a long way for the past 20 odd years.

An old picture of Fantasy Island; taken from http://travel.webshots.com/photo/1026165643032787112mejTSJsVPM 

Gone was the old ferry terminal, the water fountain, the BOAT that housed A&W (it means Allen & Wright if you wonder what the abbreviation means) and of course, my favourite yet money losing Fantasy Island! Nowadays, you don't need a ferry to bring you to Sentosa. You can walk there, you can drive there, you can even take a light rail (Sentosa Express)! 

This time, i was in Sentosa for the aptly named "Sentosa Flowers" exhibition.

Especially beautiful were the Rainbow made with flowers, the swans made with, what else but, flowers and the flower balls along the walkway from the side of Merlion to the entrance of"Sentosa Flowers".

Personally, i prefer the flowers from Kunming (capital of Yunnan, China); there were tulips and even opium flowers! Not to mention the permanent constant cool temperature of 15-20 degrees celcius. I miss Yunnan!!

Tulips in Kunming, Yunnan

Fine, I digress.

Beside this annual flowers exhibit, we chanced upon the LUGE ride which was heavily promoted as "FUN" by my friend Alex. Unknown to me, there was also a Skyride. Since it was CNY and it was rare to find ourselves in Sentosa (too touristy lah), we thought "why not!!" and paid for a package!

IT WAS SO ENJOYABLE!! SO EXCITING!!!!!

As with most exciting attractions, it ended pretty fast.. =( After this heart thumping activity, it's time to relax on the Skyride! 

On it, I can see the latest development in Sentosa; the towering skytower, the numerous construction (the new resort world!) and a kelong like structure near Siloso beach! And on it, i felt that time really flies. I was a kid then, playing on the structures-free beach with my cousins and eating the beehoon my mum prepared.

How will i feel another 20 years down the road?

Enough being EMO!!

We were so fasinated with the NEW Sentosa, we promise to be back for the Songs of the Sea and the new Resort World!

Shall update again!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Irreplaceable Void - Worth Sharing

A story worth sharing:

4 years ago, an accident took my beloved away and very often I wonder, how does my wife, who is now in the heavenly realm, feel right now? She must be feeling extremely sad for leaving a husband who is incapable to taking care of the house and the kid. 'cos that is the exact feeling that I have, as I feel that I have failed to provide for the physical and emotional needs of my child, and failed to be the dad and mum for my child.

There was one particular day, when I had an emergency at work. Hence, I had to leave home whilst my child was still sleeping. So thinking that there was still rice leftovers, I hastily cooked an egg and left after informing my sleepy child.

With the double roles, I am often exhausted at work as well as when I am home. So after a long day, I came home, totally drained of all energy. So with just a brief hug and kiss for my child, I went straight into the room, skipping dinner. However, when I jumped into my bed with intention of just having a well-deserved sleep, all i heard and felt was broken porcelain and warm liquid! I flipped open my blanket, and there lies the source of the 'problem'... a broken bowl with instant noodles and a mess on the bedsheet and blanket!

Boy, was I mad! I was so furious that I took a clothes hanger, charged straight at my child who was happily playing with his toy, and give him a good spanking! He merely cried but not asking for mercy, except a short explanation:

"Dad, I was hungry and there wasn't anymore leftover rice. But you were not back yet, hence I wanted to cook some instant noodles. But I remembered you reminding me not to touch or use the gas stove without any adults around, hence I turned on the shower and used the hot water from the bathroom to cook the noodles. One is for you and the other is for me. However, I was afraid that the noodles will turn cold, so I hid it under the blanket to keep it warm till you return. But I forgot to remind you 'cos I was playing with my toys...I am sorry Dad..."

At that moment, tears were starting to run down my cheeks...but I didn't want my son to see his dad crying so I dashed into the bathroom and cried with the shower head on to mask my cries. After that episode, I went towards my son to give him a tight hug and applied medication on him, while coaxing him to sleep. Then, it was time to clear up the mess on the bed. When everything was done and well past midnight, I passed my son's room, and saw that he was still crying, not from the pain on his little buttock, but from looking at the photograph of his beloved mummy.

A year has passed since the episode, I have tried, in this period, to focus on giving him both the love of his dad and mum, and to attend to most of his needs. And soon, he is turning seven, and will be graduating from kindergarten. Fortunately, the incident did not leave a lasting impression on his childhood memories and he is still happily growing up.

However, not so long ago, I hit my boy again, with much regret. This time, his kindergarten teacher called, informing me of my son's absence from school. I took off early from work and went home, expecting him to explain. But he wasn't to be found, so I went around our house, calling out his name and eventually found him outside a stationery shop, happily playing computer games. I was fuming, brought him home and whack the hell out of him. He did not retaliate, except to say, 'I am sorry, Dad'. But after much probing, I realized that it was a 'Talent Show' organized by his school and the invite is for every student's mummy. And that was the reason for his absence as he has no mummy.....

Few days after the caning, my son came home to tell me, the kindergarten has recently taught him how to read and write. Since then, he has kept to himself and stayed in his room to practise his writing, which I am sure, would make my wife proud, if she was still around. 'cos he makes me proud too!

Time passes by very quickly, and soon another year has passed. It's winter, and its Christmas time. Everywhere the christmas spirit is in every passer-by...Christmas carols and frantic shoppers....but alas, my son got into another trouble. When I was about to knock off from the day's work, the post office called. Due to the peak season, the post master was also on an edgy mood. He called to tell me that my son has attempted to post several letters with no addressee. Although I did make a promise never to hit my son again, I couldn't help but to hit him as I feel that this child of mine is really beyond control. Once again, as before, he apologized, ' I'm sorry, Dad' and no additional reason to explain. I pushed him towards a corner, went to the post office to collect the letters with no addressee and came home, and angrily questioned my son on his prank, during this time of the year.

His answer, amidst his sobbing, was : The letters were for Mummy.

My eyes grew teary, but I tried to control my emotions and continued to ask him: " But why did u post so many letters, at one time?" My son's reply was: " I have been writing to mummy for a long time, but each time I reach out for the post box, it was too high for me, hence I was not able to post the letters. But recently, when I went back to the postbox, I could reach it and I sent it all at once..."

After hearing this, I was lost. Lost at not knowing what to do, what to say.....

I told my son, " Son, mummy is in the heavenly kingdom, so in future, if you have anything to tell her, just burn the letter and it will reach mummy. My son, on hearing this, was much pacified and calm, and soon after, he was sleeping soundly. On promising that I will burn the letters on his behalf, I brought the letters outside, but couldnt help opening the letter before they turn to ash.

And one of the letters broke my heart....

Dear Mummy,

I miss you so much!

Today, there was a 'Talent Show' in school, and the school invited all mothers for the show. But you are not around, so I did not want to participate as well. I did not tell Dad about it as I was afraid that Dad would start to cry and miss you all over again. Dad went around looking for me, but in order to hide my sadness, I sat in front of the computer and started playing games at one of the shops. Dad was furious, and he couldnt help it but scolded and hit me, but I did not tell him the real reason.

Mummy, everyday I see Dad missing you and whenever he think of you, he is so sad and often hide and cry in his room. I think we both miss you very very much. Too much for our own good I think.

But Mummy, I am starting to forget your face.

Can you please appear in my dreams so that I can see your face and remember you? I heard that if you fall asleep with the photograph of the person whom you miss, you will see the person in your dreams.

But mummy, why havent you appear?
After reading the letter, I couldn't stop sobbing. 'cos I can never replace the irreplaceable gap left behind

by my wife....

=================

For ALL: Learn to be more forgiving regardless of who make you angry and remember, children are for us to love.

For the females with children: Don't do so much overtime. If you cannot finish the work, it must be some kind of problems within the company, and it is not your sole problem. Feedback to your boss. Endless overtime may not necessary be the answer to the problem. Take care of your health so that you can treasure and take care of your little precious.

For the married men: Drink less, smoke less, cos nothing can replace your good health, not even business nor clients. Try thinking this way, are you able to work till your clients are totally dependent on you? Or your boss is totally dependent on you? In this society, no one is indispensable. Take care of your health, so that you can take care of your little precious and your loved ones.

For those singles out there: Beauty lies in loving yourself first. With confidence and loving yourself, you will see the beauty in other things around you. You will be able to work better and happier. Don't let your health be affected by your work or your boss, so nothing matters more than your well being.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Xiamen Airlines (厦门航空)

I don't profess to be a frequent patron of airlines!

The few airlines i took in the past few years include Jetstar and Tiger Airways, all budget airlines. A non-budget airline i took was China Southern Airlines for my trip to Yunnan last year; a worse-than-budget one. The only consolation, the meal on board was free. The worst thing, it was not palatable.

In view of the above experiences, i was not too hopeful about my recent trip to Hunan since it will be another local China airline; Xiamen Airlines.

I dread to think about the 4 hours flight to Xiamen followed by a 2 hours transit and a 1.5 hours flight to Changsha; my butt is so going to crack by the time i reach! At least that was what i thought before embarking the small plane.

Luckily luckily luckily!

The in-flight meal was one of the better ones and the fruits were really fresh and sweet! Look at the vibrancy of the vegetables! I am hungry just looking at it!!

The stewardesses were really pretty and polite! Their smiles were so charming i wonder why i didn't grab any one of them back to Singapore! Oh, i remember i am a shy guy... definite.

Service was so good they even came out with an exercise video for passengers! Hm... Or was it because the seats were too small resulting in a possible higher risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)? I wonder.... Disregard the reasons, quite a number of people were actively following the movements! My mum inclusive!

The airline commentary came in English, Mandarin and........ HOKKIEN!! Yes, my dialect! It felt so weird yet so heart-warming!

The only grouch? The toilets were really busy!!! Although i attributed that to a fully-filled plane and to a lesser extent, a lot of people with a limited bladder!

Overall, i was very impressed with this airline and due to its name, i am planning for a trip to Xiamen!! Besides being voted as China's cleanest city, I heard Xiamen is filled with damn fabulous food!!!

Am i getting fat?

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