Monday, October 20, 2014

Cavalock and One Week in Sillypore 11

Some ups, some downs. I guess you could say that this past week was just like any other week and you know what that means! Yup, the perfect excuse to do another of my 'One Week in Sillypore' schtick. On the home front, it was a visit to the Dark Side as we got these Darth Vader butter cookies rolling outta the tiny apartment kitchen and to another little kid's birthday party. We just got the Star Wars cutters earlier this month but each piece here still had to be individually hand-painted. Sure hope the kids like them!

Being home alone means another chance to put together some easy dishes. I know the below pix ain't gonna win any points for plating but it sure tasted great. My own version of cioppino. Thanks to the Internet, putting it all together wasn't that difficult. Mine was a fisherman's stew filled with chunks of codfish, scallops, prawns, onions, potatoes and a carrot. It was a hearty dinner for one and it certainly kept me from going to bed hungry that night. I sure miss cooking at home!

Never been a fan of Korean food but I'm slowly getting there. After my brief Korean immersion in New York, I kinda developed an affinity for their BBQ beef. So here's a nice Korean joint in Tras Street called Sodam that I would seriously recommend, great sizzling BBQ beef at a reasonable price and really friendly service. To me, it's always a good thing when the native Korean staff recognises you.

Another unforgettable meal of the week was the buffet lunch at The Lime restaurant at ParkRoyal hotel. An enticing Peranakan and Western spread that had me stuffed for the rest of the day. Had the table by the large glass walls facing the sidewalk and observed the many office minions scampering off for their midday meals. Like hordes of mindless rodents fervently searching for their next feed. So animated in their brutish movements and behaviour but still soulless in all their inane conversations. Was rather amused to glimpse a past life that has somehow now slipped beyond my grasp, for better or worse.

Picked up some of the new Lego Series 12 minifigures this last week too. Now I'm talking about the real deal original Lego here, not the usual fake Lego minifigires that I usually buy. ;) Really was looking forward to this latest set simply becos of the facial expressions on some of the new minifigures. Mixing and matching the new and old minifigures' body parts in my collection till I achieved a 'fresh' one. The winking look, the kissy face, the new hairdos, they were all perfect for coming up with wacky dioramas like this Lorong Lego in Geylang. Well, I expect local guys would appreciate this little pix.

So my 80-year-old Dad bought a new Nikon V2 recently as his previous Canon camera was getting too heavy for him to lug around the island. He's still learning to use it and I have been going through some of his wildlife pix. I'm not much of a camera guy, the only V2 I know are the World War II German rockets that rained down on London during the infamous Blitz.

One more thing that caught my attention was the news of the hacking and leaking of certain celebrities' nude selfies. Yah, I am aware that the incident was a month ago and it's probably old news by now but I was just reading several articles about it, and noticed something was severely lacking in them. Now I want to say that I do agree that it's a horrible crime and we shouldn't watch or promote the images. 

But no one in the news stories was saying that one shouldn't be taking nude selfies in the first place. I mean I know it's not against the law or anything, and an adult should be free to do anything he or she wants with his or her body. I also know the main message is about the violation of one's privacy etc. and not whether one should or should not take nude selfies in the first place. But shouldn't someone, anyone at else mention in all those articles that maybe (just maybe!!!) taking nude selfies might not such be a good idea to begin with? 

Remember not too long ago when politicians in different countries were caught and chastised for taking nude selfies? Seems like while everyone back then was screaming that politicians shouldn't be taking nude selfies to start with, apparently no one is saying that to the celebrities now.

Far as I'm concerned, taking a nude selfie ranks up there with common sense things you probably shouldn't be doing, like 'get a full face tattoo', or 'go skateboarding in the middle of the highway during rush hour' or 'pretend you got Ebola on a crowded plane'. It's like advice that any sane mom in the world would tell her kids, "Girl (or son), don't you go taking naked pictures of yourself! Y'hear me?!?". 

Unless there's a mom out there who thinks it's perfectly alright for their children (grown-up or otherwise) to take nude selfies, then I say folks shouldn't be taking nude selfies. I think that's a pretty reasonable benchmark, if mom thinks it's wrong, then it usually is! But seriously, are people really that daft and not see the downside of taking nude selfies at all? Or at the very least, stop reporting like it's a normal thing everyone should be doing on their coffee break.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cavalock and The Quest for Singapore's First Bus Guide

When the local press starts calling your neighbourhood a hipster enclave, I guess it's hard not to end up having breakfast in another little chic cafe like L'etoile. I have already been to The Bravery and Chye Seng Huat Hardware for breakfast over the last year or two and while I had no major qualms with the food, I did thought it was a little overpriced. Now I heard that this other joint L'etoile is a pretty cool place to hang out so last weekend we decided to take a brisk 15-minute morning walk from my tiny apartment to the cafe at Owen Road.

I know the cafe has actually been around for a couple years now but it was just a wee bit out of the way for us to drop by on a regular basis. We ordered the banana Nutella french toast to share and an omelette each plus a couple of flat whites. I really liked the toast and bananas, not overly sweet as it had just the right amount of Nutella to go with it. The omelette wasn't bad either although I would have preferred it to be a little firmer. But what I really enjoyed was their upstairs sitting area. Free wi-fi, nice ambience with lots of comfortable seats and a much friendlier layout than the other two previous joints.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been digging through tons of stuff from the old family home and besides throwing out dozens of trash bags filled with decades-old junk, I have managed to unearth several historical nuggets that I think folks out there would appreciate. First up is this tiny bank savings book from Bank of America from 1961 that belonged to my late aunt. Can you believe this, it's all hand-written but that's not what caught my eye. What really surprised me was the twice a year interest! Geez, you sure don't see that happening anymore.

Now here's something else the local history buffs might find interesting. I believe this here is our first local Singapore Bus Services bus guide from 1971. Yup, before your smartphone apps or the pocket guidebook, this is apparently how you find a bus and its route. Well, alright it doesn't exactly spell out the route and it's more like a giant fold-out bus interchange map of the island, but I think that's all they got back then. I tried to Google for more info but I can't find any. Does any of the bus numbers still look familiar to you? Looks like bus number 170 is the Johore bus since day one, same goes for bus number 2 heading to Changi Point.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cavalock and The Moist Diane Hook-Up

I really love the almost never-ending array of cool stuff I encounter at Meidi-Ya supermarket. Even after almost a month away, I know I can always count on finding some uncommon groceries on sale. No idea how them beers taste like but I don't think you can go wrong with names like Proper Job and Old Peculier. And if there are any women out there who are willing to try Moist Diane haircare products, let me know exactly how 'moist' she is. ;)

Yah, I know I snapped a pix of the Rude Health products before but this display looked too good to pass up. Besides who knew they also had chips by Nando's as well as bottles of a new Dry version of Calpis Soda.

One more thing that I needed to catch up on since coming back home was the new releases of my favourite fake Lego minifigures ... opps, I mean customised Lego minifgures. From the entire cast of DC Comics TV series Young Justice to Marvel characters like Bullseye and the Punisher, these wonderful Chinese companies have managed to come with some of the more impressive Lego minifigures that the official brand has not or doesn't want to do.

Apparently the Chinese are also aware of what a cash cow the Iron Man franchise is. Look at what they just came up with and as far as I know, there are no official Lego versions of these figures (yet). Wonderful attention to details, way cheaper than any real deal and lookit that, they even did a fake Iron Man Mark I figure recently, five years after the first movie! Plus while the big red Hulkbuster armor below is rumoured to be in the upcoming Avengers movie Age of Ultron, the Chinese came up with a giant-sized one first that's based on the popular comic book design. How's that for ingenuity?

Another delightful and memorable experience I had with the fake Lego minifigures was during my time in Gen Con 2014. I brought more than a dozen figures with me and gave them to strangers I met. I handed them out to stunned cosplayers, kids and fellow gamers that, well, look like they could do with nice surprise. Friendly cosplayers who posed for us got one, like when I handed a Jack Nicholson (or was it a Heath Ledger?) Joker minifigure to a Poison Ivy cosplayer or when I gave a young couple wearing matching Red Lantern t-shirts an Atrocitus minifigure. On my last day there, I saw a little kid playing with some Lego minifigures and I gave his dad a Winter Soldier figure. These were all figures that aren't available as official Lego ones and to see all the recipients' faces light up (especially the Red Lantern couple) was priceless!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Cavalock and The Home-Baked Edition

As always, there was a flurry of activity in our tiny apartment kitchen over the last few weeks. From iced cookies to our first attempt at baking a Japanese cheesecake, our overworked Kitchen Aid mixer hardly had time to take a breather.

So someone we knew was having an under-the-sea themed kids party and the baker in the house came up with this selection of hand-painted mermaid butter cookies and vanilla cupcakes. We heard that everyone at the party absolutely loved them ...

... alright, so maybe Aquaman wasn't all that pleased.

So what you are looking at below is our second attempt (a day after the first attempt) at baking a Japanese cheesecake. Now a Japanese cheesecake is not as heavy or cheesy as a typical American cheesecake. In fact, it's rather fluffy and almost like a soufflé. Was good but definitely with room for improvement.

It ain't Christmas yet but we started the festivities early for one reason and one reason only. Yup, we emptied seven full bottles of Barcardi Gold rum (only the good stuff!) for our annual Christmas fruitcake bake. Hope everyone likes them!

And just as I was about to finish this post, look what came in the mail today! Fingers crossed that there'll be at least a couple of Star Wars cookie requests next year when Episode Seven hits the big screen.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Cavalock and The Lost Library of Lloyd Manor

Just when I thought I had bade the travel bug farewell, there I found myself in neighboring Johor Bahru (JB) on a weekday morning, a week after I returned from the US. Now the last time I was shopping for groceries in Tijuana JB was about a year ago and it was a rather enjoyable experience. Ever since then I have been thinking bout heading back for a quick day trip and I finally got to do just that but this time by bus. It was pretty easy, just hop on a Singapore-JB Express bus and you'll be at Woodlands in about a half hour. If it's your first time (like us), just follow the crowd and you'll soon find yourself through the checkpoint, then board the same bus that will now take you to the Mexican Malaysian border. Tag along with the rest of the passengers again and you'll soon find yourself in JB!

The nearest mall is City Square which is directly and conveniently connected to the checkpoint so all you gotta do is cross the bridge to get there. Kinda like any other mall here except that almost everything is much cheaper. Anyway, there's a bus terminal located just below the mall with regular buses plying to just about every main shopping and tourist attraction in JB. So we took one to KSL shopping mall to get our groceries from Tesco supermarket. One of the highlights of the day was this fresh coconut stand at KSL. Right in the middle of the mall floor was a stall selling fresh coconuts. Was a one-man stall with just a guy hacking away at coconuts. He would cut it open, pour the juice into a little plastic tub, then scoop the fleshy meat out in a single whole piece for you. All that for just five Ringgit! And when I ordered mine, the man was nice enough to give me a fresh full tub that he just filled instead of the ones that were sitting on the counter. Absolutely refreshing and value for money.

One of the more interesting snacks I found on sale at Tesco supermarket in JB. Doubt if I can find it here and I can't imagine how it tastes like. Wonder if it refers to the spicy flavor or are there actual little fish bits in it?

Now that I'm done travelling, I got a lot of catching up to do in the cleaning-of-the-old-family-home department. I knew my aunts and uncles (mom's side of cos) were fervent readers all my life. Growing up, we were surrounded by books 24/7 and my late uncle had Time, Newsweek and Nat Geo magazines subscriptions too. But never did I expect to find this "scholarly" haul in one of the bedrooms.

"The long decades had silently blanketed the brown boxes in the corner with a thick layer of dust. I peered nervously into each carton before cautiously lifting out the first of many bundled stacks of books. Like ancient Eldritch tomes fished out from the deepest depths of the ocean, one could only imagine the stories and knowledge that each volume possesses. Grinning and muttering to myself, my gibberish behaviour that day was a testament to the dark legacy that the decrepit building conceals."

What you see here is just a fraction of what I uncovered. If you are my Facebook friend, you would probably have seen most of them already. Browsing through the books I really wish I had time to read all of them. I'm looking at books from the 1940s to the 1970s and we got noir, pulp fiction, classics and the trashiest novels I have ever seen in my life! I just can't imagine my late aunts or uncles reading any of them. But what's also amazing to me is the excellent quality of the books as most were still in rather good reading condition. 

While I still have the novels with me, the old cookbooks and interior design hardbacks below were all snapped up the moment I posted them on Facebook. Gave them all away for free. I bet it would be cool to see how the recipes have changed over the years. Like the different kinds of ingredients used yesteryear, cooking techniques or there might even be some lost recipes in there.