Friday, October 22, 2021

Cavalock and That Traveler's Notebook Update

If you have ever beenin the army or done a reservist stint, there's always a guy in the unit who has to shower at least three or four times a day. Well, I have become that guy, here at home during this pandemic lockdown. The weather's has gotten humid as hell and I'm constantly sweating like a cat in roomful of rocking chairs. 

We are all still in this semi-lockdown here so it's only me and the Baker-at-Home dining out as and when we can. Recently we got to enjoy dinner at Allium. A cosy little restaurant located at way over at Kensington Square. First there and we really liked it. Had the nine-course dinner menu, with sake pairing. My favourite dish has got to go to the Cantonese Steamed Fish. That piece of fish was so damn fresh. The Baker-at-Home's fav was the Braised Rice, she absolutely revelled in the 'wok hay' aroma of the rice even though it was a porridge dish. 

Anyway, I got the Allium menu glued in my Traveler's Notebook. Yah, been awhile since I showed my Traveler's Notebook here. I have been filling up the pages, just not as frequent as I expected cos y'know, worldwide pandemic and stuff. This here page is kinda of what I got so far in the month of October. Had to get new earphones cos I lost me AirPods Pro at the gym. The AirPods were already a little wonky so I asked around for another brand of earphones and a friend recommended this latest pair from Sony. Used me Krisflyer Miles to get them since we sure as hell aren't gonna be redeeming any tickets soon.

Next up is The Red Cathedral, another boardgame I just purchased from Amazon. I have read so many good reviews about this game, I just had to get it. Saw it on Amazon and waited for the price to drop to a low of $49 and immediately grabbed it. 

"Autumn is not the best time to climb up on a scaffold in Moscow, but it is still far better than doing so in the winter. Tsar Ivan wants to see results and our team will prove to him that we are the best builders in the city. We are sure to finish off those decorative arches with the brightest shining stones and ensure our place on the list of the government’s trusted workers.

The Red Cathedral is a strategic, “Euro” board game in which the players take the roles of construction teams. Their job is to work together to put up St. Basil's cathedral in Moscow, as ordered by Ivan the Terrible. However, only one of them will be able to gain the favor of the Tsar.

During the game, the players can carry out one of these three actions: assign a section of the cathedral, send resources to that section to build it, or go to the game board to achieve more resources. Each of these actions has its own mechanism and requires that the players pay close attention to what the other players are doing."

It comes in a relatively small box and as far as modern boardgames go, the rules aren't that difficult. Deciding where to build and when to build is just part of what you'll be doing. You'll also have to figure out which resource to gather, like stone, brick, wood or gold to build your cathedral and in which order, while utilising a cool dice rondel system. And that's where the strategy comes in, that dice rondel is real brain-burner! There's enough tension between every move to make this a really fun game. 

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Cavalock and The Rurik: Dawn of Kiev Playback

Been way too long since I spotted a new can of Japanese beer or Grand Kirin White pale ale to be exact. This sure looks tempting but I been on a Calpis Highball trail right now. Also, Iroha Mart has a whole shelf of non-alcoholic drinks too as well as no sugar and zero calories booze. I still don't get the appeal of zero-alcohol drinks, the whole point is getting a buzz and if I'm not getting a buzz, I'm definitely not paying that much money for a can of fake beer. I mean if it's the same price as a can of soda pop, sure I suppose I would go for that.

Played a couple games of Rurik: Dawn of Kiev recently. It's a pretty massive boardgame I bought many months ago and I just got my hands on the expansion box Rurik: Stone & Blade which adds more elements to the game. So it's an area control and resource management game with some auction mechanics thrown in.

"You play as a potential successor to the throne following the death of your father, Vladimir the Great, in 1015. The people value a well-rounded leader, so you must establish your legacy by building, taxing, fighting, and accomplishing great deeds. Will you win over the hearts of the people to become the next ruler of Kievan Rus?

Rurik brings to life the ancient culture of Kievan Rus with game design by Russian designer Stanislav Kordonskiy and illustrations by Ukrainian artist Yaroslav Radeckyi."

We had a lot of fun playing this. There are plenty of decisions to make but the steps are nicely broken up so you are not overwhelmed by it all. First everyone has to bid on what actions you want to take and who gets to do it first. Then you perform the actions that you selected such as moving your men, taxing the lands, building architecture and so on. That's pretty much it, of cos there's a lot more that goes into each action. We played with four players and with the recent lockdown, just three and we all really liked it especially with the expansion that added more elements like new buildings and the option to capture prisoners for additional points. There are rules for solo play too, maybe I'll try it one of these days.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Cavalock and The Izakaya Insight Post

Well, to nobody's surprise, we are back in a mini-lockdown with gatherings limited to two only. I got money riding on the fact we'll have at least a couple lockdown flip-flops before next year's Chinese New Year. Anyway, just before this latest lockdown, me and the guys got together to check out the basement izakaya Dusokoi x Donpachi Sake Bar over at Cuppage Plaza. 

Been here a couple weeks earlier with the Baker-at-Home, and we absolutely enjoyed the food, the place as the deco and menu reminded us of our trips to Japan, our little (not-so) late night jaunts to izakayas around Shinjuku. I thought this place would be kinda cool to bring the guys to to commemorate our 2019 September trip to Tokyo. She especially liked their selection of umeshu. They got an impressive menu of izakaya food like grilled squids, all kinds of tempura as well as sashimi.

As expected, good food and good company, it's something we all need right now. All five of us had our fill of oden, tempura, oysters, monkfish liver (is this the first time I'm having it?), some pork guts stew and Japanese style bak tuh teh. And this is also one of those rare times when we guys enjoyed a bottle of sake, usually it's beer, whisky or high ball for us when we are a Japanese restaurant.

So like most folks here, the Baker-at-Home and me are just riding out this latest lockdown at home. She works from home so there's that. I haven't been to the gym in a week cos I was busy taking care of me Dad. He hasn't gone out to take any wildlife pix for obvious reasons. I wish I could say that we weren't affected by all these lockdowns, travel restrictions and so on but it has started to take its toll on us. When me and the guys were having dinner at the izakaya that evening, we couldn't help but reminisce  bout our Tokyo trip. Same with the Baker-at-Home and me. Right now, at this time of the year, the two of us would usually be in Tokyo and soaking in the Halloween mood there

I have some words and some thoughts on how the local authorities have handled the whole Covid situation here. But I know better than to say anything online. Suffice to say, they really dropped the ball with how they fumbled everything from communications to the masses to the obvious lack of foresight in many instances. 

Oh, in other news, I got to paint these nice guys, Death Guard Marines. Only two more to go.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Cavalock and The Sushi Combo Celebration

It took us longer than we expected, three months to be exact but we finally made it to Sushi Masaaki for dinner last week. Reservations were first made to celebrate the Baker-at-Home's birthday there in June but the lockdown changed that into a double birthday celebration with yours truly in September. 

This was certainly well worth the wait. Now unlike places like Esora and IL Den, this is the kinda "real" sushi that I much prefer. All-round excellent fine-dining experience, our omakase dinner saw some of the freshest fish I have had since lockdown. Hah! The sake choices we were top-notch too. Sake pairing wasn't exactly on the menu but we requested for one and that was exceptionally good. Did we drank, ate and spent too much? Definitely. We kinda justified it with the fact that we didn't travel anywhere the last two years. And we already made our next dinner reservations at the end of the year.

Me 87-year-old Dad took these photos in Pasir Ris earlier this week. Fortunately the hawk stayed more or less still enough for him to snap over 1,000 shots of the bird and allowed me Dad to play around with the different camera settings. FYI that's a monitor lizard tail he or she is eating, not a snake. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Cavalock and The Truffle Birthday Experience

Well, if you have been following the local news, it sure looks like we are heading into another mini-lockdown pretty soon. Anyway the Barker-at-Home and I managed to snag my birthday lunch at Garibadi earlier this week with her! There's a running joke between us bout how she has eaten at the Italian joint while I have not. This went on for years and finally I'm here. Joke's over I guess. Hah!

Didn't really planned it that way but I had truffle on both my first and second courses, on the scallops as well as the ravioli. Fantastic lunch, only complaint was them ravioli were some of the smallest I ever had! Not a complaint but the wine pairing did left us both with a slight buzz in the afternoon. Guess we ain't as young as we were. 

Back home, we ordered an amazing coconut cake from a homemaker, yes, that's a pretty huge cake for just the two of us. So we sliced it up and gave some to the neighbours too. Obviously the kids love it.

Now I usually treat myself to a new game or something similar on me birthdays but I can't really think right now. Not that there isn't anything I want. Gawd knows there are plenty of stuff I want but space is an issue and I still got games that I feel I haven't played to justify its purchase, know what I mean? 

Right now I'm back to playing Kill Team, a game I started bout four years ago. There's a new edition that got released couple weeks ago with completely new rules. This is a game that I kinda stocked up on when I was over in the UK back in 2018. Played a few games when I got back then moved on to other boardgames. Well, this is a miniatures game where I have already invested hundreds of dollars on and dozens of hours of painting, so when this new edition got released, a lot of folks were pretty excited bout it and I bought the new rule books, that's already like a more hundred bucks right there. Hopefully this will last awhile. 

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot ... it's September. You know what that means.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Cavalock and All Them Gatherings of Friends

Last August was a pretty good month for me as I got to meet with friends for meals more times than I had in recent memory. Lunch at Far East Plaza's Maddie's Kitchen, breakfast at Tiong Bahru Market and two epic meals at Kakiin Oyster Bar and my first time ever at Pistachio Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Grill. Four meals with friends in a month and I don't feel like a bloody hermit anymore! 

The oyster bar dinner at Orchard Plaza was fun although one of the guys couldn't make it at the last minute so it was three guys eating and drinking. Lots of great oysters obviously and highballs too. And several servings of chicken liver which the guys really liked, that was quite unexpected. Now this dinner was especially memorable as it was planned way back at the beginning of June and postponed twice cos of the on-again-off lockdowns we been having.

Lunch at Pistachio over at Wheelock Place was also kinda memorable cos its been ages, years actually since I had a meal in Wheelock Place. It wasn't just me, the other guys also said the same thing. Since Borders closed, we didn't really have a reason to go there anymore expect maybe cross over from Ion to Isetan I guess. Anyway my friend ordered the tomahawk steak couple days ahead so that's what we had. Quite a table spectacle to be honest, torch flames and all that. Great lunch with even better company. 

Got a proper game of the award-winning Terraforming Mars last week too. This is one of the most popular modern boardgames around and also one of the more complex ones. The players are running corporations in the near future and we are racing to colonise the Red Planet. The first time I played, this was several years ago, was against a buncha folks who knew the game (with expansions) inside out and naturally I was slaughtered. Then bout a year after that, I played it again with almost the same folks, by then I had already forgotten my earlier mistakes and rules, which led to another massacre. But last week, my friend sat us down and explained the base game, and I finally played a proper game with a total understanding of the rules. Good game, quite thinky at times, decent amount of player interaction. Looking forward to have another go at it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Cavalock and That Award-Winning Boardgame

Last week's lunch at Far East Plaza with a gaming buddy means a chance to finally drop by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse across the road to sample their popular pastries. Bought the mint chocolate cruffin and the lemon meringue pie croissant back for afternoon tea with the Baker-at-Home. No complaints bout the golden flacky puff pastry but the fillings were pretty overwhelming and ... a lot. Lots of filling came oozing out. A little too much for us but your milage may vary. The Baker-at-Home said the mint filing in the cruffin reminded her of her toothpaste. Hah!

Took awhile but I got me the boardgame MicroMacro Crime City at last, a multi-award winning boardgame from Germany. It swept a buncha awards this year and last for being an original co-operative game. If you are familiar with Where's Waldo (or Wally), this is almost like that where you squint your eyes and search through a glorious irrelevant artscape but instead of Waldo, you looking for dead bodies, solving their murders, solving robberies, catching killers and you get it why's it's called Crime City. There are only 16 cases in the box and once you solve them, that's it. 

You can play it solo as in by yourself or co-operatively with others, up to three others but really, you would want to keep it to as few as possible. Most reviewers suggest just one other or two other players cos it's kinda hard to share the map even though it's that huge. I'm playing it solo and loving every minute of it, and I can't imagine sharing the game or map with another person cos you tend to hog it as you are pouring over every little speck of evidence. 

You can read more bout the game here.

Last but definitely not least, it's this year's Washpole Patriot. Took a snapshot yesterday. I guess it's better late than never.