Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cavalock and The Book Club Revisitation

After months of being lost in the abyss of illiteracy, I'm finally back to reading my stack of books I purchased last year. Picked up this collection of whimsical Japanese short stories during my last trip to Tokyo. Written in the later part of the 19th century by Lafcadio Hearn, these stories are all about the supernatural, fairy tale-like tales of old Japan, complete with samurais and lost ghosts. They are mostly short and rather straightforward stories reminiscent of the fairy tales that I used to read when young. But there's a certain poise and innocence in those works that just draws me in, know what I mean.

Anyway I have always liked fiction writers from the late 19th to early 20th centuries like Tolkien, Lovecraft, Tanizaki and now Hearn. If anyone has recommendations for short stories from that era, fiction of cos, let me know. Hah!

And speaking of Japanese, a friend treated me to this little bubble tea joint at Vivo City recently. It's called Nayuki and the surprising thing, well at least surprising to me, is that it's from China. I mean, I just thought it's strange that such a high profile Chinese shop would have the Japanese character 'no' in its name, considering their history and all that. I know copying designs, trademarks etc. are common there but kinda weird I thought to be coming up with one that's so Japanese.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Cavalock and The Sagrada Ice Cream Night

Always fun to introduce folks to the wonderful world of boardgames. Been ages since I had the opportunity to do a boardgames session and dinner at me friend's apartment. And the best thing to go together with boardgames is a good serving of premium ice-cream.  Having one of the brains behind local ice-cream parlour chain Creamier at the dinner party, means we were certainly spoilt for dessert choices that night. There were tubs of Longan and Goji Berries, Roasted Pistachio, Chestnut Rum, Mandarin and Carrot Sorbet and maybe one or two more that I missed out.

Had the Roasted Pistachio and Longan Goji Berries, and I much preferred the latter. Not too sweet and the berries weren't too overpowering which for some strange reason, I was kinda afraid they would be. Not sure if they are already out on sale, but I'll likely drop by Creamier for more scoops in the near future.

So one of the games we played that evening was Sagrada, a game I picked up in London last year. In this boardgame, we are artisans designing stained glass windows. We pick or draft dice to put in our individual window boards, following specific placement rules. Everyone loved how colourful and eye-catching the boards were when the game ended. Wish I had a picture of that! It's fun but a bit of brain burner and when you have five players like we had, it can take awhile to get to your turn as we are all staring at our boards and dice, and trying to figure out which dice to draft into our boards. Like I said earlier, I really enjoy bringing my games out and introducing them to new as well as old friends. My offer still stands.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Cavalock and The Doped Up Post

Since the authorities here have acknowledged that the rum in a tub of rum and raisins ice-cream isn't going to turn anyone into a drunken lout, how about the poppy seed in them bakes like lemon poppy seed bread. I mean, has anyone ever gotten high after eating them? Just like there aren't people getting drunk on rum and raisins ice-cream, I sure doubt if you can get stoned on a poppy seed bagel. :)

Me and the guys took a short break from gaming last week to indulge in a little makan session at Pasir Panjang food centre, the one right next to the train station. The guys didn't want any carbs so no carbs at all. So there's all this talk about injuries in the army. When I was a teenager and doing my stint, I woke up one morning in camp with a sharp pain around me pelvic area. I couldn't even lift me leg to put on me army trousers. No idea what caused it, I mean I didn't fall or anything like that. Visited the camp doc and got me first taste of painkillers. Headed back to training and everything was fine till bout a week later I ran out of painkillers. Of cos, that familiar piercing pain wasn't far behind and then came another supply of painkillers. At this point, I wound't be surprised if the army doc thought I was faking it when he was prescribing me all them painkillers (again).

Well, I think it was after me third or was it me fourth visit that he finally thought, "maybe this guy ain't faking it after all." Cos that's when he decided to send me for an x-ray. And guess what it revealed, I had a freakin' fracture! Which was very likely aggravated by all the constant workouts that I did while doped up on painkillers! Hah!

Back to the present, one of this year's first few paints, I rather enjoyed painting this guy. It's a single unit or a single model when you are playing it on the battlefield, a Knight Incantor so I didn't really have to worry bout painting a bunch of them in similar colours. I did a bit of deco with the base as well, like adding little twigs to it.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Cavalock and The Boozy Slurpee Discovery

I guess this is the closest I got to a boozy Slurpee drink for lunch. So the Baker-at-Home and I were at Yakinikutei Ao-Chan for lunch last week and saw an irresistible offer for frozen plum sake. it seemed like the perfect choice after a heavy BBQ beef-laden lunch. If you ever been to Beauty in A Pot, it's similar to that little frozen drink they serve at the end of the meal. Kinda cleans the palate.

It's as slushy as cup of Slurpee with a rather strong boozy sake take. Glad that we shared it. Was a little too much ever for me. But something we wouldn't mind having again if we are ever back there.

Spot the typo!
Now if you ever wondered what some of the birds at our Bird Park have for breakfast, here's what my 85-year-old Dad found out. Yummy and nutritious!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Cavalock and The 'Nam Connection

Cheap Japanese beer right in my neighbourhood!?! Too good to be true? Unfortunately that may be the case as I did some snooping around. Well, some good ol'-fashion legwork revealed that all the cans of Sapporo beer available in shops here are made in Vietnam. Well, just like how some Onitsuka Tiger sneakers are now made in Vietnam and therefore cheaper. Apparently, it's the same with Sapporo beer these days. More than a few Japanese familiar product brands have moved their manufacturing plants to Vietnam and according to the Baker-at-Home's Japanese teacher, there is a sizeable Japanese community there today.

The thing is I'm fine with that as long as it's cheaper than the other real made-in-Japan beer brands. Don't go charging me the same price as those other Japanese beer right? I mean, the minimart in my neighbourhood has lowered the price and that's cool. But if you check out (made-in-Vietnam) Sapporo beer in other supermarkets, it's about the same as other made-in-Japan brands. That ain't cool, in my book at least. And I'll be avoiding Sapporo beer in restaurants here too if it's gonna be the same price as other Japanese brands.

Now this caught my eye while I was at Tokyo Hands shopping for (another) journal. So explain to me again, who exactly is this for? 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Cavalock and The Teotihuacan Throw-down

One of the most interesting meals so far this has got to be dinner at Japanese beef joint Yazawa at Robertson Walk. Reminded us of all them Japanese beef restaurants that we visited in Japan as in it reminded us of the fresh and high quality food, and not the dark, dimly lit interior. I mean, it was our first time there and we only saw like, a tiny part of the restaurant and it was pretty damn dark. Anyway food was good and we went with friends who frequent the place so we something that was off the menu. Thin strips of beef, lightly grilled and then quickly dipped in raw egg. Nice but little too pricey.

After dinner, we took a ten second stroll over to sake bar Orihara next door. Counting the highball she had at Yazawa, the Baker-at-Home went for her second, and third and fourth drink (you get the idea) for the night with a sake tasting session. Me? I just stuck with my Suntory Premium Malt. They got an appetizing oden and yakitori menu as well and we are definitely eager to give them a try next time.

Oh yah, and we dropped by Meidi-Ya before dinner and found this. Pringles instant noodles! Not our thing but I believe folks out there are into this. Only $3.40 for one with Jalapeño and Onion flavour tub.

Got the opportunity to play a game of Teotihuacan a couple nights ago. It's a new boardgame that one would call a heavy euro game. Came out at the tail-end of last year and it became a huge hit. A lot of strategy, hardly any randomness even though dice are involved, you don't roll them at all. Won my first three-player game with some luck even though I must say, this is a game with very little luck involved. Luck to me was getting the starting tiles that allowed me to advance my tech. I stayed away from building pyramids even though that could get me points. You can do stuff to get points but you can't do everything. So players move around the board to gather resources such as wood, gold, stone and food. To get fame points you need to do stuff like build pyramids, houses and so on, different tasks require different resources. 

"Travel back in time to the greatest city in Mesoamerica. Witness the glory and the twilight of the powerful pre-Columbian civilization. Strategize, accrue wealth, gain the favour of the gods, and become the builder of the magnificent Pyramid of the Sun.
In Teotihuacan: City of Gods, each player commands a force of worker dice, which grow in strength with every move. On your turn, you move a worker around a modular board, always choosing one of two areas of the location tile you land on: one offering you an action (and a worker upgrade), the other providing you with a powerful bonus (but without an upgrade).
While managing their workforce and resources, players develop new technologies, climb the steps of the three great temples, build houses for the inhabitants of the city, and raise the legendary and breath-taking Pyramid of the Sun in the centre of the city.
Each game is played in three eras. As the dawn of the Aztecs comes closer, player efforts (and their ability to feed their workforce) are evaluated a total of three times. The player with the most fame is the winner."

Monday, December 31, 2018

Cavalock and The Last Post of The Year

It's the last post of the year! I'm still looking back at 2018 and I'm still heading to the gym. That's something I started back in 2017 and I'm actually kinda like doing now, to the point that I think I may have injured myself. I try to put in at least two or three visits a week and I tell myself with how much I'm paying every month, I need to get my ROI ASAP. Hah!  

2018 is also the year the Baker-at -Home became a qualified, certified and I dare say gentrified Baker. It's not one them government skills thing, but something she paid for all on her own. But that's not her day job, it's a little hobby that we all at home benefit from. 

So in an earlier post, I mentioned bout being short of one game from hitting my target of 365 games played this year. Well, I passed that target a couple days again with games like Tulip Bubble and Kill Team. Fortunate enough to slip in three games of Kill Team on Sunday afternoon. My Tyranids, those are the Alien-like creatures, went up against Deathwatch Space Marines, Nurgles and Necrons.

A few weeks ago, me Dad finally bought the no-so-new-anymore Nikon mirrorless camera. He's still waiting for the new lens to arrive. I think it's pretty neat that the camera is so user-friendly that a 85-year-old man like my Dad can take these shots with it.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cavalock and The Top 10 Boardgame List

This was the year that I was lucky enough to receive invites to not one but two private chef sessions. Enjoyed both a lot, all wonderful food prepared by extremely talented men. The first was Lucky House Cantonese Private Kitchen at the chef's home over in East Coast in early November. Like what the name says, it's Cantonese food that's so popular that the place is booked solid till like, middle next year. Someone else was taking all the food pix so I really don't have any in my phone.

The second private dining experience was enjoying the handmade pasta prepared by local chef Yum Hwa. There's a pretty comprehensive article bout him here. This was for a dinner party at a friend's house that saw three distinctly different mouth-watering pasta dishes that everyone loved.

2018 was also a year of crazy health scares. Right now I got a busted tendon that has been haunting me for at least couple months now. Yup, even while I was in London. Think I did something to me foot while in the gym, I have been hoping that it would heal itself and go away but no such luck. I got an appointment at NUH Sports Centre next year. Kinda strange to have a semi-sports related accident for someone who absolutely detests organised sports. Hah! Crazier thing is me surviving a neurological attack. Fortunately I got to see a nerve specialist in time otherwise I would have ended up looking like a Batman villain for life. I was given the option to wait for an appointment at a government hospital but I decided to immediately see a private specialist that afternoon instead. That was a damn smart move. The doc said if I waited any longer the damage would had been permanent. Anyway I'm 100% cured now. Kinda makes you wonder what if someone can't afford a private consultant and waited for a government appointment. That would really be bad.

Here's my Top 10 list of favourite boardgames or tabletop games that I played this year. You can check out my Top 20 to 11 right here. Except for Santa Maria and Coffee Roaster, the other eight games were all released this year. The below Coffee Roaster is a delightful little Japanese game and it's meant for solo play. Beautiful components with excellent gameplay where you are barista trying to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Extremely challenging and fun.

10. Santa Maria
  9. NEOM
  8. Ganz Schon Clever
  7. Thunderstone Quest
  6. Reef
  5. Kingdomino: Age of Giants
  4. Giant Killer Robots
  3. Coffee Roaster
  2. KeyForge
  1. Kill Team

Giant Killer Robots is a Kickstarter gift from a friend. It's a huge game where the players take control of giant robots in a battle royale. Gorgeous game once you have all the buildings and colourful miniature robots spread out across the board.

The game that gave the most fun and satisfaction has got to be Kill Team or Warhammer 40K: Kill Team to be exact. Number one cos of the sheer number of hours of fun I had not just playing but painting the miniatures. I spent way more hours painting my Blood Angels Space Marines and Tyranids miniatures than I did playing the game but I enjoyed almost every minute of it.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Cavalock and The Top 20 Boardgame List

Happy Holidays everyone! 

It's the end to another year of ups-and-downs including some eye-opening travels for me and The Baker-at-Home. We are extremely fortunate to have time to be gallivanting to Japan not once but twice and then to the U.K. this year, as well as a jaunt to Kuala Lumpur.  If I had to pick my favourite trip or the one that was the most fun or memorable and unique, it would have to be London. Probably cos its been almost a decade since we were in the Old Country so everything was like a breath of fresh air unlike Japan. Anyway, with all the Brexit shit hitting the fan, I really don't know when we'll be heading there again.

Sea urchin snack at Borough's Market! 
Well, I kinda wish I kept a list of all the nice food I had this year but I didn't instead I kept a list of all the tabletop or boardgames I played. As of this writing, I have played 364 games this year, just one game short of my target for the year. Here are my Top 20 game titles of the year, these are the analog or tabletop games that I played this year, that I had the most fun with and want to play again.

20. Istanbul The Dice Game
19. Architects of the West Kingdom
18. Roll Player with Monsters and Minions expansion
17. Viticulture Tuscany Essential
16. Richard the Lionheart
15. Tulip Bubble
14. Orbis
13. Root
12. Sagrada
11. Gizmos

More than a few of the games like Viticulture, Richard the Lionheart and Tulip Bubble were released before 2018 but I only got to play them this year. Tulip Bubble is the only auction game on the list and it's based on the real-life speculative bubble crisis of 1637. Sagrada is perhaps the most attractive game on the list as you get to roll dozens of colourful little dice and then display them in a grid to earn points.

Viticulture is a sprawling worker placement game about producing wine in Italy. Each player only has a limited number of workers to use every turn and has to make sure he or she puts them out at the right spots, like building structures, planting vines or fulfilling wine orders. Make and sell the most wine, to be the first to hit 20 points wins the game.

Root is a rather complex but cute-looking game as we are adorable little forest animals fighting to gain control of the wilderness. The gameplay is asymmetric as in every player plays differently, each player is a different animal and follows a unique set of rules. It's not easy and can be pretty cutthroat.

I don't own all those games but the ones I have like Viticulture and Sagrada are always ready to hit the table. I realise that all this game stuff may be too much for non-gamers so I'll continue my Top 10 list in my next post. :)

Oh, and speaking of games and London, here are game-related pix I took outside The National Gallery in London. You got folks scribbling and drawing on the wide open steps outside the Gallery every day. Sometimes you'll spot beautifully drawn chalk portraits, other days you'll get intrinsic puzzles that'll stop you in your tracks, and make you almost miss your dinner reservation.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Cavalock and The Indulgence Shortage

Yikes! I am so running out of me U.K. supplies that we bought from London couple months ago. Biscuits are almost gone, ham and cheese heartily consumed, and me favourite Molton Brown body wash down the drain literally. One of the first to vanish from me home was the Spiced Butter Rum. That early morning boozy pick-me-up is so additive that I went and bought me a tub of Waitrose's Christmas Brandy Butter. Hah!

Some Gardens by The Bay pix that me 85-year-old Dad took last month. Reckon he took a few hundred shots at least. The last pix has got to be everyone's favourite.... I think. I mean, why shouldn't it not be?