Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cavalock and The Beer and Tea Mingling

After a spell, I managed to drop by Meidi-Ya supermarket again just in time for their 13th Anniversary Fair, that's till Monday. They got tubs of Japanese ice-cream at 20% off which was mighty irresistible until I remembered I'm the bus back in this crazy hot weather. As always, it's the booze that caught my eye.

Now I must have written half a dozen posts bout how much I really like Japanese tea in a can. Like them better if it comes out of a damn machine in Tokyo. Lots here in Meidi-Ya, for only S$2 a can. And there are chicken wings too. They got soy, sea-salt, garlic shoyu and buncha other flavours. Go knock yourself out.

So in my last post I mentioned bout one of my stories got picked up in an e-book fantasy/horror anthology. I just wanna say 'thank you' if you bought a copy of it, you all know who you are. Strange and cool thing is I got another email from another publisher saying how much that person liked the same story and also wanted to publish it. Unfortunately they couldn't cos it was already picked up the first publisher. I guess it's one them good news, bad news situation. Good news they loved it, bad news they can't print it. Hah!

By the way, as I'm writing this, I'm watching The Hateful Eight on me iPad. Great show.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cavalock and The Book Sales Pitch Bravado

Never thought I'd be doing this but here's a sales pitch! If you like fantasy stories written by South-East Asian writers and own a Kindle, do support this little e-book anthology Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy. My story The Island is in there and I hope you all like it. It's a little horror fantasy set in Singapore back in the 70s although you might not be able to guess that. It was edited out due to space. Oh, but you can get it through Smashwords here too. And a huge thank you in advance!

I know it has been awhile since I posted any wildlife shots by me Dad. Thing is, he had a bypass surgery just before Chinese New Year. But after a month of rest, he was back on his feet and criss-crossing the island almost every morning. He's over 80 years-old and still lugging his camera equipment in this sweltering heat. Of cos, some things had to change. He had to sell off his old heavy Canon camera for a lighter Nikon one. If anyone's keeping track, he's now using the Nikon D750 and lens af-s 300mm, teleconverter 1.7 and the 200 - 300 lens. It's all Greek to me. Well, no not exactly, sometimes I just pretend to know less bout stuff than I do.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cavalock and The Forbidden Coconut Compendium

Ah, the things I find in Bangkok that I wish we had more of back home. Knorr Pork Cubes is something you won't find in our supermarkets here for obvious reasons, so naturally we had to grab a pack when we saw them on sale. Haven't used them yet!

I lost count of the number of the things I wanted to buy but didn't.  Coconut oil and cream! They had all kinds of coconut oil for a multitude of uses. You put them in your food, spread them on your body, slap them on your face, it's all supposed to be good for you. I don't know if they all work but I do know that the baker in the house stopped me from buying any.

Believe it or not, one of my favorite desserts or snacks there wasn't a Thai delicacy but a treat that I had before, in Tokyo. Found the Bake outlet in Bangkok and immediately wolfed down one them heavenly cheese tarts. Now just waiting for their outlet here to open at ION basement.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cavalock and The Obligatory Thai Food College

Still continuing my long overdue Thai vacation and of cos it's time for the traditional obligatory overseas food college. To be honest, we didn't try a lot of the street food as even my Thai cousin advised us not to. Absolutely enjoyed every meal we had in Bangkok.

Spotted this at a local supermarket in Bangkok and couldn't resist grabbing a pack. Fried chrysalis, not something you see everyday back home so why not? Yah, I know. No street food but ok with sampling some slightly questionable fried bugs or insect pupas.

Well, the pupas were definitely larger than what I expected. Not the tastiest things I ever tasted out of a big. Texture-wise it's kinda like eating paper, as in little pieces of paper. Tastes a little eggy too. Maybe I should have picked the green seaweed flavour pack instead.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Cavalock and The Street Life Disposition

When in Bangkok, we tried their most famous detox programme. Within minutes, we were sweating out toxins from our pores like crazy. That's right, we attended the cleansing ritual that is Chatuchak Market on a blazing Saturday morning. The last time I was here was over a decade ago and it has definitely changed a lot since then. Less chaotic, more organised stalls but still almost just as hot. I believe they still sell livestock although I didn't see any but we never walked the entire place so maybe. I could hardly find any more bootleg or counterfeit items for sale and I was gonna give up hope when I stumbled onto this and everything is right in the world again.

If you are looking for food in Chatuchak, forget it. I strongly recommend the famous Or Tor Kor market just across the road for all kinds of fresh and cooked Thai food.

And now this. Sometimes I wish we can experience a kind of old school lawlessness back in our streets. Don't you feel that when the sun goes down and you are walking down Orchard Road or the CBD, it's just people rushing from point A to B. It's incredibly boring. There's often nothing else to see or experience on the way. I mean I been to and seen the nightlife along the streets of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. In the evening, the streets come alive with a sprinkling of unruliness, a hint of chaos, a tinge of temptation but without a sense of danger to anyone. The street hawkers, peddlers and other colorful night denizens are all genuinely there to make a living. I knew they were folks breaking the law just a couple feet away from me but I didn't unsafe at all. I'm not asking for looters or mad bombers roaming the streets at night. And I'm definitely not asking for government sanctioned 'Pedestrian Night' or organised sports events along Orchard Road and Shenton Way. I want something different from the current boring street nightlife, something to stir my senses, something that'll make me pause and do a double take at what that guy is selling from his little makeshift stall. I suppose the closest we have here are the Geylang back alleys but nah, that ain't working for me. I want something more brazen with the chance to be shocked or surprised by what I see on sale. I also believe that's what tourists would like too. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Cavalock and The Royal Iced Rice

We had more than a couple pleasant surprises while in Bangkok. One that really blew us away was khao chae or rice soaked in ice water. I had never heard of it until my Thai aunt insisted we try it as it's now the hot season and some restaurants are serving the dish.

According to Wiki, it's a dish introduced sometime back in the 19th century and is considered "Royal Thai cuisine" by some. I'm no expert on it so I'm gonna repeat what's already in the Wiki entry. A firmer variety of rice is used instead of the regular Jasmine rice you find in Thailand. The flower-scented water is carefully prepared before the rice is soaked in it. There's quite a spread of specially prepared side dishes to go with the iced rice. Mango, cucumber, fresh spring onions go into the rice which is what I did or I suppose you can also just have them without tossing them in.

When we had it for the first time for lunch in a little neighbourhood restaurant Klang Soi, it was the tempting side dishes that stole the limelight here. I specially like the little shrimp paste balls very much. The shredded beef floss and Chinese radish or chai poh were also excellent. One of the most memorable overseas meals I ever had. Here's another article about it. So the next big question is, can you find this dish anywhere in Singapore?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Cavalock and The Morning Market Meetup

Way back when I was barely out of my teens, my mom wanted to matchmake me with a Thai girl and knowing my late mom and family connections, there would most certainly be an emphasis on one who was well endowed with both brains and beauty. Of cos nothing came out of it, but it became kind of a running joke here in our tiny little apartment. Ah, always good for a laugh.

During my recent stay in Bangkok, we dropped by the famous Or Tor Kor Market. Ranked No. 4 among the Top 10 fresh markets in the world by CNN, the market is pretty cool. I know we here have our own neighbourhood wet markets in every other GRC but there is so much more here. Clean, organised, spacious and with an almost never-ending parade of local cooked and fresh food, it's the kinda market I can spend hours at. Another plus point is how few tourists there are around shopping in the market.

A most satisfying crabby lunch at Or Tor Kor Market and once again, our hand-carry luggage home was loaded with fresh Thai mangoes and other tropical fruits.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Finally! Cavalock has come back to Bangkok

Well, I'm back after a short trip to Bangkok which I guess would explain the lack of blog posts. So after more than a decade away, I was finally back in Bangkok but unlike my last trip there this wasn't a working venture but a personal one. I met up with my cousin and his elderly mom. It was quite an emotional visit as she was very close to my late aunt. A former university professor, she lives in an estate or compound right in the middle of busy Sukhumvit. I also found out that a distant uncle was recovering from an illness. Anyway, I shan't bore anyone here with all the family proceedings although recently I do wonder if there are still people reading this site.

Now I also had the pleasure of meeting my cousin's daughter who at 8-years-old is already a gifted violinist, pianist as well as competitive swimmer and tennis player. It was absolutely delightful to have her for company during meal time. One of the places my cousin brought us to was Le Dalat Restaurant, a multi-award winning Vietnamese restaurant. Wonderful ambience with a hint of French colonialism and of course, delicious food.

My favourite was the above skewered beef wrapped in veggie leaves. A little crunchy and filled with beefy goodness that pops in your mouth. The rest of the food we ordered was amazing too. I'm no expert on Vietnamese food but I do know tasty food and all this is mighty tasty!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Cavalock and The Scoop on A Scoop

I suppose you could call this a scoop on a scoop. My friend's third ice-cream parlour should be opening to the public really soon and I dropped by a couple days ago as she and her staff were getting the place ready. It's at Gillman Barracks, next to Masons restaurant.

So I got a sneak peek and was honestly impressed by not just the new shop but also by the lush and green surroundings. Definitely a different and cooler vibe than their other Creamier and Sunday Folks outlets. The place is also a lot quieter and cozier. The empty outdoor space in the above pix will be filled with tables and chairs when it's opened to the public later next week.

As for what's in store inside, I tried their work-in-progress Macadamia Tropicana ice-cream. Its got nuts, coconut and pineapple and I really like it. Other things they got planned besides new ice-cream flavours are new coffee concoctions and maybe a cake or two. Can't wait for the new Creamier to open its doors.

It has been a bit of a reunion week for me. Meeting up with other ex-colleagues from the media and advertising industry. And I dare say that all of us have stepped away from that soul-wrenching industry with absolutely no regrets. A couple of them have met with amazing success in their new careers. Am happy for them. My life as a caregiver doesn't leave me much of a career choice but I have been putting together some short horror stories. Last month I got an email that one of them was accepted for an overseas e-book anthology. Fingers crossed, we''ll see how that goes.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Cavalock and The Royal Milk Tea Inundation

Looks like a new Haagen-Dazs flavour has just hit our local supermarket fridges. Royal milk tea or rather extremely rich royal milk tea. A wee bit too strong for me and I love royal milk tea! So yah, it's nice but I prefer my milk tea ice-cream a little less regal.

Since the last couple years, my neighbourhood of Jalan Besar and North Bridge Road has been called a lot of fancy names like hipster haven or heritage area. Then every other week, some new food joint opens up around the corner. I just found out Char has moved from Guillemard Road to Jalan Besar and there's this new fried porridge stall that's just packed all the time. But what you don't read a lot about is the amount of vice activity that goes on in the area, not that I'm actually complaining. It does add a ton of colour and vibrancy to the district. And believe me, if not for them half of the eateries here would have gone out of business ages ago.

From the KTVs with the young foreign girls to the KTVs with the younger foreign girls, there's always something to see when you are out grabbing dinner in my neighbourhood. Girls from Vietnam or China in heavy make-up ta-pao-ing their dinner before heading to work. There are numerous cheap rented apartments along Jalan Besar and you can usually spot local men picking them up in the afternoon. Yes, in the afternoon.

Hey, who am I to judge? If the local uncle can find happiness in the arms of a young foreign hostess, good for him! Then on the Sundays, it's the foreign worker couples that take over the neighbourhood and void decks and parks and staircases. I dare say these are domestic workers with their East Asian boyfriends or lovers as they often form a queue outside the budget hotels near my place. Once again, who am I to judge? Although I did notice something interesting. If I do my supermarket shopping on Sundays and I see a foreign worker couple at the checkout counter in front of me, it's ALWAYS the Filipino girl who pays for the groceries (beer, instant noodles and snacks are stables). I must have seen over a dozen of them over the months and all the guys never ever pays. I just find that amusing.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cavalock and The Fugu Formulation

Dropped by the basement of ION Orchard one night and found a couple of new stalls getting ready for their big day. Saw the popular Adam Road Nasi Lemak opening soon as well as this famous import from Hokkaido, Japan. One of my favorite snacks during my last trip to Tokyo last year. The cheese tarts are heavenly and I only hope they'll keep the price reasonable and not something crazy like over S$3 each cos it's only about S$2 plus in Japan. I believe it's over S$4 for one in Hong Kong which is crazy expensive.

Oh, and I had my first bite of Fugu (puffer fish) that same evening for dinner at Ginza Kuroson at Takashimaya. Yah, I'm still alive. A little chewy and kinda reminded of Ika (squid) sushi.

Six months ago, I was at a boardgame warehouse sale that was exactly like an episode of Storage Wars. Was fun despite the cramp, dark and sweaty hot environment. Grabbed some great games. So when I heard there was gonna be another sale this Saturday today, I immediately made plans for Round 2. Ah, but there was a caveat this time.

New condition for this sale! Pay S$100 at the door for one big red plastic bag and you go in to the storage facility and fill it up with as much games as you can. That's right, it's like buying the most expensive plastic bag ever and the games are free. Hah!

The sale was to start at around 10am but I was there at 9am and I was already number 11 in line. It was a closing down sale for the online shop so after all those previous sale events, me and my friends kinda wondered if there were really anything worth reaping. I mean you gotta be one of the first few in line if you want to get something good. Fortunately I was in the first group to view and pick from the storeroom. And what great pickings they were! Best buy was the massive award-winning Dungeons and Dragons: Conquest of Nerath boardgame with a retail price of US$70, it was also the only box there. Hurling all that loot home on the train was a nightmare! Definitely over S$100 worth of games, now I wonder if I'll ever find the time and space for them.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Cavalock and The Fukubukuro Food Grab

I have always wanted to grab one of these Japanese new year lucky bags or Fukubukuro since I heard bout them over a decade ago. My friend was in Tokyo couple years ago for new year celebrations and got one from Lego and it was filled with all kinds of cool stuff worth more than twice the amount you paid for the bag. So yah, the attractive thing bout these bags are that the items in them are often worth at least 50% or way more than what you paid for the bag. And there's also the element of surprise since you never know what's in them. I mean, you would kinda know cos they do say if it's filled with food, toys, fashion etc. depending on where you are getting it.

So anyway, on Wednesday morning I headed to Isetan to grab my first Fukubukuro. Since the baker at home has rejoined the world of high-risk corporate investment, it was up to me to level up her tai-tai character. Reached Isetan Scotts less than 10 minutes before 10am and I was number 15 (out of 150) in the queue for their Food category S$68 Fukubukuro. I was expecting a longer queue outside the basement supermarket but no complaints as everything moved really quick at 10am and I was out by 10.05am.

And holy shit!!! It was a freakin' heavy bag! Must have weighed at least 10kg. I was hoping to hang around until 11am to try grab the S$88 Household category Fukubukuro or maybe drop by Kinokuniya. But no way I could do any of that lugging around a 10kg bag of mystery groceries.

Waited until after dinner when the baker at home got back from work then we ripped the bag apart. Well, here's what we got. The big ticket item were the bottles of Japanese Apple Juice and they were the ones we like! We checked online and all four bottles would cost over S$50. Plus the rest of the stuff in there, we got cash vouchers, rice, soba, candy, drinks, soap, shampoo and even a little booze. We reckoned the bag was worth twice the amount I paid for it. Pretty fun experience, reminded me of the old lucky dip presents at toy stores during Christmas.