Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cavalock and The Ancient Urn of Lore

Just when I thought the old family house no longer held any more arcane surprises for me. It was a dreary morning when I decided to finally lift the metal lid off the huge clay urn that has been sitting silently in a corner of the kitchen wash area since I was born. I honestly expected it to be bare or perhaps filled with a shattering of random junk.

A thin layer of decades-old dirt gently rolled off the metal lid as I lifted it and peered into the urn. An almost primeval and unholy stench loomed over the enormous artefact. What greeted me within was certainly not what I had expected. Filled to the brim were dozens of archaic glass bottles of unearthly shapes. Cautiously, my hands reached into the mouth of the vast urn and lifted out more dusty cider jars and condiment vials of varied sizes. Most were immediately discarded into large black trash bags. But lurking among the various used bottles and other trash in the colossal vessel were an assemblage of vintage glassware as well as chinaware dating back to at least four decades ago. Still wrapped in old plastic bags and newspaper, they were delicately removed from the urn and carried into the kitchen.

They may pale in comparison to the otherworldly eldritch artefacts that I have uncovered elsewhere in this tired dwelling, but these newfound treasures were a welcome glimpse into a forgotten past.

After posting these pix and others on my Facebook, the PMs came almost immediately! Quite a few were already reserved by the end of the day. Well, the plates, glassware and made-in-UK tureens may be old but I'm quite sure they were never used as my family would have placed them in the kitchen if they were.

I especially like this retro glass bottle as it's a nice handy size and it's got the words 'JUICE' and 'WATER' embossed on the sides, as well as measurement indicators. The set of six "untied" Chinese bowls below were the first things to be snapped up on Facebook. You sure don't see shops selling them like that anymore and I guess it does show that they were never utilised in the first place.

It's time for my favorite annual National Day tradition! If you have been following my blog, you might have noticed that EVERY YEAR since I started this, this is something I really look forward to, more than any parade or fireworks display. This year, I was treated to a double wash pole patriot salute! How awesome is this?!?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cavalock and The Home-Grown Charme Offensive

It all started not too long ago, a friend and local food blogger gave us an intriguing bottle of Kirsch-soaked cherries from France. Well, the baker in the family was fortunate enough to had been a guest at the popular Patisserie Hidemi Sugino in Japan recently. I was told that one of the highlights of that visit was the irresistible Charme, a black forest entremet made with dark chocolate and kirsch soaked cherries.

It just so happens that we already have Sugino's Japanese recipe book at home so of cos, it's a no brainer what's gonna happen next. All the photos you see here were snapped in our tiny apartment kitchen and really, that's all I did. The self-taught pastry chef in the family did all the hard work. Yes, all those fancy pastries you see in books can replicated at home! Divided the cake up and delivered the slices to friends and everyone loved it. It was perfectly light and soft, the chocolate and kirsch weren't too overpowering either. Simply divine for a home-made dessert.  

All right, time for a rant now. So the authorities are going to start blocking all the download sites pretty soon. I have no problem paying for online content IF ONLY the authorities would stop censoring shows. Case in point, my friend watched an episode of Arrow on one of our state-run cable channels recently. Arrow is a series based on the crime-fighting adventures of DC Comics hero Green Arrow. That particular episode featured the main heroine Black Canary's reunion with her former lover, the female assassin Nyssa who is also that week's villain. Well, my friend watched it at home and becos it was so heavily censored, he had a totally different understanding of that episode. There was no nudity (it's a Warner Bros show!) but all the character dynamics and relationship scenes between the two female stars were censored away. Thus leading my friend to believe that in the final scene the reason why they didn't kill each other was becos of an earlier employer-employee relationship!

Yah, it was hilarious when I told him what really happened but seriously, that is one of the reasons why people here will continue to download stuff. Why should I or anyone else pay good money for damaged or censored goods in the first place. I don't want censorship that is so extensive that it completely distorts a storyline. It's just unacceptable.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cavalock and The Return of The Hoppit!

By now, I'm pretty sure lotsa folks have tried the local dishes by 2 Chefs or at least heard of them. Well, it was finally my turn to drop by their place at Sin Ming Drive recently and as expected it was packed. Fortunately we made reservations and were immediately ushered to a table for six in the middle of the kopi tiam. Everyone's favourite was the incredibly meaty XO Claypot Red Grouper and the fragrant XO sauce definitely helped elevate the whole dish to a whole new level.

I now understand what the hype is about. It wasn't easy finding a dish we didn't like. From clockwise, that tempting plate of garlic-filled drunken cockles was mine and all mine, then you got the salted egg ribs, spinach and century eggs, and their signature butter pork ribs. All that plus a couple of other dishes for less than S$130. From where I come from, that's a good deal.

Time for a little Turnback Thursday post with this vintage British boardgame from 1974. All the components are almost in pristine condition as I hardly touched although I do have vague memories of playing a game or two with my late aunt. The colorful plastic pieces really bring the game alive. Hoppit! is a good game that's more fun when played with a bigger group. A quick check online and it's like going for USD50 on ebay. Yikes!!!

Spotted at a discount stall in my neighbourhood. Nope, it's a not a typo but a little knockout of a BOSS fragrance. Looks like they got the right font and 'boos' just sounds so cute, sure hope it smells good. By the way, I'm on Twitter too @cavalock if anyone's interested.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Cavalock and The Lego Joker's Last Laugh

Probably what gets me more excited than a new game or book store opening here is a new Japanese dessert outlet setting up shop in my neighbourhood. So one of the new tenants in the renovated Bugis Junction basement is Tai Parfait from Japan. It's the familiar fish-shaped Japanese pancake called Taiyaki, that's usually packed with your choice of custard, matcha, red bean or chocolate.

Tai-Parfait Kinako Brown Sugar

The difference is that the Taiyaki fishes here are shaped with their gaping mouths wide open so you can ... what else but stuff more sweet creamy goodness into it! You get to choose from fruits like bananas to ice-cream and brown sugar. I had the above Kinako and brown sugar which seemed just a little too little if you know what I mean. It came with a tiny ball of ice-cream and a light drizzle of brown sugar. It was smooth and satisfying but I had expected more. But of cos it was still a pleasant treat, the almost magical combination of warm pancake and cold sweet toppings makes it feel like you are biting into a cool dessert carnival.

Tai-Parfait Matcha and Azuki

Besides the Taiyaki, there are also milkshakes and frappucino to choose from. I'll probably try them the next time as I thought the Taiyaki I had for S$4.50 was a wee bit too little or small for me.

HAH! And just when you thought I wouldn't be posting any more on my favourite fake Lego minifigures or I bet you the cops have done them in. Well, I think cops shouldn't spend their time chasing fake toys when there's real crime to be fought (don't taz me, bro!), like arrest illegal World Cup bookies! As usual, you can expect the Chinese factories to not only turn out fake Lego minifigures but we are talking about the ones that don't even exist ... yet!

Detailed Lego Joker minifigures based on Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger! I really don't see Lego producing these officially in the near future but there you go, thank you Chinese factories. Then you got the Hulk in his various incarnations although technically, Red Hulk is a totally different character. But really, Lego has only made a green Hulk so it's pretty neat to see excellent quality unofficial productions of Red Hulk and grey Hulk, just like in the comics.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Cavalock and The Dessert Table Experiment

We were extremely fortunate and privileged to have had the opportunity to prepare a dessert table recently and I thought I'll just share some shots of the event. Everything you see here was single-handedly baked (not by me!) from our tiny apartment kitchen.

Well, it was an office afternoon tea party for about 80 people. And you are looking at lemon tarts, raspberry and salted caramel macaroons, and three different kinds of individually-packed cookies (oatmeal raisins, chocolate chunk and chocolate brownie). The cakes include butter, marble, lemon poppyseed and chocolate prune.

Whew! I'm glad to say that the after-party feedback was extremely positive. A lot of hard work although my role was restricted to merely buying ingredients, carrying stuff and packing the individual cookies in their bags. ;)

So I hear that my favorite store in Japan, Tokyu Hands is set to open a little outlet right here on the island. Am I excited? A little but I'm more wary than anything else. They have everything! But it's those quirky oh-so-Japanese items they have on sale that made Tokyu Hands really stand out for me, and I have blogged about them several times like here and here although I gotta apologise bout the pix being all gone since its been a really long time ago. Some of the things I got from their giant Shinjuku outlet are a handful of crazy Japanese dice and a special carrier for your wet umbrella. They got a section for all kinds of cool items related to the Japanese rail system and I bought this coin bank that whenever you drop a coin, it plays a different JR-Yamamoto Line station jingle! The tiny maid bondage phone strap I got for my old Sony phone now hangs from my bag and it's still a great conversation starter ... for all the wrong reasons. Heh!

Now I don't really picture them opening a section promoting the JR Line nor do I see myself browsing through their crazy dice shelf. Chances are they gotta bring in the 'normal' gadgets and stuff to make a buck or two. But damn! I really, really hope they'll have the mini-yakitori grill for sale!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cavalock and The Guardians of The Galaxy Heroclix Sneaks

It's that time of the month again when I find myself wandering like a dazed foodie in the basement of Liang Court and stumbling into my favourite supermarket Meidi-Ya. I said it before, it's like a magical portal to another country cos there are always stuff in there that you just don't see in other local grocery stores. First thing that caught my eye were these almond milk bottles. They looked so sturdy, they kinda remind me of bowling pins. Part of me wanted to start hitting folks with them! Hah!

Ale that's brewed from rosemary and rosemary honey. I can't imagine how sweet it would be but as tempting as it sounds, there's nothing worse than a drunken caregiver so I'll pass for now. ;)

If I had known they had these frozen Japanese waffles for sale, I wouldn't had gone to McDonald's just so I could use my Japanese maple honey.

When I was a kid, me late mom would always serve McVitie's Digestives for tea. Wasn't that crazy about them but I still ate them almost all the time. Nice to see that they got these little cute gingerbread men now.

All right, time to take a break from food and dive into some comic book gaming geekery! Really glad that I got back into playing Heroclix after like a decade. After coming in second in my first tourney, history repeated itself again when I got second in two weeks later. Prize was a buncha of well-deserved mystic figures. Was also damn lucky to pick this chase Nimrod figure out of X-Men: Days of Future Past pack. A really rare figure, I heard it's one in two gravity feed boxes.

Speaking of gravity feed packs, looks like shops here have released the new Heroclix Guardians of the Galaxy packs! Interesting to see that the Spaceknights are included but of cos no Rom. The detail in the Captain Marvel figure is amazing. Bought five Guardians of the Galaxy Heroclix comic book version packs and got Captain Marvel, Starlord, Gamora, a Spaceknight and a Chitauri soldier.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cavalock and The Fiorentina Flashback

When I first heard of La Barca Ristorante last week, it immediately brought back memories of my trip to Tuscany which certainly felt like a lifetime ago. Their tagline promised "a taste of Tuscany in Singapore" so I figured why not give it a shot?

Was there on a weekday night and the joint was almost deserted which is fine with me as I actually prefer this to a packed noisy restaurant. Started with a plate of cold cuts and cheeses like Burrata and Pecorino, followed by a couple of pizzas, one of which they forgot the parma ham topping. Anyway, they were alright but nothing really worth writing home about.

Now this is what I came for. Their much-hyped traditional Fiorentina and I gotta say it sure as hell felt like I was back in freakin' Florence again. Yup, transported back via a mouthful of the finest piece of beefsteak around. So what we had was the traditional Fiorentina with truffle sauce, served with roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach. The Wagyu beef from Australia comes with a marbling score of 3 - 4 and is served medium rare. Really impressed at how soft and tender the beef was and they even had a hot plate if you like it a little more well done. I definitely didn't need that at all as I felt the medium rare was perfect in every way. Totally recommended for all meat lovers.

So after my last medical checkup, I have been working out a bit and a friend recommended I get a fitness bracelet to monitor my daily walking routine and ... this is the cool part! ... tracking my sleeping patterns. Yah, I read the literature on them and there are plenty out there that are pretty skeptical bout how accurate they are. But I'm cool with it. I got the UP by Jawbone and it was on sale at S$159 cos a newer more expensive Bluetooth model was just released. Paid for it using my Citibank points so it was quite a sweet deal at just S$59.

The darker blue bars are when I was in deep or sound sleep while the lighter ones denote light sleep. The orange periods are when I was awake. I think they are quite accurate as I do remember getting up at around those times. I guess it's kinda fun to wake up every morning to see how well you slept the previous nite. Check out my crazy sleep pattens!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cavalock and One Week in Sillypore 10

Another dreary week has slipped by and although it wasn't exactly a bland one, it was rather a chore to recall a single event or occurrence that really stood out. Besides my usual caregiving duties, I did find time to join my gaming friends for dinner at the popular Keng Eng Kee restaurant at Bukit Merah. Was my first time having their signature 'Wat Tan' Hor Fun and Braised Liver Claypot and they were as good as I expected them to be. You can't really taste the eggs after mixing them up with the noodles and the livers weren't too chewy. Don't bother with the crabs, I think the ones at Mellben and No Sighboard are much better.

Went rampaging through the old family home again and found these nuggets from the 1970s. Remember bookmarks?

I have no idea how these work but for a S$2 Daiso product, it's pretty cool in a weird snake-oil-salesman kinda way. Do they work like regular glasses too?

On my way out on Saturday for another Heroclix tournament, felt the wind bellowing, looked up and realised that I was at ground zero of an Asgardian-level 2 storm.

Bought the Back to the Future Lego set months ago and finally found the time (and mood) to put it together. Took me a little less three hours to build it. It's really neat cos you can mod the car into three  different versions from each movie. I'll post the pix next time. Yes, I know it's a shameless effort to get readers to return to this blog but ... :(

Spent last Monday afternoon with my 80-year-old Dad going through his latest wildlife photos and I thought this was a pretty cool shot. He said there are two nestlings in there and has been staking out the nest for about a week. I still think someone his age should just take it real easy and not criss-cross the island every morning at the break of dawn while lugging a ton of camera equipment.

Well, it's World Cup time again and we actually had an order of cookies a couple weeks ago for a children's party and came up with this. More than a few of my friends are betting away like crazy every day now and they even created a Whatsapp chatroom for it. I'm the only guy in it who doesn't watch or bet on any of the matches but it's fun to read their (very) early morning chats on who to bet on. If you had read my earlier post, you would know I was betting quite heavily on soccer years ago. Not something I'm terribly proud of but I must say it was remarkably easy for me to quit. Don't really understand why other people have trouble quitting.