Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cavalock and The Soft-Serve Supremacy

I first heard of my friend opening another joint several months ago. Her first little eatery or ice-cream parlour as I like to call it, Creamier, is already pretty popular and almost always packed. Called Sunday Folks, the new place opened couple weeks ago and is located right in the middle of Chip Bee Gardens in Holland Village.

For starters, Sunday Folks is much bigger and more spacious than Creamier. I kinda liked how it feels more like a proper restaurant than a hipster cafe. It's a different dessert concept although it's still another place to try their famous waffles if you haven't already had it. But here in the west, you get their new blend of soft-serve instead of the regular ice-cream that they serve at Creamier. An interesting change but I actually prefer the regular scoops cos I thought the soft-serve melted a little too fast. But I still wanna try all six soft-serve flavours (salted gula melaka, dark chocolate, Earl Grey lavender, roasted pistachio, Madagascar vanilla and summer strawberries) one day.

They also got a whole buncha other kinds of tempting desserts such as matcha cakes as well as rows of handmade toppings to choose from, like marshmallows and sesame thins for their soft-serve. In fact, I snapped quite a few shots of the restaurant but they didn't really do the place justice cos of the lighting and wrong angles. Maybe next time.

So my 80-year-old Dad has discovered a new park to shoot some birds. Here are some shots he took at Bishan Park recently. Not really similar to his previous photos, these birds seem rather contented to just perch around and let him snap away.

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!