Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cavalock and The Mystery of The Lovelorn Letters

There was no way I could resist heading to the newest Japanese bakery in town especially when it's only one train stop away from my apartment. Located on the ground floor of Wilby Central along Queen Street, Boulangerie Asanoya is a pretty big and spacious joint. Still spanking new and I especially like the silent yet soothing video projections of sakura or cherry blossoms on the white walls. Dropped by after lunch on a rainy weekday afternoon and had my heart (or stomach) set on their popular green tea chocolate cube. Saw a buncha mouthwatering photos of it online with all that green tea custard oozing outta it and I was sold. Unfortunately they were all sold out so I had the caramel apple cube instead.

Well, its got caramel and apples, two things I really like so it's a no brainer. Sliced it right down the middle and was sorta disappointed at how dry it appeared. But we all know how looks can be deceiving. That first mouthful of cake was moist, totally delicious and with nice chucks of apples in it. Not too sweet and I like the sprinkle of almonds and walnut topping. 

There's wine too and their dessert menu is a selection of pastries paired with a scoop of Haagen Dazs ice-cream. I was also kinda intrigued by the garlic, maple and anchovy butter spreads that were on sale. Might pick up a bottle to try them on some crackers or bread next time. They got a nice setup going here and I would definitely come back again.

So I thought maybe I oughta take a break from posting stuff from the old family home cos gawd knows there's more. Besides hunting for vintage artefacts from my family's past, I'm still analog gaming at least twice a week with the guys, three if I'm lucky. Boardgaming has again been in the news lately, people actually thinking it's a new thing when it has been around for decades. You can read about it here and here.

Right now, I'm hooked on boadrgames Splendor and Machi Koro, two very simple set collection games where you score points by collecting colors or cards. On Friday nights, we try to continue our Pathfinder RPG campaign and that's really fun. I play a black female Crusader who's the tank and healer in the party. On some Saturday afternoons, it's time for Heroclix with me and my Green Lantern Corps. The newest game I'm playing right now is Warhammer Conquest Living Card Game, that's set in the popular Warhammer 40K universe. Not bad, and I much prefer it to the Star Wars Living Card Game (which I have already stopped playing) by the same company, Fantasy Flight Games. And I'm still looking for players so I can finally crack open my Arkham Horror set.

The last time I talked about my hobbies and games, I went on a little rant about how overpriced they are here. I still can't believe that our local game shops are charging at least over 3X the official US retail price. If you think the Sim Lim shops are bad, well, there are a couple of geek boardgame and miniature gaming shops around town that are in my opinion, just as bad when it comes to brazenly overhanging customers. All the more reason for gamers to shop online as far as I'm concerned.

Ah hell, who am I kidding! ;) I'm not gonna take a break from chronicling the retro relics in my old family home. Four months ago, while clearing out my late uncle's desk drawers, I uncovered a small stack of what appears to be lovelorn letters that were written at least 60 years ago by an unknown young lady. It's still debatable as to which of my late uncles' the letters were written to. The identity of the writer remains a mystery as her name was torn out of the letters. I suppose you could say that was a classy move, non?

I hope you can get a bigger or closer look at the letters cos they are extremely well-written, not unlike something you would expect from a Jane Austin novel. I'm absolutely fascinated that a young lady back then could pen such heart-wrenching letters as well as possess such excellent penmanship. Truly a lost art in today's society. You got to remember that 1950s and 60s Singapore ain't like London or New York of the same period. Not many locals spoke English and there were most likely more kampongs than tall buildings around the island. And I suppose today's breakups are all done through Whatsapp too or if you are lucky, an email.

She's definitely an educated person. I am guessing that back then one doesn't exactly encounter many young ladies who could express their feelings so eloquently. She was probably a teacher or maybe even a university student. I guess the idea of someone actually letting his or her emotions completely take over their lives just seem so alien to me. With today's spotlight on feminism and equal rights, I doubt any strong modern woman would allow herself such an outpouring of emotions. Now even though she and my uncle never got together, I do hope that she has found the happiness she deserves.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cavalock and The Mirrored Hallows of Lloyd Manor

It's that time of the year again when straying outdoors without an umbrella is almost unthinkable. Monsoon season is upon us and although the weather may appear dreary, a part of me does look forward to a cooler climate change and the coming holiday season is always an excuse to revisit my Christmas playlist. Despite the constant afternoon drizzle, we did managed to drop by Mezza9 at Hyatt Hotel for lunch just the other day.

Was in the mood for something Japanese that day so the bento box was an obvious choice. I was also a little hungrier than usual, well, an entire morning spent at the old family home rampaging through a ton of vintage curios does tend to whet one's appetite. So I chose the yakitori pork set as well. Glad I did too cos it certainly saved me from an otherwise mediocre lunch. The S$44 bento set wasn't bad but just rather reminiscent of any other bento set that one can get for half the price. Now the yakitori pork set on the other hand was great. It arrived on a little smoking charcoal grill, and every morsel of skewered pork was delicious and so were the mushrooms, corn and asparagus. Will definitely try something else on their lunch menu on my next visit, just not that bento set again.

So remember my childhood teddy bear that I found in the old family home? I managed to do a recording of the lullaby using my iPhone (in the old family home itself!). Like I said, the audio is still quite crisp and clear even after all these decades. Best listened to at night, alone with the lights turned off.

Another haunting remnant from the old family home is this century-old marble top dressing table. On evenings when the air is deathly still, one can may catch more than a faint whiff of sweet almond oil and rosewater scent. An unnatural lingering reminder of an early Victorian embellishment that continues to lend an unholy presence in the now dusty bed chamber.

If one dares peer into the mirror, never look away from one's reflection. For the sake of one's sanity, stay strong in one's gaze. Do not glance at the shadowy form that shimmers in the corner of one's view for some say that all it takes is for an innocent soul to glimpse its eldritch shade, and to grant it the freedom it craves.

Place one's palm on its cold marble top and do not be alarmed when on rare occasions, one would actually feel the hard surface gently pulsating with life. Mayhap an unnatural resemblance to life as we know it but still a grim reminder to who or what may actually reside within the hallowed mirror.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Cavalock and The Cross Border Cookie Raid

Slipping across the border was such a blast the last time that we decided to do it again! So there we were, back in Tijuana Johor Bahru on a sunny Wednesday morning. Our first stop was the massive supermarket Tesco at KSL mall and as expected, we were treated to several rather interesting tidbits that I believe one cannot find back home. We have seen their regular butter cookies sold here but Kjeldsen's appears to have a more impressive selection available in neighboring Mexico Malaysia.

Check this out. Hazelnut, pistachio nut and macadamia nut cookies from Denmark. Pretty neat, eh? Betcha don't see them at your local Fairprice or Cold Storage. Got a tin of pistachio nut cookies for only about S$8 plus. Had several for tea and I'm afraid it was way more chocolate chips than pistachio nuts. They weren't bad but not as nutty as I would have liked.

Also spotted at Tesco were these handy Kewpie salad dressing bottles. Now I have spotted their roasted sesame dressing on sale at Cold Storage here for over five bucks but not these two. According to their website, there is still an elusive sesame soy sauce that I have yet to encounter. I like their famous Japanese mayo dressing but I'm not so sure bout these.

Lunch was just across the road from KSL mall at the popular Soon Soon Heng bak kut teh restaurant. You can tell it's a crowd favourite cos it was already packed with groups of senior citizens from Singapore even before noon. I especially like how one can choose from an array of delectable ingredients like meatballs, mushrooms, liver etc. and then customise your very own bak kut teh soup. And yes, it's the darker, more herbal and certainly more flavorful Malaysian broth that I have yet to find back home.

With the spotlight on the Ebola scare in New York City, I thought I'll just share some stuff I found in the old family home. My late uncle's health papers from his stay in New York during the 1970s. I definitely wasn't handed one of those Health Alert Notice cards when I was in the Big Apple a few months ago. The retro vaccination booklets (yes, I actually have an extra blank copy!) are pretty awesome. I got kinda choked up looking at the World Trade Centre ones.


Then there's this white envelope filled with crisp two-dollar bills from 1976 that was tucked in the back of my late uncle's desk. Go figure. I swear to gawd the bizarre things I continue to find in the old family home never fails to amaze me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Cavalock and The Rise of The Nightjars

Its been way too long since I had a Japanese meal that I had actually enjoyed. Well, thank the stars I stumbled onto the new Saboten restaurant at 313@Somerset last weekend. With over 500 cutlet stores around the world, I guess it's safe to say they know a thing or two bout serving crispy Japanese tonkatsu dishes.

Sure they got the unlimited cabbage and rice servings that most other tonkatsu joints have as well, but it's their sesame dressing that made the common cabbage simply irresistible. There's a bottle of it and another bottle of orange peel dressing at each table so you could pretty much douse your cabbage shreds with as much of it as you like. And I sure as hell liked it a lot. 

So right now they are having an extremely tempting oyster promotion and if you know me, you'll understand that there is no freakin' way I can turn down cheap oysters. Ordered the above oyster and tenderloin set, and like I said earlier, it was the best Japanese meal I had in a long while. The pork tenderloin was ... well, for lack of a better word, remarkably tender. The oysters were gratifying too but that tenderloin was just too damn good especially after dipping each crispy slice in their dark luscious tonkatsu sauce.

A nightjar. That's what it is. Never seen or even heard of one until my 81-year-old Dad showed his latest wildlife shots to me about a week ago. He knew what it was. I helped him sort and then upload/download about 2,000 shots of the tiny mommy nightjar and her two nestlings several days ago. Look likes he spent the last couple weeks staking out the nest from before the little ones were hatched until they were scurrying around mommy nightjar. There were more than a few decent shots in the lot, figured I'll post some of them here. I guess it shows that if you keep your eyes open you can spot all kinds of pretty cool or weird stuff on this little island.