Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cavalock and The Eve of Eve Post

Just in case, I don't have a chance to post anything in the next few days .... ;)

Happy New Year!

Well, it's the end of the year and I figured I'll just give thanks to the "good stuff" of 2014. For starters, I'm so glad that I was able to read more (analog) books and wrote more short stories than in the last couple years. One of the highlights of 2014 has gotta be my trip to Indianapolis for Gen Con and then to New York. This year, there was baking in the tiny apartment kitchen, relic hunting in the old family home and lotsa eating all across the island.

So one way I'll be stuffing my face next year is with the latest edition of the Entertainer. We got the 2014 edition as a birthday gift and we had a blast with the dining coupons in it.

One last thing I just wanna say bout eating and 2014 is something that annoyed the heck outta me. I call it the Worst Food Trend of 2014. I also call it the Seafood Smashing Syndrome or Crustacean Crushing Crisis. More than couple of such joints have opened this year. It's where you pay a ton of money for a little bag of crustacean seafood and vegetables in some mundane sauces. Empty that bag by pouring its contents all over your table before eating that messy spill with your hands. Hey, I don't mind the idea, the food's alright but what really pisses me off are the crazy exorbitant prices you pay for something so little. I know seafood ain't cheap but really, some of the prices are plain ridiculous. Nah, I'm not gonna name names here but it's pretty easy to find them online.

Hah, here's hoping that next year we'll see more good food at more reasonable prices.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cavalock and The Christmas Eve Supermart Run

It's a Christmas Eve post! And what better excuse to do another little supermarket run and see what's stacking the holiday shelves at Meidi-Ya. Hey, I just wanna say that even though I do this once in a while, I'm not astrosurfing for the Japanese supermarket. I mean I wish I could but so far no freebies have headed my way! I'll even be the first to admit that their prices aren't cheap. I simply like shopping there cos they bring in cool stuff I don't find anywhere else and I just wanna share them with folks here. ;)

Starting with something cute but way outta my price range, twelve little Japanese mikans for almost S$80. Now that can of craft beer from Japan's very first micro-brewery looks mighty tempting.


First time I'm seeing gourmet chips from India on sale here or anywhere else on the island. I'm guessing they'll go really good together with some chutney like maybe mango chutney. Hmmmm... or if one prefers a more familiar selection of English Christmas snacks, McVites and Cadbury have got that covered. Back to some Japanese goodness, Royal Milk Tea was my go-to vending machine drink whenever I'm back in Tokyo but not being a fan of dark chocolate, I'll gladly give this a pass.

Some more new wildlife pix from my 81-year-old Dad, looks like this little fella will be celebrating his first Christmas pretty soon. Have a Merry Christmas Everybody!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cavalock and The Revisitation Wish List

This here is probably the hottest joint in town right now and I'm talking bout Sacha & Sons New York Deli at the Mandarin Gallery, where Wild Honey used to be. Alright take it easy, the popular brunch restaurant is still around, they just moved a unit away. So anyway, having heard of a New York deli opening here and me missing my chance to drop by one during my last visit to the Big Apple, I knew where I was gonna be having my lunch that afternoon.

Ordered the corned beef reuben with swiss cheese. Loved every bite of it including the pickles. Can't wait to try the rest of the menu cos everything sure looks good especially the latkes, chopped liver and matzo balls. I guess I'll be saying good-bye to Nassim Hill Bakery for now. Hah! Was fun while it lasted!

Hey, since it's almost the end of the year, I thought I'll do a Top 5 pick of my favourite or most memorable joints of the year. Places with great food that I enjoyed this year and where I would certainly hope to visit again next year. There's the just mentioned Sacha & Sons. Next up is the always-crowded Sunday Folks for their soft-serve desserts and I'm not saying this cos it's my friend's place who happened to also really love the Christmas fruitcakes from our tiny apartment kitchen! Then there's the recently discovered Japanese bakery Boulangerie Asanoya, can't wait to have coffee there again. Cicheti has a new menu that has me drooling over their gnocchi. Last pick is kinda difficult cos it's a toss between a Japanese restaurant or a steak house. Flipped the coin, rolled the dice and Bedrock Bar and Grill is where I hope to have dinner once more.

Cool news for the week! I finally found the ballpoint refills for my late uncle's pens. The pens are pretty old and most stationery shops like Kinokuniya no longer stock these thin refills anymore. I really like them, light-weight and they got a good balance. Thank the stars for Tokyu Hands and their fantastic pen supply selection. I also purchased a S$170 Flash Heroclix brick set (but not from Tokyu Hands!) and as a lifelong fan of the original Scarlet Speedster, I just can't get enough of the figures below that I pulled out of the 10 booster boxes. Heh, I bet what I just wrote made absolutely no sense to most of you reading this. Oh well, that's me. Once a geek, always a geek.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cavalock and The Cocktail Beer Catchup

I may be a little late to the world of Japanese cocktail beers but I certainly tried to make up for lost time over the weekend with two drink sessions. Calpis and beer, who knew such a heavenly combination would blow me away like it did at Japanese restaurant Azmaya over at Robertson Quay. The unique taste of calpis really came through but it didn't overpower the Asahi beer. Simply loved it especially with the never-ending all-you-eat parade of shabu shabu wagyu beef and pork.

Also managed to drop by Ginza Lion on the ground floor of the revamped Suntec City Tower Four. It's a Japanese-styled German bar or maybe a German-styled Japanese restaurant? Anyway spotted this on the menu and I just had to give it a shot. Half and half, Japanese Sapporo beer mixed in with German dark beer. I guess if the Axis won WWII, this would probably be the national drink. Well, the dark European brew definitely overwhelmed the lighter Japanese beer which was alright but it didn't deliver the extra kick I was kinda hoping for from this hybrid.

It's that time of the year again so I thought I would share something I found in the old family home that was really weird and it's Christmas-related too! Couldn't believe me eyes when I found a small stack of these family Christmas cards featuring my late mom, aunt and uncle when they were still really young. I mean who in this part of the world does family portrait Christmas cards anyway?!? Or was it a common thing back then? The only time I saw cards like these were on sitcoms and the Kardashians. Just one of the many bizarre discoveries in the old family home.  

After all the discoveries in the old family home, I have finally decided to chronicle the more unusual and unexplainable happenings. I have posted this on Facebook last week and the reactions have so far been rather encouraging. The following is a actual incident that happened on an afternoon when I was alone.

My body stiffened with a jolt as my eyes slowly opened and I tried desperately to recall what exactly happened to me. Sitting upright in a dusty dining room chair in the old family home, the last thing I remembered was curiously eyeing the unusual white stoned ring that I uncovered in the drawer of an antique dressing table. No larger than an innocent garden pea, the cloudy white stone sat majestically in the center setting. Judging by its oddly set prongs and knowing a bit about my family home’s history, I dare say that it was crafted around the end of the 19th century.

It was perhaps in an earlier moment of folly that I dared grasp the ring and stared into its white murky center stone. Caressing it between my fingers, the ring grew ominously colder with each passing moment. As I looked closer at the centerpiece, the stone appeared to shift and stir as if alive. A grey whirling cloud then emerged to descend in front of me and that was all I could remember. 

I then glanced at my watch and noticed that almost an hour had unaccountably vanished from my memory, for I had absolutely no recollection of what transpired during that period of time. The ring was on the old dining table when I regained control of my senses. I resisted the urge to touch it again but I knew the only way to remember the events of that missing hour was to enter whatever accursed realms the ring had led me to. I carefully picked it up. Part of me inexplicably knew that it would be sheer madness to actually attempt to wear the ring.

But this time, I was prepared. I set the alarm in my watch to ring five minutes later, hoping that it would shock me back from where or what awaited me. Gingerly holding the band between my fingers, I drew my breath in sharply before peering into the pale abyss that rested in the center of the ring. The room began to sway slowly from side to side, followed by the appearance of the familiar grey cloud hovering towards me like a shroud.

I immediately fortified my thoughts as a cascade of bizarre images flooded my mind. These were memories but they belonged to a life that I did not lived.

As I stood transfixed in the cloud, a pantheon of brazen sounds and colors soon took over and I remember screaming as loud as I humanly could. But the sound I made was nothing less than an inhuman howl, an unholy shriek that I never imagined possible. I shut my eyes again and when I opened them, I found myself in an ivory chamber kneeling before a trio of towering dark figures. Numerous tiny orbs floated across the hall, lighting it up in a kaleidoscope of unearthly hues.

The air around me was cold, ancient yet strangely familiar. I instinctively looked up at my three ominous hosts. Their tall and shapeless wavering forms made it almost impossible to distinguish them apart; one loomed closer to me while extending an appendage. As it whirled into view, I could tell that it was no human arm that was advancing towards me. It was a long brown creeping tentacle seeking its prey. My natural instinct was to recoil instantly but I could not move my legs nor feel them at all! Once again, I wanted to utter a cry of alarm but this time no sound, human or otherwise escaped me.

I turned away as fast as I could. My gaze lowered towards the polished white flooring and that was when my last remaining sliver of sanity abandoned me. The reflection I saw was not of any creature that has walked this Earth for over a hundred millenniums before the coming of Man. In place of any visage resembling a human face was a disturbing cyclopean mass of gelatinous green and yellow flesh. A single large white eyestalk blinked silently back at me.

Through whatever remaining senses I possess, the approaching tentacle behind me marked me with an evil sense of fear and loathing. In what may have been a final act of bravado, I decided to face my otherworldly challenger. I spun around, in time to face the impending appendage. It slithered towards me at an inhuman speed, its icy tip instantly attaching itself to my lone pale eye. A massive bolt of pain pierced through my alien body as the tentacle ripped my eye from me. And in that agonizing instance, I knew what it was; I finally understood what the outlandish images or memories are all about.

“The eye! My eye! The stone in the ring! They are one and the same!” I wanted so much to exclaim that revelation but it was naturally impossible. Instead of being blinded by its actions, I could still bear witness to the ungodly events that continued to unfold before me.

It was not unlike an eerie out-of-body experience as I could now view my former shapeless form lying motionless and the three nefarious figures clustering together. Loud sounds and noises began to erupt from all three, a sinister chorus of bestial growls, hisses and wailing. Their strange shadowy bodies commenced to shift and bend in a series of bizarre contortions in rhythm with their macabre chants. The unnerving ritual was truly such a vile sight that no sane person should ever be made to watch. Still in the firm lethal grip of the murderous tentacle, the white stone began to burn with a hellish glow.

From the center of the domed ceiling emerged a massive hideous black vortex. The devilish chanting continued to echo throughout the chamber as the spinning horror expanded to blanket the entire ceiling. I directed my attention towards the vortex and out of that sinister void extended a gigantic monstrous clawed hand. Four black gleaming sharp claws reaching deliberately down at the upstretched tentacle with the now blazing white stone. It was pure agony to maintain any semblance of sanity at this point. I could not possibly fathom what this all meant except for the overwhelming stench of primal malevolence and a foreboding of even fouler deeds.

Stretching out of the vortex, the claws were now within reach of its sacred prize when it inexplicably froze in midair. Then came the most hellish moment of all when it slowly turned to my direction. Even in my incorporeal form, I knew that it could somehow sense my disembodied presence, an outsider from a different time and dimension who reeked of fear and dread. In that single terrifying instance, I saw in the black palm of that colossal clawed hand was a single blood red eye glaring at me.

When just as all hope seemed to have forsaken me, there came a shrill buzzing sound from nowhere. The piercing noise began to crescendo and almost immediately, the nightmarish scene in front of me started to dissipate into a fiery ball of blinding light. My last vivid vision was the giant crimson eye almost engulfing me before everything became a maddening fusion of red and white inferno. Then came the silence.

It felt like an eternity before I woke up to the sound of my alarm watch buzzing mere inches from my face, as I lay slumped on the dining table. That recognizable tune was what shocked me from an otherwise heinous fate. An anchor to my own time and world, its audible intrusion must have set off an unnatural chain reaction of sorts. Now how do I know this, I could not speculate nor do I wish to comprehend the metaphysics behind my escape for my senses were still reeling from it all.

Just as I was about to climb out of my chair, I spied the white stoned ring resting under the table. It must have slipped out of my hand when I lost consciousness. Nervously, I bent down to retrieve it. It now felt warm to the touch and as hard I tried, I knew I couldn’t resist glimpsing at the stone one final time. And that was when I saw the harrowing truth.

For instead of a pure white centerpiece there appeared a speck of malignant red in the stone. The same evil hue as the scarlet eye that stalked me across time and space!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Cavalock and The Home-Baked Edition Part Deux

Now there's this new pie shop in town called Pie Face and I pass by their Bugis shop almost every day. Thing is, every time I'm in the neighbourhood, the joint is almost always empty. I'm not sure if at this rate, they are gonna survive here for long. I have seen their pies but have not bought any yet. I guess they do look rather pricy ($4.90 to $5.20 I believe) and it's going to take way more than a cute smiley face to get me to buy one. And comments from friends who have tried them range from "it's no big deal" to "Don's pies are better value for money".

So the baker in the house decided to bake our very own meat pies right in our tiny apartment kitchen and give them free to our friends! Well, they sure appreciate them chicken pies and wagyu beef pies when we started handing them out over the weekend after that.

Here's the last iced cookie bake for the year! The Hello Kitty cookies were bound for a little girl's party and I thought I'll just share some of the pix here. Well, it's this year's last cookie cos our tiny apartment kitchen is gonna be busy with our annual boozy Christmas fruitcake bake!

Here's something I thought was rather amusing that I found in the old family home. Looks like when my late uncle was working in New York back in the 1970s he kinda missed home cooked food and had to settle for these take-outs. All the Chinese restaurant menus are in incredibly good condition and they provide a truly fascinating insight into the kind of Chinese food New Yorkers were eating back then. I bet a lot has changed since then and not just the price tags. These days with almost everyone being so much more knowledgeable about international cuisine, I suspect the names as well as the recipes you see below would have evolved to something a little more "authentic".

Monday, December 01, 2014

Cavalock and The Zero Beer Alternative

Been awhile since I did a supermarket roundup, so here's a double visit to two instead of just my usual lone pilgrimage to Meidi-Ya. Now at Cold Storage I spotted these rather unusual cans of Japanese beers. They say 0% alcohol right? But they were stacked right next to the regular beers in the alcohol aisle. So like most normal human beings, my million-dollar question is ... can I buy them for a kid's party??? I'll be the most popular adult there, handing them out to all the ten-year-olds!

Well, there's always Plan B if I can't bring the 0% booze beer to the party. Japanese cream soda from Meidi-Ya supermarket. First time seeing them on sale here, I reckon the melon one would make a good pairing with some Japanese melon ice cream. Introducing melon ice-cream soda!

One sure way to get my attention is to slap a 'limited edition' label on any product. These certainly look interesting. Unfortunately my aversion towards blue cheese prevented me from grabbing a bag of stilton and port, nor am I exactly a big salsa fan. And now protein shakes?!? Not something I expected to find in a supermarket here.

Some new shots by my 81-year-old Dad while he was at the local Bird Park last week. Cute kingfisher. He's actually not a resident of the Park and instead feeds on the leftovers after each bird show. Anyway, remember the night jars that I posted last month? According to my Dad, some crazy lady came and started poking the nestlings with a stick, trying to move them so that she could get a good shot of them. He heard that the lady or someone else moved the night jar mom and her nestlings, and they aren't at the usual spot anymore.

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.