Friday, December 27, 2019

Cavalock and The December Brisket Bulletin

Happy Holidays!!!

A little post Christmas post and I know I'm late. Well, the home renovations are almost done except for the mirror and wooden dining table delivery. Fortunately we hardly do any year-end entertaining, hopefully both items will arrive before the middle of January. Another reason why I haven't blog much this month (besides the renovations and falling sick) is me journaling old-school style in me Traveler's Notebook.

So I got to put together this little habit tracker for the month of December in me Traveler's Notebook. It lists my experiences and notable activities for the month and once again, cos of the renovations and falling ill, I only went to the gym three times so far. Also, only four nights of boozing. Memorable new experiences include sitting through three December movies, namely Knives Out, Jumaji: The Next Level and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. Let's see what else, hmmm... only dined at two new restaurants this month, Ippoh Tempura Bar and Osaka Yakiniku DonDon. Binged watched Netflix's The Witcher, finished listening to BBC Radio's radio drama podcast of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and am following couple of lessons on the MasterClass app. The only new boardgame I played was Marvel Champions, just one new game! That's bloody sad.

Christmas Eve dinner was at our friend's home, yah, the one that always reminds me of southern plantation living during the antebellum era. And this time, the experience was enhanced with a generous serving of an entire brisket from the one and only Franklin Barbecue all the way from Texas. Yes, our hosts were in the Lone Star state and actually queued for several hours to get their hands on a couple of frozen slabs last month. Nicely smoked by our host and it's every bite deserving of a James Beard award.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Cavalock and The Marina Bay Kaiju Hugfest

Now when you have two individuals cooped up in a tiny room for almost a month, it's no surprise that when one falls sick the other would also be out of action real soon. Yup, we are both down with a nasty cough, sore throats and all. Home renovations not done yet. Fortunately we managed to enjoy some grilled beef one rainy night last week. First time at Osaka Yakiniku DonDon along Tanjong Pagar Road. You kinda know it's a good choice when the place is already full of Japanese customers when you step in.

Reminded me a lot of one of our favourite yakiniku joints in Tokyo, Futago Yakiniku at Yoyogi. Although we do our own grilling instead of someone else doing it for us like in Tokyo. Heh. In a surprising twist, our favourite dish in a grill beef joint turned out to be the above coriander salad with nut dressing. Who knew? Well, the raw wagyu beef with salmon roe and sea urchin came in as a close second. Gotta also give a shoutout to the funky frozen ice towels that they handed to us. These were frozen freakin' solid! And nicely scented too!

Some old pix from a couple months back by me 85-year-old Dad. These big bad critters at Garden by the Bay are as close to any real kaiju action as we are ever going to get in real life.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Cavalock and The Traveler's Notebook Peek

Fingers crossed, as I'm typing this it's two more weeks of renovations to go. It has gotten to a point where I would be stumbling out of the apartment with a face full of zits and not know it cos we still have no mirrors! Far as I can tell, NOT a vampire yet.

Had lunch at Ippoh Tempura Bar earlier this week and that was the second time we ever had Tempura omakase. Small and intimate joint with a 12-seater counter. Amazing food with more than a couple of show stealers. The tasty little shrimp toast is something we could have eaten by the boatload.

Another of the Baker-at-Home's favourite was the unforgettable sea urchin tempura with caviar. Once again, we could have chucked down a dozen more. A fantastic lunch, wish it was cheaper so we could have it on a regular basis. Hah! Well, after that we headed to town to catch Knives Out at the theatre, so a very good afternoon it was.

So one of the reasons why I haven't been blogging online much these days is I have gone back to blogging old-school style or journaling for some of you artsy folks. Bought my Traveler's Notebook two Tokyo trips ago and I have been filling it up very slowly. Reminds me of me media advertising days, designing page layouts and all that. Been awhile since I flexed that little creative muscle.

The cool thing bout Traveler's Notebook is it lets you slot in different sets of pages, it's kinda like mini-booklets. And you strapped them all into your leather bound Notebook. So right now I got three separate page sets or booklets in mine. The first is daily random stuff like I'm trying some bullet journaling with fancy doodles here and there. The second is the least utilised one as it's me trying out some watercoloring but since the renovations started, my little craftwork table where I do my miniatures painting is stacked with boxes a mile high. The third section is me gaming journal where I sometimes spin a yarn or two about the fantasy battles I play. I would turn it into a (very!) short story if I play (and win!) a game like Warhammer or Magic.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Cavalock and The Tale of The Mirrorless Mansion

Three weeks in, the apartment is still under renovations which leaves me and the Baker-at-Home still huddled together like a couple of squatters in a tiny little bedroom. Mattress on the floor, no online access, open toilets, etc. Actually for all we know, we could have evolved into a couple of vampires on account that there are no mirrors anywhere in the home and we have not seen our own reflections for over a week now. I'm guessing it's only a matter of time before we staying picking lint from our hair, like a couple of apes grooming themselves on Nat Geo.

Thank goodness for friends who invite us over to their homes for amazing meals like these. A beautifully smoked ramp steak for lunch. They also did open their house to us and that we could stay over during our renovations but we declined. It's the home that makes me feel like I'm visiting an old cotton plantation in the deep south, if you know what I mean. Hah!

Here we have the neighbour's cat taking a liking to our new bathroom tiles. Other wildlife pix Got our some me 85-year-old Dad took last month. He's getting old now and doesn't have much strength these days but he still tries to head out on his own every other day.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cavalock and The Home Reno Blues

Spotted this at Meidi-Ya Liang Court supermarket a couple days back. The Blue Bottle coffee joint at Shinjuku is a familiar hangout place whenever we are Tokyo. Yah, that's pretty pricey for a little can of cold brewed coffee. And that's why we can't buy one. Hah!

Been a crazy past week as the Baker-at-Home and me start our massive 'tiny apartment' renovations. No proper toilet facilities, the kitchen is a complete no-go zone and the little study room is now a giant storeroom hence the lack of blogging or online presence. As I'm typing this, I'm trying to catch up on whole buncha online stuff. And we also got many weeks of huddling together in a tiny bedroom to look forward to.

Another spanner-in-the-works this renovation threw at us is our breakfasts are all kinda messed up. For better or worse, it's gonna be kopi tiam prata, carrot cake, kaya toast, well, you get the idea. Since the entire kitchen (including the fridge) is out-of-bounds, we can't prepare our own breakfast so no more overnight oats or toasted sandwiches for at least a month. I should definitely be hitting the gym three times a week now. We can't stay home cos of all the dust and noise so hey, if anyone wants to meet up, let me know.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Cavalock and The New Traveler's Notebook Journey

An excellent little and I do mean 'little' oden joint that we had dinner was at Nakameguro. Toridashioden Samon is located just under the next to Nakameguro train station, next to Meguro River and it's pretty good idea to have dinner there after visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo which is just about 15 minutes walk away.

Lots of choices and reasonably priced too. Get ready to stand in line as it's pretty popular. Love the daikon. The two big chicken balls are nice too as the tiny bits of cartilage in them give them that little extra crunch and texture. Also first time having yakitori oden-style instead of the usual grilled. Go if you want great and affordable street food.

It's something I have had my eye on for awhile now and finally decided to put it up during my Tokyo vacation with the guys a couple months ago. Yup, so I bought a Traveler's Notebook. It's a writing journal and more. I have been using a Moleskin journal for couple years now and did the switch after reading how versatile the Japanese Traveler's Notebook is.

The options to customise and personalise the Traveler's Notebook was what first drew me to it. Then I saw all them millions and millions of YouTube videos about it, read the articles bout it and I kinda fell in love with the whole concept or idea behind it. Like most Japanese products, it's also cheaper to get it in Japan than in Singapore.

So like I said, I bought during my trip with the guys but I only opened it when I got back home then a week after that, me and the Baker-at-Home headed back to Japan and that's when I went crazy with it.
My old day job as a writer provided me with many writing opportunities and so does the Traveler's Notebook. It's kinda hard to explain since there really shouldn't be anything stopping me from writing what I want as and when I like, if you know what I mean.

Well, becos of me Traveler's Notebook, I have also gotten back to dipping my toe in fountain pen calligraphy as well as picking up some very basic water-colour painting. I have always enjoyed using me fountain pen ever since I first used it back when it was part of the primary school curriculum. Yah, it's no longer part of it and you guys don't know what you are missing! I still remember how one day I forgot to cap my pen and the ink just leaked out right through me school uniform's breast pocket. Today I'm using a German Lamy fountain pen. Was planning to purchase a Japanese fountain pen but the sleek and ergonomically-designed German pen made its no-brainer choice for me.

Well, if there's anyone out there who's also into Traveler's Notebook and journaling, let me know!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Cavalock and The Unexpected Lucy Schroeder Hook-Up

There's just so much amazing food that I just gotta sneaked in another entry bout what we had in Otaru, Hokkaido. I love me some ice-cream and when I saw this, I took it as a challenge. Unfortunately I could only manage three tiers! Was before lunch and I told myself I didn't wanna ruin that! From fresh fruits like melons to delicious dairy produce ice-cream, the dessert choices here were overwhelming to say the least.

Just when you thought you have seen all the weird gashapon machines around Japan, you see something like this and you wonder...

It took them 70 years but it seems like Schroeder finally caved in and hooked up with Lucy?!? I saw this! This here was part of a giant Peanuts anniversary poster in Tokyo Station. Hey, I'm a huge Peanuts fan and I'm kinda surprised yet happy for them. Persistence really pays off? Hmmm... but I'm thinking in today's PC world, Lucy would probably be classified as a stalker?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Cavalock and The Obligatory Hokkaido Food Collages

Still reminiscing bout my Hokkaido trip even though its been almost a month since we were there. So that means it's time for the obligatory food collages! From Hakodate to Otaru to the city of Sapporo, it was fun exploring new eateries as well as re-visiting old ones like fried chicken joint Wakadori Jidai Naruto Honten. One of the most memorable meals we had in Sapporo was back at Salvatore Cuomo. Enjoyed the amazing steak but what we won't forget is the electrifying atmosphere during the live telecast of the Rugby World Cup match between Japan and Samoa. I'm not into live sports telecasts but that night in that restaurant during the match, that was something. All that cheering was rather infectious, unfortunately there were no free drinks after the victory laps. Hah!

Y'see, I can understand when it comes to supporting your home country in sports but I can't wrap my head around folks supporting foreign clubs filled with millionaire sportsmen who some I'll bet has never even heard of your home country. But I digress. It was quite an experience to be in Tokyo during their winning streak, the team was everywhere in the news and you could see the banners and all that. Back to food, another observation we made while in Hokkaido was that the highball drinks appear to be rather diluted, compared to the ones we eventually had in Tokyo.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cavalock and The Halloween Heavy Post

Yah, I was just here a couple weeks before with the guys but the Baker-at-Home wanted to try the Eggslut herself for breakfast so here we are back in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Wasn't crowded at all compared to when I first walked past the place last month. I still liked my bacon, egg and cheese but I think she thought it was just alright. Well, she definitely didn't like all that grilling going on so near where she was sitting cos it made her clothes smell.

Saying that Halloween is a big deal in Japan is a major understatement. Right now, there's Halloween decor everywhere you look, from the sleepy town of Hakodate to the busy streets of Tokyo. A lot of these are very beautifully done and extremely eye-catching, some rather classy and some cheekily cute. And that's just the decor, the food like snacks and gift boxes are all so damn attractive too.

The hotels we stayed were all decked out in Jack o'lanterns. Yah, that's a Christmas tree covered in little pumpkins. Every confectionery shop has Halloween themed snacks and they all look soooooo tempting. Like I said, they are really into Halloween, no doubt due to the American presence after the Second World War. Years ago, the Baker-at-Home was in Tokyo with her friends on Halloween night and she was freaked out by all the costumed revellers who came out to party in the main streets.