Saturday, December 16, 2017

Nasi Lemak Still Power!

You know those little packets of nasi lemak wrapped up in pandan leaves? Yeah, those work for me when somehow, the flavors are beautifully balanced between the really tasty rice and superb sambal. In fact, the tiny piece of omelette and bits of ikan bilis in there are the perfect foil to soak it all up. But as nasi lemak turns hip, it's almost as though we're eating it Padang style. Heh. 

I dislike paying a lot of money for nasi lemak that's not done very well. S$25 - S$32 for a plate is a no-no. I'm fine with like... a certain S$15-plate with additional condiments, but not if nothing tastes particularly decent. I especially hate nasi lemak served up in the way that old Fong Seng did (very old NUS people would know), and what Punggol Nasi Lemak does. Not a fan of Adam Road’s Selera Rasa. If I want nasi lemak, I want it done Boon Lay Power style. 

On many nights, the craving strikes hard, and I would go all the way to the west for a plate of very dependable Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak. Through the years, the cooks have changed, and it has changed serving plates and all that, but it hasn't failed me. The queues are still as long. We go during off-peak hours, but a shorter queue simply means having six to eight people in front instead of twenty. :P At Boon Lay Power, it has many add-on options. I've found the ideal combination- the basic S$3.50 (for now) nasi lemak paru set, and add a piece of fish fillet and begedil. Sure, the rice ought to be more 'lemak' instead of cloying; this stall does its rice nicely. 

It's probably how I judge all these food stalls- by their begedil and paru. Hahahaha. If they can't do these two basic items well, then I have little hope for the rest of the dishes. Maybe it isn't fair, but that's all I pretty much eat in a plate of nasi lemak or nasi padang. I'm not much of a rendang eater. Neither do I care about ikan kuning (now endangered) nor fried chicken. All I want is- super good begedil, tender paru, the fake-super-processed fish fillet (sometimes optional), crisp ikan bilis (peanuts optional), an egg and damn good sambal that's more spicy than sweet

Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak
Block 221B Boon Lay Place Market and Food Center
#01-106B Singapore 642221

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cupcakes & A Bear

Ed the Bear with his buddy Roo, chilling out at Missy's, again. (📷: Y)

It was super funny. Logistics caused Ed the Bear to not come along when I met Missy and Y for lunch. Missy must have been wondering about it, but she was too polite to rummage in my bag, and managed to contain her burning question till after lunch. Then she asked, "Aunty Imp, can Ed the Bear come over to play with me and Roo?" Awwwww. Of course! She's turning 10 next year. I wonder if Ed the Bear will still get to visit her. Ooof.

The man had insisted that we must always send Ed the Bear to Missy's with a little gift, because bears ought to never turn up empty-handed when they get ridiculously pampered. Ermmm, okaayyy. I used to pack the Bear off to Missy with a bunch of biscuits or a box color pencils and stuff. Things that school-going little girls might find useful.

Also, Missy has learnt that the man loves rose macarons. 🙄 (Don't ask me why he does.) If Missy knows she's seeing him, she always asks to buy him one or two macarons. That day, Missy and Y bought him a whole box of six! So these bears. Bears get totally spoilt by Missy. I still have no idea why Missy has taken such a shine to Ed the Bear since she was a wee tot. Well, my friends remind me that I'm like, this old, and still talks to bears and stuffed animals. Riiiiight. 😂

In the quiet of the night, the man and I took a slow drive to specially deliver Ed the Bear to Missy for his staycation, along with a box of cupcakes from Plain Vanilla. I know the flavors Missy likes, and also included two festive flavors for the adults- 'dark chocolate whiskey' and 'spiced apple bourbon'. Passed on the 'white chocolate gingerbread'.

I'm quite fond of Plain Vanilla's items, and tend to buy them for the friends. Not quite into buying them for myself. To be honest, even these pretty good cupcakes that hold lower sugar are wayy too sweet for me. The one flavor I can stomach a few bites of is 'dark chocolate ganache' because it doesn't hold frosting or cream. It's topped with pure dark chocolate crunch. It's rather tasty. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Breakfast Amongst The Green

Headed out to breakfast at Carrotsticks and Cravings with Y and Missy. We wanted to chill out away from malls and the city center. Went to look for trees and bushes at Dempsey Hill. Y's in love with the concept of the cafe and how the owner is so into creating good food and styling great photos. I'm just cool with the casual feel and the convenience, and its guilt-free food with plenty of vegetarian options.

Opened by Terri-Anne Leske, she has moved from writing about food, and sharing recipes and photographs on the blog to properly collating them to publish 'My Creative Kitchen' (2015). Now she has started this cafe and cooking school. Nestled amongst its lush greenery of Loewen Road, the cosy Carrotsticks and Cravings is full of laidback vibes. Dress light. There's no air-conditioning; all outdoor seating.

The food is right up our alley. Missy totally loved the cold breakfast bowls. Oof. Good portions. The organic açaí berry bowl and breakfast berry parfait filled us up nicely. One couldn't go wrong when the bowls were topped with peanut butter granola and peanut butter quinoa crunch. Loads of berries. Delicious. We also ordered a quinoa and pomegranate salad with herb-crusted chicken breast and dukkah. I thought we would adjourn for coffee, but the cafe's flat white was really decent. So we hung out longer over coffee.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Checking My Weight

Stepped onto the InBody machine at the gym to measure my body's fat-muscle composition. The last time I did this was in February when I joined the gym. It uses bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and the electrical pulse tracks body water-fat-muscle composition. I don't actually know how accurate it is. Whatever. It's definitely more comprehensive than stepping on a weighing scale, which doesn't really tell me anything.

The intention of joining the gym isn't to lose weight. It's to tone up and build muscles. Muscles should replace fats, therefore, my body weight should ideally remain the same, or gain 2kg in muscle mass. We shouldn't be too obsessed with our body weight because it isn't a proper indication of health. The InBody tracker measures the basal metabolic rate too.

My pilates sessions sort out flexibility and keep me limber. But it isn't going to help build muscles or strength in the desired time frame. To build serious muscles and stamina, get to doing cardio, plyo, and weights. Utilize that core. Loads of cross training is key to achieving that lean and mean physique. As the months go by, I could focus on improving form and increasing speed for each set of exercises.

Ten months on. Weight has hovered around 50 - 51kg. At 161cm, that's a very acceptable weight. It hasn't dropped. Not really. Hurrah. Apparently it’s now time for me to start eating more. My fats are burning up quickly and the muscle mass isn't sufficient. I’m aiming to gain 2kg to pile on muscles, but clearly I’m not eating enough. How to eat more when my stomach refuses to cooperate?! Eating more = indigestion. Ugh. As it is, I normally eat four small fairly clean meals a day.

February saw a body fat mass of 10.4kg (20.6%), and December sees 9.7kg (19.6%). Not a big difference. Looking at the breakdown, some stubborn fats have been lost, and abs and some muscles have been built. Stamina has greatly improved. Obviously I haven't bulked up because I didn't do anything close to that scale. Am lean, but nowhere near the lean-ness of runners or swimmers. At 39 years old, I'm now 50kg of muscles and possess sufficient strength to do pull-ups. Let's hope I can keep this up next year. Okay, I'm ready for the zombie apocalypse. 💪🏻🧟‍♀️🧟‍♂️🧠⚔️🤩

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sushi Kaishin :: 海神寿司

Suddenly three new sushi restaurants have sprouted in Robertson Quay. Ishi, and the soon-to-open Plum and Toro (under the same management as Ishi). The friends’ birthday lunch was held at the three-year-old Sushi Kaishin (海神のお寿司). I'm sooo glad they picked this new-to-me restaurant.

Sushi Kaishin is a small restaurant that seats 10 at the counter and another six in a private room. Reservations necessary. Owned by the group behind Ginza Kuroson and Ike Ike Maru Singapore, its previous Chef Ichiyama just left two months ago, and the new team has revised the menu a little.

Sushi Kaishin serves mainly sushi and sashimi, omakase. This is the first time I’ve stepped in. There have been mixed reviews, but I had a good experience. Perhaps it’s the current combination of chefs, or suppliers, or that we filled out the whole counter for lunch, but the sashimi, sushi and beef we had were really decent. It was a good luncheon with great company.

The kawahagi is at the tail-end of its season, and came as sushi, expectedly topped with its own liver. My favorite kinmedai didn’t disappoint, but I wasn’t too hot about their treatment of the kohada. Also, too much tuna. This time I didn’t want to be fussy, but the next time, I’ll request for no tuna to appear in my meal. I’m one of those who don’t particularly fancy akami, chutoro or otoro.

The friends brought a bottle of Roku gin. Those crazy people finished an entire bottle over lunch. Gin is totally my killer, and while nice, Roku's florals and botanicals aren't quite to my preferences. I like the flavor profile of a London Dry, which means gin should taste predominantly of juniper berries, and nothing too floral. I stuck to sake. There was a lovely bottle of Oyama (a Tokubetsu Junmai-shu; å¤§å±±ç‰¹åˆ¥ç´”米酒 ひやおろし加藤嘉八郎酒造) from Kato Kahachiro Shuzo brewery in Oyama, Yamagata. I drank LOTS of that. Hahaha. No guilt because the others were fixated on gin, and there was also a bottle of Tomintoul 10 y.o.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Horse Walks Into A Bar...

The book laid in the Kindle library for months, till I finally dug it out to read because it won the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. That would be David Grossman's 'A Horse Walks Into A Bar' (2014). Originally written in Hebrew, it's translated by Jessica Cohen and published in English in 2017. (Reviews here, here, here and here.)

Woah, it's a heavy book. Hefty in the number of pages, and hefty in terms of contents, details and significance. I couldn't finish it in one sitting. In fact, I had to re-read and muse upon many of the 'jokes'. I marveled at the author's prose and skill in weaving in circumstances and 'jokes' and scenarios.

The book revolves around one show in a night put on by fifty-seven-year-old stand-up comedian Dovaleh Greenstein in a small basement club in Netanya, Israel. The book is narrated by retired district court judge Avishai Lazar, who has been invited to this show by Dovaleh, and he reluctantly attends. Another old friend is in the audience too, seemingly without him recognizing her till much later. The comedian picked on her using her phone. Azulai is a manicurist and a part-time village medium. She's really short and has a speech impediment. She also knew him as a kid. She probably touched a raw nerve when she retorted, "Why are you like this? You were a good boy!"

Jewish humor abound in Dovaleh's 'jokes' as he begins the act with fairly mild topics. Then it becomes a drag as he insults and abuses his audience and goes on anti-Arab chants. He brings out his entire life story. It's a train wreck. The audience walks out bit by bit. Then only three people are left. Dovaleh doesn't mince the words about the abuse he has suffered at the hands of his family and in the military. Readers begin to wonder if this is a comedy at all. There’s nothing very funny about Dovaleh’s words. In the end, only the performer is left with his oldest friends whom he hasn't seen for decades, and they have seen his life play out on stage tonight.

He's saying goodbye. I can feel it. He knows this is the last time he's going to tell these jokes. The girl who was about to leave but came back leans her head on one hand and gazes at him vaguely. What's her story? Did she go home with him after a gig one night? Or maybe she's one of his five children, and this is the first time she's hearing his story? And the two bikers in black—were they somehow connected to him as well? 
I remember what he told us before, about how he used to play chess with people walking on the street. They each had a role, even though they didn't know it. Who knows what complicated chess game he's conducting simultaneously here tonight? 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Ayam Buah Keluak

We're very lucky to have friends who cook and make us gifts of food.  That day, the friends told us to come collect a portion of ayam buah keluak they had prepped for us. Woah. Could never say no to anything with buah keluak! 😍

It was a very big tub. So many black nuts! The friends are incredibly generous. We split the tub into little containers to be frozen. This dish is always meant to be slowly savored. Totally hoarded it. The tub was portioned out to eat over four happy meals with brown rice and damn good sambal belado. The friends cooked this pot in 'rawon' style. As opposed to the traditional Peranakan version which contains more assam and looks more red-brown. We like nasi rawon, and appreciated the twist in using chicken for this dish with buah keluak in the bumbu paste too.

I don't think these black nuts are to be feared. It's probably more of the matter that I've never cooked with them. But I've eaten so much and enough of it to know how I can extract these flavors into a dish I'm happy with. I've been procrastinating. One day, I'll clear some head space and get down to cooking a buah keluak dish of sorts. Then it's time for me to pay it forward with gifts of decent dishes of buah keluak to the friends.

Friday, December 08, 2017

An Egg-Boiler!

There are many mornings when I crash the BFF's welcoming living space and set up the MacBook there to work. One morning, I was completely distracted by her pink egg boiler that was happily bubbling away. I didn't even know she has one! She was all like, "Eh this came back with me from Shanghai. Didn't you notice it?" Clearly I didn't.

I want one too! There's a Cuisinart boiler that's quite cool, and so is the one from Gourmia. But it's those that look like plastic toys which are fun! Apparently there're many cute ones on Taobao (淘宝网的小熊鸡蛋器挺可爱的). I don't need an egg boiler, to be honest. I boil eggs fine in a pot. Or a kettle. Muahahaha. Do excuse my silly enthusiasm. Eggs are my staple food. Bring on the yolks!

Singapore doesn't quite allow 'organic eggs' on sale in the strictest sense. When those labels appear, it probably means that the chickens are on a diet of organic feed or eat a special feed of nutrients, which doesn't translate into 'organic eggs'. Cage-free eggs don't mean anything here either since it's impossible to verify unless you appear at the farm. And I don't own a yard big enough for hens to run about. Neither are we allowed to rear hens and roosters in residential estates.

Meanwhile, the BFF raved about eggs in the boiler. She just bought them from the wet market. She said that the market stall Aunty told her these were 'first-born eggs'. Well, first-born eggs are laid by new hens in the first month. I really can't tell. What I do care about, is newly-laid eggs. There is a marked difference in the taste of newly-laid eggs versus those that have been sitting out for some time. If you could get to the wet market that just received new stocks from their suppliers, then those would taste pretty good. It's quite hard to judge when a supermarket brings in stock. Try to catch those new stocks!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Advent Begins

I've never enjoyed the consumerism that marks modern celebrations of Christmas. That is not the point of Christmas to me. At this time of the year, I seek to be away from humans, to carve out greater chunks of solitude, and tend to be grumpier than usual. Basically, I go into a DGAF mode. My WhatsApp status for December reads, 'Oh do sod off.' Only acquaintances and non-consequential people will be offended. Oof.

Life throws curveballs at us, we take it and get on with the program. Often, these curveballs are kinda expected; it's not like these balls hit us blind. But we have to manage the accompanying emotional fallout. Our (the man and I) circles (think a Venn diagram) of friends and their parents battle injuries, illnesses, deaths, injustice, and senselessness. This year, solemnity and sadness tinge our consciousness even as we celebrate triumphs, little successes and love.

I begin the season with much to ponder about. Many changes afoot in 2018. Challenges aplenty. Nothing that I can't deal with because I have treasured friends standing with me. I've an odd relationship with religion and God. But faith carries me through always. I'm a pessimist and it's a mad struggle trying to balance that with a dose of optimism. Advent is a time for reflection and prayer, and redemption. Everything else for me, is problematic. :P Well, I've never been a very good student at catechism or theology classes.

[31] So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. [32] Amen, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away, till all things be fulfilled. [33] Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. [34] And take heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly. [35] For as a snare shall it come upon all that sit upon the face of the whole earth. 
~ Luke Chapter 21, Douay-Rheims