February 27th, 2011

Poke

Isola




There is no doubt that the dim sum and Asian food in Hong Kong rawks but after consecutive days of eating the same stuff over and over again, you start to crave for something non-Asian. B.T suggested Isola which is a rather posh Italian restaurant over at IFC.

I can't recall how much exactly we paid since that was 2 months back but it wasn't over the top not that cheap. You do get to enjoy a beautiful view of Hong Kong and the food is pretty delicious. Isola is pretty known for their paper thin crust pizzas which I do agree are good and the pastas were up to standards as well. The bar upstairs is a cool hang out area with a decent serving of drinks.

I would go back again but it's not a 'must-go'. The service and ambience is nice and the food of standards and a nice break away from the typical Hong Kong cuisine but it isn't something that I would go gaga over.

Isola
Shop 3071-75
Level 3, IFC Mall
Central
Hong Kong


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Some thoughts and good catch-ups


Photo courtesy of E


I've been making good my promise (for 2011) to spend more time with a specific list of friends. I think gone are the days for me at least, where I love big gatherings etc. As I am now older and mellowed in many senses, I much prefer personal one on one catch-ups or in groups of no more than 3-4. I think it's hard to truly catch up with people that matter in a big group where conversations are mostly superficial and you don't get to interact with each individual.

The last two weeks that just passed was just insane work wise. When I get busy at work, I land up wanting to spend more time with myself, alone. I did just that spending quiet evenings by myself, just relaxing. It's really funny how one's priorities just changed over time. A wise person, whom I have quite a bit of respect for, shared this recently. People change as they grow older. Some change professionally, others, personally. For me, it's personally. The time lost with family, once gone, will never return. However, time lost career wise, can always be made up. How true indeed.

J text me last week saying that she randomly came across our old photos where we used to play dress up and take photos. She was reminiscing the good old days. We landed up arranging to meet up for dinner this week since it's been quite a few months since the last meet up. And like always, it was great. 17 years of friendship and counting. :)

C, E and I also caught up for dinner. Nothing grand, just a simple dinner but with good conversations and company. If there is one thing that I treasure, is good friends. Friends that understand you truly, friends that believe in you and watch out for you, are worth holding onto. It doesn't matter if I have perhaps just a couple good and close friends because sometimes, it's not the quantity but the quality of the friendship that really matters.

On a side note, I am so happy that my smelly bolster aka B.T is coming home! The two of us always land up being apart for weeks when work travels hit. It is quite different returning to an empty home and I have been on a cleaning spree so that he'll return to a nice smelling and fresh home tonight :) Baked brownies for him, changed the bedding, got the part time help in to do a thorough cleaning, mended some of his clothes. It's funny how I find myself doing things for him when I miss him.






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Poke

Candlenut


Keuh pie tee


I love Peranakan food but good ones are hard to find or you can find them but it's expensive. Peranakan food has distinctive flavors with unique ingredients unlike other cuisines.

Although I love walking distance from Candlenut Kitchen, and have walked around the area a couple of times, it never caught my attention. There is nothing outstanding about the decor and ambience but perhaps that is the idea - it feels like a simple home.

The food served here does not come in the typical Peranakan intricately decorated crockery but on simple white plates. The kueh pie tee came in 4 servings and was one of the better ones that I have tried. What I liked about it was the freshness of the fried casing which wasn't overly oily and 'stale' tasting. It was a good appetizer.

Chap chye is my favorite Peranakan vegetable dish and my Dad once said that the true test of a good Peranakan restaurant is the quality of the chap chye. The ones served at Candlenut though was not the best that I've eaten, and could have been done better with slightly stronger flavors, was nonetheless still tasty. My favorite was the ngoh hiang which had an immense mix of flavors and textures, wasn't oily and crispy enough.

Ayam buak keluak is another favorite Peranakan dish of mine and the one served seemed slightly different. The gravy was a little on the thin side and the flavors in the chicken was a bit too light. The nut stuffing was good though. There was a lot to dig out and that had a delicious nutty flavor.

We rounded up the meal with a single serving of the banana pudding which was served with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. I thought this was very well done as the banana cake was very moist with real pieces of ripe bananas. The combination of the caramel sauce, ice cream and cake was a perfect match.

I felt that Candlenut is a good place for a meal if you are craving for some good home-cooked type of food. This was how I felt about the place. The ambience and way the food was served down to the taste, felt like someone's mom's cooking. Nothing too elaborate yet tasty with that huge feeling that it came right out of your mom's kitchen. Prices are very reasonable too and it was about SGD$25 per person which is decent for Peranakan food.

Candlenut Kitchen
25 Neil Road
Singapore 088816
+(65) 6226 2506


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Scrapbooking


The finished product! My first scrapbooking attempt.


I have always admired the creative pieces of work that friends come up with for scrapbooking and even bought a magazine on scrapbooking when I was in the States (heard it's a big trend there as well!). However, I have never quite got down to doing it. I had a complimentary slot for an introductory class at Paper Market and embarked on my very first project in scrapbooking.

I have never attended a scrapbooking class before so I don't have a benchmark on what it should entail. I did think that the ones held at Paper Market are pretty good though there were some possible areas for improvement which I will share on later.

The teacher who is one of the retail staff, was very friendly. We started late as it was supposed to be a full class but a few pulled out at the last minute -_- The group size is just right at about 6/7 max (I think). We had just 4 of us this time around. She starts off by explaining what scrapbooking is all about and explains the different types of paper available and which is used for what purpose - very useful information!

She also does a bit of subtle selling for the store when she explains why the paper sold here is more expensive compared to places like Borders or Popular Bookstore. Scrapbooking projects are meant to last for a long time and if the wrong type of paper is used, you might land up ruining the photos. Most paper contain chemicals, the ones from Paper Market are all chemical free. So unlike regular paperbooks for example, which turn yellow after some time, the paper from Paper Market wouldn't and would maintain it's original coloring for years to come.

We were all asked to bring along 3-4 photos that we wanted to include in the project but landed up using only just one. She will advise on which photo is better and also give tips on the colors and designs of the paper to select based on the photo that you wish to include. Everyone is asked to pick out the main color of the photo (in my case it's blue) and 2 more colors in the photo - mine was pink and green. The main color of the photo determines the color of paper you should select that will complement the photo and allow it to stand out.

It was really fun browsing through the store selecting the paper. There were so many options, that I was spoilt for choice and couldn't decide which I wanted. The staff does guide and help you to select matching papers but basically, it's almost all up to you. We were allowed to pick 3 pieces of paper - one as a main backing, another for cut-outs and a final which was free play. We were given a free acid free glue (looks like and functions like correction tape), lettering stickers and access to the wide array of scrapbooking tools.

After we had selected our paper, we were shown the various cut-out stamps that we could use to make nice borders, edges, shapes and also given a demonstration on how to use the distress ink. Fun fun fun. We then proceeded to creating our artwork and I can tell you that scrapbooking though fun, is not easy! It involves a lot of creativity, you need to make choices on what you want to use and it's hard when there are so many options available. We were given an hour to scrapbook but advised not to stick it on until we had finalized the layout. We were then allowed to select a set of lettering stickers that would compliment and match our designed theme.

None of us completed our projects and were given clear stiff plastic bags to bring the materials home. As I didn't have any scrapbooking tools at home except for the complimentary glue, I had to ensure that I'd cut out all the shapes needed etc! Later at home, I spent quite a fair amount of time re-working on my project before it was finally completed!

I have to admit that it was very enjoyable and addictive. I have a soft spot for pretty paper and craft but if I decide to proceed further into scrapbooking, it is going to cost a lot of money as materials are expensive and also, I don't have a lot of space at home to store the projects.

The class was a good introduction and I think I gained quite a bit of tips on how to actually get started onto a project. The only downside was that it felt rather rushed and stressful due to time constraints. In fact, though we started late, we ended early so it wasn't a full 2.5 hours as stated and that was slightly disappointing. Also, the class is at the back of the shop which means that customers that are browsing for paper and materials can stand around. It's stressful having people peering over your shoulder watching at what you do. I didn't like that at all! It made me more nervous that I already was especially when I was trying to do some difficult cut-outs. -_-

I might be contemplating trying out another class or so. I'm not sure but we'll see. Maybe I'll compile a book of memories for us using special photos and it'll be something nice to look back at in time to come.

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Cocoa chewy brownies




TS calls me Martha Stewart because I've been on a roll and cooking weekend after weekend. I beg to differ! My mom thinks I have a natural flair for cooking but I think it all depends on what I am cooking. I don't think I'm too good when it comes to Asian style cuisine. I am still at the stage where I don't mind cooking for close friends and family but feel shy to bring it to the office for people to try it out or something!

Nonetheless, B.T so far has been enjoying my cooking and that's the most important thing to me! :P When I told him that I bought ingredients for the tomato soup, his immediate response was, With the cheese sticks as well? Arww. I didn't get the ingredients for those - next time baby. But it's really nice to watch him enjoy the food so I don't mind cooking weekend after weekend. I'm next aiming to attempt French onion soup and thin mints and maybe samoas (girl scout cookies!). Meanwhile, he had a special request for chewy brownies so I tried this recipe out.

Baking brownies is one of the simplest recipes to follow. You can't quite go wrong. It's just whether the brownies turn out to what you expect it to be. I don't like my brownies to be too sweet so I reduced the sugar by quite a bit. The batter turned out really sticky which does translate to 'chewy' brownies I guess. However, I made a slight error by leaving it few minutes too long so I'm not quite sure if it's the type of 'chewy' brownies that he fancies!

Anyway, if you want an easy brownie recipes, this works. You can serve it warm with ice cream (vanilla works the best) or even spread the top with a layer of Nutella. Mmmmm.

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K-Ki


The Drom store inside K-Ki


I've always had a penchant for quaint cafes or coffee places like Loysel's Toy, the ones that aren't too crowded and commercialized and perfect for a quiet afternoon with good company or a good book. I think that should be one of my 'to-finds', aside from my current obsession with cupcakes, macarons and ramen. :P

Recently, I met a new friend, P. We met at a noisy house party. I'm not a typical fan of house parties but the hosts are great people and B.T loves hanging out with them so I usually tag along. Big house parties are difficult to have meaningful conversations as you feel compelled to walk around and talk to everyone but most land up in their own cliques after awhile. Then somehow or other, I met P and it was so cool because we hit off pretty well and started yakking in a little corner for ages. We decided to meet up for more chit-chats and she suggested this Japanese cafe - K-Ki.

K-Ki stands for 'cake' in Japanese. I've actually run passed it quite a few times and noticed it but the name didn't stick. It was only when I ran past it again this morning that I realized that it was K-Ki! Anyway, K-Ki is owned by a couple - Delphine and Kenneth. Kenneth is a self-taught baker and lovingly bakes the selections (15 cakes per flavor) which sell out quickly. Apparently, cakes are baked hourly so you might see a different but limited offering each time you visit. In order to maintain freshness of the cakes, they are baked daily and in limited quantities so that they get sold out.

The cakes selection at K-Ki is what you would see in a typical Japanese cafe. Portions are dainty and delicate looking and all served on simple white plates with matte Japanese-looking cutlery. The decor takes on a minimalist and clean approach. The simple wooden furnitures are sparsely placed apart and it almost feel like a mini Muji section. Seating both indoors and outdoors is limited so there are extra charges for eating in-store and you are definitely encouraged to order take-aways.

The cakes all look really good so it was quite tough to decide which to order. There were about 8-10 varieties and the best thing to do is to ask the staff to briefly describe each -which they will happily oblige. The cakes are priced quite high averaging SGD$8 for a modest piece and there is a small list of beverages (coffee, teas, juices) averaging SGD$3-4 per cup.

We ordered the Antoinette which is a white chocolate sponge cake filled with a dab of mango and the Noisette which is a layered hazelnut praline sponge cake. If you are looking for denser richer cakes, these might not sit well with you. I noticed that Japanese cakes tend to be lighter and fluffier in texture and flavors are very subtle. The Antoinette was really light - good texture but too light on taste. We could barely taste the white chocolate and it would have been better if there was more of the mango filling. We both preferred the Noisette which had a delicious blend of hazelnut chocolate and cream flavors but again, very light in both texture and taste. I would say that this place is great if you are looking for something slightly sweet, fluffy and light.

K-Ki shares this space with a quirky quaint shop called the Little Drom store. It sells vintage merchandise ranging from stationary, cards, toys, buttons, books, lomo film cameras etc. Reminds me like a Japanese version of Urban Outfitters. It definitely adds character to K-Ki and complements it very well. Also, next door to K-Ki is a vintage store which I'll check out on my next visit.

P.S P, we should definitely do this again.. Soon! Had great fun this arvo xo :)

K-Ki
7 Ann Siang Hill
Singapore 069791
Opens Tues-Sunday: from 12-7pm except on Sat - 12-4pm.
Closed on Monday.
+ (65) 6225 6650



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Stevie General Store


Can I bring the penguin home?


Dresses on sale


Oh lawdy! I'm on a friggin' blogging roll today - if you didn't already notice! Anyway, I have entries and entries piled up (even from my Hong Kong trip -_- ) and I figured that I might as well post them since I'm on a writing/blogging roll. Also, I realize that when I write about it at a much later date, I tend to forget the little details and it's always nice to have a journal of all these memories.

Moving on.

The area that I live in is simply amazing. There are so many lovely small shops around that I've not spent time checking out. I think I should do that some time. There is always so much to see and do around my area and I need to explore it all - food and all.

Just around the corner of K-Ki is a vintage shop - Stevie General Store. It has all the vibes (and smell) of a vintage store and it's one of those shops where you never know what you might find inside. I wasn't too sure if it was polite to whip out my camera inside the small shop but check out the website as they post almost every piece of clothing or merchandise that is sold inside.

The pieces here are definitely vintage looking, quirky and come in just one size and one piece. I did find a few dresses that I fancied - all bright and colorful, however they all seemed a little too pricey. The sale dresses were SGD$50 per dress and the rest were averaging SGD$90-$140. I don't mind paying such prices for clothes as I do but mostly if they are designer items. I always thought that vintage clothes are cheap because they are pre-loved and in Portland, my colleagues do buy from vintage stores and they are as cheap as USD$10 per piece! We were told that the items were all sourced from Japan and true vintage pieces. I fell in love with some silver and diecast charms but couldn't bear to part with SGD$100+ for a tiny piece of vintage charm that would probably require a lot of delicate caring for!

It's a good store to check out for vintage pieces and I might probably pop by another day . The staff are really friendly and will help to give suggestions on how to match the pieces etc so that is a big plus point. Just note that they only open shop from 3pm onwards.

Stevie General Store
93 Club Street
Singapore 069461
+(65) 6536 8590
Opens from 3pm-8pm.
Closed on Mondays and sometimes Tuesday.







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