Saturday, December 24, 2005

Enough time for one quick sneaky entry. Lunched at Friends, Maju Avenue. Opted for the regular set over the Christmas special. Didn't want to spoil my appetite for dinner tonight.

The pumpkin soup was a good starter. It kept the tummy warm and happy in anticipation of the main course. The lamb shank I got was quite a massive hunk of meat over a bone that would have kept Q-tip happy for weeks. There was a lot of meat, and it didn't have that sheepish smell that mutton usually has. Tender and kept moist with a generous helping of gravy. Carnivore time! I was so tempted to drop my cutlery and gnaw on the leg directly, but there was a nice, polite family at the next table and I thought I'd better set a good example.

June let me try some of her crispy pork. 3 fine slices of breaded pork chops that I can only describe as "delicate," almost melt-in-the mouth quality.

Dessert was a small bread pudding (I've had lots of this stuff over the last week, oddly enough) served hot and sweet. Strong coffee (Grinder's) to finish off.

Attentive service too. Staff kept coming around to clear dishes and top up cold water.

And now, preparing for dinner with the clan, carolling and Christmas countdown... :)
Christmas celebrations have more or less begun. We took June's parents to Equinox for high tea, literally. 70 stories high and the view was quite stunning, especially as the sky was quite clear and we could see right across the sea. So odd to be looking down on buildings that usually block out the sun from the sidewalk, but from this elevated persepective, the whole cityscape appears so sim-city like.

High tea was basic: local standard tidbits like spring rolls, lotus pau and siew mai, but they also had a passable laksa as well. There was a section for sushi and also a section for scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jelly which was a nice touch. Our 2 nephews enjoyed the chocolate fondue fountain the most and had to be physically restrained by their grandparents from picking up more marshmallows and strawberries to pour chocolate over.

We did a little shopping at the toy fair in the atrium of Raffles City before taking the Wongs home. In exchange, M-i-L gave us a number of her "ownself-make" fruitcakes. Those we intend as Christmas gifts she decorated with a layer of icing and created a little winter diorama on top of each using figurines she bought from Phoon Huat. Ours she left undecorated 'cos it's going straight into our stomachs.

Anthony and Wendy were the first recipients of M-i-L's fruitcake this year. We met them at Samara for cold beverages in the evening.

Other purchases today: Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" and Eminem's "Curtain Call" CDs. We happened to be in Chinatown for a while in the afternoon.

1 more day till Christmas...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I think M-i-L's calculations for the winter solstice are off by a couple of days. June says the proper way to celebrate dong zhi is to have a clan reunion and have a big feast including tang yuan soup all round.

We marked the occasion tonight according to the Wong family tradition: cook up a hoarde of wo tie dumplings in both deep-fried and boiled varieties, and eat them with a dip comprising fresh chilli padi paste, black vinegar, sesame oil and thin shreds of ginger. Eat until silly. Simple and easy.

The longest night of the year also reminds me that it's only 2 days till Christmas. Really? I haven't been paying attention. Sigh.
We're still stuck on our scavenger quest. Today, Q-tip accompanied us in her carrier bag and because she's quiet, no one suspected the presence of a little dog within their premises.

Our first stop was M-i-L's house where we delivered to her our fur/drool/spew-encrusted living-room carpet which she decided to take over when she heard we were throwing it out. Guess moms are like that -- can't stand to see things go to waste.

We began our hunt in earnest at I Am, an exclusive menswear establishment in Suntec City Tower 1. We took the elevator to the 8th floor to find it, and again we found the service to be excellent. We pretended to be an engaged couple getting married "next year." The sales staff were very helpful, making recommendations for our big day. While I tried on a couple of spiffy dress shirts, June looked around the shop for signs of a clue. No luck, though June said I looked better in the pink shirt than the orange. Even I was impressed with my image change, even if it was only temporary. If I was rich, I'd probably dress like that all the time.

Midday we explored Little India. Many restaurants around and such wonderful spicy smells making us hungry, but because we had Q-tip in tow we postponed lunch till later. The bak kut teh place in Balestier was ok with Q-tip so we grabbed a quick lunch before visiting the Sun Yat Sen Memorial nearby. June's never been there before so since we were in the neighbourhood...

Made a couple more stops around the area before calling it a day. We needed a new carpet so we dropped in at a carpet shop near Geylang Serai. The proprietor recognized June 'cos we bought our previous carpet from him last year. Nice new carpet for the living-room: $80 (after a $5 discount for being a "regular customer").

Met Anthony and co. for dinner at EastSide. Wednesday is "Beefeater's Night." For $4.99 you get a steak dinner, and quite a sizeable portion too. I ordered mine with herb butter, but I think something was wrong with the butter. It came in a cold, round pat on top of the steak, and it wouldn't melt -- which was probably a blessing because it tasted a bit off. So I removed the whole thing and liberally applied ketchup. Worked just fine, though next time I'd opt for either the mushroom or black pepper sauce instead.

Ended the evening treating everyone to a round of dessert and coffee at Sketches, Robertson Walk. It was time to use the $100 voucher Q-tip won for us at Halloween. June said the tiramisu was too sweet, though I thought it was ok. But we both liked the tartufo I ordered. Guess we need the motivation to keep on our quest tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Must be blog fatigue. Feel more tired after my vacation than before. Can't say much about the last couple of days. Mostly running from one possible checkpoint to another on another scavenger quest. Not that the experience hasn't been a fulfilling one: It's great having some kind of excuse to go look at some places where normally I wouldn't dream of stepping into -- places of such poshitude that the first thing I would expect to see is the bottom of the security guard's boot.

But oddly, despite the rags June and I were wearing, we got the same courteous service everywhere we went. The auntie at Katong Antique House offered us her homemade Peranakan cookies to sample (and June bought a couple of jars after that). The lady at Amor Meus showed June a secure way to tie a sarong. Even the tailor at Victor York was patient with us though we showed up at his doorstep after closing time, and he was still busy with a genuine client at the time. We discovered a very quiet, comfortable library at the STB where we could just sit and read in peace. Even the poised receptionist at the Fullerton abandoned her post temporarily to get me some info that I asked for.

We also made a few detours along the way, "since we were there already." Style:Nordic, on Ann Siang Road, sells decorative hand-crafted household items, clothes (Nudie Jeans, anyone?), shoes, and all things Swedish. June took a fancy to the wineglass rack-chandelier combo on display, but she restricted herself to a wooden gnome and 100g of assorted Swedish candy.

There is also a collection of Makansutra-approved hawker stalls next to the Esplanade where we found a slightly crispy version of o-luak (oyster omelette) which I thought was very good, though ordering $6 for a medium sized portion soon became a demonstration of the law of diminishing returns. Greedy, lah!

Oh, and somewhere in the last couple of evenings, we caught Jackson's Kong. Another example of man's cruelty to animals, whom Jackson is careful to emphasize are sentient, intelligent and just as deserving of life as we are. Leave them and their natural habitat alone, please. And stop trying to turn everything we touch into profit. Remember what happened to King Midas?