Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Lunch at Home

Easter was spent lazying at home with the family. Sis cooked up a storm and after giving thanks for the food and remembering Jesus Christ's death and victory at the cross, it was a leisurely lunch of asparagus soup with poached egg and baguette, roasted root vegetables, roast pork belly and mashed cauliflower.

Desserts came in the form of fruits- healthy and pure.

Then it was time for moojong! Moohehe.

I love public holidays that lead to long weekends. :)

Happy Easter, everyone!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Savour is back!

Savour 2013 is just around the corner. I also say Christmas is coming but that's perhaps another story for another time. Moohehe.

This cow trotted down to a media preview of Savour 2013 and now reports.

Savour's Darren Chen addressing the guests. Brownie points for the grass! LOL.

Gourmet supermarket Jasons will have a presence like last year's, offering a selection of chilled beef, cheeses, wines, seafood and other gourmet produce.

At this preview, they brought a delicious selection of cheeses. I particularly liked the 30-month aged Parmesan! :D

New on the market and also making a splash at Savour will be Soda Stream. A nifty machine that will be great for fizzheads, allowing them to customise and make their own sodas economically at home.

Here's Chef Moon from Mikuni. Arguably my favourite station, chef presented 3 dishes that would be also made available at his booth at Savour.

This truffle-perfumed tinned dish reminded me of a cross between sashimi and ceviche.

His salt baked pork belly with Sakura was outstandingly yummy. Meaty, tender and with a beautiful aroma and flavour.

Phoon Huat displayed some cupcakes and ingredients. Not quite sure why. Oh they had an item called Shake and Bake that supposedly lets one add all the batter ingredients, shake to mix and then pop the whole thing into the oven to bake. Sounds convenient eh.

Nespresso is Savour 2013's presenting partner and official coffee.

At Nespresso's booth, we had a go at making our own Tiramissu using shots of their espresso.

I quite enjoyed the Roma Espresso Martini featuring Nespresso Roma espresso, Ron Zacapa 23 Rum, honey syrup and Grand Marnier. One serving will do just fine. Any moore and the caffeine and alcohol combination might be dangerous. Moohehe.

Sssspeaking of alcohol, Equatorial Wines will be giving visitors a chance to blend their own wines from a selection of straight varietals. Now you can have your own blend and name it after you! :p

Check out my experience at Savour last year.

Expect free culinary workshops, 18 international top tier restaurants serving over 60 signature dishes and over 25 award-winning chefs this year! Don't say I didn't say. Tickets are selling fast.

Savour 2013
11-14 April 2013

Chew On This: Here are some of the chefs who will be at Savour 2013!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Banding Together Through Burgers & Beers

Yeah, there's nothing like banding together with people who are in the same shoes for comfort and strength. I like that the League met up quite a few times the week that our dear comrade passed on. That Friday, two eastern warriors made the arduous journey to the west....with no pig, no monkey and no monk.

Finally reaching our destination, we met up with fellow pugilistic members for a trade of blows and weaponry.

The hamehhameh-ah finishing moove was deadly and drew much stares.

Packed with a juicy 200g Aussie striploin patty, a sizable portobello mushroom, crispy bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce, onion, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise, this highly-regarded punch called The De Burg ($18.50) would bowl over most foes with less than four stomachs. Both the patty and the mushroom were juicy with a nice beefy flavour.

For those with smaller capacities but still seeking to learn kung fu, the Italian Pork Burger ($9.50 for 100g patty) with its Aussie pork patty, mozzarella, Italian pork pepperoni, lettuce and pizza sauce would do the trick nicely.

Masters who enjoy sacrificial lambs can opt for the Boring Lamb ($10 for 100g patty) which looks almoost exactly like the above, I kid you not. It has quite a rich lamb flavour that true brute opponents would favour.

Accompanying the above burgers were sidekicks- 1 for the 100g patty burgers, 2 for the 200g patty burgers. Choose wisely from Fries, Salad (with vinegar and olive oil) and Tater Tots (mini hushbrown puffs).

With all the action going around the table, we could not have left out liquid qi. A neighbouring stall in the same tea house (ok ok, kopitiam) sells Archipelago beers at just $7.50 per pint. KO.

Here's to you buddy, and to better days ahead. :)

De Burg
119 Bukit Merah Lane
Opens: Tuesday to Sunday: 11.30am-3pm, 6.30pm-9pm
Closes: Every Monday and last Tuesday of the month          

Chew On This: Order the Italian Pork Burger and you might just be smacked with a surprise upgrade of the pepperoni to an Iberico version. A little pigeon whispered to us that this free upgrade is randomly picked.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Lighter Side of Beef...

Sometimes all one needs is a pipping hot bowl of something light. This Beef Pho ($4.80) at the newly revamped Simpang Bedok market fits the bill perfectly. There's a gentle sweetness of onions, herbs and beef in the clear broth. Nothing strong or over powering. I like that the slices of beef are not artificially tenderised and they do retain that natural bite and feel.

Moo on this when days are tough.

Vietnamese House
348 Bedok Road (Kumpung at Simpang Bedok)

Chew On This: Like all the other stalls at Kumpung at Simpang Bedok, this stall is apparently part of a social enterprise.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In Memoory of My Best Friend, Ryan Sai 1984-2013

Friends are many but a friend whom one can really trust, connect with effortlessly and grow together is hard to come by. I have the privilege of having one- Ryan Sai.

We first met at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2001 and just clicked. Together with a group of close friends we call "The League", we slept in lectures, played pool, watched movies, smuggled a tin of biscuits into the library, played table tennis, ran LSCT Freshmen Orientation Camps and simply hung out. It was the start of a friendship that was priceless.

Ryan is generally quite quiet./reserved but can be wacky, animated and funny when he is with people he's comfortable with. Being rather good academically, he was quick to lend classmates homework to copy a helping hand. His belief that a team is only as strong as the weakest link has empowered him to go the extra mile for others.

During poly days, Ryan, Hushie, Jenny and moo went on a trip to Hong Kong. It was a memoorable one for us it being the first time that we had gone on a "proper" overseas holiday just with friends. Being bitten by the shutter bug, Ryan took some pretty cool shots at Victoria Peak. Unfortunately, those photos are probably now lost along with a big bunch in Friendster. :( Nonetheless, looking back at that trip brings fond recollection of 4 of us sharing one suckling pig (moohehe), me using my very cannot-make-it Cantonese to no avail at Marche (cue "pak cheok"), and practically eating our guts out.

We started out university days together too being in the same course and even successfully applying to be room mates in Hall 16. Come to think of it, I cannot believe we had actually set aside time for breakfast before morning lectures. We would wake up 20 minutes earlier and sit in the old canteen A for breakie. 20 minutes soon dwindled down to 10 minutes and before long, it was me telling him, "Go back to sleep lah. Eat what breakfast?!" when he tried to wake me up one morning. LOL.

Even after he was posted to other hostels from year 2, we still met often on campus for classes, dinners and late night jogs of which our first run was quite funny that we cursed and swore at the SBS slope that almoost never seemed to end. Exam periods were spent together mugging till the wee hours before collapsing in deep afternoon coma after the paper. Non-gaming us even played DOTA and Restaurant City on a number of occasions to relieve exam stress. :p

In 2007, we completed our first Standard Chartered marathon and walked like ah peks a few days after the gruelling event. It was to be another 2 marathons before we "retired".

Ryan and I could talk and discuss about almoost anything- crushes, cravings, worries, family, life philosophies etc. In fact, it was him who first sent me Chu Mei-feng's photos when her sex scandal emerged. Sorry I can't show them here on this family-friendly blog. Moohaha. But moore seriously, we could sort of read each other's minds and often a single look or eye contact was enough to communicate thoughts.

Life after graduation came to a sudden pause when Ryan and I were training for IPPT and realised that he could not complete his 2.4km run. During the actual IPPT test, he again failed to complete his 2.4km after complaining of breathlessness  Concerned about that, he went for a body check up. The results shocked everyone- acute leukaemia.

When such a disease hits a young person, especially one who is rather fit, it can be quite hard to accept. But Ryan bravely confronted it. He consulted the doctors about his condition and started to watch his diet. It didn't take long for my optimistic buddy to bounce back. He felt confident of beating cancer as he was able to take on stronger medication/treatment due to his young age. He faced sessions after sessions of chemotherapy to fight those bloody blast cells which were determined to fight just as hard.

Having both his siblings' bone marrows matching his, he went for a bone marrow transplant using his brother's cells. A few months after, those blast cells made a return. The relapse disheartened him. Again, he bounced back and focused on nursing back his health. Instead of wallowing away in his misfortune, Ryan helped out with housework, started gardening and making his own compost, spent time with his now deceased father, and his two little nieces, picked up the ukulele and simply lived.

This enterprising guy even raised mooney for Hair for Hope last year. Aiming for $10,000, he eventually raised over $12,000 with 97 donors some of whom are strangers or friends of friends. It was my pleasure to join him in this quest with hair, money and support. A big thank you to all who supported in making his wish a reality. It made him very, very happy.

A second bone marrow transplant was performed using his sister's cells. Unfortunately  in an even shorter amount of time, the second relapse happened. He didn't tell me but I sensed he knew his battle chances were diminishing. The fighter realigned his focus on simply being happy and being so in the now. What will happen in the future is in the future. Choose to be happy in the present.

I popped by his home once just before CNY and that turned out to be my last meet up with him in better health. Though having lost some weight and looking pale, his spirit was as if this disease had never occurred. I was planning to visit him during CNY but he developed a fever and so told me not to come.

Soon, he was back in SGH to treat the fever. While in the hospital, he caught a lung infection. He called me one weekday evening asking for a favour. He wanted to eat vegetarian food but the Indian vegetarian option in the hospital was packed with spices which he believed was not good. I was tasked with helping to coordinate between his mum, my mum, myself and Ewan so that he could have homecooked vegetarian food daily. A few days later, he whatsapp-ed me saying to put the meal plan on hold as he was getting weaker and was on liquid food.

I visited him at SGH a few days later on a Friday evening. He was visibly weak and had difficulty breathing. He put his left hand to his temple and saluted me as I entered his room. Too breathless to speak, he was writing instead. I was stunned to see his condition and later left equally heartbroken.

Over the next two days of the weekend, I visited him at night when it was less crowded with visitors. He was now sleeping most of the time due to drug that was helping him to breathe and relieve pain. On Sunday night, as I massaged his feet, tears rolled down behind that medical mask and under the cover of darkness. Those feet ran marathons and walked through life's journey with me. I held his right hand for a good few minutes, praying with him. Before I left, I whispered in his ears in Mandarin, "Don't worry, friend. Jesus is coming to save you."

The next day, I got an update that Ryan passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends. And this news was right before I had to host a work dinner. Sucks but knowing him, he would have preferred for me to proceed with dinner than rush down to SGH.

I met Ewan and Neil that evening after my work dinner. 3 guys put on a brave front. After sharing happy memoories over a few pints, our eyes were wet and faces red towards the end. Beer felt especially needed though it wasn't enough to contain our sadness.

Looking at my buddy in the coffin at his wake, I feel utterly sad to lose my best friend yet somehow strangely at peace that he is in a better place and no longer suffering.

Time will heal this wound and though in grief, I take comfort in the privilege of having spent many happy memories over 12 years with this awesome guy who lived life to the fullest and in contentment. Joy is being discharged by the doctor so he could enjoy reunion dinner with the family. Happiness is being able to brush teeth.

This post will end by celebrating Ryan's life. :)

Our last full marathon together in 2009. No sweat hor? Wait till you see us walk after that. LOL.

Ryan and I catching up with the Powerpuff Girls. I shaved for Hair for Hope in support of my bestie... whose hair then was even longer than mine!

Horsing around with some guys from The League.

Chilling out at Wala Wala. He sure enjoyed the music and vibes there.

When we were young(er) and free. Didn't have much mooney as poly students, but certainly had loads of fun.

At Oktoberfest in NUS. Yes, we NTU people crashed into NUS. :p

Lo Hei-ing with the Deli Aprecio Club (DAC) committee members.

I've never seen anyone so happy with a bent spoon. Moohehe. This was at Catch & Cook, a collaboration between DAC and the Anglers' Club. The very T-shirts we were wearing were designed by Ryan. He's quite creative and good with his hands.

We ponteng-ed classes to work at events over a number of years and met this wonderful bunch of people at Globewerks. We were a pretty awesome team I dare say- can piah together, can siao together. :D

The League celebrating a birthday at TCC. We used to get "traditions" for the birthday gal/boy.

Our druggie team for a project in SBS (School of Biological Sciences, not the bus company lah). Clearly four of them were in denial. The honest ones were just sniffing yo!

Preparing for the many takes of the classic "SMU jump" at Hushie's and Ivy's poster presentation day.

At one of the many year end parties at Ewan's, now aka MBS (Marina Bay Simei). LOL.

Ok, I don't know what was going on in this pic with our resident mei nu at NP's Alumni dinner. Moohahaha.

Ta-dah! Our own Final Year Project poster day. See the pink tie? His brother picked out a similar colour tone shirt for Ryan's final journey. It suits him perfectly.

Ryan made it to Hushie's and Jon's wedding reception! But always someone missing. #@$!%

Our graduation photo after four long years at Pulau Boon Lay. I hold this bunch in high regard. Very zai, dependable people with integrity. Ryan, cow, JL & Mic.

The League at one of my then-yearly cook outs. Plus ah dog which tried to hump Ryan eons ago. Moohahaha.

It is probably a little known fact that Ryan enjoyed cooking. His mama said he got influenced by me and even started eating a bit healthier. :p Here he is chopping stuff at my place and giving his signature grin.

See what I mean by he can be cheeky and wacky among those he was comfortable with? Poor Hushie didn't even see it coming. Lol.

One of my favourite shots of him and his girlfriend, Xiao Pei Pei, who stood by him through it all. Wonderful girl who I hope will moove on for his sake.

This was the last League gathering that Ryan attended. 31 December 2012 @ Ewan's place. Enjoy mooments like this for you never know when it might be the last.

Neil drew this sketch years ago using Paint! It is sad to have to send a member of The League off even before hitting 30 years old. Though you are no longer physically with us, you will always be a part of us. :)

And with that, I would like to end with this photo of Ryan- always happy, always full of life.

My dear Ryanosarous, thank you for your friendship and for everything. See you on the other side.

Best friends forever.

*Images obtained from Ryan's Facebook.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

For times when the beef noodles stall is closed...

I normally go for a bowl of beef noodles or and beef soup from a particular stall when I am in what is more commonly known as Lavender Food Centre but on one Sunday afternoon when the usually bustling stall was closed, I had to graze elsewhere.

I spied plates of guotie on a number of tables and decided to have a go myself. The Guotie (12 pieces for $5) were golden nuggets containing a tasty filling of pork, ginger and chives with a satisfying chewy skin with crisp parts.

For a simple carbo fix, I opted for the Zha Jiang Mian ($4) at the same stall. The noodles were handmade in-house and smooth but were a tad soft for my liking. The rich minced pork sauce was generously slathered over the noodles and strips of cucumber. A dash of black vinegar brought everything together. This cow is already having spag bol fantasies of a deep tomato flavour and substituting the pork for beef....moohehe,

Mum decided to try the Shanghainese Fried Rice Cakes ($4.50) but it turned out to be bland and unappealing.

Not wanting to waste food, I mixed the rice cakes together with some leftover Zha Jiang Mian Sauce for a better result. LOL.

Sometimes I need to thank the unexpectedly closed stalls, else I would not have tried others.

Ju Hao
New Century Food Paradise
380 Jalan Besar Road

Chew On This: Buy back frozen Guotie (30 pieces for $10) and enjoy them in the comfort of your home!