Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Banner: Gong Xi Fa Cai 2006 Edition (updated)

Warning: "Explicit Language" ahead if your browser didn't support Chinese characters :D

恭喜发财!!! Gong Xi Fa Cai !!! Today is the day of reunion dinner whereby family get together to celebrate the eve of Chinese New Year (农历新年). Chinese New Year starts on on the first day of the new year with a new moon (29 Jan 2006) and ends 15 days later during the full moon (12 Feb 2006). However, in Singapore, we usually have 2 days of public holidays which falls on 30~31 Jan 2006.

This Year is also Year of the Dog (狗年). So while many decor, gift package may use dog figures, picture to commemorate this year, I have opted for this beautiful & elegant Dragon Fish (Asian Arowana). My simple reasoning is because dog (狗, gǒu) sounds close to (夠, gòu), which means just enough. Fish (鱼, yú) sounds close to (馀, yú) which means excess or abundance!. Being greedy, I rather choose the latter kekeke ...

Back to the Asian Arowana, they are the most famous & expensive in Asia (if not the world). The arowana is very popular as it is believed to bring prosperity and wealth to the owner. However, they considered an endangered and protected species.

Voice from Above: You don't want to kena tomorrowed huh?
Me: Aiyoh! Why kena tomorrow when all I want is kena today!
Voice from Above: NOOOOOOOOO..., I mean this!
Me: Oh I see, I thought strike lottery hahaha, nah ... still won't trade my Fish (鱼, yú) for (狗, gǒu). Look, I have more auspicious fish here ...
FLOWERHORN FISH (Cichlid family)


Even Orchids & citrus are much better then dog (狗, gǒu)


Voice from Above: NO NO NO, Dog Year should have at least some dog photos! Better do otherwise I send thunder down
Me: Eeeeeeeeeeeek!!! OK lah! Some doggie photos here lor!

Mr See What! & Mr Don't Care You

Ms Cute Cute & Ms Moody Blues

And finally, this is probably the laziest (but cute) dog I ever seen. Mr Basset :)

Ooook, enough of my nonsense again. To end, there are some season greetings written on the banner, but they are in chinese. For benefits of those who don't understand, here my quick rough translation.
Great Wealth will rapidly flows to you.
You will recieve daily doese of Luck & Happiness
All your hopes & wishes will be fullfilled
Prosperity, good reputation / social status longevity will all be yours

I wish all a very Happy, Healthy & Properous Lunar New Year to all. Need to prepare for my reunion dinner now. Ciao!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Food: Makan Session Jan 2006 - PeraMakan @ SG

Oh gosh! I'm about 1.5 weeks due. Guess I rollout before become stale news :P

"Grim care, moroseness, anxiety—all this rust of life ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth. Mirth is God's medicine." Henry Ward Beecher
So every month, many great women & men gather. Have food, wines, friends, Mirth and Laughter. Mind you, this is not sinful indulgence, in fact, it's a necessity in life

This month merry making happened along the little street of Joo Chiat Road which is already crowded with many food joins. Peramakan - a small but cosy restaurant that's serving up eclectic Peranakan food cuisine.
ADDRESS: 92 Joo Chiat Road. Singapore 427386
TELEPHONE: 6345 7565

Much have been written about our unique Peranakan culture in Singapore, Malaysia. If you are interested to read furthur, please follow the links below, so let's go to the yummy stuffs!
Peranakan Association
Peranakan Resource Library
Wikipedia: Peranakan

Nasi Ulam (Spicy: No)
(A cold salad of long grain rice with Asian herbs, prawns & fish)

If you think rice is too heavy as starter, think again. This rice salad dish uses Basmatic rice and is fragrantly scented by freshly sliced Asian herbs. It's light & refreshing starter for beginning this dinner, getting ready your appetite for heavier food to come.

Jantung Pisang Kerabu (Spicy: *****)
(The heart of the banana blossom is mixed with mango, cucumber, onions and prawns topped with a tangy prawn sauce and the traditional coconut sauce topping)

Using banana blossom already sounds intriguing. Unfortunately, this is my first time. Crunchy, Spicy, Sour with mild sweetness from the prawn. This dish bites, well at least to our foreign friend which rated this 5/5 in spicy rating :) If you like hot & sour, this dish is definately for you.

Hati Babi Bungkus (Spioy: No)(Pork and liver balls)
Fortunately, the spicy hot is quickly toned down by this sweet & savoury dish. Bitterness from liver is well tamed, the sweetness imparted by the sweet dark sauce were just right. I suppose there was caul lining around that provides it with a little of sinful fats that I loved so much.

Sayur Nangka Masak Lemak with Prawns (Spicy: *)
(Young jackfruit in a spicy coconut gravy with prawns)

Again, Young jackfruit is my first time, so I'm not too sure what to expect. While interesting, they do taste nothing more like vegetable that's cooked till tender. No sourness / bitterness, in fact I guess most of the flavour comes from the spicy gravy which isn't spicy at all. Only 1/5 from our foreign friend :P

Ikan Panggang (Spicy: ***)
(Grilled Fillet of Red Snapper with our special sambal sauce)

Grilling is well done so Fish is tender, Sambal sauce is, well, alright other then will like a little more spicy. But this is entirely personal, I suppose.

Udang Masak Kuah Nanas (Spicy: **)
(Refreshing and tangy, prawns in hot pineapple gravy)

Prawns swimming in Sweet, sour gravy, what's not to like? OK, maybe I want bigger prawns :)

Ayam Kleo (Spicy: *)
(Grilled chicken simmered in rich spicy coconut gravy)

While not my preferred style, the chicken is nice & tender except that I don't feel that they have been grilled. Hmmm ...

Nyonya Pork Ribs (Spicy: No)
(Prime ribs braised with taucheo, plum sauce and spices)

Taucheo (fermented salty soya bean) & plum sauce are of both chinese origin, together with Peranakan spices, makes this very delectable "fusion" dish. The prime ribs nicely done, the tender meat detach from the bone so easily. Yummy!

Soup Kambing (Spicy: *)
(Lean mutton in a rich and fragrant Nyonya-style stew)

I like this tasty kambing (mutton) soup as well. The spice mixed in smooth soup is well balanced with the mutton. However, I wish there were more Lean mutton on my plate. (Or did someone stole them while I was away? :P )

Beef Rendang (Spicy: *)
(Tender pieces of shin beef in rich rendang gravy)

Very tender beef, however, I will love the rendang to be richy & spicier.

Sago Gula Melaka

Gula Melaka, which literally translated as Sugar Malacca, is actually Palm Sugar. I'm not too clear about how they got the "Sugar Malacca" as it available easily everywhere in Malaysia, perhaps it's gain popularity while in Malacca. This rich sugar syrup have great caramelised flavour. And along with sago pearls and freshl coconut milk, this is a heavenly dessert! Sweetness is done just right and coconut milk is fresh. Great!

Before Mixing up

After Mixing Up

Well, you see 29 bottles but I learned from TTC there were actually more then 40 bottles. About 10 bottles broke, and we are not counting the unfinished wines that didn't make it to the photoshot. :D

Dessert Liqueur
YKW (You know who) brought this lovely liqueur to end the evening. I like this so much that I'm going to put into my oversea alcohol shopping list :) What? You want to know who is YKW? Come join our merriment session and you will know that soon. :D

Friday, January 20, 2006

Quiz: Guess what are those black patches (Answer)

Got sometime for a little updates. Here is a little quiz. Guess what are those black patches are?

I took them at NZ, Hot Water Beach. Apparently, there is a volcano out in the sea, and hot salty water are escaping through the sand. So during low tide, you could actually dig your own hot pool. Unfortunately, we wait and wait and the tide didn't seems to go low. Arggh ... better luck next time! :( but do have fun with guessing! :)

Well, they are baby Mussels! NZ Greenlipped Mussels are absolutely my favourite!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ramblings: Long Long way

Looks like it's still a long long way to go before I could do my next update :(
Sorry, but hope you do stay with me ....
- Makan Session at PeraMakan (Peranakan Cuisine) @ Singapore
- NZ trips etc
- Sydney Oysters, fish market etc
- More HCMC food, places etc ...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Home: Hari Raya Haji / Korban - Timid Edition

Today's marks an occassion when our Muslim friends celebrate the conclusion of the annual Haj - the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. Thanksgiving prayers are offered in the mosques. Sheep were sacrificed (korban) whose meat was distributed among the relatives and the poor. As for myself, I get a day of Public Holiday :)

Korban (religious sacrifice) were perform in various Mosques around Singapore. Watching the Korban wasn't actually on my mind, but since I coincidentally drive past a mosque, I might as well take a peek. And don't worry too much about, I assure you that mine is a less bloody version of Korban :D

Beautiful Mosque

The Main Hall and this area is strictly out-of-bound to women.

Did I mentioned that it's raining? It been like these for several days now :(
That's the area whereby sheep were slaughtered. It's covered up due to the rain, you seeing it now because they already packing up :P Ideally, the slaughtering should be performed by the person offering the korban, however, butchers were mostly employed nowadays to perform this task (i.e slitting the neck, blood draining & finally cutting & twisting its head off)

The headless sheep were move to the next area whereby skinning & gutting were done.

Then it's onto the trolley and off to the next section

Here, sheep were cut to halves or quarters.

Then it's off to another section where they were electric saw to smaller pieces.

And finally, to even smaller pieces for packaging.

These people were waiting for to collect small part of their offering. The rest of the offering will be distributed to the more needy.

Collecting part of offering when their name is called.

(Needy)People lining up for distribution of offering. Well, they don't exactly looks like "needy" people, but that's the spirit of sharing their offering with others.

So you see, virtually no blood. Perhaps I'll do a bloodier version next year, but that requires some planning. Till then, I wish our Muslim friends ...

Banner: January 2006

(belated) !!! HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
Hmm ... looks like I'm still not out of the woods yet. Still I need to start off with something simple. And banner for Jan 2006 should be easy to do :P

I made a few banners from my last New Zealand Trip.

New Zealand Christmas Tree, Pohutukawa [po-hoo-ta-car-wa](Metrosideros excelsa)

Kiwi Fruits

Tairua @ Coromandel Peninsula, a small but beautiful & relaxing seaside village. We stayed with our host in their lovely & unique "Barn-like" design holiday house.

Wai-O-Tapu @ Rotorua, New Zealand most colourful natural volcanic environment.

In the end, I choose to go local for all banners. So I dropped my baggage upon reaching home and join the mob at Esplanade for the New Year Countdown Fireworks. Was hoping to photograph the crowds with fireworks in the background.

Arghh ... too difficult! For a start, I was late. Secondly, I don't the height like those NBA players, so when the fireworks starts and everyone were raising high up their mobile phone trying to do recording of the splendid fireworks display, that's all I could see hehehehe..... Anyway, I thought the sight of those mobile phones in the dark were interesting. So that how this banner come about. :)