Annual Christmas Rant against that BandAid Song

It’s Christmastime and time for my annual “Why the f*** do they still play ‘(Feed the World) Do They Know It’s Christmas” spiel. I’m glad to say I only heard the damn song once this year (so far).

Here’s the lyrics. my comments are in BLUE CAPITALS. –

It’s Christmastime; there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer to pray for the other ones (OH… OTHER ONES???)
At Christmastime
It’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window (LAST TIME I LOOKED OUT MY WINDOW I WAS NOT IN AFRICA)
And it’s a world of dread and fear (NOPE NOT ALL OF AFRICA IN DREAD OR FEAR. STEREOTYPE ALERT!)
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears (STEREOTYPE ALERT ‘SAD AFRICAN’ STEREOTYPE. “NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS TO THEM. THEY SPEND EVERYDAY SITTING IN THEIR REFUGEE CAMPS CRYING”. #SARCASMTAG)

And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom (I THINK THEY”RE NORMAL CHURCH BELLS THANK YOU)
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you (OMG WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY? SMUG ASSHOLES! FUCKING PATRONISING)
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime (NOPE. SNOWS ON KILIMANJARO. WHITE AMERICAN DUDE WROTE ABOUT IT)

The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life (DON’T YOU THINK THAT’S YOUR GREATEST GIFT TOO?)
Oh, where nothing ever grows (HAVE YOU EVEN BEEN TO AFRICA? COME ON!!! ‘AFRICA’ EVEN HAS ENOUGH TO EXPORT!),no rain or rivers flow (CONGO. NILE. 2 MOST FAMOUS I CAN NAME)

Do they know it’s Christmastime at all? (YES. ABOUT 380MILLION CHRISTIAN AFRICANS DO. I’M SURE MANY NON-CHRISTIAN AFRICANS KNOW TOO. #PATRONISING #STEREOTYPE NOTE: ST AUGUSTINE WAS AFRICAN.)

Here’s to you, raise a glass for ev’ryone
Here’s to them, underneath that burning sun (SUN BURNS EVERYWHERE IN SUMMER. AND ALL THE F*IN DAY TIME AT THE EQUATOR)
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all? (YES)

Feed the world (PLEASE SAY HOW? ITS NOT A PROBLEM WITH RESOURCES BUT THE DISTRIBUTION. HOW DOES SINGING A PATRONISING SONG FILLED WITH STEREOTYPES HELP? HOW ABOUT TEACHING PEOPLE HOW TO BEST HELP? HOW TO CHOOSE CHARITIES? HOW TO ‘HELP’ IN A WAY THAT DOES NO PORTRAY PEOPLE AS POOR THINGS WO NEED HELP, WHO HAVE ZERO ABILITY TO HELP THEMSELVES, AND THE ‘SAVIOUR’ MENTALITY?)
Feed the world

Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime (THEY KNOW)
Feed the world

And here are the 11 of the Best Aid Parodies || The Guardian Personal favourites are ‘Who wants to be an aid worker’ and ‘Save Africa’.

For next years rant,  I need a little segue to Nigerian scams (and yes I know most Nigerians are not scammers). And I will rant about this song annually until I don’t hear it played on the radio.

There are many good charities and many ways to help people in poverty, people who need help getting food and clean water and education. Having good intentions does not take away the harm caused of stereotypes and the removal of dignity. If your intentions are truly good, then read up about issues, think about them, and then support charities that do good work. And supporting may mean just giving cash and not traveling to the area and posing with the ‘native children’. (There are many articles about the issues with voluntourism and the ‘charities’ that make money out of it, harming lives)

Me? I have not supported any African charities. A Ugandan priest visited our parish here in Singapore and I may have donated $10 to help in the church building fund. I know that people in his parish don’t spend the whole day crying and have food to eat and water to drink. They don’t have enough money to buy materials to construct the church building or the school building and school supplies. They do have locals who will build and local teachers. Some of our church youth later visited, but it was never touted as ‘saving uganda’ nor a charity mission. It was clear that it was a visit, a sort of cultural exchange.

Blessed Christmas y’all.

Fatboy’s Burgers

Fatboy’s wimpy burger, onion rings and milkshake. best onion rings in memory. I had The Elvis also a couple of weeks back and it too was pretty good.
Good Burgers, but still prefer Deburg or Roadhouse. The beef at Fatboy’s is not as flavoursome as those two, and the toppings are not so great both in overall taste and cooking quality. Pasir Panjang branch was full but no queue on a sat evening. (I’ve only tried the PP branch). Deburg is still not open and Roadhoase is far away and also has limited opening hours, so I’m glad I’ve found a next best when inconvenient burger cravings hit.
TL;DR – enjoyed meal : yes. will return: yes.

Thai Green Curry, made at home

I love green curry and often crave it. When the cravings hit, by murphy’s law there isn’t a convenient place open to fix it. But all has changed now that I’ve tried making it at home. Total cooking and prep time is less than hour. The most difficult part is getting myself to a thai supermarket – or any supermarket – to get the ingredients.

The gamechanger : thai green curry paste.

I tried the Nam Jai brand one. This is not the instant kind (I think). You still need your thai basil, fish sauce and coconut milk. Other ingredients I added were the chicken and brinjal and sugar. I also added more lime leaves, lemongrass, coriander and chilli padis. These are probably optional as the paste has them already.

Shopping list –

From thai supermarket – green curry paste, thai basil (aka holy basil), fish sauce, brinjals. And since you’re there (normal supermarkets have these too), get coconut milk, coriander, chilli padi, lemongrass.

From normal super/market – 400g chicken breast (and/or thigh),  sugar, kara coconut cream (if using this).

Ingredients for 2-3 servings

Thai green curry paste – half packet / 50g of the Nam Jai brand one

400g chicken

Thai brinjals (the golf ball (or smaller) sized ones) – about 5 or 6 or whatever.

fish sauce – 1 tablespoon

Sugar – 1 tablespoon. Palm sugar is usually used but I don’t have that.

Coconut milk – 400-500ml. I used the 250ml of thai coconut milk and 150ml of full cream milk. (On another occasion I used 500ml of coconut cream (didn’t realise the error) and it was way too lemak. Can use 1:1 ratio of coconut cream to water to get the same consistency as the coconut milk needed)

chilli padis – I used 12 and I cut them in half. cutting is probably optional.

herbs – 1 stalk lemon grass, 2 lime (kaffir) leaves, a bunch of coriander (1 full bunch with 1 root, root discarded), thai basil leaves, from about 2-3 stalks.

Method

Prep – cook the rice. Cut the chicken into cubes. Halve the brinjals. Remove stalk from chilli padi and slice into half.

Prep herbs – crush lime leaves (can do just before adding), cut lemon grass into 3 pcs or whatever, dice coriander stalks and chop leaves roughly or not at all, pluck out the basil leaves.

Heat some oil in pot. Add in the green curry paste and a little of the coconut milk and start frying. Add the chicken and fry, maybe browning the chicken pieces a little. When the chicken is half cooked (or whenever), add the brinjal. Add chilli. Add the lime leaves, lemongrass. Add some water if the mix gets to dry, When the stuff is a bit cooked or wilted, add fish sauce, sugar and more but not all of the coconut milk (or water if using coconut cream+milk) and let it simmer until the meat is cooked.  Then add the remaining coconut milk and let it  start to simmer or just wait a few minutes and turn off the heat. Add in coriander and thai basil leaves.

That’s all! Easy peasy. One pot + rice pot. That’s all the cleaning. And it’s a complete meal with vegetables! Other vege that’ll be nice to add is baby corn and bamboo shoots. These can be added just before turning off the fire.

Kok Kee Wantan Mee <3

 
This is one, if not THE, favourite wantan mee.
Went to eat there before it (Lavender Food Centre) closes. kok kee wantan mee. size – large (yes it’s tiny).
Love love love the sauce/gravy and the springy noodles. The wantan is ok only, char siew nothing to speak about. But I love it for the noodles and the gravy, which is a little sweetish.
 
A lot of people think Kok kee is overrated and it’s because they look for different things in their wantan mee and/or Kok Kee’s does not suit their taste. (Will post soon about the myth of ‘The Best’ wantan mee/chicken rice whatever have you) But this is my favourite, so there.
 
note to self- i’m not a fan of the chilli. a teeny bit is nice with the sauce tho. #latergram via Instagram http://ift.tt/X2qaoN nommed 28 July 2014

Fatty Cheong – Best Char Siew Ever <3

Fatty Cheong at ABC Brickworks hawker centre.  BEST char siew ever!!!  Siu yoke is really good too.
this was $10 and shared by 2. i ordered mix char siew siu yoke more char siew, requested the fattier non lean meat. much deserved good lunch at 430pm after a meeting.
Hours 11:00 – 20:30, closed Thurs
(although once I passed by around 730,8 and it was sold out already)
#01-120, ABC Brickworks Food Centre, 6 Jalan Bukit Merah
via Instagram http://ift.tt/1ngHP5e
nommed Jul 22 2014

Teaching Inclusion

The View Through Autism Glasses

For the last four years, I’ve been teaching a social skills curriculum at a local preschool. The curriculum is called “Second Step” (http://www.cfchildren.org/second-step.aspx), and it’s full of all kinds of good stuff. Mostly, I teach the lessons in the order laid out in the curriculum. Occasionally, one of the teachers at the school will approach me with a concern (my students are having trouble sharing, my students are experimenting with bad words, etc.) and I’ll use my “Friendship Circle” lesson to address whatever is happening in the classroom.

Without fail, each spring the teachers will let me know that it’s time to teach the inclusion lesson. A lot happens in the spring. The snow melts. The flowers bloom. The birds return. And the kids start saying, “I don’t want to play with you.”

While we do teach, model and encourage inclusion year-round… my favorite lesson is centered around…

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East Coast Lagoon noms

and trying out instagram embed shortcode

Nice dinner of chicken wings, satay and BBQ sambal stingray. The trinity. Always ordered together. And very ideal for eating by the beach.

A friend also commented on IG that cockles with belachan would go together with these too. I concur. But it has to be super fresh cockles…

These are from a stall nearer to the beach, on the left (if you stand with your back to the sea and facing the hawker centre). Pretty standard good.

And to complete the meal, the ideal refreshments are lime juice or coconut juice (in the coconut). Seems there was a coconut shortage that night.

I was at ECP that afternoon for a picnic, to commemorate the winding up of our little startup. We didn’t take any pictures though. But it was fun. 2 people went swimming and went home dripping…

#322 & #323 “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?”

Comment 20359 Made my hair stand.
The original post – Thank you for writing this!
I have creeps in my acquaintance too who I avoid when they had some drinks. I’ve not gotten the worse of their creepiness though. (and it’s not as bad as the creepers the LWs meet. Can fend off easily )

Captain Awkward

Here is Letter #322. It and the other letter are below the jump because it’s fucking creepy in there.

Edited to Add: It’s frankly depressing that this post has struck a chord with so many people, but I’m grateful and honored to be able to help the letter writers and to have given voice to what so many people were feeling. Unfortunately the demands of moderating this discussion have become overwhelming this week, so as of Monday, August 13th comments are locked. We’ll pick up this discussion some other time. Thank you for all of your insightful contributions and for making this one of the best commentspaces on the Web.</EDIT>

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Restaurant Week Mar 2014 – Gattopardo

This is the first time visiting since they moved from Fort Canning. The previous dinners (RW and non RW) were I had there were good generally, with hit and misses among the dishes . I was at a table of 5, for lunch.

Verdict : yes I’d have a meal there again.  Will order the stuff I  know are good.

Delicious bread was served warm, with olive oil and an olive tapenade. They do ask if guests want more bread (and no extra charges for it. good)

s_2014-03-18 12.37.49

Amuse Bouche. Rice balls in a tomato sauce. Nice but not wow. A little heavy for an amuse.

Amuse Bouche.  Rice ball in tomato sauce
Amuse Bouche. Rice ball in tomato sauce

Starter – Delicious smoked trout tasted fresh and lightly smoked. The dish was clean and balanced. (wow I’m using terms clean and balanced but really it was what it was!!)

Smoked trout
Smoked trout

Main – Angel hair pasta with creamy sauce of tomato,  bottarga and sea urchin.

angel hair pasta
angel hair pasta

No overpowering sea urchin taste (which I actually like but most people don’t and its to “heavy” for lunch). The bottarga was salty but it worked well. I really liked the sauce. The pasta was a little overcooked (imo) and I feel this dish would be better with a thicker noodle.

One companion ordered the dory fish. It was really good. (not the lousy cheap cream dory nonsense). Fish was fresh and firm and perfectly cooked.

Dessert. Semifreddo

s_2014-03-18 12.58.34

I expected something similarly blah to the similar desert I had here a year ago. However this time they made the improvement I wished – nuts were toasted and seasoned and wonderfully crunchy which went nicely with semifreddo (ie half melted nua nua ice cream).

Gattopardo

34 Tras St, 079026
9325 8843

www.gattopardo.com.sg/

We were there on a Tues for lunch.

Chinese New Year Snack Roundup

It is 2.33am on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year, Year of the Horse 2014 and I’m typing this but note – I’m not actually working. The auspicious hour to start work for this year is at 11am and I will fire off some emails to some undergrads who need my help on their project.

Although I’m in a state of semi-somnolent food coma, I am still inclined to do a snack round up. It is always good to be prepared for next year’s CNY :D

I bought most of the snacks from Glory catering and some pineapple tarts from Ah Gek. Mum bought some other stuff.

Next year – buy tarts, green pea cookies, kueh bangkit from Glory catering, try Ah Gek’s tarts again (but buy earlier) and try to score more home made goodies… esp Almond cookies. (And maybe try Plain Vanilla’s Bak Kwa cookies)

Pineapple Tarts

This year I somehow ended buying so many pineapple tarts that I could do a semi-comprehensive side by side review. The p’apple tarts are from Glory Catering (open and enclosed), Ah Gek (open and enclosed), a random shop in AMK (open) and some auntie homemade ones (open).

Pineapple Tarts. clockwise from enclosed one - enclosed, Ah Gek; open, Ah Gek; Aunty M's; a gift; from AMK.
Pineapple Tarts. clockwise from enclosed one – enclosed, Ah Gek; open, Ah Gek; Aunty M’s; a gift; from AMK.

The best are from mum’s friend Aunty M who stays in Toh Yi. (this information is also important and has to be recorded). The pastry was lovely and buttery,slightly melt in your mouth. I preferred Glory’s open face tarts to Ah Gek’s open faced ones and Ah Gek’s enclosed ones to Glory’s. Ah Gek’s pineapple filling was delicious and in fact best among all the pineapple tarts, but I like the pastry and this was where Ah Gek’s didn’t live to my expectations. The one from the shop in AMK was not very good – the filling was not bad but the pastry was not good – biscuity, dry and not buttery.

The rest

Glory’s new year goodies are pretty good. The ones on sale in their Upper East Coast Road shop are ‘handmade’ as opposed to factory made. You can sample most of the them before you buy. $17 for the pillow type (these may be factory made), $22 for the open face. They have more varietes and it goes up to $40 for some very pretty perfectly round apple shaped pillow tarts.

s_2014-01-31 13.45.02-2

I bought : almond biscuits ($15)- not bad, but S’s mum’s friend Aunty R’s were so much better!!!). Green Pea cookes ($15)- savoury and sweet. Delicious! melt in the mouth texture. Kueh Bangkit ($12) – very nice. slightly more fragrant than the one mum bought but almost the same.  Arrowhead chips ($12) – nuff said.

Other than these, I bought  an orange sugee cake from Monk’s Hill Bakery. It’s not as heavy as the Eurasian sugee cake (be forwarned and manage expectations) but it definitely has the sugee moistness, texture and almond flavour with a lovely and strong orange tang and aroma.

Cafe Hopping – PS Cafe

Brunch at PS Cafe in Dempsey was a really great way to start the New Year. Wake up, go out, eat and then nua at friend’s place.

PS cafe has remained consistently good so far. Never disappointed with the food nor the service. Perhaps the cafe-style food is not the most original but it’s consistenly done well. Not every dish/component is good but overall quality is there.

Three of us shared fish and chips, portobello stack, onion and gruyere cheese tart.

Fish and chips, portobello stack and cheese and onion tart
Fish and chips, portobello stack and cheese and onion tart
Portobello Stack
Portobello Stack
Gruyere and Onion Tart
Gruyere and Onion Tart

Portobello stack was a bit disappointing. The cheese and onion was really good (reminded me of the one we had in Avignon, but with cheese) . The salad on side that was served with it was fresh with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Followed by Key Lime Pie and Sticky Date Pudding

Sticky Date Pudding
Sticky Date Pudding
Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie

Pie was not too bad, could be tarter. Sticky Date Pudding was the yumz.

Summary : consistently good food, great service. Repeat visit.

After chilling and chatting for 2+ hours, we were requested, very sweetly and nicely by staff Ace, to settle the bill as there were many people waiting for the table (did not notice the queue from our table). So we decided to have some coffee and the most wonderful pandan chiffon (description mine) at Necessay Provisions before heading to M’s to loll around and nua. We watched Suze Ormon on TV (talking about personal finance, great for new year TV watching). It was a pretty good day spent in the company of wonderful people :D

Also at Dempsey, there is a pond with two giant koi (and many smaller koi). Hugest koi fish I have ever seen. There is a sign not to throw rocks at the fish. We were wondering why would anyone throw rocks at fish.  But then we saw the fish and they are that huge.

Koi at dE

s_2014-01-01 13.58.34

S: Omg you are so huge and ugly! No wonder you don’t have any friends! You are huge, like a monster!

Mimi :  Don’t worry about what others think about you, you are beautiful and wonderful.

Me (seeing tourists and others coming to look at the pond) : Chey koi only. Like never such huge koi before meh…

-_- Little wonder we don’t have many other friends.

Cafe hopping – Necessary Provisions and Al-Azhar

I heard about Necessary Provisions but promptly forgot about it, although it would appear regularly on ‘must go’ cafe lists (which I dutifully ignore). Finally went to try it and when I checked some reviews beforehand, I realised that it’s run by the same folks behind Henry Congressional – of the Best Pandan Chiffon Ever (description and emphasis mine) and delicious savoury scones. EXCITES!

So I went there on both new year’s eve and on new year’s day.  Both times I had the <3 <3 <3 wonderfulest pandan chiffon ever, lovely iced coffee and pretty great company.

Its the softest, pillowy, moist (in a chiffon cake moist), tender pandan chiffon ever. I tried pandan chiffon from Balmoral Bakery (in Sunset Way) a few days later and while it was good, still no where as near as this. (although admittedly much cheaper)

(part of) best panda chiffon ever
(part of) best panda chiffon ever

Savoury scones are just that – scone in texture, savoury in taste, with some black pepper and little bit of cheese. They are small ‘popcorn’ sized. Comes in a bowl of 6-8.

savoury scones (I had a few already)
savoury scones (I had a few already)

I had both an 5oz espresso and the iced coffee. The coffee is good and I can drink it black, no sugar no milk. Their iced coffee is really cute – espresso ice cubes with a side of milk to pour over – and it tastes pretty good. Trick is to pour some, not all of the milk at one time so you don’t have to wait too long for enough of the espresso to melt to drink. Smart re-purposing of  a sake serving bottle.

Iced coffee
Iced coffee

The cafe itself is decorated in good trendy designer like taste with the usual cafe hipster elements. Black painted walls and low tables with normal height chairs. Not the most comfy (but guess that helps in turnaround). They have interesting bric a brac decor. As usual, the acoustics due to the bare walls, ceiling and cement floor and adding the background music results in slight aural fatigue but not the worse experience.

Pandan cake and little savoury scones do not a 1pm breakfast make. So being still hungry, we trooped down to nearby Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant (which is a giant 3-4 combi sized coffeshop) along Bukit Timah Rd (officially Cheong Chin Nam Road ). There are two huge muslim food places there that have menus thicker than a phone book. This one is the one not at the corner.

dhal and bendi masala
dhal and bendi masala

I can definitely go half vegetarian with good Indian food. Though the range is staggering, I need to start learning more about Indian food (northern and southern) and not depend on others to order for me.

sour plum and lemon
sour plum and lemon

Two of us shared a bendi masala, dhal makani and chapattis. The sour plum and lemon  drink here is really good! It actually tastes of lemon AND sour plum mixed unlike most places where its just (overly sweet) lemon juice with a few sour plums thrown in for fun.

bendi masala – ladies fingers. It was spicy, but not enough to cry spicy.
dhal makani – black dhal.

Chai Buay – making for the first time

I drafted this during Chinese New Year this year (2013) and procrastinated posting it. Well, just in time for CNY 2014 year of the horse! Imma gonna do this again!

Chai Buay is a soupy/gravy-ish dish of roast duck, roast pork and mustard greens, strongly flavoured with chillis and assam. It’s hot (pedas), sour and meaty. It’s a delicious dish that uses up CNY leftovers; and it has no set recipe, just a working framework. I’ll share what I did for this round and the general framework to work with for subsequent rounds.

Chai Buay
Chai Buay. It doesn’t look pretty either but who cares it’s wonderful!

I eat kiam chye duck soup and muay chai regularly. But I had chai buay for the first time – or maybe the first time realising it – only last year when Aunty Doris gave us a pot. I liked it very much and could have it every meal for a few days. Then Food Canon did a post on it and that’s where I got my inspiration and reference material. However my mother was the one who decided ultimately what went in. She has never made this  before either but that didn’t stop her from declaring herself to be more expert than me in this matter.

We did not have assam keping nor assam sauce, so pickled plums were used instead.  (Ok. fine. My mother was the one who suggested this substitution.) The pickled plums are the chinese type (bottle says Shantou pickled plums) about $1 for a bottle of 10. They’re very very very salty and a bit sour.

Materials and Method

Main ingredients

1 head of fresh mustard green (the round type)

4 pieces of pickled/preserved mustard green (looks like kiam chye but it’s not kiam chye. it’s the more sour one)

pieces of roast duck with bones. They were leftovers (shan’t mention from when exactly) – I think it was about 8 largeish pieces including 1 thigh. About maybe 1/4 or 1/3 duck.

(roast pork pieces if you have it, or sliced pork, if you want)

2-5 pickled plums (Mother put in 2. I added 3 more when she went off)

4 cloves garlic, smash it once

2 -4 red onions, smash it once

3-4 slices of ginger, thick cut slices

10 chilli padis (normal chillis would be ok to. just ok. chilli padi will make it great!)

mise en place –

sesame oil , normal vegetable oil

soya sauce

chicken stock cube (optional)

oyster sauce (optional)

hua tiao jiu (optional)

rock sugar or white sugar.

Prep time : 15-20 minutes (assume roast duck is already cut cos it’s leftover).

Cook time 3-4 hours

Method

Saute the garlic and onion and ginger in sesame oil or normal oil, then add the chillis and fry a bit.. Then, add the duck pieces (and pork if you have them). Saute for a little bit.

Add in water. Add the pickled/preserved mustard greens. Add 2 pieces of pickled plums (or more. I added 3 more after that)

Boil for 2 hours, stirring a once in while or after a nap.

It was super super pedas when I tried it (10 pcs of chilli padi but not yet meaty)

Then, add in the raw mustard greens (which have been cut into pieces) and extra pickled plums. I added a bit of rock sugar here (1-2 small pieces, less than a teaspoon) (should’ve done it later) and topped up with  a bit of water.

Bring to boil and simmer for another hour, or two. Taste regularly and do some sour balancing, sweet balacing (I decided to add more plums and boiled it for another 15-20 mins or whatever time I took to surf the interwebs). I also added half a cube of chicken stock flavouring.

After the 1-2 hours, turn off the stove and leave it overnight. It should taste pretty good at this time, but would be even better the next day. NO to instant gratification. The wait would be worth it….

Results

It tasted damn good.

Proposed General Recipe Framework

The essential things to this dish are

  1. fresh mustard green (round type). And/or pickled mustard greens. A mix is the best.
  2. bones at least one of these – roast duck, pork ribs, duck, chicken (not fish)
  3. meat of at least one of these – roast duck, roast pork (additional meat of duck, pork, chicken, roast chicken can be added. no fish. no sausages or chinese sausages or waxed meat)
  4. chilli padi dried or fresh. A lot of them. (normal chilli is for wimps)
  5. assam keping and/or pickled plums (I would mix them)
  6. the usual suspects – garlic (1 head), shallots (4 or 5), a few slices of ginger.
  7. seasonings and stuff (mise en place in SEA chinese kitchens) – sesame oil, normal cooking oil, light soya sauce, hua tiao jiu, chicken stock, oyster sauce, rock sugar (or normal sugar)
  8. water. How much water? To fill the pot. If there’s too little water, add more, if there is too much water, then boil it off. I would suggest moderation at first.

steps –

  1. saute the usual suspects and the chilli in sesame oil (or normal cooking oil).
  2. Add in the meat and saute
  3. add in meat bones, pickled mustard greens and assam/plums (ie the sour stuff)
  4. add in water to fill the pot, an amount proportional to the volume of things in the pot. use discretion. don’t worry if too much or too little
  5. boil, then simmer for 2 hours.t his is to extract meat flavour
  6. add the fresh mustard greens. they are not added at the start so that they are not over mushy at the end.  but it’s not too important if you forgot and added it at the start.
  7. taste it and balance the sour, salty etc. add water if needed
  8. simmer for another 2 hours.
  9. turn off fire and LEAVE OVERNIGHT (out of the fridge is ok) for flavours to meld and develop.

I tasted it before and after the overnight wait and there is a noticeable difference in taste. It is well worth the wait.

Food canon says that stuff can be added as you go along. More bones, more meat, top up with fresh/pickled mustard greens, chilli padis, assam/pickled plums.

References

The Food Canon, 2013, The Science & Philosophy of Chai Buay: There is still life yet in your leftovers, blog

This post cites no other references. :p

Musings on Math – Algebra

Algebra teaches you to deal with life’s unknowns. That unknowns are ok. Just calmly piece the clues together and process them.

If there are more unknowns than equations (ie clues), then you get to pick which of the infinitely possible solutions to use.

And where there is no real solution, there is always the realm of the imaginary.

La Traviata and Harry’s @ the Esplanade

Watched Singapore Lyric Opera’s production of La Traviata this evening at The Esplanade.

Before that, had dinner at Harry’s @ Esplanade. I’ve not eaten in Harry’s for years. Today I had the Rocquefort Burger. It was way too salty. There was some gristle in the burger too :/ But it wasn’t horrible as I finished it. Will probably have something else next time I’m there (which may be a long time).

Rocquefort Cheese Burger at Harry's @ Esplanade
Rocquefort Cheese Burger at Harry’s @ Esplanade

After the show we went to grab a drink at Barossa. The PRC waitress didn’t know her stuff at all BUT she had a good attitude and went to ask her seniors/bosses and got back to us with the answers. I tried to order an Irish Coffee which wasn’t on the menu, but two of the staff said they don’t have it (hello, on the menu they state requests accepted and to challenge the bartenders). Only a manager walking by said they can do it and could tell me the price. Sigh. Service in Singapore.

Irish Coffee at Barossa
Irish Coffee at Barossa

The Irish Coffee was quite crap IMO. I’m not sure if it’s because of the coffee they used. Weak, bitter, longkang jui-ish. No idea what alcohol they put in, but it wasn’t Bailey’s. I suspect it was vodka. I also tried half a sip of the pina colada and it’s not bad.

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I think La Traviata is my favourite opera. I love the music. The prelude is one of my most favourite pieces of music. SLO’s production was interesting, though not traditional. The setting was contemporary.  Each scene looked like it was a fashion magazine editorial. The first act especially reminded me of a Vogue editorial. I especially liked the first act, with everything monochrome black white – from the cast’s costumes to the furniture and opulent decor – except for Alfredo’s red shirt under his jacket and Violetta’s dramatic red dress. The second act I liked how the light pink jacket A wore and same hued dress V wore. The pink contrasted with the green (astroturf) grass again giving a fashion editorial feel. Add to that some “product placement” of Apple mac minis and ipad. -_- However, some noted that the dresses didn’t flatter Nancy Yuen’s figure. Except the red dress in the first act.

The singing was good overall and the orchestra was good too. Nancy Yuen is a little light and in a couple of (short) parts, her voice couldn’t project over the music and was too muted for the scene. Someone mentioned that she wasn’t that great at the colutura parts, which I also noted. She didn’t sing the rapid up/down phrases too well and sounded a little halting. However the rest of her singing was good and especially in the arias. Her voice and singing and phrasing was full, sweet and conveyed each emotion beautifully.