February 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Family went to MELT at Mandarin Oriental to celebrate our birthdays. Mom (21st Feb), sis (12th Feb) and I (4th Feb) are all February babies, 3 consecutive weeks worth of ‘em, so to save our stomachs and figures from obesity we try to celebrate it together.
This year we went to MELT, which is a great restaurant in Mandarin Oriental. This place is exorbitantly pricey during peak periods but the food is excellent as far as buffets go. Digressing, all the restaurants in Oriental are excellent. There’s Morton’s, of course, which needs no introduction. Cherry Garden, the dim sum place, which according to the author of ieatishootipost is the ‘sort of place you bring your future in-laws to when you’re going to break it to them that you’re marrying their daughter’. [There's the weekend dim sum a la carte buffet here at $45+++ per pax that is worth every penny.] There’s also Wasabi Bistro, the Japanese restaurant. The weekend brunch a la carte buffet is $58+++ per pax but is also worth every cent you put down. In short, you can’t really go wrong with any of Oriental’s offerings. It may be a little pricier than some others, but I subscribe to ieatishootipost’s Leslie Tay philosophy of not wasting my calories on yucky food. (Almost) nothing makes me feel grumpier and more dissatisfied than poorly prepared food especially if it’s going to my waistline.
COMING BACK TO MELT, yes… This isn’t the first time we came here, probably the second. We were here one Christmas as well. Because it’s her birthday month Mom had the option of having 15% off or 1 person dining for free (we took the latter option) when using UOB. They also gave us complimentary yummy praline cake, two big slices of it (which we were so full we had to tar-bao).
Now I don’t know about you, but to me the two most important parts of a buffet are the appetizers (read: sashimi and/or cold seafood) and the desserts. Everything else in between is a filler and forgivable if it isn’t up to par. So I always rate my buffets by how good the sashimi and desserts are.
Sashimi here is one of the best you can get on a buffet line. Fresh, not a hint of having been left out too long. Wasabi that kicks you in the nose and makes your eyes water. [No tuna for me, personal choice the same way I don't take sharks fin.]
Cheese platter. I love cheese. Almost every kind of cheese. Except maybe blue cheese. It’s always nice to go for buffets with expansive cheese selections to have a taste of stuff you normally only get on European breakfast tables. [If you really love cheese, try the buffet at Fullerton hotel. They have a cheese selection that will leave you dumbfounded.]
If you want to eat anything from the mains, go for the Indian cuisine, of which there is a lot of. They also have an entire Chinese section, pasta, western and all your usual suspects in an international buffet, but the Indian food is pretty yummy. I think it tasted better to me the last time we were here. This time I don’t think anything about it has changed, but my tastebuds have tasted the awesomeness of the cuisine while I was Sri Lanka last year, so it wasn’t as yums to me as it was previously. MELT has one of the most expansive buffet selections ever. I don’t have many pictures of it to share because I nibble on the mains and my plate therefore looks fairly pathetic and unphotogenic. So we’ll move on to the desserts.
Now they don’t stinge on their desserts either. Seriously, they offer more than any dedicated dessert shop any day. There’s drawers and plates full of cakes and creams and fondue with not just fruit but cookies on sticks.
And then the servers brought out two slices of this cake! It’s a praline with a crunchy nutty base. [Conrad has this cake too which we ordered some years for birthdays that is really really good.] Two slices because Mom told them there were 3 of us celebrating birthdays. We tarbao-ed them home because we simply couldn’t eat any more.
The service was great. I guess it’s not peak season for students to work there so most of the servers were filipinos and there was an ang moh manager. (Actually I don’t know if Oriental takes in waiting staff who are students, their service has always been impeccable in my memory.) One of the staff charged us wrongly for one of the glasses of wine and they gave it is to us complimentarily after mom notified them of the mistake.
Good service accompanying a satisfying meal, which is just about all you could want for a happy tummy and a happy mind.
MELT is definitely on my memorable-buffets-list, but it comes in somewhere after Oscar’s (Conrad) and The Line (Shangri-La) and before Town (Fullerton) for international buffets. This is not even including the Chinese and Jap buffets.
(I love food too much and should shut up now.)
Sometimes I think I should just blog about food because it makes me happy.
Kay off now.
January 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
Hello, sorry I haven’t been around much, intended to blog several times over the past 2 weeks but turns out I couldn’t get around to doing it.
So it’s about half an hour to the 3rd of January, I’m going to do my Christmas/Year-end/NEWYEAR! entry as one mega combo before old news becomes ancient news.
This Christmas I mean, last Christmas, with NTU giving me the best present in form of the latest-exams-I’ve-ever-had-in-my-life, I didn’t really have time to prepare anything for anyone as I do in normal years. So I’m SORRY.
Only a small handful got my shortbread cookies. SO YOU GUYS ARE THE BLESSED ONES.
I was very excited to use my new cookie cutters. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to use a single new one and ended up recycling my old star cutter. The bunny, bear and kitty are new, with the kitty being excitedly purchased from a heavenly shop stocked floor to ceiling with cutters in Lucerne, Switzerland. The other two are from Daiso.
But anyway. Shortbread is a finicky sort of dough (Almost 2 full packs of butter go into that lump of dough you see up there. And very little flour.) that doesn’t hold well with moulds, that’s why they’re most often done as rectangles or squares (ie Walkers shortbread). Last year I used a particular recipe that was very crumbly. This year I tried a new one and it was so moist and sticky that it was difficult for the exact opposite reason. Hence the stars were about the only shape it could vaguely hold together long enough to be baked in.
As you can see I valiantly attempted to get them to be gingerbread shaped as well. The few I managed to peel off the table and pop into the oven mostly ended up with sad fates (amputated, decapitated, etc…) before they could even begin to cool. I think only one person even got a gingy-shortbread this year.
Okay, WordPress has actually amazed me by making everything I typed over the past half hour magically disappear. So I don’t really want to repeat it. But it was a summary of life in 2010.
I shall just move on and say that 2010 was an intense and amazing year of traveling, spending a lot of time talking to God alone in Europe, reflecting on life, what I want, where I want to go, what I want to be, and expanding my mind in many ways. I have met many wonderful people, worked with many lovely ones I never got to work with before, and have had so many milestones that it would be hard to think of the most significant moment I had in 2010.
Most people envy me for having traveled 7 months of my year away, but it has been a period of growth, and the return has been nothing short of challenging. Here as we enter 2011 I’m finally settling BACK to the Singapore life, but with bigger dreams and higher hopes.
It’s going to be my best year yet.
December 21, 2010 § 2 Comments
The exams have finally exhausted themselves and disappeared from my life (for a whole good year). No more exams till next November! Now that I’ve slept enough and have stopped being a total zombie, I finally have the energy to be excited for the new season ahead (next up: internship!).
So my family had an early Christmas dine-out this year. Traditionally we go for a buffet at a nice hotel every year. We have our favourites – Oscar’s at Conrad, Melt: The World Cafe at Mandarin Oriental, The Line at Shangri-La… but this year Sis booked somewhere we hadn’t been to yet.
We’ve been to Pine Court at Meritus a number of times for birthdays and such (they have excellent dim sum!), but this was our first time trying Triple Three. A couple of hours before we were going to go there, I went to check out the reviews on Hungrygowhere (of course)… and boy were they disappointing! Complaints of bad service and subpar food abounded.
Never underestimate the power of the Internet because Hungrygowhere was the first site that popped up on Google search, and if I had discovered it any earlier, we would’ve canceled our reservation and headed for somewhere else.
Unfortunately, because it was only a couple of hours to dinnertime, Sis and I did try calling up some other hotel restaurants but they were either fully booked or too expensive. (Melt was going for 98++ per pax that night!) So we decided to just stick to Triple Three and test it out for ourselves.
I went with low expectations and a hungry stomach. When we got there, I was pleasantly surprised that I did not encounter any of the bad service reputedly featured on the Hungrygowhere reviews. The extremely smiley and welcoming manager ushered us in, made small talk with us and mentored his staff closely. Sure there were some inexperienced waitresses. We had one from China with very bad English but she tried. Jason had a dirty fork and we got that changed, we asked for warm water but got room temperature water, but these were minimal and nothing to make a hoo-ha about. So my conclusion on the service front: It was nothing much to complain about! Acceptable enough and they were polite and brisk with clearing the tables.
Now we move on to the food.
Of course, I am slightly biased and tend to judge buffets based on how well they do my favourite foods. Aka, seafood (sashimi sashimi sashmi, and other things) and dessert.
For a buffet, they actually don’t leave the sashimi out on a platter for you to take on your own. They have a chef (if you can call him a chef) there to slice the various types of sashimi when you want it (so it means you can’t take as much as you want and you will feel paiseh to go back for seconds because the guy has already seen you before, very smart).
The chef is quite stingy with the pieces, he normally gives about 3 or 4 little slices each and I asked for more because well, I love sashimi. As you can probably tell from his cuts, he’s not very good at this slicing this. I’m not sure whether to give him the benefit of doubt that his knife isn’t sharp enough or that he’s really just not very deft with it, but they were quite badly sliced in general.
Sashimi verdict? Okay lor. Not great. Not bad. Wasabi was the kind that knocks you out and cures your sinuses so I liked it.
Moving on to the crayfish.
This was not bad, but that cheese/cream/calories sauce thing they drowned the meat in was a bit much. Some people like it I guess, I liked it too, but would’ve liked it more if there had been a little less of that cream.
Turkey and roast beef. Okay the thing about Christmas right… what is Christmas without turkey? Turkey was actually the key deciding factor in choosing buffets (because my sister wants turkey).
The turkey and roast beef were nicely done. Turkey was tender. Bad point: no stuffing. Where’s my turkey stuffing? Roast beef was on the medium rare side which I liked.
This is also sliced on the spot for you. Surprise surprise, by the same guy who cuts your sashimi.
Roast duck. The concept of this buffet is they have a lot of stations where people have to prepare things ‘on the spot’ for you. The duck was not bad but I just feel like, I don’t really pay 70 dollars to come to a buffet to eat duck.
Or prawn mee either. Though I must say I liked this prawn mee. It was nice.
They also had very bad chawanmushi.
It was bad, and didn’t taste anything like any chawanmushi I’ve had in my life so I don’t really know how to describe it.
Some of the other stations they had were a stir-fry station, where they had juicy mushrooms and bean sprouts, fish and beef cubes. These were not bad I’d have to say. And they also had an Indian food corner that I must’ve completely ignored.
So my verdict on the mains overall:
Variety – okay.
Quality – okay, some inconsistent. Nothing stood out.
But sometimes if the food isn’t fantastic, dessert makes up for it. But not here.
Always remember that sometimes they look better than they taste.
Of the 3 little cups here. One was mango, which was the only nice one. Strawberry was dull. The last we couldn’t even identify but it definitely didn’t taste good.
Green tea log cake, or they should’ve called it green tea buttercream with a bit of cake. Unidentifiable soury brown cake in the background.. I have no idea what it was supposed to be but it tasted like it had gone bad. The thing is, it probably hasn’t, but whatever they were trying at, it failed (might have been an attempt at some sort of yogurt cake). Even the cute little chocolate thing tasted bad. How can?
Completely fail. Except for the lime ice-cream, because it’s citrus. But of course they don’t make the ice-cream in-house so that doesn’t really count.
So would I recommend this place?
If you’re a dessert queen… definitely not. But overall the food is not bad (not good, remember, just not bad) and apart from the chawanmushi
being the only major turnoff, sorry, I forgot the soba, don’t eat that either, the food is actually quite edible. But if you’re going to pay $68++ for a Christmas buffet, I’d suggest topping up another $10 and going to Oscar’s at Conrad instead. Impeccable food and service there. But if you a a DBS cardholder and want to go for the 1-for-1 promotion (that ends at the end of the year, Mon-Thur only, must book because every night is full), then I guess it’s worth a shot?
Anyway looking forward to more Christmas gatherings now. Have one almost every day till the end of the year! Happy holidays everyone. Enjoy the remainder of December and look forward to an amazing 2011.
June 23, 2010 § 2 Comments
I know the description on the sidebar says that I’ll try to shoot more and talk less, but I’ve been talking a lot. Well at least I said ‘attempt’ to shoot more and talk less.
Can’t really edit photos proper so these photos are mostly untouched, just resized using GIMP, which really isn’t all too bad and I should be grateful I can even use, though the process of opening and resizing one photo is inefficiently taking more than a minute per shot.
This is the popular and rather famous (by its sheer convenient location on the Ramblas stretch) La Boqueria Market in Barcelona. It was probably our favourite place in Barca because Junhua and I were there every day.
And the last picture is a little gross so I’m sorry if anyone gets nightmares of dead sheep afterwards.
(Chinese readers should be okay since we can’t comment because half the things we eat is also makes it to the gross list of most angmohs.)
Oh yea, if anyone noticed any difference in the photos (ie. you were thinking is it just me or do they look better than usual, they look sharper, the bokeh is nicer, etc), it’s because they were shot with the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. I have officially given up on my kit lens and if anyone wants to buy it from me when I come back do tell me. It has offered me good range for the past 15 months or so but there is far more it cannot offer me, so it’s time to part ways dear friend.
Don’t know if I’m going to expand anymore because Canon is making me lust after the 5D MkII and even the counterpart to the D90, the Canon 550D has way better video quality than the jellied mesh produced by the Nikon D90. But if I do… a 70-200mm and an 85mm prime would be nice… (Just dreaming…)
June 8, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Done with my first exam in Switzerland. My head hurts so much from the lack of academic stimulation over the past few months… I say academic and not intellectual stimulation, because there is a big chasm between two. Intellectual stimulation is enjoyable. Academic is largely regurgitation, even here. 3 more papers to go, one this Friday and 2 more in the last week of June after I come back from Barcelona (yes I’m off to Barca next Monday, envy me).
Okay… I have to drop the word ‘design’ from this entry because it’s finally about my favourite topic and the main staple of this blog before I came to Switzerland… FOOD glorious FOOD.
I finally caved in to my need to eat REAL Chinese food after 4 months (fried rice and eating instant noodles doesn’t count). So Walts and I scouted out some good Chinese food while we were in Rotterdam.
The Netherlands in general has loads of food of many diverse origins because of it’s colonial history. Loads of Indonesian, Thai, and of course, Chinese food everywhere.
Walts was buying a Crumpler camera bag so we asked the guy where we could get some authentic Chinese food, cause we’d been away from home for months and really wanted The Real Deal. He directed us a couple of streets down to the Chinatown-ish area where there were loads of Asian eateries… and his recommended place, which was famous among the local Dutch and Chinese populations alike: De Lange Muur.
It was really like a Hong Kong 餐厅; very very busy, Canto speaking staff, very loud conversations and a lot of Chinese people… Which I didn’t really mind, for once. We did hesitate quite a bit before going in though, because Asian food in Europe is RIDICULOUSLY expensive even with the good exchange rate at the moment. (When you have to fork out 12 euros for a plate of kang kong, you definitely do a double take.)
But our Chinese taste buds won the argument, and after wandering down the street and realizing prices weren’t going to get any cheaper, we decided that if we were going to blow a lot of money eating Asian food, we were better off spending it on the good stuff.
Walts examining the menu cause Liz can’t read it. They automatically gave us the Chinese text menu because we were Asian. The Dutchies get a picture book version with pictures of the various dishes and descriptions in Dutch. Lol.
Har Gao! Siew Mai! I miss dim sum DEARLY. I already told Jem Oh that when I return to Singapore I demand another dim sum & durian outing to Geylang ASAP. I think one of it was €3.80 and the other €4.20. And the money I had with me was changed at around 1.85, so go figure how much in SGD that cost.
Walt and I going trigger happy and getting weird stares. That stupid boy started nose bleeding as we were queuing up to get a seat. Then when we started eating he started bleeding even more. There was so much blood everywhere I think only the sheer fact of what food was in front of me stopped me from losing my appetite. I don’t know why all these things always happen to him when I’m eating with him. I still vividly remember the day he fainted in front of me after dinner at Plaza Sing sometime in December 2009.
Beef kuay teow. Not the way we do it in Singapore, but this was still omgood. The ‘chup’ was very nice. Plus all the chili (the kind that’s drowning in chili oil). Heaven. This was €10. Ha. Yes. Take that. For beef kuay teow! But it’s not as ridiculous as the €15 laksa we saw in Amsterdam a few days later.
Soooo.. the food was so awesomely satisfying, that even though we were spending an average of SGD$20 on food we could get at a third of the price back home, we went back there again the next evening.
Mixed veggies. This cost €13.50, I kid you not. But the portion was gianormous! In fact the portion of all the food there was gianormous. And this came with a big pot of rice that Walts had to finish most of because we also ordered duck chao mian.
Their portions are HUGE. Only the Chinese can finish this much food. It was funny to observe how all the Chinese patrons really wolfed everything down or at least tar pao-ed their leftovers, and all the Dutchies would be stuck at their tables having eaten less than half of the food, then throw everything else away. Walts and I had to painfully watch copious amounts of glorious Chinese food being swept off the table by waiters.
Second night’s bill was higher than the first. And I was stuffed up to my nostrils. But boy was it a very happy two evenings of indulgences. Much better than the Thai restaurant we ended up in on our first night in Amsterdam, where Walts ordered Thai Green Curry that was 99% coconut milk. And the €5 tom yam soup that I shared with him that was about the size of two Chinese tea cups. Pfft.
And this area is just on the next street from the Red Light District, which wasn’t all that interesting the day we went. (Our hostel, which is a Christian hostel, was funnily in between these two streets.) Someone told me that the prostitutes on display were as hot as models, but that day I only saw a few girls on display and they were either flabby or saggy, so no further comments about the Red Light District if any of you want to ask me ‘So How Was Amsterdam’s Famous RLD??’. And if you want to ask me whether I smoked pot, the obvious answer is: No.
Anyway I digress. Going back to food, Walts and I of course also had to try the famous Vlaamse Frites… supposedly the Dutchies eat it with heaps of mayo, but I don’t like mayo. So we tried this one with their definition of ‘curry sauce’.
From another stall in Amsterdam. This one was supposed ‘sambal olek’. The guy warned us when we ordered it that was ‘very spicy’. We gamely grinned and told him we could handle it and asked for more. He originally only gave me a tiny dollop the size of a 50 cent coin. There was nothing I have yet tried in Europe that can compare to the way we Singaporeans eat spice.
Our verdict? Salty. I’m quite convinced the Dutch like everything salty. And it was barely spicy and only very vaguely ‘sambal olek’. But the fries were nice. These are about the cheapest eats you can get off the streets, averaging €2 onwards.
I also had a really good muffin. €2.50 from a sandwich place. One thing I must say about the Dutch is that they make DAMN GOOD sandwiches. Which makes Lizzy happy because Lizzy likes sandwiches. And it also made her very depressed the first day she re-entered Switzerland and tried to buy sandwiches off the supermarket shelf, which were pathetic slices of bread with miserable single slices of cheese or ham for more than 4CHF.
But oh well. Muffins.
And finally, on my last day in Amsterdam I tried something from Burger Meester. I first read about it on GoAmsterdam while researching before my trip but never really thought about making a point to find the place. But it turned out that they had a few branches and there was one on the way to the Dutch Resistance Museum and opposite the Artis Zoo. (I was heading for the Museum, not the Zoo, though I would like to go there if I get to go back to Amsterdam.)
So after my 4 hours in the not-particularly-large museum (which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the perks of traveling alone is that I can spend as long as I want gazing at museum exhibits.), I decided to try this famed burger. I ordered a mini duck burger for €3.50.
And boy was it made for messy eating! The bun was so soft it was breaking apart because of all the meat juices and sauces. The sauce, cheese and meat was spilling out all over because the fillings were bigger than the bun. But it was a really enjoyable little burger while it lasted. The duck was lightly seared and slightly undercooked, which I liked anyhow since I’m a medium-rare sort. Yums.
And that’s almost the end of this little Dutch holiday series, probably one more entry to wrap up my day spent in the Red Cross Museum in Geneva and to talk about all the stuff I got on this trip. This was really the most ‘holiday’ trip for me so far. No rushing around cheonging museums and trying to get 1000 done in one day like we did in Italy. Very relaxing, very enjoyable, and I spent most of my money enjoying food, museums, buying books and postcards.
Think I’m finally settling into the Ways of Chill as they do it here. Europeans really know how to relax and enjoy life. My first couple of months in Switzerland I was permanently restless and edgy because a workaholic like me really couldn’t understand the concept of having NOTHING to do. But I’m finally starting to learn how to relax. :] Shall enjoy the remaining months of it before it’s back to crazy-can’t-stop-working Singapore again.
Okay. Time to study for one more paper on Friday. Then off to Barcelona on Monday!
April 19, 2010 § 1 Comment
So we missed our flight to Madrid on Saturday because of the epic volcanic ash situation here in Europe.
It’s not as major news back home I know, save for the stranded passengers in Changi and fully booked hotels. But here in Europe virtually every airport is closed and seems set to stay that way till Monday morning at the very least. It’s not visibly crazy here in little Lugano or anything, but the news network coverage in this region definitely gives it more airtime than its probably receiving back in Singapore.
STILL. It meant we didn’t fly into Madrid, and therefore had to cancel all our connections and accommodations for Madrid and Barcelona. Hopefully all the money we already put down will be refunded.
We had actually been monitoring the situation on Friday when all the airports started closing down one by one. At that time Milan Malpensa (MXP) (where we were flying from) had indicated that the airport would be closed till 2pm on Saturday. Our flight was at 7ish, so we were still safe. Got to commend Malpensa and Easyjet for having very good, up-to-date tracking systems for checking flight statuses. (Crisis management!)
Woke up on Saturday and was about to leave for Milan some time past noon when MXP officially announced the continued closure of the airport and Easyjet promptly updated that our flight was most affirmatively cancelled.
SO. We had to find something else to do for the weekend. Fortunately for us we have a great floormate/neighbour who can acquire any movie you could possibly desire in less than a minute. (He has a premium megaupload account.)
We spent our Saturday watching Star Trek 8, and part of Star Trek 4. And the first episode of The Pacific which I FNALLY got to watch and zomg I hearts many. THIS is the kind of production I would absolutely adore having the opportunity to work on.
Vita Humpa from Czech Republic. Don’t be fooled by the harmless nerdy image portrayed here. He’s only wearing specs to watch the movie. The rest of the time he’s a walking, beer guzzling ball of wit and dry humour who is great fun to have around. Hehe.
So that was our Saturday. Grabbed some extra ingredients for a second round of devilishly awesome oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies to make myself feel better and baked them after church today while we watched Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel.
My gosh, it’s one of those films that probably deserves a cult following at some point in time. It’s British humour and really one of those daft, irreverent things sort of like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that you’ll either love or hate.
But this entry isn’t about the film but the amazing cookies, so I decided to shoot the baking process more thoroughly today since I had the luxury of time. Measurements here are done by guessing mostly because of the lack of proper baking equipment. And yes I had to cream the wet ingredients with a fork by HAND because we obviously don’t have a stand/handheld mixer here.
Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
From Baking, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (optional, didn’t use it as I didn’t have it)
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (‘defrosted’ it in the microwave for a bit)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks (chopped up 2 100g bars of milk chocolate and 1 bar of dark chocolate)
Getting Ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Ingredients! Salt, white sugar, brown sugar, expensive peanut butter that doesn’t seem too big here in Switzerland, three bars of Migros chocolate (2 milk, 1 dark), eggs, muesli (the recipe calls for rolled oats, but I just sifted out the raisin and fruit bits so they wouldn’t interfere with the taste), weird little packets of baking soda and vanilla essence. Vanilla essence is disgustingly expensive here. That one little sachet cost me 90 rappen (90 swiss cents). AND obviously it’s only 1 teaspoon’s worth.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. (Did this completely with a very tired hand holding a fork, sista!)
If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours or for up to one day. (Chilling the dough will give you more evenly shaped cookies.) If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your palms and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.
So yes that was my Sunday. And here’s an extra picture of Vita and Marco having lunch.
(As you can tell for all of us, every day’s a pasta day. One day I’ll dedicate an entire entry to pasta. One day.)
So well. No Spain, but still a pretty interesting weekend here in USIHome.. No school this week so I’m going to go find stuff to do like draw or design and keep looking out for internships or something.
April 1, 2010 § 3 Comments
So generally we don’t do very much in Lugano. But the internet in our hostel died over the weekend so some of us actually ended up going out (WOW!).
Visited the quiet town of Mendriso and didn’t do much, then took the Funicular (the little tram services that take go up the hills/mountains here) up San Salvatore (one of the little mountains in Lugano, only over 1000m above sea level).
Then sometime a couple of days ago I baked my favourite Dorie Greenspan Oatmeal Chocolate Peanut Butter Chipsters, yes the one I always bake in Singapore.
And even had time to design a little and play with vectors.
So overall it’s been a fruitful few days.
They ended up spreading out a lot more than usual. Might be because of the baking soda. They sell them in strange little packets here and I didn’t have proper measuring equipment so a lot of it was guesstimation. BUT they still tasted AS awesome even with the cheapest possible Swiss chocolate.
Funicular queue for San Salvatore. It was this long because it was the 120th anniversary of the Funicular I think, so it only cost 4CHF to go up (I think it’s normally about 20CHF)! Long queue and the funicular comes every 30 minutes but it was worth every bit of the 4CHF.
View of the surrounding landscape and Lake Lugano from the top of San Salvatore. These are some of the smallest heights in Switzerland, mostly around 1000m. Mount Pilatus that we went up in Luzern is more than 2000m above sea level. And Jungfrau, the highest point in Europe is about 3000m. Will be heading there with Sis when she comes up!
Yep, so that’s my fruitful, internet-less weekend for you. Working on designing though as usual many doubts plague my mind. Generally know where I want to go but am not sure how to go about getting there except just practicing now. But it’s not easy without a mentor and having to feel my way about on my own.
Will be going for the European Design Conference in May though! The 3 day conference tickets cost 168 euros (and this is AFTER student price + early bird discount mind you!), which Paypal kindly informed me was SGD$324 (faints). Things look so much cheaper in euros. But I’m writing this off as an investment and a good chance to go to Amsterdam (the conference is in nearby Rotterdam), one of the stronger places in Europe for design.
The designer dream feels so far away right now, but I’ll get there some day…
P.S. For those who have noticed (probably no one), my portfolio is up and clickable on the sidebar… (Yes I finally went and bought lizzaeh.com) My goal? To improve so much till I can replace as many of the existing pieces there by the end of the year.
March 18, 2010 § 2 Comments
Engage in every means possible to create food that does not involve pasta.
(Normally this also means just eating cereal/biscuits/crackers/chocolate/ovomaltine. But occasionally I try to cook something different.)
Color difference reflects nice natural light in the afternoons and the most impossibly gross dim yellow lighting in the evenings.
February 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
So we didn’t steamboat during CNY.
But we made do with a carbfest.
Food for 6 girls. Took us more than 1.5 hours to prepare, and about 20 minutes to completely devour.
2 huge plates of fried rice, 3 packets of boiled instant noodles, and a pot full of chicken curry with loads of potatoes. And a terribly hard baguette. Srsly it wasn’t bread, it was biscuit. Bread here dries up and turns hard very quickly.
A scary colored yu-sheng that Becky’s parents brought up for us.
It was quite funny cause none of us know enough ‘four letter words’ to say while lou-ing. And we all basically ate very little of that stuff and chucked it aside. (We all agreed that normally in Singapore, some male relative or another is usually responsible for vacuuming up the yu-sheng which none of us were prepared to do.)
So we tried to get rid of it by offering it to an Indian neighbour, who became pretty enthusiastic about his new strange and wondrous discovery of strange Chinese food and proceeded to have seconds.
But the rest of the time we mostly have rather normal meals.
Okay, like I’ve mentioned we’re on shoestring budgets.
So all the rooms basically cook the same stuff in different permutations every day:
Potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic.
Almost every dish we cook has the above 4 items.
Me and my roommate also indulge in mushrooms.
But every room has it’s own idiosyncratic indulgences, we’ve realized.
Meat comes as a whole chicken (cheapest at 7.05CHF), or 0.5kg of minced beef at 6.95CHF.
Carb choices revolve around pasta (we will aim to try more than just Conchiglie [seashell shaped] and Spaghetti), rice (which we generally either overcook or put too much water), instant noodles and potatoes.
We’ve had soup for the past 3 days (forgot to take picture) made from the usual suspects: carrots, potatoes, lots of garlic and onion, and a whole chopped up chicken. With a mountain of fried shallots that my Momma sent up. Life is good.
But I think our kitchen ski||z are getting a little better. Tonight we had sauteed shrooms with minced beef, steamed broccoli and cheese omelette for dinner!
And I remembered to put enough salt for once. We used a good quality block of cheese I bought but wasn’t as flavorful as my cheapo Brie chunk.
Can’t read any of the names here since everything’s italian so I figure I may have purchased a cheese that was more suited for cooking, because it tasted real good with the omelette.
But Brie (and I will buy a block of Camembert to try next!) still remains my preferred selection for bread/crackers.
Okay, maybe more photos of food next time (must remember to take photos). But you can see the rest on facebook.
Will upload again soon on next week’s adventures in Bern and Lucern.
Doubt there’ll be much to say in the next couple of days since we’d actually be having them 8 hour classes. @_@
Shall have to sleep now!
February 19, 2010 § 2 Comments
Alright, so today I will talk about food (nothing else to talk about, we’ve run out of things to do in little Lugano).
We’ll be travelling out to Luzern and Bern next week, we largely have very little class to attend. Yes we only have about 35 days of school in total, shocking ain’t it? Most modules are cleared in about 5 days, BUT each day’s seminar is 8 hours. 8.30am to 12.30pm, 1.30pm to 5.30pm. Give and take la huh?
So we’ve been here 2 weeks and haven’t even eaten out yet. (Expensive. Duh.)
We told ourselves we’d eat out once a month somewhere nice. Haven’t done that yet, but fortunately we have loads of instant noodles and curry powder to keep us sane.
But we’ve been having loads of pasta and bread and such as well. And cheese. Even the cheapest cut of Brie here is yumyum. And cheap.
So being cheapo students on exchange trying to spend as little as we can, sniffing out good bargains in our favourite place (the supermarkets, which we have never spend so much time in Singapore as we do now) is an important activity we engage in every other day.
Here’s one of us being very proud to find a twin pack of ham discounted.
Meat here is expensive, but being Singaporeans who really cannot just eat pasta for every meal (as we have noted some neighbours doing), we need the carb/meat/veggie balance met.
Veggies in this country are quite inedible in soup. Being Chinese and all, obviously we boil everything. But most of the veggies here taste terrible boiled (as we have experimented). So far the most familiar and palatable is broccoli. There’s spinach here too but people mostly eat it ON pizza so they sell it in these expensive little packets ready for pizza. The only other roll of veggie we’ve found that doesn’t taste terrible after boiling is iceberg lettuce. So we’ve settled on that.
Funnily it’s like an inversion here. Veggies are kinda expensive, we saw ginger that cost 9CHF just now. Crazy seriously.
But stuff like cheese is really cheap. And hazelnut flour.
There are hoards of hazelnut products here. There’s nutella and about a zillion other nutella substitutes that taste practically like nutella, just waterier. (But of course there’s also ovomaltine, my love.)
I really love my ovomaltine spread. (The bottled stuff on the right hand side.) Haven’t bought any other Ovomaltine products because they’re not really cheap and none of the other girls are particularly enthusiastic about Ovomaltine so I can’t share with anyone.
Ovamaltine spread is like a cross between nutella and ovaltine with rice krispys in it. *_*
And these Italian-speaking Swiss folk really love their pasta. Should’ve taken proper shots to do a panorama with but since I didn’t here’s 8 pictures of the same shelf in the supermarket featuring the pasta collection.
Tadaaa. This isn’t even counting the need-to-be-refrigerated type of pasta like ravioli and gnocchi that are on a different shelf!
Anyway with easter coming there are shelvessss of chocolate bunnies all over the supermarkets. And since chocolate is so cheap here, some of the big hollow choco bunnies are already only $4.95. Wonder how much they’ll go for once the Easter slashing starts?
(Behind is a woman walking two ridiculously tiny dogs that don’t look like they should even be let out of the house to walk. They were seriously, smaller than my rabbits.)
They also sell colorful, sprayed eggs during the Easter period.
Which is kinda pretty, and cool, but also kinda gross. These are the metallic ones. The prospect of you accidentally eating is just rather ick.
Alrights, more in the next entry about what we’ve been eating per se here.