English Tea at Rose House

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:24 PM

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A friend introduced me to a quaint tea house close to The Place earlier this week. Called Rose House, this Taiwanese chain of English style tea houses is a great place to enjoy an aromatic cup of tea and sweets with friends. We had the high tea for 2 at 198RMB which includes three tiers of savory and sweet bites, and 2 pots of your tea selection. They even throw in a free china-ware tea cup! The scones were yummy and were served with one mini jar of jam ( choose between rose and blueberry. We had the delicately scented rose preserve). The other tarts, and mini sandwiches were pretty nice too. As for tea, I tried the London Tower Milk tea which is somewhat reminiscent of Singapore's Teh Kow ( super thick milk tea) but more fragrant given that they use different tea leaves. It was strong, milky, sweet, fragrant and kept constantly warm throughout our meal. Totally enjoyed the tea! A pot of tea is priced between 45-55 RMB.  At 4pm each day, the service staff will come around to each table to let you sample the shop's latest tea promo. That day we tried the Christmas tea  which tasted fruity and carried a light bouquet of orange blossoms. 

Apart from the tea, what I really liked about Rose House was it's decor, ambience and non-intrusive service.  Plush leather armchairs and sofas, small tapestries, large windows that let in a lot of light, warm woods and massive chandeliers are tastefully put together to create an English style setting. It's very inviting and not ostentatious. Inside, you can't tell you're in China. Patrons DO NOT talk at the top of their voices so other people's conversation is a pleasant background murmur that does not intrude on your own party. Unfortunately, they do not allow photography in the tea house... but I managed to sneak one of the food on my mobile phone! 

Tel :010-6592-8688

Spicy grub & hip hop

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:57 PM

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I love spicy food and winter is the best time to have food so hot you'll singe your eyebrows just looking at it! And last night, I had so much spicy food I could breathe fire!  We were at Xie Lao Song 蟹老宋 , a local eatery that's famous for Mala fried crabs and prawns. My local colleagues brought me here 2 years ago and since then I've returned several times with other spice eating Singaporeans for a dose of inexpensive seafood.
Spicy Crab
Between 5 people last night, we polished off the prawns ( 58RMB for 500g), crab ( 68RMB for 500g), fried chicken wings, cucumber with salty bean dip, century egg with tofu and glutinous rice pastry stuffed with lotus paste. I liked the prawns because they were easier to eat. The crab meat sticks to the shell so you end up chewing on shell most of the time. That's akin to putting a bunch of sharp blades into your mouth!! They aren't anything like the giant Sri Lankan crabs that we have in Singapore. The chicken wings were very tasty and fried to crisp perfection-reminded me of Singapore's Prawn Paste Chicken- while the glutinous rice balls were of the right chewy texture but could do with more lotus paste filling.  The bill was about 250RMB including several bottles of fire dousing beer. 
Belgian beer at The Tree
After grub, we headed to The Tree for Belgian beer then hopped on to Yu Gong Yi Shan, a live music venue which features on occasion, Chinese bands,  foreign guest DJs etc. We stumbled on Hip Hop open mic night. Hoodies, baggy pants, skate shoes and beanies seem to be de riguer among the predominantly male crowd. I had fun despite being unable to understand a word of what was being rapped ( it was in Mandarin). Alright, to be fair, I caught the words "Beijing" every now and then. This place had a huge dance floor but strangely, most of the folks seemed to be watching these 5 lively guys dancing rather than shaking their own booties. I tried to see if the guys were doing any stunts but they weren't!  

Midnight came and went. After a night of drunken revelry, we had to have supper ( aiyah... any excuse to eat is good). Off to Ghost Street we staggered - a strangely sober me with 3 rowdy boys in tow who kept talking really loud to the harassed cab driver.  We settled for a small place then proceeded to eat with much relish... mutton kebabs ( similar to satay), grilled chicken wings, hot & sour soup and a huge bowl of mala bill frog. Thinking back on it now, I feel somewhat sick to have eaten that much!! But spicy food really jolts the system and warms you up. It was the perfect end to a fun filled night. 
Vims & Bernard drunk on Hot & Spicy soup
Spicy Mala bullfrog

Of X'mas potlucks and exercise

Posted by Gingerblossom at 12:39 AM

I'm fat. Well, least I feel fat. Happens every so often especially around this festive season because of all the sumptuous spreads we have at home and at friends' places. Home cooked food is always yum and so I eat. And eat and eat some more. We had a Christmas Eve eve eve pot luck last weekend where the menu consisted of Chilli Carne, Shepherd's pie, Singapore Fish balls, Chips with salsa & guacamole,Sweet Mascarpone Dessert and Pineapple tarts. ( photo above)  
On Christmas Eve, we had more delish food at a friend's place.  There was  Fried beehoon, keropok with the most heavenly belachan ever made, drool-worthy chicken curry, battered prawns, tiramisu and so much more... I thought that I was stuffed but 3 hrs later back home, I felt hunger pangs and had to grab a snack. Suppers are most unhealthy but I really can't go to bed hungry! I've tried and ended up taking forever to sleep then waking with the nastiest stomach cramps caused by hunger!!  
So... after all that eating, I felt bad. Exercise would make me feel better. But my gym membership has expired and I'm not about to spend another 3000RMB  to get it renewed.  I remembered that we had a skipping rope and several years ago some folks form the Singapore Heart Foundation shared some findings about skipping being good for the heart. Searched online and the skipping proposition seems pretty convincing: 1. You burn about 1000 calories if you skip for an hour.  2. It improves dexterity and hand-eye coordination 3. Calves and back muscles are strengthened 4. You can skip anytime anywhere. Of course, if your knees aren't in good condition, skipping isn't for you. 

I've started slow with 200 skips and increased it to 20mins of skipping ( that's about 800skips I think) and after the exercise, I feel my heart pumping and my legs aching. Gonna keep this up till I skip away all the food I've been eating!! 

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:34 AM

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hungry Rambler, Dan and our cats Pisase & Ody wishes everyone a Joyeux Noel! 

Tao Restaurant serves yum Mediterranean food

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:15 AM

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not the religion but the restaurant in Beijing named TAO. In Chinese, it's called 乐道西餐厅. I had my birthday dinner here with Daniel last week. After trawling the net for reviews on the latest hot restaurants in Beijing, I concluded that many of the new joints are over priced and probably over rated. Then I stumbled on a review on Tao. Diners seemed to have good things to say about the food so I thought, "why not?" 

It was quiet when we got there. In fact, it appeared that we were the only diners that night! This has probably got to do with the restaurant's location. It's situated on Lucky Street which isn't top of mind for dining and there's very little foot traffic - none now considering the cold weather. The restaurant's decor was ok. Could have been  cosier if crowded and with more soft furnishing ( curtains, cushions etc) 

The food though, was very promising. TAO offers set dinners like Alameda and has a dessert and non-dessert option at 188RMB and 168RMB respectively.  I had a starter of Black Truffle Chicken Broth with poached egg which was very tasty. Daniel had the Terrine of Foie Gras  served with Grapes. The tartness of the grapes were a great complement to the rich terrine and made it easier to polish off. 

For mains, we both had the Australian Tenderloin and boy was it tender! 2nd best steak I've had in Beijing ( best is at the JW Marriot's CRU Steakhouse). It was served medium rare like I asked - the outside was evenly seared and the inside was rare and tender!!! It came with a side of roasted potatoes flavoured with a sprig of rosemary. 

Rounding off the meal I had the pear cake for dessert. It was a pancake of sorts served with slices of chinese pear. Daniel had the panna cotta served with cinnamon ice cream. I found dessert to be disappointing after the great starter and main course. 
Complementing the meal was a bottle of Spanish Crianza (248RMB) which was on the chef's recommended wine list. I'm no wine connoisseur so all I can say is that it was fruity and I liked it.Generally, TAO offered pretty good value for the quality of food served. I would like to go back to try their 75RMB set lunch someday soon! 

Tel: 5867 0209

Addy will be missed!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:25 AM

Friday, December 19, 2008

Addy goes home tomoro. Her funny, bubbly self will be sorely missed! Boohoo....

Thanks Addy for the assortment of food stuff from your kitchen. On that note, food needs to be shared :) - does anyone need to inherit a small bottle of extra virgin olive oil, San remo Pasta sauce and a pack of Penne?

Gadget-y Macbook prezzie

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:06 AM

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Got a surprise bday gift from Daniel! The spanking new 13inch Macbook!!!! I was just thinking of getting a new laptop a week ago after the existing 3yr old laptop started being wonky. The clever man asked Mountain man to help get one in Singapore some time ago. And he acted so sad just 2 days ago saying, "I haven't got you a present ... how?" I said , "Surprise me." And surprise me he did today.

I love new gadgets but never actually bought any (apart from my camera) for myself. Every funky new gadget I've ever owned is a gift from Daniel. He knows me well indeed! From CD players eons ago to laptops, PDAs, ipods, Osim massagers.... he's always gotten me the perfect birthday gadget! 

Trying to figure out how to use the Macbook now. The last time I used one was in Uni in an agonizing first year photoshop class. But hey, least I managed to get online and write this entry! 

The difference between 21 & 31

Posted by Gingerblossom at 12:13 AM

1. At 21, my mum gave me my 1st diamond. A simple but beautiful solitaire pendant. Daniel got me the white gold chain to wear with it. At 31.... I don't think I'm getting any more rocks unless I buy them myself.

2. At 21, I was stick thin at 43kg. That was having suffered the flu bug for over 2 months. My bones were really prominent - cheekbones, collarbone, hip bone, wrists, ankles... whatever could stick out, stuck out. I remember wishing fervently for better health then (who wouldn't when you've been sick for so long and can barely walk without breaking out in cold sweat??). At 31, I am proud to say that I'm relatively healthy with good blood pressure, heart rate and BMI!

3. At 21, wrinkles seem impossible. At 31, you check the mirror every night to make sure wrinkles aren't appearing!

4. At 21, you think you know everything. At 31, you realise how little you actually know.

5. At 21, you can party till 4am, eat supper then still wake up in time for lectures the next morning looking fresh. At 31, it's just too tiring to even think of doing the same thing and waking up early the next day. Not to mention how haggard you'll look!

6. At 31, you have a little more money to spend so you can give yourself something nice for your birthday. ( My present to myself was the trip to Lijiang) At 21, you've hardly got a cent of your own and have to wait for presents!

7. At 21, you want to tell everyone that now you're an adult and can do what you want! After 31, you seldom want people to know how old you really are....

8. At 21, your family & friends throw you a big party. At 31, they send you an sms with well wishes if they even remember your birthday. Hahaha! I have to admit being bad with remembering birthdays...

9. At 21, running 5km seemed a breeze. At 31... well... I still have to say it is a breeze. Just a sloooooweeeeer breeze...

10. At 21, you're excited about your birthday. At 31, it's just like any another day.

Olas Tapas Cafe and my loooooong walk today

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:00 AM

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We had dinner last night with friends at Olas Tapas Cafe at The Village, Sanlitun. It serves ... drumroll... spanish tapas and mainly tapas only. There are salads and pastas but no other main courses. Some of the individual tapas dishes are substantial enough to be an entire meal. Just throw in a salad and voila. We had the Lamb chops ( 5chops per serve), Grilled chicken breast with cheese (3 pcs per serve), Grilled tenderloin ( 3pcs per serve), Grilled Pork cutlet ( 3pcs per serve), Andalusian Calamari, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Angel Hair Aglio Olio and a bottle of Spanish wine- Crianza I think.. The wine was excellent. It better be at over 200RMB a bottle. There were 6 of us eating and we all agreed that the lamb chops were really good. They were cooked to perfection! Tender, moist and not too rare. Olas Tapas Cafe is opened by the same folks who run MARE spanish restaurant so the menu and quality of food is pretty similar. Prices too. Tapas were mostly priced between 50-75 RMB per dish. Restaurant decor was heavy on the reds and oranges. I didn't pay much attention to it. There were just 2 things that didn't sit well with me (a) the tables were a tad high especially if you're short like me and you're sitting on the couch, makes eating really uncomfortable (b) the wine glasses reminded me of the ice-cream cups we used to get in Singapore's Swensons. If we're paying a premium for wine, shouldn't it be served in proper wine glasses? While travelling on budget in Barcelona, Daniel & I were always served wine in proper wine glasses even at the smallest, most un-touristy bars frequented by craggy old spanish fishermen. If nothing else, I would go back to Olas for the lamb chops :)

Today, I had to go to the district police station to get my "Registration of temporary residence" so that I can get my visa renewed. Last year, I had the worst time ever searching for this place when the stupid cab driver told me to alight and "simply cross the overhead bridge" to get to the station. Turns out, there is a river after the overhead bridge, and no way to cross it except after a 400m walk! And I couldn't just hop onto another cab because I was stuck within a residential area with no roads. Just dirt tracks!!!! That was the worst day ever. I ended up speed walking for over 30mins, most of it among rundown old houses and construction sites. I don't usually mind long walks but it was 5 degrees outdoors. I was only wearing a tee, short wool coat, short skirt, leggings and boots. COLD and potentially dangerous!!

So this time, I bundled myself in a down jacket, checked out the location and gave precise directions to the cabby. Still had to walk but only about 100m because there was a truck blocking the entrance into the 2 lane alley where the police station is hidden. Ah.. that was another thing that irked me.. why the hell is a police station hidden where people can't find it and where the police cars can't get out?! Thankfully everything went quite smoothly today and that put me in a good mood. I decided then to walk home from the station. The fact that I ate so much last night also prompted this decision. I thought the walk would be good exercise. So off I went... I walked and walked and walked some more... it took me 35mins brisk walking to get from the doorstep of the station to home. After about 300- 400m, I snapped this pix on my mobile. If you're good with your directions and you know where I live, you'll have a pretty good idea how far I walked. I reckon the lamb chops have been "walked' away. You think??

Why I HATE World of Warcraft (WOW)

Posted by Gingerblossom at 11:45 PM

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wow... I really hate WOW. Wait. Hate is not strong enough... abhor.. detest.. loathe..
Why? Here's why:
1. It's taken away my weekend brunches. We only eat lunch AFTER the morning game. And if you know me, you'll know that I'm a total monster when I am hungry. I do not deal well with hunger.

2. It causes me to go to bed far too late... at 1.30am everyday. So if you wonder why I wake so late, it's cos I sleep so late.

3. I wake up on weekends alone... or only with Ody for company.

4. I end up watching TV alone or with the 2 cats for company.

5. It's taken away movie nights ( this has also got to do with the fact there are no nice movies in the cinemas here and it's ridiculously expensive)

6. I only get a maximum of 1.5hr of Daniel's time on weekdays. That's 45mins in the kitchen and 45mins over dinner. It's only now that I'm unemployed that I feel this most keenly. I used to come home late from work (not by choice I assure you) and after dinner I usually had some other work to do. So it didn't feel as bad to be "ignored" over WOW and online friends. But now that I'm home all the time, the disparity in hours I get vs WOW is blindingly clear. WOW gets at least 4hrs. I get 1.5hrs at most. Maybe I should just go back to work. Work the night shift.

7. It's taken away the spontaneity of each day. We can't go out spontaneously on weekdays. We have to be home by 9pm Mon, Wed, Thurs. If we're not home and in front of the PC, someone gets calls from halfway around the world to hurry him home. I swear, if I pick up any of these calls, the person on the other line will DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH.

8. It's given me back a Daniel whose mind is not quite there with me if he can't play or surf information on WOW. So we end up staying home... him playing WOW. Me doing whatever it is I have done for the past 10yrs entertaining myself. Daniel should be glad I have so many little hobbies.

9. It's taken away companionable reading. Because I'm the only one reading a BOOK. Other people are killing "bosses" . I miss our weekend trips to the National Library back home...

10. It's turned me into a nag. I hated my parents nagging me but I'm turning into a nag myself no thanks to WOW. The usuals are, "It's time for bed. Stop playing." (from 12.00am-1am), "Can we get changed and go eat lunch now?" ( weekends from 11.30am-12.30pm), "You said you'll be done at 7pm. I'm really hungry, can we cook dinner now?" ( weekends from 7.15pm-8pm, by which time I'm starving)

You may think it's funny. But it's not. If I could turn back the clock and change history, I would make sure that computer gaming was never invented and Blizzard ( developers of WOW) never got started. Maybe then, I would get Daniel back from their evil clutches.

Random notes

Posted by Gingerblossom at 2:21 AM

Saturday, December 13, 2008

1. The sun was setting as I walked home from the supermarket and I caught sight of the moon in the evening sky (4.48pm). Looked like the yolk of a salted egg...a very tiny egg from this distance.2. I think I may be part Mexican... coz salsa and guacamole are the only two things I can prepare well in the kitchen. On top of that, I like spicy food, fajitas, tacos and tequila. I would love to have a pinata to whack at my birthday this year... haven't whacked one since I was 8!
3. I haven't burnt down the kitchen! Last week, I made chinese-style pork rib soup for dinner, steamed baby yams for lunch ( first time I steamed anything since the siewmai and bao in Singapore) and wonders of all wonders, I made Cantonese style White fungus with lotus seeds and wolfberries dessert. All by myself. Well not entirely true... the ah yi had to tell me what goes into the pot first. Otherwise the result would have been a soggy dessert.4. Whether I'm part Mexican or not, one thing is for sure. I'm a true blue Singaporean because I keep thinking about good food... I can't make any but I sure can eat plenty! And right now, I'm thinking about Old Chang Kee curry puffs, Roti Prata, Nasi Padang near Sultan Mosque, Ba Chor mee at Crawfood Street AND my dad's fantastic fried beehoon. No one does beehoon like my dad! No one does crab, chicken rice balls, popiah (spring rolls) like my dad either. The best meals I have back home are usually made by my super chef dad!

Of beads, wires and hooks

Posted by Gingerblossom at 4:41 AM

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stuff that I made recently. They are for sale :)to support my hobby. Click HERE for more accessories and info.

Where's the snow?

Posted by Gingerblossom at 2:08 AM

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It was supposed to snow today in Beijing. First snowfall for winter 08... It did snow. But just a little bit. I guess the city is too warm and dry for much snow. There's hardly enough to wet the ground! My hopes of seeing a snow covered city were dashed when I peeked out of the window this morning and saw... just another gloomy foggy day. On the bright side, the lack of snow = normal traffic = I could run around easily to get my work permit cancelled.

cheap retail again

Posted by Gingerblossom at 4:19 AM

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sigh.... being unemployed, I should spend less money shouldn't I? But today I bought stuff again. Went to the wholesale centres at the zoo again. Brought Addy's friend from Singapore to look around for shawls and warm clothing etc. Veron and I decided we would get the ultra cheap UGG boots. Real or fake. Didn't matter. I just wanted an easy pair to wear and walk to the supermarket. There were quite a few shops selling the boots. I got the short UGGs for 100RMB ( lady didn't tolerate bargaining) and Veron got a taller non-branded pair for 80RMB. I wanted the cheap ones but my big foot couldn't fit into size 38!! Size 39 was far too huge. There were taller UGGs but I wasn't willing to spend any more than 100RMB. Afterall, these are going to my "market" and house visit boots. I must admit though.. I look a little strange in them because of my skinny ankles and twig-like legs..

I also got a hat (25RMB), 2 pairs of thick leggings ( 35 RMb for printed, 20RMB for plain brown with fleece lining) and a kids' plastic bib for the Toys' baby back home ( 25RMB). Veron tells me the bib costs thrice more back home and i figured it'll come in handy in a couple of months.
plastic bib for kids 1-3 yrs
my new hat
Printed leggings

Shopping again...

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:13 AM

Friday, December 5, 2008

Despite the -4 to -10 degree forecast for today, I went out into the cold anyway. With my trusty down jacket, it wasn't that bad! The wind though, made it feel nasty on my eyes and ears.

I hit the Jiayi Market located across from Kunlun Hotel. I like this market because they sell nice stuff at more reasonable prices than the Silk Market or Yaxiu Market. And it's not as far as the wholesale centres. This is a great place to buy kids clothes. And that was my goal - to buy stuff for friends' kids. I found a shop that sells Baby Mexx and got a winter body suit thingy. Prices ranged from 50rmb onwards for the winter stuff. The same shop sells the coolest Harley and Catepillar boots for little boys. Then hit another shop to get stuff for the Toys' baby. Baby Asher will soon have a new set of clothes! The white one with penguin prints is apparently from Baby Gap. Prices at this shop started at 30rmb for the light cotton stuff.

Then I spent on something I maybe shouldn't have... a leather jacket. I was torn between 2 choices. Both were biker style. The first was 1600rmb and on close examination, the buttons were Ben Sherman. So assumption is the jacket is from Ben Sherman except the label's been replaced with the stall's own and the seller didn't know better else it wouldn't have been 1600rmb!! It was a tad big and she didn't want to budge on the price. So off I went.2nd option is the one I bought ( above pix). Again, I don't think the seller knew what she had. The jacket had a Banana Republic label. Usually, the sellers there would tell you that it's a foreign brand, very famous, expensive, lah dee da. I've gotten Forever 21 stuff at this market before so it's possible it's the real thing. Afterall, who wants to fake Forever 21 & Banana Republic right? But this seller didn't seem to know. She basically promoted the softness of the leather and the style. Opening price was 1750RMB and after some haggling she came down to 1300... I eventually got it for 1100rmb thanks to today's lousy weather which is affecting their business. I haven't been very successful haggling at this market. It's not like the Silk market where you slash everything 60% or more. At Jiayi, they boot you out if they think you are being ridiculous! More locals shop here too... maybe that's why.

Anyway, I love my new jacket! It's a perfect replacement for my fav spring/ autumn Topshop jacket that's been washed till it's somewhat grey. And in the meantime... I'm broke!

Weed... I haz it

Posted by Gingerblossom at 9:12 AM

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ody again... eating oat grass. If you're wondering about the strange captions, you gotta check out http://icanhazcheezburger.com/ to understand. Warning: You need to be an animal lover and mainly cat person to enjoy the site.

Cat humour

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:51 PM

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Managed to catch Pisase in one of her favourite poses and Ody lounging on the bed.

knit knacks

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:08 AM

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ta dah! I finished knitting the scarf!!! Since the colors are too girly, I'm gonna be using it me-self. It't not particularly well done since this was afterall an experiment and my first time figuring out how to knit. There are holes ( I hope this doesn't cause it to unravel), it's far too wide yet too short to wrap around the neck properly and the edges are uneven because I keep missing stitches. But all in all, I'm pretty happy I COMPLETED IT.

Since I've roughly gotten the knack of knitting, I'm starting on another scarf for Daniel. Hopefully this one turns out better. He's got to wear it because it's my labour of LURVE...muahaha... It is very painful on my hands when I keep undoing my mistakes and re-knitting. So it is in fact labour! And it's only because I'm determined to make him something special that I will persevere with scarf no. 2.