Nightly blasts

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:29 AM

Friday, January 30, 2009

Most people go home for Chinese New Year. But we usually stay behind simply because there's no one left to look after the cats. We can't possibly leave them at home for over a week with no company, food and water refills and no one to clear the poop! So, we've remained in Beijing and missed reunion dinner back in Singapore for the past 3 years. 

But there are some perks to staying behind. It honestly feels more festive here because of the nightly pyrotechnics. Firecrackers, Fireworks, sparklers.. all available for purchase on every street corner for 15 days of CNY!  I love the fireworks. It brings out the kid ( and the pyromaniac) in me. I hear the bangs and I run to every window in the house to try and catch a glimpse of the burst of light. Unfortunately, we've got lousy views. But standing at the entrance of the condo, you get some of the best views possible of fireworks in the city. The noise, the lighting of the firework, the star burst... it's just exhilarating!  

CNY eve was crazy. Everywhere you go, you see and hear these pyrotechnics being set off. The peak of fireworks madness is the 1/2 hour before and after midnight. The sky is covered in fireworks which lights up the entire city. And of course, the noise is deafening. It sounds as if thousands of shots are being fired and the city is being shelled by enemy troops. Admittedly, it can get rather scary.. especially when you're on the road home because there are fools who'll set their massive fireworks in the middle of a road. It happened to us this year. Thankfully, we had a pretty sharp cab driver. It was a cab ride from hell.. what do you expect when the cabbie's got to swerve every now and then to avoid a "land mine"?? This is the video I took that night from outside our place

Also got to light a few with my cousins on CNY eve. Here's the video. 

Today is the 5th day of CNY and it seems there's some special significance because the fireworks are being set off fast and furious since the sun set at 5pm.   We ran out to the  main road to take a peek. It was spectacular! Some folks in a red Audi SUV brought a lot of firepower and were setting the fireworks off. We saw the same car parked outside on CNY eve  with a boot-full of fireworks and setting them off at the entrance of the condo.  That was really an unforgettable sight! 

Right now, I'm waiting in anticipation of the last day of CNY. That's when we normally buy loads of fireworks and have a blast. hahaha! Pun intended :P 

Agua - posh spanish nosh at Qianmen

Posted by Gingerblossom at 1:13 AM

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This review's a couple of weeks late! My food and wine loving Uncle took us to Agua in late December and somehow this review never got written... that's not to say it was a forgettable experience. I just never got around to writing about it! 

Food at Agua was on the whole excellent. They served us some complimentary appetizer of cream cheese in a cone. I have no clue what it was but it was definitely tasty and the presentation was interesting.  We order the garlic prawns, Manchego and Iberico ham appetizers to share. The prawns were garlicky fragrant while the Manchego ( sheep's cheese) was a tad too strong- nothing like the Manchego I remember eating in Spain.  I guess it was
 aged longer hence the strong flavor. If you like goat's cheese, then you'll probably love Agua's Manchego.  The ham was smokey and salty.  Great with the complimentary warm crusty bread that was served. 
Garlic Prawns
Complimentary bread and Iberico Ham

For mains 2 of us had the roast suckling pig. The skin was paper thin and crispy like it should be and the meat was so tender it melted like butter under fork & knife.  This has to be one the best roast suckling pig I've had after innumerable tastings of the same dish in different restaurants. Wait, I take that back. The best I've had was in Restaurant Botin in Madrid, supposedly the world's oldest restaurant. Agua's a very close 2nd best :). My only quibble with it was the thick layer of artery choking fat. But I guess roast suckling pig tends to be fatty huh?

Dan had the curried lamb which he pronounced to be "just ok lah". I didn't like it one bit having found it over spiced.  My aunt had a fish dish which she enjoyed immensely.  
Prices for starters  began from about 70RMB. Mains started from around 150RMB

Service was very attentive and unobtrusive. My wine glass seemed to be magically topped up each time I picked up the glass and mains were served to the individuals who ordered the dishes without us having to repeat who ordered what! The decor was gorgeous - sultry red walls, curved ceilings with twinkling lights... There was a bar area too for you to wait for an available table. It was a weekday night and the restaurant was 3/4 full so I guess reservations are a must for Fridays and weekends. 


Legation Quarter, 23 Qianmen Dongdajie,

Tel: 6559-6266

Photos from yesteryear

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:41 PM

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I was tidying up a little for Chinese New Year and stumbled on our old wedding album. These photos were taken 7 years ago and we used a very cheap studio and borrowed their gowns for the shoot so the pictures are a bit cheesy lah. But strangely, the cheesy-ness is a perfect fit to our corny-ness!  The one by the pond cracks me up most. I love it! 

Note: these pictures aren't the retouched version and they are photos of the original photos....

Wind battered

Posted by Gingerblossom at 12:38 AM

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's supposedly -8 to -7 deg celsius today. I intended to stay home and just watch TV. But looking out of the window today, I thought, "Look at that glorious sunshine! Doesn't seem that cold. Let's go out!" 

Destination: Foreign Language Book Store at Wangfujing
Objective: Buy Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, F Scott Fitzgerald's The curious case of Benjamin Button and A Dungeons & Dragons book
Mode of transport: Taxi- subway combo
Intended lunch: Hamburger within the golden arches of Mc Donald's at the mall facing the book store. 

As I sat in the cab, I realised that going out may not have been a good idea after all.... 
The wind was blowing hard and I could see traffic lights swaying in the wind and traffic signs fluttering! Metal boards fluttering in the wind!!! While parked behind a red light, a sudden gust of wind rocked the cab I was in. Even the cabbie got a fright. I got my books and headed for lunch. To get to McD's I have to walk just 20metres across but the wind was so strong I could only manage to stagger zig zag like a drunken sailor to get across! At one point I swear I felt my shoes  sliding sideways. 

The biggest challenge was walking down Wangfujing to reach the subway. People were walking backwards to prevent themselves from being pushed forwards onto their faces! It was strange to see so many people walking backwards and gaggles of young women squealing and hanging on to their friends for dear life whenever there was a gust of wind. Er.. to be more accurate, it was a constant gusting! 

The wind was blowing so hard, my glasses got knocked askew. I had a paper bag weighted down with 5 thick books and on the other hand, a bag containing my heavy wallet, phone and ipod. Both bags were being tossed around by the wind despite my best efforts to hang on to them. By the time I reached indoor safety, I felt bruised and battered. But hey, it was pretty fun! 

Maybe Monet?

Posted by Gingerblossom at 4:49 AM

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Painted the ikea table on Saturday and this is the end result. The original plan was to have it look a little like Jiuzaigou but I couldn't mix the colours on hand to achieve aquamarine, teal, turquoise.... so I settled for blue-grey skies and the yellow-gold Autumn leaves we saw.  This is only an impression of what I remember seeing. I'm obviously no Claude Monet but it's still nice to look at the table and think, "well, least I tried!" 

Being a gatecrasher

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:17 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My old office had its annual party last night and some ex-colleagues were kind enough to invite me over for a night of fun and entertainment. Unlike most dull affairs, my ex-colleagues certainly know how to organise a big party. I've experienced 2 parties in my tenure at the company and both were unfailingly hilarious events. People really make the effort to dress up according to theme and the song & dance performances crack me up. This year's party was no different. The theme was Retro night and everyone had their own definition - from red army hats, to victorian style gowns, cheong sams and flapper dresses. The highlight though, and the winner of "best dressed male", had to be Marilyn Monroe. He even had the wind effect to blow his skirt up! It was super funny. Below are some photo highlights. more pictures can be viewed here 

Almost martha

Posted by Gingerblossom at 8:26 AM

Martha Stewart's famous for her living ideas ranging from cooking to sewing to decorative crafts. If they sold her magazines in BJ, I may be her biggest fan. I can't believe I'm such a dork!! So why would I be a big fan? I love making stuff and I love DIY home improvement projects. Ok. Cooking - not my thing but I have tried to make simple meals in the past few months of bumming at home.  

These couple of weeks I've: 
1. Bought and put up vinyl "tatoos" for the new PVC toilet doors back in Singapore. That's the green tree made up of little hearts... which i spent the night sticking up.

2. Made a ching chong lantern for Chinese New Year which I'm going to hang up tomorrow.
3. Cooked American Ginseng Chicken soup with Maggi & Eu Yan Sang's soup concentrate ( this is quite yummy by the way. If you can't cook ( like me), this concentrate is ab fab. I think it's available in NTUC and Cold Storage outlets around Singapore. The soup is sweet and very fragrant. My only quibble was that there were too little wolfberries provided. I added more of cos I like wolfberries. Also added some baby cabbage to the soup so that we could have a 1 dish meal.  The cooking instructions said 1 litre of water but I added a bit more having bought a giant 1/2 chicken to add into the soup. It still tasted pretty good to me! 
4. Bought acrylic paint with intentions to paint my cheap ikea foldable table. I don't mean paint it in 1 color . I mean attempting to create a landscape! My artwork sucks big time. I'm still going to attempt it anyway. 

I've done other strange stuff previously in Singapore such as sew simple curtains and cushion covers, put up mosaic tiles on my wall to hide a bad paint job, varnish my parents kitchen cabinets which have suffered too much sun exposure, paint a table, paint cookie jars, stencil curtains, design and handmade my own wedding invites and wedding favors, and even inventing my own way of steaming a bun ( because I really didn't know how...) 

So... I'm glad that I've had these past few months to explore the "Martha Stewart" in me. Hmm.. I'm wondering what else would be interesting to try... pottery maybe? 

Eating in Singapore

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:45 AM

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Everytime I go home, I eat at least 4 meals a day. This time, I ate less. Stomach wasn't feeling too good and for once in a very long time, I didn't crave supper. Nonetheless, I still ate quite a bit.
1. Crepe with nutella filling served with Nougatine Ice Cream --- Canele at B1 of Raffles City. Shared this Addy & I swear I was high on sugar till 2am. But it was sooooooo yummy. 
2. Chicken Rice at the coffee shop beside Bukit Merah Branch of the National Library. The chef apparently use to work at Chatterbox. The chilli sauce and ginger condiment was fantastic! The chicken was moist and tender. I enjoyed it immensely.
3. $1 traditional ice cream with bread from the ice cream uncle at Telok Blangah. This uncle has been selling ice cream there since I was a kid! He still comes on weekday evenings after his afternoon stint at Orchard Road. I love the ice cream. It's not as innovative nor milky as the Haagen Daz or Ben & Jerry's but this is the ice cream I grew up on. When I was a tubby kid of 4, I remember hassling my mum until she bought me the raspberry ripple  ice cream with the 2 wafer biscuits or the attap chee ice cream with bread. no wonder I was so tubby... 
4. Our usual Bah Chor Mee at Crawford Street - Dan's fav. We went through a lot of trouble to eat this. We got there on Monday to meet Dan's friends and discovered that the stall's closed for the day!!! We went again on Wed and were rewarded for our 30min bus ride. 
5. Old Tiong Bahru Bah Kut Teh - our usual weekend brunch place. The soup is sweet, the salted veg is cooked till soft but retains its salty sweet flavour... yum yum yum!
6. Seafood at Labrador Park - There's a hotel located out there now and a quiet little seafood place cum bar. The food's alright. Not Palm Beach but their Crab fried with salted egg is absolutely finger licking good! A great place to chill out. 
7. Western Food at Botak Jones - Dan's dad brought us to the Botak Jones located somewhere in Bukit Batok. This has got to be the best coffee shop western food I've ever had! I had the Chilli Dawg, which was dang gud! The servings are also pretty big. Definitely good value for money. 
We also went to a local brewery called Archipelago at Circular Road. Beers are flavoured with Asian ingredients such as tamarind, kafir lime etc... I'm not too sure if I like it but it was definitely interesting.  

The bag I didn't buy

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:19 PM

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yesterday at Changi airport, I went to look at bags. Not something I usually do. But there was a Mulberry boutique and I simply had to take a peek. I like the Mulberry look - the supple leather, classic designs and fact that the logo is almost invisible makes their bags all the more alluring to me - same reasons I want an Hermes bag :P 

Anyway, I stepped into Mulberry and saw a bag with my name written all over it. It was deep navy horsehair Roxanne. I couldn't find a pix of the bag online but this is the regular leather Roxanne. 

It felt as if Cupid just shot me. I was in luuuurve. And the bag was on 60% discount! But after much contemplation with Daniel in the background going " up to you", I decided NOT to buy it. The bag at full price was about SG$3,700. 60% sounds cheap but when I thought more about it, I would be spending SG$1500 on a bag... while I'm unemployed... hmm.. that amount buys me a new sofa and coffee table for our SG flat. So I steeled myself to the intense disappointment and walked away... 

Bubbye Sunshine & Food...

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:59 PM

Friday, January 9, 2009

Taking the flight back to Beijing later this afternoon... sad to leave but I'm really looking forward to seeing my kitty cats soon. I think Ody's going to be super needy & kneady for the next few days...

Before we leave, I wanted have one last yummy meal to sustain me for the next few weeks - bah kut teh at Tiong Bahru. It was all arranged with my family BUT this morning my parents decided to cook it at home with an instant mix cos they think it's too much of a rush to go out, eat, come back , change, head for the airport. What my sis & I tried to explain to them was, IT'S NOT THE SAME. I can have home cooked instant mix bah kut teh anytime in BJ. It's the rest of the stuff you have with bah kut teh that we can't get, such as the salted veg, taupok, tea and Dan's fav stewed pig's trotter. And it's the "killing-yourself-in-the-heat-eating-hot-soup" that completes the bah kut teh eating experience. We've wait months to satisfy our cravings for our favourite food at our fav stores but it's taken away from right under our noses... A substitute just doesn't cut it, not when it's just 15mins away by car. Not 6hrs away by plane. Do you get what I mean?

So, sounding like an ungrateful daughter, I have insisted on going to "tabao" from my fav weekend store. I can forego the experience but not the food. Never the food.

Watch this

Posted by Gingerblossom at 7:34 PM

Monday, January 5, 2009

I got Dan his birthday present in advance. A Seiko titanium watch ( photo right). I can't afford anything better right now being unemployed and all so i thought I would get him a replacement for the Seiko watch he lost ( which I spent 1/3 of my first pay check on! ). There were plenty of other nice watches within my budget but I remembered how Dan liked the fact that his watch was super light. So I hunted around for the same titanium watch... seems like they are rare. Skagen has a pretty big titanium collection but I figured it's not quite Dan's style. I liked it very much so I got that too... I was right. He prefered the Seiko.. so the Skagen's mine. Muah hahaha.

My favourite cat

Posted by Gingerblossom at 5:42 PM

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Note: This entry has Cat pix. Not suitable for the cat phobic.
Dan's dad has the cutest cat ever! His name is Chubby. Chubby is the cat that made me fall in love with cats. I never used to like cats much. More then 10 yrs ago, Dan's dad brought Chubby home as a kitten. He was the most adorable little furball who followed you all around the house, run up and down the stairs on his short stubby legs... then panting like a dog because it was just too tiring for a small kitten to keep up. He would sleep with Dan on the pillow, sit in front of the PC monitor while you're using the PC and attempt to drink beer. As a kitten of 3 months, Chubby was about the length of a tissue box and the width of a conventional mouse pad. He was huge, hence the name Chubby. The only reason he looked so huge is from all that long fur.

Now 10 yrs on, Chubby has mellowed - doesn't run around much, seldom meows, never bites or swipes and mostly spends his time chilling on his tackle box by Dan's dad's feet. AND he has grown. Chubby is these HUGEST CAT I've ever seen ( and hugely cute too!!). How huge? See for yourself. P.S he's not fat by the way... not like my cats.


You may kiss the paw
Put me down slave!
No one's face is bigger than mine!

Home but unable to eat!!! Frustration!!!

Posted by Gingerblossom at 6:43 PM

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Since arriving home yesterday I've had a nasty case of the runs. Within 6 hours of landing, I had to go to the loo 10 times! One of which was to throw up the meagre 6 biscuits I had in-flight. For soeone who eats so much and so often, declining lunch and having biscuits instead is truly an indication that something is not right. I was miserable...My first dinner home was "ta baoed" and I could only manage 2 spoonfuls of rice with 5 spoons of soup and 1 slice of fish cake. Not quite the meal I was hoping to have. Almost wanted to cry... no prata, no prawn past chicken, no carrot cake....

The clinic downstairs was closed so I couldn't see the doc to get a diagnosis. Figured I better go check. Afterall, I have been feeling nauseous for 3days, throwing up almost all my dinners. The runs started when I landed home. I ended up taking all my sister's charcoal pills and going to bed early. I was exhausted from all tht running to the loo at home. Sigh... not the best way to start my home trip.

This morning, my tummy is still churning and I haven't had any food yet. Fingers crossed that nothing happens when I do eat... if I finally feel like eating.