I was around Bugis Village area the other day when I walked pass a fruit wholesaler which also did some retail. The shop was packed with people buying oranges and apples as offerings for the Kwan Yin Temple nearby, but my eyes were immediately drawn to one thing when I entered the shop. Sitting at the corner was a carton of peaches in a brilliant flushing red with streaks of lemony yellow, the colours of summer! I was immediately mesmerised by their sheer beauty. These turned out to be Australian white peaches, and almost at once I remembered one of the recipes I’d watched on Nigella’s “Feasts – Just Desserts” sometime back. Apart from being a “domestic goddess”, Nigella is arguably one of the world’s greatest advocate for cooking peaches. And of all her peach recipes she’s introduced in her books and programmes, one is dubbed by her as “a classic” – Peach Melba.
High tea set for 2, for jan & feb 2011. It was a good bargain we thought so we went for it!
Chinese New Year 2011 Baking Part 1
Chinese Lunar New Year is around the corner once again and usually we would start shopping for new year goodies like cookies and candy etc. This year however, we decided that it would be good to do some baking on our own. Twice the fun for half (or less!) the cost! What better deal can one get? Then came some reading and “research” on what to bake. I’d shortlisted several delectable sounding recipes and the first is Peanut Cookies 花生酥 using an online recipe from a fellow foodie’s blog. They are incredibly easy to make but not short of being aromatic and delicious. I especially like their “melt-in-your-mouth” texture.
Baking Macha Sablé, a french cookie from Northern France infused with an oriental touch by using macha aka Japanese green tea.
Sablés (sah-blay) get their name from the characteristic grainy texture they have. They are similar to shortbreads but differ from their Scottish counterparts with in the inclusion of egg yolks. Simply delish!
鱼片米粉 Fish Slices with Thick Vermicelli in Broth, a simple dish I like to cook for myself and my family. Something hot and soupy is especially comforting for cold and raining days.
Lunch @ Jack’s Place is something which we had been wanting to do for such a long time but never get the opportunity to materialise. Hectic work schedules is usually the
excuse reason. But as the year closes to an end with us clearing leave and not travelling out, it seemed like the best place to enjoy a slow and simple weekday lunch. We chose the branch at Bras Basah complex for several reasons. Firstly, its just a stone’s throw away from the gym where we workout, hence allowing us to sweat out a bit to lighten our conscience on the culinary indulgence we might land ourselves in. And secondly the ambience and decor here is so well-preserved at the 80s and early 90s! Just the way we like it, uh huh uh huh!
We order two set meals of the day which came with Cream of Vegetable Soup served with garlic bread.
Last day in Taiwan, day to do some last minute shopping, especially for foodie goodies…
Beginning of Day 6, our last day in Taipei. We checked out of the hotel and walked to a shop in between the hotel and Ximending for some 伴手礼 aka 手信. bought 世运凤梨酥 which is award winning. On the way from the shop to ximending, we came across 北门, located at the junction of 台北车站 and 西门町.
It was another grey and rainy day in Taipei. Visiting 龍山寺 seems to have become a ritual whenever we are in Taipei. Not so much as to pray, but more to take in the atmosphere. The afternoon itinerary is for Danshui but poor weather seems to forebode futileness. So a change of plans to go to the Jade and Flower Weekend Markets located under the flyover of JianGuo and Ren’ai Roads. Evening is another gastronomic experience at Gyukaku.
Going 龍山寺has almost become ritualistic for our trips to Taipei, and stopping by 小南鄭記 for some Tainan delights, 碗粿 and 虱目鱼焿 has also become much of a routine.
After breakfast at the hotel cafe, we took the HSR from Kaohsiung back to Taipei. Choosing the appropriate timing is very important as certain trains make very few stops along the way from Kaohsiung back to Taipei, namely at Taichung and Banchiao. This shortens the travelling time considerably. Also, since the train does not call upon every stop, there are few passengers boarding and alighting making the journey less disruptive!
Breakfast at kindness hotel in kaohsiung before checking out. The menu is roughly the same for both days but still, the spread is quite decent given the price we paid!
We checked out of City Inn Hotel early next morning and took the High Speed Rail (HSR) 高铁 to 左营 Zuoying Station. It took barely 2 hours from Taipei to Kaohsiung!
Upon reaching Zuoying Station, we changed to the MRT and stopped at Kaohsiung Main Station, which is located near the train station. Kindness Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from the MRT exit. The room is relatively small but very clean. What more can we ask for a steal like NT1299 per night!
We visited the Butterfly Garden located within Terminal 3 Transit Area and had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe at Terminal 3 before boarding our 4.5 h flight on Jetstar to Taipei!
Lunch at Hard Rock Cafe located within the Transit Area of Changi Airport Terminal 3.
A bus that brought us around the World Heritage sites in Central Nikko.
Edo Museum @Ryogoku
Decoration in conjunction with the Rake Festival
On our 4th day in Japan, we went on a side-trip to Hakone 箱根, a town at the foot of Mount Fuji world-renowned for their hot spring resorts and related onsen activities. We set up from Tokyo really early, embarking on the Odakyu Odawara Line from Shinjuku to Hakone Yumoto Station
Little Japanese school girls we met saw on the train.
Then we walked through Harajuku’s Takeshita Dori 竹下通りto Omotesando Hills and finally Shibuya.
A beautiful Sunday morning with lots of traditional weddings going on at the Meiji Jingu Shrine 明治神宮. Coincides with a crysanthemum flower show and the 7-5-3 children festival. Lots to shoot!
A bridge co-joining Harajuku Station to the entrance of Meiji Jingu Shrine.
A long and pebbly walkway. Well… its more than a walkway actually. Probably wide enough for several horse carriages to move through at the same time. But this is now strictly used by walking pedestrians only. Vehicles into the Meiji Jingu vicinity take another pathway.
Started the day at Tsukiji. Actually, we went Shinjuku first to get our tickets changed for Hakone.
Famous soba joint at Tsukiji outer market. It was recommended in both Taiwanese Tokyo guidebooks we had, so it is hopefully good. And it was! Just nice and piping hot for the cold weather. Obasan in charge of the tempura is grouchy though. Curtly reminded us that we can’t order tempura without having soba. The sign above her already said so. DUH! The soba is really tasty! Slurp Slurp! Hoped that her service was as palatable though. Oh yeah, its kinda pricy! Paid around 1500 Yen for two bowls of soba soup with Ebi tempura.
Hot soba with wakame (seaweed), negi (spring onions) and ebi tempura
Massive Christmas Deco at T3 Changi Airport. Its a ball-shaped dome which opens up like an umbrella periodically and plays music.
Another deco for xmas in the transit area. Lotsa tourists stop by on the way to their boarding gates for some quick shots.
Stewardess serving refreshments on SQ638 to Narita. Its a overnight flight. So no dinner served as it was 2345h when we boarded. Our first A380 experience! Chose a seat which doesn’t have a seat in front of it in exchange for more legroom turned out to be a mistake. With no foot rest extension from the seat in front (cos there isn’t a seat in front!), I kept slipping downwards while sleeping. And the meal table is wobbly. The screen is stowed away on the left of the seat. But I could do with the extra legroom. Oh well… you win some, you lose some.
Japan, also known as the “land of the rising sun”, a place where we always wanted to visit over recent years but due to commitments were not able to put a trip together. With the economic downturn and dropping of fuel prices, 2009 just felt like the right year to make our virgin trip to Japan. And on Aug 11, the sign came, when Singapore Airlines dropped airfares for many of their routes for the end of the year. It was a deal hard to resist, and so we took the plunge and booked at 8 days 7 nights trip to Tokyo for S$625/pax in November. Because it was our first ever trip to Japan, we decided to not rush and spend most of the time exploring Tokyo and maybe taking 2-3 day trips out of the city.
The next 2 months after that was spent researching our itinerary and searching for an affordable place to stay(a decent 3/4-star hotel or a backpacker’s hostel). Since we will be out most of the day, needed a place which was convenient to do laundry, we short-listed Khaosan Tokyo Guesthouse (albeit the small rooms) which costs around S$80/night, and decided if we make an overnight trip out of Tokyo we could put our luggage in the lockers in the train stations. Unfortunately, the rooms for November could not be booked until mid-September, and so maybe it was a blessing in disguise as we stumbled upon the Weekly Mansion website, which costs around S$110/night and had better locations.
Finally, we decided to do an overnight trip to Hakone/Kamakura. Since we were not going to be in the hotel long for this trip, we decided on getting an affordable hotel rather than an elaborate one with lots of facilities and services. We ended up choosing Hakone-no-mori Okada which costs around S$150/pax which is considered decent as the prices of hotels in Hakone can be as high as S$300/pax.
And so our adventure begins…