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Friday, June 22, 2018

My Secret Bak Chor Mee

Hidden away in an industrial estate (3, Ang Mo Kio Street 62, S569139), there is a stall that sells very good bak chor mee. 1 bowl for $3.50. 

I intereviewed the lady who runs the stall. The soup is made with soy bean and ikan bilis. The minced pork is fried for the maillard reaction. It is super yummy!

Celiacs should only eat the soup version. The rice noodles for the dry version are cooked in the same pot of water as the wheat noodles. The soup version is cooked in clean soup. 

French Cheeses

We like French cheeses. Really like French cheeses. It has not been easy to get hold of French cheeses in Singapore. Huber's specialises in Swiss cheeses. They're good (still way better than the plastic tasting cheddar slices and the mass produced camembert in the supermarkets).

We are still partial to French cheeses.

They all taste different and all have complex taste profiles. There is the smell of the terroir. Different cheeses have discernible notes of fresh grass, daisies, berries. French cheeses are real treats. My new fascination with French cheese started on Mother's Day this year, at One Ninety where they served Pouligny St. Pierre on the buffet table. It was Wow! The Chef at One Ninety is excellent. 

The One Ninety buffet does not have all the hype of Ritz-Carlton's Colony but each offering is well-chosen. Colony served Boursin from the supermarket. One Ninety served Pouligny St Pierre. I know which restaurant provides true quality.

Cheese platters (with artisanal cheese) for 4 in a restaurant cost about $30 and you only get a few slivers of 3 to 4 types of cheese. So, I decided to source for French artisanal cheeses. I found a good selection at The Marketplace and then, I found La Petite Boutique (which flies in exactly the type of French cheese I order). La Petite Boutique supplies to restaurants so you can get through them, really special cheeses that you cannot find in the supermarkets (or even their website). If you KNOW what cheese you want, just order through them. The prices range from $7 to $19 per cheese and I get the whole block (instead of a few slivers).

Pouligny St. Pierre - salty flavour that turns sweet in the mouth, and ends with nuttiness.

Banon de Chalais - rich and creamy, smells of mushroom.

Langres - oozy and creamy, with a full bodied umami taste.


For 10 years, I have enjoyed the bliss of NOT attracting male attention. No one hits on me. I didn't realise that getting hit on, and having to deal POLITELY with unwanted attention, was stressful, till people stopped doing it to me.

It never occurred to me to question why. I just enjoyed the peace.

Earlier this week, I finally realised why no one hits on me anymore. It is because I am UGLY! Oh man! When did I become so ugly?!

I went on my annual hunt for good quality t-shirts. Usually, I head straight to Giordano and buy 10 t-shirts of 5 different colours. This lasts me all year, till the next t-shirt hunt. This year, Giordano did not have designs I liked so I wandered into Uniqlo to hunt. Giordano's changing rooms are dim and forgiving. Uniqlo is so sure of their products that they have bright white light in the changing rooms.

I gave myself a fright when I looked at me in the Uniqlo mirror. Where did all those freckles come from? Why are there wrinkles on my belly? Why are there ugly folds of skin on my back when I turn? You know how those Hollywood stars do the back turn for photos on the red carpet? I tried that in the Uniqlo dressing room and almost scared myself to death.

I looked like Najib's wife, Rosmah!

I stood there and only THEN was I hit by a moment of epiphany. No wonder no one hits on me anymore! If I glimpsed me over a glass of white wine in a romantic restaurant, I would run away screaming!

So, I texted The Husband, hoping that he would... you know... look at me with the eyes of the beholder kinda thing and say, "Oh no darling, you look as beautiful as the day I met you." Instead, The Husband merely said... see below...

He did end off by saying, "I love you regardless," which did NOT make me feel much better because it means he agrees that I am ugly! Then, I became even more depressed because things aren't gonna improve! If I already look like Najib's wife now, can you imagine what I will look like when I reach her age!?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Fratini la Trattoria

There are not many restaurants in Singapore that I can safely eat at. So, I am thrilled every time I find a new one.

Fratini la Trattoria is helmed by a slip of a girl who looks more like your regular PRC waitress than the Head Chef...
- with a degree from NTU in Banking and Finance
- who paid for her own uni education selling home made cakes
- who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London
- blah blah blah

Since it is a No Menu restaurant, the chef designs your menu. You simply have to trust the Chef. Think about it. That is what the Queen of England does, no? Her Chef knows what she likes and dislikes and he has carte blanche in deciding what to cook to please her (depending on what produce is of highest quality at the market).

Wah man! Today hor... I felt like the Queen of England leh! I just sat there and thought to myself - "Please me!"

Was I pleased? Oh man, yes! That is not all! Of the whole family, I am easiest to please. If you can please The Husband, that is when you know you are good at your kitchen craft. The Husband was very pleased indeed!

The Husband even said, "The best thing is, I don't even need to order!" He is a man who needs to make so many decisions at work that when he gets home, he really doesn't want to make any at all. I usually decide what he eats and I have gotten good at it because The Husband will COMPLAIN if it is something he doesn't like. Not quite fair, huh? You don't wanna decide and you complain when I decide for you.

Today, Chef Chomel decided for him and the man was THRILLED!

Scandal That Was Not A Scandal
It was after the meal that we did a spot of internet sleuthing and turned up some scandal about Chef Chomel! Seriously though, I really did not think it was a scandal at all. Apparently, Chef Chomel will post your name and details on the internet if you make a booking and then do not show up.

The whole internet behaved as if she had comported herself wrongly. I say "Good for her!" She stood up for the dignity of all chefs who care about putting good food into people's mouths. Her attitude reflects the attitudes of European chefs who have pride in their work.

Competence deserves respect. Establishments that care, deserve respect. If customers are so uncouth as to no show after confirming a booking, I won't just shame them, I would black list them and ensure that they never get to eat in my restaurant again... unless they call to apologise and explain (because sometimes, people have life and death reasons). Actually, this is what I do to my clients. Those who are inconsiderate and abusive, I smile nicely and gently take steps to make sure I never see them again.

Singapore is so big and cosmopolitan that people don't have to behave. They can disappear into the crowds after misbehaving. In Europe, restaurants are often found in rural areas and they serve a clientele that they see at village townhalls and suchlike. The chefs are your neighbours. People behave better in such situations. They are less cavalier and less careless about no showing. Chefs will also fly into a rage at such no shows.

Still, I have never thought it wise to offend chefs, you know. They cook things I like to eat, My policy is to suck up to every hawker centre chef who cooks stuff no one else can cook. I get very generous portions this way because people just want to be treated considerately and live with dignity.

Smoked salmon. Sous-vide pork. Brown rice. 
Dunno what is the yellow puree below nor the white sauce topping because Chef Chomel spoke very fast when she explained the dish and I was too shy to ask her to repeat. Ya man... the service here is so good that someone actually explains the dish to you and tells you which region of Italy it comes from! When she did it for the 1st time (and I thought she was a PRC waitress), I thought to myself, "What if she made it up? How do I know that this dish really comes from that region?" After the first mouthful, though, I wasn't thinking anything anymore. Whatever was going on in my mouth was very distracting!

Scallops With Yummy Sauce. I promise that the next time I go, I will make Chef Chomel repeat and I will write down NOTES so I can tell readers exactly what the dish is all about. However, you are unlikely to eat what I ate. Everyone gets different things, on different days.

Lamb on purple sweet potato puree. There was beef tenderloin too BUT The Son had eaten it before a photo could be taken.

Seabass on Yummy Vegetables.

Truffle Pasta.

Seafood Pasta With Cream Sauce.

White chocolate pavé. Tiramisu. Mint panna cotta.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Nice Handbag

At the risk of appearing like the gargoyle Rosmah Mansor, I hereby show off my newest handbag. The design is originally by some Japanese designer. Please don't ask me whom because I am not sure. For almost a decade, you can only buy this handbag from the actual label itself, which sells it for SGD$700. Yes, yes... I know the price because my brother's wife bought one.

There is no way I will pay SGD$700 for a handbag. No way.

I loved the design though. I have loved it for years. So, when I came across it at a pasar malam, I bought it for $35. I bought 2. Then, in a fit of affection for my Mother-in-law, I gave her the extra one that I had bought. My 70+ year old mother-in-law loves it too. Then, I went to the photocopying shop to get some stuff printed. The lady admired my pretty bag. I popped by to get her one and delivered it when I went to pick up my printouts.

Driving home, I saw a very fat lady pushing a market trolley and laden with plastic bags. She was carrying one too.

It really is a pretty bag. The problem is, all the ladies carrying the bag are NOT pretty at all. I tote it everywhere in my slippers and shorts. Grandma totes it. The 60 year old at the photocopying shop now also has one. That fat  karung guni lady was carrying one.

By this time next year, this bag won't scream style anymore. This bag will scream "Auntie!" That's ok. To me, it is still a pretty bag. I am going to buy one more to keep in the cupboard so that when the one I have gives out, I have a spare!

I wonder why I can get this bag for so cheap. Of course, it is brandless. Did the copyright whatever it is lapse?

National Service

In the best of times, I don't think any mother looks forward to seeing her son go into National Service. Come on, how can I send that baby in the video, to NS?

Right now, I feel positively panicky about NS. In 3 months, 3 young men have died. I am terrified at the thought of losing The Son. It is a cold fear in my heart that nothing can warm. I complained to my husband, who did nothing but shrug. I complained to my son, who said that the statistical chances are very low.

Yes, but they are not zero. They should be zero.

The Israelis all have 5 kids. They are a nation at war and all Israeli mothers know that young people die in the service of their country. They have many kids to ensure at least some are left to console a bereaved mother. Even then, there are mothers who lose all their children to war. But... but... but... Israel is constantly at war. Their boys die so that Israel might survive. Our boys die because some young idiotic officer barely out of his teens, was either cruel or stupid.

Why did not anyone tell me that our young men too, could die in the service of our country, for no better reason than the stupidity and cruelty of another young man? I would have made 10 kids. As it is, I only have 1 son and 1 daughter. Both are precious to me.

So, I am deeply regretful that I made The Son swim 15 laps or jog 15 minutes daily when he was in P4 through to P6. I deeply regret that I was so proud of his 6-pack at the end of P5. I should also not have been so proud when his school selected him as talent for Track and Field (which we rejected in favour of shooting).

At that time, there was a spate of young men who simply dropped dead of heart failure whilst marching in the sun. I decided that I had to ensure that The Son developed a strong heart. So, I forced him to swim or jog daily. Now, I am rewarded by the news that he has to go for Commando medical. I should have kept him indoors and sent him pale and slender (with a slight cough) to his NS medical. Oh why did I make a son with a rippling torso and a muscular right arm (the right arm holds up the pistol).

I am usually quite good at keeping my worries to myself. The Husband, The Daughter and The Son all have stressful schedules and it is not fair to burden them with my fears. This time, I whined and whined and whined. When I suggested that my son deliberately fail his Commando medical, both The Husband and The Son gave me speechless stares. And I am like, "So what!"

Then, my son assured me that he had no interest in joining the Commandos and would make sure he told that to the interview panel, but he had no intention of intentionally failing anything.

As you can see, I have now taken to whining on my blog.

Every day, I send one of the following pictures to my son on Telegram. I know that if I send it all to him at a go, he will only read the last one. I upload the pictures in the hope that they will be useful to other mothers.

Psssst... a friend of mine has a son who got sent to the K9 Unit. I am praying for that assignment too! Or perhaps the cyber security unit? Or the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle unit)?

Friday, May 11, 2018

Aggressive Roving Males

Nobody likes roosters.

People have been trying to give me roosters. In the space of 2 days, 3 people offered me their roosters. The roosters either were aggressive or they had the tendancy to run away. Of course, roosters don't lay eggs either. You really only want them around if you intend to breed more chickens.

Roosters are individuals, you know. They all have their own individual personalities. My Ah Koon (aka Max) is very mild and gentlemanly. He sits mildly on his perch and surveys his domain. If there is danger to his flock, he will raise the alarm, which is a few times a day.

When a cat comes by.

When Milo makes eyes at the flock.

When the garbage truck comes around.

When the rooster from the jungle comes to visit.

That is all he does, my Ah Koon. He doesn't do battle himself. He raises the alarm and expects me to come and rescue the flock. I do that (or my helper does).

Other people's roosters are more problematic. There is one who, in the throes of reproductive frenzy claws the back of the hen. Of course, since the hen lays eggs, people don't want their hens to be hurt. There is always the risk that the hen will die of infection. Solution: give problem rooster to Petunia. However, the family said Petunia cannot eat said rooster. Why would I take in a rooster that rapes hens violently? I have a pretty hen and 3 pretty pullets. Why would I want to create an India for chickens? Of course, I'll eat it. Ok... so they decided to find another home for the rooster.

Then, there was another who would run away! He would pop into the houses around the neighbourhood for a look see and eat other people's plants. The owner was fed up with having to go collect his rooster back. So, hey Petunia, fancy a roving rooster? Again, when the person heard that I would eat it, the decision was taken to let the rooster loose in the jungle. Something will eat that rooster. It just won't be me. Why would I want a rooster that I have to go up and down the street to catch?!

The 3rd person was rather more understanding. Their rooster would not allow the hens to eat. He chased them away from the feeder and he also would not let the new hens into the coop. This family asked me to ensure that the rooster did not suffer unduly. I was asked to eat it.

I was shaking my head at these aggressive male birds whose unseemly behaviour would lead them straight into the stockpot, when my Milo (male dog) got into a fight with Cliff (the neighbour's male dog). All I could see was a blur of fur rolling around on the tarmac, and then, as if nothing had happened, they suddenly started sniffing each others' butts.

Males are weird.