|Because mind and body matters matter
Recipe for a health nut
Eating healthy always seems
to be tough. ‘Nonsensical’ food? Well, that you can find almost everywhere. Eating
healthy on the other hand requires some sort of special attention and effort,
and is always a very troublesome alternative.
My mom always tells me she
gets a headache deciding what to cook for us. You see, she’s almost like a
health freak (organic foods and all), so if she had a choice, she would torture
my whole family with steamed fish, steamed vegetables and brown rice. NO SALT
ALLOWED. So when she runs out of ideas and I suggest something, she’d say ‘You
so smart, you go and cook lah!’
So I cooked lah.
I’m no Gordan Ramsay, but as
a rule of thumb, if you have to wreck your brains to think of what to do next
in the kitchen, you’re not eating the healthy way. Makes sense? Think of fish
and chips – it leaves an oily mess, there’s a need for good batter, and you
risk getting splattered by oil. So, it’s too complicated and unhealthy.
So my boyfriend and I decided
to cook two weekends ago, the healthy (and lazy) way. The dish of the day?
Not one to believe in
recipes, I can tell you roughly what went in, because when it comes to
something as simple as a pinch of salt, my boyfriend loves adding it in in the
most dramatic way possible. Think: large action of throwing salt in the dish,
with a little finger rubbing motion.
(according to the number of people you’re cooking for)
White wine (I
look for any wine that’s on sale at Cold Storage that week)
and cherry variations)
and red variants)
I’m not even kidding when I
- Chop vegetables up, throw into large backing tray
- Spread out and lay chicken thighs on top of the
- Place garlic cloves in empty spaces on tray
- Pour generous serving of white wine over chicken
(about 1.1.5 cups)
- Sprinkle herbs and garnish with sea salt to taste
Then the best part is to throw
it into a pre-heated oven. 30 minutes later, and you’re done.
Serve it with the remaining
white wine that’s used for cooking. A carb-free, healthy dinner that’s ready in
less than an hour.
School of Life
Everyone how knows me knows
how much I adore Ellen Degeneres.
She’s multi-talented, smart,
can hold just about any conversation and makes just about anyone laugh. Not
just celebs that make their routine rounds at shows. We’re talking about the
President of the United
States, his wife and even people who have so
much to be sad about like a woman who never had a house, or a trio of girls who
found themselves handicapped overnight because of a car accident.
Such is the essence of what
it means to score full marks in the school of life.
Ellen never went to college.
From a middle class family, she only completed high school before she dabbled
in some sales jobs. In her commencement speech at Tulane University
(where speakers are usually famous alumni), Ellen famously joked to the
graduating cohort of 2009: “I never graduated from Tulane or from any
university at all. And I’m not saying that you’ve wasted your time or money. But
look at me now…I’m a huge celebrity.”
And she’s right: Many of us
struggle to put ourselves through school because we have to. Because it’s just
the way it is here with the education system. But what most of us fail to see
is that education gives us knowledge, not the key to success in life. Ask
anyone in the working world whether a degree prepares them for the working
world and 90 percent of them will say no. I myself graduated with a degree in
journalism but this didn’t prepare me a teeny—weeny bit at all for life in the
publishing industry. It’s hours of lectures and theories out the door (unless
you want to be an academic, that is).
People say that kids drop out
of school because they’re lazy. If it’s anything, I’d say that it’s really
quite the opposite: Imagine how much more effort you’d have to put in just to
earn yourself a living and to prove yourself. When all your friends are still
in the ‘comfort’ of school and fed by their parents, you’ll have to make so
much more sacrifices.
Sure, Ellen never completed
her studies after college. But she never stopped working hard either. She left
school to do:
- clerical work
- sold clothes at Lakeside Shopping Centre and J.C.
- waitressing at TGI Fridays
- painting a painter
- worked as a hostess
- bartender work
Most of us would have given up
by number six and declared our lives miserable. But Ellen continued. She went
- Perform stand-up comedy at small clubs
- Become an emcee of a comedy club
Only on her eighth job did
she find a small measure of success. Between 1994 and 1998, she emerged as a
television personality with her sitcom Ellen. But all these were to come to
nought when she came out in the open to reveal that she’s a lesbian.
Who on earth would do that?
Why? Because being
part of the school of life isn’t just about being successful outside of school,
but achieving success within your own life. For her, it meant being true to
herself rather than hide behind something that she wasn’t. For a while, things
stood still for her, but when people realised that it takes a true woman of courage
to do such a thing, her fame grew to immense proportions that she’d never
But the problem with the School of Life is that the semester never ends.
Once you’ve achieved success
for yourself, it’s almost too easy to be self-absorbed. Like a kid who’s got
top in his class, chances are he’ll never share with you how he got there
because he doesn’t want you to beat him at the next test.
Today, Ellen is almost synonymous
with helping people out from dire situations. Each time I watch an episode of
her show, I know that whenever a family comes out to share that they just
crashed their car and their son has lost his ability to walk, chances are, she’s
going to (1) give them a brand new car (2) send him for rehab (3) send them to
Disneyland for a holiday. Yes, she can do this because she’s rich – but she’s also
not one to be afraid of sharing what she’s got and can do to change the world,
bit by bit.
Long story short, you don’t
need a degree to be successful or to change the world. For the longest time,
our education system has been trying to discourage rote learning, but what
about this rigid way in which we all go to school because we have to?
Perseverance and passion, on
the other hand, are the keys to success. And it’s something which schools can’t
Be inspired by Ellen's Tulane University commencement speech.
I hate crowds. I hate having to stay in a queue for a long time, or have to wait for a table just so that I can have a proper meal…because when I eventually do get to sit down, I’d usually be too tired and annoyed to enjoy what’s in front of me. And then it’s followed by bad service and the mad rush to finish your food because you have to be considerate: More people are waiting.
Recently, I managed to go to probably one of my least frequented places in the whole of Singapore, Buona Vista. And unless you were formerly from ACJC, that place doesn’t really evoke memories, nor is there anything really exciting. But I finally made a trip down…for food. I was told that a small café called Pies & Coffees had opened up at the new Rochester Mall. And other than Starbucks, I hadn’t heard of anyone opening up a branch there.
Pies & Coffees couldn’t have been in a better location, really. It’s set near a small road and surrounding it is greenery and a nice and rather large water feature, making it a perfect place to just relax and hang out with friends. Even on a hot day, the alfresco area is sheltered just nicely and has an air well that brings you the breeze but not the heat.
As the name suggests, this place is the place to go for if you’re looking for pies. There are over 14 to choose from (eight savoury and six sweet). Some of the specials here are the Wagyu Beef Cheek, Lamb Shank and Duck Confit ($9.95 each). The pies are made with a buttery and flaky crust that’s reminiscent of a cross between a pineapple tart and a croissant. Airy in every bite, they’re truly good even on their own.
Each pie is perfect for a meal! Generous stuffing makes the money worthwhile.
But it was the Laksa Shepard Pie that stole my heart. It’s almost as good as eating a solid bowl of Laksa. As a substitute for Laksa gravy, potato is pureed to give it a similar texture. It also has a good kick of spiciness that gives the pie character.
If you’re looking for a dessert to complete your meal, the Chocolate Almond Pie ($8.95) is something I’d go for. Though it looks rich, it’s actually made with Valrhona chocolate so it isn’t quite too sweet.
One thing about the coffee here is that it’s brewed through a method known as air infusion - the first in Singapore. Air infusion coffee goes through three steps of wetting the beans, injecting air into a pressurised chamber to create a uniform flavour extraction and a hydrolysis feature where air pushes the coffee out while filtering the beans. The result is a cup that’s deep-bodied and extremely aromatic.
Barista @ Work with the air infusion machine Perfect cuppa!
Drawing the lines
The office is not the best place
to make friends. Personal opinion, perhaps, but I have been working full time
for almost two years now and each time I think that making friends does make
the workplace a happier place, a turn of events is sure to happen, provoking me
to think twice, or even thrice.
My first job didn’t work out
too well. I worked as a journalist and the working hours were tedious and
erratic, and it didn’t help that I was a (rather) innocent, fresh graduate who
was optimistic about working life and believed that life was going to be all
rosy. I did my job to the best of my ability – something which I am proud of
till this day. But the long working hours also inevitably meant that I spent
most of my time in the office or with colleagues chasing leads.
I’m not the kind to normally
wear my heart on my sleeve. But when things in my social life got quite bad, it
started showing in my demeanour and my level of enthusiasm. Not surprisingly,
my boss pressed me on what was wrong and so I let her into my personal life. At
the place I used to work, our supervisors weren’t really regarded as bosses
because they’re only slightly older than us and the environment was pretty
friendly and casual.
It felt quite good getting
the matter off my chest, but of course, turns out it was short-lived. She soon
started using it against me whenever she spotted mistakes in my work. It didn’t
really affect me at first, but when I decided to take up my current job offer,
she used it against me during my exit interview.
So one of the questions was:
Do you think the company should re-hire you in the future?
Me: “I guess so, I don’t see
Supervisor: “Really? I don’t
Me: “Why not?”
Supervisor: “That’s because
you have too many personal issues.”
Naturally, I was taken aback,
because she didn’t evaluate me based on my work performance, but on what I had
told her outside the office - which brings me back to why I feel that workplace
friendships are simply wishful thinking.
But friends I’ve spoken to
says that it’s usually among colleagues of the same rank who have issues with
each other. Distrust, hatred, jealousy of being entrusted with something when
everyone isn’t entitled to all add to tension in the office. While reports generally
point to this direction and I’ve experienced it personally as well, I’m more
inclined to think that it ultimately boils down to the person’s personality.
Your colleague may be
competing for the same things and vying for the same promotion as you, but if
she’s a genuine person who watches out for you and plays fair while in
competition, it’s possible to be friends. And if she ultimately gets the
promotion, I’d be happy knowing that she got there because she truly deserved
it. On the flipside, if she plays dirty, then she deserves no respect
Let alone your friendship.
The ideal guy
Man are like shoes. Pardon me
for coming up with such a materialistic comparison, but if you think about it,
there’s really some truth in it. The CLEO bachelors season is in now, and it’s
made me think that, even as you flip through these pages and you’re a single
girl, there’s not necessarily going to be a man who’s going to appeal to you. Which
brings me back to my argument, that men are indeed like shoes - there’s no one size fit all solution.
Some belong to the Valentino
world, others at flea markets. Some make you feel like you’re the queen of his
world, and there are those who may not shower you with the fanciest gifts on
the planet, but you know he’s always the person you can count on, or call up in
the middle of the work day to cry to and tell him how lousy your day has been. He
must be the right fit for you, and make you feel comfortable at all times.
Or maybe I belong to what
some would call the ‘old school’ camp. I’ve had friends who are constantly in
search for the perfect guy, whether they’re attached or not. “He must be tall,
smart, and handsome” or “He must at least have a good job”. They believe that
the perfect guy exists, and that there’s always a perfect relationship just
waiting for them to step into. Most of these friends, by the way, end up either
single, or very unhappy in their relationships.
Research has shown (oh yes,
that boring study!) that people who believe in finding the perfect soul mate
are 50 percent more likely to get a divorce than people who don’t. The reason?
They find themselves increasingly disillusioned into thinking that they’re not
with the ‘right’ person. I’m not saying that they’re crazy or what, but, is
there really a use of waiting for that perfect guy to come along…and not be
fully contented in life until you find him?
I believe that a girl’s
intuition is always right. The guy may not be the ideal person when you first
meet him, but what if you guys can talk hours into the night and have topics
which you can discuss at length? Would you give this up for an extremely
handsome dude with whom you’ve no connection to?
Besides being someone I can
talk to, I like my guy to be someone who has a sense of humour. I believe that
in laughing heartily together, barriers are broken, and you’ll come to see what
kind of guy he really is. Laughing makes me happy, and it helps me realise that
life in one big joke and shouldn’t be taken so seriously.
Every guy is a bachelor in
his own right.
He may not have been spotted
by us based on his good looks or charming personality, but that doesn’t mean he
doesn’t have a special quality. And if you spot this special quality, do take
note. Perhaps some day he will make it into your personal magazine of 50
What did I do last Sunday?
Well, let’s just say it was
an interesting day. I went for… a hand/blowjob class.
Yup, you heard right.
It was held at Bobbi’s Pole
Studio. It’s a pole dancing studio but once a year before V-day, they hold this
class. I hear that last year’s one was quite popular, and curious to see what
happens, I decided to check it out.
Not knowing what to expect, I
was slightly hesitant. But it turned out to be not intimidating at all – there were
about 20 girls, and we sat on the floor while the instructor (who happens to be
a man. Hey, who better to tell us how to drive our men wild with lust than a
man, right?) shares a few techniques and tricks. The whole vibe was really
casual because everyone was pretty open, and they’d ask questions whenever they
had one. So what it really felt like, was like of an instructional course, and
more like girl-talk.
It took me a while to get
into it. I mean, when was the last time you talked to strangers about how you
gave your man a handjob? But it was really helpful, because after a while, it
became apparent that we all have the same questions when it comes to sex. And
suddenly, you don’t feel so silly for not knowing it all.
So anyway, since it’s V-day,
I figured there might be some action after dinner. So here are some of the
useful tips I learnt from the class.
- Building anticipation is key. You might want to
rip his jeans off, but don’t. The trick here is to tease him, and be the
one in control (Trust me, this is one of the few occasions where he won’t
have any problems letting you take the lead). So slowly strip him until he’s
in his boxers, and play with his jewels. It can be anything really – cup it,
massage it – as long as you treat it gently. There’s nothing sexy about a
man in pain.
- Contrary to the word, a handjob doesn’t only
require hands. Use all of your body. Gently graze your breasts across his
you-know-what, or tease him by heading south and nuzzle your nose or
stroke it gently with your fingertips. But to really drive him mad, keep
one hand free to explore the rest of his body, and if you’re up for it,
maintain strong eye contact while you’re at it.
- Don’t tug at it like you’re trying to yank it
off. Firstly, he might enjoy it too much and put a premature end to the
fun. Or, it might hurt him. Try different methods like using your palm to
outline the contours of his you-know-what.
- Finally, a secret hotspot that’s seldom explored –
located just behind his jewels is an area of soft skin. When he’s really
getting into the mood, and he’s just about to climax, press firmly with
the base of your thumb onto that area for a grander finale.
always use a condom, and practice safe sex. Have fun!
The breath of life
I’m not sure if most girls
apply this rule, but first dates are generally the time of ‘No-Nos’. No, you
shouldn’t wear your LBD because it makes you look like you’ll seem too dressed
up, and no wearing of high heels lest you come across as being high maintenance
plus you’ll most probably fall flat on your face (for me, at least).
What about food?
I generally steer clear of
foods like spinach, seaweed (no sushi), and even some of my ‘ugliest’ dishes
like pig intestines, duck feet or even pork ribs. Because honestly, the last
thing we want is to look un-glam on the first date. But what happens if you’re
meeting your future man of your dreams, and don’t even know it? What if you
weren’t interested in the guy when you both first met, and didn’t care what he
thought about what you ate, and so you…
My boyfriend and I were ‘pals’
when we first met. So of course, I naturally didn’t think much about having to
impress him. What I didn’t know at that time was that he actually had a crush on
me, so I treated him like how I would with my girl friends. Once, we attended a
corporate meeting together. During the break, I greedily helped myself to some
durian puffs and chomped them down without offering any to him. After the much
needed sugar fix, I felt ‘alive’ once again and heartily chatted with him until
break time was over.
When the meeting resumed, I
was surprised when the CEO of the company came and sat next to me. To make
matters worse, I was asked by him to share my experience in handling a project…with
my durian breath.
It was only after my
boyfriend and I got together that he confessed to me that my breath stunk like
crazy that day. And he never failed to remind me that he couldn’t have imagined
what the CEO must have gone through after my impressive sharing session which
lasted a good 10 minutes.
Till today, it never fails to
be a running joke between us. In this month’s Guys Tell All (page 24), we ask
guys what they really felt about falling in love. Of course, I took the chance
to interrogate my boyfriend on this while I was at it. His answer? He said it’s
in the hilarious moments that felt that he truly got to know me, and it helped him
see who I really am without having to keep my guard up.
Where the world takes me
Travelling is a huge part of my life, and every year, I make it a point to make some sort of a big trip to anywhere I can go. By a big trip, I mean really spending a significant amount of time there rather than to quickly jet off from Singapore, stay for two days max and then return back home.
The best trip I've ever had was to Spain, Barcelona, where I stayed along the La Ramblas (the main town area/district), but it was more towards the outer regions and I stayed in a little inn just a two minute walk away from the main road. Barcelona was gorgeous, and I really appreciated all the details and effort put in my Gaudi to make Barcelona one of the cities with the most gorgeous architecture. The sights were breathtaking, and I easily spent more than one day in each of the museums. The people there spoke little English, but were generally helpful.
But while Spain has been my most memorable trip to date and one of the best places I have been, it's also intriguing to note that it's also the place where one of my worst trips took place. If you're the adventurous sort who loves wandering off to the quiet roads, Spain is not exactly the place to do it. I think one of the biggest sign that I was a tourist, was that I'm Asian, and there aren't many Asians walking the streets of Spain as much as it's a cosmopolitan country.
It can be pretty scary, and once you've been there long enough, you'd notice that there's always a weird man or two standing on the corner of the street, reading a newspaper. Sure, it sounds right out of a Hollywood assasin movie, but it's true. My friends who have been there often know this too. A scary incident that I recall is seeing my friend almost pickpocketed right in front of my very eyes, and when I went up to my friend and tried to hold his bag, the dude turned around and told me to F* off.
Staying alert is probably one of the biggest favours you can do for yourself while overseas. More often than not, we harbour the mindset that we're there to have fun--and let our guard down. Singapore has in many ways made us too complacent about everything, and we carry the same attitude when we're overseas. If you're an avid traveller like myself, go check out the Feb issue of CLEO magazine, where we share what you should do if you ever catch yourself in a sticky situation overseas.
Stop the bully...within us
Whether we agree with it or
not, bullying happens all the time. In the office, at school, at home, or even
with people we have no connection with.
I used to think that only
children did it, because they didn’t know any better. But then I started work
and I see it all the time. Co-workers, bosses, or even people I don’t work
directly with. Perhaps the reason I didn’t notice this earlier is because the
signs of bullying aren’t what they’re typically shown on TV as: the pushing,
the shouting, the shoving. But as I did my research for this month’s Know &
Tell (page 158), I started to realise that subtle things like hurtful and
degrading comments, or even something like refusing to delegate work, are some
signs of bullying.
I think that the problem with
subtle bullying tactics is that they don’t hurt as much, so it’s way too easy
for us to push it aside and ignore it. They don’t affect our lives as much as
physical hurt, but in truth, it affects us so much more because it’s harboured
within us for a longer period of time.
That being said, many of us
are bullies too, though we may choose to see ourselves as the victim and never
My group of friends and I
used to poke fun at this harmless girl. Truth be told, she was one of the
nicest girl I’ve ever know, never one to throw a tantrum or be angry at
anything for long. But if there was any
teasing to be done, she would be the one because she never retaliated. It was
always meant in jest, but one day, she broke down and cried. We were all pretty
much stunned at first, but it was also a sign that we had gone overboard, and
we never dared so much as to cheekily disturb her any more again.
I realised that if someone doesn’t
retaliate or stop us from doing things we did, it’s not a license to continue
bullying him or her. Watching this week’s episode of Big Bang Theory, I realised
that not everyone can be a Leonard, and so not every one dares confront their
Though this may sound like a
far-fetched idea, but perhaps it’s time to stop the bullying from taking place
by stopping the bully within ourselves first.
Trending: molecular gastronomy
What I love about watching cooking shows like Jamie’s
Kitchen and Poh’s Kitchen is that it allows me to observe (and get inspired) by how easy it is to make
dishes right in the comfort of your own kitchen—without having to follow any
sort of stringent rules. Jamie epitomises it best with his ‘dash’ of salt (cue action
of pouring a heap-full of salt on to palms and strewing it into the mixing
bowl). He makes cooking look flexible and shows that well, anything can go.
I’m pretty used to these types of cooking shows by now (and
the travel types done by the ever charming Bourdain), so I initially wasn’t too
excited when I heard that there was yet
another cooking show hitting our screens. There’s only so much visual cooking I
can do, right?
But…but… I was told that the new cooking show done by Li TV
isn’t just your regular cooking show. It’s a cooking show for lovers of
molecular gastronomy. Though I’m honestly no big fan of molecular cuisine, I
was very intrigued by how must research and science goes into producing it, and
decided to give it a go yesterday.
I’m not sure if you remember chef Alvin Leung? He’s the guy behind
this controversial Sex On The Beach dish. Well, this self-taught
Michelin-Starred chef who’s perhaps more well-known for his X-treme Chinese
cuisine in Hong Kong stars in it as the
co-host and chef. Each week, he travels to a particular Asian destination to
sample the country’s well-known dishes handpicked by a female celebrity
But this show isn’t all about travelling and eating. What
chef Alvin does
then is to deconstruct these dishes and reconstruct them using molecular
techniques. While retaining the flavours of the original dish, he successfully
manages to manipulate your tongue into thinking that you’re eating something else.
So for example, you would expect our local nasi lemak to have the rough texture
of rice, but chef Alvin presents it in the form of ice-cream that not only
retains the distinct coconut flavour, it also has the taste of chilli!
Nasi Lemak ice cream, anyone?
Another deconstructed dish: Sup tulang
While this 30-minute show ain’t going to teach you how to
recreate this dish (sadly), what it can offer is a sneak peak into how
molecular foods are created with all sorts of scientific equipment and knick
knacks that you never knew could be used in the laboratory as well as in your kitchen!
And if you find that molecular gastronomy is your thang, do check out this month’s Social Butterfly (page 241!) I was lucky
enough to witness how a molecular Cointreau cocktail was created right in front
of my very eyes and can’t wait for a local bar to offer it so I can have seconds
What happens during your happy hour?
TGIF! Friday’s finally here, so shove any leftover work
under your desk (they say work never ends) and out with the booze – it’s time to
party! Paint the town red!
The thing about Friday (and Saturdays) is that we can’t wait
to celebrate our week’s worth of hard work through alcohol. And we’re not
afraid to show it. A typical Friday night out with the girls would start with
dinner and a glass of wine, followed by a casual ‘let’s go some place to chill’.
Usually, we end up at some place with live music, and there’s always booze. Or
if we’re energetic enough (and if no one wore ridiculously high heels), we’d
hit the club to dance the night away and share jugs of drinks.
Perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, but I’m a sleepy drunk.
So when I’ve had too much to drink, I’d usually just get grumpy or fall asleep
if I’m sitting at bar stool. But I’ve seen friends who aren’t that lucky. A
good friend of mine, who’s usually pretty reserved and shy, would start getting
aggressive – which isn’t exactly a good idea if you’re in a club and there’s
bound to be people bumping into you on the dance floor. In her drunken stupor,
she would get irritated and once even accused people of starting fights with
her just because they ‘hit her arm’ or something as unreasonable as that.
How do I know that she’s drunk? Well, for one, she won’t
remember what happens the morning after, which is pretty scary. It’s like
talking to someone with amnesia, except you know that it can be so easily
But here’s the thing: no one really takes binge drinking
that seriously. Speaking to my girlfriends (and people that I meet at events),
the only thing that deters them from guzzling down alcohol, is the fear of ‘calories’.
People don’t want to drink because it makes them fat, not because it makes them
feel nauseous, and certainly not because they’re afraid to die.
While doing research and interviews for CLEO Investigates: Is your happy
hour getting out of control, I came across an extremely disturbing
fact: 80 percent of alcoholics suffer a deficiency in thiamine, a vitamin that’s
vital to blood circulation and formation. Some go on to develop a condition
that causes paralysis of the nerves. If this isn’t scary enough, I don’t know
what else is. Plus, binge drinking huge amounts of alcohol usually leaves an
icky feeling that puts you on the verge of puking.
I guess that when people drink in groups, it’s harder to
reject alcohol that’s coming to your table in rounds. For me, I like to fake it
by taking sips and walking around…so people can’t monitor how much I’ve drank
or jeer at me for spending an hour on a single bottle of beer.
Have you seen a nut run?
Well, you would have if you were at the Nike WE RUN SG race on Sunday. I was there!
And if you were among the 12,000 runners, I'd say good for you! Instead of choosing to spend the super cool morning (thanks to a night of heavy rain), it was almost too hard to pull myself out of bed. But I did!
I was actually feeling pretty jittery prior to the race. It's been about two years since I ran my last marathon, so the thought of running such a long distance actually freaked me out. I had been doing regular runs and attempted a few spinning lessons these few months, but nothing too serious. Fortunately for me, I was in the run with web writer Michelle Ong, who was running a marathon for the first time, so we worked out a strategy to pace ourselves to the end. And it couldn't have been more apt, really: The concept of WE RUN is that it's a place where runners connect, motivate and inspire each other, which was exactly what we did!
Though we were off to a slow start, Michelle and I picked up the pace after the first km or so. Of course, we did pick up the pace whenever the 100PLUS umbrellas were in sight. But I'd say we did pretty well after that. Most importantly, we found time to bond and manage to yell out in a very CLEO fashion when we saw editorial assistant Katherine Teo running in the opposite direction.
Runners up and early!
The big squeeze! Was retrolicious this crowded too?
Let the race begin!
Image courtesy of Nike
All in all, I'd say that it was pretty good fun! The race itself was definitely tiring and daunting, but it was the spirit of the young runners in the crowd that made this event someone reminiscent of a school's cross country race - in a good way. Everyone was cheerful and there was also a carnival waiting at the end.
Signing off with wobbly legs.
Guess who's been keeping me awake?
No, it's not a baby.
But yes, it's a good thing.
Recently, I was introduced to a new coffee machine that just hit the market and is now flying off shelves of supermarkets like hot cakes. Dolce Gusto, is its name. Yes, this Italian hottie has been the perfect guy, churning out only the best hot stuff to keep me awake as I struggle from my daily post-lunch sleepiness. My pick is the Piccolo machine - small, yet produces the same results as its larger counterpart.
In my excitement, I have introduced the machine to my friends, but they all say the same thing: that it is not the most premium machine int he market. And I'm glad it isn't. For $10.90 a pack, you'll get 16 servings (or eight, if you choose a espresso capsule combined with frothy milk). Plus the machine itself is less than $200!
What I like most about the capsule is that it combines both coffee and milk so you'll get total convenience, so I won't have to froth my milk in a separate container before sitrring it into my coffee. Using high pressure, each capsule is designed to deliver an even distribution of water and pressure over the coffee to maximise the flavour. But those who are picky about their milk might not fancy what the capsule has to offer: the smell of the milk can be rather strong, especially when your choice of beverage is the latte.
And though it hasn't been launched yet, i'm definitely looking forward to the ice cold coffee variant (yes, the same machine can make a cold latte too!) However, I was told that the capsules for the cold variants won't be available any time till December. Sad face.
Being body confident
I have neither a model’s body, nor the height of one.
Growing up, I was always skinny and hunched, and my nickname
in the family was sam poh (skinny in dialect). Some of my school mates would
make fun of me, and my family would tell me that I’d get blown away by the wind
some day if I didn’t eat more.
And so I ate, and ate, but nothing changed. It didn’t help
that I was bug-toothed and wore gigantic, plastic glasses that made me feel
even more uncool. I remember at age 12 tell my cousin: “I hate being skinny”
and she told me that I would regret saying that some day.
For a long time, I never did.
It was difficult to buy clothes because I’d look like a
clothes hanger. When I bought shorts, my friends would ask me why I couldn’t
buy a longer pair of shorts to cover more of my legs. Boots were out of the
question: I felt that I looked like a bamboo stick with gigantic feet. It was
The worst part was having no one to talk to about it. No one
understood how I felt, and they’d say I was crazy for feeling insecure about my
body. I felt frustrated that my friends could openly say they felt fat and how
everyone would say ‘me too’, but I could never do the same.
I can’t seem to pinpoint a changing moment in my life when I
started to embrace my body for what it is. I just did. I started buying clothes
because I felt like it rather than how it would look on me. Sure I had my fair
share of fashion disasters, but it felt great not having to go by the rules.
Going to the gym helps me gain more confidence in the way my
body looks. Each time I attend a yoga or Pilates class, I am forced to look at
myself in the mirror for the entire session. I used to gaze around, looking at
more attractive women ad admiring their great bodies, but the more I look at
myself, the more I started to appreciate my own body. Being skinny has its
perks too: I’m more flexible and can hold difficult poses for longer.
Body confidence, in essence, is all in your attitude. When
you’re happy and positive, you learn how to take things in your stride and make
the best of what you have. These days, I’ve learnt to take things in my stride.
So when people comment how lucky I am to be skinny, I find joy in irking them
even further by saying “yes, but I can eat whenever I feel like it and I don’t
diet, and I can’t get fat!”
I don’t know whether it’s the feeling of jealousy or
irritation, but it some how always manages to keep them quiet for a while.
Have you ever walked past a fancy restaurant, and the first thing you said to yourself was, "Wah, so atas, where do these people get the money to eat this stuff?"
Sometimes, restaurants intimidate us with their posh-nosh settings, dress codes and most importantly, their prices, so much so that eating at a restaurant isn't really an option for a regular basis. I personally am afraid of snooty waiters who seem to silently mock me when I choose tap water over bottled water, or get irritated whenever my napkin drops from my lap on the way to the toilet. To end it off, their bills are best signed without looking, and we'll skip dessert altogether and head to a nearby McDonald's for a $0.70 vanilla cone ice cream.
To make fine dining a little more accessible to more people here, Restaurant Week is back for its second time this year. I was delighted to find out that for as low as $50++ (approx), diners will get to pick from a list of restaurants to have dinner at. Lunch is a must-go with its affordable $25++ price tag. Choosing where to eat at for that week will definitely be hassle and brain-wrecking free. I overheard that some couples opt for both lunch and dinner for every day of the week!
Just last week, I was invited to take part in aTasting Trail organised by Singapore Restaurant Week. In a short span of three hours, I visited three restaurants along Club Street for starters, main course and dessert.
Our starter at La Cicala: Tapas (Cured Atlantic octopus salad, marinated olives and anchovies, fontina and chorizo croquetes and country bread with tomato sauce)
Our main at Senso: Sea Bass (served on grilled zucchini, oven baked tomatoes and mashed potatoes)
Our dessert at Nazt:: Poached white peach mille fueille with grand marnier sabayon, vanilla bean ice cream and berries compote.
Though I am definitely no fish lover (I avoid cooked fish at all costs), I decided to challenge myself with the sea bass. I mean, I told myself that if the food was really that great, I'd love it no matter what. And I was right. The white meat of the fish was so smooth and tender, and the buttery mashed potato and tomatos added a zesty and fragrant taste that I was bought over immediately.
I also loved the ambience at Senso, and I made a mental note to myself that the next time I'm back, I'm definitely going to opt for the alfresco dining. Here's a sneak peak:
I doubt the tickets are being sold yet, but I'll definitely post up a link when it's up and ready!
Mid Autumn Goodies
For the first time in my life, I was flooded with mooncakes and finally understood what my colleagues meant when they say that mooncake festival is over even before it arrives.
But I love mooncakes, so I'm definitely not complaining.
Over the past one and a half months, my colleagues and I put our taste buds to the test. And the results, as you can see in this month's Eat Out (pg 190) is in our Three To Try! These were selected for three main reasons: They were yummy, they were yummy and they came in cute packagings too!
My favourite was definitely the Original Ex-Crown Prince Hotel Premium White Lotus Mooncake with single yolk. Though the price doesn't come cheap at $26, I am totally loving the flaky crust which is reminiscent of Taiwanese sunshine biscuits or even cantonese yam pastries. While it's crispy on the inside, it's soft on the inside with a nice, slightly salty yolk. A bite into it sends crumbs flying all over...but should you really bother when you're too busy indulging? Needless to say, one piece wasn't enough to satiate me, so I went all out to get me another box at the past weekend's mid autumn festival bazaar at Ngee Ann City.
For those who find mooncakes are way too pricey, I'm about to send something your way! Earlier this month, our friends at Gold Kili shared with us a recipe for some delicious home-made coffee walnut crisp mooncake.
For the Golden Pastry:
300gm Hong Kong flour
2 sachets Gold Kili Instant double shot
white milk coffee50gm vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 large egg and 1 additional yolk
coffee oil200 to 300gm whole walnuts for topping
Mix lotus paste and baked salted yolks and
divide into 40 equal portions
1kg white Lotus paste
3 baked mashed salted egg yolks
whole egg mixed with
1 yolk one 1
tbsp Gold Kili Kopi-O stock
all shortening, chilled butter, sugar, eggs, coffee oil, baking powder together
until semi fluffy texture.
in all sifted flour, custard powder, double shot coffee powder mix bind
thoroughly, and lightly knead to form soft dough. Refridge dough for about 15
minutes before use.
pastry dough into 40 equal weight and portion size. Roll each dough piece out
and wrap a portion of filling paste. seal and enclose opening.
mooncakes and pin about 3 halve walnut on to each surface side.
5)Bake in pre-heated OVEN at 200 degree C for
1st 10 minutes then remove to eggwash second time and return mooncake into hot
moderate oven for another 10 to 15 min until golden brown.
Credits: Chef Lisa Leong
A national day cook-in menu
With the National day (long) weekend just around the corner,
don’t you think it’ll be a perfect opportunity for you to get together with
your friends, with you playing host and doing a little cooking or baking? I’ve
been meaning to do this for a long time now, but haven’t actually had the time
to get down to it. I’m not an excellent cook myself (quite a noob, if I dare say), so I think
this is the perfect ‘holiday’ to cook up a storm for your loved ones! After
all, you know that you won’t be faulted if things go haywire because it’s not Christmas
or some festive holiday, a time when every guest is suddenly a self-proclaimed food
Starters: Jamie Oliver’s bruschetta
Instead of starting from scratch (which would be too time
consuming as I’d rather spend some quality time entertaining my friends), I’d
opt for a ready-made baguette from the bakery. Before you slice them, heat up a
pan on the stove so that the pan will be piping hot by the time you’re done. Slice
the bread to a thickness of your choice. Drizzle some olive oil into the pan
and lightly fry on one side.
For the topping, I like to go with something simple and
fresh. Chop up some tomatoes (I like to mix both the regular, huge tomatoes
with cherry tomatoes for a nice mix of sweetness) with basil and olive oil. When
this is done, spread out the tomato-basil mixture among the slices of bread you
have and pop them into the oven for a few minutes just to give it the extra
Main Course: Grilled steak with home made sauce (home-recipe)
If there are only a couple of friends coming over for
dinner, I’d buy my ready cuts of beef from Cold Storage. Marinate the beef slices well by ‘massaging’ a
generous amount of black crushed pepper, sea (coarse) salt, and basil. Drizzle
a grilling pan with olive oil, and leave to cook on one side for about eight
minutes (for medium rare) before cooking on the other side.
Meanwhile, you can prepare your own sauce by boiling chicken
stock and thickening it with some corn flour. Add some red wine to taste, and
throw in some button mushrooms until the entire mixture thickens into a gravy.
Dessert: Red Nose Day Raspberry cookies
Just for the fun of it, I’d be making red and white-themed
cookies to commemorate national day! These cheeky cookies will be sure to put a
smile to your friends' faces.
Recipe and instructions from BBC GoodFood website:
- 250g butter , softened
- 140g caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 6 tbsp raspberry
- 6 tbsp icing sugar , sifted
- icing , to decorate
1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
2. Mix the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a wooden
spoon, then add the egg yolk and vanilla and briefly beat to combine. Sift over
the flour and cinnamon, stirring until the mixture is well combined.
3. Separate the dough into two balls, and chill for 25 minutes.
out the dough on a lightly floured surface, then stamp out the biscuits with a
cutter size of your choice. Stamp the centres with a smaller cutter to create a
hole in the middle.
for 10-12 mins until pale golden, then lift onto a cooling rack.
the raspberry jam with the sifted icing sugar. When the biscuits are cool,
spoon a little of the jam onto each whole biscuit, then carefully sandwich the
other biscuits on top. Pipe icing mixed with a little water to create a funny
Happy holidays everyone!
When it comes to hawker spots, nothing can rival the east coast lagoon good village, the Mecca of food spots. It's one of those places that, even though regularly patronised by tourists (it's near lots of water sport attractions so many guide books will write about it), the food centre has it's fair share of locals there too. Yet, though it shares almost the same amount of publicity as it's famed rival Newton Food Centre, one thing that sets it apart, is the price and variety of options.
Though I've always lived closer to Newton, the East Coast Lagoon food centre has always been my hotspot for supper. That's why I was hardly surprised when taxi driver Mr Tan Hor Senf recommended the satay beehoon (stall #17) there--it's really one of those stalls that's been around for donkey years and the charm of it never fades.
A preview of the stall's queue on a Wednesday evening. Time: 5pm!
It's also home to one of my favorite seafood stalls (or rather, dish) here. It's been my favourite for so long that I can't even recall the name of the shop. My legs just miraculously move towards that direction like its second nature. All I can say is that It's the 2nd stall on your left the moment you walk in from the carpark. My friends and I used to identify the stall owner as 'Lion King' (he had bright orangey/flaming red hair back then) but has since shed his wild side for something less flashy.
Anyway, I digress. This place, in my humble opinion, serves up one of the nicest la-la (clams). It's cooked in their chilli crab sauce with some egg white mixed in to give that sweet and slightly thick texture. Sometimes, the stall uncle will disappoint as many of the la-la shells would be empty (or unopened), but the dish always manages to save the day when I buy some fried mantou from the same stall and eat it dipped in the sauce.
I'm also a very beach-y kinda person, also this hawker centre is kinda like a haven to me. I enjoy sitting at the area where the tables are on the sand, and I can feel the sand beneath my feet and enjoy beach-front dining. Who says hawker centers don't have an ambience?
A lot of my friends who drive say that going there for supper is a no-no: parking is as hard to predict as Lady Gaga's outfits, plus there's no chance you'll be guaranteed seats anyway. Yet, i'd always tell them that the food's always worth the wait. If you can't find seats, there's always the option of taking away the food and enjoying it along the benches of the park. Which other hawker centre gives you the luxury of this choice?
It's like an episode of Masterchef Australia: Cook the best dish, our bam-- you're out of the kitchen, thank you very much for participating. Good luck in your career.
But it's not just on the television screens where we play witness to all the drama that unfolds; it's happening right here on our little island too. Late last week, I was told that Iluma is playing host to the Ultimate Ramen Champion Competition. As misleading as its name might sound (i actually thought it was a one-off ramen competition), the competition will be stretched across...one year! That's a whole lot of time to taste each and every single dish (and re-taste, if necessary) and vote for your favourite.
Here's how it works:
To me, the whole idea of a compeition sounds like a pretty fancy pants idea. After all, the Japanese are not really known to expand outside of their own country to set up resturants. But, why would a restaurant want to win a competition, only to have to fork out its own money at the end of the day to set up his own. stall? Also, would the winner be invited to set up a stall in Iluma? It's pretty much a dead town over there, even on weekends. Sure beats me.
- Six ramen stalls will each have a stall at Iluma, where they will exhibit their signature ramens for a year.
- There are four quarter finals and the ULTIMATE RAMEN CHAMPION 2011 SINGAPORE will be announced at the end of the competition.
- The crowned champion will be invited to set up a restaurant here in 2012.
Competition and location aside, what's different about the ramen offered here is that presents us a different side to ramen which most of us probably aren't familiar with: Ramen from different regions of Japan. They are:
Taishoken is reportedly one of the most famous ramen shops in Tokyo. Founder Kazuo is the inventor and trailblazer if tsukemen (dry ramen with dip).
My take: I like how the noodles were seved in a similar fashion as mee pok tah, so the noodles wouldn't go soggy. The pork, though tender and melts in your mouth, is too salty for my liking.
The black ramen's is the creation of Iroha (Toyama). Toyama Black Ramen is the black soybean and gives it a nutty fragrance.
My take: It's the only black ramen here, and though it looks similar to lor mee, it's actually pretty yummy and aromatic. The highlight of the dish is the soft boiled egg--hard on the outside while the yolk inside is soft but not runny!
Gentetsu, the restaurant, has been the winner of the ramen champion in Sapporo for three years now.
My take: This bowl of noodles took me by surprise with its freshly-ground ginger paste, which gives off a mild ginger aftertaste when stirred into the browth. According to the chef, ginger is a common ingredient in most Sapporo dishes. But I'm not sure if it'll be well received here because the weather here is not like Sapporo's cold weather where some ginger will definitely warm you up!
Bario's ramen is listed as one of The Guardian (UK) 50 best things to eat in the world. Bario means big, and is one heavy meal.
My take: I loved the thick texture of the noodles: It's almost twice as thick (and heavy) as a regular strand of ramen noodle. The broth is also spicy and sweet, and the pork fat gives a fragrant, aromatic boost-- definitely comfort food.
Creator of this dishm, Ikkousha, is said to be one of the most celebrated restaurants of Fukuoka.
My take: The dried fungus was a pleasant surprise, but for those who aren't fans, there's always the boiled egg and pork belly to fall back on. But the salty pork broth wouldn't make me come back for seconds.
Restaurant Tetsu in Tokyo is rated as one of the best tsukemen by Tokyo Times.
My take: As they say, the Japanese know best when it comes to their own dishes, so let them do the rating! In Hokkien, 'Pai tan' means 'difficult to wait' and I can't help but agree! Though it was the last of the six dishes, it was definitely worth thr wait. The secret behind its success? It takes fifteen hours to make this spectacular broth that will leave me craving for more (even as I type this).
Festival of yummies
‘Tis the month to drop all diets, don fishermen’s pants
(adjustable ones) and pig your way down at the SINGAPORE FOOD FESTIVAL. For the
18th years now (yes, it’s been THAT long), foodies all over the
island have been gathering at various iconic landmarks to showcase what Singapore is
truly good at: Eating. This year’s theme? “Curry and Spices”, which showcases Singapore’s
best-loved curries and distinctly-flavoured dishes.
The event is expected to host around 400,000 visitors
(throughout the entire festival, of course), and though I’ve always hated
crowded events like this, it’s a good opportunity to taste Singapore’s myriad
of cuisines and make mental notes of what’s good (or not). I’d suggest taking snapshots
of the stalls that have the funkiest dishes so that at next year’s Father’s/Mother’s/Grandparent’s
day, you’ll have no problem naming a restaurant rather than heading to the usual
I was fortunate enough to be at the media preview of the Singapore
Food Festival yesterday, and saw little boxes lining the stall at Jumbo. When I
looked closer, they turned out to be boxes of the restuaurant’s famous Black Pepper
Crab Spice and Chilli Crab Paste (sans the man
tou). The joy! Imagine what great presents they’d make for your dear friends
who are studying overseas and can’t enjoy our local cuisines. Plus, there are easy
to understand instructions (trust me, I can’t cook to save my life and they looked
simple enough), so you can cook it to impress your new date.
Another event that you’d have to look out for it the Tiffin Cruise,
where you’d get to enjoy the sights down the Singapore River
while enjoying piping hot and delicious nan served on board. Yes, you’ll get a taste
of what life really was like before the invention of the microwave oven.
THE SINGAPORE FOOD FESTIVAL
Date: 15-24 July
Time: 4pm-11pm (weekdays), 12pm-11pm (weekends)
Venue: Clarke Quay Read Bridge & along Central River
For more info, visit www.singaporefoodfestival.com.sg.
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