Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Dumpling Festival Or Dragon Boat Festival

Chicken sent me this photo she took and the cloud art made me see it as twin typhoon or tornado spirals and this led me to this post about Hong Kong. Hong Kong is famous for its annual typhoons in hot summer months!

25 June 2020 is the Dumpling Festival in Lil Red Dot as well as in Fragrant Harbor (Hong Kong or HK for short).

It is not a public holiday in Lil Red Dot, although in Fragrant Harbor it is a big deal with a holiday to mark it.

I miss the old vibrant HK where night life is exciting and lots to see. I use to visit Temple Street to shop at the Night Market and hear the buskers there with their solo performances.

The bum boats or old ferry that plies between HK island and Kowloon is so fun. I used to have porridge on the bum boat as an activity for date night. It was tasty and fun caressing the waters in a small bum boat steered by an elderly lady. I admired her tenacity to ply a living out of this.

The HK of today is filled with riots, protests and everything not reminiscent of the old HK.

For me, it has lost its charm as fear fills me as to when it is the next protest or riot and if I decide to visit HK for a short break, will I be caught in it.

Like any tourist, I am sure this frightens us off.

HK’s economy was already floundering before Covid-19 and with Covid-19, it really hurt it even more.

Businesses suffered. Hotels retrenched people and everyone suffered.

I feel sad for HK as it was the happening place for bankers, trade and business, pipping Lil Red Dot back then.

As I look back at how I used to celebrate the Dumpling Festival with gusto back then in HK and now in Lil Red Dot, it is non existent. With Covid-19, I do not even get any dumplings from friends, contacts or self bought.

Anyway, these days, the traditional dumpling is replaced or upgraded to super high end Michelin type truffle ingredients to lure the well heeled. I prefer my old fashioned nonya bak chang (pork dumpling) with glutinous rice and rich chunks of fillings!

Happy Dumpling Festival to all in Asia and who celebrates it! Have an extra one to cheer selves in this tough time of economic challenges and Covid -19 times.

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My Adventure Yesterday At Newly Found PS Cafe At Dempsey Hill

It was such a treat yesterday to have an hour or two spent for a lunch treat with Mr Kind.

Mr Kind has his own business in a unique niche of the medical sciences and has the freedom to be a minion or boss or both! Lucky him!

For us locals, we will always decide on a place to chow down but yesterday was interesting in that he would prefer to leave it to serendipity.

Ooh big word, I told him and we both laughed as it suited my frame of mind.

But we both agreed to eat at a place where it is less crowded and noisy. He then mentioned that a decade or so ago, he wanted to sup at a restaurant called PS Cafe but no matter how, he could not find it.

Dempsey Hill is indeed a treasure trove of eateries, but because the buildings used to house the army, the eateries are stashed in different niches of this quiet area.

Being directionally challenged, I was of no use as usual. Google maps took us past PS Cafe but did not allow us to park.

After 2 tries, Mr Kind eventually found it. He is good with directions I say!

In a wooded area, it had both indoor and outdoor seating. We opted for outdoor seats as to sit indoor and be exposed to potential Covid 19 was not a fun thought.

The menu was not elaborate but it had fun stuff to our liking.

Specials had a slow stewed beef rendang (Beef cooked till dry with spices) served with rice.

I do not eat chicken and was amused to find a pair of wild chickens in the wooded area where we overlooked.

Yes, I am a city girl who lives in an urban jungle and never grew up as a farm girl. So whenever I see wild chickens, I get all excited as if I was bonding with nature! LOL!

A pair – Rooster and hen owning the land it seems!

As the waiter approached us for orders, I teased him and pointed to the chooks and said, “your supply of chicken for today’s special?”

The waiter gamely replied, “Free range too!” but after laughing with me, he assured me it that those chooks were not used on their menu!

I stuck to my beer battered fish and chips and it was served nicely with a bucket of chips with carrot stick, french bean, asparagus spear and a leaf of romaine lettuce. Plating was done in a rustic way, as if how it would be, if I was eating at a restaurant at a vineyard in Perth, Australia, sans the cool weather! I miss the cool winters of Perth.

Despite the fear of Covid19, this eatery did not suffer poor lunch sales. It was crowded and I was glad I did not sit indoors as the din would be too much. We were told that dinner was less crowded than before.

We washed down our meal with ice lemon teas (Mr Kind had his iced tea with berries).

No stomach space left for decadent cakes that measured at least 8 inches a wedge! But it was admittedly alluring!

For me, having genuine friendships like those with Mr Kind is a treat and he is always thinking about helping me and for this, I am especially grateful.

He knew that I could not get groceries and so, he arrived at my doorstep with lots of fruits; blackberries (which reminded me of Eugene, Oregon as I used to bring a bucket to pick them off the blackberry patch on the banks of Willamette River), strawberries, peaches, plums, blackberries, S Korean brown pears, seedless black grapes and a local favorite of my mum, Jambu Ayer.

It was my first outing since post surgery and I was careful to wear my aircast boot and gingerly managed the steps to this PS Cafe.

I enjoyed the pep talk Mr Kind gave me too.

Life is complicated and like I mentioned to Mr Kind, maybe it is time for me to be aloof to all or any nonsensical persons and be zen about it!

Zen sifu……master Zen…where are you! I need classes! Haha!

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Makings Of A Great Chef

I feel that sometimes, it is not necessary a great chef that makes a meal great but the ambience, company and event that makes it so.

Please do not misunderstand that I am belittling chefs – no…no…we need chefs to create that oomph of a dish and that creative artistic plating of the food we see before us in fine dining restaurants.

But what I am referring to, is that those meals of beauty and elegance often leave the diner still hungry haha! Or at least that is what majority of my business associates tell me!

I remember how a meal in an Australian outback fire tasted so good when a tripod was used to brew bush tea and a simple meal.

Under the stars, in the outback with my Aussie pals and the guide doing the cooking, the meal was simple and delicious, non pretentious.

Chefs take great pains to craft and plate a meal.

I remember Mr Docile taking me for a meal at Morsels at Dempsey Hill.

Every dish was an artisanal crafted plate.

I could literally count that singular piece on a giant plate.

Mr Docile paid a handsome price for the meal but it left us both, I am sure still hungry. I was but, being polite, I said nothing. He said nothing as well.

The cost was paid for the ambience or what we call the environment and feel as the restaurant setting was like a barn with lesser than 10 tables.

The place could not seat more than 20 persons at most without losing the circulation space.

Comparatively speaking, I was wined and dined at Cat Cora before, another restaurant by a great chef.

The restaurant was enveloped by an aquarium or a fish tank and I could see sting rays, sharks and all sorts of fishes swimming around in the restaurant as I feasted on food and the marine life.

This is by far a bigger restaurant than Morsels and the menu was more commercial I feel and lesser of a personalised ambience of a chef’s attention.

So to me, what makes a great chef is the experience I am given for that meal.

It makes it more memorable when supping with that special someone or family or commemorating a special occasion that was accentuated by the meal and the service staff.

It is about friendships, camaraderie and the laughter or tears that came with the meal.

Food is eaten when happy or sad and it is the experience we remember of the Chef who prepared it.

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Nuggets Of Fun – Singapore Hawker Culture Vying For UNESCO Heritage Status

A Typical American Menu You Think?

A good and wide choice menu is hard to find.

A good and wide choice menu that is also economically priced menu is priceless.

A good, wide choice menu that is both economically priced and with 1Michelin star status is a jewel of a find.

Lil Red Dot as I fondly call Singapore is unique in that our little fishing village of an island state in 1800s came alive in 1819 with Sir Stamford Raffles bringing in colonial influence and making us into a trading port.

Migrants from China, India and neighboring countries came to Lil Red dot to work as coolies or cargo handlers doing menial laborous work.

With them, came their food culture.

Floor Noodles or Hokkien Noodles were invented by 2 Hokkien brothers from China who cooked food using bricks and kindling to fry their noodles for dinner in woks over this low brick fire at floor level.

Their dish was shared and they ended up dumping their menial job to turn hawker as demand for their noodles was a more lucrative income.

Today, one of the 73 year old descendant of the original Hokkien brother, is still frying up a storm at Old Airport Road.

Our Ambassador At Large, Prof Tommy Koh summarised our hawker culture well:-

1. Singapore has rich, middle and poor classes of people. The only place they meet, interact together regardless of class is the hawker center.

2. Hawker center removes all inhibitions of class as we eat, laugh and joke as one people – the hawker crowd.

Our dishes are distinct like the fish head curry. A man from Kerala, India emigrated to Singapore in the 1900s and successfully created and sold this dish in Singapore. He then took the recipe back to Kerala to expand his business. Today this dish is uniquely ours.

I sincerely hope we can put our hawker culture on list of UNESCO Heritage list and share it with the world.

Homemade Burrito or Taco?
Best Dish!
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Travels Of Ms Classmate & Mr Docile On Their Respective Trips

Seoul, Korea – Ms Classmate’s Destination Of Choice (*Photo Courtesty Of Ms Classmate)

Ms Classmate loves all things Korean.

She is so fascinated with Korea that she has been taking online Korean language classes, sups Korean food, enjoys Korean dramas or movies and even has a Korean hair stylist.

I admire her love for all things Korean and a bit of her love for Korea has rubbed off on me as she is the one who pointed me to watch Korean movies on Dramacool.

Recently, she (*Ajuma – Korean for Aunty or respected female adult) finally managed to take time to spend a week with her husband in Seoul. It was her long deserved well earned self time trip.

Ms Classmate is a filial daughter and good sister. She is also a devout Buddhist.

She is also a good friend to me, being with me whenever I need comfort for my medical hoop lahs. I learn aspects of life visions through her. I learnt to let go or try and accept people as to who they are – especially where my siblings are concerned.

My greatest joy is having a good friend who is honest, sincere and outspoken and the days we shared in Oregon are much remembered and fondly too.

(Korean Temple *Photo Courtesy of Ms Classmate)
Exactly How People Dressed In Korean Movies In A Bygone Era – Jeoson Time! *Photo Courtesy of Ms Classmate
Amazing Mountain View *Photo Courtesy of Ms Classmate

I have never been to S Korea. I would like to one day, as I love kimchi, bbq pork and their snacks and crackers.

Mr Docile went to Barcelona, Spain with his wife, sis and bro-in law.

Again, I have not been to Spain either.

I have always been more attracted to HK, Australia and New Zealand or common sights like UK or Greece or Italy.

Just As I Thought…Spanish Steps? Haha!! *Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
*Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
In Santander *Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
*Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile

San Sebastian *Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
*Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
*Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
Bilbao – *Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
Bilbao *Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile
Winery in Rioja Region – *Photo Courtesy of Mr Docile

It is nice to be able to “travel” the 2 countries with Ms Classmate and Mr Docile through their “eyes”

I always appreciative of your respective time to think of me even when they are on holidays – for this, I am grateful for their friendships!

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Kopi At Changi Airport T3 (Before Incarceration At Bates Motel)

It is near midnight and yet Pan Island Expressway (PIE) leading to Changi Airport is anything but desolate!

You would think creepers it is near midnight so where is everyone off to?!

On reaching T3, it is abuzz with young and old, families in tow. Not tourists mind you, nor people flying out but locals queueing for a cuppa coffee.

Singaporeans are devoid of night spots to chill. The foodcourt at B2 is crowded and so is Louisana Popeyes.

As for Yakun, the snaking Q told me it was best I sat down at Kopi Tiam instead.

The infamous bak cho mee was crowded too. Anytime is a good time for Singaporeans to eat. Eating is our passion it seems. Eat to live is not our motto but live to eat is, it seems!

To me, I wanted an excuse to run my car and take it for a long drive. I was also curious to know what happens on a Saturday night at T3.

I did not venture beyond T3. I usually would take the inter terminal driverless bus to T2 but it was late and I was tired.

East to West I went. I did my car a favour and enjoyed the drive!

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Ocean, Sea and Rivers – They All Amaze

I love the wide open sea as it gives a sense of pleasant calm looking at the calm waters.

I have seen the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, English Channel and the Dead Sea. I believe I saw another Ocean at Adelaide too but I forget.

The blue waters tend to be different at different depths. Underneath the waters hold a bed of exciting marine life.

I know the tiny Portuguese of War swimming about can send shivers to swimmers. Puffers or blowies as called are plentiful in Perth waters and they have become pests.

Marrons, I was told started out as a pest. Now it is a shellfish that is enjoyed after boiling.

Ken, Roger’s dad, is most adept at cleaning Marrons. I saw him deftly snapping off its head, avoiding its menancing claws

I learnt about pippees being used as bait for breams. I must have shelled 100 pippees to catch fishes off the Murray River off KI.

Nothing beats waking up in the morning…jumping out of bed and gulping down water before cleaning teeth and heading out to the jetty in a hop skip and jump.

Fishes await my humble handline!

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Wine 101 – Reminiscing My Days In Land Down Under

image

This was taken at Langhorne Creek’s cellar door. I was told it had an awful autumn last year when its vineyard was flooded and vines were submerged.

To me I thought oops! There goes the entire crop for harvest!

Surprisingly I learnt that the vines were safe and that the waters would be absorbed in the soil for the dry summers ahead.

Amazing! How nature can unleash its wrath yet leaving innocent crops very safe.

I had the opportunity to harvest a couple of bunches of wine grapes to eat. They certainly did not taste like table grapes as globes were smaller, more tannic in taste and chewier skins! Of course be it shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, the species and tastes differed.

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Sanya – Hainan Island

I was posted to work in Sanya, Hainan island for three months once. Sanya was often used as a venue for the Miss World Or Miss Universe titles (I forget which) and I wondered why. So, when I was posted there, I was keen to know more about Hainan and in particular, Sanya given its glamour status portrayed in these beauty pageants.

Gloria was the name of the resort that I lived in. It was opulent and magnificent – just as all the holiday villas that surround the area. I saw the holiday resort villas and wondered if I was in a country other than China.

The architectural designs were amazing as it was exciting, quite unlike a typical Chinese village type atmosphere. White color was universally used for the walls and ornate iron works adorn the gates, grilles and lovely gilded knockers on doors that made me feel as if I was in California.

Being a typical Singaporean, I was eager to taste Hainan Chicken Rice! I assumed the infamous dish that sells loads of plates a day in Singapore Hawker Centers or in hotels originated from Hainan. I was sorely disappointed when I tasted it. The chicken looked really yellow and tasted far from what we have in Singapore. It was immersed in a Chinese wine and I am not sure if it was steamed or boiled. It looked “dead” not juicy nor plump like what I can get in Singapore. As for the chilli – this is what makes the chicken great I thought was a let down.

Mutton, lamb and beef were meats that favoured the people of Hainan and I could not get used to the food there as it was meat that smelt gamey and it came oily, salty and a tad not what I liked. I ended up eating western meals most times.

I wandered off to the other resorts; Cactus (3 stars), Holiday Inn (6 stars) which was at that time, managed by a Singaporean GM. I was happy eating in this restaurant as a lot of Singaporean tastes and flavors were reflected in the cooking style.

The people of Hainan were very friendly and polite. I could not speak Hainanese and their tone of Mandarin was different in a lyrical sounding sense. Still, we got by chatting.

Hainan is picturesque and I was told Hainan is the Hawaii of the East. True to it, plentiful blue seas and beaches, lots of coconut trees. The coconuts there were delicious and cheap but I prefer the ones I tried when staying in Sri Lanka before.

I saw a Merlion statute when driven around in Hainan. I do not know how it got there, but it stood tall on a hill, faraway.

Whilst Sanya has overtaken Haikou, the other major port as a tourist spot whilst Haikou remains largely an oil and gas drilling hub.

Would I return to Sanya again? Yes, why not. I could at least return and buy their locally cultured pearls and abalones. The dried abalones took a lot of stewing before it became tasty and yummy. So, if it is to stock up on abalones and pearls as well as admiring the architectures, I would.

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CM’s Food Porn #90 – Tokyo

CM has been sending me a ton of photos from his trip with his wife and daughter in Tokyo.

I am, honestly, not interested to see what he does every minute of the trip and wished he could be more discerning when shooting off photos to me on Whats App messaging service.

But this is typical of CM, ignorant of other’s need to have work peace instead of phone buzzing when he sends me the load of photos.

I tried explaining to him that I have to attend meetings and do stuff. I cannot shut off phone as I am on 24/7 standby call for my parents. He cannot be bothered! Sigh!

I only like his food photos as Japanese plating of food is indeed pretty and worth sharing.

As to when he has beer with his wife or snacking, I am disinterested really and I marvel at the data plan he must have bought as the data he sent to me is not in small amounts.

Anyway, it is good he is on holiday and pigging out to the maximum.

I will share only these food photos that I felt was quite pretty. As usual, be brags that this meal cost 8,000 yen per person which is about SGD101 per pax.

Humility is unfortunately not his greatest strengths!

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