4 things I have learnt about food this week

  1. Coffee
    Coffee isn’t something I really enjoy or have an interest in, because I don’t really like the bitter taste, but the claim made by Jason Soon, owner of Kim Guan Guan Coffee Trading Pte Ltd, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1nmLcBYOxk) that Singapore’s style of traditional coffee was unique still amazed me. Obviously when analyzed in more detail, it would be more accurate to say that the traditional method of preparing coffee in Singapore is unique to the region here. Nevertheless, the fact that Singapore traditional coffee beans are roasted in caramel (and apparently butter/margarine; not shown in the video) and European style coffee is not is quite a big difference. On hindsight perhaps it seems quite obvious, but i never really considered the difference between “Singapore coffee” and “European coffee”, especially Kopi-O and an Americano which I felt were identical. That video was also the impetus for me driving to try Heap Seng Leong at 430am, the experience recorded here.
  2. Raisins
    Initially, I thought that raisins were made by simply drying grapes but it was just never occurred to me to check. After I watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7e8DepWX4_4), I thought it was shocking that I was wrong all this while and only learnt the truth at 24. After doing a little more research, it seems that this method of leaving the grapes on the vine to dry after cutting the cane is called trellis drying, and is a relatively new improvement to raisin production. Very good personal experience of the adage “learning never stops”.
  3. Labels on bottles
    The snug fitting labels on bottles are actually done by a jet of hot stream.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfX9Q871P2Q)
  4. Rock Sugar
    Rock sugar is made by boiling table sugar and letting it crystallize, at least that’s how it is done by one of Singapore’s oldest sugar manufacturers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqWPyK_PGrA)
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Bad Beats, Brazil and Breakfast

What a weekend it has been. Bit of a forced alliteration for the title but still, it works for me.

Saturday
Secondary school friends came over for world cup and poker. Multiples bet was already shaky after France scraped through with a 2-1 win over Australia, ticket was dead after Argentina were held by Iceland. Did pretty well in poker though, managed to extract maximum value after hitting a straight draw in the first hand, held on for a $12 win (pretty good for a $10 buy in). Quite pleased with a few safety plays though, mucking A6 and and a few other trouble hands before I could get sucked in. It’s not surprising that YR and WT view AJ and AQ much more highly than they are worth, but for now I will apply Victoria Coren’s advice where you only continue with two specific flops. Can’t really remember what transpired when I won with KK against two players, but YR is correct when he said that I was quite predicatable with regards to protecting monster pockets, so I need to rethink how to better extract value from made hands though.

Sunday
The end of me betting on football. Quite a spur of the moment thing to bet with YR that I would stop betting on football forever if Brazil didn’t win Switzerland, and they duly delivered. And thus my betting “career” ends with a whimper as upset after upset happen at the world cup.
final bets.PNG
I don’t really know what to say though, for both the Argentina and Brazil games, the favorites dominated as expected but just couldn’t find that second goal. But a promise a promise and no more betting on football for me.

Monday
Finally went to Heap Seng Leong to try the traditional breakfast. Shame I can’t post the short 360° I took, but I will try my best to capture that 30 minute experience I had there. A lot of reviewers have used the term “nostalgia” to describe the initial feeling that they experience when they first step into the place, but I being born in 1995 do not share their sentiments; the closest experience that I have of such run down coffee shops is probably the ones that we walk past in Malaysia without giving much consideration. But even so, anyone will instantly identify it as an anachronism; a relic frozen in time even in comparison to the relatively old New Bridge Road area. Initially I thought it faced the main road as I was looking for it, so it was even more surprising to see such an old coffee shop suddenly come into view. When I walked in there were only 3 people in the coffee shop – the owner, his son and a customer. All stared at me with looks suggesting that I didn’t belong, and my discomfort resulted in me reverting in English and literally saying “breakfast set” as I approached the owner’s son, but I quickly regained my composure and ordering “咖啡,面包,鸡蛋”. I do not think that English would have been lost on the owner’s son, nor is there anything overwhelmingly wrong about ordering in English, but it just felt extremely out of place.
The coffee came first, and I really liked it. Admittedly I don’t really know much about coffee or its appreciation, but I really liked the sweetness, and a really subtle hint of a bitter aftertaste that did not become unpleasant. Next came the bread, which was surprisingly cold when it was served, and I suspected that it was not freshly made. It was still pretty good though, a traditional Singapore loaf with a slightly crisp exterior, kaya that was not overwhelmingly sweet and a generous slab of butter. The eggs were quite a let down, with the yolks being overcooked and most of it solidifying, but still decent. I ordered another serving of toast because I thought it would be unfair to judge based on a presumed already made batch. As I ordered, I told the   owner’s son that my first serving of bread was cold, and he appeared surprise and mumbled something along the lines of “刚烘的啊”. When it came, it was only slightly warmer, and I started to realize that the first batch was not pre-made, but in fact the lower temperature was probably due to a combination of a shorter toasting time compared to other places that I have patronized, as well as considerable time spent scraping away the burnt ends of the toast. I would say that compared to the more ubiquitous chains like Wang and Ah Kun, I definitely enjoyed Heap Seng Leong’s version more, even though personally i would have liked the bread charred more and served more warm, but I think the scraping of burnt bits is done for the sake of their older customers. The last item I ordered was a Teh-O, and once again it was sweet, but this time it didn’t come with even the slightest hint of a bitter aftertaste…not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.
One interesting observation I made was the elderly man who sat at the table beside me. He almost staggered into the shop, and after giving his order immediately dozed off for a good minute, when he woke up his eyes were still bloodshot. What was interesting about how he ate his breakfast was placing his bread directly on the table, and pouring some of his hot milo onto the now empty plate, and dunking the bread on it. Quite unthinkable for me, but perhaps it is due to his teeth, or lack thereof. The other peculiar fact was that the eggs served to him were still in their shells, but mine came fully prepared. Maybe it was because there were more customers when he came, but it still seemed quite strange to me. All in all I think I will bring my parents to visit Heap Seng Leong at least once, because while the shop is certainly not from my past, it should remind them of theirs, and it would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the food and beverages too, with my dad being a regular coffee drinker and my mom and sis having their own standards for tea.

Stream of consciousness 3

(The intro and ending of every stream of consciousness post will be a tribute to dailygrace)

It’s Wednesday here on Daily Grace and you know what that means –  Look at her go! reviewing, Reviewing, REVIEWING, someTHING, for YOUUU *ding*

Short reviews of movies I watched the day before
1. Cook Up a Storm
Didn’t really like it. Food scenes were not impressive, Even though Anthony Wong had that stage presence, the tension between his character and Nicholas Tse’s character was quite stale. Plot is unexciting, and the ending scene was rather similar to Final Recipe, another rather boring food movie, but I prefer the food scenes in that. What was most disappointing about Cook Up a Storm (whilst being careful not to fall into the trap of “How come you made the movie you made instead of the one I would have made?” as Bill Maher puts it) was that the exciting premise of how a Chinese 老字号 restaurant serving affordable food to the masses was going to compete with a high end European restaurant run by a three-starred chef was never fully developed, or even adequately explored, which is a real pity because that would have made the movie much more interesting. The only decent attempt at a comparison between the two types of cuisine was how Chinese food did not improve and stuck to years of tradition, while European food seemed to lack warmth (both literally and figuratively), and a resolution would have been nice, but was absent and the conflict unaddressed. When you consider that the movie actually had a very good starting point for this East-West conflict when Nicholas Tse’s character talked about how it was fine that some people liked escargots while others preferred the stir-fried chinese mystery snails when asked how was 七记 going to compete; it becomes more annoying that the movie doesn’t remotely reach the depths it promises.
2. I am Legend
Just not very enjoyable and boring. Also realized that I watched the alternate ending instead of the original one; don’t think it would have made a difference. I just don’t feel anything for Will Smith’s character, and even on hindsight that pause-for-thought moment when he stares at the photos of failed revivals and realizes that he might be considered a mass murderer instead of a hero does nothing for me. On this note of hindsight, I didn’t really enjoy the movie in the moment, nor in reflection.
3. Ratatouille
“ah but I am only a figment of your imagination” This thing of explicit self-awareness feels quite stale, but mainly because it has been used in quite a lot of movies. In any case, a decent movie with several points in the movie that you actually want to know how is this problem resolved e.g. entire staff walks out on Linguine, the chase scene, recreating the soup etc. I mentioned how Zootopia tied theme discussion and plot very seamlessly, and Ratatouille is a good example of how it so difficult to do that well. The critic’s speech was undeniably grand, poetic and well written, but it just lacks that integration into the movie. Just realized I have watched about 4 food movies (Cook up a Storm, Final RecipeRatatouille, Chef) and I can’t say that I have enjoyed any one exceptionally.

Buzzfeed “Worth It”
I really like the series, but the recent Peking Duck featured two chefs who explained what they were setting out to achieve. Both were very different, but still meaningful.
Chef Alan, Corner 28 NY “我们的价钱是,很便宜的那种。希望每一个人都能吃到北京鸭。就是因为小时候吃得不多,所以现在要开啊。开完以后我就是在想让每个人都能吃到北京烤鸭。”
Chef Lien Tang, Hwa Yuan Szechuan NY “Today Chinese food has changed a lot. I’m not saying change is not good, but I want people to be educated about what is really traditional Chinese food 40-50 years ago.”

Insightful Youtube Comment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFFfyrfYllQ
Tristan Frodelius “No, no, no, no, no, no!!! Those first people are culinary prescriptivists with no actual appreciation for the complexity and nuance of food as a creative artform capable of so much more potential for ingenuity and variety than they think. They don’t love food; they love tradition. Listen to the other chefs. They know what they’re talking about. But don’t let it stop you from innovating. Know your basics. Like the guy who told you not to proof it in the fridge. That’s based in understanding of how the ingredients work. But you should use that knowledge to innovate. Don’t think tradition is superior to making what excites your senses the most.”

What’s up fuc-

The Cry of the Icemark

A very well written exchange about the realities of war in The Cry of the Icemark (excellent book; will feature in my June favorites!)

“There’s not much glory to be had in killing the young men of any country, Maggie,” said Thirrin quietly as she remembered the battle in the forest against the Empire’s cavalry.
“No,” Maggie agreed. “But there are times when, perhaps, it’s best to pretend otherwise. Especially when war has already started, and the most successful and ruthless general ever known is intent on destroying your people and stealing your land,”

 

Stream of Consciousness 2

(The intro and ending of every stream of consciousness post will be a tribute to dailygrace)

It’s Wednesday here on Daily Grace and you know what that means –  Look at her go! Reviewing, reviewing, REVIEWING, SOMETHING, for YOUUU *ding*

1. I think Power Girl (especially the JSA version) is quite a good feminist icon, assuming that a good feminist icon challenges gender stereotypes. Her confidence in her abilities borders on arrogance, she is commanding and displays strong leadership skills, and these traits are realistic given her powers. And to imbue a female with this trait is a nice contrast to the boy scout depiction of Superman. But perhaps because of how she is drawn (BOOBIES) feminists are not that keen on her and are more interested in criticizing her costume.

2. Two things (Reminds me of Basketmouth’s two things routine, RIP MWO Cheng) from RHLSTP –
Chris addison “it’s fine saying he/she is not my cup of tea, you don’t have to say he/she is fucking awful
Charlie Higson – “on their own catchphrases are not that funny, it’s just the continued repetition of it that builds up this community and audiences begin to eagerly anticipate it every week e.g. moon on a stick”

3. Nice bit by Lou Sanders about the absudity of humour – “Before this I used to be a business lady, then I quit because of the glass ceiling effect…which is the same reason I left the British museum. For that joke to work you have to know what a metaphor for a glass ceiling is, then you got to know that the British museum has got like the biggest glass ceiling…and then you got to think that it’s funny?

What’s up fuc-

January to May favorites

I really should post this consistently, it’s a good way to keep track of current obsessions.

January favorites
– Kids try 100 years of…
– The storm painting
– Disguised Toast Harem

February favorites
– Buffalo wings at Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill
– Assassin Creed 4
– Arsenal 5-1 Everton
– Black Panther

March Favorites
– Fiery wings at SOD café
– Avenged sevenfold – afterlife
– Cheese loaf from Johan @ Westgate
– Rice flour bread from Gokoku Japanese Bakery @ Jurong Point
– Iced chocolate from Marche @ Vivocity
– $12.50 金牌面 from Geylang Prawn Noodles @ Upper Paya Lebar Road
– “black gold” durian @ ah teck durian
– Can This Chef Create a Kid’s Imaginary Meal? @ tasty

April favorites
– Me1 vs Me2 snooker (not sure exactly when this started)

May favorites
– Captain America film series
– Iron Man film series (God I really want a JARVIS and a suit)
– Avengers film series
– ZOOTOPIA
– Wind River
– Hateful Eight
– Infinity War
– JUMBO dimsum
– winning 3-0 at the sunday game
– Against The Current In Our Bones album
– Hitting ranked 5 on Hearthstone
– Cunk does Britain
– Modding Borderlands 2

 

 

 

爱在西元前

A short post about how I visualize the song, (admittedly it gets pretty labored but still a take which I think is pretty cool.)

So to me the lyrics seem to describe the internal thoughts of a young couple as they walk through a museum, and the female’s captivation by the exhibits is a very nice contrast to the infatuation of her lover.

Female (admiring The Code of Hammurabi)
古巴比伦王颁布了汉摩拉比法典
刻在黑色的玄武岩 距今已经三千七百多年
Male (transfixed by his lover’s face as she peruses the edicts)
妳在橱窗前 凝视碑文的字眼
我却在旁静静欣赏妳那张我深爱的脸

Female (pondering the ancient artifacts)
祭司 神殿 征战 弓箭 是谁的从前
Male (loving how amidst the sea of people only she belongs to him)
喜欢在人潮中妳只属于我的那画面
Both (a nice confluence of thought – both making a wish as they pass the Sumerian Goddess)
经过苏美女神身边 我以女神之名许愿
思念像底格里斯河般的漫延

(No idea how this ties into my narrative)
当古文明只剩下难解的语言
传说就成了永垂不朽的诗篇

(Male proclamation of love; usually males take the initiative and this is his attempt at eloquence. Quite appropriate too since the second line about how his love, manifested in an engraving, is still visible after being buried and dug out centuries later, is quite cheesy.)
我给妳的爱写在西元前 深埋在美索不达米亚平原
几十个世纪后出土发现 泥板上的字迹依然清晰可见

(Female reply; usually females have the last word and it is quite a fitting reply seeing as how she takes him up on his over the top promises)
我给妳的爱写在西元前 深埋在美索不达米亚平原
用楔形文字刻下了永远 那已风化千年的誓言
一切又重演

Both (putting themselves in the shoes of an ancient warrior)
我感到很疲倦离家乡还是很远
害怕再也不能回到你身边

 

 

 

Field Soccer on 20th May

After a long hiatus (from my first game as a 16 year old, to the super aggressive and boundless stamina days, and of course the disastrous paran sports league) I was finally back on the pitch. Real shame Danny couldn’t make it at the last minute after a freak accident, but it was still a pretty good experience.

After the whole “Marcus Rashford” sneaky introduction from Danny was over, I said I could play anywhere and there I was left back. And I know I did well, two key interceptions that prevented the opposition from being through on goal, several key tackles, good through balls, skidding 5m on the ground to save a wayward pass (this is more of a memory record for me so piss off if you are thinking “oh this is so self indulgent”) The interceptions were really pleasing, especially on hindsight. The first one was something I find myself doing a lot, running across to make a slide-clear a through pass away. But at that moment, especially in a “proper” match, it was all the more sweeter and I was the first one to react when everyone stood still. The second one, a little later in the match, running out to the edge of the penalty box to intercept a cut back when everyone else was anticipating a low cross. On hindsight I really felt a sense of wonder and joy that both interceptions were down to me usually playing as a forward and predicting accurately what the final ball would be, because that was exactly what I would do.

interception 1
Interception 1
interception 2
Interception 2

But the weird part is, I don’t really feel elated? I mean, of course there is a certain sense of pride from keeping a clean sheet (may be the only game which my team did, certainly the only one that I was part of the defense), playing well generally, but instead of feeling satisfied, it was more of a feeling of “job done” which I think is quite important for a defender, having that focus, the tenacity and will not to lose. I remember saying that thursday futsal nights were a highlight of my week, and I guess there is more of a sense of camaderie and fun. That’s the word – fun. 11 a side football seems to lack fun, or at least a different sort of fun, especially as a defender and with that particular mindset. Certainly no laughs, no over the top commentary, no “did you see that” moments with Aaron…but at least I can say that I am still a decent addition. At least to a casual team. I don’t know if I will play again, but probably once in a while.

Movies 2018 part 1

Now that I am a month into the semester break, (and also because the RA job doesn’t happen during the holidays as I expected), I had time to catch up on quite a few movies. Here are some that I really enjoyed:

1. Wind River, The Hateful Eight (Very gripping storyline, good characterization, very “real”)
2. Captain America: The First Avenger, Black Panther, Civil War (Entertaining action films that manage to incorporate a bit of food for thought without disrupting the suspension of disbelief)
3. Zootopia (This really deserves special mention, undoubtedly one of the best movies I have ever watched. It is not easy to weave a serious discussion about social issues into a movie without affecting the suspension of disbelief of the viewer -Essentially my gripe with Rick and Morty and Black Mirror– , but this did it so well. Much more than Black Panther, which I thought did an excellent job. Furthermore, as per Greek tragedies and other great stories, the relevance of ostensibly useless scenes like the sluggish introduction was demonstrated later in the film, and I think that is a hallmark of good writing.)

And some I didn’t:
1. Deadpool 2 (Very simply, the humour isn’t my cup of tea. Al Murray’s quote is really appropriate here “You can get the joke but not find it funny”, and in this case I certainly didn’t find the references funny, but I guess that is really subjective,)
2. Justice League (Boring story, boring characters, perhaps the only thing I liked about the movie was the humour the flash brought. And probably also because the animated series did so well in depicting the interactions between the JLA members)