A Birthday Reflection

Another year under the belt, and unlike the last 26 years of my life, I mulled over this day. What makes this year any different from the past, or the future for that matter? Why do we celebrate the day we’re born? How different am I today versus the person I was yesterday?

For reasons unknown, this mind was hell bent on being reflective. I’ll spare you the topsy-turvy, tail-spin type journey through my mind.

The point of crystallisation is two words – THANK YOU.

Thank you for reminding me that I am remembered and loved. I am so happy and grateful for every path that has crossed mine, each interaction imprinted – a moment in time, a conversation, a picture, a lesson, a still evolving story…

YOU. You, have made a difference in my life and I thank you.

Take a tag, you've made a difference

Take a tag, you’ve made a difference

My Love Affair

Couple of things you need to know about me.

I am visual, I view the world through my eyes and if I were to lose my sight, that darkness will be something I can never overcome. That is also why I take pictures, to capture moments that will remind me of memories and stories when I need something to fall back on. My personal safety net of adventures to spur me on in my darkest times.

I lose interest in the snap of a finger and once a decision has been made, there’s no looking back. So, fascinate me, teach me something new everyday. Feed my curiosity, quench my thirst for knowledge and you’ll have me wrapped around your little finger.

The easiest way to win my heart – feed me. Literally. A hungry man is an angry man and the same applies for me. Always ask if I’d like some chow aka food, offer me a variety and always eat with me… because sharing is caring.

So, the question is – who has won my heart?

Well, its not so much a who, really, but a what. And since the first encounter, the very first experience, I was smitten. Head over heels, electrifying sparks, you name it, I felt it. So when did it all begin? 2008. Close to home, a bus ride away. I took my first trip without my folks to Genting and thus began my Love Affair with Travel.

Genting may not seem like much to the well-travelled but back in 2008, taking my first trip out of the country, passport in hand, without the parents, I felt empowered and charged. The weather up in the Highlands unlike the heat and humidity of Singapore, I felt as if I had been teleported to a far-off land. For the next 3 days, I held a foreign currency, gambled in the casinos, ate all the junk food I could lay my hands on, rode the rides in the theme park and played dress up. The smile on those pictures clearly exemplifies the sheer state of joy I was in.

And then, in the later part of 2008, upon graduation, I took a larger leap. Korea for a month. This was huge for me. Absolutely foreign land, did not speak the native tongue and in the bitter cold of winter. I was at once excited and scared. The day of lift off, it was one of teary farewells as we took off to the land of kimchi and hanboks. PS. Even back then I was a social media addict.

The travel distance was excruciating long because as students and with no part of the trip funded, we logically chose some of the cheapest tickets which meant long-ish transits [SG-BKK-HK-KR] but we did arrive in Korea safe and sound in the dead of the night. Which, if you ask me, is pretty daunting as there’s nothing worse than arriving in a foreign land, with no knowledge of local tongue in the dead of night. Evidently, we survived, or I wouldn’t be able to share my experience now.

A month long stay in Seoul saw us coping with the winter cold with our tropical bodies, visiting all the museums, galleries, palaces, shopping districts and even working with an agency to test a potential Visit Seoul advertisement for the Singapore market! We got paid USD100 just to watch 3 adverts and the one we taught would work best for our markets. Now, how many people can say they had an experience quite like that?

Since then, I’ve visited many more countries, exposed myself to various new cultures and made many new friends. This love affair for travel is one that has fed my visual eye, curiosity and gut. I’ve also made a commitment to make time and money to travel every year. You see, commitments work like that. You need to invest in it and never, ever regret. That is how I’ve learnt to live my life since 2008. In 2010, as a further investment to the self, I started this blog to document my travels, eats and adventures so that one day if I ever do lose my memory, I hope that this blog will help me regain that consciousness.

Now, that is my Love! for travel expressed as part of my entry for the Love! Tasmania campaign where YOU, YES YOU! can also enter to stand a chance to win an 8 Days 6 Nights trip to Tasmania for 2!

How to participate?

In 100 words or less Express Your Love for what you love in life

  • It could be in the form of a poem, a passage, a song or video – Be as creative as you like.
  • If you can include Tasmania it would help!
  • Entries can include a photo* or video* (30 seconds to 1 minute in length)
  • Note: Image should be sent in jpeg format with less than 1MB. Video should be uploaded to youtube and limit to 30 second to one minute. Please submit your video link only but not the actual video. Please ensure the copyright is solely owned by submitted participant, or copyright is cleared. All images and videos submitted are automatically giving Tourism Tasmania free rights to use for their own marketing purposes.

Entries will be loaded from 13 to 23 February 2012

After approval by Tourism Tasmania administrator the entry will be loaded onto Tourism Tasmania’s DiscoverTasmania facebook page.

Get your friends and family to ‘like’ your entry from 14 to 27 February 2012.

Judging will be undertaken by the following criteria

    * 30% Number of ‘Likes’ received

    * 30% Creativeness of entry

    * 40% Overall Presentation

There will be four sets of winners – one each from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China and the winners will be announced on 29 February 2012.

Who’s Down for some Trippin’?

Trippin’ [defined] – taking a trip/ break/ holiday outside of one’s home country. If you thought I meant getting heady and losing your mind, you’re mistaken and I’ve clarified.

That said, I don’t know a single soul who would shy away from an offer like that, unless, of course, that person suffers from Pteromerhanophobia. Big word. No fear. It actually just means the fear of being on an airplane or other flying vehicle.

What if I tell you that all you need to do to win yourself such a trip is to write? Better yet, write about anything under the sun, write about the things you love. You’re sitting up in your chair now aren’t you? I mean how difficult is that? The things you love, you could gush on and on about it and your pals will probably have to shut your trap for over sharing.  So now that you’re interested, take a good hard look at the picture below. Whistling yet?

That, my friends, is Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, Australia [picture from Fancy]. If you’re not mesmerized yet, I really don’t know what to say. When I first saw this image, I was already picturing myself buried in the soft white sand with the cool surf crashing against my body, the sea spray a relief from the white hot sun beating on my face. If you’re having the same visual of yourself in that setting, boy do I have news for you.

In conjunction with Valentine’s Day, Tourism Tasmania is running a contest for you, yes YOU, to submit your words on things you love. On the theme of ‘Express Your Love,’ tell the folks at TourismTasmania about the object of your affection and move them. If you make them laugh, or shed a few tears, you may be well on your way toTasmania for, wait for it, a whopping 8 days and 6 nights! Better yet, you get to bring that special someone or a pal with you. Aren’t you glad you read this post now? Lucky you.

I know you want the full down low now and I shall not keep you waiting any further. Head over to the LOVE! Tasmania microsite now to get all the details you need and start writing and sharing TODAY!

PS. The banner on the right or pictured below [yep, just roll your eyes over a tad rightwards] also takes you to the microsite. Good luck folks!!!


commitaphobe. someone who is afraid to commit to a relationship.

Recently it seems, I’ve been placed in a position of reflection. Every incident, every question, every action, seems to point that-a-way and I can’t say I know the answer myself. This is not a post that will present an answer. This is not a post that will lead to an answer. This is a post that will serve as a marker, for the day that I will arrive at the answers.

Incidents. Let’s just do 5. I started with 10 and that’s just too much to share. Too personal.:

1 encounter with a girl.

2 incidents of infidelity which will be taken to the grave.

3 direct queries on whether I have issues with commitment.

4 closing years of singlehood.

more than 5 queries on singlehood status since the start of 2012. All of ’em guys, all of ’em with the same leading question and comment. Why? I don’t believe it. Well believe it.

Questions so tough I had no words for:

#1: What would you do to express interest in your target? In my head: Nothing. I’ve never had to do anything.

#2: What would you do if you fell in love and really wanted to keep your interest interested? In my head: Nothing. Do I really need to do anything? If you have to try, its over right?

You have never been in love – First of the Gang to Die, Morrissey

It almost seems like the universe is conspiring to make me dig deep and reflect. Every incident, every question, a probe for me to answer to no one but myself but I’ve been flirting with it. A light step here, a balancing act there and the tight rope walk remains intact. Now, that tight rope is threatening to unravel, the challenge immense but I haven’t a solution, an alternative nor an answer. I admit, I may not be ready to face the symphony just yet and when I chanced upon this post by someone I once had an encounter with, I wonder, when I’ll be ready to face my orchestra.

I lift and give in full credit to the author whom I can’t link here.

Let’s Play A Game

I heard you’re a player.

So let’s play a game.

Let’s sweet talk. Let’s play fight. Let’s talk 24/7.

Let’s tell each other good morning & good night every day.

Let’s take walks together.

Let’s give each other nicknames.

Let’s hang out with each other’s friends.

Let’s go on dates.

Let’s talk on the phone all night long.

Let’s hold each other.

Let’s kiss & hug.

And whoever falls in love first?

Beautiful. Poignant. Real. Have you chanced upon a piece not penned by your hand but speaks to your very soul? I found it in this piece of writing. Better yet, it pays tribute to my all time favorite flick – Saw. What can I say. It’s time for some reflection.

Epicurious, Singapore.

Following the childhood classics theme from my post on Le Loir Dans la Théière where the cafe took to the theme of Dormouse in a Teapot from Alice in Wonderland, I bring you closer to home and into the world of one of Dr Seuss’ best works – Green Eggs and Ham. Are you kicking up your legs and knocking your feet together already? Cos I know I am.

“Do you like green eggs and ham?” Note: I am not Sam and I love my eggs, not sure if i’d like them green but I guess I did.

Getting back on track, weekends are perfect for brunch and I’ve long heard of Epicurious but never had the chance or reason to visit it… until that fateful day. Taking a long hike over under the merciless sun, I was famished, non-too-pleased about the heat and in need of something cool. In my head I was thinking – the food better be good or someone’s roadkill. As the company I was with knew someone who worked there, the orders were decided upon fairly quickly and the anticipation mounted. 

The relief from the heat came in the form of a jugful of iced lemon tea. It’s not as great as the one I’ve had at Food for Thought but it did serve its purpose. Its essentially Lipton tea with a couple of slices of lemon, that’s what it tasted like to me but I could be wrong.

Roll-up the dishes, mine was an order of green eggs and ham and this brunch girl was in brunch heaven. I love eggs but I’ve never had them green. Color aside, the flavor was out of the park. Aromatic, creamy, well seasoned and surprisingly fresh tasting, a dash of crushed black pepper and I was rolling my eyes back in delight. The portions were generous, I mean the egg was overflowing on the toast, just the way I like it and every mouthful sent my fork diving back in for more. I was a monster on this dish and I was going at full speed. The toast was crisp and substantial enough to taste under the generous portion of toppings and served its role as a perfect complement to the dish. In my opinion, everyone should try this. Egg lover or not. Dairy lover or not. You know how scrambles can sometimes reek of the cream/ milk, this is nothing like that. Manifique.

We also ordered a choco-nana sandwich to share and all I can say is, if you love chocolate, if you love Nutella in particular and if you love banana, this is another winner. I have a sandwich maker at home and on days where there are bananas at home, I make myself a nutella-banana sandwich pocket as a treat. Now this one takes it to a whole other level. I don’t know if its the bread they use, or the method in which they grill the sandwich but the bread remains fluffy with a light crisp to it. Again, generous filling although I did wish there was a tad more nutella in the sandwich but I know that it’d prove to be too much for most other visitors. Chocolate and banana is one combination that can never go wrong but what I love is the icing sugar on top that gives a cool sweetness to the sandwich and the slight tartness of the strawberries refreshed the palate for the next mouthful. Decadent yet simple, exclusively enjoyable.

Three dishes down between the two of us [didn’t feature the company’s savory main] and our bellies were splitting at its sides. But. Because the company knew someone there, we were offered a complimentary dessert – the red velvet cake. This, this was splendid and despite the risk of splitting the outfit I was in, I was devouring it by the forkful. This is what red velvet cakes should taste like. Dense, moist, light fragrance of beetroot balanced by the icing between the cake layers and tied together with the cream cheese. By God, this cake is beyond stunning and I would be happy to receive this any time, any day. In comparison with the one I had at Ben’s, my Ben’s referral would have melted on first taste of this cake.

What else do I love about Epicurious? I love how they integrate the old school utensils that we’d typically find at our coffee shops into this Western cafe. Its so tongue in cheek, its so fun, it speaks of the owners’ character. I also love the outdoor sitting area, Quayside,  breeze in hair moments [tho it can get really hot out], sunnies on face and adding a couple of new freckles to my bare shoulders with a book in hand as I await my orders. That’s the life right? I can’t wait to revisit this place but please enjoy yourself the next time you find yourself Quayside.

In the words of Dr. Suess –

I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat!
And I would eat them with a goat…
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good so good you see!

So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,


Ben’s, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Found myself in the state of Kuala Lumpur for business back in November and it was one of those trips where I had some time on my hands, a free spot in the schedule. Delighted but uncertain of the scene in Kuala Lumpur, I enlisted the help of a friend via BBM and found myself in Pavilion mall, enroute to Ben’s.

Ben’s concept is that “great memories are shared over meals, thus to eat is to love.” Eating and love is a concept I identify with and perhaps that is why I felt immediately at home setting foot into Ben’s. Staring at the frames installed through the cafe, one feels an immediate connection to the space and a wave of relaxation washed over me as I sank into the couch. In fact, the overall aesthetic is something I could see myself applying in my future home – raw whitewashed walls, memories enclosed in frames… You get the drift.

Arriving at tea time, I noticed the lack of a crowd but it suited me all the better as I’m not one for people in my face. Without lunch, I was definitely famished but oddly enough I was craving only the sweets. Didn’t help that the ‘help’ I enlisted via BBM had been raving about the red velvet cake since his return from KL and enlisting his help that day, the rave continued and probably even peaked.
Settling myself along the stretch of sofas, flipping through the handwritten menu which I absolutely adore cos it feels so personal, I envisioned the writer in my mind’s eye whose cursive hand is absolutely sexy. If anyone knows whose hand penned those words on the menu, please share. I’d love to drop that person a note of compliment for that impressive hand.

Back to the orders, I obviously settled on the much raved about Red Velvet Cake although I would typically have selected a Toffee Date Pudding as featured in the menu above and a   piping hot pot of tea. Sadly, the Red Velvet Cake failed to live up to the raves. It was not bad but I guess my expectations were sky high from the raves and it fell flat on its face. The cream cheese had too much of a dairy flavour for my liking and the cake lacked the moistness which I guess was due to the overexposure in the fridge. The icing between the layers however, do get the thumbs up from me.

Unsatisfied, I requested for the menu because, as the card reads and I answer – I live to eat. Still hooked on my tarte au citron addiction post Paris I ordered naturally, the lemon meringue tart, psyching myself out for the flavors I would expect. Wrong move. When you’ve tasted something so divine and the impression has never left you, it sets you up for disappointment. We all know this feeling, we’ve experienced it in our daily lives and here I was, experiencing it on a plate. Not that this particular lemon tart was god awful but it just lacked that x-factor from the one at Le Loir Dans la Théière.

When it first arrived, my heart sang. Beautifully browned meringue, rich looking lemony tart with a gorgeous crust. I was seduced… until I sank my fork in. That’s when the melody stopped and my face crumbled. The meringue immediately separated from the tart revealing a glossy almost wax-like appearance on the surface of the lemon tart. That was the first major turn-off. But not wanting to judge a book by its cover, I pierced into the tart and scooped up the separated components for a taste. The flavors were there. The lemon tart had that citrus flavor and complemented the sweetness of the meringue but it lacked the freshness and vibrancy of a dessert as such. You can say this tongue has been spoilt  by Le Loir Dans la Théière and woe is me for my hunt for the same, or an even better version of the lemon meringue tart in this part of our world.

That said, if you ever find yourself in KL do visit Ben’s for some easy downtime and good treats. I may have been a little too harsh in this particular write-up but its because my expectations were wayyyyyyyy up there and its not a fair judgement in my opinion. So have two pots of tea, two desserts or more, just like I did and enjoy a good read if you are alone or a good conversation if you’re with friends.


Got Belly?

Its been a long hiatus and its totally my fault. In the new year, I’ve signed a new gym membership, something I’ve never done in my life. I may actually pen a post on gym shopping in Singapore and how I arrived at my selection – Pure Fitness. In this new year, I’ve also inked a new contract, will be taking on a new role, resigning from another and aiming to be a better version of me. Think vs 2.0, as with software updates and such.

This CNY, I’ve eaten one pineapple tart too many and reconnect with relatives I thought I’d never give another shot. How much did you consume and burn this CNY, I sure am hoping you didn’t grow a belly like mine.

PS. I’m not pregnant. Not even close. I promise to keep writing and keep exercising so I can continue stuffing my face.

Bistro Soori, Singapore

*please pardon the quality of the pictures. taken on the Samsung Galaxy Tab as the camera was not with me* 

Celebrating new beginnings, having had a new contract signed and an old one terminated, we created an excuse to indulge. You see, we have been on the gym diet for 2 weeks now and these long, full course dinners went out the window the minute we signed with the gym because evenings are the only time we can set foot in there. I do work, you know. So we made a collective decision to sneak in a break, feast and boy was it worth every calorie.

Bistro Soori, as the waitress tells me, is 15 months old and recently saw a change in the head chef and is now helmed by Executive Chef Benjamin McBride. I quote, “Bistro Soori is the symbiosis of an enhanced gastronomic experience within a designed space.” I typically steer away from such marketing speak, as a marketing person myself, because consumers recognise the spiel and may even fail to comprehend it. In layman’s terms, visit Bistro Soori if you’re looking for a restaurant to impress that date or client of yours as it boasts sleek designs, courtesy of the architect owner, Soo Chan [also the principal of SCDA Architects] and the food is belly satisfying, of which I will share more in a jiffy.

Reservations were made at 7pm and we were caught in the jam, as we were fretting over whether the staff had let our table go, my Blackberry started vibrating [i keep my phone silent at all times] and it was the staff calling to check if we were still coming. I loved that they did not threaten to let go of our table but rather, dialed us to ask if we were on our way. I knew that I was going to have a good night there because service goes a long way and I was right.

Arriving half an hour late [fashionably, if you ask me tho I hate being late], we had to valet park as Lim Teck Road and its entire vicinity is a nightmare to get parking after 6.30pm. How do I know? Cos Ember, another one of my favorite restaurants is located just a street down from where Bistro Soori is. Seated, we devoured the menu that was placed before us, decided and ordered in a heartbeat and a half. We hesitated a second with the dessert orders as we had each decided on a starter and main without an inkling on the portions.

No need for introductions, the humble bread. I prefer the foccacia tasting one [bottom slice] instead of the rye-looking one [top slice] but to each their own. Note, bread here is served with butter only. I’m sure you can ask for olive and vinegarette but we didn’t try.

Recalling that we had a movie to catch at 9.25pm, I thought to check with the staff on speed on service only after we placed our orders but were reassured that we’d be out of the joint by 9pm. In his words, “We’re only as fast as you eat,” and with a mutual smile the night was off to a food climax starting with starters [for lack of a better word].

This is one night where I did not suffer from food envy at all, loving both my orders starting with the Foie Gras Duo, Poached Pear, Brioche Crouton, Pink Peppercorn, Gastrique at SGD 21. The serving of foie was generous beyond words and the diner gets to experience it two ways – cold, stuffed and contrasted by the flavors of the sweet poached pear and hot, pan seared and buttery rich with the crisp toast. The crunch of the pink peppercorn was a delightful twist in flavors and also refreshing to the palate. Needless to say, I was impressed from the get go.

Another starter at the table was the Scallop, Pistachio Pesto, Arugula, Pear, Vinegar Gelee, Truffle Vinaigrette at SGD 19. Succulent, sweet, the scallops were plump, moist and well seared combined with the pistachio pesto, the dish was aromatic but lacked something to tie all the different components together. I failed to detect the pear in the dish, the arugula provided a slight crunch and refreshed the palate while the vinegar gelee tasted unlike most vinegar I’ve had in this short life time but every item seems to stand on its on and lacked that unity on the plate.

The slow-cooked short rib was worth every penny given the generous serving. Not the best short rib I’ve had but it got the basics right in being flavorful, moist and tender, breaking upon spear.

Without further ado, we approach the mains.

I was pleased beyond words with my order of shrimp, scallop, uni risotto although I was a tad confused by the dish sitting under mains as risottos usually fall under the starter category, not that I’m complaining. I love how there is an infusion of Japanese flavors with the generous use of uni in flavoring the stock and the overall dish. The seafood that accompanied the risotto were well-seared with the right crunch and texture of fresh and well cooked seafood. The basil leaves provided the perfect accent to break the richness of the dish and kept me wanting more till the last spoonful.

The Cured Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Braised Red Cabbage, Grain Mustard, GoldenRaisin, Pear for SGD 28 was an explosion of flavors in the mouth. It was at once sweet, sour, savory, tangy with a dash of heat in a single bite. I’m not a huge fan of pork but this, I kinda liked.

On the menu is also the Fish Of The Day served with Garlic Nage, Baby Spinach, Red Chili. I’m pretty certain the accompaniments on the dish do not match up to what’s on the menu but the sides were excellent, the touch of tang on the ‘shrooms and broccoli flowers was just beautiful. The cos was not that well cooked with parts of the fish overcooked and tough to the bite.
With two courses polished each, we had little room for dessert and settled on the best representation of fusion for the night – Pandan Soufflé, Strawberry Compote at SGD12. Light, fragrant and heartwarming, the pandan souffle is definitely a dish I would return for although I don’t care much for the strawberry compote that did little to enhance the souffle in any way.


Ho Ho Ho, Under the Mistletoe

Christmas has and will always be my favorite holiday. That sentimental value attached to a day of celebration and thanks. This blog is my home and I promised I’d be home for Christmas. So if you’ve been reading, thank you for being a part of my life. I’ve had a blessed 2011, may 2012 bring with it greater blessings.

Here’s wishing one and all a joyful Christmas filled with warmth and laughter, may the new year bring you happiness.

I promise the hiatus will be over soon. The explorations have continued and the need to record is greater than ever. With love.