Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 60



The quest for the best mashed potato has evolved to such an extent that often when I feel the yearning to send good wishes to my friend, I would often be inspired to look for mashed potato to review. May the best wishes and positive vibes reach my friend.

I was at Bishan on 26 Oct 2009 and I searched the entire Junction 8 for mashed potato. I had tried the one at Cafe Cartel and that seemed to be the only food outlet in Junction 8 that serves mashed potato. So I continued walking and I ended at the food centre (GM Food Centre) that was above the Bishan Bus-interchange.

There was a humble-looking Western food stall named "Robin's food experience". Someone blogged about this stall here.

I found out that the daily potatoes for the day was mashed potato! Of course, I had to order one! Each serving costs $2.

The cook was so lovely that he made mashed potato for me from the very scratch. I have a serving of mashed potato that was made with care and thoughtfulness. The mashed potato has a generally smooth, creamy and fine texture.

The sauce has an interesting colour. My tastebuds sensed that the sauce was made with some kind of vegetable broth added to it. It seemed that there were traces of carrots in it from the colour of the broth. However I can't be certain on this. The sauce was just right: not too salty nor sweet. For its affordable price, this mashed potato is worth checking out. I hope that this stall prosper in terms of its business. Food establishments like this who care about making quality food ought to enjoy good business.

The daily potatoes from Robin's food experience are also served with grilled items.

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to: thoughtful people who add delights to the day.

***
Robin's food experience
GM Food Centre
Above the Bishan Bus-interchange

Friday, December 25, 2009

A visit to "Quest for Immortality"






For those who are fascinated by the ancient Egyptian world, there is now a special exhibition held at the National Museum of Singapore (22 Dec 2009 - 4 Apr 2010). The exhibition "Quest for Immortality – The World of Ancient Egypt" is presented by the National Museum of Singapore in co-operation with Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Egyptian and Near Eastern Department.

As stated in the publicity, this exhibition "offers an insight to the ancient Egyptian’s attitude to life and the afterlife, and the preparations they made to ensure their transition from earthly existence to immortality."





There are 230 artefacts spanning from 4000 BCE to 950 CE on display. The exhibit shown in the photo right above is a statue of the god Horus and King Horemheb. According to the explanatory notes, "Horemheb was believed to be an earthly incarnation of the god Horus." On the other hand, "Horus, the god of the sky or sun, is depicted with a human boday and the head of a falcon". This statue has a stately aura that caught my eyes. Furthermore, I understand that this is the most expensive artefact in the exhibition in terms of its value.

In the exhibition, visitors will also get to appreciate the process of mummification. There are also mummies of animals and humans on display. I learnt that the English word 'mummy' is derived from medieval Latin 'mumia', a borrowing of the Persian word mūm, which means "bitumen". Because of the blackened skin, bitumen was once thought to be used extensively in ancient Egyptian embalming procedures (source: Wikipedia)".




Non-flash photography is allowed for this exhibition. My personal experiences at the exhibition reminded me that rather than being pre-occupied with taking photographs of the various artefacts, one could see and learn more by taking time to view the various exhibits with his/her own naked eyes. Attending one of the guided tours that will start from 4 Jan 2010 will also be a great help to give one a deeper understanding of the ancient Egyptian's attitudes to life and afterlife. I intend to visit this exhibition for at least a second time.

There is an activity section in this exhibition that will certainly entertain and keep children (and adults) occupied. At this section, one can write one's name using hieroglyphs, which was used in written communication during the Old and Middle Egyptian eras. One can even have a chance to play a few ancient Egyptian indoor games.

On the whole, I like the way that the exhibition was thoughtfully curated and organised. I had wanted to attend one of the Curator's Tours, only to find that all the tickets have been sold out! I reckon that this meant that this exhibition is one that is worth going for.

More information about this information can be found here: http://nationalmuseum.sg/nms/nms_html/index.asp

Many thanks to the National Museum of Singapore and all the parties involved for making this exhibition possible.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 63



I surfed the internet to look for leads for good mashed potato in Singapore, and found out that Oomphatico serves mashed potato. When I visited Oomphatico on 26 Sep 2009, I ordered the mashed potato with feta.

One serving of this costs $5 before tax. Real mashed potato was used, and its texture is of a fine, smooth and compact nature. The mashed potato has cubes of feta cheese in it. The feta adds a flavoursome tinge of delightful sour taste to the mashed potato dish. Interesting the feta is chewy when chewed, and it melts in the mouth with time. I think the feta went well with the mashed potato in terms of taste, and colour. I think lovers of mashed potato and cheese would like this one for its simple yet sincere presentation and recipe.

After reviewing mashed potato from about 60 different establishment, I felt I needed guidance to learn the necessary vocabulary to better describe the mashed potato that I have eaten. Does anyone know any such experts and could recommend to me please?

In the meantime, to my friend whom this series of posts is dedicated to, I wish you blissful moments each and every day.

***
Oomphatico's
163 Tanglin Road
#01-35 Tanglin Mall
Singapore 247933

http://www.oomphaticos.com

Monday, December 21, 2009

Exploring Singapore with RL



17 Dec 2009, Thu:

This is a special post dedicated to one of my good friends, RL, who has so generously and graciously lend me her time to explore parts of Singapore with me. This kind gesture of hers has helped me put my skills in exploring Singapore to good use.

It was a day that needed a bit more sunshine. We decided to explore East Coast Road and Joo Chiat area. One of the first landmarks that we saw when we were in the area was the Red House Bakery, also known as the Katong Confectionery and Bakery. According to infopedia, the "bakery was a popular breakfast haunt among Singaporeans living in the eastern part of Singapore, dishing out its signature cakes and curry puff." I learnt that this building is put in trust to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) by the great grand-daughter of Hajjah Fatimah. 

Hopefully, one day the Red House Bakery could be restored to its former glory. This building may look humble yet it is precious because it holds the priceless memories of countless people who had made it once their favourite breakfast haunt.





When we were exploring for a shop that was selling pancakes, a drizzle started. We decided to use the opportunity to enjoy a nice bowl of laksa at 328 Katong Laksa stall located at 51 East Coast Road. The laksa tasted delicious, so was the chilli that was served with it. The best part was the hospitality of the gracious lady boss. When yours truly tried to ask if she could please take a photo with me and my friend, the lady boss very gladly agreed. I personally think that she has the sincerity and foresight as a business-lady.





After treating ourselves to Katong laksa, we strolled along the shophouses of East Coast Road. We visited Rumah Kim Choo and Rumah Bebe. Visitors to these two shophouses can clearly experience the rich Peranankan influences when they set foot into these two shophouses. Colourful kuehs greeted us when we were at Rumah Kim Choo.This place also sells nice Nonya dumplings.





There are lots of good food along East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road. We stopped by the coffeeshop along 125 East Coast Road to treat ourselves to Mary's Corner's Tau Kwa Pau. Tau Kwa Pau is a dish consisting of fried beancurd skin stuffed with various ingredients such as minced meat, egg and cucumber. It certainly looked more delicious eating a Tau Kwa Pau than eating a plain beancurd on its own.





After the meal, we gave ourselves the challenge to walk the long stretch of Joo Chiat Road. One of my intentions was to accompany my friend to check out Kway Guan Huat at 95 Joo Chiat Road in the hope to see the traditional art of making popiah skin. We did not see get to see how the popiah skin were made, but I shall share a photo that I had taken when I was at Kway Guan Huat sometime last year. I simply think it is a fine art to make popiah skin by hand.



The making popiah skins at Kway Guan Huat.


When we were walking along Joo Chiat Road, we couldn't help but check out the various food establishments in the area. I was also admiring the interesting architectural designs on the shophouses in the area. There are some beautiful shophouses along Koon Seng Road that are worth a look.





What has made our tour of the Joo Chiat area complete for my dear friend was our stop-over at the Four Seasons Durian Cafe at 212 Joo Chiat Place. The reason is simply because my dear friend deems herself to be durian obsessed. It would be a challenge to resist fresh durians! Many thanks to my friend for her treat to durians. They were delicious and fresh.




On that very day, RL and I also visited Chinatown and Orchard area. What I appreciate about the day out with RL was the great company in her. We managed to catch up a bit on many things. The sights, good food and lovely places that we had experienced that day, were in my opinion secondary to sharing time to connect with a good friend.

Here, I thank RL for inspiring me in her own ways and for her generosity in exploring parts of Singapore with me. I salute her for her tenacity and endurance for walking hours with me. Thank goodness for wonderful friends like her. I wish her all the best in her endeavours.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 62



On 25 Sep 2009, I was at Cafe Cartel. I've found out that Cafe Cartel serves mashed potato with some of its main courses. However, I didn't like to try many of its main courses when I was there on 25 Sep 2009 as I did not want to eat red meat and anything that was fried that day. So I asked if I can have a special order of one serving of mashed potato, and was pleasantly delighted that Cafe Cartel allows for that!

One serving of specially ordered mashed potato costs $2 before taxes. The mashed potato has a fluffy, fine and smooth texture. From the taste of the mashed potato, it appears that real mashed potatoes were used to make this dish. I wonder how the mashed potato could be made so fine. This is a mashed potato that I won't mind having again if I were to dine at Cafe Cartel.

The brown sauce is slightly on the salty side, and it left a 'dry' aftertaste. However, overall, that was still bearable.

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to: pleasant surprises to cheer the day.

***
Cafe Cartel's website: http://www.cafecartel.com.sg

Monday, December 14, 2009

Read: The Essential Spontaneous of Fulfillment of Desire

A few weeks ago, I read Deepak Chopra's The Essential: Spontaneous of Fulfillment of Desire - The Essence of Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence.

In some ways, arising from a few personal encounters I have had, I would like to believe that every coincidence can serve as a message. To a large extent, I have reasons to infer that certain people come to our lives for special reasons.

In this book, the concept of synchrodestiny amazes me and makes me think deeply about some of the things that have happened in my live. The author stated that
the ultimate truth of synchrodestiny - (is) that the sum total of the universe is conspiring to create your personal destiny. To do so it uses "acausal nonlocal connections."

While I still need a lot of wisdom to understand the gists in this book, I am glad that I had taken the first step to read it.

What do you think about the coincidences in our life? How are we to make wise sense of them?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A quarterlife crisis related article

I came across this online article by Robyn titled A Restless Generation. I would like to share it here for the purpose of reminding myself that career wise, I wish for a career that allows me to use the skills I enjoy using most:

- integrating ideas.
- reflection
- analysing
- use of empathy
- self-expression
- learn while travelling
- write
etc.

Week 50 of year 2009 on the double bass

6 Dec 2009, Sun: I worked on few studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass, Part One (Yorke Edition) in the hope of improving technique. Thereafter, I practised the third and fourth movements from Eccles' Sonata in g minor.

9 Dec 2009, Wed: I practised the third and fourth movements from Eccles' Sonata in g minor.

11 Dec 2009, Fri: During double bass lesson, my tutor got me to play several studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass, Part One (Yorke Edition). I was told that if I could work steadily on the studies, that would help me to improve hnique in time to come.

I continued to work on the Eccles' Sonata in g minor. I wish I could play as well as my tutor one day. The way to do so is to practise and practise well.

12 Dec 2009, Sat: I played selected passages from Marcello's Sonata in G major, Capuzzi's Concerto in D, Faure's Apres Un Reve and the fourth movement from Eccles' Sonata in g minor.

I shall have a break from my regular double bass practices for the next two weeks.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 61


It was 28 Aug 2009 (Fri), I ended up at Ilmaz Western stall at Blk 728 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6 coffeeshop. This is a stall selling halal Western food. It was the Ramandan period, and the person at the stall asked if I could wait for him to prepare the food for the Muslims to break fast first. I gladly agreed.

I ordered a hot-plate grill chicken. It comes with vegetables, fries and mashed potato. The mashed potato was average in terms of its taste. The sauce used was the black pepper sauce that came with the grill chicken. This place doesn't seem to serve mashed potato on its own. The hot plate grill chicken costs $6 per serving.

I waited close to an hour for my dinner, and while I was waiting, I decided to read a book so that at least I could have food for the mind and the soul. I experienced hunger while waiting. Anyway, reading the book has helped me manage the feelings of hunger and enabled me to wait graciously. I suppose the long wait was because there was only one person working at the stall yet there were a lot of orders that evening.

That evening, I had a first-hand experience of hunger. I felt grateful having food to eat when the food was finally served.

While I don't think I would go back to Ilmaz Western food just for its mashed potato, I won't mind going there for the Western food if I don't have to wait so long for the food.

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of post is dedicated to: lots of lovely things and people in life to be grateful for.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Week 49 of year 2009 on the double bass

29 Nov 2009, Sun: I began the practice with one exercise. This was followed by practising the last movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor to improve the intonation and the articulation.

30 Nov 2009, Mon: I continued practising the entire Eccles' Sonata in g minor. What I hope to achieve is to express the music as best as I can.

2 Dec 2009, Wed: The practice focused on working through orchestral excerpts from the works by Tchaikovsky that the orchestra that I play in are rehearsing. Interestingly, I felt I have improved in my playing when I went through those parts. The greater challenge was understanding how to approach Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique.

3 Dec 2009, Thu: During the double bass lesson, I played the first two studies from Bottesini's Method for Double Bass, Part Two (Yorke Edition) for my tutor. He suggested that I could work on studies that are slighly easier so that I could focus on improving technique, rhythm and intonation at a greater ease.

Afterwhich, we worked on the fourth and third movements from Eccles' Sonata in g minor. I shall be reviewing the audio recordings of the lesson so that I could hear how he manages to play the third movement so musically.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, part 60



Eager to hunt for the best mashed potato in Singapore, I ended up at Sour Puss Cafe on 19 Sep 2009. The mashed potato costs $3.90 before taxes if it was ordered on its own. I ordered the grilled chicken set (with teriyaki sauce) which comes with mashed potato and side salad. This costs $14.90 before taxes per set.

The mashed potato here had a plain and tasteless taste. From the texture and taste of it, I deduced that it was made from potato powder. My guess was confired when I spoke with one of the staff from the cafe after I had my meal. A mashed potato that lacks the earthy potato taste simply does not delight the taste bud. Even eating the mashed potato together with the teriyaki chicken had failed to make the mashed potato taste a little better.

The positive thing was that the waitress was kind enough to ask for and listen to my feedback. In a gist, I gave my feedback that the mashed potato made from potato powder lacks the potato taste, and asked the cafe to consider switching to use real potato.

I shall not go back to Sour Puss Cafe for mashed potato, unless it decides to change its recipe and use real and tasty potatoes!

With this post, I wish my friend to whom this series of posts is dedicated to: Wise and wonderful mentors who will lend invaluable guidance.

***
Sour Puss Cafe
Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, #01-13E.

Opening Hours
Mon-Thu and Public Holidays 10.00 a.m. – 11.00 p.m.
Fri-Sun and Eve Public Holidays 10.00 a.m. – 01.00 a.m.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Words of wisdom from a client



This is a post to thank the many clients whom I have worked with as a social worker for sharing with me lots of their wisdom.

With respect to the privacy and confidentiality of a client of mine, I shall share words of wisdom that came from a client when I met this client for a discussion a day ago. This client has gone through many challenges (personal, familial, financial, health etc) in life.

By the end of the session, this client shared words of wisdom. Basically, the gist is that what may seem to be bad days are to prepare oneself for the much better days. The client reflected and shared that "Pain and struggles in life are to help one gain wisdom and knowledge".

My client's words reminded me to keep my personal struggles and challenges in a more positive and broader perspective. I hope I could find the ways to overcome the existing challenges at hand, and be wiser in self-knowledge.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Read: Learned Optimism

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph. D. 
(2006)

New York: Vintage Books

I have recently read the above-mentioned book. I was recommended to read another book titled The Optimistic Child and ended up reading Learned Optimism by the same author instead.

This website http://www.shearonforschools.com/learned_optimism.htm gives a very good summary of the various chapters from The Optimistic Child.

In brief, the author explained how he came about doing a research in the topic of optimism. He also outlined how pessimism may have a functional role to play. At the same time, he outlined how one's explanatory-style could contribute to making one more likely to experience learned helplessness compared to another person.

What I found was deep and am still mulling over was the author's attempt to address what he thinks could be contributors to the rising of depression in the American's society. He examined two trends: the waxing of the self and the waning of the commons, in his attempt to hypothesise what could be the contributors of rising depression.

This book can be an interesting read for anyone who is keen to find out how changing one's explanatory style could facilitate one to be more optimistic when the situation calls for it.

For those of you who would like to find out how optimistic you are, check out this link.