Friday, December 31, 2010

The year that was 2010...

Oh well, it's time for the obligatory post that reflect on the year that was 2010. Reading my past post on the year that was 2009, I felt that I've accomplished more than the year before, socially, emotionally and financially.

LOVE

I think whatever that happened a year ago made me a stronger person today. This year is really an eventful year for me. Although I was quite disturbed by the fact that I regretted making a decision to part with the one and only one I've loved for the past 5 years, it's been more than a year now and I think that I made the right choice. It's a decision that I would not look back again. It's true what they say, a poor quality wine will never be good even how long you try to age it. After all, I am ready to move on with my life and enjoying every bit of single dome.

So far this year I haven't been lucky enough to be under the cupid's arrow but I think good things would come my way soon. Love find you when you least expect it. However, I am kind of sceptical getting into a relationship again. Probably the past relationship made me wiser, it made me think with rationality rather than emotionally. I wouldn't want to waste time and energy in a relationship but rather to spend more time building my career so that I can submerge in my indulgences. If the right one comes along, it'll be good but if he doesn't, life still goes on. I think mom is quite worried about that...

WORK

Talking about the career, this year has indeed ended on a good note for me. I resigned from Fidani middle of this year without having to think of where I would want to go next. Who knows that the opportunity to work with one of the biggest chocolate brands in the world came knocking on my door. The best part was - it was an international travel retail position, which is something that I wanted to enter into. I was willing to sacrifice for the job because I was told that I had to be based in Singapore initially and the salary wasn't that attractive. However, in the end, I was allowed to stay back in the country and the salary was better than the previous company. Nothing beats doing a job everyday that is enjoying and satisfying.

DEBT

This is definitely a good debt. For the first time in my life, I actually signed a Sales & Purchase agreement for the biggest purchase ever in my life - a house. I am now officially a member of the property owners association. haha.... It's also the begining of a debt that I have to live with for the next 25 years once I start servicing the loan unless I hit a lottery jackpot. The funniest thing is that this house is just one door away from where I am living now so Mom can take care of my house also! For next year, I plan to be further in debt because I need to change my car... *sigh* I need an accountant to manage my finances! It looked like I'm living in budget deficit.

TRAVEL

There have been lots of traveling done this year. Early this year, I went to Siem Reap with my ex bf, surprisingly even after we have broken up in 2009. I've been going to Langkawi, Bangkok and Singapore on a routine. Recently, I have also just came back from a global meeting in London, then a visit to the office in Veghel, and spent some time in Amsterdam and also Paris. It was an experience to travel during winter with all the snow and blizzard that caused so much travel disruptions. Even the year has not ended, I have just confirmed my travel plans for Jan & Feb 2011. I know it's going to be a crazy year ahead!

COUNTRY

I am really getting tired of a year full of continuous petty politics by our politicians. The last GE has been 3 years ago but there were just too many bi-elections which results in the never ending campaigning. I think Malaysians are also tired from the perpetual political one-upmanship where politicians are mostly about individual agendas and petty partisan politics. This made me sick! So what if we are given a day of public holiday for winning a football match? What we want is stability and the continuous prosperity the country enjoys to ensure a better future for all citizens.

Well, I could go on and on until it's new year but I guess I would just stop right here because I need to get some house chores done before partying tonight. I will party from dusk till dawn and this is how I celebrate the year that was 2010.

Let's clank our glasses for 2011.
Cheers and Happy New Year!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Macarons at Laduree in Paris

I did some research just before my trip to Europe and I was searching where I could get hold of some delectable and melt-in-the-mouth macarons in Paris. French macarons is afterall, the most sought after confectionery novelty in France just like foie gras.




A macaron is a sweet confectionery which is meringue based. Its name is derived from an Italian word "maccarone" or "maccherone". This word is itself derived from ammaccare, meaning crush or beat, used here in reference to the almond paste which is the principal ingredient. Macarons only need four ingredients - egg whites, ground almonds, powdered sugar and granulated sugar. And the fillings can be anything you like ie. ganache, buttercream, fruit fillings and etc.

In Paris, the French pâtisserie Laduree is reputed for making quality macarons in traditional and new flavors. Other reputed French patisseries on Macarons includes Pierre Hermé and Fauchon.


The tres chic giftboxes for Macarons @ Laduree


After a search, I found that I need to visit one of the Laduree outlets in 75 Avenue des Champs Elysées which house the bakery section, a restaurant and a bar. When I first stepped into the shop, I can't help but feel an air of classiness and exclusivity about the shop. It was dark with dimmed lighting, there was already a queue for the delicatessen counter, the restaurant is upstairs where you can have a meal or breakfast and there's also a bar just behind the delicatessen counter.

Besides that, you can definitely sniff the Parisian attitude. We were served by an Asian girl because some of them couldn't possibly speak English (or I supposed they prefer not to). What's wrong with these French people? Don't they know that customer is king? But I suppose it's the other way round when you're in France. They are just snobs of the highest order.

It makes me wonder why are we still so crazy over buying LV's and Chanel's when they treat us like sh*t. They don't give a f*ck to the Asian customers. Sorry for my obscenity and profanity but there seemed to be no other vocabulary I can find in my limited mind dictionary to replace that word. I am to be blamed partly for being in the foie gras frenzy and not forgetting the uncountable French champagne and wines that I have shamelessly sipped all these years. BUT... I am proud to proclaim that I have yet to own a LV nor Chanel.

Well, I am not generalising that every French is like that but some of them whom I knew are quite nice and friendly. I have also made friends with one of the staff at the Tax free department and we have been keeping in touch through emails.


The palette of colours is just stunningly beautiful..


Ok, sorry for going off the tracks talking about the French and not the macarons. Oh well, I have heard of the raving reviews of why one should have a go at the macarons at Laduree when in Paris and thus I have to go there for myself to test it out. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and thus I am prepared to pay whatever amount to get my hands on some macarons!


Found a flavour you like?

If I'm not wrong the price range from €13 to €20 euros for a box of 9 - 12pcs depending on the giftbox of your choice. Since I am not giving it out as a gift, I took the normal box and paid about €14 for a box of 12 petit macarons. The bigger macarons are sold for €3 each.


I came out satisfied like I have just accomplished a mission...



Once I reached the hotel room, I couldn't wait but to pop one into my mouth. I chose the pistachio one as my first choice. Well, it was tacky, a little chewy and crunchy, tasted like a fine macaron to me! It gets soften very fast and it's easy to crack due to the delicate texture. I do like how it melts on my palate like how a fine piece of chocolate should be. The filling does compliments the macarons very well. There is not a single piece that I do not like from my box but then again, it didn't appeal to me like it was a prized confection that was out of this world. They still tasted a little too sweet for my liking.


My box of precious petite macarons...


I brought some back for my friends to try and they loved it too. It's one of the better ones that they have tried despite the burgeoning of macaron outlets here in KL. However, I think I would still stick to croissants as one of my most sought after delicacy in the snobbish country.

It wasn't cheap but I guess nothing is too expensive when you consider how much you would have lost out considering your airfare to just go there and not try the things that you should! I would even pay €5 for a petite macaron if I have to just to get a taste of it! Just too bad I can't buy a tasting portion of Chateau Petrus 1985.



Championing the Arc de Triomphe.
And that's how you feel after a satisfying one of the must-try list I have when in Paris.

Ladurée Champs-Elysées

75 Avenue des Champs Elysées Paris 8ème
Tel. : + 33 1 40 75 08 75
Metro: Station Georges V
Open Daily
www.laduree.fr

Friday, December 24, 2010

From Amsterdam Schiphol to Paris Nord







Don't you think Amsterdam is such a beautiful place? I'm not sure about the scenery in Summer but during Winter, I think this picture looks perfect! It's such a picturesque sight as they are many canals running through the city. And how often do you see swans in a city?

We put up a night's stay at Radisson Blu Hotel which is just about 6 minutes walk away from De Wallen, the infamous Red Light district in Amsterdam. There is no train going into this hotel but you can always get a cab to the hotel from the Amsterdam central station which is located 2 km away.



The rooms we had was quite satisfactory. I had a deluxe room with twin beds. The room is clean although not too spacious. The bathroom is in tip-top condition too and an electric kettle is also provided for your complimentary tea and coffee. The rate for this room is around €150++ which is not inclusive of breakfast.

Radisson Blu Hotel
RUSLAND 17,
AMSTERDAM 1012,

NETHERLANDS

Tel: 31-20-623-1231
Fax: 31-20-520-8200
website


The view from my hotel room


When we were busy taking nice pictures of the scenery, this mean boss of mine decided to bombard us with snow balls! And of course in retaliation, I made some snowballs and threw it at him! (and risk my bonus and performance review ratings) haha...


Snow war!

Initially we are supposed to have 2 nights at Amsterdam but due to the heavy snow and traffic jam from Veghel to Amsterdam, we decided to stay one more night at Veghel. And after one night, my colleague and I adjourned to our trip to Paris and my boss flew back to Singapore. We were so afraid that our journey will be cancelled as many trains are not operating and airlines are cancelling most of the flights.

We were praying hard hoping that our schedule is as planned and this includes walking to and fro to check the train schedule and braving the long queues at the information counter just to confirm that my train to Paris is going ahead as planned.



It's very cold at the terminal and we were sitting here since 1 hour ago to make sure we didn't miss our train.

We took Thalys which offers the route from Schiphol to Rotterdam and then to Brussels before stopping at Paris Nord. You have to be at the terminal early as the train only stopped for about 10-15mins for us to get on board.



I took Comfort 1 class on Thalys. The comfort 1 provides food and drinks and also free WiFi on board. It's a little expensive because I remembered I paid €149 for my 1 way ticket to Paris and the bummer is that the website do not take other credit cards outside Europe. I had to ask my european colleague to help me book a ticket.




The food were rather cold. Don't expect them to operate like an airline but the seats are indeed big and comfortable. The worst has arrived! The train broke down in the middle of nowhere and we were stuck in the train for 3 hours before it can operate again. There were just too much travel disruptions during my trip to Europe this time from missing my flight to broken trains. Sigh...




The scenery is indeed beautiful.




It's something we don't get to see back at home so I didn't sleep during the journey.

Despite all the travel mishaps, I am still lucky to be able to go to Paris as planned. It was indeed an experience for me traveling in europe at this time of the year where the weather is unpredictable and the snow that disrupts all the traveling!

Merry Xmas everyone and have a wonderful Xmas eve tonight!



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let's Drink for Xmas

The year is coming to an end! Xmas is just around the corner!




What are we waiting for if we don’t start celebrating? Work has been quite stressful as I have been traveling almost every week and thus I do not have much time to hang out with my girl friends.

Recently, just before I flew to Europe, I called them out for a drink at WIP at BSC and we had some happy hour drinking session. What was supposed to be a Happy Hour session dragged till past 10pm and we even had dinner there too. I even missed my Hawaii Five-O TV show on Astro.



We ordered some Kilkenny and since it’s happy hour @ WIP, it’s at RM15 for a perfect score. Everyone loved the beer. No doubt Kilkenny is dubbed as “The Cream of Irish Beers”. This ale is known for its distinctive flavours and smooth taste and in fact, I have been drinking Kilkenny since a few years ago.


Babes and Kilkenny!


Let's Cheers to Xmas!


Lucky I still have time to catch up with them just before my trip because I was telling everyone that if I don't see them two weeks ago, it'll have to be see you in 2011! Everything was such in a rush that the week I was supposed to prepare for my meetings in Europe flew past in a dash.


Lisa, Gee, Me & Emily

Nothing is better than having some relaxing moment, drinking with some friends and bask in the season of festivities! We promised to meet up again soon for another round so until then…



Have you have your Kilkenny today?


The other outlets where you can enjoy a perfect pint of Kilkenny includes Sid's Pub, Finnegan's, The Green Man, Social@KL, Movida and Jarrod & Rawlins. And for more info, check out www.kilkenny.com.my








Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hoi from Amsterdam!


Hoi!

That's how they say Hello in Dutch. As I am writing now on board of Thalys, in two hours time I'll be saying Bonjour! This is the worst time to travel around Europe as the weather is unpredictable and bad. I had to stay back in Den Bosch for 1 more night before going into Amsterdam due to the heavy snow. I heard the traffic going into Amsterdam is so bad that it only cleared at 2,30 am. That leaves us with just 1 night in Amsterdam.

Lucky I am now on the Thalys and is on time for my trip to Paris. Many trains were cancelling their schedule due to the heavy snowfall. I was so afraid that they will cancel my train too. Phew..
Anyways, one of the must try while in Amsterdam is the Haring. The trip will not be complete without at least trying to eat one Haring. Haring is actually a the slimy little fish sold in street side stalls that the Dutch can’t seem to get enough of. And my boss strongly advised me to try one of these.
Instead of chomping the whole haring down my throat, I prefer it to be cut into pieces as it looks less scary than swallowing the whole fish. The haring is served with diced onions and pickles which makes it nicer to eat. The fish is totally raw. It's something like sashimi but of course sashimi comes in a pretty looking platter.
The cost of this is 4 Euros.

You're supposed to eat the whole fish this way but I prefer to have it pieces by pieces.

It might be a little fishy for some people as the taste tends to linger in your palate long after that. However, it was indeed a nice experience and I don't mind eating it again except that my breath smells like onions and it might not be very pleasant if you plan to kiss someone after that! haha..

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Datin's Blog?


I was on Sunday Metro in The Star newspapers last Sunday and gosh! I didn't know that I was labeled as The Datin's Blog! I was speechless but I knew whom is the culprit... It was KY and I knew he calls me Datin...

For the full article, you can read it here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This calls for a Celebration


Yesterday is officially the day I would declare that I am in debt! It's going to be a life-long debt and it's definitely a big committment in my life - bigger than that of getting a boyfriend. I've actually just signed the Sales & Purchase agreement for a house and my bank loan has also been approved a few days ago!


It's going to be a helluva long term debt!


So I think this calls for a celebration as I now join the property owners club!





Popped a bottle of my favourite Rose (Nicholas Feuillate)




I celebrated it at Albion and James was there!!



and a cigar and whisky after that....



I'm now blogging from the 1st class lounge at KLIA. Will be boarding in 10 minutes time and I'll be in London, Amsterdam for work and a holiday in Paris for the next 2 weeks so don't miss me! Cheers....


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Time Out KL Food Awards Results 2010

The results are out and I was probably the last one to blog about this. I don't care cos I'm known to be the last-minute-queen and I'm not trying to deny it!

Want to know if your favourite restaurant made it to the list?


We were greeted with endless champagne & cava. Definitely the perfect way to celebrate!


Joanne de Rozario & Will Quah are the MCs for the evening.

The Time Out KL Food Awards 2010 were officially announced at a huge celebration party at MapKL. There were about 400 chefs, restaurateurs and key industry leaders who attended the night of celebrations. Winners were chosen from shortlists in 18 categories, which were selected after an initial round of voting, so every outlet involved in the awards was chosen by real KL-ites who nominated their favourites and then selected a winner from the shortlist during a three month voting period on the website.

Here are the results derived from the votes of the readers:

Best Chinese
Winner: Chynna, Hilton KL

Best Continental
Winner: La Bodega

Best Fine Dining
Winner: Lafite

Best Healthy Eating/Vegetarian
Winner: Marmalade

Best Indian
Winner: Bombay Palace

Best Italian
Winner: Prego, The Westin Kuala Lumpur


Justin Liang and Danny Ang whom is one of the founders of Terrace @ Hock Choon. I'm so glad to see a friend winning the award!

Best Japanese
Winner: Fukuharu, Terrace@Hock Choon

Best Malay
Winner: Bijan

Best Middle Eastern
Winner: Al-Amar

Pub Grub
Winner: Jarrod & Rawlins

Best Seafood
Winner: High Tide

Best Steak House
Winner: Prime, Le Meridien KL

Best Thai/Indochinese
Winner: Tamarind Springs

Best Mamak/Hawker
Winner: Nasi Kandar Pelita

Outstanding Chef of the Year
Winner: Chef David King, The Westin Kuala Lumpur

KL's Best New Restaurant
Winner: The Pressroom


Collin Yap & James Grierson from Albion. One of my favourite restaurants to hang out at Jalan Berangan.


Best Independent Restaurant
Winner: Albion KL

Restaurateur of the Year
Winner: Edward Hyde, Gastrodome (La Bodega, The Pressroom)


Babes and food. What else would you need?


What do you think about the results? There were some that I agreed to but there were some that I felt it could have been someone else. I would safely say that I have tried around 60% of these restaurants and thus my new year resolution for the coming year should be trying all of the above-mentioned outlets so that I can vote better next year!



*Note: A credit to Michael Yip whom I took the photos from and also Time Out KL website!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Kumo Japanese Restaurant @ Singapore

Dinners in Singapore for me is always a little lavish. There's just so much to eat here and not to mention the diversity of culinary experience here is just marvelous. Remember the last time I was at this Salta Argentine Parilla @ Icon Village, under the same group, there is a Japanese restaurant next door that does a Kaiseki menu. The last time we were at Salta, my friend and I told them we would return the next time to try Kumo and so we did this time around.




Just as usual, we leave the menu to the chef. This is our first time dining here and there is no expectations at all. We leave everything to the good hands of Chef Nobu. My friend bought a bottle of Chateau Giscours 2002 from Margaux. This Grand Cru wine is ranked as a third growth in the 1855 classification. This is a dark and glossy wine and has appealing aromas. It's quite a classic wine with a ripe and creamy character on the palate. It's well-structured with good acidic freshness. Wine Spectator gives is a 90/100.


Melissa, the GM knows how to handle the wine delicately.


Jamon Iberico

Ok, this dish doesn't look very Japanese because it's not! Louis, the chef at Salta came over and greet us and I couldn't resist not ordering this plate of Jamon Iberico from next door that is cured for 30 days! It does taste better with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


Sea Eel & Japanese Cucumber with Ginger Dressing
This is really an interesting dish especially with the citrus fruit called Summer Yuzu peel that added the extra kick of taste to the whole dish.


In between the red wines that we drank, we had also a bottle of sake. Don't ask me the name of the sake because obviously I was too inebriated to remember it's name. If I'm not wrong, they told me that this is only available at their restaurant. We were given a choice of cups to choose from and I really like this. The pretty glass ware does make the sake taste better! The sake is indeed one of the smoothest I've ever had.


Chef's Recommendation Sashimi
There is a mix of tuna belly, edible flowers that were mixed with the sauce and generous amount of sea urchin (uni). The seaweed jelly is very tasty and it adds flavour to the whole dish.


Sweetbread
Ok, this is also not part of the Japanese menu. I ordered this from Salta because it's just too awesome to give this a miss.


Roasted Australian Wagyu
Served with roasted tuna and foie gras. The wagyu is done medium rare and the sauce was at the right level of saltiness and thus the taste of umami. This is really a recommended dish as it was just simply delicious.


Chef Hirohasi Nobuaki and his Fugu

A little information on the chef - At the tender age of nine, Hirohashi Nobuaki was already helping out at his father’s sushi restaurant in their hometown of Osaka, Japan. After graduating from University, he chose to train in the Kaiseki tradition with the famous Kitcho group of restaurants in Japan. Chef Nobu is also licensed to serve fugu – the potentially deadly puffer fish. Only the most skilled in Japan achieve this certification.

Thus, that night, he served both of us the infamous Fugu (puffer fish) done in deepfried style with breadcrumbs. This is a very notorious dish as
Fugu can be lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin, therefore has to be carefully prepared to remove toxic parts and to avoid contaminating the meat. The restaurant preparation of fugu is strictly controlled by the law in Japan and several other countries, and only chefs who have qualified through rigorous training are allowed to deal with the fish. However, the domestic preparation occasionally leads to accidental death. It's dangerous but it's also a celebrated dish in the Japanese cuisine world.

The fish was very smooth and the meat is a little tougher than the cod fish but it tasted very nice with the lime. Lucky I am still alive today - just to prove he knows how to handle Fugu.



Since I was already inebriated, I really don't know what the hell is this thing but I do remember it was bitter and something which I will not eat when I'm sober. I think it's some liver of some fish? Well, I hope this isn't the liver of the Fugu which is dubbed as the tastiest part but also the deadliest.


I also couldn't remember what rice dish was this. It's like a sweetfish sushi with kelp cured sea bream but I remembered it was delicious.


Thus, it was very obvious at which dish I was already loosing my memory. The whole dinner experience has been really an enjoyable one as we were treated with top notch service and attention by Melissa and her staff. As usual, we were also the last customer to leave the place and the bill for the night came up to SGD$500. It was not cheap but the food here is Oiishi!!!


KUMO Japanese Kaiseki Restaurant
Icon Village
12 Gopeng Street #01-58 (S) 078877

Tel: 6225 8433
Fax: 6225 8481
Email: kumo@kitchenlanguage.com.sg
Facebook

Opening Hours
Monday – Saturday
11:30am – 2:30pm
6:30pm – 10:30pm



Monday, December 06, 2010

Watching the Singapore Marathon @ The Ritz Carlton

After my meeting on Thursday and Friday in Singapore, I decide to stay over the weekends for some leisure time and some shopping for warm clothings for my Europe trip this Saturday. I read that it was freezing cold in London and I haven't even got the checklist ready for my 2 weeks trip. Worst of all, I haven't even got my train ticket from Amsterdam to Paris! Apparently Thalys does not accept credits cards outside of Europe and now I am frantically asking around if someone has an European credit card.



I got the clothings and jacket from Uniqlo and a pair of really comfortable flat pumps and socks from Muji (from Ion Orchard). A friend asked me if I am into Japanese clothings because I am getting everything from Japanese stores. It's not the case. I like these stores because I knew that I can get what I wanted and although they are a little more expensive, these are good quality items. Total spending SGD$300.

The Ritz-Carlton, Milennia Singapore is actually a very nice hotel to stay in. Although it's not my usual hotel that is located in Orchard Road, this hotel overlooks the Marina Bay and the view was just breathtaking.


The view overlooks the Marina Bay Sands, The Helix Bridge, Marina Bay's Floating Stadium which featured a very cool floating soccer field and you can even see One Fullerton from up here. The white dots that you see on the water is actually helium balloons. There were thousands of them floating on the water. I heard that these balloons are for the wishes.


Ok, my pictures sucked but the real view is really nice. The rooms are luxurious and what I loved most is the big windows in front of the bed and there is one too at the bathtub. I was also advised not to take a shower with the curtains opened! lol.. The bed is so comfortable and it's huge and in fact the room size here is much bigger than what you get in the hotels at Orchard Rd.



The best deal is that - they gave complimentary Valrhona chocolates! These Valrhona squares come in milk and dark variants. It's just perfecto!



The Club Lounge does serve breakfast but the selection is rather limited. I had some chinese steamed dumplings, roasted potatoes, cheese sausages which is very crunchy and delicious and some omelette. The view here is just great and at the same time, I can actually watch the ongoing Singapore Marathon.

The Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2010 saw a big participation this year with 60,000 people joining the 3 routes which includes a full marathon (42.195km), half marathon (21.1km) and a 10km marathon. The full marathon starts at 5am and is flagged off at Orchard Rd. By the time I had my breakfast at 10am, I am still in time to catch the action as I see them passing by the Marina Bay.



I had a flight to catch at 1pm and I decided to leave at 11am so that I do not miss my flight due to the traffic conditions. Many roads were closed for the marathon and lucky I was at the airport early and had enough time to do my GST claims and browse through the duty free shops.

I had such a good time there and looking forward for my next trip to the republic again.



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