Tuesday, April 14, 2015

dewakan with chef darren teoh

This week has been filled with profound experiences, latest of which was my lunch at Dewakan today. This culinary gem showcases contemporary Malaysiana cuisine in the most curious location.. as all best-kept-secrets are, non? Hidden in a lil nook at KDU Glenmarie campus, they've just got their sign put up but it can be tricky for a newbie. It faces the open-air carpark if this tip makes it any easier.

Breadstick 'twigs' accompanied by budu mayo and cucur balls bathed in kerisik.

Monday, April 06, 2015

in tune and in heart

It was a bleak Monday morning.

I love bleak mornings, don't you? There's a certain charm to it... just beyond twilight, just before the piercing day sets in. I should be on my Macbook air typing out the analysis of my data collection for the one out of three thesis pending for submission at the end of this month but like every productive human on earth I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed. Pictures of babies being fed, ex-unimates hawking their Ponzi scheme disguised as a too-good-to-be-true-work-from-home-and-earn-thousands deals, personal anecdotes of how the newly-implied GST ruined their lives (I concur though), Monday blues picture quotes... in other words mundane, mundane and more mundane. That was until the video JHwei shared popped up as priority. Most probably due to the likes it was getting. I was going to pass on clicking 'play' except she said:

"When I saw her live in Singapore back in 2012, I haven't really broken into the album this song was from. She gave a bit of background of this song before she performed and I just fell in love the minute she started singing.
The song is about a girl finally being all the things he wanted her to be - but it all means nothing because he isn't around anymore. And she sings 'if only you / had found a way to love me for who I am / the way that I loved you'."

Something inside nudged me to move my Magic Mouse cursor towards the encapsulated white triangle. Perhaps it's because I trust JHwei's impeccable taste in music (especially indie) or maybe it's 'cos her name is Rachael. I've been discovering alot of talented Rachel / Rachaels lately.. like Rachel Khoo. She's sooo gorgeous and her petite apartment is such a darling. Her food tweaks are as adorable as her pigtails. Oops I digress.

Image credit: thegoodquote

The guitar kicked in and very uncannily I felt the bass echo my heartbeat. I watched her sing but really I was watching her verbally unearth melancholic memories of old heartaches and big loves that got away.. all of which I had kept locked away for years. I may have threw the keys away but Rachael Yamagata picked it open with her melodic strums and waspy "All of thisss..". It's been a long while since I fell so hard for a song. Tears started welling up in my eyes and I started to sob hard. All the poignant goodbyes shouldn't matter anymore because I'm happily married but I guess the song struck the right chord.. both in tune and in heart.

Guy: Why do you keep listening to the song on repeat when it makes you cry?
Me: Haiya! Now I wish you're still in your hometown for Cheng Beng so I can listen to this all day by myself.

Men. Sometimes they just don't get it. Reminds me of an episode on 'Everybody Loves Raymond' when Raymond got absolutely confused when he discovered Debra, his wife, takes time each month to sit by herself to have a good cry. LOL. I get her. Again I digress.

"You and I were partners in crime
Petty thieves in a line up
But somehow we wound up here.."

This song... so menyayat hati but makes me feel so alive. I immediately shared the tune with my best friend Chy. We used to lie and chase cars around our minds listening to existential music. If we were 19 now, we'd be perched by my bed blowing kretek (OK him maybe Malboro) smoke out my room window listening to her croon on some Spotify-Mood playlist wondering what life has in store for us. Them good ole days :) I'm reminded of old crushes, that kindred spirit and the time Pierre pat my head before walking into the lift and out of my life. These memories... what used to be excruciating are now just film scenes in my mind. Today I'm reminded of the pain and I'm awaken :)

I immediately looked Rock Corner up on Facebook. I msg-ed them enquiring if they had Chesapeake in stock. They replied. They did and the last copy of Elephants / Teeth Sinking Into Heart. I hopped into the car, made a pitstop at the post office to drop some Bisou BonBon orders off, punched some cash out from the ATM and made my way to what I would consider my local record store. It's no Empire Records but Rock Corner brings in pretty decent selections of unorthodox music. The lady who works in The Curve outlet has been there since I was in medical school. I haven't been there in years but as I paid for my CDs, she remarked that it's been awhile since she saw me. I suppose it is Empire Records after all. Yes, I bought Rachael's CD. How do you expect independent artists to cari makan if we asyik download Torrent jer? Kena kasi chance-lah jugak.

In Chesapeake she writes (Yes, Imma typing it all for you to read. It's essential you read it 'cos it killed me. I died):
This record was made in a house by the bay with a whole lot of love in the room. The cast were the gems that I'd met over time and the genius contributed went well beyond the instruments that were played. We pitched the tent, cooked our food, did our dishes and had seven days together that will not be forgotten. Each person had ideas that were critical to the direction the songs would take and it all worked because these folks were tireless, passionate, generous and driven. We had no restrictions - only ourselves to answer to It was a labor of love and I will always be grateful to them. This is truly OUR record.

I make things for a living so I resonate with everything she wrote above. She makes music and everything that surrounds her will serve either to enhance or to deteriorate the quality of her work. The organic environment helped shape this album to the magic that it is. I'm in love with her bohemian spirit and her raw emotions. This has always been the way Bisou BonBon / Shelbijou came to be. I built them from scratch with my own money along with these two bare hands and will continue to work on improving my technique and bringing something new to the table. I'm subjected to same woes and unforeseen tragic circumstances as all other businesses but in my one-leg-kick-all instance, I will have to weather it alone. Just like mending my broken heart from failed relationships. Rachael, I thought I may have met them all but discovering your music made me realise that I'm wrong. You are my newfound kindred spirit. You speak of my heart in so many ways I could never. Your music kissed the cracks in my heart. The cracks that I left as is thinking nothing good could ever come from it. Turns out these cracks will add character and serve a higher purpose in the future. That I can utilise and harvest these cracks for my creative process. That there is beauty in adversities if you make it so. How so very half glass full of me LOL. Thank you Rachael.

Everyone, this is Rachael Yamagata and this song is called Dealbreaker.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

penang 01

Penang has redeemed itself in my eyes and more. I had an awful experience the last time I was in that state about 4 years back and never returned until now. Even the seductive lure of viewing Ernest Zacharevic's murals was insufficient. That was till I received Isabella's wedding invitation who was a bridesmaid at my wedding. This time I figured I'd give Penang a second chance.

I've wanted to stay in Muntri Mews since 2011. I remember having read about Christopher Ong and his restoration efforts of a delipidated building into what he called a 'flashpacker's boutique hotel'. Fast forward 4 years later, Chris is now an award-winning hotelier with a string of highly-regarded establishments that followed Muntri Mews. I read some reviews on Agoda regarding the parking being a little tricky with regards to the hotel (if you're arriving by car). Yes and No. 

Yes, tricky:
- The parking enforcement officers are sticklers with regards to parking tickets. I suggest you purchase a daily scratch ticket from Mews Cafe for RM6 which allows you to park everywhere else around Penang the entire day.
- There are peak moments when you can't get a parking close to the hotel and may have to park at streets afew blocks away. Mornings and late afternoons seem to be the least busy period. After we found a rockstar parking smack in front of Muntri Mews we pretty much left it there and did our exploration via foot.

- You can find parking smack in front of the hotel. 
- It's relatively safe.

Oh guess what? We got upgraded to Muntri Mews Residence, the newer building opposite the original Muntri Mews which hosts their suites. Such a great start to the break! Muntri Mews Residence has 3 enchanting outdoorsy courtyards fitted with antiques and vintage paraphernalia. Stepping into the residence I felt like an Edwardian Nyonya of the house. We were even greeted with a welcome tea in the most delightful vintage tea set. I was and still am amazed with the new life Chris had given all the vintage furniture pieces and his efforts of keeping the Peranakan ambience authentic. He's a visionary. Bravo Christopher bravo!

We got an upgrade wootwoot! Hoyeaaaah thank you Muntri Mews & Agoda :D Got 3 beds to myself.

Good morning Penang. Walking by this lovely sight towards breakfast sangat menyejukkan hati (cools the heart).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

coca cola chicken

Alot of you may know that I'm abysmal in the kitchen. But I do, though, have a secret weapon. A weapon I use to, in a sense, woo my man, impress friends at potluck and surprise strangers with a conversational piece. 

Everyone has a signature dish. Mine just happens to be Danni's :) Yes, Danni from college. Nobody said one's signature dish has to be one's invention / creation! Kan? So Danni Danni Danni... Danni from Beijing. She has many signature dishes but the one that really knocked my socks off was her Coca Cola Chicken! Come on even the name is strangely impressive. Memories of slaving over the stove in that minuscule kitchenette in Brighton comes flooding back. We used to have massive cookouts back in college.. so bloody Asian of us come to think of it XD 

This was quite a success at a recent CNY potluck so I thought I'd share the joy. Read more for the recipe:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

cny snack series

As I listened to the laborious effort that went to making Mama Fong's cute lil pillows of rolls, my thoughts (and mouthful of floss) came to a standstill. Here I was popping them in every 5 seconds without taking into the consideration of how much care went into each piece. I decided there and then I would savour every crunch and be reminded that I would not practice mindless consumption especially when it comes to Mama Fong's rolls. This got me thinking... my selection of CNY snacks ought to be celebrated! Every year only selected cookies / snacks make the cut (either ' cos they're way too yummy, to return a business favour or help a business in need) and they're made with so much love that I want people to know about them! Mucking about one CNY eve morning, I decided to do exercise my Vogue Summer Course-granted creative muscle with some flat-lay still-life styling :) Hope you enjoy the series...

Episode 1: Striking a balance between the pineapple and crust is the key to a good ‪pineapple tart‬. Ms Bulat's has the pineapple filling just nicely sweetened with a hint of tart, complimenting the buttery pastry. What's most delightful is that they look TOO CUTE for consumption I was fortunate to get the last box!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

giveaway: eats, shoots and roots

I am so in awe of the people behind Eats, Shoots and Roots. I've always known of them. I follow the company on Instagram: @eatsshootsandroots and have always thought of dropping by the garden. I am so in awe of their concept to educate people about urban farming / agriculture so they can be empowered to be self-sustainable. Aargh how fantastic is that??