December 2014 Review (Part 1)

I have a confession to make. I’ve been in the “holiday mood” since the start of December (or earlier). LOL! So while various brands have been sending me awesome products to review, I simply didn’t feel like reviewing them till it got dangerously close to the end of the month. That’s one of the drawbacks of being your own boss, I guess. :D

In any case, I have tried and tested these products from Cornell, Julie’s, SK-II and Pantene. And I have to say that I really wouldn’t mind getting them as Christmas presents, if I don’t already own them. Here goes…

1) Cornell’s Hello Kitty Touch Screen Kitchen Scale

Cornell Hello Kitty Touch Screen Kitchen Scale

It’s one of those fancy-schmancy kitchen scales ‘cos of its touch screen capabilities. Ha! But since it has Hello Kitty on it, it is awesome. And to be really honest with you, the only fault I could find with this scale is that the ON/OFF button and the TARE button are almost inseparable, so when you are hitting “TARE”, you might accidentally switch off the entire device if your fingers are not skinny enough. The Pros: it is just too cool (a Hello Kitty fan cannot ask for more), it weighs ingredients up to 5kg, and it’s easy to clean.

Also, now you know that one of those Twelve Cupcakes creations weighs about 60g. Yummy they are, but each is easily packed with over 200 calories (based on my online research) so watch out for that waistline. <- A reminder to myself. *I love the Chocolate Chocolate ones. The Strawberry Vanilla is too artificial-tasting for my liking.

Price of Weighing Scale: S$29.90 at all major electronics stores. The usual price is S$39.90 but it’s on promotion now due to the celebration of Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary! Price of Cupcakes: 3 for S$9. 

2) Julie’s Hershey’s Cookies

Julie's Hershey's

I love Julie’s biscuits, especially the Rich Tea Oat ones. And now, they have just become more awesome with a collaboration with Hershey’s. I was gifted with 4 products from their new range. Because I’ve been ill with a bad cold, my boyfriend became the (happy) lab rat for these cookies. His favorite: Chocolate Fudge Cookies (S$3.90). (I would pick those too, even without tasting them)

*He wishes the Waffles are more crispy*

Julie's Hersheys Chocolate Waffles

Get a box of Julie’s Hershey’s cookies at your nearest supermarket! :)

3) SK-II Facial Treatment Milk

I attended SK-II’s Festive Party last weekend and was given a number of goodies. Among them is the Facial Treatment Milk, which I’ve never heard of before.

SK-II Festive Party 2014

SK-II Facial Treatment Milk

The Facial Treatment Milk smells nicer than the Facial Treatment Essence. The consistency reminds me of the Cellumination Essence. It feels just a little bit sticky after application, but leave it on overnight and it’ll get absorbed into your skin by the time you wake up.

4) Pantene BB Creme for Hair & Hair Strength Tonic

Pantene BB Creme for Hair and Hair Strength Tonic

Both these products can be left on your hair without the need for a rinse, so it’s really convenient for busy folks who still want great hair.

I don’t know why they named it BB creme for hair, beyond the fact that it makes people go “Wait a minute… BB creme for HAIR?!” I use this product to tame frizz and I suppose it does add a little shine though my hair is short now so I can’t tell if it will also de-tangle hair, prevent split ends, etc. If you have long hair, you should give it a try.

As for the Hair Strength Tonic, well, it smells good and it supposedly “makes hair stronger for up to 98% less hair fall”. I’m definitely going to keep using this as the application is easy and like I said, it smells good. Even if it doesn’t give me 98% less hair fall, I’ll take it as perfume for my hair. :D

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Christmas is just around the corner, so… in case I don’t have another blogpost up before Christmas Day, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas now! :D And if you are still shopping for presents, hopefully this blogpost is of help. :)

Sushi-Making with Indonesian Celebrity, Tarra Budiman

I won a contest on social media platform, migme, and got to fly to Jakarta to meet Indonesian celebrity, Tarra Budiman. Apparently, he’s very popular in Indonesia and can be considered a household name. I’ve never even heard of him before this trip, but I found him to be really friendly and funny. Tarra speaks good English though I don’t speak a word of Bahasa, so filming this episode entirely in Bahasa was a tad challenging as I had no idea what the chef was saying. Thankfully, I’ve made sushi once before…

Grace Tan Tarra Budiman

In-between takes, Tarra and I had questions for the chef. And we found out that:

1) He doesn’t like sushi (wow!)

2) Where sushi-making is concerned, he is self-taught (double wow)

Here’s the unagi sushi that the chef did for us as a demo:

Sushi from chef

It’s really interesting how the end of 2014 has been for me. I’ve already done a ‘cooking video’ with local blogger extraordinaires Xiaxue (Wendy Cheng) and Dr Leslie Tay (check out the blogpost here), and now this video is with Indonesian celebrity, Tarra Budiman! I take it as a sign that more food videos are in store for me. LOL.

I’m very particular about the way my food looks, so I didn’t make 8 pieces (as had been done in the demo) and served up just 4 bigger pieces with the ends chopped off. We also had to spell out the word ‘migme’ on our dish, so I wrote it in mayonaise on a piece of seaweed instead. The squeeze bottle wasn’t cooperative so the writing turned out wonky.

Three pieces of sushi, after Tarra ate one for judging:

sushi for Tarra Budiman

I didn’t have the guts to tell the chef that the reason his sushi didn’t get clean ‘cuts’ is because he didn’t clean his knife with a wet cloth in-between slices. I definitely struggled with mine too, as the cloths were all dry. So there you go… sushi-making tip from me to you!

Sushi-making with Tarra Budiman

In this picture above, the chef is the dude in the red uniform, the guy next to him is the Indonesian winner of a migme contest (he happens to be a bricklayer), Tarra is in the blue shirt, and there I am making sushi under those bright lights.

In the end, I won the sushi-making contest as the sushi I made was judged to be of a more consistent height and all, but Tarra gave both of us contestants a cap each from his own brand ‘Shining Bright’!

And of course, I got it signed by Tarra! :D

Grace Tan Tarra Budiman

Tarra Budiman Shining Bright

Tarra Budiman Cap Giveaway

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Looking back, it IS kinda crazy to fly 1.5hours to Jakarta, take a 1 hour cab ride to my hotel, and another car journey of 2.5hours in horrible traffic to get to the Japanese restaurant for this sushi-making experience! The filming lasted a really long time as it is generally ‘rubber time’ in Indonesia, and people do not exactly turn up on time (maybe due to traffic) and nobody is in a rush to do anything.

By the time I got to my hotel and was ready for bed, it was about 2am Singapore time. (@_@)

But I did meet some great folks from migme: @reynachan from the migme Indonesia team was awesome (thank you for going snack shopping with me!), Tarra was not intimidating though he’s a big shot in Indonesia, and lotsa thanks to everyone who took me around for food (I wish I remember names better). :)

More on the flight, hotel and taxi-hiring experience in a bit. Stay tuned. :)

LollyTalk: How Many Rock Candy Brands Are There In Singapore?!

LollyTalk

I’ve tasted rock candy from Sticky, Sweet Enchantment and perhaps 1 or 2 other establishments. But I recently had the opportunity to step into the LollyTalk store at Plaza Singapura (#B2-20) and tasted their rock candy offerings.

In this picture above, I have 3 packets of candy for a giveaway – I’ve picked the Limited Edition Minions Mix, the Rainbow Mix, and the Monster Mix. They cost S$4.30 per 70g packet.

What sets LollyTalk apart from the other brands has to be their ‘Acquired Taste’ rock candy.

I tasted Chili Lime and Spicy Mango. The former was too spicy for my liking, but I liked the Spicy Mango so I got a pack to take home. Plum Guava is their bestseller, and there’s also Menthol Grape, Menthol Honey Lemon and Honey Lemon.

This selection costs S$4.90 for 50g.

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I’m not too optimistic about the viability of the rock candy business in Singapore. I think it’s a tad too competitive, with so many brands. So for the mass market, one has to stand out with unique flavors that just keep customers coming back for more. (Best if they are hard to replicate)

Then, to make the business sustainable, one has to get a strong foothold in the corporate gifts and wedding favors business.

We are turning out to be a nation of sugar lovers, aren’t we? Laoban beancurd craze, doughnut craze, cupcake craze, rock candy craze, honeycomb with frozen yoghurt craze. What’s next?

I don’t quite understand what the fuss about fro-yo is all about, but I do appreciate the taste and creativity that’s gone into making the rock candies. Want to win a pack? Pop by my facebook page on Saturday. This one’s gonna be an international giveaway. :)

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The 3 winners of my giveaway are:

1) Izy Ocampo

2) Yong Bee Yen

3) Nur Leana Lee

To claim your prize, drop me an email at gracewwg@gmail.com by 13th Dec 2014, 23:59hrs. State your mailing address (double-check to ensure it is correct) and include your mobile number, which I will write on the package before mailing to you. :)

Thank you all for participating!

Nihon Mura at Punggol Plaza

There are many coffeeshops in Punggol but no malls like people in other neighborhoods are used to. We have this tiny “mall” called Punggol Plaza. At the basement, there is a Nihon Mura outlet, where the wet market is. Despite its odd location, it manages to draw in the crowds.

The prices are reasonable, the food is decent, and the service standards are good when the place isn’t packed full of diners.

But what I found most fascinating was the sushi rice machine:

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Each time she reaches out her left hand to grab the rice roll nearest to her, the ‘plate’ swivels and the Suzumo machine automatically dispenses yet another identical-looking rice roll. This definitely helps up productivity levels in this outlet. Even I would feel confident making sushi here. LOL.

The chawanmushi served here does not look the most awesome but it tastes ok:

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One main I would always order is the Salmon Ikura Don ($9.90) though the thickness of the salmon slices during your visit is dependent on which staff member is on duty that day, I think.

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And our common favorite? The Ribeye Beef Shabu Shabu ($10.90)

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Rice costs an additional $1.50 but they can top up the broth for free.

This meal cost us S$27.99 inclusive of 10% service charge and 7% GST.

If you are ever in the area and don’t know what you should eat, you can pop by Nihon Mura at 168 Punggol Field #B1-05.

Tel: 63878192

Lunch at Mezza9 – Grand Hyatt Singapore

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I had lunch today at Mezza9 at Grand Hyatt – it was my first time having a meal there, apart from the time I attended Stella’s wedding there. Stella is the mom of my twin godsons. Gee, I feel old now.

Anyhow, I googled ‘Mezza9′ while on the road (I wasn’t the one driving) and got my hopes up at the mention of “Mezza9 at HYATT – The Award-Winning Restaurant & Bar”.

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And you know what people say about how the higher your expectations are, the greater the disappointment?

I ordered the lobster set in the picture above. It costs S$54++.

The seaweed soup was close to tasting bland. The chili lobster wasn’t spicy at all and the “chinese white noodles” it was sitting on were laksa(?) noodles and not quite exciting either. The steamed prawn dumplings were good but not extraordinary like what I would expect from an award-winning restaurant. Haha! And as for ice cream? The two tiniest scoops of chocolate ice cream I have ever seen. It was like ice cream in ‘bite size’.

I think the Thai fish cakes and spring roll appetizers, ordered by those who picked the lunch sets, were good.

The wagyu burger was served with a burnt patty so… there is no need for any other comment. :P

For about 20 dollars more, the dinner buffet at Marriott Hotel would be more enjoyable and better value for money. :D

Still, the company I had for lunch was great! The rush to get there after zumba class was worth it. :)

Interview with Joe Cross (& A Giveaway!)

Joe Cross

Joe Cross’ first movie, ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’, has been viewed by over 20 million people! If you have not watched it, you can catch it in full here:

What’s even more awesome is that you can catch Joe’s second movie as my guest – ticket giveaway at the end of this interview…

1) Many people have a lot of resistance towards getting a life “reboot”. Often, it takes a major health scare (e.g. a heart attack) before they decide to change the way they live and eat. How can we persuade them to take action now, instead of waiting for that health scare to occur?

Well, people aren’t going to change until they are ready to but I have never met a person who is overweight and happy about it, or enjoying managing a behavior-related illness, or not having energy. In hindsight, I wish someone had reminded me that the longer I waited to make important changes, the more I was depriving myself of wellbeing, vitality and fun.

2) After the huge success of your first film, what do you hope to achieve with the second one?

My hope is that the 20 million people who saw the first movie, and particularly our passionate online community of 1.5 million Rebooters, are entertained by FSND2 and find useful information about how to stay healthy in an unhealthy world.

It’s tough out there, and we’re all constantly bombarded by messages that send confusing signals, whether persuading us that things that are terrible for our health are actually wonderful “treats” or showing us ideals of perfection that just simply aren’t attainable.

In FSND2, I talk to people all over the world about strategies to strengthen the different pillars of health, from diet and nutrition to sleep to the important aspect of community.

3) The weight lost from any kind of fasting is usually regained pretty quickly after. What are your best tips for maintaining a healthy weight? Do you eat YOLO* meals? (*You Only Live Once)

I think the best way to maintain a healthy weight is to follow an 80/20 rule – in my case, 80% of what I eat is pretty nutrient dense stuff, with lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds, lean animal protein and whole grains. And the other 20% is processed or less healthy.

So yes, absolutely, I enjoy the whole spectrum of food – I don’t say no to a slice of birthday cake, a good steak, an occasional bowl of chocolate ice cream. But those are “special” foods and not part of my daily regime.

4) A popular DJ recently posted this status update (below) on her social media channels – what would be your response to her?

“i am beyond SICK of ‘influencers’ sharing their juice cleanse journeys on instagram. great. you got your free bottles of juices and you have to in turn instagram it. yawn. at least do some research before accepting everything free that comes your way. using your social media reach to promote any sort of extreme fad diets is irresponsible and inconsiderate – we are talking about physical health here. I’ve turned down offers from two juice companies for the reasons stated below.

THE CLAIM: juices help you cleanse yourself, detox, and shrink your waistline like magic! they are healthier than whole fruits, and give you more nutrients!

THE FACTS: first of all, there are organs that “detox” a body already. they are called the LIVER and the KIDNEYS. if they aren’t working, a raw carrot isn’t going to help. in fact, there is no cup of anything that will work the way these organs do. only an organ transplant will help. also, there is no evidence that making something into a juice allows you to get more nutrients out of it.

there are some real problems with consuming ONLY juice. fresh-squeezed juice is a haven for bacteria, so making a big batch of juice and saving some for later can be problematic. also: fruits are full of sugar, dumbasses. go on juice cleanses and you can consume too much sugar without noticing. too much kale can exacerbate hypothyroidism – a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone. since the main purpose of thyroid hormone is to “run the body’s metabolism,” it is understandable that people with this condition will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism. slow metabolism means your body takes a longer time than usual to burn the fuckin fats. too much lemon can erode the enamel on your teeth. the sugar in fruit can do a number on your teeth, as well. juicing is an extreme change in diet – more extreme than any other fad diets really, and needs to be done NEVER. stick to a sensible diet of real wholesome meals, drink water, and dont fuckin starve yourself. do that and you will be fine. #RozzQuotes

ps: and don’t get me started on tea tox.”
(https://www.facebook.com/heyrozz/photos/a.431885760205458.98004.431034103623957/781461858581178/?type=1&theater)

Well, I respect that everyone has their own point of view. And I am not a doctor, although I do have a Medical Advisory board who have looked at the science of juicing pretty closely and feel confident that my enthusiasm for it is well founded. But most importantly, I do know how juicing changed my life. It made a profound difference to me. More than weight loss, it helped me reclaim my health and vitality, reset my palate to appreciate the amazing tastes of fruits and vegetables and change how I approach my nutrition. I know that what I eat is only one piece of the health puzzle – joining sleep, friendships and love, exercise, and a spiritual practice – but it is an important piece, and one that for me, will always include fresh juice.

{ GIVEAWAY }

Here’s the trailer to Joe’s second movie ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2′

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 – Singapore Premiere

Wednesday, 3rd Dec 2014

7pm – 9pm

GV Max, Vivocity

To win a pair of tickets (I have 3 pairs to give away), simply leave a comment on this blogpost and tell me who you’d like to bring to the movie premiere with you OR why you’d like to watch this second movie! :D

Winner announcement:

1) Jasmine

2) Siew Ying

3) Dorean

Congratulations! You should have received an email from me by now to claim your tickets. :)

Chocolate & Tea Appreciation Journey at Capella Singapore

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I had the privilege of attending the media preview of Capella Singapore’s Festive Chocolate and Tea Experience yesterday.

I have never thought that tea and chocolate could go well together.

But they do.

The pairing of Valrhona Chocolate and Gryphon Tea was amazing. I never knew that chocolate appreciation, like wine appreciation, is an art.

By warming your mouth with the tea first, it helps the chocolate melt when you put it into your mouth next.

Thus, I learnt not to pair chocolates with wine. ;)

And how do you go about appraising the chocolate? First you rub a small chunk of chocolate between thumb and forefinger, and observe its appearance. Then bite off a piece and let it roll around your tongue and melt in your mouth. Note the fragrance and maybe even fruity notes that surface. And then, yes, swallow.

If you are pairing the chocolate with tea, get a sip of tea first and savor it. Then put the chocolate into your mouth (as above) and then finish off with a piece of chocolate and tea together! Quite an experience, I tell you! :)

And the chocolate dessert buffet that follows? Amazeballs.

You have to check it out at The Knolls, Capella Singapore. Available every Friday evening for 6 weeks, from 21 Nov 2014 till 2 Jan 2015, 6.30pm to 10pm.

Price: $48++ (Definitely value-for-money!)

Includes: Gryphon tea-infused cocktail or mocktail, chocolate dessert buffet, free flow of tea and a take-home memory bag.

Reservations: The Knolls (6591 5046) or knolls.singapore@capellahotels.com

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{ Giveaway }

Valrhona Chocolate

I’m giving away some lovely bars of premium chocolate from Valrhona. To be one of three winners, simply leave me a comment here with your email address so I can contact you if you’re picked. :)

*International giveaway :D

*Winner announcement: 20 Nov 2014

Hello Kitty Pasta – Cutest Pasta On Earth?

Hello Kitty Pasta

I bought some Hello Kitty pasta earlier this year, from an organic food shop I think. And kept it in the kitchen till today. I didn’t realize how absolutely adorable this pasta is till I poured it out and identified 5 different shapes.

There’s kitty, kitty’s head, that famous bow, an apple, and a flower. Wow.

And the best part is, after the recommended 9 minute cooking time, the pasta still holds its shape well. I thought the kitties would be unrecognizable after the boiling process, but they all turned out well!

For this pasta dish, I didn’t use any of the usual sauces. I added a can of Ayam Brand sardines, sliced portobello mushrooms and some chili padi. I definitely should have bought some lime to squeeze onto this pasta, and give it some added zest.

But I’m happy with how it turned out. Anyway, this small packet (which cost me just S$4) can make up to 5 servings of pasta so I’ll definitely be experimenting with other ingredients and sauces. Stay tuned! :D

Hello Kitty Pasta

LEGO-themed Cafe: Bricks ‘n’ Cubes at The Cathay

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I had dinner with some members of my Blog Club at Bricks ‘n’ Cubes Cafe yesterday. :D I love the decor though the food and service leaves more to be desired.

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Thankfully, I had some food before leaving home and all I needed at this cafe was some ice cream. Each scoop of ice cream costs S$4.50. I ordered the Belgium Chocolate ice cream – it was a fairly large serving but served to me with a plastic fork. I have never eaten ice cream with a plastic fork before! (@_@)

The rest ordered pasta which took really long to be served. Half an hour, to be exact. Even though there were few customers at that time.

(The quality of the food is not quite consistent. Steven ordered the wild mushroom pasta and found it wildly flavorful. But Flore showed up late and when her mushroom pasta arrived, the sauce was at least 2 shades lighter than Steven’s)

And strangely enough, the iPads on each table were *not* for ordering food. They are just for customers to play games on. What a waste.

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I think kids would love coming by and building LEGO creations here. I thought the play area was, strangely, rather big. It would have made more cents to convert this into a dining area to serve more customers and keep the till ringing.

Pricing: $10.90 to $12.90 for mains

Address: The Cathay, 2 Handy Road, #02-12

Tel: 67357571

Plain Vanilla Bakery (Tiong Bahru) – Is It Just Plain Hype? My Review…

Plain Vanilla Bakery

I had an underwhelming dinner at Poteato (Tiong Bahru) this evening, so I thought getting cupcakes from Plain Vanilla Bakery would save the day (or night). It was not meant to be.

I loved the decor at Plain Vanilla. It looks like an awesome place to chill with a good book, some tea and a nice cupcake. But it was too late at night for all that. So I bought 4 cupcakes to take home, and another 2 more for my girlfriend to bring back. She chose Earl Grey Lavender and Vanilla Bean, while I took the 4 above – Milk Chocolate Banana, Milk Chocolate Chip, Red Velvet and Dark Chocolate Ganache.

Upon reaching home, I ate the Milk Chocolate Chip and Red Velvet cupcakes. The latter had a frosting/icing/whatever-you-call-it (‘cos I don’t bake) that was grainy. It was not velvety-smooth like I was expecting. So the contrasting texture with the moist muffin below was a tad odd. And that was made worse by the grains of sugar that I could see and most definitely taste.

How often do you bite into a cupcake and see grains of sugar? Hmm…

It was the same with the Milk Chocolate Chip. Darn.

I’m hoping that when I eat the remaining cupcakes tomorrow morning, I will not SEE sugar again. I know it’s a key ingredient, but I’d prefer if the cupcakes have a smoother consistency without awkward grainy bits, thank you very much.

I think I’ll head back again… but not for the cupcakes next time. ;)

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Pricing: S$3.50 for 1 cupcake, $19 for 6 cupcakes

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Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Friday 11am to 8pm

Saturday 9am to 8pm

Sunday 9am to 6pm

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Address: 1D Yong Siak Street [The other outlet is at 34A Lorong Mambong]