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

International Gift Exchange (Part Two)

[ Read the first International Gift Exchange blogpost here and check out all the earlier presents I’ve sent out and received! ]

Yes, the gift exchange is definitely still ongoing. And as we get closer to Christmas, I expect I’ll be sending out even more amazing gifts. :D

It’s actually pretty difficult to find Made-in-Singapore items which are easy to mail overseas. Sure, we have delicious sauces and all but those will probably not fare so well during the delivery process. If you have any ideas to share with me, drop me an email. *wink*

Here’s a recent one to Kien Mei from Labuan, Malaysia. I sent her Meiji’s Hello Panda biscuits and a bunny keychain which I’d blogged about here. I’d never realized that Hello Panda biscuits are made in Singapore! I’d always thought they are from Malaysia or elsewhere (maybe, Japan?). And the bunny keychain was made by the elderly at House of Joy in Mountbatten so it’s really special and one-of-a-kind with a different color on each side. I hope she likes them. :)

International Gift Exchange

What Kien Mei sent over was really cute: Kabaya Hello Kitty Strawberry Pretzel, mini collectible mugs, a bracelet, Visit Malaysia 2014 badge, an ‘Explore Labuan’ brochure plus a handwritten note. :)

Knowing that I’ve sent her Hello Panda biscuits, I was thinking we probably had some telepathic communication going on when I saw the Hello Kitty strawberry sticks. LOL :D

And looking at her gift, I’m deducing that she must be really proud of her hometown, and it must be a fascinating place to visit.

Why have I never thought of including a brochure of some sort or postcard from Singapore? Hmm… that’s an idea for my next gift exchange. Perhaps it’d entice people from the region to come visit Singapore (again). :D And no, I do not work for the Singapore Tourism Board. :P

~ To Participate ~

If you are not a resident of Singapore, you are most welcome to take part. You simply have to send me a gift that is made in your country and I’ll send you one from Singapore.

To get started, drop me a private message on my Facebook page right HERE.

Book Review: ‘Playing Big’ by Tara Mohr (Update: Giveaway!!!)

(Update: I’ve gotten queries from you guys regarding promotions / discounts with e-tailers selling this book. The distributor, Pansing, is kindly sponsoring 3 copies for my giveaway :D *Scroll to the end of this post*)

Playing Big

If you liked Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’, you’ll love Tara Mohr’s ‘Playing Big’. I found my personal and professional coach within the 258 pages of this book. This is a book by a coach who knows intimately the struggles that many women have gone though. And any modern woman will find this book immediately relatable.

The most valuable takeaway from this book (for me) is how to move from self-discipline to self-care. Instead of berating myself for (yet again) messing up my work desk, I set a “Gift-Goal” to keep my desk organized enough so it supports the serenity I want every day. Trust me, it is quite a miracle to have my desk not messy.

Interesting how this little switch from faulting myself for being messy and disorganized to being supportive and giving myself this little gift of a neat desk every day is so easy yet so complex. Complex because I’ve never thought of it this way. I’ve just labeled myself as being the “messy, creative sort” all along, and hence, just kept my desk messy in a self-perpetuating way.

In this book, you’ll learn too:

1) How to listen to your inner mentor instead of your inner critic

2) 15 simple tools for moving out of fear and into a different state of being

3) How to unhook from praise and criticism and to no longer depend on others’ positive feedback or fear their disapproval

4) How to change the way you feel about “self-promotion”

5) The 10 common undermining speech habits that women have

6) 8 ways to recognize your callings

Tara Mohr Playing Big

All in all, it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. You definitely should get a copy too.

{ Giveaway }

WIN one of three copies of ‘Playing Big’ simply by leaving a comment on this blogpost. Tell me what you’d like to learn from this book (based on what I’ve written above) OR who you are getting this book for (if it’s a Christmas gift for someone) :D

Winner announcement: 20 Nov 2014

Good Luck and Merry X’mas in advance! ;)

Maku Store: Pretty Pastels & Watches from Trifoglio Italia

The latest addition to my Maku Store collection is a pretty pastel purple backpack. :D

Maku Store Singapore

Like all Maku Store items, this backpack has its unique features. Besides the 3 inner compartments, there is a slot at the back for the straps so you can transform the backpack into a handbag. Just carry it by the strap at the top. Really cool.

Maku Store Singapore

I’m loving both this backpack and my one-and-only Maku Store wallet in pastel pink and green.

Maku Store Singapore

My wallet is a really special limited edition one – only one in Singapore. But don’t fret, if you like pastel shades, there are more pastel-colored wallets in store:

Maku Store Singapore

Maku Store Singapore

You have to pop by Maku Store at Bugis Junction #03-20 and check out the wide range yourself! There is also a ‘Limited Edition’ corner in the store where you can find items which are available in just ONE piece for the Singapore market. So you won’t find someone else carrying the same bag here. Isn’t that cool?! :P *Remember to show that you are a fan of my facebook page, and Maku Store’s too, and you get 15% off your bill! Check in-store for T&Cs!*

Also, Maku Store has brought in an exclusive range of watches. Here are some I like:

Maku Store Singapore

Maku Store Singapore

And this next range is for charity:

Maku Store Singapore

Maku Store Singapore

Tempted? ;)

Indulge in some retail therapy at Maku Store and get yourself an advance Christmas present! :D I know I’m popping by again soon!

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

Paul Theroux’s Lecture at the Singapore Writers Festival

Paul Theroux

On top of speaking at the Singapore Writers Festival, I got to pick one of the lectures to attend for free. And I chose Paul Theroux’s. Some highlights of his session for me:

1) Travel vs. Tourism: When you travel, you don’t know where you are going, and you are usually having a very bad time (which becomes a test of your personality), and the hardship tells you a lot about yourself. You may even find out whether you are destined to never come back.

When you are a tourist, there is a time constraint, you know where you are going, know what you want to see, and when you are going home. As a tourist, comfort is important – it is about having a good time.

Are you usually a tourist or a (true blue) traveler? ;) So when you say “I love to travel”, you are really saying “I love being a tourist”?

2) Does Being Away Put A Strain On Marriages?

Paul was asked by a participant how his marriage survived his travels. He replied that being away should not be a problem for marriages. Otherwise, what would fishermen, pilots and soldiers do? Won’t their marriages all be in trouble?

Paul’s marriage failed for other reasons (he did not share with us) and he has remarried.

3) Which Is The Last Book You Read?

According to Paul, if you can read and you don’t, it is a disgrace. Thankfully, I could immediately recall which book I had last read – ‘Fierce’ by Kelly Osbourne. And before that, ‘Playing Big’ by Tara Mohr. :D

~

You don’t find out things about yourself till you leave home.

I guess I really have to agree.

I’m not much of a traveler. I’m more of a tourist who plans where she wants to go and even down to the details of what she’s going to eat.

I don’t like extremes in temperature. And hiking’s not quite my thing either.

I’m more comfortable in shopping malls and tried-and-tested restaurants and cafes. I’d even give roadside stalls a wide berth as I don’t want to run the risk of an upset tummy.

I guess I am missing out.

One day. Yes, one fine day, I shall head out and be a traveler, quite like Bilbo Baggins, unsure of when (and if) I shall return. What an adventure it will be. :)

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

‘The Best Of Me’ in GV Gold Class Suntec City (Plus A Giveaway)

the best of me

I got to watch ‘The Best Of Me’ in GV Gold Class comfort at Suntec City this week, upon Golden Village’s invitation. On top of the movie treat, I got to taste their yummy fare too. But first, a quick synopsis for those who are wondering if they should go watch this movie…

Synopsis:

“Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.”

Despite the horrid reviews that this movie got from local movie critics, I actually liked it. In fact, it really made me wonder if firstly, such an “epic love story” exists in real life, and two, what I’d do if I’m in Amanda’s shoes – stay on in a (probably) loveless marriage for the sake of my son whom I treasure, OR reunite with my first and only love but break up my marriage in the process. Hmm… while I ponder about that, a quick review of the food in Gold Class…

GV Gold Class Menu

I ordered the most amazing $16 mini Caramelised Onion Beef Burger (which is served with 2 mini burgers). The buns were warm and yummy on their own (which is quite a feat!) and in the middle of the beef is black pepper sauce which oozes out like when you cut open a poached egg. LOL! Definitely one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten in Singapore. I’m not kidding you!

However, the tender boneless chicken thigh ($16) was a huge disappointment. The only thing that was good to eat on that plate were the potatoes. The chicken was under-cooked and that’s also quite a feat – it’s pretty easy to cook chicken so I don’t understand how the chef got this so wrong. Moral of the story: Order only the items which are their ‘specialties’, as indicated by the chef’s hat icon on the menu.

As for dessert, I ordered Churros with Ice Cream ($11) which I didn’t like very much. And for once, he ordered the most stunning dessert – Chocolate Lovin’ Spoonful Cake ($10). The chocolate cake is moist, fudge-y, very rich and absolutely amazing. It’s one of those chocolate cakes you won’t mind getting fat on.

We drank the Lychee-licious and Orange-cooler mocktails ($9 each). The orange one was definitely the winner. And we also had the Harry Brompton’s London Ice Tea ($13) which comes straight out of a glass bottle. It tastes pretty good when you drink it while it’s still cold. Letting it sit while you watch the movie is a no-no, like I found out.

{ Giveaway }

WIN a S$10 Gold Class Dining Voucher simply by leaving a comment on this blogpost: tell me who you’d like to bring to a movie in Gold Class OR which movie you’ll be watching in Gold Class. :D

*The voucher is valid till 28 Feb 2015

*Winner announcement: 28 Nov 2014

{ Gold Class !!! }

Golden Village Gold Class Suntec City

And here’s why you should catch a movie in Gold Class with your loved one! :) It’s spacious, the back of the seat and the leg rests can be adjusted independently, you get to eat your entire meal while watching the movie, and you can get assistance at the push of a button so you won’t even have to get out of your seat in order to get another drink!

Singaporeans work hard, and we know how to pamper ourselves too. I guess this is why Golden Village is expanding fast. They now have Gold Class cinemas in 4 locations: Vivocity, Katong, Great World City and Suntec City! Here at Suntec, there are 3 halls with 32 seats each. The lounge is really spacious, great for chilling with friends, and you can even sample a number of wines for a small fee soon.

I cannot wait for my next GV Gold Class date night. This one was awesome! :D

Online Vigilantism At Its Best? SMRT Ltd (Feedback) vs Jover Chew

All of a sudden, just about everyone in Singapore knows who Jover Chew is. We even know what his mobile number, IC number and address is. And we ALSO got to see his topless and rather unflattering pictures (not that we had wanted to). All thanks to SMRT Ltd (Feedback)’s facebook page.

Jover Chew

I don’t know what the folks behind that page do for a living, but I am impressed. How did they manage to find out all that information, which also includes the full name and IC number of Jover’s wife?! Wow. Jover’s phone must be ringing off the hook from calls from netizens and reporters. Fortunately for him, he owns a shop selling mobile phones in Sim Lim Square. ;)

Apparently, food orders (for a reported 50 pax) were placed with Pizza Hut and McD on Jover’s behalf too. Will he be paying for the food with coins? ;)

~ Food For Thought ~

1) Is This A Good Prank?

It seems pretty hilarious to send Jover a lot of food he has not ordered but one does have to pity the delivery guys, who might not get any payment from him. Perhaps the ‘Purge Prank’ folks from MerlionTV might finally be able to do something useful? :P

We definitely need to purge unscrupulous business owners from Sim Lim Square. Over a decade ago, I worked there during the school holidays and it was still a decent shopping spot for tourists and Singaporeans alike. Even JJ Lin shopped there!

2) Are Netizens Being Too Harsh On Jover?

Make a customer get on his knees and beg for his money back while staff laugh away? It’s mind-boggling. To make a tourist beg for his money back in Singapore, and have that video go viral? It’s unforgivable. Singapore’s reputation as a great tourist destination is going down the drain, no thanks to Mobile Air.

When I saw a popular blogger in Thailand sharing this news on facebook, I’m thinking “Uh oh. Bad rep for SG”.

Thankfully, we have good folks in Singapore helping to make this right for the Vietnamese tourist. Gabriel Kang’s crowdfunding project to get him an iphone 6 (and perhaps a lot more now) has raised over US$10,000! You can chip in here.

3) What Should Jover Do?

Man up and step forward to rectify things. Don’t disappear and let your wife bear the brunt of the netizens’ fury. Do the right thing.

Whatever netizens have contributed towards paying for an iphone 6 for the tourist, offer to match it dollar for dollar, if not more.

Then respectfully request for your family members’ particulars to be removed.

Go into hiding now and it’ll take even longer for this to blow over. Assuming the Vietnamese tourist comes back to Singapore again, upon our invitation, people will still want to know “Where is Jover Chew?!” :P

“Cookoff” with Dr Leslie Tay and Wendy (Xiaxue)

With Xiaxue and Dr Leslie Tay

Because I won Lee Kum Kee’s blogging challenge (and S$1000 in cash), I got to participate in a filming session with Dr Leslie Tay from ieatishootipost and Wendy aka Xiaxue. :) I’ve interviewed Dr Tay for this blog back in 2011 (click here) and it was really nice to meet him again.

I’ve never spoken with Wendy before this so it was interesting to meet Singapore’s Blogging Queen in person. And she’s friendly too.

With Xiaxue

I was initially worried about the “cookoff” as I have no culinary skills to speak of. I love one-dish meals and don’t do any frying, deep-frying, pressure cooking, etc, at home.

As it turned out, we were following Dr Leslie Tay’s recipes and putting together 3 dishes and 1 soup “within 30 minutes”. Thankfully, he was helping us along the way and taking over when necessary.

It was quite a learning experience for me. Learnt:

1) How to make meatballs from scratch

2) Reason why chinese cabbage is put into soup (the glutamates make soup tasty)

3) How to make a nice Korean ‘sambal’ for french beans

4) And more… watch the video when it is out! :D