Food

Harvesting Wild Blackberries

One of the better things about returning to the countryside, as the Ninja Turtle has found, is that time slows down enough for one to think differently. Sure, the city life in Lyon offered the duo plenty of exciting activities year-round, and one is constantly engaged, amused, stimulated… but perhaps that was the problem. It was very hard to disconnect, pull back and simply have some time for oneself.

In the quiet and calm of the campagne, far away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and the commerce, the Ninja Turtle becomes much more pensive. And in her reflections, she begins to feel an immense sense of gratitude, despite her malady. There is, after all, a lot to be grateful for, despite everything.

Grateful for each moment she is alive.
Grateful for each person who’s come into her life.
Grateful for each experience that brings joy, or a lesson.
Grateful for each emotion and every new sensation.
Grateful for the hurt, the sorrow and the pain
Grateful that despite that, she still has much to gain.
Grateful for the kindness from strangers she receives
Grateful for the love friends and family give.
Grateful for existing in this messy world
Where life can sometimes be incomprehensible
Grateful for just being here today
Grateful for tomorrow, come what may.

There is so much richness in life, when one chooses to receive. The Ninja Turtle, in her leisurely strolls along the country road, recently chanced across wild blackberries growing in abundance, free for the picking and ripening at a deliciously alarming pace.

When GodzillaPin returned from his cycling trip a couple of days ago, the Ninja Turtle could not wait to bring him blackberry harvesting. OK, fine, she’ll admit it. After spending 2 hours harvesting blackberries alone the first time, and having the unfortunate experience of falling into the blackberry bramble (an experience which she will never wish upon anyone) when trying to reach for the higher branches, she knew she needed a helping hand from someone less vertically-challenged than herself.

IMG-20170810-WA0009

Enter GodzillaPin, 6’1.

Of course when the Ninja Turtle first proposed blackberry harvesting, GodzillaPin thought it was going to be a breeze. Little did he realise that battling the blackberry bush thorns and the stinging nettles that grow alongside, this was less of a leisurely pastime, and more of an extreme sport.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After about an hour, the duo decided that they’d had enough (enough of being pricked, and enough blackberries to last a few days), so they hurried home excitedly to taste the fruits of their labour.

The Ninja Turtle had recently made a rich chocolate and beer streusel cake, and the acidity of the blackberries married well with the sweet dessert. They also tried the blackberries in a soy yogurt and fruit salad parfait.

They say that on the road to recovery from eating disorders, there are good days and bad days. That was a good day for the Ninja Turtle, and for that, she is grateful.

Standard
Food, Travel

Sonic the Hedgehog’s Birthday Food Tour

Last weekend, the Ninja Turtle got to spend a few days with her best friend from Australia, Sonic the Hedgehog. He’d taken a few days off work and was initially planning to go to Bali for the weekend, but of course, the Ninja Turtle found that idea most absurd and offensive – go to Bali while she was in Singapore? And sit alone on the beach, crying into a cocktail as he turned another year older? No way. He was coming over to Singapore instead, and they were going to eat themselves stupid.

Dressed for the tropical heat, Mother Turtle takes a quick snap of the duo getting ready to hit the town.

Dressed for the tropical heat, Mother Turtle takes a quick snap of the duo getting ready to hit the town.

The duo’s first stop for the day was Marina Bay, where the DBS Regatta was going on for the SEA Games. According to hearsay, there was an urban beach with food, music and stuff, so they thought they’d go check things out.

There it was!

There it was! It’s hard to tell from the overcast skies but they got there at midday, when it was stinking hot, and time for some grub.

Sonic the Hedgehog burning some calories pre-emptively...

Sonic the Hedgehog burning some calories pre-emptively…

While the Ninja Turtle is too lazy to do more than recline on a deck chair at the urban beach.

While the Ninja Turtle is too lazy to do more than recline on a deck chair at the urban beach.

First meal of the trip: beef and chicken satay, beef teriyaki nachos and Caesar salad, with half a pint of beer and a glass of prosecco. $58 (yeah, it was a tourist trap).

First meal of the trip: beef and chicken satay, beef teriyaki nachos and Caesar salad, with half a pint of beer and a glass of prosecco. $58 (yeah, it was a tourist trap).

A quick walk to see the Gardens by the Bay, which was still incomplete the last time Sonic the Hedgehog visited Singapore...

A quick walk to see the Gardens by the Bay, which was still incomplete the last time Sonic the Hedgehog visited Singapore…

Before jumping on the MRT to Clarke Quay for the next round of drinks.

Before jumping on the MRT to Clarke Quay for the next round of drinks.

Sonic had a Singapore Sling and later, a pint of Stella, while the Turtle went with a Merlot and later, a whisky. Second round of price gouge.

Sonic had a Singapore Sling and later, a pint of Stella, while the Turtle went with a Merlot and later, a whisky. Second round of price gouge.

Dinner was a meal at the Holland Village hawker centre. Sonic tried beef hor fun for the first time.

Dinner was a meal at the Holland Village hawker centre. Sonic tried beef hor fun for the first time.

Day two started with very good intentions of repairing the previous day’s damage…

The Ninja Turtle fixed Sonic the Hedgehog one of her famous fruit platter breakfasts. This one had persimmon, starfruit and roseapple, with plain yogurt, chia seeds and honey.

The Ninja Turtle fixed Sonic the Hedgehog one of her famous fruit platter breakfasts. This one had persimmon, starfruit and roseapple, with plain yogurt, chia seeds and honey.

Better yet, Mother Turtle managed to find mangosteens! It's been years since the Ninja Turtle had last eaten one of these things.

Better yet, Mother Turtle managed to find mangosteens! It’s been years since the Ninja Turtle had last eaten one of these things.

But then of course, they paid a visit to the Ninja Turtle's other best friend the Krazy Kow, and all good intentions were discarded with an evening of food debauchery.

But then of course, they paid a visit to the Ninja Turtle’s other best friend the Krazy Kow, and all good intentions were discarded with an evening of food debauchery.

How to host a quiet Sunday evening chez soi:

1. Find a crazy friend (someone like the Ninja Turtle).

2. Make sure crazy friend is armed with another crazy friend (someone like Sonic the Hedgehog).

3. Let them rudely rock up to your home while you’re still out, armed with two bottles of red wine and some lethal-for-the-waistline snacks like chilli lime soy chips and mixed nuts.

4. Get your boyfriend to stop by for baguette on the way over, because you need a vehicle for the olive oil, dukkah and sundried tomato pesto you plan to stuff your faces with.

5. Let your guests take their wineglasses into the pool because they came with bathers, only to swim 2 half-arse laps in your pool before deciding it was enough, they were tired and hungry.

6. Dig in to the snacks and wine. Your boyfriend also brought a bottle of whisky by the way, just in case.

7. Let snacks roll into dinner, which was a giant pot of delicious pasta (got to line the stomach, you know) followed by Magnum and Haagen Daz ice cream.

8. Continue with the wine. To maximise the pleasure out of all alcoholic drinks, play Cards Against Humanity. (What better game than this to play with someone you’re meeting for the first time, right? Trust us, you’ll get to know that person so well, you’ll never forget them.)

Between the Krazy Kow and Sonic the Hedgehog, the Ninja Turtle got to enjoy the company of her two favourite people in the world. (Not counting GodzillaPin of course, although to be fair, she’s been friends with them both a lot longer than she’s known GP. So give these two good folks credit for being able to put up with NT for all these years!)

Sonic had only taken a short leave from work, but Day Three was special as it was his birthday! Mother Turtle had plenty of activities lined up…

A birthday lunch at Jin Shan Lou restaurant, in Marina Bay Sands.

A birthday lunch at Jin Shan Lou restaurant, in Marina Bay Sands.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Both Sonic and Ninja really enjoyed the meal, but Mother Turtle was not quite done with her surprises. On the way home, they casually “dropped by” the Fullerton Hotel, where something awaited.

Chocolate mousse cake from the Cake Boutique! They brewed a pot of tie guan yin tea to go with it.

Chocolate mousse cake from the Cake Boutique! They brewed a pot of tie guan yin tea to go with it.

Happy birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog!

Happy birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog!

Mother Turtle also prepared some kaya (coconut jam) and pineapple tarts for Sonic to bring home, but before they headed off to the airport, there was one last surprise…

DURIANS!

DURIANS!

Happy birthday, Sonic! Thanks for coming to see us in Singapore and spending your special day with us! It has been great fun to have you and we want you back soon!

Standard
Travel

Photo essay of Singapore

Here are some photos to summarise some of the Ninja Turtle’s activities in Singapore this week.

Malay cookies for Hari Raya Puasa.

Malay cookies for Hari Raya Puasa.

Also known as Eid al-Fitr, Hari Raya Puasa is the local name for the Feast of Breaking the Fast, and marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for the Muslims. This year, it falls on 17 July, and the local supermarkets are already stocked up with all the delicacies associated with the Sugar Feast. As a multi-cultural society, Singapore offers its people the chance to partake in a variety of traditions, even if it’s something as banal as sampling the cuisine of another culture. The Ninja Turtle does have fond childhood memories of being invited to her Muslim friends’ places for festivities and celebrations, cementing her belief that world peace can be attained through a shared meal.

A napping cat at a local market.

A napping cat at a local market.

Proof that the unbearable heat we’ve all been complaining about is not a figment of our imagination, nor a reflection of us being a bunch of pampered sissies. Even the animals need a midday siesta and this cat was found sleeping at a local market. Passers-by would occasionally touch it, but it was too hot/tired/comatose to care.

Durians are in season.

Durians are in season.

Nicknamed the king of fruits, the durian is a cousin of the jackfruit, and if used correctly, can double as a weapon of sorts (just use your imagination). The last time the Ninja Turtle came back, it wasn’t the right time for this pungent terror, but in June, it’s time to roll out the mangosteens, durians, jackfruits (and the Turtle has spied lychees, longans, persimmons, cherimoyas, dragonfruits and a whole slew of other exotic delights). What is your favourite exotic fruit?

Peking roast duck dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

Peking roast duck dinner at a Chinese restaurant with relatives.

Duck is an interesting dish; like pig’s trotters or frog’s legs, the French and the Chinese do it equally well, but the style is so completely different. While GodzillaPin’s grandma does a wicked magret de canard aux prunes, there is no substitute for the signature crispy duck skin with sweet dark soy and spring onion wrapped in a thin pastry like a beautiful little tortilla, followed by tender slices of duck meat.

Making a meal with the leftovers.

Making a meal with the leftovers.

Some countries don’t generally let diners take home their leftovers (looking at you, Australia), but in Singapore, it seems to be standard practise. In fact, restaurants probably would prefer to offer takeaway, in hopes of encouraging you to order more than you can finish, rather than order conservatively to reduce waste. Here, the Ninja Turtle whipped up a leftover duck, mushroom and apple salad with a homemade dijonnaise dressing, paired with a glass of wine…

International wine selection.

International wine selection.

OK, so this may offend the Ninja Turtle’s French readers, but all she can say is… tant pis pour vous. In France, they may not feel the need to import wines from elsewhere, given how many different wine-producing regions exist locally, but in Singapore, it’s all got to be imported. Which means one can easily find a wide variety of wines from all around the world. The Ninja Turtle picked out three bottles from three different countries – Chile, South Africa and Australia.

Yum seng!

Standard