Food, Travel

Two Turtles Go A-Dining (Warning: Food Porn Ahead)

This week has been an absolute food-fest for the Ninja Turtle. Beginning with Sonic’s birthday lunch at Marina Bay Sands’ Chinese restaurant Jin Shan Lou through to this afternoon’s buffet lunch at Park Royal Hotel’s Lime, the Ninja Turtle has dined out every single day, and she hasn’t had a single disappointment yet.

On the budget-friendly end of the scale, she’s had an amazing phở at Little Hanoi, a Food Republic stall situated in the basement of Westgate at Jurong East, to the tune of $6.90. Mother Turtle went with the traditional beef brisket, while the Ninja Turtle chose chicken. The broth had all the complexity one would expect from the Vietnamese noodle soup, and when they both went back to ask for more beansprouts, the waitress happily gave them a bowl with no extra charge. The beef salad was also cheap and delicious.

20150619_193634Friday night, the Ninja Turtle went out for dinner with Krazy Kow and her Plus One at one of her favourite haunts in Singapore – Holland Village. As the Ninja Turtle was hankering after some Indian, Krazy Kow suggested Bar Bar Black Sheep. The Holland Village outlet may be new, but on a Friday night, the place was completely packed, and the Turtle managed to secure the last three seats in the house – at the bar, no less – after begging pitifully with the waiter.

The best way to describe Bar Bar Black Sheep is a bar that serves a decent array of drinks, but boasts a super extensive food menu of which the term “pub grub” does no justice. Between the three of them, they ordered four curries, two bowls of rice, and three garlic naans because gluttony is best indulged in, in the company of people who love you too much to judge. The service was slow but the food was worth waiting for – after an hour of salivating and nursing their overpriced drinks, they wolfed down the lot in a matter of minutes (sorry, no photos).

Another pub meal the Ninja Turtle had this week was at the Blu Jaz Cafe with Mother Turtle. Mother Turtle learnt of this place during Baby Turtle’s last visit back in Singapore; apparently Baby Turtle thought it was a great idea to hang out with dear Ma for dinner, drinks and a shisha pipe (to her credit, Mother Turtle eventually participated, despite her initial disapproval.) The Ninja Turtle isn’t half as wild as Baby Turtle, so this time round, it was just drinks and food.

And of course, best for last, the show-stopping meal of the week – Mother Turtle surprised the Ninja Turtle with lunch at Lime, a restaurant in the hotel ParkRoyal on Pickering. It was an Asian-international buffet, and the Ninja Turtle used the excuse of having covered 8 hard miles on two consecutive days to go nuts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This was what the Ninja Turtle ate:

Thank you, Mother Turtle, for spoiling the Ninja Turtle rotten!

Thank you, Mother Turtle, for spoiling the Ninja Turtle rotten!

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
Food, Running, Travel

A Victory Dance from Singapore!

Surprise, world! Apologies for the longish spell of silence, but the Ninja Turtle has been caught up with various obligations that have brought her back to Singapore once again. The last week has been a nightmare of delayed flights, baggages lost in transit, trying to acclimatise to the tropical heat and humidity, meeting insane deadlines and running in not one, but two weekend races.

Last weekend, a mere day and half after arriving back in Singapore (still exhausted from jetlag and sleep deprivation from the sweltering heat) she made up for her humiliating defeat at The Trail Yonne but scoring a new PB in a 5K race at East Coast Park. It was her first time ever racing in Singapore, too, so she nervously took her place in the middle of the pack. Although she started off in a day-dreamy state (to be fair, she had to get up at 5am in the morning) by the 4th kilometre, she’d done enough sightseeing; the groups of tai chi practitioners on one side of the track and the boats out at sea on the other ceased to fascinate her, and she noticed she was overtaking runners by the dozens. She looked at her GPS watch and figured that at 4.2km and 178bpm, she could risk pushing that little bit harder to reach the finish line. Her new 5K PB is sitting at 26m 10s, and a few days later, when the organisers released the results, she learnt that she’d placed 7th out of 301 in her category. (Victory dance #1)

This morning, it was off to another race bright and early, and this time, it was pretty special. To celebrate Singapore’s role as a host of the 28th SEA (South-East Asian) Games, there was a 10K fun run called the Nila Run. The run shared part of the route for the SEA Games Marathon, which was happening concurrently this morning (although good planning ensured that none of us slowpokes were holding up the professional athletes).

What an experience it was. To start at 6am at Kallang, the Turtle had to leave home at an ungodly hour in the morning. Mother Turtle had very kindly offered to drop her off at the venue, despite the Turtle’s insistence that she could take a cab. But when Mother Turtle has her mind made up, she’s a very determined woman, so the two Turtles went for a drive yesterday evening for MT to do a “recon” of getting there. Singapore’s fabulous network of highways and constant development meant wrong turns and missed exits; it took them four attempts to reach the stadium but they did it. (Victory dance #2)

So. At 4.30am, both Turtles were awake and it was pouring with rain on the west side of the country. Mother Turtle voiced some doubts, but the Ninja Turtle had her mind made up to go. After all, she’s resigned herself to the fact that 2015 is the year she’s fated to race in the rain. En route, the skies cleared and the showers stopped. They made zero wrong turns and the NT got to the venue on time. All was good. (Victory dance #3)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is something to be said about racing in Singapore. Holy shit the crowds! Unlike in France too, where runners are designated to corrals prior to flag-off, it was a right mess. As soon as they flagged off, the Ninja Turtle found herself frustratingly weaving around “runners” who were simply – and this is no hyperbole – out for a morning stroll. Hundreds of them were simply walking, and had no qualms about standing right up the front! Although she’d decided in advance that given #1 this was a fun run and #2 she’d done a 10-miler yesterday morning so she was going to do an EZ at the event, she nonetheless felt the buzz of being in a hive situation.

The race website stated that water would be provided every 2.5km to 3km, but the first water stop came just after the 4km mark. That was also the first distance marker she saw along the route, although she most likely missed the first three due to her concentration of not running over the walking “runners”. The air was pregnant, alternating between a stifling humidity which threatened to suffocate the runners, and the briefest of cool breezes that brought occasional reprieve. As daylight slowly emerged, the dark clouds loomed overhead and in the horizon, charged with the decree of spurring the runners to pick up their speed.

As the Ninja Turtle reached the 7th kilometre, she felt the first fat drop of water, and within seconds, the skies opened. Once again, she’d found herself running in the rain, and this time, a tropical downpour no less. Within minutes, the runners were completely soaked by the torrential unleashing, and the Ninja Turtle wondered how her mobile phone and earphones would survive. She could also hardly see, with all that water splashing in her face and eyes. At least there was one thing to be thankful for – the equatorial temperature meant no risk of hypothermia this time. The last couple of kilometres were completed, albeit with less pleasure than hoped for. The Ninja Turtle was just glad to have completed the run, although to her disappointment, the GPS said 9.56km, not 10! She later learnt that many other runners who started behind her had their runs cut short by the event organisers who felt it was unsafe/impractical/pointless to continue. (Victory dance #4)

Best of all, later that day, she learnt that it was Singaporean runner Guillaume Soh who’d taken the SEA Games gold medal for the Marathon! (Victory dance #5) An acquaintance of the Ninja Turtle, Guillaume has promised to catch up with her before they both fly back to France and the USA respectively.

After the long trek home, a shower and a quick breakfast, the Ninja Turtle went out to a buffet lunch with her relatives at the Miramar Hotel. The spread at the restaurant thrilled the NT, but everyone else seemed less than impressed.

It was the first time since she’d come home that she’d properly got a chance to pay attention and spend some valuable time with family, and she’s quickly learning what her top priorities in life are. You can throw your life and being into your work, but at the end of the day, it’s never as important as the people who love you. Cousin Turtle used to spend school holidays with the Ninja Turtle and Baby Turtle, so it was lovely to see her again.

IMG-20150607-WA0001Best of all, Mother Turtle and the Ninja Turtle finally got their chance to “dress up and go out for a meal”, something they’ve been waiting for but wasn’t sure they’d have the time to do so on this trip back. Lesson learnt: you don’t find time for things, you make time for it.

Standard

154513_971397919539619_4676009620664824097_n

Stories

The spirit of a nation

Image
Travel

Merry Christmas!

To all our readers and followers, thank you very much for all the support you’ve shown by reading and liking our silly little posts on The  of our L’Art de Vivre. The Ninja Turtle and Mother Turtle (as a proxy for GodzillaPin this year) wish you all a very Merry Christmas with family and friends, filled with peace and joy, love and laughter, and many happy memories.

Standard