Monday, 28 July 2008

Piggin' Out: Penang makan trip

We were in Penang over the weekend.

The "crew" included Rommel, Shen, Patrick and I - we were there for my friend's wedding and we stayed at Lone Pine Hotel, Batu Feringghi where the wedding was held.

The rest of the crew are Auntie Theresa, Uncle Loke, my cousins Su Yen and Su Ling, Su Yen's husband Allen and their 2 kids, Ashley aged 4 and Nicholas aged 2. They came up for St Anne's Feast in Bkt Mertajam and stayed at G Hotel along Gurney Drive.

Our 3 day foodie schedule went like this:
Friday night
- drive up from KL to Penang, arrived at 10.30pm, checked into the hotel,
- headed straight to Jln Masjid Kapitan Keling for nasi kandar. I must say - it lived up to its fame. At midnight, there's a long queue of people (and the queue is ever increasing). Pics to come. Loved it.

Saturday during the day:
- quick breakfast at the hotel (so-so but I loved the roti bakar which you toast on charcoal),
- met up with Su Yen and the rest, then headed for Sisters' char kuey teow at Jln Macalister. No this is not the famous Lorong Selamat one but it's on the other end of Jln Macalister. Not too bad taste-wise but only 2 prawns and little else was in the char kuey teow.
- next was the famous cendol along Jln Burma. Perhaps the best cendol I've had! And certainly the most unhealthy with the amount of coconut milk used!
- Auntie Theresa wanted to get sesame oil from Ghee Hiang shop along Jln Macalister so that was the next stop. Also bought some typical Penang snacks such as tau sar pneah and oriental almond cookies.
- took a break from eating so headed to Queensbay Mall for me to check out Yiyi Craft (a separate review coming for that!)
- lunch was asam laksa next to the Air Itam market. YUMMMMM...... One of the best I've had!
- just across the street from the asam laksa were some durian stalls so we pigged out there too.
- everyone was tired by then so we headed back to Pulau Tikus and visited Jenny's Cake House along Jln Cantonment. This is where my mom visits on almost every trip to Penang for the lovely chocolate cake. We bought just one chocolate brownie cake, which was finished by the next morning (most of it eaten by Shen!!).

Saturday evening was spent just chilling in the hotel, doing watersports and generally hanging out by the beach.

The wedding was on Saturday night so Rommel and I attended while Shen and Patrick ordered room service and chilled in the suite.

- All woke up late. Patrick still went for paragliding anyway and we managed to check out at 12.30pm.
- Su Yen and family drove to our hotel and we headed to Balik Pulau - visited Sister Bernadine at the IJ Convent there.
- Since we were at Balik Pulau, just had to stop to have some durians too. This was just outside the Chong Teik School. Yummm and cheaper than in Air Itam.
- Next, drove back to Pulau Tikus to collect our cakes from Jenny's. I got 10 chocolate loaves, 1 banana loaf, 1 butter loaf, 1 layer cake and 1 cheese cake. Wheeeeee..... and everything made it back to KL safe and yummy.

On the way back to KL, we had a late lunch at Bukit Tambun. Seafood of course. Food was good but there was so much flies there that I dont think I'd go back ever again. Which is sad. We used to go there everytime we went to Penang. Really looked forward to that.

So there. That was our weekend. Are you stuffed just by reading about it? I am!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Piggin' Out - London: HK Diner & Borough Mkt

I'm in the office, waiting for some stuff to get approved and sent back to me so thought I might as well post more London foodie pics!

First up:
Restaurant: HK Diner
Address: Wardour St, London Chinatown
What I love: The fact that it opens til really late, making it a great post-clubbing hangout. Also, food's good (I think that's a prerequisite).

The lovely deep fried squid with salt and pepper.

My fav: Baked pork chop with corn cream sauce. (I love their seafood one too, used to order that to share with my Muslim friends.)

And the braised lamb with water chestnuts. (Okay I'm not too sure what this dish is called as I only know its name in Mandarin. And it's not on the English menu so it's best to ask the staff.)

Another yummy treat is Misato which is across the road from HK Diner. Just look for a small Japanese restaurant with a long queue at the front. Good food. Really reasonable prices (by London standards). And super duper portions!

Clockwise from top: the Tori Karaage (fried chicken, my fav!!), the salad that comes with almost every dish (we all love the dressing), the rice (which is of superb quality and they give you loads) and finally the gyu don (beef rice, yummmmm).

We tar pau-ed these for Shen and Patrick as they had to stay home and sort out their stuff and clean the flat etc during our last few days in London.

Next up, another foodie's definite MUST DO in London = Borough Market! Just google it and you'll find out just how great this place is!

First up: the scallops!! Grilled lightly and served on a bed of stir fried veggies and bacon.

Then it's a trip to Shen's favourite - Baklava!! (She bought loads that time round)

And... oysters!! At 1quid each for the small ones, that's a steal!! Fresh, yummy and sweet. I must admit I'm not a big fan of oysters but even I had 2! Rommel maybe had a dozen to himself. Haha..

At last, my mom's favourite thing to do in London (apart from shopping that is)... Drinking bubble tea at Jen Cafe in Chinatown. My mom isn't much of a foodie so to have something that she craves (and must have at least 3-4 times on each of our trips), this has to be something. But my dad just think's it's over priced at 2.50quid each. Perhaps perhaps but Ma doesn't care!


Coming up - food fest in Penang over the weekend. I can't wait..

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Long forgotten FOs

Shen and I just spent a good hour discussing, among other things, different knitting projects I can make and she has commissioned quite a few for herself. I told her to get in line and wait a couple of years. I still have loads of other WIPs and others in my queue.

Anyway, this'll be a short one. I leave you with a 2 long forgotten scarves I'd made and given to her.

First up is a K1xP1 skinny scarf.

Next up, a ruffle scarf made with the Rowan Cashsoft DK - the balance was used for the poncho.

Both still in London... not much of use here, innit?

Friday, 18 July 2008

The impression we give to the world

I've tried very hard to only write about what this blog is really about - knitting and food. But sometimes, I realise, I need to look outside into the real world and take in what's going on.

Don't get me wrong. It's not like I dont read the papers or check the online news sites daily (it's part of my job). But it's just that when I get home, I prefer to just not think of these things for a moment and indulge in some knitting or baking or even just watching AFC. So when I decide to blog in the middle of the night, I'm always much more relaxed and dont have a care for the world.

And yet... of late so much has happened here, especially on the political front. So much that it's hard not to ignore it. The front page of all papers are splashed with all things political. Almost everyone I know was caught in the big traffic jams caused by road blocks around the city centre. (I myself am rarely a victim of morning traffic jams since I go to work super early in the morning.) My father calls me often nowadays, checking on the situation in the city and also to constantly remind me to be alert on the streets (albeit, my dad does take things to the extreme and can be really paranoid at times.).

It is not a good impression that we give to the outside world.. Sadly, we have become a laughing stock to the world with the recent antics. Many people may not have been to Malaysia and so many opinions are based on what they read in the news.

During our trip to Lourdes last month, we met an American from Connecticut. He approached us after one of the morning English Masses as he noticed that we could recite the whole Mass in perfect English and we knew the songs fairly well.

(Imagine, a Chinese family with an unrecognizable accent who spoke only English to each other. Nothing too surprising to most of us in Malaysia and Singapore but to someone who's never been to our part of the world, it's weird.)

So anyway, upon finding out that we're from Malaysia, he promptly asked, are there many Christians in Malaysia? It seems there are people in the world who assume everyone in Malaysia is Muslim and that all women have to be covered up. We explained that no, although we are in a majority-Muslim country, we are free to practise our own religion. No, we do not need to be covered or follow their customs.

Then what about the fact that we all speak English? Yes I know that the standard of English in our country has fallen dramatically in recent decades but there are still quite a number of us who do speak decent English, or in some cases (like mine and a number of my friends), English is our first language.

It's amazing how we have this image of other countries based on what we see and read on the news. For me, I'd always imagined that Israel was this war-torn land with derelict buildings and poor, homeless kids running around. Yes there are parts of Israel where this is evident and a sorry sight they were. But I found a beautiful country, steeped in religious history during my pilgrimage there in 2000. I would most definitely go back there if I could.

So anyway, what sort of impression does the world have of Malaysia, especially with the events of the past few months?

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Piggin' Out - London: Kulu Kulu Sushi

Restaurant: Kulu Kulu Sushi
Address: 51-53, Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9HE
Tel: 0871 075 7122
Reviews: London Eating
Verdict: My fav sushi bar in town. And approved by my dad! (It's not easy for a Japanese restaurant to get his seal of approval..)

I always make it a point to eat here every time I come back to London and this time, I really had to bring Rommel here after telling him so much about it. When I was in London last September with my dad and sis, we went there twice during our 1 week stay!!

So what's good here? I love their tempura and salmon handroll. I used to go in after uni and eat 5 of that, pay and go home. Nowadays, they pre-fry the tempura beforehand so it's not as hot and crunchy as it was before. But still tastes good! And the quality of the seaweed they use is good. That is really important to me. Hate cheap quality seaweed which is why I rarely eat handrolls anywhere else.

Shen and I also love their deep fried chicken (tori karaage) and their breaded hamburger and their gyoza and their potato salad (one of the best I've had!).

My dad enjoys their sushi because he says the sushi rice is good. So far, not many restaurants in the world gets my dad's approval for sushi rice. Even top rated restaurants in KL such as Gonbei at Starhill and Wasabi at Mandarin Oriental have failed to please him.

Anyway, here are pics from the end of our meal there. We were too hungry and greedily grabbed all the dishes off the belt and starting chomping straight away.

I miss Kulu Kulu already.... Sigh.. I used to live just down the road on St Martin's Lane so I ate here rather regularly..

More London/ Barcelona / Lourdes reviews to come!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Sorting stuff out...

... in the office.... on a Saturday.

No, not office-y stuff though right now cos I've just finished the things I need to get done for Monday morning.

So now, the other things in life which I was supposed to sort out but didnt have any time this past week to do. Busy week at work.

I've just sorted out our pictures from the London-Barcelona-Lourdes trip and am burning them onto a CD to be sent to the photo shop... Need to get them printed soon and then I can start on the photo album.

To those who don't know my family well, after every trip, we compile all the pictures, ticket stubs from the flight/movie/play or whatever, postcards and everything memorable that is flat... and I arrange everything in a scrap book/ photo album... I include little paragraphs on the photos, what happened that day, where we went, what we ate etc. I suppose, sort of like blogging it but the old school version - on paper.

Yes it takes loads of time and a lot of effort to make it but it's really rewarding, especially years on when you look back at the photos and reminisce.

Anyway, while I wait for the CD to be burned, I might as well blab on.

Yesterday was Aunty Lena's farewell do at 7ateNine at the Ascott. It was also the Midsummer Night's Feast at Shook! Starhill Gallery. So I went to 7ateNine for a while before heading off for dinner.

Dinner was pretty good... Super tender beef cooked 2 ways - one lightly grilled and another braised until I could cut it with a fork. But the piece de resistance was the foie gras and smoked duck ravioli starter. Really, it was heavenly. In fact, I'm craving for more now. We didnt take any pictures because the ravioli didnt look good. Just tasted bloody good!!

Today I'm alone for most of the day. Ma, Pa and Rommel are at some office sports day event which I was supposed to go for but then I went to see my chiropractor and came into the office to get my book (am having a licensing exam on Tuesday and I have yet to start studying!!). The siblings are off for their Undang lesson... you know, the written part of the Malaysian driving test. Well, they have to first sit through a whole day of lesson before taking the test some time next week I think.

Tonight, it's Bon Odori night in KL. My sister and brother attend every year for the past couple of years without fail except for 2005 - it was my graduation from LSE so Shen was in London with me and the parents for it. So of course they're going. And they're dragging Rommel and I there. Rommel wont wear a men's yukata but I'll don one from Shen's collection. Must remember to post pics from the event!

Tomorrow is the SFX Annual Family Day. If you're in the PJ area tomorrow morning, please drop by for some great food, games and of course, there will be things to buy! Mom is again decorating the Maranatha stall and this year's theme is Kampung Maranatha. So expect yummies like nasi lemak, pisang goreng, assorted kuih and loads more.

So it's a busy weekend for all of us. When am I going to find time to study? Sigh..

Oh yes, yesterday I wanted to put up a quick post on what happened during my lunchtime but I was really busy. You see, I always wondered if I'd really turn out like my mom. I think yesterday, I sort of did... at least for lunchtime.

I wanted to get my hair done for the Midsummer Night's Feast but the only free time I had was lunch. Since I was going to wash my hair, I figured I might as well do my nails. So, at 12.15pm, I dashed out of the office and ran to A Cut Above in Parkson Pavilion. At 1.30pm, I was out of the salon all blowdried and manicured but I still had errands to run. First stop was Kiehls to get some toiletries. Then it was Stuart Weizman to pick up 2 clutch bags for Ma (one silver which I used last night and the other a bronze which Ma used.) Next was to run downstairs to the food court and I got myself an oyster mee sua to go. .

... back in the office at 1.50pm.

So proud I was able to get so much done in just one lunch time!

Okay enough enough... The second CD is almost done now so I can start packing up and getting ready to leave.


Thursday, 10 July 2008

Yarn yarn yarn!!!!

For the past few days, every time I step into my room, this glorious sight is the first thing I see, all pile onto my luggage that has been left open.

And mind you, my luggage is HUGE. When it's closed and propped upright, it's up to my upper waist!

And here is my brand new yarn winder. My sister is addicted to it. Teehee. Cost 30quid though but I only found in at Loop despite having visited various other London stores. It's now nicely perched on the corner of my printer disk in the study because I cant find suitable table space in my room for it.

And this was an extremely happy surprise at the Cath Kidston store in Covent Garden. A knitting bag with matching pouch filled with wooden needles (sorry have yet to cast anything on them so I cant comment on whether they're nice to use). But aren't just lovely!!

I'm currently trying to finish Fr Albert's scarf so it's in the bag and with me almost everywhere I go. (except the office so it's sitting in the car waiting for me right now.)

And below.... my first Habu yarn purchase... made at IKnit London. Went there on our first day in London so I really had to restrict myself from buying everything in the store! Also bought 2 Addi circs - 6mm and 10mm at 40inches so that I can knit my triangular shawl.

Anyway, I'm crocheting a skinny shawl with the Habu Kusa yarn, using 2 strands of yarn and a 5mm bamboo hook. These were done while in Lourdes and on the flight back from London.

Dont' you just love the yarn winder? Almost all my skeins are neat and organised now. (I'm a Virgo aka neat freak!)

Gorgeous Artesano yarn - bought 4 skeins from IKnit to knit my triangular shawl. Might not be enough to make it as big as I want but we'll see how it goes. Have cast this on already cos I couldn't wait!!

Below, my friends, are the SOFTEST yarns I have EVER felt in my life!! Misti Alpaca yarns which I got from Loop. They were recommended in the Knit Cafe book for its men's jumper pattern. I couldn't stop touching the yarn so I had all 3 skeins go through the yarn winder just so I could play with them. I really wish I bought more but they were 10quid a skein... Mighty pricey! Haven't decided what to make with them but Shen wants some hats and mini scarves cos they're so soft!

Another super great find, this time totally unexpected in Barcelona. At 36euros for BOTH and considering how densely compacted they are, super value-for-money!! I actually found this little shop near the restaurant where we watched the Flamenco. They sell hand woven scarves and shawls, all extremely beautiful. I bought one myself.. Couldn't help it. So so pretty. And then I begged the lady to sell me some of her yarn and she oblidged!! I now have to make something with the yarn and later email a picture to her or perhaps blog it and send her the link! Any suggestions?

I have always loved London sales but the John Lewis yarn sale was the BEST! So many yarns at half price! I just had to.. Despite the limited luggage space (I'd already bought clothes from Barcelona and London), I still really wanted them. So Rommel bought me these 2 packs-of-ten. Rowan yarns in muted colours. And so I'm gonna knit something for him in return!

And these 10 balls of Rowan kidsilk haze were bought at the Liberty yarn sale, also at half price! Our trip there was really rushed as we were in the area to go watch Sound of Music the Musical. Too bad I didn't have time to browse more!

And the following 3 are more purchases from IKnit... Have yet to decide what to make with them... Hmmm...

So many projects, so little free time....

Thursday, 3 July 2008

London, Barcelona, Lourdes and now home

It's been a great 2 weeks..

Flew to London from KL on 19 June.
2 nights in sister's flat at St Katharine Docks.
Borough mkt pigging out for 2 days in a row.

Flew to Barcelona on a 7am flight on 22 June and stayed for 3 nights.Did a day trip to Montserrat, a wine tasting trip and a visit to the beach resort Sitges.

2 more nights in London. Shop shop shop eat eat eat.

Flew to Lourdes on an evening flight on 27 June. Another 3 nights. This was a pilgrimage so we did processions, the Way of the Cross, the Jubilee Walk, masses and of course just soaked up the good French atmosphere. Not to forget the good simple French food the hotel served us.

Am tired, down with food poisoning (we think it's the steamboat we had last night), and dreading going back to work. :(

Oh and yes... one super duper consolation, I bought loads of yarn. Like as in my mom kept commenting that I didn't buy enough clothes and shoes. That's cos I was saving luggage space for yarn. I visited the London yarn shops I wanted to: from IKnit in Waterloo to Loop in Islington and All The Fun of the Fair in Kingly Court and Liberty and John Lewis. It just great luck that Liberty and John Lewis were having their sales then so I got great Rowan yarns at half price!! I even visited Personnes Llanes in Barcelona but it was closed on the 2 times I went to have a look. :(

Anyway, pics to follow. Soon....