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Monday, January 28, 2013


I can be quite a geek, but i think it's only because of my occupation. Getting a sneak peak of what technology is to come makes it excited about the future. It’s quite like a strip tease.
The year has finally kicked in and in the last year, these technologies have been promised to be commercially available. Girls get men to buy them fancy branded items, I’m saving up for a 3D printer so I can print every material want!

A Chanel? A hunk?  Or maybe I can rob a bank with a home-made 3D printed gun and then escape jail with a home-made 3D printed handcuffs key.

While 3D printing technology brings criminal possibilities, it can also potentially solve food shortage by printing edible meat.

To buy from Cubify, it’s about SGD 2000 (yes, I was actually serious in buying) but I reckon 3D printers will either get more expensive or more affordable due to the demand. I make purchases like a girl, over-analyzing. However, the home 3D printers available can only prints useless solids which I CAN USE as paperweights but my mum already threatened to throw me out for my never-ending new shoes; I doubt we have space in our HDB for a 3D printer L

Then, there is Google glasses that remind me of Minority Report.

Thankfully, I haven’t gone for Lasik. I hate to be a poseur, wearing glasses with no degree. The first pair is expected to cost USD 1500.

Theologians say during Armageddon, we may have microchips inserted under our skin to pay for food. But before that happens, we first have to dance for our drink.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Confucius Culinary Journey: History in Food

How much do you know about Confucius, his history and teachings? I confess I'm pretty ignorant.

I'm ashamed I didn't know this bit about my Chinese culture while Westerners tattoo themselves silly with Chinese characters that embodies Confucius teachings. 
Kinship is one of the values Confucius is an strong advocate of. He believes obligations to family and friends come before obligations to the community and other values like filial piety.
While we go gaga over American pop culture (pun intended) and grateful for the Western inventions, imagine if we tattoo ourselves.
 Therefore, i MUST know some history about the Chinese and not remain ignorant.
Real Knowledge is to Know the Extent of One's Ignorance
On the weekend, i found a fun way to learn history! It's without reading but eating. 

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is leading a Qufu culinary expedition across Asia with a team of Lu cuisine chefs and service professionals. Qufu, the hometown of Confucius & listed as UNESCO World heritage sites, will see the new Shangri-La Hotel.  To celebrate the hotel's imminent launch, Singapore is one of the six selected countries to experience the Confucius Culinary Journey.

Qufu's cuisine flourished under the Kong family, descendents of Confucius.  Going on Shangri-La's culinary journey, it would be a glimpse into the royal banquets during the imperial Ming (1368-1644) And Qing (1644 -1912) dynasties.
Qufu today, have festivals in the name of Confucius
The service at Shang Palace was immaculate,
and the interior deco intricate. They paid attention to the little details in honour of the culinary experience that awaits.
Scroll-like place mats.
As Confucius says,

Because Confucius advocated the promotion of the Six Arts, the leaders of Qufu commissioned research and engagement of the best chefs to study the origins of Kong Family Cuisine and the traditional preparation methods used. The "Six Arts" cold appetizers were born, recreating authentic Kong Family Cultural banquets.
$68 for the set
The scallop skirt and lettuce salad representing Calligraphy was my favourite. With a generous serving of very fresh shell fish, it was succulent with a zest, perhaps from the ginger, olive and garlic sauce drizzled all over.
Followed by the baby celery dish that represented Mathematics. Now, i HATE parsley, celery, coriander and anything similar but i actually ate every morsel of this dish. There is some kind of magic in the sesame and olive oil.
The jelly fish salad representing Music was refreshing and not as chewy as the ones you get at wedding dinners. It was also one of my favourites.
I didn't like the spiced beef shanks representing Rites that much. It tasted like dried beef but my friend, a male, liked it.
The sea whelk jelly representing Chariot Racing was like biting into gelatin and it's an acquired taste for me. Whelk are sea snails.

All 6 of the "Six Arts" cold appetizers are really exotic. They had spiced duck tongues representing Archery. I first "french kissed" a duck in Taipei but it wasn't such a yummy experience because there wasn't much meat. The ones at Shang Palace, they are juicy and fat.
Confucius didn't teach not to play with food. This is not how you eat a duck tongue though, i stuck the other end of the cartilage (shaped like a Y) into my mouth for the picture. You should be picking off the fat from the other side.

Forget Brands Essence, take the Six Arts to be a scholar.

The wise sage also said,
Yes, there is ALOT to taste. After all, this special menu is only available for one short week.  Available only from 18 to 24 January, another day has gone while you're reading this!

Soup is a very important part of Chinese cuisine and the Three Ingredients soup is heavenly. The best of the best, chicken, duck and pig trotters were cooked and simmered, repeated three times, making it special and unique in the Confucius "Kong" family banquet.

Truly a product of mastery in soup-making skills, i was in awe to see the milky white soup being poured from a ceramic tea pot into a tea cup! It was very rich, savory and nothing like what I've drank before. The ceramic teapot keeps the soup hot while you savour little portions with each serve, it can pour 4 tea cups.

The soup alone makes it worthwhile to visit Shang Palace for the Confucius Culinary Journey.
Wow, check out the very well-groomed nails of the male server. I just noticed it.

I'm not a fan of pork usually (it being not the leanest meat), but the next dish is one guilty indulgence i would cave in for. Called the Wisdom Frees Perplexity, legend has it that this dish was created during Emperor Qin Shi Huang's era (259 - 210 BC) of the burning of books and the live burial of scholars. Minister Zhang Ge, for the perservation of the Kong Family line, is said to have exchanged his own son for the life of a Kong family male descendent, and in the process created this dish to pass on secret information.
These boneless pork ribs are slowly braised with the bone replaced with a stalk of scallion symbolising the "switch of sons". Also my favourite of the day, the meat was very tender, the sticky sauce made it sweet and it made me imagine what superbly roasted char siew would taste like.

Then, came a surprise box. We were all curious as to what it conceals.
Ta-dah! It's a whole roasted salted chicken.
The second layer unveil special condiments to go along. There's ginger, chilli and olive. It's unlike what we are used to at Boon Tong Kee.
Chinese legends tell that just before the birth of Confucius, a Kirin (a mythical Chinese creature like a unicorn with scales), made its appearance in the neighbourhood of the Kong family. In the mouth of the Kirin was a piece of jade stone, and on the jade was written "From a defeated Kingdom rose a new emperor- a spiritual leader."

The next dish The Kirin Imperial Book was inspired by that. There was a period where i had a phobia of eating fish. I was afraid that if the scales weren't removed properly, the eater would develop scales after consumption.  The Kirin Imperial Book is the most unique fish dish i've ever had. The freshwater bass skin is fried into the shape of the skin of the Kirin. The scales were kept to create that effect!
Slightly salted, the meat was soft and moist inside while the outside was fried to a golden brown and crispy.
No, i didn't grow scales.

For fortune, prosperity, longevity and happiness, order Kong's family special, the Four Supreme Bowls ($68 per set)
Braised pork

Meat roll of minced chicken breast and prawns wrapped with seaweed

Braised fish
Braised chicken
Qufu's cuisine can be a tad salty, i learned.
Shang Palace's tea selection is designed like divinity lots.
For dessert, i tried the Gingko Poetry Rites for it reduces phlegm and remove toxins from the body. It is a steamed snow pear stuffed with ginkgo and dates.
Bite into the crumbly Apricot Pavilion Chinese date cake and let the warm date filling fill your mouth. It reminds me of our old school street snack, the tu-tu kueh.
"Friends from afar"
$9 for 6
They're both very lovely desserts, and i ate them with no guilt because they aren't too sweet. They are also unlike Chinese desserts i've sampled.

The Confucius Culinary Journey ends 24 January in Singapore but if you've missed them, you can follow the remarkable chefs' expedition across Asia.

- Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong from 28 January to 3 February 2013
- Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei from 27 February to 5 March 2013
- Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok from 9 to 15 March 2013
- Shangri-La Hotel, Jakarta from 19 to 25 March 2013

Otherwise, visit Shangri-La's new hotel in Qufu, the real home of Confucius, opening in March.

Book your table in Shang Palace (Singapore) today! Confucius famous last words, die with no regrets. Eat and die with no regrets.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New Haunts in Singapore

I have been sharing some of the awesome new places i've checked out on Instagram. Are you following yet?

The Vault @ 237 South Bridge Road
is the latest bistro bar near Chinatown. Stepping pass the super cool entrance of a heavy vault door like in bank robbery movies, level 1 is the dining area while level 2 is a bar with cool beats. It feels like one of those underground bars in London. You need to be on the guest list to enter, call 6222 5001 to enquire otherwise rock up The Vault ala bank robbery style and pretend your friends 
are already in there. 

Keep your cool.
I thought i was looking at a mirror until my friend pointed out there's no reflection.
TRĂˆS Cool
Hounds of the Baskerville @ 24 Bali Lane
is like stepping into1904 of Sherlock Holmes. Bespoke tattooing, traditional barber and shaving services are available. They only serve men and you need to make an appointment (6299 1197) for a shave ($25)/ cut ($30). They plan to increase prices from $5-$10 in a couple of months' time.
Dressed in smart vests with slicked hair, it's part of the role-play.
There's even a Caucasian old man who looked awfully like Alfred from Batman.
Table Manners @ Changi City Point
If you live in the East, i would think Tampines Mall is super crowded if you're looking for food. I like Table Manners for its pick-and-choose lunch. For about $15, you get really quality eats.

The Library @ Keong Siak
uses a weekly code name to enter. This can be acquired via word-of-mouth (this concept doesn't stick in Singapore) or simply pop your head next door into Keong Siak Street Snacks and enquire.

Behind the facade of a very narrow book store, a spacious bar with very dim lights and painstakingly concocted alcoholic drinks awaits. It is packed every night by 10pm and you may not get a chance to enter till closing time. It is not a place for hook ups, so bring a date, go early and enjoy the experience. Food from Keong Siak Street Snacks can be ordered inside too. Expect to shell out $20 for a drink though.
The secret door, be transported.
There is ANOTHER secret within the library, other than the bar behind the walls. SMS Madam J for a viewing. I won't spoil the secret ;p

Sorry, it's blur. To make it all the more mysterious.

Keong Siak Street Snacks
serves sophisticated western street food. The fried oysters were pretty good, so is the pulled pork. It's a pretty small dining area as well and it's often filled. Not cheap.
Bar Stories @ Haji Lane
recently renovated, they now sit more than before and they serve food. Cocktails can be custom-made to your taste buds (from $24) with delicate pretty & expensive bar bites to accompany.

Parkview Square
more affectionately known as the Gotham Building to us. Because of it's impressive and intimidating facade, i always thought it is not open to public, otherwise too expensive and you'll need to spend $200 or more. I was wrong and it has a very surreal lounge inside. With a 15m high ceiling, the hand crafted Greek designs took my breath away.
You're in luck if someone orders an expensive bottle of wine. There is a "fairy" who "flies" up the 3 storey wine cellar to retrieve the bottle. The more expensive it is, the higher she "flies" and you can peep up her skirt.
The Japanese tourists
capturing the view from below on their iPads and iPhones
Follow me on Instagram @chrispytine

Thunder Thighs

Of late, i've noticed many slim young girls having cellulite on their thighs.

I'm watching myself closely and heave a sign of relief there aren't signs....yet.

I don't know if they'll appear after i'm 30 or after childbirth but judging how slim young girls also have cellulite, i must be doing something right.

I believe it boils down to diet, pun not intended. I don't eat boiled food all the time.

I've access to female shower rooms and from my observations in a Taiwanese onsen VS a Japanese onsen, the Japanese have taut slim bodies compared to the cellulite ridden slim Chinese.

The Taiwanese's daily diet is pretty similiar to a Singaporean's, fishball noodles, char kway tiao and the likes. While the Japanese is filled with alot of raw fish & natural foods. JAL serves the best airline food, they taste unprocessed. Or i could be really biased as i love Japanese food.

I'm obsessed with natural beauty, one that is achieved with healthy eating & exercise.

Ok, i did cheat. I also slather on anti-cellulite moisturizer every night. I saw visible changes after a week of religious slathering!
Here're my eating habits, good skin & body is attainable without expensive creams (Kneipp is less than $40 at Guardians) or plastic surgery.

1. Economy Rice
Is my favourite lunch choice if i wanted rice. Otherwise, sliced fish noodles, yong tau fu or ban mian. I like jabbing at the glass window when ordering economy rice. I think the uncle gives me more instinctively because of the jabbing. Occassionally, i do give in to my craving for Hokkien prawn mee & really oily stuff. I don't count calories because i work out regularly.

2. Water, first choice of drink
I rarely take sugar drinks, in fact i can count with a hand how many times i drink sugary drinks in a week. Bubble tea is my weakness, even so, i'll order it with 0% sugar. I'll cave in to a hot cup of Milo during cold days but it'll be Milo kosong or a kopi-o.

3. Breakfast
A Singaporean breakfast is very unhealthy. Nasi lemak, roti prata, chee kuei, i've had it all. Those are on special occassions but otherwise daily, I used to take bread. I've read that flour isn't good so i now take salads and yogurt for breakfast. I had to force myself to eat salads with no dressing.

4. No fried food
It helps to be a cheapskate. If i've to pay for fried food, i wouldn't be eating it. If it's free, i'll cave in and eat. I'm no saint.

5. Junk food in moderation
I'm the least disciplined when it comes to desserts. It is impossible to stay off chocolates, ice-cream and cakes. However, i make a conscious effort to moderate intake. Ok, i lied. Being an OL (office lady), it's really hard to not snack at the desk!
No photoshop

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Year in Review
I noticed that Facebook has a feature that helps you review your year based on your most liked upload or highlights.

While it is a pretty useful tool to reflect back on the year, there's more to my year which deserves a post. For myself. Not you, not anyone else.

I look through my archives and am glad it's not chock-block of advertorials, events i attended or product reviews *inserts finger and gag*

Despite, yes i am sponsored last year by True Fitness, Porcelain Face Spa as well as Hair Sciences to preserve my body, face and hair like it hasn't aged.
In January last year, i shared an article i thought was inspiring about a nurse's revelation of the 5 regrets her dying patients often have. I wasn't consciously living by those rules but i'd use that as a basis of reflection.

I bought a house this year but only to be lived in 2015. By making that decision, it brought me one step closer to living for myself and not of what's expected of others. I've always felt a slight pressure to marry because all my friends are marrying and my parents can be stifling some times. I believe most people still do propose/ marry because they have found the mate they want to grow old with but there are still some who propose/ marry just because it's "time".

Surely i fantasize of my fairytale wedding (since i am 13 and it changes with the trends of season) but with the purchase decision of the house, that pressure is gone.  I do not have an expiry date and i can take my time in enjoying a relationship without being kiasu about a HDB. However, i have also come to learn with experience that if a man doesn't want to marry you (after enough time of a relationship), he just isn't into you. It takes a lot of guts to end something before its time and its a courage i need to muster.

I've never really fit. When every girl's uniform skirts were shorter than their knees in school, mine was way below my knees. They got their mums to sew up their hems while i couldn't be bothered to. I felt a little out of place being the ugly duckling, bespectacled and not hip. Then in my tertiary education, everyone was "glamourous" and hung out on Orchard Road. I felt a little out of place going home after school. Mass Communications is the most pretentious course at that time, it churned out many stars.

My fame came, alright. It was in 2012 where I was discussed in forums by merciless keyboard warriors,
auctioned off for a charity Valentine's date, was a calendar girl ( or at least my picture was)
went on CNA, discussing intellectual issues (haha),
awarded Supper Blogger which was a real honour,
and also had a TV episode to my name.
So narcissistic was I that i made About Me in a powerpoint
But the job promotion was the most rewarding (no, i'm not a full-time blogger *inserts finger and gag* ) because it is in the office where you are judged the most harshly with your speech, dressing and behaviour. I was quite an oddball, especially when my conversation starters can be something like
An adulterous Greek male was sometimes punished by the removal of his pubic hair and the insertion of a large radish into his rectum.
In 2012, i had qarah. The Hebrew word that is translated as time and chance, to encounter and to meet without pre-arrangement.

It was a good thing i've always felt out of place, because I was being prepared for what was already prepared for me. 7 years in the workforce, i am now at a place where my gift is appreciated and my character was built while getting there.

Work, however, have never consumed me. The 2nd regret that many dying patients (especially male) had was that they wished they hadn't worked so much. Seeing things keeps me inspired to be a better worker. My favourite exhibitions of 2012 were the Titanic in Singapore, Barcelona's Museum of Ideas and London's Harry Potter studio. Actually they were the ONLY exhibitions i went, haha.

In 2012, I had many solo travels. I went to Club Med and tried out the trapeze troupe, I was the Flying Pony for a day.
I made a descend into Cheddar Gorge,

and snuck into a school group at La Rambla.
I was a jewel thief in London,

and i went to discover Sala Bai on my own, a non-profit organisation in Cambodia that prevents sex trafficking. Despite having a bit of fear that i was going to be trafficked, I went to understand how young Cambodians can smile so genuinely despite the extraordinary challenges they face.
I was a dolphin trainer in Gold Coast,
molested by a koala
and pooped on by lorikeets.
While all these experiences were enriching and perhaps essential for soul searching, i would have prefer to share it with a special someone.

After all, it sucks using a tripod.
In 2012, i found the courage to express my feelings. It was only at the end of the year that i experienced a roller coaster of emotions and epiphanies were revealed. I could express my feelings to my parents, releasing resentment. I could express my feelings to my friends, finding peace. I could express feelings to people i date, which either raises the relationship to a healthier level or releases the unhealthy relationship from my life.

That courage to express my feelings came from travelling alone and learning to be alone throughout the year.

Still, there're moments of weakness and vulnerability that i want to hole up and just weep.

Facebook notes that i've added 119 new friends in 2012. However, I only meet 5 regularly. When I am younger, I would be caught up with a boyfriend or a busy schedule that I hardly caught up with friends. Throughout 2012, I had friends who were tireless in comforting me. A listening ear is the best gift and in the last few months, I found a few gems in the unlikeliest of friends.

My dad just passed me the photo album of my aunt who passed away last July from cancer. They were photos from her final moments in life. She went shopping for a camera and took pictures of what mattered. I flipped through it and saw it was filled with pictures of her with her husband, her children, and her few friends. Oh, and they were many pictures of her eating ice-cream.

In the final weeks of life, it is relationships that holds the true importance. There were a lot of meaningful conversations shared over good food, injected with some adventures in Golden Mile, Geylang and Little India. I've always preferred creating deeper connections with people than meaningless small talk.

I seemed to have gone to land's end, searched my soul and returned with new meaning.
Oh wait, i did go to land's end.
All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
And because life has its entries and exits, the purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience and to enjoy every human relationship that comes along it.

Climbing Mt Kinabalu was one of the best experiences in 2012 for all that I've seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that i've not seen.
Even so, i've kinda forgot what it had felt like, which makes me reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences for 2013.

The last epiphany for the year was me digging deep into my past, my childhood and the hurt from relationships. I'm at peace, letting go the mindset that my parents loved my brothers more than me, letting go the mindset that i'm ill-fated with men. For a while, i wondered if i had loved, and i emerged knowing i had. My friends since 15 have always warned me that my strict code of conduct/ moral that i impose on myself will make me very unhappy in future. Seeing how qarah happened in my work life, i know i just need to be myself and qarah will happen in my love life.

About this blog, i hope i've inspired with some of my best posts in 2012.

Like my experience standing in the red light district of Amsterdam.
Or my lessons learnt from a Russian strip club, or how eating blind gave much life insight.
Even superficial events count for experience and i reveal the secret weapons of a beauty queen.
I write a blog because writing is therapeutic and sometimes, it could just lift someone up like how Max Tucker's sex ray blog post lifted me out of flu "depression".

2012, i have lived.
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