Friday, February 27, 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Monkey, Mommy Connie, Ass Kickin Vonne, Su San and Chan Lu

Notti Monkey with her University mates who still stayed put with her despite all her urrkkkksss and arkkkssss. And so CNY is the only time when everyone is back from Germany, Hong Kong and wherever around the globe for a major reunion.


It's been 17 years since we've known each other!!! gosh has it been that long??? It felt like not too long ago, when we were attending Pre-University orientation but it was much better than I first thought. There were no bullying from the senior year students nor any major drama...*much to my disappointment*

I had been practising so hard to snarl and scratch and bite back should there be any seniors who try to make me wake up at 4am and run around the campus. But there wasn't any. Instead we were being well-fed and guided and shown around the campus. The seniors were so well behaved, friendly and knowledgeable. After all they were like maths and science geniuses from their respective high schools. I thought I was the Monkey genius until I met all these ppl and the competition was really tough.

-_-"
it was so unexpected and abnormal to have nice seniors. Prollie being in a private university was different? Plus all my classmates were such nice people, my roomies were amazing lot and coursemates were all extremely dynamic and everyone did their homework and assignments on time...oh well except me.

Plus everyone seems to be really good at sports too. Hmmmm I was only scratching the surface of the basketball court running around like a monkey trying to score some balls or hitting out at the tennis court, think more like getting hit by the high velocity yellow balls. Ouch!!! my chest...no wonder they are so flat now.

Pamela, Cindy and Monkey

Chinese New Year is also the time to gather with practically anyone that you can get hold of. I was so happy that these two United States citizens are back in Malaysia and it was a really really really rare catchup.

We've known each other since primary school...then attended the same music school....and moving on towards the high school before Cindy departed to the States and finally it was Pam's turn. These two distinction students also made me stay put on my toes esp when it comes to music lesson. Oh well wat do u expect, notti monkey was lazy.....she yawned so much in class, and alwiz copied Pam's homework. Tee heee hee thank you. But I am so glad to have met both of you. Until today I do still enjoy my lil piano at home. :))))))


Monkey's mommy made char siew and roast pork for the family. Her knives skills were so so amazing, cut to such precision even the butcher would be ashamed.

CNY is also a time to indulge and eat like there's no tomorrow which is so so wrong~~~~~ coz in the olden days, people were so poor, they worked throughout the year and only get to wear new clothes and enjoy good food during Chinese New Year.

and bcoz life has changed...we all eat like this almost every other day, have new clothes any time, blessed with friends and good life. So we should alwiz be thankful and take care of our health. Note to self: stop indulging in those CNY food!!!!! gosh I'm gonna look like a fat whale soon. My tummy is protruding.

my happiest time would be....WUAHAHAHAHAHA yes I m still very much eligible to receive Ang-Pows....pls feel free to :)))

I hope you had a blessed and fun celebration too. The year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram will be a smashing one, I knew it already :)))) coz I've promised myself to work harder, love even harder, *be less lazier*, take care of my health so that I can enjoy my life even more and share all these with loved ones around me. :)))

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Climb every mountain, Mt Kinabalu

Kindy Chai came back from the States for her Xmas break here in Malaysia. Since Monkey won't be around in KL, she was so sweet to hitch the plane and flew over to the Land beneath the Wind....or was it below the wind?

It was such a good arrangement since Kindy Chai has never been to Sabah. It would be an introductory trip for her. And for every newbie, visiting the sacred holly Mount Kinabalu is a must. So on a beautiful morning, before sunrise....we were on our way to Tuaran first, to fill the hungry stomachs of the famous Tuaran Noodle.

and we slowly climbed our way up to the mountain...ok technically the car did all of the climbing up to the first 1000 ft above sea level.


another pit stop along the way for souvenirs. but both of us are more of the postcard kinda people. No souvenirs please. :)) but I have no idea wat were we so fascinated with then.

must be from over-excitement that we gonna do a small token climb up Mount Kinabalu that very morning. I couldn't remember how many token climbs I've done, perhaps it's about time to consider climbing it to the top seriously. Problem is, HEIGHTS!!!!

Kindy Chai my dear friend since we were 5 years old, was so happy that we are finally here to do this small lil token climb. In terms of fitness level, she's definitely way better, stronger and tougher. Kindy Chai hiked almost every possible hills and mountains in the States...including the Sierra Nevada Mountain range??? I think so, I can't remember...she hikes every week. Shame on me.


So before we start the climb, every visitors/climbers/kindergarten hikers must register at the main entrance. This is for safety issues, every "ins" must have "outs" and for human head counts.

Monkey: "Are we really doing this today? We are not prepared!!"
Kindy Chai: "Ishhhh it's just a token climb!!"

Kindy Chai looking so eppy while Monkey was....er.......
I like our outfit!!! though we didn't coordinate but I guess great minds think alike.


in the background is porter who a huge bag at the back, all wrapped up against moisture and rain. He must be fetching food up the mountain. Look at his stumpy like tree bark calves!!!! those must be as strong as elephants!!!


Lemme try!!!!
OMG!!!!! it's so heavy!!!!! I couldn't even get up. Later we found out it's about 40kg consisting of rice, oil, basic necessity goods. These porters climb the mountain daily to fetch things up at the halfway hut and Laban Rata. Gosh and these porters are doing this just to make a living!!!

okie now, enuff of the drama and let's move onto ACTIONS!!!
See, another porter carrying more food stuffs up the mountain on the background. He looked like he's goin to play futsal :P

Good luck to us!!!
as serious as I tried to be, this was wat I've been doin :P oh well Monkey needs to be one with nature and the trees....urkkk arkkkkk

The high altitude made breathing more difficult. Wat was a 2.5km hike felt like 25km jog. Kindy Chai was holding on strong and motivated me to go futher. The trail was about 7-8km hike up. Yeah I know in terms of distance it isn't far, but it's the height, the steepness and difficulty. Ask anyone who have climbed it!!! u'll need to train for this.

the last 2km to the summit...usually takes 2-4 hours depending on fitness level. Wow that's like goin only 0.5km per hour!!! how slow is tat!!!
after the first 2 km, we told ourselves....it's enuff for a token climb!!! hahahahaha. Look at our resting point and there's so far away more to go to the summit!!!!


anyway great job to the 2 lil kindy gals who used to be in lolly dresses, drawing with crayons using their fat cute fingers. I am so glad we are friends for this long. Our friendship is as majestic and as strong as the mountain :)))) hehehehe

Thank you to Mr. JS for all the beautiful pics and for driving us up and down the mountain and to do this token climb with us :)

so if u are not an avid hiker/climber, u may also try to do this token climb to see the beautiful flora and fauna along the way. Oh there's a small waterfall as well :))))

My dear Kindy Chai, till the next trip and if I do visit you in the States, pls take me to the potato chip mountain ok? Promise? :)))) 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year 2015

It's the year of the Sheep....or ramp or goat...or lamb...whichever u wanna call it.

But Sheep Sheep definitely is one happy errrr sheep. For it will bring new challenges, new destination, new friends, new amazing eats but most of all...NEW adventures.

Wishing all my dearest readers Gong Xi Fa Cai. It's gonna be another smashing year ahead.... :))))

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

La Patisserie des Reves, Kyoto

*pic taken from the Web*

Beautiful exquisite delectable pastries on display, inside the dome glass. Nope those are real and none plastic food like you thought it is. La Patisserie des Reves is the brainchild of Philippe Conticini and Thiery Teyssier. The very first patisserie is located at the left bank in Paris on one of our favourite street - Rue de Bac.

We lurve lurve the left bank for its quaint furniture shops, museums, art galleries and art shops where I can buy the entire lifetime of paint and canvas products and oh my all the beautiful brushes. And of coz, we lurve the awesome Le Bon Marche which has been revamped to such an amazing departmental store, especially its foodhall after it has been purchased by none other than the LVMH group. 

So enuff of Rue de Bac, the important address on the left bank. We first discovered La Patisseries des Reves in Japan instead of Paris...hahaha that's rather ironic. I guess Paris is just so infatuated with too many patisseries sometimes u just don't know where to start.

La Patisserie des Reves has 2 outlets in Japan, namely Kyoto and Osaka. Monkey told JS that no matter how full and ridiculously huge our tummies are....we gotta make a pit stop at this patisserie in Kyoto.

*pic taken from the Web*

both the founders have an outstanding track record, from theatrical, PR, events and of coz high level of skills in fine cuisine. Their objective was to evoke every patrons childhood experience of their signature pastries. So u won't have anything too out of the box here. This is wat we wanted, nothing too fancy, just pure serious pastries with high technicality. They may looked simple but trust me, when u taste it, u'll know :)))

 even a pure traditional Mont Blanc is so fine, it actually makes u wanna cry~~~~

*pic taken from the web*

Seasonal tart has such a beautiful balanced taste of acidity, sweetness and richness fr its butter. And it looked so minimalist!!!! Less is more, this I have to agree.

*pic taken fr the web*

 The choux pastry are all very good it makes u wanna try everything under its dome glass. Again the balance in taste, its texture...such finesse can only be achieved through highly skilled pastry chefs.


*pic from the web*

The signature Saint Honore, with velvety smooth vanilla cream, extremely flaky pastry, dipped in caramel to give it the glossy almost like precious stones look. Oh so beautiful~~~ how do u even begin? I couldn't.....

Finally my very own pic, one and only....

all of my readers knew I'm not a sweets nor pastry person...there got to be something else that drew my attention here...it's their special green tea latte. Oh my....the aroma of rich frothy milk with fragrant green tea. It's better than the usual latte.

This outlet is located at the historical UNESCO stretch Kodai-ji. U will not miss it if you are doing the must-do walk from Kiyumizu-dera down to the famed Kodai-ji temple.

it's a great pit stop to re-charge ur energy, mind, soul and tummy hehehehe.
For more readings, visit their website:

http://lapatisseriedesreves.com/en/

Friday, February 13, 2015

Freshness Burger, Japan

Lime Soda and Ginger Lemon Soda
Mind you, this was at a fast food outlet...and our drinks were merchandised in such a pretty way by the lone ranger cashier who does almost everything. Speaking of multi-tasking yo!!!

Suddenly soda drinks looked healthy again!!! hahahahaha.
It's all in the power of packaging, marketing and looks, of which I would like to bring to your attention on baby-cut carrots. I know this is so random. Baby-cut carrots sold in pretty looking packaging, in uniform size like little soldiers and in the exact pantone color spells ALERT!!! Oh well technically and genetically they are still carrots but have gone through processes .

Interest read on baby-cut carrots *here*

There's different categories of product lines from Freshness Burger. In its Burger line alone, there are Classic Burger which consist of burgers made with 100% real beef

while the hamburger menu has all the burger listed on the cup above....lookin at it made me salivate. One can get so lost while ordering coz obviously u wanted everything....and every single item on its menu. Since this was for brunch, we had to be selective.

Freshness Burger makes all of its burger on the spot upon ur orders. So there's a waiting time....just go and lay ur bums on its comfy chair, and be prepared for a feast while ur burger will be sent up to you once it has gone through a lot of tender loving care~~~~~

Monkey ordered a Spam Burger....Yes u read it right...SPAM meat burget...with eggs. Oh well this was for brunch so I need my eggs.

While Mr. JS decided he prefer the famous classic cheese burger. Can u just stare at that sliced of tomato. Perfect thickly cut sweet japanese tomatoes. The buns were so well prepared too.

I was soooo sooo ready to dig in. Look ma!!! I have a perfectly cut piece of tomato too!!!. The eggs has got such good aroma, with slightly charred sides.

JS's Classic Cheese Burger. He was surprised by the quality of its buns....

JS: "It's brioche bread!!!! such high standard!!"
soft and light....the meat patty was just perfect with the right amount of secret sauce. No additional ketchup nor chili sauce needed.

In fact, at every trip to Japan, we will find some form of excuse to dine at Freshness Burger. Since our lunches and dinners were already fully booked, the only opportunity was breakfast/brunch.


holy moly....
the Spam Burger~~~~~~ with the secret sauce again, and lots of freshly shredded japanese sweet cabbage. The layering matters a lot for the perfect bite. When u sink ur teeth it should deliver that kinda symphony in ur mouth. Hehehehehe

and finally....real actual onion rings from REAL onions. Not from some reconstituted onion powder moulded into rings. Oh well u know which one.

Perfect sweetness and light batter on the outside. Almost like a tempura.

Freshness Burger
....I want thee...
gosh so hungry now looking at Spam Burger!!! If u do go to Japan, pop into any Freshness Burger outlet for supper or snacks. Its burgers are light and small, hence I would call it snacking instead of a full meal. We always walked out from the joint feeling light n non-greasy. Oiiishiiiii!!!!

For more info, visit their website here:
http://www.freshnessburger.co.jp/about/


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We are back :))

Doraemon balik kampung
Balik Kampung is a malay term for returning back to your village/hometown.
So since Doraemon is from Japan, it's his kampung.


But seriously I think he's made in China so ......what justification is this? And as alwiz, every trip there's the selection process, which hobbits to bring and which one to be left behind. It ain't easy.


Hobbits keeping chill, enjoying the view from the top floor. Monkey was feeling generous and upgraded everyone into the very few themed 1,000 sqf suite, it's almost like a condo. Chip and Dale are the new additions to the family. The justification was, they were purchased from Disney SeaWorld Tokyo, so they are "Japanese" so in the future any Japan trips will include the two of then too.

Chip and Dale is also known as Kick and Punch by JS. He lurved to use Sheep Sheep to fly kick those two tiny lil chipmunks. AWwwwwww :((((

Heavy snow at UNESCO World Heritage Shirakawago

It's too cold to bring the hobbits out so they were in the comfort and warm of the hotel. While we were brazing the heavy but fluffy like cotton candy snow. And I found my other 2 hobbits there. But they were too frozen and stuck on the ground to be taken home. Prollie only the mittens, hats and scarves would be all's that left if I were to take them home. Melted~~~~~~

From the mountain range and the Japanese Alps we headed to the hot spring town and checked into a ryokan. Every trip to Japan, we insisted that we must stay in a ryokan.

This time we stayed at the beautiful Beniya Mukayu with its beautiful view and bamboo flooring. Doraemon said this is his kinda home. While Monkey had to ensure that JS doesn't destroy any of the delicate flooring or doors with paper called Shoji. He's just too......rough with the sliding doors and delicate furnitures like this.

There's even a miniature garden inside our ryokan. The hobbits lurve it here!!! By far it's one of the largest unit we have stayed in, oh well maybe the lil cottage we stayed in at Miyajima island was bigger. But Beniya Mukayu was a superb experience, will blog about it :)))


From the West Coast of Japan, we headed to the ancient capital of Japan - Kyoto. One of our favourite city for its tradition and architecture. The Hobbits had a wonderful time again bcoz there's a miniature bonsai tree in our room with a stunning view.

WEeeeeee~~~~~~~
Funny thing is, every accommodations we stayed in, there's alwiz turned down service for the hobbits too. This shows even my hobbits were treated as a valuable guests at their property.

*file pic taken in 2011*
but one of the best turn down service was at a hotel in Barcelona....hahaha my hobbits then a family of two got their fair share of chocolates.

Most of the time, the chamber maids will just snuggle my hobbits under the thick duvet or placed them in circular arrangement as though they are having their AGM. Yes annual general meeting of who should travel again and who should just stay at home!!!

and finally a pic of me enjoying a cuppa before leaving Japan. It has been another fulfilling trip. So do watch this space and I will hurry JS up with all the pics. :)))

Can't wait. Lots of new things awaits me and lots to achieve. Have a very lovely week my dear readers :))))

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Away Notice - Ishikawa, Japan


a stunning pic taken by the International Garden Photographer of the year 2008 - Claire Takacs

So JS u need to practice to snap pix in the cold and snow. While Monkey needs to layer her body with fats to keep warm. Oh that's so easy to do :))) hehehehe. I just need to stuff things into/around my body. Food and HeatTech clothings.

It's snowing right now in Ishikawa and certain parts of Japan. That would be lovely, reminded me of our trip to Kyushu last year :))))

The famous Kenroku-en Garden at Kanazawa. I can't believe it we are goin all the way to the West Cost of Japan just for this!!!! One of the 3 great gardens of Japan. It's only during Winter there's Yukitsuri - long bamboo perched from below to support and protect the trees and shrubs from snow.

Snow are heavy yo!!! Yeah so those conical shaped bamboos tied with ropes are not permanent features, just during winter to protect all the beautiful pine trees. Gosh this pic looked....so cold.

 the famous Winter Illumination event at Shirakawago.

This destination was added much later on into our itinerary. Because there's only 7 days a year you could see this winter illumination, and since we are like errrr 2 hours away...why not? Declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1995, I guess it should be worth goin? After JS saw all these pics, he went to do some not-so-lil shopping.....no.....not for clothes....but for more photography gadgets.

Now we have more gadgets and props to bring along vs winter clothing
-_-"
sigh......

and this exclude the lil drone-camera *the same one that was found, crashed on the ground of White House......yes Mr. Obama's white house*.

I can't imagine if we have to pack that 4 propeller drone camera onboard. IShhhhhhhhh. No doubt it's a fun toy and could fly up in the air to snap beautiful pics but it's really difficult to transport, oh well in my opinion coz JS said there's a special cabin size luggage bag just for this. I rather have a cabin size luggage bag space for my japanese snacks. See!! the different priorities in our lives :D


Winter also marks the season for this!!!
Ohhh yumms...I.AM.SO.GONNA.EAT.YOU!!!!

All the japanese snow crab are caught in the Sea of Japan. That's where we are heading. We are dead serious foodie. If u wanna enjoy something, just go to the source :))))

While Mr. JS doesn't believe in buying all these yummy food back *instead Monkey would be the one ta-pau-ing anything and everything home*, his philosophy would be, there's alwiz another time, and if u wanna eat it again....COME BACK!!! :))))

He said it so simply but hey there's so many other destination to go to, plus we are still slaves to our respective career so I don't think we could just catch a plane like boarding a bus and off we go!!!!

well....unless....unless both of us retire and roam the Earth together.
But this can't do for the moment. :)))) we have got more plans upcoming!!!!

 *pic taken from Beniya Mukayu, we will be staying at this ryokan*

oh look at those roe!!!! I am coming for u Snow Crab!!! U wait for me kay...in the mean time pls work hard and continue to produce more roe.....hihihihihi..... :))))

Both Mr. JS and Monkey are so looking forward to this short makan and sight-seeing trip. It would be for quite a while more before we can travel as much as we used to.

Well in life, there's alwiz opportunity cost. If u wanna roam the Earth everyday, u gotta let something go. So if u want that something so much, u gotta travel less....no matter how much u enjoyed it :)))
PS: NO I am NOT pregnant!!!

Stay tune for more of our adventure in the Prefecture of Ishikawa. :))))))



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Le Mole by Gerald Passedat, Marseille

We wanted to catch another sunset from our balcony before heading out for dinner, and so we did. Isn't it beautiful? The rocky islands, the criss-cross patterns on the sky created by the busy jetliners crossing the Mediterranean Sea. In Japan they called it wabi-sabi....beauty in imperfection and asymmetry.

Then we headed off in our pick-up limo to the restaurant, also helmed by the property owner Monsieur Passedat at another place in downtown Marseille.
WOW!!! MUCEM is a beautiful museum next to the Port. Le Mole restaurant is located on the top floor. We could already see it, brightly litted with an elevator dedicated just for the restaurant.
for security reason, we had to beep the intercom at the entrance of the neon light elevator before the glass doors were opened.
the concept here is minimalist, bare and futuristic too. The Artemide Mercury were decked around the ceiling of Le Mole. A few years ago, we almost bought this design but bcoz the concept of our home weren't similar, we changed to other designs from Artemide. But it's a really funky and clever design. Each set of Mercury has a "droplet" of bulb that shines back to the "Mercury" to reflect lights down. 

there's even a KiosQue selling simple and light food like sandwiches and salads. What a good idea for a picnic by the harbour. But Le KiosQue is only open during the day.

Couldn't resist all the bread here, crusty, with beautiful aroma fr the wheat. The only place that we can find such similar bread in KL is from DC Restaurant and Yeast. Oh ok, will try to blog bout these 2 places soon. I have many postings lining up behind. -_-

Appetizer of grilled sea prawns with confit of its oil, on top of root vegetables mash which was extremely velvety. It's so fine!!! and this place was supposed to be a casual dining restaurant. I could imagine it would be so beautiful dining here during the day, with the view of the sea, and occasional sunlights penetrated through this "Cube" of architecture designed by Rudy Ricciotti.

*pic taken from the web*
 The other facade MUCEM. Very intricate eh? The bridge links it to the old medieval fort.

it's really very organic and I lurve how the lights played shadows with this structure of fiber reinforced concrete.

Even at nite it's this stunning.
And we were dining inside this Avatar liked cube :)))))



We had a lovely flora white wines from Bandol, which is located between Marseille and Cassis. Though nearer to the Mediterranean, it is famously known as wine from Provence. But seriously, after our trip to this region of France, we enjoyed Provence wines more than we should...hahahaha yes it's so easy to drink, you could have it for breakfast/lunch/aperitif with your grill fish or sandwiches :)))) It's just so light and aromatics. 

and bcoz I mentioned salad...I gotta have a small portion to pair with my wine :)))) So u see it's all about the drinks...the food are accompaniment sometimes hehehehehe

JS had raw slices of fish with crunchy pickled greens. Simple and as usual, he's a calories counter.

Beautifully pan seared sea bass with seasonal mushrooms served with a very umami jus. Don't be deceived by the food here.....the taste was definitely not simple. Pretty complex for such a fatty fish. yummmness~~~~~

and I wanted Pork Roulette with even crispier skin :)))) Ahhh so simple and good portioning. There are certain evenings, when we can't eat that much. Age is catching up hahahahaha. I guess we are very picky with our food these days.

Wherever we go, there must be some certain portion of vege on request. This one came with the main course. Vegetables blanched in fish stock and mirepoix. Mirepoix is the flavour base in french cooking, consisted of mainly onions, celery and carrots. It's made into stocks for almost everything.

By the way there's a rooftop garden where Chef planted herbs and vegetables here in MUCEM.

Finally we shared a dessert


spot the resemblance? hehehehehe we then looked out the window and spotted the very same design. :))))

After our petit four JS was contemplating if we should walk home or not?
-_-" 
walk????
actually I don't really mind but bcoz the restaurant has got such good service, they've already prepared our transport for us to be chauffeured back to the villa, also own and run by the very same owner Monsieur Gerald Passedat. 


Marseille Cathedral was just outside, looking even more stunning at night :)))

I'm so glad we came here despite all the stories of Marseille not being safe. Frankly everywhere around the world, there's bound to be danger, including Switzerland. I have so many friends got pick-pocketed there. Not to mention Paris and London and Barcelona are dangerous too. So really, everywhere is dangerous, u just gotta watch out and take care of yourself, your belongings and stay alert at all time.


For more information on Le Mole:
Le Mole by Gerald Passedat
1, Esplanade,
MUCEM, Marseille,

France.
http://www.passedat.fr/