Catch A Chili Crab Hon

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy belated birthday . . .

Filed under: food, friends, Thailand — Shirley @ 6:45 pm

Well, not really, just a belated post. Wanted to post Mick’s big 6-0 birthday in the month of August but we’ve been so busy – awww just missed it by one day (it’s Sept 1 here as I write). We weren’t late on the celebration, in fact, we were early. We celebrated Mick’s birthday with our friends while we were in Bangkok.

We already knew that we would be in Thailand around Mick’ birthday and thought about taking a weekend trip out of Bangkok but, since Bruce and Leslie live there and Rachel was going to be there also, we decided to stay in town and celebrate. I asked Leslie to make reservations at the Blue Elephant. You may recognize the restaurant from our trip back in November when we traveled there with Linda and Alex.

The Blue Elephant Rest a cup of tea

Here is the gang, on our side of the table is our new friend Yeon-Jung, who joined up with us for the weekend from Singapore. On the right from the back to front: Bruce, Leslie, and Rachel (you should recognize everyone from other posts!)

the gang's all here

We decided that since no one could decide on just one entree, everyone would order something different and we would eat “Chinese style”. The chef sent an amuse bouche (on the left) to get whet our appetites; and we ordered a slew of starters, one of these being black pepper scallops.

amuse bouche black pepper scallops

The presentation was as pretty as the food was good.

My selection for dinner was a fillet of sea bass baked in bamboo on the left, and Rachel’s choice was Thai spiced spareribs on the right. I can’t remember all of the choices, there were lamb chops too (weird coming from a Thai restaurant!).

sea bass in bamboo ribs

During dinner a lightning/thunderstorm rolled in. While perusing the dessert menu the lights started to go out first in our area where we were seated, and then our whole room. But we noticed that the next room was still lit. Still not suspecting anything but the storm, we were puzzled until we heard the waitstaff coming in singing “Happy Birthday”. A surprise was being cooked up back in the kitchen to bring out Mick’s candle-lit cake. Rachel and Yeon-Jung bought Mick a cake and the restaurant was kind enough to serve it for our dessert. The restaurant also brought out a candle-lit ice cream sundae!

The birthday boy

Happy Birthday Mick, may you have many more and they are celebrated with friends on trips around Europe!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

It’s a bargain at S$199.00

Filed under: food, singapore — Shirley @ 8:03 pm

That’s $137.25 USD at today’s exchange rate of $1USD = $1.45Sing

I’m sure you’ve all received emails containing pictures of strange foods, funny vehicles and houses, cute baby animals, etc. And the square watermelon that was ingeniously developed in Japan to save space in the fridge.

I was meeting a friend for dinner at Plaza Singapura mall the other night. The atrium area is always featuring some sort of promotion; this week Carrefour (supermarket) is sponsoring the Japanese Food Festival. I stopped to see what fun things were being offered. The Japanese do the best packaging and fun, albeit, strange foods. Poking around I came up on this refrigerated case and Ta-da! spotted these, they’re for real! I was a little taken aback at the asking price . . . really?

Japanese Square Watermelons

They’re all wrapped up and tied with, appropriately, a gold bow. I’ve had people tell me I can’t take a picture of this or that food, I don’t know why. I do anyway because usually I’ve already snapped the shot; I took the top picture quickly and walked away incase this was one of those times. I took this bottom picture from the second floor.

Japanese Square Watermelons

I did just boldly walk up and take this shot! Let me know if you see one of these in your grocery store. I can’t imagine they’re popular outside of Japan. I wonder how much they charge for them IN Japan.

Japanese Square Watermelons

I wonder if they’re seedless – that wouldn’t be much fun, after paying all that money I would want seeds – I would want to challenge you to a watermelon seed spitting contest!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A proper pot of tea

Filed under: food, friends, singapore — Shirley @ 1:22 pm

Coming down to the wire on Rachel’s last week in Singapore. We’ve had a great time getting to know her in our two years here. We’ve shared a lot of cultural experiences, shopping trips, travels, and food – lots and lots of food. When Erin comes to visit Rachel is part of our family, they’re only a couple of years apart and get along so well. We too will be leaving Singapore soon so we’ve been sharing in all those “one more time before I leave”; one last time to see this or that, one last time to have that favorite food, etc.

Rachel mentioned she had never been to the Fullerton Hotel. She had been by it, used their taxi queue to get a cab, but never really been inside. It’s sits along the Singapore River opposite the Asian Civilizations Museum between Boat Quay and the Esplanade/Merlion Park. It was originally the General Post Office building but now transformed into a 5-star boutique hotel.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the afternoon tea offered at the Fullerton is a British-styled three-tier service. Not an “East meets West” buffet tea that also offers sushi, dim sum and other non-“tea” fare. Cucumber sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, was de rigueur. Each of our pots were enrobed in these beautiful silk cozies, color coded to our tea selection.

tea pot in silk cozy

Oops, we had already scarfed the cucumber sandwiches before I remembered to snap a picture. The right photo is the top tier that contained the puddings (dessert). The trays are set for two, and we were three, but the waitstaff comes around with replenishment so no one was left out, or left hungry. It’s amazing, you can really fill up on all these little bites of food.

savory/scone tier pudding

Music was supplied by a violin trio accompanied by an electrified piano (not in the picture because it was just a piano).

violin trio

It was very “civilized” as the British would say. A relaxing way to wile away the afternoon, sharing a cup of tea, a laugh, and some great memories. We’re going to miss you Rachel!


Thursday, April 30, 2009

C is for koooooo-kee!!!!

Filed under: food, friends — Shirley @ 1:38 pm

“Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven . . .” even if it’s a big conglomerate commercial oven, they’re the best things to come out of it. Yes folks, it’s that time of year again . . . The Girl Scout’s Cookie Drive! The number one and two cookie, and not necessarily in this order, are Samoas and Thin Mint, (eaten only after they’ve been seriously frozen in the freezer compartment of your fridge.)

I got a “care” package from a very dear friend whom I’ve known since freshman year of college. She’s got me pegged. THANKS CHRIS!  🙂

C is for kooookie!!!!!

This package is now dangerously accessible, dangerously.


Got milk?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New taste sensation!

Filed under: food — Shirley @ 1:19 pm

Summer is coming and who hasn’t sat at a newspaper covered table, a cold beer in one hand and crab mallet in the other, anticipating a bushel of Maryland crabs steaming hot and spiced up with Old Bay! Or maybe you’ve had the luck to be in Singapore at one of the seafood houses; a Tiger beer in one hand, and on the table, the famous Chili Crab in a dish drenched in a spicy sauce as red as the crab itself.

As a child, or now with your own child, going on vacation to the beach meant one thing . . . coming home with a hermit crab as a souvenir of your sand and surf experience. And you know the life span of a hermit crab is short, compared only to the bug in the mayonnaise jar caught in the backyard. But, I bet you didn’t know (and were afraid to ask), when that hermit crab has gone to the “big ocean in the sky”, you don’t have to flush it down the toilet; you can turn it into a snacky-snack! Though your child might be traumatized eating something they’ve named “Sandy”.

mr hermit

Yes, these are real little crabs. The largest ones are not quite an inch long. You pop the whole thing into your mouth and crunch. They’re cooked and coated in a sugar syrup, sprinkled with sesame seeds. And yes, by all means you should have a beer in one hand, and several more waiting. They’re fishy, salty, sweet, crunchy, and a little bit gross. That’s where the beer helps.

lining up for snacky-snack

They’re from Japan; and I am sure, if your curiosity has been peaked, you can find them in an Asian grocery store near your home. The next time you have friends over for dinner and a movie – set out a little bowl next to the buttered popcorn. If nothing else, they are a . . . “show stopper”! LOL! (oh boy, I’m sorry about that. It’s the beer talking 🙂 )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Confessions of a food junkie. . .

Filed under: food, singapore — Shirley @ 12:38 am

Mick and I went into town to run an errand, then grab lunch before meeting Rachel this afternoon to catch a matinee. The new Bond movie is showing and we wanted to see Daniel Craig’s second go at his role as Bond.

Lunch for us, as you may have guess over the past year has always been something we contemplate. But today I was just in the mood for a burger and fries!!! We’ve never been to a Carl’s Jr. and it was the feature burger at the eating contest back in one of the July posts; so, I suggested we give them a try. It’s also at the mall close to the movie theatre.

carl's jr

We didn’t super size our combo meal, it was bad enough to eat this as is. We did get the cheese and I got a side of guacamole.

burger and fries w/side of guac

I’m hiding behind my big sunglasses, because a food junkie doesn’t do “junk food”, but this a confession after all, so here I am!

hiding behind my big glasses

It hit the spot, washed down with a Coke. I think I’m set for a long time, back to chicken rice, or chicken briyani, or satay, or laksa, or . . .  anything else!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just another weekend in paradise . . .

Filed under: food, friends, singapore — Shirley @ 9:58 pm

Mick is back in the States so as much as I want to just hibernate, not that the weather here would ever induce you into hibernation, just the opposite; I’ve had a busy week, and weekend out and about.

Friday night –

I was invited to join Jeemes and Evan to take a ride on the Flyer at twilight to see Singapore segue into a city of neon and lights. The Flyer is already dressed in color against the darkening sky. It was cloudy and I had my fingers crossed on my way over to the Flyer that we weren’t going to get one of our evening showers.

starting the ascent

The Flyer is always in motion and so does the changing of colors. You hardly notice because you’re so mesmerized by the lights of the city and the streams of cars on the highway below; but I was able to capture the changes as we moved around.

green blue

The cabins, when they take on the purple-y hue, has an eerie space-ship like glow. This was like riding in a rainbow.

purple car and S'pore at night from above red

My ulterior motive for joining the guys was dinner. We walked over to Gluttons Bay. Yes, Gluttons Bay. There’s no pretense. What a great name for a hawker food court! No holds bar, no political correctness – just calling it straight forward. Satay was the target of our gluttony.

Find a table where you can, table sharing is always acceptable.

makansutra glutton's bay

. . . if the all the chairs are taken, just pull up a stool. There’s no shortage of seating, albeit there may not always be a table to pull it up to. The glutton god was watching over us because we walked right up to an empty table. I guarded our territory while the guys went off to forage for food – you know, the hunter/gatherer instincts.

grab a stool at Glutton's Bay

A Tiger beer, and many, many skewers of chicken satay. Sam, the owner of Alhambra Padang Satay was recently in New York for New York’s Singapore Food Festival. Sorry, no pictures of the satay because I couldn’t maneuver the camera and eat at the same time! We sampled some other fare but we came for the satay.

drink stand satay stand

Saturday night –

Jazz by the Beach at Sentosa Island Cool Deck

It was Rachel who found this event. We gathered up a group of friends, and ran into others, to head over to Sentosa Island. It had just started to rain when Rachel, Lotus and I left the apartment and we prayed that it would not be one of those ridiculously big downpours we get, or maybe it wasn’t even raining over on the Island. The storm stayed over the city and never materialized on Sentosa.

The sky looked pretty as evening was coming in. It was almost pleasant while we waited for the tram to take us down to Siloso Beach.

sky at the tram station jazz friends

The stage was set up to the right of the Cool Deck bar on the grassy area. The beach was right behind the stage; a more perfect setting, I don’t know where you’d find it. We were seated in the “bleacher” area opposite the stage. Next time it’s at a table with chairs, even plastic chairs would be more comfortable than the wooden bleacher.

a glimpse of the beach the crowd at Cool Deck

As we were waiting for the show to start a peacock hen flew up on the roof of the bar. I just liked the palm trees set against the sky 🙂  The jazz concert was very nice, we only stayed through the first set. Everyone was in agreement that we enjoyed the first entertainer – she had a much more jazzy style, think on the lines of Norah Jones; while the second gal was more jazz/rock.

peacock on roof of Cool Deck palm tree at dusk

Sunday –

I headed down to Little India to meet Evan, Lotus and Cody for lunch. I forgot it was Deepavali – Festival of Lights; when I emerged from the subway the streets were thronged with locals and tourist. Once a year they close off Campbell Street for a month, tent it from the elements, and fill it with color and people. You really can’t see very far into the street! Surely there was just enough room for me to get in there.

street decoration closed of street

Evan is still working down his check-off list of must try Singaporen foods. On the food list today was fish head curry. Banana Leaf Apolo is noted for its fish head curry. I did try to get the most dramatic shot of the fish. I know, it’s pretty ugly and it looks back at you, but it is very tasty and they did not make it enamel melting hot.

banana leaf fish head curry

I love the idea of eating off the banana leaf. You can use your fingers but I haven’t mastered doing that yet and most of my food fall off before I can get into my mouth so I resort to the spoon and fork. Cody told me to watch a kid at another table for instructions! ha! Along with the fish was butter chicken, chicken 65, rogan josh (lamb), and spinach with paneer. Lots of naan and rice; and drinks to tone down the fire of the chilis.

Lotus, Cody and Evan

During lunch Lotus noticed that it was raining, not raining actually, pouring down in buckets on and off. We lingered over lunch picking up the last tasty morsels hoping the rain would stop. So what do you do if it’s still raining after the tab has been settled? SHOPPING! After all they went to all the trouble to tent over the entire street for you. It would just be rude not to take advantage of their hospitality. Besides, it’s a festival and you know the prices are going to be low. And there’s always bartering.

sensory overload

It was fun, we were dry (well that’s all relative: dry from the rain, not from sweating in the heat of all those bodies with no air moving) – great energy all through the market. Lotus and I picked up a couple of these hanging trinkets. We were, though, getting a headache from craning our necks to look up at the dizzying array. This is likely my last Deepavali celebration and I don’t want to go home without some treasures to remember it.

Poking along, Evan stopped at one of the stands to pick up gifts to bring home. We got Lotus to model and give us a little belly dancing demonstration. You can’t tell but she is shimmying. She was a good sport but didn’t buy this outfit.

Lotus the belly dancer

It stopped raining long enough for us to leave the market and regroup. We had different agendas for the rest of the afternoon, so we went our separate ways. I grabbed the bus that comes straight up the main road and leaves me off a couple of blocks from home. The rain had stopped but it was starting to rumble again. I made it inside before another storm rolled in. It’s pouring out!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Filed under: Chiang Mai/Bangkok, food, Thailand — Shirley @ 1:37 pm

I’m taking you with us on a longboat trip (as opposed to a long. boat. trip.) out to the floating market, a short distance outside Bangkok. Sit back, careful you don’t get splashed by the wake of the other boats. That greenery you see floating in the water washes down the river in big clumps when the tide is high. I asked if it was edible and were the farmers losing their crops, but our guide told us it is fed for animals. Some of the houses we saw were “water front”, but mostly what we saw was just the backs.

longboat along the way

Our first encounter with a vendor of the floating market was this woman selling knick-knacks. We bought a couple of little things, thinking that we could pick up others when we got to the market. Unfortunately the market isn’t actually “floating” any longer.

nicknack lady

As we approached the marketplace we saw this little old lady paddling towards us. She looked about a hundred years old but probably stronger and more fit than I am having paddled these waters all those years.

vegetable seller

The few other boats we saw were moored next to a restaurant and was used as the kitchens! I’ve been whining and whining about my horrible tiny kitchen, and little counter space. Everything here on the boat is truly within arms reach! No need either for the annoying hood fan buzzing in your head, sounding like you’re cooking in an airplane, nor alot of kitchen clean-up necessary. . .  not so bad a set up really.

preparing floating kitchen

Ok, so the next time your standing at the supermarket deciding between chicken or pork, salad or broccoli; or in the kitchen with your head in fridge wondering what to fix for dinner, here are some ingredients you probably haven’t considered, or ever seen, or would consider even if they were available to you. Have you seen the show “Bizarre Foods”, or followed Anthony Bourdain on his eating/traveling adventures? We live some of those episodes, only we don’t actually eat!

If your kids won’t eat that pork chop or brussels sprout, imagine trying to get your kids to eat these. There isn’t enough ketchup in this world to cover this kettle of stew. I guess if the bugs are crunchy enough, they might be ok with a lot of ketchup. I don’t want to know.

a pot of "I don't want to know" fried bugs

Really, here are some actually appetizing foods, some in their original “wrappers”. We are so distanced from where our food is grown, and rarely see it before processing that we don’t know how they started out with the exception of our fruits, i.e., bananas, apples, berries, citrus, etc., which look like they do on their trees and vines. The exotic red and green fruit is called Dragon fruit. The flesh is white, speckled with little tiny black seeds; there is a red version too. Sweet, not too soft but not crunchy either.


Coconuts, and coconuts charred after the green outer shell is removed. Did you know that more people are killed by falling coconuts than any other means in countries where the coconut tree is abundant?!

fresh coconuts charred coconuts

Fresh beans and greens –

fava beans greens

Pink colored eggs that are ready for Easter. I think they were dyed. You can even buy pre-fried eggs.


Ingredients wrapped in leaves, or corn still wrapped in their husks both look pretty yummy.

3 for 50 Baht fresh corn

After reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, and starting on “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, I’m envious of the people who have access to these foods; fresh, in their natural state, and from local farmers. Ok so they eat those parts that we wouldn’t consider edible, but they don’t waste anything; and I’m willing to bet, but not actually taste, their cooking methods make those “parts” just as delicious. At least they can pronounce all the ingredients. We didn’t have time to eat here, and our friends are leery of trying things from the market, but I have to admit the aromas were inviting and I would have ventured at eating some of them.

Meat on a stick over a brazier, what’s not to like?

sausages on a brazier

The two ubiguitous ingredients that make Thai cooking, most all Asian cooking, and most all cuisines of the world delicious: garlic and chili peppers.

garlic garlands chili peppers

And when you’ve finished everything on your plate – dessert, or an afternoon pick-me-up. Can you go wrong with a crepe filled with marshmallow fluff and dried fruit? Or pop-in-your-mouth sugary candy drops?

fluffer candy drops

Further along in the market are flower/plant vendors, and your ever popular pet-of-the-month: well one of them I consider a pet, the other . . . At least I think they were sold as pets.

baby turtles eeek!

Time to forage in the fridge for our dinner ingredients, bon appetit!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Filed under: cultural events, food, friends, singapore — Shirley @ 12:11 pm

You know Singapore is noted for its food and eating as attested by my postings and obsession with food. They held the first Major League Eating Competition here to celebrate the last night of the Singapore Food Festival.

IMG_0260.JPG mle 2008

Our friend, Desiree, was invited to participate – she competed last week and earned an invitation to compete at the MLE competition in the chicken satay event. She was the only female competitor in this event!

Erin and Desiree

My brother Jack and I were able to get right up to the front center stage. This was both good and bad. We could see everything – both good and bad, photographers with “real” cameras got in our way – bad; and if any of the gurgitators (competitors) had a “reversal of fortune”, as it’s called in the competitive eating arena – we were within hurling distance – definitely bad!

They started the event with several food competitions involving local gurgitators; some striving to compete professionally. They downed Carl’s Jr burgers, curry puffs, otah, and chicken satay. These pictures are not for the faint of heart. I’ve kept them small so there is not too much “see food” detail 🙂 but go to Flickr to see more if you dare.

– burgers – this guy knew the strategy of dunking his burger in his water glass to slide those things down!

Carl's Jr burgers watered burger

Then came the otah – you had 2 kilograms (1k each container)

2 kilograms of otah otah gurgitator

curry puffs – 17 curry puffs

trays of curry puffs curry puff gurgitator

chicken satay – they each had 4 kilograms (1k each container)

4 kilograms of chicken satay Desiree eating chicken satay

The highlight, of course, was the eat-off between Joey Chestnut and Takeru Kobayashi! It was very exciting. Chestnut and Kobayashi’s competition involved chicken satay.

IMG_0415.JPG IMG_0416.JPG

Each of them had eight one-kilogram containers of chicken satay!


We helped countdown to the start . . . Kobayashi’s famous head toss

IMG_0424.JPG IMG_0455.JPG

IMG_0425.JPG IMG_0444.JPG

Kobayashi was the victor with 5 kgs – 486 grams eaten!


Joey put up a good fight but ate just over 4 kgs!



This was a fun event. Both of the guys had just finished the Nathan’s Hot Dog competition at Coney Island in New York on July 4th. I don’t know if I’ll attend another one of these, I think I’ve had my fill — no pun intended 😉

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A birthday to remember

Filed under: cultural events, family, food — Shirley @ 3:35 pm

Celebrities may have their bi-coastal parties, but you’ve not arrived until you’ve celebrated your birthday on both sides of the world! The “Bawlmer Hons”, and special guests, threw me a surprise virtual YouTube birthday party – complete with party hats, “gifts”, and a birthday cake. Thanks Hons!!!! Virtual Hugs to all of you back in Bawlmer.

Here in Singapore my family helped me to celebrate the “BIG ONE”. First we headed out to the Fountain of Wealth. The largest fountain in the world, to walk around the mini fountain at the center of the fountain’s base for good luck. You place your right hand into the water, make a wish, then keeping your hand in the water, walk around three times.

making wishes at the fountain

We finished just in time, at noon the main fountain rains from the ring above.

ring of wealth fountain turned on

. . . and being noon we headed into the Suntec Mall for lunch. As you saw in the pictures above the sky was grey and a storm rolled in. It was the first day of the Singapore Garden Festival and how better to spend the rainy afternoon.

A unique wall display to add that touch of texture and foliage.

reed and leaf disks

. . . an underwater fantasy


. . . nature takes over

in the forest

Can you see who’s depicted in the greenery?


. . . a world of color from a school entry

colorful mannequins

The storm passed and we did the next best activity in Singapore – shopping – before we headed home to regroup for the big birthday dinner. A nine-course feast at the Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant! Here is a sampling . . .


Appetizers of goose, crab cakes, scallops, and shrimp wrapped in tofu skin; roast suckling pig

OneTwoThreeFour.JPG RoastPigPlated.JPG

Peking duck and lobster

PekingDuckPlated.JPG LobsterPlated.JPG

Sea bass and tofu stuffed with a shrimp mousse

SeaBassPlated.JPG ToFuShrimpPlatter.JPG

Happy Birthday!!!! my family, friends, and chocolate 🙂 life is good!


P.S. A lady never reveals her age 🙂

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