Saturday, 16 June 2018

Sharing Soy Goodness

         Have you ever gone to a soya bean milk cum soybean pudding (tau foo fah) stall and you were torn between which to order? Now creative proprietors have paired them both together in a bowl to satisfy aboulic tastebuds. Some have taken it one step further by crafting a new 3-in-1 flavour : soya bean milk, soybean pudding and glutinous dumpling (tong yuen) all swimming in one bowl.
     Visitors who flock to Ipoh usually have one name in mind when they think of soya bean milk and soybean pudding. But we locals shun the famous Funny Mountain because we know where to get better renditions at much lower prices. There's a famous one in Bercham but I prefer a mobile truck that operates along the main road of Ipoh Garden East in the afternoons. I would have my soya bean milk with the palm sugar syrup (gula Melaka) and for the soybean pudding, I like mine with the ginger syrup.
3-in-1...creative yummy dessert that's nutritious too

Stall no. 42 (photo taken from the Internet)

     And for the best 3-in-1, I head to Stall no. 42 at the food paradise outside Stadium Indera Mulia. At a reasonable RM3.50, you will get a bowl of silky smooth tau foo fah mixed with a delicious full-bodied soya bean milk that's not overly sweet, 1 tong yuen with ground peanut filling and another tong yuen enveloping black sesame. They can even accommodate requests for 2 of the same fillings in a bowl. 
When you can't decide whether to have soya bean milk or soybean pudding, why not have both, plus some chewy balls?

     Even hubby, who does not have a penchant for desserts, was impressed with the taste and texture of the 3-in-1 that we shared over breakfast this morning. And he agreed that my father-in-law would probably like it too, when I said I plan to introduce it to Dad the next time he visits Ipoh.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Stepping Back in Time at Central Tilba

        Located approximately 18 minutes away from Narooma, Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba are two beautiful countryside villages. The latter, unfortunately, has been rather deserted but is still worth dropping by for a quiet village walk, especially to view or trek up Mount Dromedary, an ancient volcano in Gulaga National Park.
Shy horses at a farm in Tilba Tilba

Idyllic scenes of countryside at Tilba Tilba

     It was the former, Central Tilba, that really captured our hearts that summer's day. It's a perfectly preserved heritage village which allows visitors to step back in time, to amble along the cobblestone lanes, delight in the interesting stores and to relax in the many eateries. Both Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba enjoyed a time of prosperity during the gold rush of the late 1800s. But when gold mining dwindled in the early 1900s, these two villages turned to the dairy industry and added tourism to its income later on. For any visitor to the southern coast of New South Wales, I would highly recommend a stop at Central Tilba.
Now serving heavenly smells, but this was once someone's house.

     Hubby and I arrived there late morning. I was thrilled to bits, popping into the quaint village shops, especially Bath Patisserie. Anyone looking for sweet treats there would be sorely disappointed as what looked like slices of heavenly cakes were, in fact, delectable homemade soaps! The affable owner allowed us to take photos here and there. Needless to say, I did not leave Central Tilba without a delightful memento so I bought a Persian Lime and Lemongrass Body Scrub from Bath Patisserie.
"Cake slices" and "cupcakes", anyone?

With my Central Tilba loot

     TripAdvisor reviews pointed us in the direction of Tilba Teapot Cafe and true enough, it was enjoying a booming business. We managed to get a table (fashioned from an antique sewing machine) outside the cafe, where we could share our Devonshire cream tea and enjoy the lovely view of the village at the same time. 
Step in for some heavenly treats

Derrick and I shared this Devonshire cream tea and cappuccino

     After devouring all the calories, we continued our walk in the village. At the top of the village street was a general store cum post office. It really felt like time had stood still. The bearded guy who runs the place was so amiable and we had a great time chatting with him. He recommended that we venture up the lookout on the hill, which we did, and were rewarded with great views of the valleys down below. And there was a very friendly horse, who refused to let Derrick leave her!
View from the lookout on the hill

Derrick makes her acquaintance

Miss Horsey falls in love with dashing doctor from Malaysia


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Cementing Ties Over Dinner

        Food indeed brings people together and gathering to share a meal is great for cementing friendships. As the first semester draws to its end, we gathered after school for another dinner to toast to the completion of half a year's work and more importantly, to celebrate a dear colleague's promotion.
A terrific bunch to work with!

        Tonight's dinner venue was at De China Restaurant at Medan Bercham Selatan. Fans of steamboat would be delighted to indulge in a variety of superior soup for their hot pots. The coconut pork tripe stew chicken soup came highly recommended by Pn. Jot, who had recently been to this restaurant. We took one slurp of the sweet and aromatic soup, and we were instantly hooked.
The various soups for the hot pot stock

All ready to receive treasures

        In addition to the treasures for our hot pot, we ordered two small cured meat rice casseroles to be shared among the ten of us. That was most delicious too.
Lap mei rice casserole
        As the soup bubbled away, we added quails eggs, handmade dumplings, frozen bean curd, Australian lamb slices, shrimp balls, handmade meat balls, taro fish balls (everyone agreed that these were super yummy), an assortment of green vegetables, grey mushrooms, golden needle mushrooms,wood fungus and noodles. 
Dig in to scoop up treasures
        The sumptuous meal came up to RM414.00, which was rather reasonable. More importantly, the meal was shared over tons of laughter.
        And just when I thought tonight's dinner was over, a surprise was sprung on Mr. Foo and I. To celebrate our forthcoming birthdays (both of us share the same birth date), they brought out a lovely mango cake. We had no clue at all, and it was such a pleasant surprise. Merci beaucoup, mon cher collegue!
Beautiful and yummy cake from Purple Moon Valley

Mr. Foo and I share the same birth date, 11 years apart

Birthday boy fires up the candle

Puffer fishes at work!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Viewing Australia in Narooma

          Situated 358km (4 hours 34 minutes) from Sydney, Narooma is a great base for exploring the south coast of New South Wales. Besides looking out for the Glasshouse Rocks (mentioned in, Derrick and I were also in Narooma to marvel at the Australia Rock.
        A favourite among tourists, Australia Rock offers great photo opportunities. With a bit of imagination, one can see that the hole in the rock bears a striking resemblance to a map of Australia, excluding Tasmania. Stories abound as to how this hole in the rock came about. One common story explains that this rock formation was the result of a ship being moored to the headland with large chains, inadvertently creating the hole, which was further worn away by heavy seas.
        We were there late in the evening, when the sun was down and the hordes of tourists had left. It was indeed a terrific spot to snap some shots. I was thrilled to see for myself that the reviews on the Internet were not overrated and that the outline of Australia could clearly be viewed. 
Australia Rock

Enjoying Australia Rock together

        A short stroll from the Australia Rock was equally rewarding as we could see the seals. With the cool evening breeze fanning our faces, we were entertained by the antics of the seals resting on the rocks. Some were playful while some just preferred to be left alone in their dreamland.
Slumber party

Seal A : What a lovely dip in the cool waters!
Seal B : Sssh! Don't disturb me! 

Getting territorial!

"With all the cameras clicking away, I feel like I'm a Victoria's Secret Fashion Model."

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Harvesting Treasures Amidst Laughter

        Taking advantage of early school dismissal during the month of Ramadan, my colleagues and I gathered at Oceanville Seafood Restaurant for a sumptuous feast. Only one platter was ordered for the ten of us, but it was an enormous platter that was a sight for sore eyes and a scrumptious feast for the bellies.
Harvesting an Incredible Friendship

Grand Harvest and the belles

Mr. Chicken aims to give Pn. Chong a peck on the cheek

"See you later in my tummy, Mr. Grouper!" 

"Out you go, Mr. Chicken, and off you go back to the kitchen!"

Removing the fish head to return it to the kitchen for more magic

        The Grand Harvest Combination Platter (大豐收大拼盤), priced at RM685 nett for 10 persons, is a three-tier spread of nine different dishes, two of which were subsequently removed from the display and returned to the kitchen where they were skilfully reconstructed into three courses.
Dish 1 : Butter Grouper Slices

Dish 2 : Deep Fried Grouper Rolls

Dish 3 : 8 Treasures Balls

Dish 4 : Prawns Salad

Dish 5 : Crystal Prawn Balls

Dish 6 : Scallop in Hairy Gourd

Dish 7 : Braised Abalone

Dish 8 : Roast Chicken (which was later turned into 

8a       : Chicken Parcels

8b       : Stir-fried Diced Chicken wrapped in Lettuce

Dish 9 : Grouper Fish Head Vermicelli Soup

        Cameras were happily clicking away, friendly banter was free-flowing, great camaraderie was was no wonder that the exquisite feast was completely finished in no time. 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Encountering The Unexpected

         It was tranquil all around, with nary a sound. Just perfect for a snooze. So I reclined the front passenger seat of our rented Nissan X-Trail and closed my eyes.
     Suddenly, I heard some soft music in the distance. My ears pricked up. It couldn't be...there shouldn't be. I sat up and looked around. The music had stopped and I couldn't see anyone or anything. It was as quiet as a graveyard should be. I was, after all, sitting in the car at the southern end of a cemetery in Narooma, New South Wales.
Eternal resting places in Narooma

     Strangely, I wasn't spooked. On the contrary, I was certain that I must have drifted off to sleep and had imagined hearing the music in my dream. So I lay down again and rested.
     And then, I heard it again!
     I bounced up and my eyes combed the entire cemetery to find the source of the music. It must be a funeral procession...hearse... casket...mourners...where are you? But there was nothing, I could see nothing. It was only me, the car and the tombstones.
     And then, I saw it!

     To be more accurate, I saw him!

     It was a lone bagpiper ambling in the far corner of the cemetery. And he proceeded to play a haunting melody.
A fine gentleman he was, and he has Scottish ancestry too!

     I blinked hard. But the figure was truly there and was not a figment of my imagination. I peered through the windscreen and observed that he was wearing a cast on his right leg. 
     My fertile mind whirled into motion. The romantic in me speculated that he and his wife must have been involved in a recent accident, which resulted in her untimely death and left him to recover from a broken leg. He must be missing her sorely. Thus, he had come to visit her resting place and to play her favourite tunes. 
     I continued to observe him from afar and to enjoy the bagpipe music. But the nosy parker in me had to have an answer. 
     Quelling a remote possibility that he was a deranged killer, I left the security of the car and walked across the cemetery to approach him. He was surprised to see me and I quickly introduced myself before politely enquiring why he was playing the bagpipes all alone in a cemetery.
     "I come here to play because if I did it at home, the missus would have a fit and kick me out of the house!" he answered.
     His reply burst my bubble but I complimented him on his playing. We had a brief chat. Then I asked if I could video him playing the bagpipes and he obliged with a short rendition of "Amazing Grace".
     Despite not being the stuff of a hopeless romantic, this encounter at the cemetery in Narooma was definitely one of the highlights of my 2017 New South Wales trip.

     If you are wondering what was I doing all alone at the cemetery, well, I was not entirely alone, to begin with. Hubby was pursuing the famous Glasshouse Rocks. To access them, we had to drive to the cemetery and park at the southern end. From there, we trekked through the forest. There was a fairly steep climb down the cliff to reach the beach. With my dodgy knees, I decided it would be more prudent to take some photos of the ancient geological formations from the cliff and then trudge back to the safety of the car to await adventurous hubby's return.
Beautiful shot of Glasshouse Rocks taken from the Internet
      I may not have gotten some great shots of the Glasshouse Rocks but I gained an unexpected encounter that will leave indelible memories.