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.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Choosing New York for Sushi

    No, I didn't jet set to New York for sushi. I have neither the means nor the time to do so. But it was a very tasty Japanese meal at an eatery called New York Sushi right in Ipoh.
New York Sushi is located at 24, Jalan Medan Ipoh 3, Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh.

     Despite passing by this restaurant many times, hubby and I had never given it a try. But after Lee, my food connoisseur colleague, raved about it, our interest was piqued.
     The menu was really extensive, ranging from Japanese to Western. It was not easy to make our choices as everything looked and sounded scrumptious. But we finally decided on sharing the American Dream maki, the New York maki and the grilled salmon in teriyaki sauce, in addition to a chicken katsu donburi solely for hubby and a seafood pumpkin soup for myself.   
American Dream maki (shrimp tempura topped with spicy lobster salad served with creamy sesame sauce and chilli herbs sauce)

New York Roll (soft shell crab tempura and spicy snow crab wrapped with kombu seaweed)

Grilled salmon in teriyaki sauce

Hubby's chicken katsu don

My seafood pumpkin soup (with a mussel, squid and prawn tempura)

Face of sheer delight

       Both hubby and I have a penchant for Japanese food and are particularly devoted to Sushi Zento as well as Mokuren in Ipoh. But after our first meal at New York Sushi, we agree that it can certainly give those two establishments a run for their money. 
       Ingredients were really fresh, fillings were wondrously generous and the rolls were incredibly innovative, probably stemming from the owner's vast culinary experience. But most importantly, prices were kept extremely reasonable!
       If you are wondering why would a Japanese restaurant be named after an American city, the answer is simple. The owner, Chef Eddy, worked in the United States for 12 years and had the pleasure of cooking for Bill Clinton as well as Sean Connery. But America's loss is Ipoh's gain because after spending so many years abroad honing his craft, Chef Eddy has now returned to Ipoh.
       To prove how enamoured of New York Sushi we are, we were back for a second meal in less than 2 weeks. But this time, hubby ordered a chicken teriyaki bento while I had a Paradise Roll all to myself.
Hubby's very filling chicken teriyaki bento, which also included a miso soup, fruits plus a chawanmushi.

Me and my Paradise Roll (shrimp tempura, spicy lobster salad and tempura crabmeat wrapped with yellow soybean seaweed and yuzu mango sauce)

        Hmm...when shall we go there again, darling?

Monday, 30 April 2018

Producing Little Shakespeares

        When time permits, I love to introduce acrostic poems in my classes. And I always include at least a session of acrostic poems in my English Language Society meetings. An acrostic poem is a poem where certain letters in each line spell out a word or phrase. More often than not, the very first letter of each line is used to spell out the message. 

As April draws to its end,
Perhaps it's time to 
Reflect on how much we've achieved
In these four months and
Learn from mistakes made.

        Students love it, especially, when I get them to write acrostic poems of either their own names or names of their classmates. Needless to say, I have to emphasise that only positive things get to be featured.

        But in the most recent English Language Society meeting, I decided to tweak the writing a little after coming across the idea in the Internet. I divided the members into four groups : 2 groups were named the Optimist Clubs while the remaining 2 were members of the Pessimist Clubs. Captains from each group came forward to pick a topic, which was then used to pen an acrostic poem. 

The rule : the Optimist Club can only describe their topic in everything positive and the Pessimist Club is only allowed to depict their topic in a negative light!

The results of their labour :
1.   The Optimist Club said 
Examinations are great
Xtra revision to reinforce our information
A plus will be claimed
Moms will be happy
Imagine a world with smart people
Nothing would stop me
A new hope is waiting
To be achieved
I will be the best!
Our knowledge will be tested
Never be last
Search for your standard!

2.   The Pessimist Club said
Exams are useless
Xtremely hard and boring
Always study until midnight
Mom scolds me every day
I hate exams
Nobody likes exams
A is impossible to get
Terrifying questions everywhere
Immensely suffocating
Oh my God!
Nobody welcomes exams
Sad life of every student.

3.   The Optimist Club said
I have a gem
Ready to be by my side
Let's go on a trip
Far away from the busy city
Resting on your shoulders
Inhale the beautiful sunset view
Never ending
Dreams come true.

4.   The Pessimist Club said
Great without them
Incredibly selfish and demanding
Respect nothing
Lack of sympathy
Furious when wishes are not met
Extremely impossible to reason with
No privacy for boys
Dreadful to meet.

Little poets hard at work
At the end of the session, I have not churned out little Shakespeares but at least, my charges appeared to have enjoyed writing the poems.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Filling Our Tummies at Tummy Bowl

      Duty beckoned and hubby had a work-related dinner to attend. Having to fend for myself, plans to dine with two of my colleagues were duly hatched. Upon the recommendation of another colleague who regularly sniffs out noteworthy eateries, we proceeded to Tummy Bowl after school. 
Tummy Bowl is located at 4, Persiaran Greentown 8, 30450 Ipoh, Perak.

      Located in Greentown, Tummy Bowl is a new kid on the block. I rarely head to this part of town so it was an eye-opener to me to spot many new restaurants. I wonder how many can stand the test of time, though.
       Tummy Bowl brings us closer to Hawaii as it's all about the Polynesian hype of poke bowls. For the uninitiated, the poke bowl food trend is taking the world by storm. A classic poke bowl would start with a base layer of rice followed by seasonings and sauces, and finally capped off with a variety of toppings. The word "poke" means "to slice or cut" in Hawaiian and it's pronounced as "poh-kay". People with indecision may want to stay away from poke bowl though, as part of the fun is choosing the ingredients to customise your food!
        Here at Tummy Bowl, patrons pick up a form from the counter and scrutinise the menu to build their bowl.
Step 1 : Pick your base.
Step 2 : Pick 2 sauces.
Step 3 : Pick 4 sides and unlimited fresh toppings.
Step 4 : Pick your protein.
And there's an optional step of adding on house specialties, which would incur additional charges.
Obtain your order form here

Customise your poke bowl from this order form

A tempting array of cold pressed juices

Salad bar?

Intently packing our bowls
For my very first poke bowl, I opted for pesto rice to be drizzled with a tangy Lime Aioli sauce and a fruity Mango Coconut sauce. I then called for onions, corn, cherry tomato and pickled ginger to accompany my rice. Despite fresh toppings being unlimited, I suppressed any inclination for kiasu-ness by only choosing 4 : scallion, ebiko (fish roe), wasabi and fried garlic. And the star of the bowl (the protein) was Teriyaki Unagi (freshwater eel). Prices at Tummy Bowl are determined by the protein picked. So my bowl of Teriyaki Unagi was priced at RM26.90 and I had to add another RM2.00 for my rice to be tossed with pesto.
My appetising meal

Chose to rehydrate with mango, orange and blueberry juice

My poke bowl of Teriyaki Unagi

Lots of nuts and seeds in this Shoyu Salmon poke bowl

Almonds and avocado among other treasures in this Salmon Flakes poke bowl

My "damage" of the evening

        Looking at a poke bowl, it's reminiscent of a salad bowl. Those who know me well can testify that I generally shy away from salads. But this poke bowl had me ooh-ing and aah-ing throughout dinner. It was incredibly delicious and I finished every single morsel in no time. My fellow diners were  caught up in conversation and took a little longer to finish their meal. But they too agreed that food at Tummy Bowl is certainly yummy.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Taking Time Off For A Pleasant Lunch

        Work activities have taken precedence this month with exams, marking of exam papers and preparation for a royal visit to our school. But I managed to sneak in a lunch with one of my partners in crime on Monday.
Opens from noon till 10 pm on weekdays (closed on Wednesdays) and till 11pm on Fridays - Sundays

        Doi Chaang Coffee at Bandar Baru Medan Ipoh is one of the twelve branches in Malaysia. Doi Chaang is a village in Northern Thailand and it is where the coffee beans for this cafe are planted, harvested and processed. Although this cafe started operations in 2015, I'd not given this place a second glance till it was recommended by a foodie friend.
        I was in for a surprise. Before I could even step into the cafe, I was amicably greeted by one of the baristas. "Miss Chan! Remember me?" he enthused. The face was familiar but the name escaped me; to avoid hurting the young man's feelings, I promptly smiled and lied.
        Orders were made and paid for at the counter. I ordered a cappuccino to go with my smoked salmon pesto spaghetti (RM23 for a set) while my partner in crime had the same pasta a la carte (RM19.90).
My cappuccino with its nice coffee art
My smoked salmon pesto spaghetti (love the almond flakes)

        The cafe was cozy, with both sofa and dining table setups, lots of magazines for reading and some interesting artifacts for photoshooting. Service was brisk and pleasant. And the complimentary wi-fi service gave the hare a run for its money.

Eye-catching range of Malaysian-made soda called The Tapping Tapir

Quirky artifacts

Mummy pointed out this vintage radio

        Yes, the coffee tasted good, not too darkly roasted. But I must say that I'm more partial to the coffee at my favourite Six And A Half. Yes, the pesto based pasta was not drenched in oil as the one in Three Little Pigs & The Big Bad Wolf is, but it lacked the extra yum that was served at the latter. 
        All in all, it was an enjoyable eating experience, and I would love to return with my other partner in crime, and especially to triumphantly call my ex-student by name, to prove that I do indeed remember him. I'd spent the entire lunch trying to dredge up his name from my grey cells, but it just eluded me till later. I'd barely driven 5 minutes away from the cafe when all of a sudden, the name popped up! And that's how it is with my failing memory 😎