Saturday, November 12, 2016

Michelin Meal at Candlenut Restaurant

Earlier this year, the Michelin inspectors made their way to Singapore and awarded their very first Michelin stars to our local restaurants!  Singaporeans being the hypercritical, food-loving people we are, we derived a lot of pleasure critiquing the Michelin inspectors' choices (a soy sauce chicken restaurant to get a Michelin star??) and commenting that obviously they didn't do a proper survey.  But nonetheless, it remains a source of pleasure and pride that a Peranakan restaurant made the list!

Now, I have been going to Candlenut Restaurant, off and on, for the past few years.  It used to be in the Duxton area, then moved to Dorsett Hotel, right on the border of Chinatown.  And now, since 1 Nov 2016, it has shifted all the way to Dempsey Hill.  I assume that the loss of accessibility will be made up for by the increase in publicity from that Michelin star.

Anyway, my colleagues and I decided to to try it.  So we wended our way to Dempsey Hill to sample the Michelin star cuisine.

As there were a number of us, we were able to sample a variety of dishes.  I think that where Candlenut shines is indeed in its rempahs - or spice mixes - which are aromatic and flavourful.  Their rendang was delicious, with the tender beef and rich gravy complementing each other well.  I also loved their wing bean salad, with the subtle flavours of lemongrass and lime in the tangy dressing.  Their charcoal grilled sea bass was perfectly cooked, although I really did find the serving rather small.  I found the sayer lodeh ordinary though (even though it came with a large prawn) and the ladies' fingers quite boring.  In general, I must admit that the plating is of a much higher standard than the typical Nonya restaurant, where the food is just scooped into the dish with maybe a little coriander or spring onion sprinkled on top.

Pictured below (from top-down): Ayam buah keluak, beef rendang, sambal sotong, charcoal-grilled fish, wing bean (kacang botol) salad.

Not forgetting dessert.... .... I think my favourite dessert remains the "Textures of Coconut", with the coconut sorbet sitting on a base of coconut jelly, topped with coconut cream and desiccated coconut.  It's so fresh and light, yet rich and creamy at the same time.  Sorry no photo - I was too greedy and forgot to take one (just tucked right in).

Is this a Michelin worthy meal?  To be honest, I don't see it as being so superior to other good Peranakan restaurants (and others are "better value" aka cheaper).  But it is a very nice restaurant and it was a truly delicious meal.  So yes, I would definitely go there again.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Nyonya Needlework

On the Curator's Tour
 The latest exhibition at the Peranakan Museum Singapore is on "Nyonya Needlework".  I had the pleasure of going on a Curator's Tour of the exhibition the other week, and learnt so much about the history of this beautiful craft as well as about the numerous beaded and embroidered exhibits!

The curator was at pains to explain two key points.  First, that "needlework" here was used as a generic term to cover embroidered and beaded items.  Second, that the exhibits may not have been personally made by the nyonyas themselves for their own use or that of their families.  Just like today, they may have been made by seamstresses/ shoemakers, or beadworkers/embroiderers who do this job for a living.  (There was one piece which was apparently worked on by the nyonya herself and the quality, according to the curator, was not so good).  I do tend to agree that the intricacy and scale of some of these pieces may have been beyond the scope of a normal household.

The exhibition is divided into 5 main sections: the first looks at needlework techniques and materials;
Phoenix in flight - detail from bed hanging
the second, on the auspicious symbols and elements which are often incorporated into the needlework pieces; the other three sections covered exhibits from Indonesia, Malacca/Singapore, and Penang.   Our curator showed us one of the oldest known examples of Peranakan embroidery - a simple bed hanging from Indonesia, which had been sent to a Dutch museum.  The date of acquisition, in the mid 1840s, had been recorded by the museum - it was really wonderful to see that even after all these years, the bed hanging was still in such good condition.

My favourite piece was another bed hanging, a very intricate bed hanging for a wedding bed which used a threading technique to thread the beads together.  It was a truly spectacular piece, designed to hang from the top of the bed.  The curator noted that it was likely used only for the wedding itself, given that it was rather heavy and not practical for everyday use.  Again, I marvelled that such a delicate item had survived for so long and in such good condition, that we could continue to admire it even today.

Aside from the intricate threading work (the technique has been lost in the mists of time), I really like the cute little boatmen, the animals (birds, a little dragon, and some other strange creature), and the beautiful, beaded fringe.

Threaded Wedding Bed Hanging

The exhibits also helped illustrate the practices and way of life of the Peranakan community.  Use of European motifs (e.g. light haired children, dogs, cats etc) showed how the community sought to emulate the western way of life, but adapted to suit their own preferences.  It showed how the community thought of itself as still very Chinese, as can be seen in the use of Chinese symbols and motifs as well.  The Penang section, according to the curator, presented the items used in the wedding chamber, such as a lovely embroidered silk tablecloth, wall items and clothing items.

I am just a very amateur beadworker (and I am not too sure that I want to embark upon a second pair of shoes at this point in time).  But somehow, I did feel that sense of connection to nyonyas past who had painstakingly worked on making this beautiful items to delight the eye.

There are many more photos of the exhibition to be seen at my Flickr site:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Long Table

The "Tok Panjang" is a Hokkien/Malay "portmanteau word" which means "long table", or a table liberally covered with lots of yummy dishes where the family serves itself, buffet style, on special occasions such as Chinese New Year or birthdays, etc.

It's also the name of a new restaurant on East Coast Road, which ironically serves a limited menu meant for individuals/ small groups having a quick meal.   Dishes like mee siam, Penang laksa, Nonya Lam Mee, etc.  There are a few mains such as babi pongteh, rendang, and sambal prawns, which can be purchased a la carte or as a set (which comes with rice and a serving of chap chye and itek tim).  It has also a selection of appetisers for sharing, such as kueh pie tee, ngor hiang, etc.

In general, the food is tasty and good as one would expect of restaurants under the House of Peranakan group.  I enjoyed the mee siam, which was sharp and tangy, and the Penang Laksa tastes like the real thing.  Even my father (who compares every bowl of Penang laksa to his grandmother's family recipe) said it was "quite good".  On another occasion we shared a babi pongteh set and sambal prawns amongst two people and it was probably just right for two light eaters.

Prices are reasonable too - though obviously a little more expensive than hawker centres.  But I did find the appetisers a little on the expensive side, as portions are small.

In the highly competitive restaurant scene, it's really a struggle for all these small restaurants to survive and thrive.  All I can do is publicise my favourites as best I can on this blog.

So here's wishing Tok Panjang well!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Tea on the Hill

Penang from Above
The last time I went up Penang Hill, I was around eight or nine years old.  My family is not big on holidays but we were on a week-long visit to Penang.  I remember us being taken around by our relatives, visiting the Snake temple and looking at the turtles at another temple. My brother was given a pair of terrapins by my grandaunt and somehow he managed to smuggle them back to Singapore, carrying them up the plane without being detected.  (We would have successive pairs of terrapins in the house for years, with the last one dying a few months ago aged about 20 years old).

The Funicular over the years
But one of the highlights of our stay had to be our visit to Penang Hill. For my brother and I, it was a real adventure to sit the little funicular railroad, chugging its way up the hill, as we watched the ground fall away beneath us as we moved ever higher and higher.  We stayed overnight in the little hotel there and I remember waking up and walking (and running) around on a misty morning - it was so strange and exciting for two children from sunny and humid Singapore. We never realised it could be so cold even without air-con!!  

Penang Hill today is very different.  There has been two changes in the funicular system since I last went there (this old poster really made me feel old).  No more chugging - its a smooth fast ride to the top.  The area is also a lot more developed, with an impressive viewing platform and far more little shops and stalls.  

English afternoon tea
It was a busy day, with everyone wanting a day on the hill that Saturday afternoon, so we queued for quite some time to make our way to the funicular.  But the journey up was worth it for the panoramic view of Penang.  And the beautiful flowering plants, which flourish in the cooler air.

Of course, my greedy family members were more interested in food than botany. David Brown's Terrace at Strawberry Hill for our tea. David Brown's is an old colonial bungalow, where presumably the British stayed whenever they couldn't stand the heat of the tropics any longer.  The area was formerly used for growing strawberries, hence the former name of Strawberry Hill.  We had ourselves an English afternoon tea of scones, sandwiches and dainty little pastries, eaten sitting by the "infinity pond" and the butterflies flying around us. Ah, the British influences are still alive and well in this corner at the top of Penang.

We walked around the hilltop a little before going down.  It was nice to see a mosque and a Hindu temple here, side by side, looking down on the city below.  But we had our driver waiting for us below and soon we found ourselves back in our funicular railway.  I stood in the front of the car and believe me, it's a lot more exciting than going up. 

Check out my other photos of Penang Hill here.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Penang Nonya Meal

Little Kitchen@Noordin Street
Surprising as it may seem, I have never had a meal at a good Nonya restaurant in Penang.  One reason is because of our insistence of chasing down every single lead we have on yummy hawker food.  Another reason is that my Penang relatives keep on talking about how "home cooking" beats all the restaurants hollow.  So they don't really have good suggestions for us.  Lastly, there are other good Chinese restaurants in Penang (eg the time I had a simple, tasty Hainanese meal).

So this time round we made special efforts to find a good Nonya restaurant to host dinner for our relatives.  After consultations/online research etc etc we finally found "Little Kitchen@Nyonya" which was located just behind our hotel.  The sheer convenience sold it for us.  

Lucky Bat
Having said that, there are a good number of reviews of the Little Kitchen online, such as this one. Set in a residential area, the restaurant is a family-run business and they run it from their own home.  All the restaurant "staff" are family members, with the host/owner Mr Loh taking the orders, his mother, wife and other family members doing the cooking and serving of the food.

The restaurant is actually the front reception room of the family home.  The family used to run a bird's nest business and there are samples of the nests on the walls and in big jars standing on the tops of the cabinets in the home.  Evidently the business did well, as this is a beautiful home - large, ornately decorated in the Peranakan style.  Cast-iron grilles adorn the windows and doors, and the rooms are decorated with beautiful plaster mouldings and with lucky symbols such as the bat (which represents the five fortunes of good health, wealth, longevity, virtuousness and a peaceful death) on the pillars. The furniture looks mostly antique - from the old carved cabinets, the massive dark wooden chairs, the wood-and-marble day bed, etc etc.  It looks and feels like what it is - a traditional family home.

Family dining table, also used when the diners overflow
restaurant area
An ornate screen separates the restaurant area from the family area. Whilst the restaurant is meant to be confined in the front reception room, on busy nights, it overflows into the family dining area behind.  The kitchen is traditionally located at the back of a peranakan house but in this case, they moved it to the adjacent garage/driveway to be nearer to the dining area.  Not many households would have had a car in those days, so you can tell that this was indeed a well-off family!

There is a set dinner of about 8 dishes (a soup, vegetables, chicken, prawns, fish, curry, meat, rice) for RM128 per person.  There's a 5 dish set as well, and a more expensive set but this is the one we chose.  Food is traditional Penang nonya, cooked by the women of the family.  According to the owner, Mr Loh, they decided to start up the restaurant because his mother was lonely and bored after her Husband died and she had no one to cook for.  She's now in her eighties and still going strong!

Mrs Loh senior preparing Nasi Ulam
The food also comes with free flow of drinks - nutmeg (hot and cold), longan tea and green tea.  Prepared in advance, you can help yourself from the large thermos flasks on the sideboard.  There's kueh kueh to start off with, and dessert to end up with.  After our kueh kueh, dinner proper started off a traditional nasi ulam, the mixture of rice and finely chopped herbs and dried prawns which I've written about in an earlier post.  This is indeed the highlight of the meal, where Mrs Loh senior slices and dices the herbs finely whilst we watch and admire her knife skills.  Mr Loh explains the dish and presents the herbs which are used in the dish.  He even gives a little quiz and hands out a prize to my aunt, who gave the right answer.  Together, they give a polished performance.  Mr Loh admits that his mother still won't let him wield the knife as she says his knife skills just aren't good enough.  Light, fresh and tasty, the nasi ulam doesn't last long as we eat it with gusto.

The other dishes come quick and fast - pig's trotted soup, chincalok pork, prawn and pineapple curry, my favourite four-angled beans and lady's fingers with sambal, kari kapitan (chicken curry),  and the tangy achar fish.  We finished off with pulot hitam, the black glutinous rice porridge served with coconut milk.  The food won't win any prizes for presentation ("plating" is certainly not a concept known in the Peranakan kitchen), but for good, hearty traditional home-cooked nyonya food - this is a winner.  

More photos on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

We're all going on a durian holiday

Durians in my uncle's house in Georgetown
Durians, durians!   For a number of years now, the ambition was to go on a family holiday to Penang to eat durians.  Finally (after some shoving from my cousin) we fixed the dates at Christmas, bought tickets in February and made it down at end July.  As always, it was our opportunity to catch up with family members and also find new places to eat.

But first, our main target: the durians.  My cousin was all for pre-planning, identifying the best durian stalls/farm.  Which we did, somewhat.  But at the end it was not really necessary.  My Penang Uncle said that the stalls in town were "not good value", his code phrase for "too expensive" and bought our first batch of durians for us on Day 1 (a friend of a friend brought them in from the farm).

Durian cultivars, Malay names
On Day 2, our MPV driver (we hired an MPV) drove us to a roadside stall somewhere near Balik Pulau where we ate durians fresh off the farm.  Don't ask me where - I have no idea.  One road in the hills looks much like another. 

What's the big deal about durians in Penang, the uninitiated might ask.  First, obviously it is the freshness of the durians - just off the farm.  Second, the sheer range and variety of durians available.  And I'm not talking about the standard D24 or Mao Shan Wang (although these are definitely available).  Penang durian farmers take pride in cultivating new and unique durians, with names such as  "Ang Hae", "Cheh Pui", "Or Chih", "Capri" and many others (the first two are Hokkien phrases meaning "red prawn", "green skin" and "black thorn"). The names are also translated into Malay (literal translations).  See more information here and here.

Our roadside stall
A true connoisseur would probably have a good time sampling each durian as though it were a rare wine and recording tasting notes to better recall the distinctive texture, flavour and colour of each cultivar.  Alas, my family members are clearly not true connoisseurs as our only instinct was to eat as fast as we could in order to get our (un)fair share of durians before the flies got on them and the other members of our greedy group got to them.  Nonetheless, it was indeed a truly memorable gastronomic experience up there in the cool hilltops of Penang, enjoying the rich flavours and yummy goodness of the King of Fruit.

Sadly, there was no Day 3 feasting as we were due to return to Singapore.  We'll have to wait till durian season comes around next year.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Makeover Time!

Yes, I've refreshed the background and colours and font for this blog.  Was getting a little tired of the old look.  Hope you like it!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Historical Malacca

I've visited Malacca so many times over the years, but (I'm sorry to say) I've never been that good at visiting its museums.  Aside from the Baba and Nonya Museum and the Jewellery Museum of course :-).  This last visit was different and we spent a few hours at the Malacca Historical and Ethnography Museum.  Located in the Stadhuys - the centre of Government under the Dutch - the history museum covers the history of Malacca, up to the Independence of Malaysia, and the ethnography museum covers the rich culture of the different ethnic groups which live in the little melting pot in this corner of Malaysia.

I'm certainly glad that we made the effort to visit.  It is first and foremost such a relief to find a cool refuge from the heat of our tropical weather.  More importantly, the museum really explains well how the historical developments over the years have created the vibrant culture of its people today.  The two are indeed inseparably linked.  

As I learnt in my Secondary school history lessons, Malacca started off, when Prince Parameswara left Sumatra and found himself a refuge and opportunity to start a new town off the coast of Malaysia.

Admiral Cheng Ho 
 Over time, the town became an important centre of trade in the region, with the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho helping to establish trade links with China.  Indeed, a gigantic statue of Cheng Ho stands proud just outside the museum where he can presumably oversee the activities around him. Relations with China were so good that a Chinese princess, Hang Li Po, eventually came to Malacca as the bride of the Sultan.   The museum traces, through paintings and dioramas, much of this early history of Malacca.  The heroes of this time - Hang Tuah and his "brothers" - are brought to life, as is the tragic tale of how the Sultanate eventually lost its fight against the Portuguese invaders.

The Portuguese of course gave way to the Dutch, and then the British came and took over Malacca.  Malacca became part of the Straits Settlements, together with Penang and Singapore.  Malacca subsequently played an important role in the dawning of political consciousness in Malaysia and Singapore, producing two men who would eventually play key roles in the newly independent countries of Malaysia and SIngapore. - Tan Siew Sin, who would eventually become the Finance Minister in Malaysia, and his second cousin, Goh Keng Swee, who would take up a similar role in Singapore. 

So much for the history - but how would this shape the people and community of Malacca?  Well, Hang Li Po was accompanied by her ladies in waiting.  Intermarriages between the ladies and the local community, and with new merchants from China, led to the beginning of the baba/Nonya community in Malaysia. The coming of the Portuguese, started off the Eurasian community.  

Chitty family at their baby's first month
hair-cutting ceremony
As the Portuguese came by way of Ceylon and Goa in South Asia, the Indian community began to grow together with quite a unique group of Chitty Peranakans - the product of intermarriages between the Indian migrants and the local Malay community.  Just like the Chinese Peranakans, the Chitties also adopted the language, dress and to some extent the practices and food of the local community.  More about this community can be found here.  Other than Malacca, I don't think that this particular Peranakan community had established deep roots in either Singapore or Penang, so it was a rare opportunity to learn more about them.  I especially enjoyed the video shown on the different communities, which featured the Chitties.  Used as I am to the Chinese Peranakan community, it was so interesting to see all the Indian Chitties wearing kebaya - reminded me of Racial Harmony Day in Singapore!  

The museum also contained that "must have" for any Peranakan museum - a wedding bed.  Of course, I prefer the one in Singapore's museum :-). 

In short I would recommend that new visitors to Malacca spend some time at the history and ethnographic museum.  It also gives admission to the Governor's House Museum and the Museum of Malay Literature, and brings visitors to the foot of St Paul's Church.  It's a good way to spend a hot and humid afternoon!

Aside from making my shoes and visiting the museum, I have to admit that it was otherwise the same-old, same-old, of eating and shopping. I've written so many posts and taken so many photos of my visits to Malacca over the years, that I really don't see the need to just contribute another food/shopping related post.  But in brief, we visited "Baba Charlie's" - where knowledgable locals and Singaporean visitors go for the best Nonya kueh-kueh (and sambal belacan), and revisited places like "Eleven" and various chendol outlets around the city.  We also tried out new places and even sampled a new food creation - Baba laksa kahwin nonya Assam laksa from Jonker 88 (that's the big photo in the photo collage of my Malacca eats below) - and gave this lighter curry with sour Assam undertones our blessings for a happy marriage.  Of course we visited our favourite goldsmith and didn't go away empty handed.  

Clockwise from top left: Baba laksa kahwin Nonya assam laksa, hotel breakfast, rojak, satay and Or Chien (oysters with egg - aka Or Luak in Singapore 

If interested, my older posts are here and Flickr photos here.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Up in the clouds... My Sparkly Pink Pair of Kasut Manek

I took a trip down to Malacca last weekend. Having finished off my beading work, it was time to transform it into a pair of shoes.

My friend told me about a Singapore shoemaker. But said also that he was very busy, and as such could take some time to finish the shoes.  Impatient me, I could not wait.  And since we had this trip to Malacca lined up, I decided that I'd see if there was a shoemaker who could rush my order.  

Truth be told, I actually arranged my trip to Malacca partly also because I needed some push to finish off my shoes.  Well, it worked, didn't it?

The first shop we went to, sadly could not do it in time.  This meant that they would have to post it back to Singapore.  Not an option for someone who has spent six years beading her precious shoes and doesn't want to risk the shoes going astray.

Fortunately the next shop we found could do it in 48 hours, albeit at an express rate.  And the best part - it was in front of our hotel!  And they had this vibrant pink leather to pull the shoe together.   And the next day when we walked past the shop we saw the shoes in the process of being made.  It was an exciting moment!  

I was so pleased to pick them up the next day.  Don't they look absolutely gorgeous!

For reference, the shop is Wah Aik and it is along Heeren Street, aka Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Done at last! My 6-year beading odyssey

It is with great pride and happiness that I announce the completion of my kasut manek, or Nonya beaded shoes.  I started these off originally in early 2010, thinking that it would take me maybe a year to complete.  Little did I realise ...  ... I overestimated the amount of work available and the time I had to spend on this project.

Be it as it may, let me share the last sequence of photos recording the completion of this massive task.

The pattern I used was the "cloud forest" pattern.  The clouds are supposed to be in different colours but I decided to keep them all in pink, to go with my clothes (and one of my kebayas.

The full sequence of photos documenting my progress on the shoes can be found in this Flickr album.

The next step, of course, is to actually find a shoemaker to transform this into a pair of sparkly shoes!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Celebrating Easter

Whilst everyone in Singapore is enjoying a lazy long weekend, observant Catholics, on the other hand, spend a lot of it in church. Starting with Maundy Thursday, what with the washing of the feet and the holy hour (I skipped it this year), then the Good Friday service (2 hours long) and Easter Vigil (3.5 hours) on Saturday night.  Then we have a big Easter lunch on Easter Sunday to celebrate.  What with cooking and eating (and sleeping off the lunch), that's the whole weekend gone.  And this year, I decided to further eat into my weekend by making Hot Cross Buns on Saturday afternoon (they took me 4.5 hours, including the time for proving and baking, and tidying up).

Hot Cross Buns have always been associated with Easter, what with the symbolism of the cross, the spices in the bun and the bread, to be broken and shared.  But its first mention, according to the BBC no less, was in 1733 in that famous old ditty, "One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns". Clearly the buns had staying power as they are still around today.

I made my buns from a Paul Hollywood recipe, from his book "How to Bake".  You can however find a similar recipe hereTo be honest, I had tried making them last year but they were not very pretty and looked more like rock buns.  Fortunately, appearances were deceptive as certainly the buns were fluffy and soft on the inside.  My buns still weren't that pretty this year (I decided against the apricot jam glaze) but the cross is nice and clear.  What I like about it - the inclusion of the apple - its tart flavour contrasts with the sweetness of the bun and the dried fruit peel and sultanas.  

I managed to finish the buns just in time for a quick shower and a hurried dinner before rushing to Easter Vigil.  Need to go early, to get a good seat and before the church is plunged into darkness.  

Indeed, it is a special moment, the hush (at least it would be a hush if people weren't still coming into the darkened church and others weren't talking) in the church, just before the start of the Vigil.  Outside, the great fire is being lit, and from the fire, the Pascal candle is lit before being brought into the church.  And from this one candle, all our little candles are lit.  It's really such a beautiful moment, when all the church is slowly coming alight, and each of us contributes to it.  Then, we have the glory of the Exultet (beautifully sung by our MEP priest).

Here at Holy Family, also celebrate the baptism of adults entering the church.  And we get another round of candle lighting as the newly baptised too get their own candles.  It's a joyous moment, alleluia.

P.S.  Yes, I'm late with this post.  Easter Sunday was on 27th March 2016, some two weeks ago.  I've been busy!  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

St Joseph's Church - the Portuguese Mission at Victoria Street

St Joseph's Church
St Joseph's Church at Victoria Street has played a rather unique role in the history of the Catholic Church in Singapore.  For many years, it was known as the "Portuguese Mission", where the Portuguese missionaries (headquartered then in Macau) had their base.  It served the "Portuguese" community - or the Eurasians of Portuguese origin in Singapore.  My friend and her family, for example, used to go there every Sunday for mass.  Not me and mine, though.  Being more of Scots origin, we did not have this tradition and so, as good Katong-ites, we went to Holy Family.

This being the season of Lent, Catholics normally go for Confession and the various parishes in Singapore will hold Penitential services to facilitate individual confessions for those who seek it.  I managed to miss the two sessions in the two churches nearest my home.  So I checked up the dates for the other sessions and noticed that the St Joseph's session was rather conveniently timed.  So, I decided that it was about time I stopped being so parochial about going to my home parish and instead take a trip to Waterloo Street and go to one of Singapore's historical churches for a change.
The Roll of Missionaries

I'd been to the church most recently about a year previously, soon after the famed stained glass windows were restored, and spent a quiet hour there, praying and (ahem) taking photos.  The old high alter, the ornate carved lectern, the statues of the saints around the church, old wooden pews, the tiled floor, the high vaulted ceiling - it is truly a beautiful, historical church reminiscent of European Churches.  A plaque near the entrance lists all the priests who have served in this community church, starting from Fr Francisco Maia in 1825, just 6 years after Sir Stamford Raffles founded modern Singapore.

But the windows were truly breath-taking, with their beautiful jewel colours, the workmanship and artistry which just shone through, inspired a feeling of awe within me.  

But when I went there for the Penitential service, it was night and so there was no light streaming through the stained glass, the statues of the saints were all shrouded in purple cloth.  I had therefore no distractions as I examined my conscience and prepared for Confession.

St Joseph's Church was completed in 1912, replacing an older building on the site.  It has been gazetted as a National Monument and as such, the National Library website has a most informative page  on it.  But to really experience the beauty, and rich history of this church, only a visit will serve.  

Baptism of Jesus

Stained Glass Window above the Altar

It's almost Easter!  So to all Catholics, may you have a holy Holy Week ahead!  Happy Easter!

(Note: St Joseph's church is the only one in Singapore which has a Latin Mass, every Sunday at 3pm. It's on my to-do list, so maybe another post is in the wings. :-) )

Monday, March 07, 2016

Almost there, after six years

I have been deliberately holding back this post, so that I could unveil in its full glory the one shoe I have finally completed!  After all, this is the sixth year I have been working on this one project.... .... If anything, I should get an award for perseverance ....

Of course it would have been wonderful if I could have unveiled two completed shoes, but unfortunately didn't quite make the time to finish it over the usually quite productive December period.  

Anyway, here are a few shots of the critical last stages of the left shoe:

One corner done

Sewing the last few beads on the other corner

And that's the whole shoe finished!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Old Bibik's Restaurant

It is a precarious business, reviewing restaurants.  The Singapore F&B scene is a highly competitive one and I have to admit that many of the restaurants covered in this blog have since closed.

But I do think that when I come across a nice restaurant, it is good to share the news.  It is in that spirit that I now embark upon this review of "Old Bibik's Restaurant".

Old Bibik's was formerly in the Lavender Street food market before the market was closed, and has now relocated to the MDIS building at 190 Changi Road  Famed for its rendang, the restaurant offers a range of nonya dishes and there's a handy list of one-dish meals which are good for take-aways.

We went there for lunch one Sunday afternoon - ate their famous rendang which indeed was tender and flavourful.  I really enjoyed the fried chicken wings - well fried, savoury.  Their "soy chendol" dessert, made up of a tau huay pudding-style base with the red beans and little green chendol "worms" on top, is also light and refreshing.    

Since then we have been back a few times and have always come away satisfied.  So, do give it a try.


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