Singapore coffee

Here’s an interesting read for you if you’re an overseas reader!

In Singapore and Malaysia, we have a unique way of brewing our coffee. It seems like it’s a local tradition found in these two countries only. At least that’s what my Dadster (who is an avid coffee fan) tells me. You can check out this blog entry of mine on a street vendor selling coffee in Bangkok, Thailand.

So what’s interesting is that the coffee beans are first roasted in butter/margarine/lard. Then, it gets grounded into coffee powder which is brewed and strained through a “coffee sock”. Here’s a video to explain

With American (I use this term loosely) coffee, there are many variations, e.g. long black, latte, flat white – there are the local variations of these as well.

A Kopi is the equivalent of a latte
A Kopi-o is a long black with sugar added.

Check out this blog: Angmohdan.com for the equivalents

Here’s a great infographic, courtesy of Burpple, that explains the types of Kopi!

 

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Seattle sight: University District farmers market

I love visiting markets – it’s this aunty-ness in me that finds it super fulfilling. The farmers markets in USA are quite intriguing and different from the local ones we have in Singapore – well, I bet they say the same thing when Americans come to Singapore.

BUT Singapore markets are so different. The Seattle market that I went to, was more of a “look see” market with fresh yummy homemade/home grown goodies and local farmer’s produce. Sounds like the ones we have in Singapore – nah, I think it’s quite different. Simply from the way these farmer markets are laid out to the type of produce they sell and crowds they attract. I also think, these farmer markets are more “hipster” than your regular Targets and Walmarts. Farmers markets are typically open on weekends only.

Coupled that with sunshine, breeze and 18 degrees weather, how more perfect can you get?

The market that I went to was Seattle’s University District Farmer’s Market. It’s a food market stocked with local produce, opened on Saturdays mostly.

I realise flowers are a big thing. In Singapore, we hardly buy flowers to display at home unless we get them as a gift

Mexican food for the day: Horchata (a Mexican milky drink) and some.. flour/meat mixture thing

For market opening days and hours, see Seattle Neighbourhoods Farmers Markets.

U District Farmers Market
5031 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
U District Farmers Market on Google Map

Of friends since 17 (and maybe a bit more)

I don’t really talk about my secondary school much, mainly because I don’t feel that I had a lot to take away from my teenage years. I also had to deal with an unfortunate incident, which, until now, is a pivotal point of my life.

My momster (that’s why I call my mum) once told me that I’ll meet my closest friends in Junior College (JC) and she’s right. Maybe because JC was probably the toughest two academic years of my life which my friends helped me through. And also, come to think about it, the longest number of hours I spend in school, naturally, your friends help you through the long hours.

Anyway, my JC friends and I, all stay round the corner from each other and no one moved away (yay). While we weren’t all from the same class, we met each other mutually, we clicked well and enjoyed spending time with each other. I’m thankful for all of them – they are some of the most selfless, un-judgemental and honest friends that I have. We’ve also grown and matured over the years together to understand that we each have our own priorities.

We stuck with each other through JC, National Service (Singapore’s conscripted army), university, relationships and now we’re into corporate life (and soon to be marriage for one).

Here’s a sweet story to share.

One of them, Ken, is an air steward. I used to ask him to bring pudding milk tea back from Taiwan for me. This was when he first started flying, maybe four years ago. A couple of weeks back, he actually texted me that he bought the milk tea from Taiwan to Singapore.

I was a little shocked and somewhat amazed to receive the text because he remembered… after 4 years. And sorry ladies, this manĀ  is taken (not by me if that’s what you’re thinking).

Now, time to think what else do I want from another destination…

(If anyone is wondering, these are old pictures from this year’s birthday celebrations so it’s not my birthday!)

SG Food: Milagro Spanish Restaurant

Actually, finding affordable and good food in Orchard is not that tough. I can easily rattle off places that are $10 and below. However, if you throw in the mix of nice atmosphere and great service, that place you’re looking for gets a bit more tough.

Also I get annoyed when wait staff judges me and my occasional dining partner…. aka Kindle 5.

I read about Milagro Spanish Restaurant in 8 Days earlier and searched for reviews online. Not many blogs/food reviewers have covered this gem despite the great and super value meals this place have! If you’re in the area, I’ll recommend heading here for the lunch set. As I would tell my friends, this is very “wu hua”, which means, worth it!

Milagro has a seafood and chicken paella for S$12 only and to be honest, it is enough and sufficient to feed two persons. Add $4 for a salad and cappuccino mushroom soup.

The paella comes with almost two of every seafood, which makes it really great for sharing! The paella had a slight tinge of spiciness and kind of resembles curry. This dish uses a short grain rice that absorbs the intense flavours very well.

The chicken pieces were tender and soft, the seafood had a bounce to them, very fresh indeed!

Cappuccino mushroom soup

Comes with chunky mushrooms

Usually, I go for chunky and thick mushroom soups. While this cappuccino veers on the watery and foamy side, the flavour was not lost. I enjoyed the soup very much a lot! It was perfect as a side.

Side salad that comes with a citrus vinegar dressing. The salad has orange inside.

The waiter even checked in with me to see if I liked my meal – how rare is that? My ice water was topped up without any request

And was surprised to see that there was no GST or service charge

Will definitely be back here again to check out the tapas for dinner.

Milagro Spanish Restaurant, #08-06/07
181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central
Opening hours: 12 noon – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm

Seattle: Crumble & Flake

I had lots of great food when I was in Seattle but Crumble & Flake was that one bakery that I’ll recommend all visitors to Seattle to check out despite its awkward opening hours. I don’t remember this place listed in major travel guides but vaguely remember seeing it online and on Trip Advisor.

It’s a little pretty nondescript bakery nestled in a corner of Capitol Hill.

As you can see, very sadly, I don’t have any pictures. The first time I went it was closed. The second time I went super early, before I headed into office.

I’ll recommend the Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Croissants, macarons and pink pepper shortbread. Go early as each batch of goodies are baked in small batches each day.

Address
1500 E Olive Way, Capitol Hill, Seattle
Crumble & Flake Google Map

Hours (or until sold out)

Wednesday – Friday: 7:00 – 3:00
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 – 3:00
Closed Monday and Tuesday

Seattle: Taylor’s Shellfish

Seattle is a coastal city with lots of seafood, cheaper, fresher and with way more varieties as compared to Singapore. I also liked that in US, sampler platters are very common, giving customers more options as compared to a single set item.

If you’re a fan of fresh oysters, then Taylor’s Shellfish is your thing. It’s somewhat like a mini supermarket/oyster bar at the same time. You can purchase the oysters unshucked or get them shucked and slurp them on the spot. Taylor’s offered numerous types of oysters from different parts of theĀ  Pacific coast, ask the staff, he’ll gladly explain them. I was at the Capitol Hill (Melrose) branch.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of oysters but I enjoyed the couple of oysters I sampled at Taylor’s, they were a little briny, fresh without an overly fishy smell and makes me think of the sea.

You can check out the menu

Numerous locations in Seattle but here’s the one I went:
Address
1521 Melrose Ave, Seattle, WA
Google Map

Hours:
Sun-Thurs 10am to 9pm
Fri-Sat 10am to 10pm

Seattle food: Dick’s Drive In

Dick’s Drive In was one of those names that kept popping up in my research for my Seattle trip. In fact, in 2012, Dick’s Drive In was voted as one of the “most life changing burger” in Esquire’s poll. There’s also a Reddit thread discussing In-n-Out (which I didn’t see) and Dicks Drive In.

There are seven locations at the moment and I went to the Broadway outlet, not so early one night.

When my US colleagues asked me what were a couple of places I’ll like to check out and I told them Dick’s Drive In and they went like, “yeah, it is a quintessential Seattle experience.”

Wrapped in gold foil

I had a deluxe, fries, a milk shake and tartare sauce. It was quite an inexpensive meal.

If you check out Dick’s Drive In menu, this meal would have cost:

$2.90 (burger) + $1.65 (fries) + $2.30 (milk shake) + 0.05 (tartare sauce) = US$6.90 which is about $8.50 in SG. If you change your MacDonald’s for a milk shake, it’s probably about this price. I would pay for Dick’s Drive In any day over MacDonald’s.

Dick’s Drive-In

115 Broadway E
Seattle, WA 98102

Kindle 5

I got my first Kindle in 2010 – back then it was super pricey as compared to now. Also, because I am very lazy and usually dislike waiting, hence, I got all three of my Kindles via dealers who ship Kindles into Singapore. Google is my bestie!

It did occur to me if I should just use my tablet as a reader but the reading experience is different different with a e-reader. I would tote around my tablet + Kindle any day. If you’re like me, I’d suggest to get a smaller sized tablet e.g. iPad Mini. I’m using an old 7.7 Samsung Tab at the moment.

My first Kindle was a keyboard Kindle, aka Kindle 3, which come to think of it, I paid a ridiculous amount for.

Sorry Photoshop skills were still lacking then

My second was the Kindle 4, which was still the most basic e-reader then because Paperwhite was not out yet (I think) and the other upgrade was Kindle Fire which is pretty useless in Singapore because we’re not able to access the Amazon ecosystem.

My Kindle 4 lasted me two years of rough tumble before it decided to freeze on me. Also, I had a tiny spot of dead pixels on the bottom left hand corner before it froze. The spot wasn’t an issue because I was still able to read.

So it was farewell baby, hello Kindle 5!

So the question is: why not Paperwhite? I had the chance to look and feel the Paperwhite when a colleague of mine bought it. It felt weird for me to use a touch screen to turn the pages, personally, I preferred the buttons to flip a page.

In addition, I don’t have the habit of reading in the dark at all, there wasn’t the need for me to use the back light Paperwhite comes with. Paperwhite has x2 the battery life of Kindle 5 but it’s not an issue for me too because I update my books very often, hence, it’s plugged in almost every other week. A Paperwhite would have cost me approx $100 more which I probably won’t enjoy as much as I would for a Kindle 5.

I got my Kindle 5 via an online dealer. I don’t know anyone else who ships in Kindle Basic anymore. I paid S$119 for the Kindle. The original price of a Kindle via Amazon is US$69 which is approx S$86. The service the dealer + shipping cost $33 which I thought was a fair price. I didn’t have to wait for the Kindle as the dealer had in stocks and offered a 7 day 1-1 exchange in case of defects.

FYI, my Kindle 4 died on Saturday and I bought my Kindle 5 on Sunday. I knew pretty much it was a gone case as it was a hardware issue. Based on past experience, each Kindle usually lasts me 2 years approx.

So my tactic this time round is:

Hopefully, with some extra protection, third time is the charm.

 

 

My top tips for freshmen

It’s been a while since I was a NUS freshman, given the chance, I think I would have done my college years very differently right from the start.

1. I wouldn’t have gone for the modules because I wanted to try something new/do something different/stuck with the old. The decision to major in Psych and wanting to do Econs 1101E killed my CAP pretty quickly.

2. It’s technically correct that honours is not useful in the private sector because no one gives a shit about your CAP but CAP is important because it gives you the access to the exchange programmes. Without a good CAP, you can’t even apply for exchange.

3. Go for local exchange + an overseas exchange. This will maximise your exposure.

4. Go for freshman camps – I think the two main ones you should go for are the faculty camp + your major camp. I was one of those who didn’t go for any camps and witnessed first hand what it meant to have no friends to take modules or group with.

5. Make that two to three friends that you will take classes with. It’s really helpful to have someone to look out for you and copy notes off when you’re away/busy.

6. Join CCAs/clubs/societies that you’ve always wanted to try out, go alone if you must, take advantage of these activities that are funded by NUS because they will cost a bomb after you graduate.

7. Be consistent on your school work. I bucked up in my 3rd semester onwards but my first few sems kind of screwed me over, making me miss a lot of chances which I should have been eligible for.

8. Don’t party too hard, just don’t. It must be liberating to be free but at the same time, be smart. Alcohol and zouk are fun for a couple of times but weigh in your sacrifices (hungovers during morning classes, cab fares, drinks costs).