shrunk!

I love muffins, and that is a super understatement. Maybe I should just refine that sentence to “I worship flour”. Generally, I have an unfathomable weakness for breads, muffins, pastries and the likes. Granted that I don’t exactly adore every single thing made of flour, for instance I am not a big fan of say, ban mian, because I find it too “flour-y” if there is even such a word. But things like breads and muffins and loaf cakes, what-have-yous, such things can be the staple of my diet if only they aren’t so unforgiving and if only they can be healthier. We can’t just survive on bread alone even if I just eat multi-grained, gluten-free ones or whatever.

Anyway, pardon my verbal diarrhea. It has been a long while since my last post. I have been feeling out of sorts and out of it. Not that I wasn’t in the mood to write, but I just felt drained of energy and didn’t feel like spending time to craft a post on this blog.

Spinelli is one of my go-to places for muffins out of convenience. In town, Starbucks and Coffee Beans are always crowded. There are some times when the Spinelli outlet I pop by actually has empty seats. And I love their muffins, especially the Raisin Oat Bran muffin, although I think its quality has dropped over time, but the crushed nuts mixed with some raisins prove to be quite a winning formula for me, even when I started being enamoured with Starbucks’ Blueberry then Banana Walnut muffins, and CBTL’s Cranberry muffin. Well, tastes do change and like I said, their quality and standards aren’t always consistent.

Quite recently, I got a really weird-shaped muffin that was gigantic. You can’t see the comparison with what I am going to post but in the background there is a fork, so maybe you can try to imagine. Plus we always have this idea muffins are round; not this with its overflowing “muffin-top”.

20140410-220900.jpgJust a couple of weekends ago, as I went to Spinelli for my usual coffee-cake/muffin fix, I realised that they have downsized. I commented to one of the crew, who replied that customers complained that the original ones were too big that they couldn’t finish so they made them smaller. I was like, what? Who complained they are too big? It’s just a muffin, for goodness’ sake, unless they are alluding to it being too big and therefore containing too many calories no thanks to how these things are made, i.e. sugar and flour, etc… Otherwise, if someone can eat a McSpicy burger together with a pack of fries and cola, what is a muffin, seriously? Unless the muffin is their dessert after a sandwich and large latte, or something like that. Or the crew was just trying to pull a fast one on me.

20140410-220912.jpgThe muffin now looks cute and finally, it does resemble what a muffin is supposed to look like. But in terms of its size, it is just pathetic. With a muffin this size and a cup of coffee, I don’t know which part of my stomach it fills up if this is going to be my breakfast or lunch. Originally, one muffin costs S$3.60 I think, now at this size, I think it’s either S$2.30 or S$2.80. Either ways, I think the reduction in price is disproportionate with the decrease in size. Well I guess that is always how things work but maybe this will make me gravitate back to either Starbucks or CBTL with muffins that are slightly bigger and costs S$3+, but perhaps are more substantial for me to count as a meal.

Perth

Just recently, I took a really short trip to Perth that I didn’t even feel like I’d been there. To be fair, it isn’t that short, but some people are of the opinion that flying 5 hours for a 4-day-3-night thing is not worth it. I guess it is just a matter of perspective and who cares what others think.

The climate in Australia is changing, and thankfully it wasn’t too hot despite that the sun could get really merciless. Because it actually felt cold when I was in the shade and the wind blew so strongly, I tried to stay out in the blazing sunlight to remain warm and ended up getting sunburnt, on my feet and some parts of my legs that were exposed. My arms and face were fine because I was back-facing the sun most of the time and had on a long-sleeved sweater.

20140329-213541.jpgIt looks really hot in the picture above but that was the day when I felt it was so cold and was also probably the day when I got burnt.

20140329-213549.jpgStrong sunlight always makes for great pictures, that I have learnt from the various times when I have either melted under the sweltering heat of the sun during trips in summer time, or when I was basking thankfully in the warmth of sunshine during winter times.

For those short days being in Perth, I didn’t do much other than sit in the backseat of the vehicle staring out the window at passing scenery, occasionally dozing off when the humdrum of the drive made me drowsy. It was also a good time of disconnecting from the world of online distractions since I wasn’t subscribed to any data-roam plans and only connected to the wifi back at the apartment.

Generally speaking, I am not a sight-seeing kind of person when it comes to holidays and Perth would probably have been one of the last places I’d want to go for vacation. But it was still fairly enjoyable, doing things that I haven’t actually done before, like sitting down as a family at the table for breakfast, or having a sort-of picnic in the park eating food bought at the festival stalls.

sunshine

At the end of the day, everyone gets bored and tired of it. Perhaps the only ones who won’t give up on me, or who do not have a choice but to tolerate everything, are the only ones who matter.

20140322-092150.jpgSo… no man is an island. That’s for sure. They say friends are like stars, because you don’t always see them but they are always there. Really? I guess I need to be fair to them, nobody likes a negative broken record going on ceaselessly because the negative energy just perpetuates and the whole vicious cycle starts. Anyway, it’s better to be independent and not hope for more.

just me.

At the end of the day, you realise that it is just you and your shadow depending on each other and keeping each other company in this otherwise lonely world where we are constantly ironically inundated with too much ambient noise. Noise that doesn’t distract us from what eats away at us inside, that doesn’t fill the vacuum of silence which is threatening an implosion.

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Cake Spade, Singapore

Spiced Carrot Cake at Cake Spade, your Daily Cake Store located at Orchid Hotel in the Tanjong Pagar area. I had read about this place sometime back and had always wanted to check it out but either the time wasn’t right or they were not open.

To cut a long story short, knowing as to how I tend to just waffle, I finally made it there! Their cakes all look so inviting but I knew I had to try this, even though the picture that I saw my friend posting recently on the Strawberry Tofu Cheesecake made me waver a little when I saw how pretty the cake looked. But since it was after lunch, I thought a carrot cake may be a better option than cheesecake.

So here it goes!

20140311-150812.jpgVerdict. I love the cake, simply because it was not loaded with sugar. I have tried many carrot cakes and this has got to be one of the better ones. Cedele’s carrot walnut cake is also fantastic but that comes in such a huge slice that it is impossible to finish it on my own without feeling like I already had too much. This one’s size was just about right but I did share it anyhow. Didn’t take too much of the frosting, which also was not too sweet or thick, since to be honest I like cake more than cream. And that is also a reason why I am partial to carrot cakes as opposed to other types that are overflowing or covered in cream or mousse.

20140311-150820.jpgThe cake part had the right amount of moisture and consistency in it, with tangible carrot shreds that made the whole cake-eating indulgent experience worth it despite it being an after-lunch treat. Their serving plate was also one of the things that got me noticing the shop when I read about it, what looks like a giant cupcake/tart liner, but that is made of durable metal of course.

The downside to this store has got to be the lack of space or seats. Inside there are just 2 tiny tables that can accommodate perhaps 5 or 6 customers, max. In the current heat that we are going through in the dry spell, it was barely cool inside. Outside, there are several more tables, perhaps with a capacity of 10 persons, but then it’s so warm that even on a windy afternoon, the passing breeze was warm at best. Thankfully, it was back to the air-conditioned comfort of the office.

Breakfast at The Coffee Bean

I love breakfasts, and the morning is perhaps my favourite time of the day, although it isn’t as though I am looking forward to work on each workday. In fact, I never do. But breakfast makes getting up worth it. I don’t have issues waking up in the mornings, generally, though I think it isn’t so much because of the lure of breakfast than the inability to have proper slumber.

20140311-102124.jpgAnyway, breakfast food is enjoyed by many, judging by the growing popularity of all-day-breakfasts being served at many places these days. To be very honest, I have never been to Wild Honey, which many have raved about, because I have heard about the queues, and their enormous portions. Ok, I am not someone who dines out much at such places because cafes are more my kind of thing.

Too much rambling. Let’s get to the point. Breakfast at Coffee Bean, which is one cafe that serves all-day-breakfast too! I have tried some of their items before and one day I though I’d give their real breakfast sets a go, since I am usually happy to order a muffin and nibble on it along with a coffee.

20140311-102135.jpgThis is called “Food for Thought”, which comes with a pair of coddled eggs, a loaf of lightly toasted white bread and a small serving of lettuce with plum sauce, dried cranberries and almond slices. Well, my verdict was that I should just have stuck to a muffin which would have made me happier. I kind of enjoyed the eggs, though just the whites, since I am not a yolk person. The bread was not bad with butter smeared on it, but other than that, it’s white bread. Perhaps I should have, if it’s possible, asked for brown or some other variants of bread. I ended up having one of four pieces of the bread and gave up. With a muffin I think I could have finished the entire portion. Or they have this other Cheese Club Sandwich or something, which is rather nice except that there is just too much cheese that I always have to scrap some of it off and dig out the egg yolks between the bread.

Mariner’s Corner, Singapore

One of my colleagues was thinking of going for lunch at Everton Park, or one of the nice little cafes around that area, but as there was a couple of guys in our group we eventually decided on somewhere that serves food more substantial than sandwiches and pastries. Some guys can survive on such food but then if it’s a working day and we’re talking about guys who are not in their 20s, then it’s a different story altogether.

Anyway, we ended up walking into Mariner’s Corner at Cantonment Road, and boy, the moment we opened the heavy wooden door, behind it seemed like a totally different world far removed from 2014. It was reminiscent of how I felt when I step into The Ship Restaurant at its previous location at Shaw… well, the building that is connected to Lido and is in the midst of undergoing a major overhaul that saw all its tenants vacate over the last year or before. It is so old school and past century if I might venture. The wooden interior decor really brought us back to those days of the 80s or 90s, but the lunch crowd was definitely in full force there at that time. Fortunately for us, we were still able to get a table, also because the place is fairly large.

20140309-223201.jpgApparently, my colleague said that this is a Hakka restaurant, and the Hakkas were a people who started restaurants when they came to settle in Singapore because all the other trades were already being practised by the other dialect groups who had made landing here earlier. There was then this term “cookie” that referred to these cooks from the past, and I was amused by it somewhat because I love cookies but have never associated it with being an affectionate term or maybe just some nickname for the cooks.

Their set meals are really quite value for money, but it also depends on what you order. There are lunch specials starting as low as S$11 (thereabouts, I can’t remember if it’s $11 or $11.90) and the interesting bit about it was that there are various sets and on different days of the week, the same thing comes with different sauces.

20140309-223211.jpgThis is my order of grilled salmon with mashed potato drizzled with a tangy mango sauce or something like that. The salmon costs a little more at S$13.90 (before GST and service charge) I think. But overall, it’s pretty worth it because this comes with a soup and garlic bread for starters, and after the main, you get coffee/tea and dessert! They have a small selection of cakes in the display but those were whole cakes I saw, so I wasn’t sure if they were part of the dessert deal, but then what we were served were different from what some other customers got, so I guess it depends on what is available when it’s your turn to be served dessert.

20140309-223220.jpgOurs was a variant of a butter sponge cake that also fitted in perfectly with the setting. This cake seemed so yesteryear, and the others I saw on some table were similar types of simple cakes but maybe with some added ingredients like walnuts. I would love to try their other cakes even if these are just ordinary-looking sponge cakes but the niceness sometimes lie in the simplicity of the item and not some fanciful cake oozing with cream and whatever else.

The menu boasts a generous selection of options that you could have a la carte or as part of a set meal, but they could cost more, such as the rib eye steak and cod fish, that after taxes, would cost more than S$20 but then it’s rib-eye steak and cod, the premium stuff. One of these days when I want to give myself a treat I think it’s quite a good idea to take a walk to Cantonment Road and have a nice meal there. And if time permits, perhaps check out one of the many cafes there and their caffeine offerings. One of the perks of working in that area, even if it means my food expenses have gone up exponentially…