Remembering to be thankful

Happiness can be as simple as this. A bowl of plain yogurt with a tinge of sourness, topped with granola that adds sweetness to the bowl, and a cup of coffee. Perhaps these are not the best things to go together, yogurt and coffee, the latter which would dissolve away whatever calcium is available in the yogurt? I don’t know but this is a simple enjoyment on a weekend.

During yoga class today, the instructor reminded us to be thankful that we are still alive, that our bodies still intact. She implored on us to not take life so seriously. Those were the words that I recalled, others I don’t really remember, but I suppose she was meaning to tell us that we should live in the moment, enjoy each moment and not sweat the small things. She was mentioning this in reference to the Bangkok bomb blast that took place the evening before, in downtown Bangkok in an area popular with tourists and locals. As of now, the blast had claimed 20 lives, one of whom is a Singaporean. Lives that were suddenly terminated, dreams that remain unfulfilled and words left unsaid.
I frequently lament about the various nitty gritty things of everyday life, from having to wait minutes for a train, to having people knock into me while they are rushing or blocking my way when I am in a rush… there are too many things that I can’t help complaining about, despite that deep down, as I reflect on society, on life, that there is much to be thankful for, but I, like most people, am wont to complain and feeling victimised. I need to constantly remind myself that life has given me much, despite that materially, I wasn’t born into a family with much, there has been more than enough that more than made up for it.

As I meet people whom I feel mirror who I am, I start to realise how annoying such characters can be, how much of an irritant chronic pessimists and complainers can be. I hope that I don’t continue to walk that path, but rather on a daily basis, thank God for all that I have, for all that has been bestowed on me.While I am still trying to change my attitude, which I foresee to be a difficult but not impossible endeavour, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, so what if I don’t like my job and many aspects of it, so what if day by day I feel that I am losing myself, my value, my relevance, so what if I don’t get to enjoy many of the material things in life that my peers possess, that they earn much more than me, and that I have been struggling in many areas of my life all these years, unable to break through and break free. Life still goes on, and I need to give thanks that I am still breathing and still have my loved ones around me. May they always be safe and sound, happy and healthy.

 

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Joe & Dough, Orchard Central

The very first time I visited Joe & Dough would have to be the tiny outlet that was at Hitachi Towers, as I am assuming that it is no longer there, based on what I have seen of the location information on their Facebook/website. I recalled the sandwiches being rather nice but pricey, especially considering that it is lunch and throw in a glass of latte and it’s easily too much to afford back in those days. Well, to me, more than S$10 for lunch is still quite pricey now, if you are talking about day-to-day lunches, rather than a once-in-a-while treat.

After that, Joe & Dough opened outlets in other places, such as Suntec City, outside where the supermarket used to be. It was a very open space and I didn’t really visit it much because it was not so conducive to just spend hours hogging their table in such an open area. Then this outlet moved to Millenia Walk, which is not such a convenient location. I know, I am picky when it comes to locations but that’s me being lazy. But I have no qualms about praising them for their coffee and sandwiches, even if I had not have them on a regular basis.

They now have a small outpost at Orchard Central, where I have met my friend a couple of times for coffee break during the weekends. It can get crowded, meaning the few tables and chairs they have get occupied and you know how it is with cafes and patrons these days. Once a butt sits down it will often take a while before it vacates the seat. But we were able to find a table after a short wait, and we probably stayed for about an hour each time.IMG_0577.JPG

At the Millenia Walk outlet, I had ordered their cakes and didn’t really fancy them. Or not that I was too impressed with what they had. But I tried their muffin this time round, and I was actually quite happy with it. Right now, my memory is quite hazy as to what I ordered, maybe blueberry or some sort of that, but what I do like about it was that it wasn’t oily like how most muffins in other coffee chains tend to be. It was warmed up really nicely so that when I got my muffin, there was this really fragrant aroma wafting through the air. As with my favourite part of the muffin goes, the top was crispy yet not dry and it wasn’t crumbly. Yay and I will definitely be back to try a different flavour next time round!

We also ordered a Baked Pear tart. As compared to the cakes I had before, this was a better option imo. Wasn’t too sweet beyond my tolerance level and goes well with either coffee or tea.IMG_0578.JPG

On our next meet-up, I had the Blueberry Yogurt tart, which from the picture looks like a polka-dotted cheesecake.IMG_0580.JPG

I loved the cookie crust that is just like how cheesecakes are like, yet it didn’t feel as dense and heavy as a cheesecake. It had a little of the sour taste of yogurt but it wasn’t strong and I wished somewhat that it could have had a stronger yogurt flavour in it. But overall I did enjoy it pretty much.IMG_0579.JPG

And this was my friend’s order of a Tuna Sandwich; just check out how generous they are with the filling and the sandwich looks pretty substantial too! I am always in a dilemma what to order when it comes to food because to have both sandwich and sweets would be too much, yet a lot of things look so good each time I’m standing at the counter!IMG_0581.JPG

Cakes at Joe & Dough, Millenia Walk

So in my last visit to J&D at Millenia Walk, I was raving about the tantalising cake display, or rather what I perceived as tantalising, it’s subjective. I did in fact make a second trip back over the long weekend (which I wished so hard was a perennial instalment in our lives!) and only had cakes and drinks. Well, that is the bane of my existence because over the long weekend I think I had too much of good food and I actually gained some weight that had me experiencing bouts of stress once more! Like I haven’t had enough stress to deal with in my life already…

So anyhow, back to the cakes! Yes, food shouldn’t be complicated, it’s just a relationship between the eater and the food. Or maybe not just, how about the preparer? 20130814-112914.jpg

This is the tea-time spread! Which also counted as a late(r) lunch for me. I still stand by my opinions that the cakes look darn good, don’t you think? And delicious-looking cakes go so well with latte art. Well, aesthetics matter a lot in our society today, too much maybe, so that these days all the niche cafes, or rather those interesting indie cafes (not those big chains that everyone turns their noses up at these days for having lousy coffee or whatever), everyone tries to outdo one another or offer a basic latte art for all milk-based drinks.20130814-112924.jpg

Let’s take a closer look at our choices. We had a little struggle which ones to pick, and finally settled for looks, which was the reason behind ordering this cranberry whole wheat cake.20130814-112930.jpg

The second pick wasn’t in the main cake display but rather displayed in a separate round, glass cake stand, the carrot cake topped with walnut. 20130814-112935.jpg

Hot chocolate with the latte art! No art on my drink of course, since it was just an americano, I would like to see how anyone can create any art on it.20130814-112943.jpg

So how did the cakes fare? To be honest, a little disappointing. They look much better than they taste, or maybe I had too high expectations based solely on how they appeared. The layer of frosting/cream on cranberry cake was a little too sweet for me despite that I had the cakes with coffee, although I did quite like the inside of the cake, i.e. the whole wheat crust that was also used as part of the cake itself.

As for the carrot cake, it was ok, just ok. The cream cheese frosting tasted alright but the cake itself was not moist enough so it didn’t have that omph factor when you have a really good carrot cake.

Like I said, maybe we expected too much, also because I was raving about it to my friend and insisted that we try their cakes and specially made a trip to Millenia Walk for them. They aren’t bad or not nice but just ordinary, so maybe in the next visit I will pick and try the other cake offerings, one at a time to share perhaps with their great sandwiches.

Joe & Dough, Millenia Walk

Peace and happiness can be such a simple formula that somehow only seems possible and existential during the weekends. Saturday and Sunday were spent in a cloud of relaxed bliss although not without the usual frazzledness of jostling with weekend crowds in town, but aside from that, everything was great.

Before I dove into the weekend, I finally got to check out Joe & Dough, now open also at Millenia Walk! Remember I mentioned earlier that I saw it when I visited Millenia Walk sometime back, and I made a mental note to come by again and finally did! Especially after reading my friend‘s post about her visit, I reminded myself of it.  

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This is indeed a much larger space as compared to the tiny little hole in the wall they occupy in Hitachi Tower, and as strange as it may seem, for this part of Millenia Walk it doesn’t seem to get too crowded even at lunchtime. Perhaps it was due to the fact that most people have already jetted overseas for a long break in view of the coming back-to-back public holidays, or because of the relocation of some large companies together with their expat employees. Most locals don’t take to having sandwiches at lunch even if it is becoming a more popular choice these days. I, for one, love bread and sandwiches, and the ones they serve up here at Joe & Dough are fantastic. Well, prices can be a little towards the high side if you are comparing a meal here with the food court perhaps but if you have a meal at the food court and then get a latte from Starbucks, I think it should cost about the same, or even more. Your choice.

Here’s the Italian Parma Ham sandwich. The bread was soft which made the sandwich easy to eat and thereafter not feel like you have swallowed an entire ball of dough. But personally, I would have preferred breads that have more bite. 20130805-090242.jpg

The sandwiches that are sold were on display with each filling having a standard type of bread. I did not check with them, so am not sure if you are able to have a special custom order, if say I would like to have parma ham with a different choice of bread. I guess it should be possible, maybe.

And as I stood ogling the sandwiches, I couldn’t help but start noticing the other pastries that look so appetising. There were muffins and scones, amongst others (like cakes! OMG they look absolutely delicious but I had to make a choice) so I decided on a raisin scone, which was actually fairly large if you were to compare it to the butter and jam palettes pictured as well. 20130805-090251.jpg

This scone actually looked like the Coffee Bean scone that left me disappointed, i.e. the same glazed golden brown look that seemed so promising. The difference was that, in this case, this didn’t disappoint. As I cut into it, look!   20130805-090301.jpg

As compared to this. You can easily imagine that this scone left a happy smile on my face, even if it was just butter and jam and not the usual clotted cream that would have gone so well with scones. But to me, if something is really good it should be good on its own without the need for any additional condiments. And in my own limited opinion of scones, I think this is a pass. I’m sure many others would beg to differ, since I don’t have particularly high standards, but it was good enough for me. 🙂

And I had an Americano, which got a thumbs up from me too! I know that there are many places with great coffee around, but I have sort of came to a small conclusion that I can’t seem to appreciate many good coffees due to their tendency to be too acidic for my liking. This, with a pack of brown sugar, had just the right mix of bitterness/sweetness/sourness that I enjoyed, albeit in a cup too small. But I guess good things come in small packages, and any bigger and the taste might have changed significantly.    20130805-090313.jpg

It’s a great place to be, and I would want to return soon to check out their cakes! I must have been looking/sounding so ditzy when I was gushing about the cakes in the display case. Imagine, names like Blueberry Yoghurt Tart, Cranberry Wholewheat Cake, Vanilla Prune Cheesecake… sound healthy and yet tantalising (to me at least)! These are only available at the Millenia Walk and Marina Bay Link Mall outlets though, not the one at Hitachi Tower, just in case you work in Raffles Place and thought to drop in for cakes. But you could take a longer walk to the other two outlets if you have time, haha. If you are interested in their menu, they have a delivery menu online that also shows the prices.

Till the next time!

Commune Cafe & Bistro No. 50

There are times when I would literally get very excited when I spot a nice cafe that appears in the midst of malls that I visit every now and then. Well, for someone who doesn’t drive and am rather averse to the idea of walking around in the renowned heat and humidity of Singapore, I am sad to admit that most of the cafes that I have visited are generally confined within shopping malls. Once in a while, I’d be brave and venture somewhere but like in the case of Kith Cafe at Rodyk Street, I suffered terribly as a result. Unfortunately, a lot of cafes that are not your run of the mill coffee chains but rather with a more unique setting are those that are not located in malls. Perhaps the rental price tag in these malls are too high to allow these standalone cafes to sustain.

But! All hope is not lost. Sometime back, while at Millenia Walk, I’d chance upon this furniture shop on the second level where a cafe also sits. It is a fairly small cafe, with seats that occupy two of the linkways between the two sides of level 2. The linkways are decorated in such a way that these seating areas of the cafe appear part of an establishment instead of mere tables and chairs arranged for the benefit of shoppers who need to rest their feet. I finally got a chance to check it out recently, or rather plucked myself off my lazy bum to explore rather than head back to the familiar Starbucks or otherwise.

Dropped in one morning and there weren’t much food choice available. I was craving for scones but there were none in sight. Not being in the mood for brownies or cakes in the morning or even sandwiches, I decided instead on a slice of banana walnut cake. Besides carrot cake, this is the other type of cake that I generally order because of the richness of the banana flavour. Yes maybe I am going bananas too.

20130607-230116.jpgDidn’t know how their long black would turn out, but anyway it was quite a small portion but extremely potent! I took a while to drink it because it was really hot initially and as I was doing some studying whilst having a late breakfast or early lunch, it probably sat for too long and turned sour. But I still finished most of it anyhow. But the cake was great, warmed up but of course didn’t stay warm throughout the time that I left it on the huge white plate that it was served on. It was a very small slice though, not enough for me of course but then it would be silly to order another slice, at S$3.50 each!

It isn’t recommended if you want to come in a big group because as you can see, tables are generally meant for just 2 persons. I’m not sure if this place gets crowded but while I was there, the other linkway had several tables of office people grabbing a mid-morning coffee perhaps (somehow always wonder why people in town never seem to need to work since they can sit for a long time at cafes when it’s supposed to be working hours). Even as lunch hour crept in, the tables weren’t fully occupied, but I didn’t stay to see if there was any after-lunch crowd or maybe afternoon-coffee crowd, because like I mentioned above, town office folks seem to have the liberty of long coffee breaks.

20130607-230133.jpgThe banana cake was a little crumbly but except for some of those crumbs that broke off while I cut into the cake, most of it stayed together in the midst of being transported from plate to mouth. It retained its moisture too despite the microwaving and I think it’s just too small to satisfy my hunger or craving.

20130607-230145.jpgThose are the folks that I spoke of, the mid-morning coffee crowd.

20130607-230155.jpgAnd to end off, an aerial view of the order. I got inspired from a friend I think, to take such pictures, because they seem to make the food look nicer when it’s neatly-arranged and laid out in the photo, rather than how I used to snap really close-up pictures of food that had my friends balking because it was too in-your-face.

20130607-230209.jpgMillenia Walk now has a Joe & Dough that boasts more seating as compared to the puny space they occupy in Hitachi Tower and where they used to occupy in Suntec City (closed since end February this year I read). These cafes always make me wish that I work in town because then I can have all the kinds of sandwiches and coffee that I can want on a daily basis. Of course it would spell trouble for my wallet since these cafes are way more expensive than food courts or hawker centres but at least I would have a choice. Sigh!

Joe & Dough, Singapore

This is the second outlet (that I know of anyway) in Singapore, located on the ground floor of Suntec City Mall, just outside near where Giant Supermarket now stands, or where Carrefour used to be. It is a rather small area, not unlike its first store in Raffles Place, on the second level of Change Alley (near SingPost), but perhaps the open-concenpt layout of this place lends it to a more spacious feel naturally, as compared to the Raffles Place store, which feels really crammed.

With the benefit of more space too I believe, the tables are not placed too near each other that it makes maneuvring to and out of your seat a challenge, and without the confines of the walls and doors, sound doesn’t become trapped in a tiny space that makes all conversations amplified, whether you intend to be an intentional eavesdropper or not.

I first got to know this cafe from someone else’s blog, if my memory hasn’t failed me. So I decided on this place for lunch when I made a trip to Raffles Place for a lunch appointment some years back, since I no longer work in that part of the city. The overall bill can be quite pricey, if you are thinking of this as a regular lunch place, maybe not so for us folks who earn a regular salary, S$10+ for a sandwich and cup of coffee (latte, etc.) can be too much on a day-to-day basis, but perhaps some of the Shenton Way dwellers earn big enough a salary to warranty such lunches daily, or more.

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But to be fair, they have pretty decent coffee. I would choose this over Starbucks, sorry to say, even though I am a huge fan of the green-logoed chain from Seattle. In terms of the quality and intensity (be it acidity, body or flavour), this would be the preferred choice for me. Yet, you would wonder why I am always heading towards Starbucks everywhere I go… convenience is key. As compared to J&D (ooh, JD!) with two known outlets in Singapore, Starbucks outlets can almost be thought of as ubiquitous. I always thought that I should move to the Tiong Bahru area to live, because they have so many nice cafes offering quality coffee sprouting up like mushrooms appearing after the rain, but unfortunately property prices there are ridiculously high, and in terms of public transport, the stretch with the cafes isn’t exactly the most convenient for a person like me who don’t drive, and can’t.

And I swear I am having some raisin roll overload lately. From Tiong Bahru Bakery here at home all the way to Le Pain Quotidien in Moscow, I have been eating lots of this sinful, buttery pastry. Maybe I have finally moved on from the muffin phase to the raisin roll phase, even though this is not exactly some healthy choice over the former, it does still go very well, in fact, maybe even better, with coffee.

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Joe & Dough

As much as I won’t describe myself as someone who knows her coffee so as to not come across sounding like I know more than I really do, I think I can’t deny that I have a pseudo addiction to coffee. I suppose I can go without coffee for perhaps a day or more, I don’t really know because I have not been without at least a daily coffee for some time, except perhaps when I am up in the air for an extended period, and we all know how coffee is not that great in the cattle classes. Oh how I miss the long-gone times when I could actually request for a Blue Mountain coffee or something like that. Oh well, the past is the past so let’s not dwell on that too much.

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I met up with a friend for coffee one lazy day and I suggested, or maybe insisted, on going to Joe & Dough. The first time I tried this cafe was at its outlet at Change Alley, or perhaps that should rightly be Hitachi Towers. That’s where the big SingPost outlet is (if it is still there) on level 2, in a corner that is nearer to the road, not on the side near to Chevron House/Raffles Place.

Raffles Place being where it is, i.e. far from my current work place, is not exactly an ideal location for me where lunch/coffee is concerned. And it doesn’t open on weekends, which makes it all the more impossible for me to go there at all. I was glad to see a store pop-up in Suntec City, just outside Carrefour on the ground floor! It opened sometime back I can’t remember exactly when, but hadn’t had the chance to pop by.

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Their coffees are decent, and as far as I can remember, their sandwiches are not too bad if a tad pricey. This time I only had a muffin while my friend decided on the cheesecake. I didn’t poke my fork for a try so I don’t know how it tasted but from the looks of it, it appears creamy and the air pockets suggest a certain degree of fluffiness perhaps?

Latte art these days seems to have become the norm rather than the exception.

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Having visited the outlet at Raffles Place during lunch hours the cafe was busy and crowded, and as space was limited, the tables were placed too near one another to feel comfortable, especially when they were so small to even fit properly the plates and coffee mugs of 2 persons dining together. Maybe that’s the trick to reduce the comfort level in order to ensure a faster turnover? The store at Suntec was different in that aspect because there are no walls to constrain you within so it feels more open although the downside is that you get all the ambient noises from the shopping crowds from Carrefour or around. However as it is located toward the quieter side of the mall outside of the supermarket, it isn’t still all that bad, even on a weekend.